Farewell Little Solider
Despite admonitions from some who I do consider as being fans of my columns, I chose to deliberately hold off writing about the “Trayvon Martin tragedy”, until a little time had elapsed after the verdict emanating from the criminal trial of George Zimmerman-the man who admitted to killing Trayvon. This controversial verdict held that Zimmerman was not guilty of murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or anything for that matter. It basically suggested to the world that the man did nothing wrong; nothing worthy of criminal punishment.
Look; it is always so much better to deal with these things dispassionately -at some later date- instead of being caught up in the temporary emotions of hurt, anger, sorrow, pain and fear; plus you always need a minute or two to reflect on the harsh realities of the continuing story/history of this the USA (the United States of Amnesia). So now, some time has elapsed. And guess what? I am still bewildered by all this; even though somewhere in my cerebral-self I know I shouldn’t be.
A recent poll -taken after George Zimmerman was exonerated from criminal liability on a state level- found that almost ninety per cent of the black respondents felt the jury’s decision was wrong. Amongst white respondents the findings were much different: roughly one-third felt the decision was wrong; roughly another third felt the decision was correct; and the others said that they didn’t have enough information at their disposal to make a decision either way.
And here once again, we obtain through polling, further evidence of the chasms carved out in US society, by years and years of racism, poor education, fear, ignorance, inaction, dishonesty and neglect. When a supposedly civil society, deliberately and perpetually refuses to honestly address one of the biggest challenges it faces (the effects and after-effects of historical racism); then what do you really expect: something other than these types of tragedies and atrocities?
Look; I have written umpteen columns on injustice, race issues, race matters and the pains from it all; look up my archives here. I have been called all kinds of names for my views on the subject: to my face, behind my back, from on the blogs all the way to the craggy corners of New York’s political trenches, and all the way to Facebook even. The columns that seem to elicit the strongest responses are the ones I do on racism, or the ones I do on LGBTQ issues. Some of my columns obviously touch raw nerves. I expect similar responses to this one; so fasten your seatbelts folks: here goes!
On esoteric corners all over the world, there are often times when interactions amongst Negro male strangers are real positive, and nowhere near being as negative as many naysayers generally perceive. This usually happens when one is able to demonstrate knowledge and/or strengths in one area of human endeavor or the other. This is usually when one’s words, actions and/or deeds, are so thoughtful, thought-provoking, credible, powerful or even inspirational, that others end up saying:”much respect soldier (soul-jah); much respect”.
And this can just as easily happen at a cultural or sporting event, or a religious event, or at a civic happening, or at an academic economic or political forum, or even at some simple social event. The point is: it happens. And usually in this context, whenever the word soldier is used, you will find the pronunciation as “soul-jah”; in typical Jamaican brogue.
You see, out of the umbilical cords of “Jamaican Rastafarianism” -which was conceived in rebellion against European Caucasian’s brainwash, bullshit, lies and inhumanity- emerged a clandestine set of values amongst black males of which scholars hardly ever write. It is in fact the recognition that all blacks are soldiers in a war against inhumanity; and the darker you are in skin tone the higher the degree of pain you will likely encounter in this fight. Furthermore, it’s a realization that the complexities of these perpetual battles are much deeper than simply “black” versus “white”.
It’s a reality which accepts that all blacks have been fighting -for centuries now- to garner respect, justice, decency, civility, fairness, dignity, equality and the like: with very limited success. It’s the recognition that this struggle that has been universal in both scope and dimension; and that the struggle continues every single day in contemporary USA much more so than in other countries where honest attempts have been made to deal with racism; albeit with very limited success.
You see, despite the minimal humane gains of the past two centuries, Americans haven’t been honest about truly dealing with racism. Genuine attempts to eradicate this scourge have been barely existent here. And please -you apologists out there- don’t interject the ‘American Civil War’ as some marquee: serendipity has sprung a few successes along the course of history; meanwhile as truth be told: the octopussian tentacles of racism subsumes near every aspect of everyday American life. And this continually leaves black people here in various mental states: including frustration, cynicism, bewilderment and exasperation.
And no; the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Ed, was no panacea: neither were the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. Both landmarks have probably hurt as much as they have helped.
When tragedies like what happened to young Trayvon Martin occur, the same questions always spring from the fiasco: “When will this shit ever end?” When will white-America ever face up to the obvious barbaric truths about their racism? When will people (blacks included) ever realize that we are all “humans” first; and that our racial features/characteristics are secondary and/or subordinate to that very simple fact?
The seeds of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman tragedy were planted long before either one of them was born. You will have to go back centuries if you want to find the fertilizer to this conundrum. You will have to travel back in time to long before Florida was even a state in this counterfeit union; long before its elected officials stupidly allowed the self-serving “gun-lobby”, to influence the writing of such dangerous laws as “Stand Your Ground”. Long before the “Rosewood” incident even.
To me, the best metaphor emerging out of all the writings I have read -relative to the Trayvon Martin tragedy- comes from the New York Times columnist Charles Blow. My “Facebook” friend pulled an old African proverb from his vast vault of knowledge. It deftly summed up what many seem to miss.
Let me put it to you in my own words: “Until Lions hire public-relations experts to do ‘spinning’ for them, then any tale of the hunt will put humans in a rather favorable light”. This is the best context within which one can view the stories that emanated from the mouth of Trayvon Martin’s killer.
When an admitted killer spins tales of half-truths, deceit, inconsistencies, distortions, illogic and even outright lies, then jurors must discredit him via their verdict. It’s the moral thing to do: common sense and intelligence demands that a juror never take the lazy route in any search for objective truths.
