In regards to comments flying around online and in the media about black people over the last few days, I must confess it does lead one to come up with one conclusion more than any other. And that is that as a nation America just doesn’t care that much about black people. Or put a different way, most people in America just don’t care about black people. There I said it. Someone had to. Im not the first and I certainly won’t be the last. People are saying it all over the country at the moment. At least those who are paying attention. And that’s the key to this whole thing: America cares so little about black people that not that many people are even discussing this issue. Most of the people who are are black. And that’s insane considering that not just one but two unarmed Americans were killed in cold blood by cops in the last 30 days.
Just compare the response to these last two murders of unarmed black men by police to almost anything else going on around the country or the world… Those are the last things anyone is thinking about. The american media and the people are talking about the protests in Ferguson Missouri more than they’re talking about the actual cause of the protests. It’s a nightly public spectacle akin to a circus, everybody tuning in each evening to see what those crazy people down in Missouri will do next.
American citizens murdered in plain view by police. Yet no one cares. Just imagine if Erik Gardner — strangled to death by four cops in New York City last month — would have been a WHITE husband and father trying to make ends meet… The response would have been catastrophically different. It would be front page news all over the world! “New York Police Strangle Unarmed Father of Five To Death!” But because he was black… That’s a different story entirely. The truth is that NO ONE EVEN KNOWS WHO ERIK GARDNER IS.
Remember Jon Bennett Ramsey? That cute little white beauty queen girl who went missing 20 years ago? The country went crazy! That drama and saga went on for decades and prompted countless fortunes for countless people, the media, the family, people writing books about it, TV specials, etc etc. Erik Gardner — strangled to death on the street like an animal by four cops live on a camera phone?!?! NOTHING. Except protests from the black community. It might as well not have happened.
I think it’s something that we just need to face about America. Black people are at best an endured leftover from days gone by… A former means to end but still around. Americans needed them, so they used them, and then when they no longer were allowed to use them as they needed, they set them free and said “alright we’re done with you. So go on and get out of here. But there’s no law that says that we have to CARE”.
And since the great Emancipation Proclamation that’s how it’s been. A very small freedom where they’ve had to fight and claw and struggle for every new right, law, liberty or privilege they’ve begrudgingly been given by the white powers that be. We must remember that the Civil Rights Act didn’t come with any law that said that America had to care. They just weren’t allowed to hang black people up on trees or beat them in the city streets or segregate them from society anymore.
Another way to look at America’s view of black people perhaps is as an unfortunate token that America tries to make the best of. Americans have very specific token roles they place black people into: here’re our token black comedians. Here’re our token black singers and musicians. Here are our token black athletes. (This is very Romanesque, the way that white America sits up on their bleachers and in their private boxes making large bets on and throwing wads of cash at these modern day gladiators as they perform for everyone down in the center of the ring…) And look here: we even have a token black president! Okay well he’s half black anyway. But still! Doesn’t that surely prove that we’ve overcome our bigotry and racist tendencies and can formally announce to the world the heralding of a new more evolved America where all men truly are equal?
But again it’s all for show. It’s a token. A trifle. Smoke and mirrors. Take a look at the actual statistics revolving around the average black American and the image looks completely different. It gets skewed and blurred from the token affection we appear to show for black people on the surface. The PRIMARY purpose of African American males in America today seems to be to fill up prisons in order to generate profits for the industrialized prison business. This is not to say that ALL black men MUST serve this purpose. It’s certainly not mandatory. And no one is saying or implying that. It’s just made very easy to imprison black men. So much so that the majority of people IN prison in America are black men. This of course leads to an all too predictable absence of men in the black communities all over America which leads to a whole host of problems waiting to happen long before they do. It becomes a circular problem that can never resolve.
Now if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re of the same mind and spirit of the kind of people who DO care about black people. Not because they’re black. But because they’re people. But we mustn’t let that compel us to believe that the rest of the country feels the same way we do. The majority of people, or better put, the majority of the people in power seem to put up with them more than care about them… America throws them a little assistance here and there in the form of welfare, food stamps, affirmative action and Medicaid. That seems to make everyone feel like “it’s all okay with the black people”; but their lives don’t seem to be valued the same way that other people’s are. If they were, we certainly wouldn’t be in a situation like this yet again, another young black boy killed in cold blood long before the prime of his life and a country at odds with itself wondering what the hell are we going to do now?
