As an African American male, I feel so connected with the Trayvon Martin case. So much that the statement “There by the grace of God go I” really takes a significant and poignant precedence in my spirit. Here was a kid who was walking home with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He could have been any one of us. He wasn’t trying to steal or hurt anyone, he was just trying to get to the people who knew and loved him most, and within the blink of an eye his life was robbed at gunpoint and the worst fears of any African American parent as well as the greater community materialized.
What goes beyond my rational comprehension is how any segment of our society could support Mr. Zimmerman (here forth called “the monster”) and his over zealous, irrational, racist, vigilantism. Furthermore, how can anyone justify
’s “Stand Your
Ground” law in defense of this
I don’t use the word “racist” often. I feel that it has been misused and over saturated in our society and because of that, the meaning doesn’t carry the weight it should. To be a racist is to hold prejudicial or bigoted views over someone and restrict them from something based on those views. When one uses prejudged views to illicit power over another individual of a different race, religion, or creed, that person is a racist. Therefore within this case, the monster used his prejudicial beliefs and alleged racial epithets (He used the word “coon.” However, he’s trying to say it was, “goon.”) to stalk, hunt, restrict and kill Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American young man, thus making the word “racist” an appropriate connotation in this instance.
Many states have some form of “Stand Your Ground” law. In many cases, it makes perfect sense. If someone breaks into your home while you’re asleep, you have every right to defend yourself and family, including the use of deadly force. On the other hand,
has one of the
worst interpretations of this law imaginable.
Under Florida ’s
“Stand Your Ground” law, people have faced immunity and justified murder based
on street brawls, road rage, bar fights, and even gang violence! That’s ludicrous because lives are being lost
and the only people winning in this situation are the gun companies that lobby
for these types of laws in the first place.
They know that these laws increase their guns sales and they could care
less about the moral character of the people using these absurd defenses. Those
laws affect overall profits and that’s all that matters to gun companies. Florida
With that being said,
“Stand Your Ground” law should not apply to the monster in this case. Trayvon was visiting
his father and therefore a resident in that neighborhood. Furthermore, he had every right as a citizen
of this great country to walk unharmed whenever and where ever he pleased. He was
not smoking weed, carrying a gun, crowbar, screwdriver or 40oz bottle of Old
English. He wasn’t wearing a doo rag,
with oversized pants sagging, talking loud and using all sorts of profanity. He was walking alone, after dark, having a
conversation on his cell phone, minding his own business, in a neighborhood
where he should have felt safe. There is
absolutely no reason, or probable cause for him to have been suspected of
Many supporters of the monster don’t have an ounce of human empathy. They freely use blogs, which renders them anonymous, to express their prejudicial viewpoints. Even if this were an African American man who killed a White kid, their outrage should be the same. It’s about murdering an unarmed child and clearly recognizing that there’s a double standard in our country. If the adult were African American and the kid was White, we’d see a completely different set of circumstances. The African American adult would have immediately been arrested, held without bail and charged with First Degree Murder and the monster supporters would herald the justice system for doing their jobs.
Empathy is a quality that should align us as humans. It should assist in building a thriving community by helping to understand what others are thinking, their motives, and why others strongly react to certain situations. Without the ability to consider other people’s feelings or points of views, we’re heading toward and antisocial and selfish society where the results will be widespread chaos, hatred and violence.
It has been insinuated by the monster supporters that the attacked was provoked by Trayvon and that had he answered the monster’s questions and not been wearing the hoodie, he would be alive today. Geraldo Rivera, a once well known and respected journalist, even stated the moronic “the hoodie” theory on a television news program.
First, we live in the
is not 1792. This “know your place”
attitude is outdated and will not be tolerated. Trayvon had the right to walk
anywhere he pleased without the threat of being harassed or interrogated. When questioned by the monster, he was within
his natural right as a citizen and human being to continue walking and choose
not to answer. He was also within his right to demand why he
was being followed in the first place.
