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Forum Post: Trayvon Martin was marked for death from day one...

Posted 6 years ago on April 3, 2012, 5:23 p.m. EST by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY
This content is user submitted and not an official statement


You Got a Problem? Well, Now You Do

by Kai Wright ShareThis | Print | Comment (208) Tuesday, March 27 2012, 10:11 AM EST Tags: Racial Profiling, Trayvon Martin 149


Trayvon Martin had it coming, or so we will soon be led to believe. The surely unattractive details of his short life as a black man in America will tumble forward—his troubles in school, the weed baggie that got him suspended, the altercation in which police and George Zimmerman claim he was the aggressor. He was a maladjusted, Negro man-child, so ferocious he could kill an armed man with his bare hands. He had to die.

Yesterday, local law enforcement offered a preview of this old, familiar narrative when someone leaked Zimmerman’s account of the night to the Orlando Sentinel. According to the Sentinel, Zimmerman had given up his hunt of Martin and was returning to his SUV when the 17-year-old caught him by surprise. Do you have a problem, Martin is said to have asked, before answering for himself, “Well, you do now.” He reportedly began pummelling Zimmerman, leading the armed man to shoot and kill.

Sadly, it’s necessary to point out that there isn’t an imaginable scenario in which an armed man can shoot an unarmed child to death and it be okay. But set that obvious fact to the side. Trayvon Martin did in fact have it coming. He was born black and male in the United States and was thus marked for death. The cruelness of our economy and of our criminal justice system isn’t reserved for men or for black people. But there is a particularly gendered and particularly racist way in which black men are set upon in this country, most acutely those who don’t have the resources to push back. And it has a very long, still relevant history.

For the entirety of American history—from the first African captured and enslaved to the moment Geraldo Rivera opened his mouth to pimp Martin’s death for ratings—black men have been relentlessly caricatured as menaces to society. We were dangerous, so chattel slavery was necessary, and a nation’s wealth was born. We are still dangerous, so a police state is necessary in black neighborhoods all over this country, and the wealth of a prison-industrial complex flourishes. This is what Trayvon Martin’s murder is about. It’s not about his high school suspension. It’s not about his hoodie. It’s not even about Florida’s Kill at Will law, at least not at root. It’s about the enduring, dark fantasies to which America still clings, in order to justify a society in which more black men are locked up or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850—to pick just one of many indicators of the scale at which black men are battered. But we’re menaces; we’ve got it coming.

As black men, we’ve all got our strategies for dealing with the resulting morass of fear and loathing that we must navigate every day. Few of those tricks are healthy, unfortunately. Some work themselves to an early death in a vain effort to disprove the fantasy of their sloth and ignorance—see under, John Henry, Harold Washington, my father. Some fight and fight and fight until they can’t take it, then get the hell out—see under, DuBois, Baldwin, Ture. Most of us just duck and dodge the emotional bullets, try not to let the inevitable wounds fester into self-hate and do our best to keep it moving.

The strategies aren’t always heroic, either. Some black men go mad in pursuit of the self-reliance and individual will that’s supposed to save them, and end up like a bleary eyed, permanently angry Clarence Thomas. A troubling many just give up and become the Baby Boy that too many black mothers, sisters and lovers spend their lives propping up and excusing. Some say screw it and go all Bigger Thomas, doing their best to pantomime the monster that haunts America’s twisted fantasies. I’m more of a Langston Hughes than Richard Wright guy myself, but after hearing the cops’ leaked bile yesterday I found myself re-reading “Native Son,” and relating.

Trayvon Martin was just 17, and maybe he hadn’t yet put together his own strategy for dealing with life as the object of America’s nightmares. So when he found himself being stalked down a dark street, having just been suspended for a crime that his middle class white peers laugh about, perhaps he improvised. He doubled back on white supremacy and tried to catch it off guard with a mixture of Nat Turner and N.W.A. You got a problem? Well, now you do. That got him killed. But you know what Trayvon? I feel you. At least you came at the problem head on.

If Zimmerman and the cops are to be believed, Martin did what so many of us know we can’t. Like when someone asks if it’s safe in your neighborhood, and you want to reply, sure, expect for the white women we keep as sex slaves. Or when the school counselor says your kid has an anger problem and special needs. Or when the cop tells you to quit loitering on your own damn block. You got a problem? Well, now you do.