See, we have to begin to get real about this issue. The plain simple truth of this issue is this: both Gardner and Brown were unarmed, did not pose a threat, weren’t even doing anything wrong in fact, but were both murdered. In reality it doesn’t really matter who killed them. White or black. Nor does it matter too much that the alleged killers happened to be cops. What really matters is what we are going to do as a nation about these deaths — considering that it’s against the law to kill people.
It seems that every time a black person gets killed in America — especially if it’s by a white person — their life means a little less than if they were white. The law against murder doesn’t seem to apply if the person who was murdered is black. This may or may not be the case in reality. But this is certainly how it seems to the world. Trayvon Martin was just one example — a very public one — of this anomalous exception to the law; it showed clearly how little we value life in America if that life happens to be of color. The Trayvon case shocked the country. And the world looked on with horror. How the hell can they allow a man to get off Scott-free who freely admitted to shooting and killing an unarmed teenage boy? Oooohhhh, he was BLACK…. Oh okay, we get it. And that seems to be how it is in America today. Not much different than it was one-hundred years ago. Look at this way: as of this writing, the four police officers who strangled Erik Gardner to death in broad daylight were still going to work every day. This is by all accounts an insane reality. And no, there’s no way in hell this would be the case if Gardner had been a white girl, as opposed to a black male.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone
In other news, we’ve just learned that the devilishly seductive Lauren Bacall passed away today, which I must admit is, though not surprising — for she was well ahead in years, still a strange coincidence in the wake of Robin Williams passing just yesterday. I was never a big Bacall fan. But I must say that she’s always enjoyed a special place in my heart due to the commonly known fact that she pledged an undying love so deep for Humphrey Bogart that she stated she would never and did never get over him and refused to ever marry again. I really admire that. That’s true love. Something I believe we should all be lucky enough to experience at least once in our lives. And it also shows a devotion that seems strangely absent from our modern world. God bless her soul.
In case you’ve missed it — and lord knows it would be easy, for there is too much news right now in our midst for our own good frankly, so much of it so hauntingly bad and tragic, I do want to point out something very disturbing unearthed in our collective underbelly. Yet another case of the police, those honorable men and women sworn to protect and serve us all equally, killing yet another black man, this time a youth, merely 18 years old and a week away from college. His name was Michael Brown. It happened in a town outside of St. Louis, Missouri called Ferguson. Here’s the link to read more: http://time.com/3104128/michael-brown-ferguson-cop-shooting-protests/
Obviously there is rioting going on. Where would there NOT be riots if an 18 year old was shot down in cold blood by a cop? No matter what color he or she was? Imagine if it would have been an 18 year old teenage girl? There’d be a lot more than rioting going on. So in a way, this has nothing to do with color and everything to do with shock and rage. But because this WAS yet another black male killed in cold blood, this is another in a long line of injustices for a community who has already suffered far too much shock and rage in their history in America, especially as of late.
To make matters worse, today it was reported that the FAA has announced a no fly zone over the entire community — meaning ALL MEDIA are not allowed to fly over the town to cover the story. Yeah. Seriously. This is real American corporate cover up bullshit at the federal level. Google it.
These blatant murders & the attempted cover ups of both #MichaelBrown & #ErikGardner by police officers are showing us clear evidence of an overt racism, especially towards black men, that still exists in the United States. The cavalier & carefree attitude that the police departments AND the local and federal government has regarding these deaths shows a heartless disregard for human life IF that life happens to be African American. This is our wake up call moment. In case anyone still wants to proclaim that America has freed itself of racism now that we’ve elected an African American as president. No longer can we claim that “Trayvon Martin was an isolated case or an exception”. Rather he was another in a long line of unfortunate victims of this deep seated bigotry that exists still in some people in the United States, one that we as a nation still refuse to accept or deal with.