With that being said, if anyone had a right to use the “Stand Your
Ground” law, it would have been Trayvon because he had a right to be where he
was and he was under no law to give up ground to his assailant. United States of America
Most Whites will never know what it’s like to be followed based solely on the color of your skin. It’s insulting when someone attempts to rob you of your dignity and self respect. It’s infuriating when someone automatically assumes the worst of who you are based solely on your skin color. I’ve had it happen to me on several occasions and each time I’ve challenged the observer to look beyond their stereotypical mindset and find a trace of humanity in their being. (Sometimes, depending on my mood and the blatancy of the observer, the manner and terms of which I choose to confront the person is not so philosophical.) It’s creepy, it’s not right or legal and it doesn’t feel good. So, I don’t blame Trayvon for confronting the monster. I and many African American men I know would definitely have done the same thing. The only difference is I would have used the “f” word in my statement to the monster. At least Trayvon left it out.
My most perplexed question is, “Since when has wearing a sweat shirt with a hood (hoodie) become gang attire?” I would venture to say that most active men have at least one hooded sweatshirt in their arsenal of clothing. What? Do hoodies somehow transform themselves into one thing when African Americans wear them and something else when Whites wear them? I love hoodies; especially since I have a bald head. I can wear them at night and not have to worry about a hat. Sometimes I even wear mine to bed! That way I don’t have to put the covers over my head and almost suffocate in an attempt to keep my head warm. They’re convenient, can be very fashionable, and they keep your head comfortable. Do I now have the added pressure of worrying that I might be mistaken for a gangster simply because I choose to wear a hoodie? Should White folks have that same fear? Really?
Geraldo Rivera is the biggest moron of them all for even insinuating that had Trayvon not been wearing the hoodie, he’d be alive today. Being Hispanic, he should viscerally understand racial profiling in its most miniscule form. Just because he’s rich and accepted in many affluent White circles, doesn’t make him immune or less of a target. It is idiotic to spread that mode of thinking. Assimilation to an irrational thought doesn’t make one any more endearing. To be honest, it becomes the brunt of jokes by the very people one is trying to impress. What should Trayvon have done? Was he supposed to disrobe in the presence of a perceived White neighborhood? Geraldo’s statement showed a lack of integrity, consideration, and professionalism.
As far as the rest of the media has been concerned (particularly FOX), I believe they have been absolutely irresponsible in their reports that Trayvon was suspended for having an “empty” weed bag. First, he’s a juvenile and his school records should have been off limits. Even if they were offered to the media, the media should have unequivocally refused them. Furthermore, what does having an empty baggie that smelled like weed have anything to do with his murder? I understand the defense’s position on smearing the victim, but for the life of me, I will never understand sudo-journalism. Many, many great young people, including myself, and probably the very people reporting those stories, have tried weed in high school or college. I’m not proud of it, wished I hadn’t done it, mainly because I now know the affects it has on the developing brain. However, that doesn’t deem me a criminal or a deviant; and the fact still remains, he was suspended for having a baggie, not smoking weed. By all accounts, he was a pretty normal kid who’d make a few mistakes, but had loving parents who were supportive and caring.
In addition, many monster supporters use the fact that the monster had a broken nose and a blow to the back of his head as basis for why deadly force was necessary. Somehow these new allegations are supposed to be a game changer for the defense. Again, ludicrous ideology because; what is a person to do if they are stalked, hunted, approached, and attacked? What would you do under the same circumstances? What would you tell your child to do at the threat of eminent danger? Everyone, regardless of race, has the right to vehemently fight for their life when there’s an attempt on it being taken. It’s a naturalize right of any living creature.
It shouldn’t matter if that monster’s face looked like freshly ground hamburger meat minutes after the police arrived. That has no bearing on this case. Trayvon Martin was viciously attacked and he uncompromisingly fought for his life till his last ounce of breath. His horrifying cries for help, which can be heard on the 911 tape of a woman who was in her house with the door and windows closed, were unanswered by an entire neighborhood who didn’t have the decency to intervene or become involved. Even a simple, “Hey, what’s going on?” might have saved this young man’s life. At the very least, the monster would have known he was being watched and may have thought twice about his actions. (Incidentally, the fact that that monster lied and said he was the one that can be heard crying for help on the 911 tapes says a lot about his character and morality. He was probably told to lie by his retired judge of a father who knew that had those screams been his, they would be the only thing that would justify a “Stand Your Ground” defense.)
