What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 25, 2013

#PghBlog4Justice - Trayvon Martin's Murder & George Zimmerman's Acquittal: It's About Race & Politics

I'm not a racist, but... 
The President is making this about race...  
The media is stirring up trouble and making this about race...  
It can't be about race because Zimmerman isn't white...  
What about black-on-black crime...  
You dress like a thug, people are going to treat you like a thug...  
They always get away...
Yes, it's about race. It was about race when this country was built on the backs of slaves. It was about race when there was a one-drop rule. It was about race when there were Jim Crow laws. It was about race when the first African American president had to show his birth certificate to prove he is a real American. It was about race when Acorn was attacked and destroyed. It's about race when states pass laws to try to suppress voting. It's about race when the NRA doesn't say that Trayvon Martin would be alive today if only he had a gun (like they do in every other newsworthy case where an unarmed victim is killed). And, it's about race when, "Only in America can a dead black boy go on trial for his own murder" (SyreetaMcFadden).

Trayvon Martin is dead because George Zimmerman saw black skin and assumed the worse. It all springs from that same ugly well of racism.

And George Zimmerman is not in jail today largely because of politics. First, because the NRA's answer to gun violence is "more guns." And, second, because Florida has a "Stand Your Ground" law which can make prosecution absurdly difficult when someone claims self-defense -- especially when their victim is not alive to give their side.

And, Stand Your Ground was most certainly used in this case. It's one of the reasons that the police didn't initially charge Zimmerman (even though he did not evoke it by name). It was written into the jury instructions. And, it was a reason given by one of the jurors for Zimmerman's acquittal. Not surprisingly, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted Stand Your Ground as a model for other states in early just months after the NRA pushed it through Florida's legislature.

Race and Politics is why the man with the gun is alive and free and the teen with the Skittles is dead and buried.

Thankfully, many Pittsburghers -- of all races -- recognize this intersection of race and politics. There were two protests the day after the verdict (Thank you Commander Rashall Brackney for your cool head). The group, Pittsburgh for Trayvon, had a rally turned into a sit-in, turned into a sleep-in, turned into a visit to the missing mayor's home. They have issued a list of demands to city officials. You can see it here. And, on Saturday there was a rally Downtown.

I'll leave you with an amazing poem by Paradise Gray which was performed at some of the above events. It somehow manages to hit every damn mark:

No comments: