An unhealthy nation covers Trayvon Martin’s death 8

When I was a high school kid I didn’t get along with my father. One night, I left my house late at night to go for a walk and clear my head. Perhaps I was even wearing a hoodie. Along the way a white Oldsmobile with a rusty exterior and and old engine started trailing me. I walked faster—and it sped up. I started jogging—and it kept pace. Scared, I cut through some yards to try and lose my pursuer. When I finally reached my street the car was waiting for me there, perhaps 5o meters from my house. I sprinted to the driveway and stopped. Knowing I was safe, I stared down the driver to identify him, who possessed a textbook serial killer look that gave me nightmares for years. The car idled for what seemed like an eternity, and then peeled out down the road. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and the fear I felt that night was probably similar to what Trayvon Martin experienced, if a thorough investigation proves that he was just an innocent kid at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The reason I reference that story is because it’s not uncommon for a high school kid to run when they’re scared, particularly if they feel threatened by an adult. As a teenager I was an avid cross country runner and probably weighed 115 lbs soaking wet. I was fast…but sadly not fast enough to outrun a car. I was cocky, but I knew better than to get into an altercation with a grown man. The point is, behavior that might seem suspicious to a lot of adults wouldn’t be if they put themselves back into the shoes of a teenager.

The case of Trayvon Martin is certainly complex, and perhaps the best thing anyone can do is let the justice system do its job. It seems odd to me that in this day and age people still allow themselves to get riled into a frenzy, as if Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr and a thousand other social media platforms don’t exist. Information gets out, and it’s not like anyone will be able to put a lid on the proceedings like they could have done a few decades ago.

I think of idiots like Louis Farrakhan tweeting, “Where there is no justice, there will be no peace. Soon the law of retaliation may very well be applied,” and I cringe. And then remember that social media allows guys like me expose him as well…and I feel better. The same goes for MSNBC’s Democratic strategists, who use tragedy as an opportunity to link GOP candidates to murder. Their influence is no longer what it once was because they no longer can spout off unchecked. When Karen Finney completely takes Rush Limbaugh’s “Magic Nego” line out of context—it was a song parody inspired by liberal writer David Ehrenstein from the Los Angeles Times, who used the phrase in a 2007 column—I can breathe a sigh of relief. We should let the racial demagogues do their thing, because as long as the rational right takes to the web and broadcasts it for all the world to see, we’ll be fine. The trick is to be diligent about disseminating the information.

Every few years race baiters latch onto an event that they hope will convince the American people that race relations are static and haven’t changed since 1861. And even though most people don’t have the guts to say it on television, they know in their heart that the only thing holding back able-bodied adults of working age in this country, in 2012, is their own work ethic and attitude.

People are so terrified of being labeled a racist that they can’t even have an honest dialogue anymore. We sound like complete idiots on television because instead of saying the word ‘nigger’ when a suspect is accused of saying it before shooting his victim or assailant, we say ‘n-word.’ We’re so intellectually immature that a word has become off limits in any context; it’s been imbued with power that prevents people from even uttering it. How sick and demented is that? And if you somehow don’t stutter sheepishly before saying ‘n-word’ and opt instead to use the actual word (you know, as if you were an adult) you’re looked at as if you’re an alien.

The United States no longer has a race problem; we have a maturity problem. We are no longer a serious nation, and the effects of it can be seen all around us. The shrinking “serious class” of Americans is about to drop dead from doing all the heavy lifting, and it’s largely a non story with our nation’s mainstream media.

Trayvon Martin’s death is sad, just as any life that is cut short is sad, but it would be nice if media concerned itself with the policies and the people hastening the death of our nation.

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8 comments

  1. Saw Geraldo Rivera this morning, and I still can’t believe he blamed the death on a hoodie!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74392.html

    Until I read this story —

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/os-trayvon-martin-shooting-zimmerman-letter-20120315,0,1716605.story

    Where we find out that Zimmerman’s half Hispanic on his mother’s side.

    Makes Geraldo look like he’s defending the man based purely on his cultural heritage.
    But then,Geraldo is a screamin’ liberal .. I shouldn’t be so surprised.

  2. One of the reasons I’m glad I don’t own a television is that I don’t end up watching hours of conjecture over cases like this… What’s annoying is that half of these talking heads on the cable news shows say highly inflammatory and reckless things, and then when they’re proven wrong they’re like, “Oh well. Let’s just forget I ever said that.”

  3. I lived a considerable part of my young life outside of the USA and moved here because of the USA seemed to be the ideal place for equality and equity.
    I must say that the laws in the books certainly have the force of theory but in practice it is totally different. :(

    Half my family is White and I see a massive distinction in the way that part is treated by the society and law enforcement. Race relations in America, I have read has improved significantly.But to say that a Black American man who was killed, and has not had any extensive investigation into his death, does not have the usual American racial undercurrent is a tad naive. A Black life, is documented and proven in this country to be considered way way less than a White one. Studies abound on the Harvard website to affirm this point.