Again, what would you do if someone approached you with the intent to harass or murder you? Even if at some point during Trayvon’s struggle for his life, he managed to get the upper hand, does that justify his murder? Particularly when he was within his given right to “Stand HIS Ground,” fight back, and use any means necessary to preserve his life. What goes into the mindset of a segment of society that fault victims for defending themselves in order to justify an incomprehensible act?
Moreover, I’ve heard mention that since Trayvon was 6’3” he was most likely construed as an adult. Again, that doesn’t have anything to do with this case. Trayvon weighed between 140-150 pounds! Any rational person knows how scrawny that is. To put this into perspective, I am 6’ and weigh 180 pounds. Although I’m not small, no one would ever mistake me for a body builder. That monster was nearly 250 pounds at the time of the murder! He outweighed Trayvon by almost 100 pounds. No matter how tall Trayvon was, that monster would have easily been able to over take him by sheer mass and strength.
What has become extremely apparent in recent photos of the monster is that he has been losing weight. Whether intentional or unintentional, this is yet another ploy for the monster to appear sympathetic to his supporters, the media, and ultimately the jurors. It will definitely become important as the case moves forward through to trial if he continues to shed the pounds. The reason being is because at the time of the incident, as previously mentioned, the monster, though much shorter, significantly outweighed Trayvon. By outweighing him, one can easily see how menacing and physically intimidating he can be; especially in the dark. If he loses those pounds, which he’s obviously doing, he looks less intimidating. I’m sure the defense will use his new “thinner” frame as a visual comparison to Trayvon at the time of his death. Hopefully special prosecutor Angela Corey and her team have taken a close, full bodied picture of the monster at the time of the murder because a shrunken monster is visually very powerful and could be helpful in his defense. On the other hand, the prosecution can show that this is yet another ploy for the defendant to appear much smaller in an attempt to garner sympathy from the court.
There’s an innate instinct to want to preserve one’s life. Trayvon fought for his life on a dark street where there was no one to protect him and I am humbled and proud of him for doing so. He gave up his life for the right to his dignity and honor. He stood steadfast in the face of hatred and although his life was taken, it was not lost in vain. The fact that he fought back is inspirational and it puts all racist and bigots on notice that we are men, and we are not going to be slaughtered in the streets like animals without a fight. We will forever retain our self respect at all cost. Period.
This should be an open and shut case. However, there are many on both sides that believe the second degree murder charge set forth by the district attorney is extreme and will not stick. They think a lesser charge of manslaughter would have been more viable and appropriate. But the monster intentionally killed a kid! He shot himself out of a brawl that he provoked. He created the deadly situation for the murder to take place. That’s murder two! If he’d gotten up in the morning and said, “I’m going to kill a Black kid today,” that would be murder one. If he’d had a fight with Trayvon and accidently killed him, that would be manslaughter. In this particular case, second degree murder is the appropriate charge. Whether he is convicted of that charge is a completely different matter. However, I don’t believe the DA purposefully charged him with murder two under the pretenses of getting him off because she knows those charges won’t stick. It was appropriate and hopefully she will get a conviction.
Because this is such a racially charged case, many people feel that the issue of race should not be a factor. In spite of those sentiments, this was a hate crime and race was definitely a motive. Trayvon wasn’t targeted in spite of his race; he was targeted because of it and thus doing so, actualized the worst nightmares of most African American communities and mobilized many people of all ethnicities.
Most African American parents teach their sons to walk and not run in the presence of authority. They teach us to be respectful, and most importantly, to show our hands, at all times, when stopped by the police or anyone with perceived power. It is an important survival “talk” that’s meant to keep us safe. We are taught to understand the fear of police officers and their unwavering regard to lump every African American male into one stereotyping category. Therefore regardless of our achievements, economic status, neighborhoods, or upbringing, most of us are very cognizant of who we are and more importantly, who we are perceived to be. I could be wrong, but I don’t think White parents have the same “talk” with their male children. In fact, I would infer they probably teach them that they don’t have to fear anything, especially police or anyone of authority because in most cases that authority looks like them or have assimilated to their way of thinking.