In part two of this column I will delve into some of the evidence relative to the recent trial/tragedy and expound further on all this; but let’s be clear here: this entire sordid episode -which will go down in the annals of race relations here- was all about race. And Trayvon Martin will join Emmitt Till, Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Randy Evans and countless other black victims of racism, on the island of infamy. And do note that there are whites (and people from other races) on this island too. It’s not exclusively for black folks, since racism is an illness that afflicts us all. It’s an inhumane predisposition that has no place in civil intercourse. It’s a vicious cancer that’s has metastasized over the history of humans attempting to create a sophisticated civilized society, wherein we can all find equal opportunities to flourish, be secure, find peace and pursue happiness.
In the USA, only one race has perpetually attempted to frustrate others seeking these rudimentary goals. In the USA, only one group of people has persistently and consistently used its powers to subjugate, repress and oppress others from a different race: and that’s the white group (or Caucasians as anthropologically termed). And that’s a fact too many whites refuse to acknowledge. And that’s why it is always easy to hear some of them in media stressing that “it isn’t about race” whenever racially-stained events occur. To them it will never be about race; not while they are in denial. And given that they usually say all this with a straight face, many of these media-folks have enormous credibility with folks of all races. It’s sad; really sad.
When we break things down on an individual by individual basis, you will find that racists come in all classifications, categories, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, etcetera; but when you go deeper and examine racism in a historical context you will find that Caucasians -mainly of European origins- have been stoking the fires of racism with their views, values, behaviors, actions and deeds, for centuries now. They should assume the brunt of the responsibility for what has evolved relative to this topic; but they refuse to. And this is why we are nowhere closer to resolving racial issues in this country now, than when compared to (say) where we were at the end of the Civil War.
To change one’s behavior there must first be an acknowledgement that there is something that needs changing: as long as whites are in classic denial about their racism and their outrageously non-subtle “white-skin privileges” here, we will see no real movement in the right direction.
Some media types -especially those working for the Fox News Network- have chosen to be dishonest, relative to the genesis of this tragedy; but let’s not get this all twisted: George Zimmerman killed seventeen year old Trayvon Martin because he was black. If that kid was white, he would be still alive.
Once you see a young black man skipping through the rain wearing a hood, and you assume (incorrectly) that he is up to no good; and you conclude (incorrectly) that he has no place in your neighborhood; and you racially profile him, shadow him, stalk him, chase him, confront him and then kill him; are we -as objective observers- supposed to suspend our reasoning powers and conclude you were acting in self-defense? Especially when the young man’s singular view of what happened is entombed in rigor-mortis. So the full truth is dead: long live the lies.
As long as Lions have no” public relations help”, can’t you guess what the tale(s) of the hunt will be? Let’s not get this twisted folks. This was about race. This is all about perpetual denial from a stubborn white minority in this population which refuses to look into the mirror of their hearts and souls.
Did anyone really absorb George Zimmerman’s fateful words -muttered under his breath- when he first saw Trayvon Martin? And please note that on this momentous night Zimmerman was not acting in his capacity as a member of the neighborhood “watch team”: he was on the way to the hardware store. And do note also that he had countless opportunities to identify himself to Trayvon -as a member of the “Neighborhood Watch Team”- but he never did. In fact he openly dismissed this during the quasi-interrogation: as something seemingly insignificant or an oversight even.
Does anyone honestly feel that when Zimmerman previously made those two dozen plus 911-phone calls to authorities -in order to report suspicious activities/behaviors in the community- it was only “coincidental” that the “suspicious people” were ALWAYS young black men? This isn’t rocket-science folks! This is simple logic. The man held -and probably still does hold- a racial predisposition to young black men that was negative overall. That’s why the feds should now step in with charges that Zimmerman deliberately violated the civil rights of young Trayvon Martin. He should be arrested again; and tried on civil rights violations.
To those of us who have meticulously and painstakingly followed this tragedy from the get-go, the obfuscations created by Zimmerman’s skilful legal-defense-team were nothing but attempts at creating diversions from the sad truths in this tragedy. It’s almost comical for one to view the local law-enforcement authorities and their inactions, starting with when they refused (or forgot) to secure the “crime scene” on the night in question: thus losing valuable forensic/ballistic evidence. Worse yet was the viewing of the various interrogation scenes which appeared to come directly from a clown’s primer or handbook.
The most telling moment on all the tapes (and there were many) came when they replayed the 911-phone call, made by someone hearing all the commotion going on nearby: outside their home. This call depicted the screams for help of someone clearly being terrorized. Now mind you, these interrogators repeatedly admonished Mister Zimmerman that they were favorably trying to “work with him”.
After it was first played, the interrogator leadingly said something like this:”and that’s your voice screaming in the background there; right? To which George Zimmerman replied in at least four different ways- all within a few seconds mind you: (a) that’s not my voice; (b) it doesn’t sound like me; (c) it might/could be me; and (d) not too sure. By the time we got to the trial, the defense team had mounted a claim that the voice was surely that of George.
Can anyone tell me this: how the hell do you forget the screams you were making, on a night you claim to have been in fear of losing your life?
Remember back in the day when we used to say this on the streets:”let’s call that George”? It was something we said when we wanted to close off a dialogue, or put an end to something troublesome/complicated, or to move on without delving too deep into stuff. The one thing we cannot run from here is the fact that all that “screaming for help” ended for good, after one gunshot was fired by George Zimmerman from near point blank range into Trayvon Martin’s heart. This gunshot killed a mere child really; one who only a few days earlier had celebrated his seventeenth birthday. This was a young man who simply went to the store to purchase some candy and iced-tea for his seven year old brother waiting at home. He never returned to the house alive. And at least a third of the white population now appears to wants us to just call it “George”, when the admitted killer hasn’t been held responsible in any legal way whatsoever.
Let me repeat this mantra as clearly as possible: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.
Stay tuned-in for part two folks; I am not finished with this yet.