That was Trayvon Martin’s approach. Hey, he was just a kid. He hadn’t learned the subtle art of disarming the racism that can come flying at you when you’re walking home from the store. The fact that the racism in this instance came flying from a Latino man isn’t relevant. Martin’s killer could’ve been black and it wouldn’t change the circumstances. All of us live in a country in which black men are defined as pariahs. All of us consume that message in ways both overt and implicit and, on some level, far too many of us use it to excuse the brutality we can see all around us.

Like I said, Trayvon Martin was marked for death already, statistically at least. As a black infant, he was more than twice as likely to die as his white peers. In his teens, he was at least one and a half times as likely to meet an early death as his white peers. Homicide is the leading cause of death for black men his age, and comes at a rate many times every other racial or ethnic group. If he had reached his 20s, he had a 1 in 8 chance of going to prison, because that empty bag of marijuana he had at school would have meant something very different for him than it does for the middle class white kids who use drugs at higher rates. He’d have gone on to live in a country in which nearly 4 in 10 black children live in poverty, in which 1 in 4 black households lack food security.

The fact is the U.S. often seems like it’s built to kill black people. This is not to say racism is equally lethal today as it was even a single generation ago. But it is to say that the same set of deeply ingrained ideas about what black people have coming to us justified the brutality of yesterday and today alike. And one particular manifestation of those ideas routinely leads to the early death of men like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell and Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.

Of course, this violent manifestation of white supremacy is not visited upon black male bodies alone. Indeed, as Tea Party candidates like Nevada’s Sharron Angle reminded us in the past election cycle, we must very much begin to see Latinos in the same way—lurking, dangerous, illegal. Fear and loathe them. If you encounter them on a dark street be ready to go to arms. And so Latino men have a lengthening gruesome roll call, too.

Surely all these people have done something to bring the murder, the poverty, the brutality down upon themselves! That’s America’s unique twist on systemic oppression. We cage people, then call them animals. We starve people, then jibe them for being malnourished. We write laws that allow people to gun down unarmed children and then make the child the aggressor. And so now Trayvon Martin will be all manner of sinner—a pothead, a dropout, a ne’er-do-well with a temper problem who had it coming. But what he will indisputably be is dead, like too many before him and surely many after him. He had it coming, as a black man in America.



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[-] 2 points by nonwo (2) 6 years ago

Rebuttal of Van Jones Interview by Amy Goodman on DemNow! Misnomer on "Stand Your Ground" - 3 Apr. '12 info@rebuildthedream.com. smerkelson@unitedrepublic.org

Mr. Van Jones and Ms Amy Goodman with all due respect, I wish to voice my dissent over a particular issue in controversy. That issue is this notion that a few perceives this long standing common law being codified for self defense in the commons as statutory. This so-called notion of self defense allowing anyone to kill first and ask questions later is erroneous. On the contrary, it allows anyone, including walking while black and Mr. Martin, to defend himself against attack. The problem I see is the blatant misapplication and false notion of what this statute actually is. It is not a free pass for anyone to shoot a perceived assailant, including walking while black and Mr. Martin, on his own prejudiced and or false notion he is being accosted. This said statute incorporates certain distinct and essential elements of proof to qualify compliance with the measure. If one can believe the facts on the record, this statute is being unjustly blamed for Mr. Zimmerman being at large with his 9mmP. arm. This statute has been unjustly accused of allowing Mr. Zimmerman to kill Mr. Martin because he is black. That is not the case. Initially, it appears from the record the police investigator recommended further investigation and holding Mr. Zimmerman. It was his police department superiors or the prosecutor's office that overruled this recommendation. Let's look more closely at the issue statute for reason for this holding recommendation. The second requisite essential element within this measure is "stand your ground". Now any sane, objective and unprejudiced observer cannot say Mr. Zimmerman was somehow, "standing his ground" given the entered fact of the 911 tape recording demonstrating instead Mr. Zimmerman actually stalking and not "standing his ground". Anyone saying the statute is wrong and allowed this killing is patently wrong. The statute's requirements states otherwise. On the contrary, the statute protects instead the victim such as Mr. Martin who was actually being stalked and forced to defend against lethal force. If in fact Mr. Zimmerman can demonstrate scuff marks, that demonstrates Mr. Martin defending or using force to meet force being levied against him. It is apparent given the recommendation of the initial investigator, Mr. Zimmerman failed to comply with the said statute. Therefore, the said statute is not faulty or unlawful and doesn't enter as a defense for Mr. Zimmerman.