When narrowed down to its lowest denominator, Trayvon was killed specifically because he was an African American kid in the right place, at the wrong time. Had he been White, there wouldn’t have been a 911 call and Trayvon would have made it home safely. In fact, the monster may have even struck up a friendly conversation with him and if he followed him, it would have only been to insure his protection.
Supporters of the monster would also have everyone believe that this couldn’t have been a hate crime because he strategically switched from being White to Hispanic and most recently from Hispanic to Hispanic with a bit of African ancestry. As if being a person of color somehow makes him exempt from harboring inherent racist attitudes. That is a tactical ploy to smoke screen the issue.
Although every race has its propensity to be discriminatory, I want to make something clear, I’m going to be completely honest and my intent is not to offend anyone. With that being said, Hispanics have just as much proclivity to assimilate racist behaviors as any other group. In fact, Hispanic male gang members have been targeting and killing African Americans for several years in an effort to ethnically cleanse their neighborhoods. Unfortunately no one is fervently talking about it or telling the truth. The printed media is riddled with African Americans being gunned down by Hispanics seeking gang initiation or bragging rights. Hispanic gang leaders have even instructed foot soldiers on how to efficiently hunt and kill innocent African Americans; their motives, in these instances, being nothing more than race.
Some semi-invested community organizations are lightly discussing the issue by holding half hearted meetings about bridging the gap between African American and the Hispanic communities, but no one has the courage to articulate the real problems. We have somehow become a society where politically correctness has taken precedent over what’s really taking place in communities all across the country. This has weakened our ability to speak honestly about the problems that are plaguing communities were African Americans and Hispanics live and congregate. Most so-called leaders won’t even put the issue on their agenda for fear it’s not kosher or doesn’t forward their dossier of obtaining or maintaining the African American and/or Hispanic constituency.
Even Mexican president, Vicente Fox, has made comments with serious racial undertones regarding African Americans by stating to a group of Texas businessmen that, “There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work, are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.” He later apologized, but then within the same year the Mexican government issued a series of 5 postage stamps depicting a derogatory black cartoon character known as Menin Pinguin. The popular character in Mexican comic books is drawn with exaggerated features, thick lips and wide open eyes. The boy’s apelike appearance, speech and mannerisms are the topic of mockery by the White characters in the comic book!
Something clearly has to be done about bridging the perceptual gap between both communities. In many places across the country we occupy the same neighborhoods. Our children go to the same schools, libraries and stores. It’s simply foolish to fight for crumbs if and when the ruling establishment decides it’s in their best interest to dole out. Only when both communities are honest, able to speak freely and break down the barriers of discord and mistrust, will changes have opportunities to manifest themselves. We have influence each other’s cultures in so many ways, both in this country and abroad, but we will never get to the beauty of our commonalities unless we break down all the misconceptions, miscommunications and misunderstandings.
With that being said, we have to prevent strategy from deflecting from what’s really important and focus on the actual issues. If we don’t, then both communities will continue to be misinformed, miseducated and killed in the streets either by ourselves, each other, or any other ethnicity that harbors hatred towards both groups. At the very least we need to stop fighting each other and concentrate on the larger issues affecting our communities and this country.
What’s most shocking comes from monster supporter Chris Francescani. In a recent article he writes, “The 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator comes from a deeply Catholic background and was taught in his early years to do right by those less fortunate.” That sound great, but I think he forgot to ask the monster if he listened. It’s obvious that he didn’t because nothing in his article mentions what he did for the “less fortunate” in his adult life. It mentions he was an alter boy and a selfless Spanish translator for his middle school. Wow! I’m impressed. I’m sure since he spent a lot of time in church he was taught plenty of great Christian principles. Did he learn, “love thy neighbor as thyself”? Or “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you.” How about, “Thou shall not kill”?! Those are the one I learned growing up in my grandfather’s church. They’ve always been helpful to me as I navigate through life. I don’t think they did much for the monster though. Maybe he still hadn’t gotten to those principles yet. Hopefully in jail he’ll have more time.