Had Martin or Gardner or Brown been a cute little white girl…shot in cold blood on a city street… What then? It would be FRONT PAGE news. Her pretty little face plastered everywhere. The murderer a national villain overnight. Instead we don’t even know the name of the officer who killed Brown yet. Missouri police won’t release it. It’s complete hypocrisy. Perhaps they’re just trying to protect the man’s security. Knowing full well that his life would most likely be in jeopardy. But let us hope that the African American community can keep their Shiite together and make this one a case for the courts. Because that’s what needs to happen. The same for the murder of Erik Gardner. We have that one on tape for Gods sake. They strangled the poor guy to death. The bastards. And then claim it was self defense. I’ve watched it. There was no self defense happening there. Just a couple of racists assholes man handling a black guy. Those officers need to be tried in court, found guilty and serve life sentences.
If this does NOT happen — if the powers that be in this country yet again find a way to weasel out of justice being served for the blatant murder of one of our citizens — then we will know for sure that the racism that exists in our country climbs all the way up the ladder to the very top and beyond. And IF that does happen yet again, ANYTHING but life sentences for these officers, then it is my sincere belief that re American people have every right to do WHATEVER THEY DEEM NECESSARY to seek the justice that w all deserve. Mass protests and riots would only be the beginning of what would be entirely justifiable to seek the justice more than deserved and long overdue for African American men in this country.
We need a clean sweep of this system. From top to bottom. And to start we need a national dialogue about why black men are so despised and reviled still in this country. The ones they can’t lock up they kill. Frankly I believe it is fear. They’re different (at least from white men…) so they’re scary. And what frightens us we say we hate. In reality they don’t really hate them. They don’t even know them. They’re just frightened of them. So they shoot on sight. Without even thinking for a moment about the fact that they’re another living breathing human being. It’s a very sad state that we are in still with this issue.
Thank God we are talking about it again. But lord curse us for it having to come down to this to start the conversation. Two more men shot down in cold blood.
And though I totally get that president Obama saying anything “extra” about this would smell of a kind of reverse racism due to his being half-black, I get that, but at this point ANY American president would and should speak out, for this seems larger than just “taking care of our own”; it seems like a well hidden but deep seated national epidemic of a problem that needs to be addressed. It needs national representation and leadership. And frankly who better than a sitting US president who just happens to be half black? Especially right now as we celebrate the 50 year anniversary of Freedom Summer and the civil rights act et al.?
There’s a first time for everything. Decades have gone by filled with so-called “trials of the century” that went right by me. It is true this rumor that I spent my entire life completely removed from television until two years ago. That’s not to say I didn’t own a TV. I did. But I hadn’t subscribed to television programming since I became an “adult” after leaving home for college when I was 16. I used the television to play DVDs that I would acquire from Netflix and that was all. People used to get this strange look in their eye when they would casually mention something like “the OJ trial” or a popular TV show of the day like “Madmen” and discover that I had no idea what they were talking about; they’d look at me as if I were some kind of alien from another galaxy.
But there were very specific reasons for my refusal to join that club. Two of them at least off the top of my head: One, I believed that one could get a lot more done in their life if television wasn’t a factor. This turned out to be more than true. Two, I believed that television, being a push information technology, i.e. we can’t just dial up whatever we want — we turn it on and have to choose something from a small pre-determined selection of material being offered. And this I believed was anathema to how I believed we should live. Yet another example of living life without real freedom. Besides the fact that it seemed to dumb people down. You lose your control. You voluntarily take things in that aren’t of the highest morals nor the most intelligent. Indeed most of it is downright stupid for lack of a better word. Once in, you have no choice but to remember. The audio and images are forever etched upon the walls of your subconscious. Is it possible to take all that in and not be at least slightly influenced by it? I wasn’t, and still am not entirely sure; we can after all discreate the memories and influence using the Avatar tools if we chose to. But why bother deliberately ingesting something that you already know beforehand you’re going to want to vomit back up? A sort of forced bulimia of the heart and mind.