It is without a doubt ALEC, the corporate dominated organization, should and must be dismantled for undue influence by commercial and corporate forces over legislation. It is quite likely this was the source for the so-called Patriot Act, and others, waiting on the side lines to be implemented when sufficient shock appears. Having said that, it still does not negate the appropriateness of this self defense statute based on the common law. Consistent with the thrust of "Occupy Movement" (Am. Spring), it is the fundamental problem where the people (including blacks and other minorities) have undeniably being overthrown by fascist forces. The road back will require the "Occupy Movement" in all its forms, coalitions, the rest of the public and all its factions, officials, patriot organizations and institutions, all working together in a cohesive force to restore the Constitution and people to their preeminence. Without unity and organization, it will delay justice, liberty, freedom and the elevation of the people over the gov't. structure/apparatus. The de facto shadow ruling elite has succeeded in dividing the people into vulnerable, indefeasible and useless factions. These weak rendered factions will endlessly be mired in indefinite ineffectiveness and destroyed at will by the de facto power elite.

I personally applaud Van Jones and DemNow! for taking a tougher attitude and stance against forces opposing the people's control of their gov't. apparatus. I really like Van Jones' words I "speak up" for Occupy. If we can galvanize and sustain "Occupy", I believe we can regain the people's control over and dismantle the de facto fascist ruling junta. I have my doubts over the issue of a Syrian style oppression of the people and how long non-violence strategy will work. I believe the de facto fascist junta has gained too much power and ground for a complete non-violence strategy to restore the People's control. It is my considered urging for a full, proper, apolitical, unbiased, multinational criminal investigation of the events surrounding the incident 9/11. This is one of the major centerpieces used by the fascists to further perfect its junta and relegating the people to the wayside of servitude. This proper investigation, inter alia, will hold accountable civil servants and their puppeteers paving the way for reemergence of the people.

The major faults I harbor against Hussein is not that he's black, rather he is a damned liar and war criminal. Undeniably, Hussein promised he'd close Guantanamo JTF Brig, he lied. Hussein promised he'd end the 2 so-called wars, he lied. Hussein promised an end to state torture, he lied. Hussein is waging war against Yemen and assassinating U.S. citizens. Hussein is using drones even more than the former war criminal in Pakistan and even will use them over U.S. air space. Hussein continues to build the national security police state. Hussein is unjustly fomenting war against Iran. He and the so-called political parties are no different than the Bushwhacker; they are just different sides of the same 5 cent coin. That is the difference between the 2 parties, since really in control is the de facto fascist junta. That's enough to chew on for now. The real solution is the U.S. president is not powerful enough (even a single racist cop (part of the militarized central force) brought Hussein to eat his words). If you don't realize indefinite detention without due process is unAmerikan and unconstitutional then it's a call for reeducation and you are part of the problem. Despite U.S. presidential powers, besides our Creator, the people wield the real power if they are so motivated. For now I see only the "Occupy Movement" as the upfront unifying and plenary force to effect positive change. Will the people unite under this banner for their health, safety and liberty? This is key to their freedom, do you disagree? Does the issue of Mr. Martin's death advance the cause for the whole of the people's interests? Can or should Mr. Martin's death serve to unify all the people? Does it serve to divide the people or does it unify the people? Should we be unifying the people no matter what the distracting forces and fascists place before us?

[-] 2 points by ShubeLMorgan2 (1088) from New York, NY 6 years ago

"Can or should Mr. Martin's death serve to unify all the people? Does it serve to divide the people or does it unify the people? Should we be unifying the people no matter what the distracting forces and fascists place before us?"

You cannot expect that there is going to be Black-White unity built on ignoring something of the magnitude of the Trayvon Martin case. Whites and others have to show black people that they do care and want to help. #OWS was right to take up the matter of Trayvon Martin and I hope #OWS will continue to be available to help.


[-] 1 points by frogmanofborneo (602) from New York, NY 6 years ago

The statute might not,as you say, "allow" for Zimmerman to do what he did but it served as an excuse for the authorities to legitimize Zimmerman's foul deed.


If you are saying #OWS ought to ignore the Trayvon Martin case you are making an error IMO. A big chunk of the 99% are simply not going to be among the first to stand for what's decent. That is a grouping largely blinded by anti African American hate and phobia. We can't sit and allow that it's okay to kill black teens because some find them scary.