What’s pretty pathetic is Francescani’s attempt to deflate the race debate by mentioning that the monster had a failed business venture with an African American (That’s like a White person saying, “I’m not racist, I have a Black friend.”) and the “dark family secret” of his great grandfather being Afro-Peruvian. As if Blacks folks are supposed to go, “Oh, wait…he’s not a racist. His great grandfather was Black!” And everyone is supposed to then close their mouths, bow their heads and slowly walk away. I don’t think so! I would bet that a month ago, the monster had never met, seen, or even heard about his African roots. For all intents and purposes the monster was White up until a few months ago. At the very least, he was a light skinned Hispanic who, in some cases, feels they are accepted by the larger White community anyway. At any rate, this is pretty much a last ditch effort to save his life by the defense. Too bad Trayvon was never afforded the same calculations.
Trayvon’s untimely death speaks to me and should speak to all people of African decent in this country. It’s a “wake up call” that says although we live in the greatest country on the planet, there are still issues of race that we must deal with head on. The reality is; we can’t change the frame of mind or intellect of a segment of our society that ignorantly demonizes and fears us. These people will always consistently create rules of law and systematic view points that are conveniently concealed in how society runs our daily lives. They are purposefully and masterfully created to undermine our confidence and keep us misinformed, fighting amongst each other, and ultimately free labor behind bars.
Deep down inside this segment knows the true about us, but they also know that we buy into their theory of self hatred, thus negating what’s really true, because it doesn’t matter. That’s the genius of their lie and why they continue the facade. Truth doesn’t matter if we buy into the festering sores that bind our people and hold us hostage with silence.
Our community needs to be passionately cultured, prepared, proactive and once again unified. We need to continue the drive for education, pride, and a sense of communal legacy as if our lives depended on it, because in essence, they do. As men, we are the pulse and strength of a village that depends on us for guidance. No longer can we support the negative stereotypes that we often bring upon ourselves through words, expressions and actions, thus allowing other groups to give reason for our words, their hatred and actions against us. No longer can we support deviant behavior of any kind, no matter what the excuse or cost or challenge. No longer should we support radio, television, or print media that degrade our people for money with their offensive music, photographs or commentary and simultaneously don’t bring any intrinsic value to our consciousness or images. No longer can we afford to become the Joe Olivers of our community.
When I think of the name “Joe Oliver,” it becomes synonymous with the term “Sell Out.” (Many people might use “Uncle Tom.” However, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment because the original Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1851 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was written in an attempt to be a rejection of the existing stereotypes of the time. In the novel, the Uncle Tom character was a virile man of great power and strong moral and religious character. He was very different from the minstrel adaptations, often performed by White men in black face, which in most cases portrayed him as shiftless, ignorant, apologetic, and proslavery.) Here’s an African American man who has the audacity to make the media rounds claiming to be a friend of the monster.
Now, by all means, if this man were truly a friend then I wouldn’t have a “leg to stand on.” If they had a long standing rapport that was based on mutual understanding and congenial respect, who would I be to judge? If they supported each other socially and emotionally while sharing life experiences, aspirations and goals, then I would be completely wrong in my condemnation. Yet by all accounts, this man was little more or less of an acquaintance to the monster. Saying a few sentences to someone in a work environment or social gathering doesn’t give you the authority to comment on their emotional state at a time of crisis. In spite of this, he has gone on every major news channel and discussed the monster’s emotional state and character, as well as defended allegations of racism, yet he hardly knows him from a “hole in the wall.”
Joe Oliver has become the “Black Face” (pun intended) of the monster cause. This former CNN news anchor seems as if he’ll try anything, including quit his current job in the loan industry, to get back in the limelight. He’s already admitted that he hadn’t been in contact with the monster for over a month after the murder took place. He even had the audacity to say his support for the monster was based on a “gut feeling.” Seriously?! I would like to know if his “gut” knew of the monster’s three prior arrest for violent offences. What about the monster being fired from an “under the table” job as a bouncer/security guard because he couldn’t control his inappropriate aggressive behavior? How about the 46 times he called 911 over the past two years while performing his neighborhood watch “Captain” duties or about the fact that it was against neighborhood watch regulations to carry a gun while on patrol? But, the most pressing question is; how are you paying your bills while making the media rounds performing your minstrel show?