In 2007, when we began to start pro-actively working on the book about the Age of Personal Expression, one of the Signatures of the Age I proposed was “a new American television renaissance.” There were a lot of reasons for this, which are more than explained in the book itself. Call it 50% intuition and 50% discernment based on observation of the data I was collecting. In 2009 or 10 I decided it would be a good idea to start actively studying television, to sit myself down and watch TV like everyone else who partakes in such things; to deliberately attempt to model the average American. It’s one thing to predict that a society is on the cusp of a creative renaissance in the field of television. It’s another thing to see it for yourself in order to confirm or disprove the theory. (We are by the way). I also felt it was important to get a better understanding of the culture I was so eagerly willing to dissect and analyze. It didn’t make much sense to turn in a 700 page book about modern society, a work of non-fiction sociology, without having had a real life experience of that society.
So in the last three years I have watched more television than I have in all the previous years of my life combined. When looking back and reviewing my history we will observe “isn’t that the phase where he spent three solid years watching TV for the first time?” Yes, it was. Truth be told I cannot say it hasn’t been enjoyable. It was and it wasn’t. It is and it isn’t. I know a lot more about the world we live in. I no longer feel as though I live in a cocoon or bubble, separated and isolated from the rest of humanity as I did for the last 30 years of my life. I understand all the different sports that I’ve heard people rave about since I was a kid. I’ve watched a World Cup and a Superbowl and an NBA Playoff series now. I know what FOX News is and understand what all the fuss is about.
I’ve learned there is no actual news reporting being done in America now. Except for rare occurrences on PBS affiliate stations, real news reporting, objective journalism, at least on television, is a thing of the past, a fond memory of my youth. It’s been replaced by a strange kind of topical gossip mixed with subjective opinion as entertainment. I’ve probably seen every American film to break $100,000 at the box office in the last fifty years. Call me Mr. Smith or Jones. I’m fully in and entrenched in the American psyche. It’s a ghastly place to live frankly; I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
So yes, a first time for everything. America’s latest “trial of the century” is the George Zimmerman case. It is the first I’ve ever followed. A few years or months ago, there was one revolving around a girl named Casey Anthony. But I didn’t pay attention to it. Another regarding a girl named Amanda Something who had allegedly done something wrong in Italy. But again, it went right by me. When you’ve spent your whole life ignoring the things around you that you don’t believe are important, it is easy to become accustomed to not knowing about such things. No one in the circles I hang out in knows about these things either. So it isn’t like I’ve ever felt like I was missing something.
TV is just not something that people in the music business or the arts, academic or activism circles partake in, even if they’re on it or part of it. It’s not part of our culture, or at least a very small part. If one goes without TV for a year or two in the forest, it doesn’t matter if someone hears it or not. No one will notice either way. That’s probably a better way of putting it. Some would argue with this; it’s true that the issue is much deeper and more nuanced than I am allowing here, I admit that. One thing I can say is that now that we’ve entered the “new American television renaissance” there are certain aspects of modern American television that are useful and helpful to us all. Often times this means ignoring 99% of what’s popular but paying close attention to specific shows that cover the topics that most affect you and your industry and your passions. Charlie Rose and Austin City Limits are good examples of this in my own personal life. Yes we can just as easily catch up with these programs online. But we can just as easily DVR them on our TVs and enjoy the many people pleasures that TV has to offer such as the giant screen and the cushy comfort of a suede couch.
With that said, despite the endless hours of research I did — watching everything from the hottest sitcoms to the steamiest dramas to the most popular reality shows and competition shows– I just couldn’t get myself to endure something called HLN for longer than a few seconds. At first glance it appears that someone deliberately tried to envision what the worst possible dystpoian future might look like and then attempted to duplicate it through the lens of a television camera. The bobble heads are as fake and plastic as can be imagined on a bad PCP trip. False eyelashes and hair sprayed stiff as a board. Make up so heavily plastered on both the men and women that they look more like mannequins from Mars than human beings. The hype and drivel spewing out of their mouths every bit as irrelevant, vulgar, mean-spirited and ignorant as one would expect from a humanity gone mad in some twisted B movie about the end of the world.
