I knew that it wouldn’t be long before the media found some kind of “dirt” on Trayvon Martin and decided that is was relevant to the case. Fortunately, we have the 911 tapes that irradiate any attempt to brush off Trayvon as some wayward gangsta apprentice out to make a name for himself and poor little Zimmerman just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, here is a quick summary. Trayvon Martin and his dad were visiting friends and/or family members in a gated community. During the half-time of the evening basketball game, Trayvon walked to the local convenience store to purchase snacks. On his way back to the house, armed with a cell phone, Skittles, and an iced tea, he was spotted by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman has been reported as being the neighborhood watch (some reports say he was self-appointed). Zimmerman, for the nearly 48th time in a 24-month period, calls the police to report “suspicious behavior”. According to the 911 tapes, Zimmerman watches Trayvon walk home while talking on his cell phone. Zimmerman tells the police that Trayvon appears to be on drugs. (A toxicology report came back negative.) Zimmerman leaves his car and follows Trayvon. The police dispatcher asks him not to and Zimmerman says “okay”. Between the ‘okay’ and Trayvon hanging up with his girlfriend, Zimmerman comes in contact with Trayvon and the end result is that Trayvon Martin is dead.
The 911 tapes reveal that Zimmerman did not witness Trayvon doing anything wrong. (not that “doing something wrong” would give Zimmerman the right to kill) They reveal that Zimmerman has already prosecuted Trayvon in his own mind. Additionally, enhancements of the audio reveals that Zimmerman probably called Trayvon a F’ ing Coon. Zimmerman told the police it was self defense. The lead homicide investigator says he didn’t really believe Zimmerman and wanted to arrest him for at least manslaughter. That investigator’s decision was over-ridden by higher ups. Zimmerman was allowed to leave the scene, go home with his gun, and wash his clothes. Meanwhile Trayvon lay in a morgue for 3 days as a John Doe while his parents try and find out what happened to him.
I want Zimmerman arrested. I want the tapes thoroughly enhanced and played for a jury. If he did indeed said coon, I want him tried and convicted of a hate crime.
Only a few in the mainstream media have touched on the real issue here. While we all grieve that a young life was taken before it really began – the sad fact is that it will happen again, and again, and again. Why? Because systematic, institutionalized racism will allow white men to believe that they can kill black men with impunity. Instituationlized racism allows teachers to kill the dreams of our kids while their still in elementary school. Institutionalized racism will allow the police to devalue the life of an African American and taking another man’s “word for it”. Institutionalized racism will kill African American men and women far too close to their prime because the stress of dealing with racism on a daily basis wears them down to the bone.
WHEN ARE WE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THAT?!?
The other night I watched MSNBC interview this mealy-mouthed reporter from an Orlando newspaper. She wrote an article stating that Trayvon Martin was on suspension from school because a plastic bag was found in his backpack that might have once contained marijuana. The reporter dismissed the accusation that the article was put out by the Sanford police department to try and paint Trayvon as a gangsta apprentice deserving to get shot. She said that the suspension was “irrelevant to the case”. When asked then why was it printed – she had no answer.
THE REAL CONVERSATION
When the press released that Trayvon has been suspended they neglected to mention that a recent study ,conducted by UCLA, the University of Colorado, and the National Education Policy Center, illuminates the fact that African American boys and girls get suspended twice as often for the SAME OFFENSE. For instance, the study shows that 30% of African American students caught using a cell phone were suspended vs. 17% of white offenders. Moreover, white students were usually suspended for easily documented offenses; vandalism, cheating, etc. While most African Americans were suspended for subjective offenses; e.g. being disrespectful, being loud, etc. One of the final points of this study eradicates the myth that children of color are suspended more often because they misbehave more often.
Why is this okay? Why is it okay for teachers to disproportionately render harsh punitive actions against children of color while letting their white counter parts off with a slap on the wrist? Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Is it because no one has died because of this? Or have they?
KILL THEM BEFORE THEY LIVE
If we as a people, we as a country, we as a community, fought for the seemingly small things, those small everyday incidences of racism; then perhaps Trayvon Martin would still be with us today. If we fought for our kids the way we fight for a promotion, perhaps more of our kids would graduate from high school and more importantly from college. What must it do to the self-esteem of our children to always be seen as a suspect?!?
According to the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, arrests and/or detainment of youths of color for drug related offenses is significantly higher than that of whites. (Most African Americans are incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses) African American youth make up 17% of all American youth, yet they made up 47% of arrests and/or detainments for drug possesion in 2005; even though, according to the Juvenile Department of Justice, the amount of drug use among children of color is the same as it is among white youth. However, the punitive penalties for the drug use is disproportionately aimed at children of color.
If we as a people, we as a country, we as a community, demanded that the justice system end it’s systematic discrimination against our kids, perhaps Trayvon would be with us today. The widely-held belief among white folks that racism, bias, discrimination is an anomaly perpetrated by some nut job (George Zimmerman) and that normal folks judge by the contents of their character is patently false. And as long as we, people of color, walk on egg shells, live in denial, and allow 60% of America to believe in a lie, there will be 100 more Trayvon Martin’s shot dead in the street, guilty of walking while being Black.
Zimmerman’s father is a local supreme court judge (may be retired) and his mother works for the judicial system also. Is this the reason why Zimmerman has been allowed to murder (by all accounts) with impunity?