In this current economy, I wouldn’t quit my job for some of my best friends! I love my friends dearly and I wouldn’t abandon them, but I would take all interviews after work or on the weekends. If I had to fly to Atlanta for an interview, I’d make sure I had some vacation time or I’d suddenly develop the flu. At the very least, I’d take a leave of absence. But I, by no stretch of the imagination, would quit my job, unless I had some money coming in from somewhere…or I was independently wealthy. Where is this man’s current income coming from? If we were to dig deep enough, would it lead back to the monster’s lair?
No amount of money would be enough for me to sell my soul. Even if my best friend murdered a kid of a different ethnicity, I would not compromise my integrity for notoriety or money. I owe that to my upbringing, community and self respect. I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I violated my core values. How this man allows himself to be exploited because of his race is beyond my comprehension and should be beyond the comprehension of any rational forward thinking person. It’s deplorable and I hope he doesn’t think as a consequence for his “altruistic” backing, he might one day see his glory days of being back in the line up of primetime news.
News anchors are personalities the public trust. They have the perception of being nonbiased and individuals who refuse to be corrupted. Mr. Oliver has already proven he’s not trustworthy by selling out himself and surprisingly his family. On the contrary, FOX News might be just where he ends up. I just hope he has good moisturizer because that black grease paint can wreck havoc on the skin.
People should defy their community when the notion for what’s right is more prevalent. There are many valiant people who defied their ethnicities in order to sort out justice; Oskar Schindler, Abraham Lincoln, Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, William Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bobby Green, Titus Murphy, Terry Barnett and Lei Yuille, to name a few. However, it’s something else when you allow yourself to be manipulated with the hopes of personal gain. It’s like the field slave who runs and tells his master of an escape plot with hopes of being “promoted” to the big house. The master thwarts the escape, severely punishes the escapees and promotes the slave, but in the end, when it’s all said and done, the slave is still a slave. He may have better food and a few more tattered clothing, but he’s no more free to walk the Earth than he was prior to his snitching.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from the murder of Trayvon Martin is; an unfathomable belief in the fact that this is our country too. We are not long term visitors or resident aliens! We have every right to believe in the phrase, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness” because our ancestors literally fought for it. Off the blood, sweat and tears of our predecessors, this country was built and has thrived into a symbol of hope and prosperity. We deserve and should continue to demand all the rights and privileges of this great nation, including taking stock in its well being and ownership. We need to become inspired by our legacy and stop feeling sorry or ashamed about the way we got here and start looking at all we’ve done and influenced in the time we’ve been here. Only then will we become the indestructible force God intended us to be; limited only by what we are incapable of seeing or imagining.
Trayvon Martin’s death was not unlike many other countless African American males who have been victimized by savages whose true intent was to emasculate and demoralize. His death really hits home for me because it reminds me that there are still people in the world that believe my life doesn’t matter and it is up to me to continue to prove to myself that it does. Trayvon proved that his life mattered…and that resonates in my spirit. Out there all alone, in the dark of night, with no one to help him, he gave his life to prove to himself and the world that it meant something. That resounds in me and I will forever be affected.
What happened to that young man was ethically wrong and should never happen to any kid, regardless of race. If you factor race out of the equation, the facts still remain the same. A kid was unjustly confronted, attacked and murdered and I would advise every, African American, White, Hispanic, Asian or Native American who believes in the righteousness for the innocent to “Stand Your Ground” in solidarity for justice. The principals of law and order in a civilized society speak for themselves. In many cases, fairness in regards to African Americans and people of color have not always been fair, but I believe we are about to change that collectively.
I don’t condone what the Black Panther Party referenced regarding the bounty on the capture of the monster. Nor do I condone Spike Lee’s miscalculated tweet of the monster’s address. I feel his actions were irresponsible. On the other hand, I definitely understand the helplessness we feel as a community…as we remember the times waiting for justice…thousands dead…most are forgotten…most were alone…in the dark of night…tormentors free…to live…and kill again…but we patiently wait…for justice…another time…we patiently wait…that makes me very afraid, if the outcome of this trial, does not end in a definitive second degree murder conviction.