HLN I believe is short for Headline News. In days long gone, Headline News was the place one went for a quick fix of just news and nothing but news. But that’s obviously changed. My assumption is that it probably occurred some time after Ted Turner sold CNN out to Time Warner or AOL. It’s absolutely impossible to watch the channel, let alone access real news on it. One thing we notice is that HLN seems primarily dedicated to “true crime” programming. The audience is filled with the same people who voluntarily went to public hangings and lynchings back in the good ole days before the invention of television. Watching the day to day goings on of a trial or court case of someone you’ve never met and don’t know personally seems akin to attending an execution just for fun.
It’s not that I don’t get it. I get it. I just can’t believe that there are people like this still alive on planet earth. One suspects this is the same group that watches reality TV or FOX News, believes same sex marriage threatens opposite sex marriage, doesn’t believe in global warming, believes America has an obligation to support the fascist state of Israel, demonizes the country of Iran just because they are told to, doesn’t see a problem with America’s so-called war on terror, signs deals to allow fracking in their backyard, thinks GMO food is okay because the government and media tell them it is, same with prescription medications — in fact they think that “vitamins” are a bunch of hype and hooey, and believe we should permit oil drilling on national public land. We all get it. We just don’t want to believe it. And yet… there it is live and in person for all the world to see on HLN.
On the few occasions that I’ve stopped to attempt to watch for a few minutes, I notice that I get a pain in my chest, extreme discomfort, agonizing dis-ease and anxiousness. These people are our friends colleagues and neighbors. (Not in New York City. But everywhere else they probably are…) We can’t pretend they’re not. Perhaps that’s the part that is most disturbing. Knowing that in certain cases they’re no different than the rest of us, and that in times of crisis or turmoil we’d feel as close to them as we would to anyone else. Perhaps on the surface we’ve got some common ground, because we’re all human beings after all. But if we go deeper, even a little bit deeper, the profound differences between us and how we view the world begin to reveal themselves. And short of separating the country into two halves like we once did with India and Pakistan and promoting mass exoduses — everyone back to your respective corner — there’s not much we can do about these strange bedfellows we are forced to live amongst. How else do we explain the likes of Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney or the Kardashians or Snookey(sp?) or Justin Beiber gaining such prominence in American popular culture? They’re not appearing by magic. Someone is propping them up with enough attention to generate dollars or we would simply never know or even hear about them.
Now with all this said, and despite it all, over the last seven days I have found myself paying careful attention to the George Zimmerman trial. For the first time in my life, I have become interested in one of America’s many infamous “trials of the century”. Truth be told it’s the first one where I’ve even known what’s going on or who the names refer to. Many of my peers and closest allies have lambasted me for it, questioning my judgment and sanity. But I’ve asserted that I believe that the case is an important one on several grounds. The race aspect is clearly fascinating if not important, the gun laws aspect, and perhaps most of all the general statement it makes about where we are and where we are headed as a society. Do we really want to condone such blatant violations of the laws we’ve worked so hard to create and defend in our young struggling nation?
We’re all too familiar with the “wild west” culture that once dominated the rural backwoods of the American heartland, when everyone walked around with a pistol or rifle or shotgun and shot at each other at will, people taking the law into their own hands. Florida, like much of the rural and even metropolitan South, with few exceptions (South Beach, Austin, Atlanta…), is much like the backwoods of modern America. It seems that every time some unthinkable crime or atrocity rocks the very heart and foundation of America’s carefully preserved moral fibers it often turns out to take place in Florida or somewhere else in the South. (Sure these things happen elsewhere… That monster who kidnapped and held hostage three girls for over ten years in his basement lived in Cleveland or Cincinnati, right? But for whatever reason there sure seems to transpire many a horror down in the southland, especially Florida. Hell, one might say Florida is what keeps HLN in business.)
This new trend in killing and getting away with it is a reality, a mentality, that we worked hard to dismantle for hundreds of years in America; there was a certain sense of safety and propriety that all could feel as Americans. Not just because of the police or increased security or even the laws themselves, but because as a society we collectively decided that we wanted to live a certain way; in an environment and culture that felt clean, where we felt safe, where we could raise our children to feel safe. Are we slowly returning to a kind of wild west morality?