    I agree that race needs to be discussed and people should not get into a frenzy when issues that seem racial are an issue. But here is the point. If it were a Black man that shot a White boy he would be in custody and have the heftiest sentence imaginable handed down by a jury.

    Such jury tainted, in many instances, by the American Implicit Association Bias, endemic in our culture. Except of course if he is a rich Black man like OJ Simpson who can get away with murder.* I mention OJ because wealth trumps race in the quest for justice and so regardless of color, a wealthy man or woman would have a fair shake in court and their deaths would be treated with more seriousness. so in some instances, in the quest for justice race is not an issue especially where wealth is involved.

    I read often that the election of President Obama shows we are in a post racist era. This is a bunch of nonsense. If Hillary had been elected, would it have been a post sexist era? Obama was elected because it was clear that despite the infusion of life pumped into the Republican party by Sarah Palin (who is now unfortunately being vilified by all and sundry), McCain could not deal with the half dead America which was losing about 700,000 jobs a month. His ineptitude led to the election of President Obama.

    Race should be discussed. I was shocked that when I moved here, some African Americans (I am African and naturalized American) thought that I did not understand the pain of racism. I do but I do not get hysterical over it because it is just what it is. This country is built on racial discord fueled by the politics of fear and division.
    Even, my White American part of the family seem at a loss to discuss racial issues.

    My Black relatives are treated differently in almost all areas of their lives. I am grateful that my son is white but my cousins and nephews some of who are Black or bi-racial could have suffered the fate of this young man. I do not know all the facts and he could very well have done something that spooked the shooter and prompted him to shoot.

    However, cases abound in which Black men, and women to a lesser extent, are simply targeted by law enforcement and the community. Their deaths are generally not investigated with vigor, and Black women who disappear do not grace the screens interminably like the Blonde blue eyed Natalee Holloways and others of her ilk.

    Do not get me wrong. every country has its problems. I grew up in a country that was stratified based on class and tribe. We did not get along or like each other but at least we talked about it and understood some of our issues.

    Racism is fueled by politics, fear and lack of education, media coverage of the divisions and imagined differences based on race, the image of the Black man some sort of poor criminal, and other images and language pushed by the Black community themselves by rappers and their colleagues which is bolstered by the American historical consciousness.

    The greatest promoter of racism in the 21st century is politics, the media and this continuing pervasive ignorance of the American middle class (less than 25% of Americans own passports or know anything about the culture and lives of other countries) and a refusal to engage in meaningful racial discourse and an admission of racial divisions.

    Is racism endemic in this country. Yes! Have race relations improved, Yes! Is it very difficult to live as a person of color amidst the biases and ignorance pervasive in this country of barely enlightened folk who get all their information from talking heads and fear mongers? yes yes yes !

    PS: I am a lawyer, have been for quite a while and in the past have been pulled over repeated by cops because I drove a luxury car ( with no frills). They apologized but each time, I wondered why they would stop a young Black woman in a nice car. Later, one of the cops told me that the first image that flashed through their minds, and what they discussed in the precinct, was that young Black women like me were probably drug dealers or wives and girlfriends of such hoodlums! My case was not isolated, many of my friends, super educated and so on suffered the same fate until we learned how to stop such harassment.

    It is the reality of our country and should be objectively addressed so that these issues do not lead to explosions as they have in this case.

    Wow…. that was long. ooops Enjoy :)

  4. Thanks for the comment, mumlawyer.

    Here’s the bottom line: racism exists in ALL countries. Please name for me one country with the kind of diversity America has that is free of racism. You can’t. And so it boils down to this question: Is there a level of racism in the United States that can prevent you or your family or any individual from having a productive, happy life if they work hard, have a good attitude and stay out of trouble? The answer is clearly “No.”

    Where is the German Barack Obama? Where is the Italian Barack Obama? Where is the British Barack Obama? They don’t exist. The supposedly “enlightened” Europe isn’t even close to the United States when it comes to race relations.

    The United States is the freest country the world has ever known. Period. It also covers a HUGE geographic area. When I lived in Germany I could travel all over Europe and cover the same amount of ground as driving from Illinois to Pennsylvania. You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not impressed with the travel habits of Europeans. (The same pseudo-socialists who also have an embarrassing amount of paid-vacation each year. Americans actually work for a living…).

    Immigrants that come to the United States do quite well for themselves, and I would urge you to look into how fast blacks from other countries rise in socioeconomic status as compared with blacks who have been in the United States for generations. I’d also ask why Asians, Indians, Hispanics, and others seem to have no problem raising their living standards from one generation to the next. I firmly believe that the victimization mindset is holding blacks back. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. People stopped caring about black whining a long time ago because their own lives are filled with problems, bills to pay, kids to raise, etc. I would also look at out of wedlock birth rates, which is upwards of 70% in the black community—a sad and astonishing tale ignored by those who need to hear about it the most…

  5. The most educated immigrants who migrate to the United States are AFRICAN. You can check these statistics with the Department of Education. It is not Asians or any other Ethnic group, as the press might have you believe but Africans. This gives us a unique perspective into the American problem of racial bias and terrible race relations.

    As I stated earlier, even in my country of origin, the class stratification led to the education of some of us who received a stellar ivy league type education that prepared us to compete anywhere in the world, and also created a subclass in that country. It is shameful but at least we discuss it.

    The average American is the least traveled and least enlightened of most of his Western contemporaries. Infact, I think this is one of the reasons why it is so easy to get Americans riled up over race and bamboozle them with falsified and unsubstantiated commentary.

    I do not understand your comment about our of wedlock births in among African Americans. First, it is a wrong figure and grossly inflated, and I could not find any reliable statistic that substantiated that herculean number. Further, I do not know what it has to do with racism. or were you trying to talk about poverty? I am not sure. :) Caucasians have the highest number of people on welfare in this country so you can surmise that white America is quite poor. On that count, I do not agree with the constant talk about poverty being something associated with minorities alone. White America is poor and angry too. Again, I think this is an issue that should be discussed without the emotional media bias and inflammatory rhetoric.

    I think America is the best model of democracy in the world although we have exported a lot of our racial and social maladies worldwide, we still continue to be the most welcoming country in the world. That is a fact.

    The real issue here is that race is an issue and should be honestly and openly discussed so that it does not provide a cover for bigots, anti Semites, haters of other religions etc. Remember, it was a predominantly White Congress that passed the Civil Rights legislation so the arguments by Minority rabble rousers that all of White America is engaged in some sort of systematic racial oppression is patently False.

    Is the life of a White man considered greater than that of a Black man in America and why? I think these and other questions and the reasons why this is the case should be discussed nationally. Only then will issues of race begin to be resolved in the manner they should be.

    Thanks much :)

  6. In a country that of roughly 400 million people, and where blacks make up only about 20% of the population, obviously there will be more “poor” white people. That’s a misleading statistic. That’s like saying, “There are more blacks in jail than in college.” No duh. Most college students are between the ages of 18-25, and most prisoners go from 18 to 65 (for the sake of argument). It’s easy to fudge statistics, which is why I usually don’t use one unless it’s not really questioned and it’s used in the appropriate context.

    It’s also funny how the freest country in the world is somehow “less enlightened” than its Western contemporaries. Most of Europe is filled with socialists and pseudo-socialists. I have no desire to be “enlightened” by them. And, like I said, I lived there for years. I know what they’re about. They are not more enlightened. Simply traveling somewhere for “a holiday” does not make you enlightened. It means you went on vacation.

    The out of wedlock birthrate popped up immediately on a google search for me. In fact, the Atlantic covered it (definitely not a conservative magazine), and they linked back to CDC statistics. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/02/the-math-on-black-out-of-wedlock-births/6738/

    Racism as classically defined does not exist in a meaningful way in the United States anymore. There aren’t really people who believe that they are “superior” to another race simply for having a different skin color. There are fringe groups who no one cares about, but that’s it. Today, “racism” is a catch-all term that includes people who believe certain stereotypes (e.g., most black people are lazy, or they’re criminals). So then the question becomes, “Why do those stereotypes exist?” You must then look to culture, poverty, family, and all the things that affect them. What causes poverty? What causes crime in the inner city? I would argue that not having strong, intact families is at the root of it. When two parents raise a child in a loving home, the kids don’t tend to get into gangs or drugs or other detrimental behaviors. The out of wedlock birthrate, even if you disagree with the exact number, is still a lot higher among blacks than it is with whites, hispanics, or asians. Until that is turned around, other problems will continue to persist.

    • Great read from you two!!! I enjoyed that. Great points on both sides. I am a naturalized African myself and I, like Mumlawyer see race differently than the average black American(I refuse to use the label African American, but that’s another topic).

      One thing I’ll say though is this country rewards hard work like no other. But at the same time, as welcoming as Americans are, racism seems to be more visible and prevalent here than any other European countries and I have lived in a few. The irony. The most tolerant country(we would never have a black president today were it not for the white vote) is the most racist at the same time. Boggles the mind!

      I guess that’s part of what makes this country so special.

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