This seemingly quick change to America reverting back to becoming a dangerous place seems to have very little to do with so-called terrorism. Every once in a while a 9/11 or “shoe-bomber” or Boston Bombing happens. (We’ve already explored 9/11 and the Boston Bombings ad nauseum, well beyond enough for most readers to understand that whether these were inside jobs or truly the act of Muslim extremists as reported that they’re still “acts of terrorism”, even if certain individuals working in the United States government knew all about them and participated in them.) But acts of terrorism aside, something dark and insidious has taken root in the heart of America entirely separate from America’s war with so-called Muslim extremists. There have been more citizen on citizen attacks in the last ten years than anyone can remember ever happening for a hundred years prior combined. Why?
What is it about NOW, about today’s society, that is compelling people to become so violent? And so willing to express this violence in such overt manners as to bomb buildings or walk around with guns and kill other people they don’t even know? It is hard to believe what I am typing as I do so. It feels surreal. I see and feel my fingers hitting the keyboard, but I find it intangible and difficult to believe the content. What on earth is happening to us?
The first memory I have in our lifetime of this kind of horror is the Clinton Administration’s attack of the Branch Davidians Compound in Waco, Texas in 1993. Over180 American people were murdered by government and military personnel, most of them women and children. Then came the retaliation in the form of Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Oklahoma City building on the same day a few years later. It is said that there were others involved. There are documentaries you can view either in DVD form or online. Highly recommended that you do so. But regardless of WHO was involved, the events happened. It’s real. It’s in our collective memory as a people. From there it only gets worse. Columbine was the first time that most of us ever heard of young children going into a school and killing a bunch of their fellow students. This wasn’t just a suicide or a lone gunmen gone postal, nor was it a Kent State type accidental government killing of a few student protestors. This was a blatantly senseless and insane act by seemingly normal people among us. Still nearly impossible to believe. Except that there have been more since.
The question is “why?” I would submit that the answer is because our heart is dying, the heart of we the people is dying as we helplessly watch our government self destruct before our eyes. Everything that we once cherished and held dear and sacred around us, our core structure if you will, has begun to appear to fall apart. The figurative safety net of a calm peaceful just society has begun to fray and tatter as more and more government coverups and conspiracies are revealed, as more and more covert operations and mass killings overseas and here at home leak to become headline news. It is as if we still want to believe in the America of old, the America of our grandparents, the America that won World War II and flourished through a great post-war industrial and technological age, but it has become increasingly impossible for us to do so in light of all the schemes scams and deceptions that we are bombarded with on an almost weekly if not daily basis now.
I don’t believe that anyone in their right mind, no matter what they say or pretend to believe publicly, truly feels good in their heart about the United States’ government’s invasion of Iraq, or Afghanistan, nor the bombings and assassinations in Yemen, or Libya, or Pakistan or elsewhere. Some may defend to their death the government’s right to these atrocious acts in the name of self-defense, but they don’t really believe it. Worse, they, like us, can feel the inner core of our most basic sense of morality decaying as each day passes and we continue to participate in these egregious activities.
The problem is that we no longer have any control of what our government does. And America, unlike smaller countries, now feels too big and too powerful for we the people to regain control of. If we stepped up and spoke out against any one of the countless number of criminal activities the United States government does on a daily basis or has done over the last fifty years, we would all have to do it collectively or else those who did would quickly and surely be branded “terrorists” by the government and the media alike and imprisoned or killed on the spot. On live TV. It would literally take a nation of millions to protect us from this fate.
So instead we become increasingly disturbed, diseased and spiritually empty and wanting. It is difficult to feel good inside, truly good, content, happy, fulfilled, when you see your own president on TV and know he is in large part lying and deceiving with almost every word he speaks; when you distrust your own government for so many countless acts of criminal behavior and deceptions through the years that you need to refer to lists in order to remember them all. How else is America supposed to feel? The financial crisis of 2008 and the bailout of the big bands with taxpayer’s money. The horrific treatment of fellow citizen Bradly Manning. The suspicious details of the Sandy Hook school massacre. The targeted assassinations of fellow American Anwar al-Awlaki AND his son in cold blood without arrest or trial.
We may joke about president Barack Obama and his love of playing basketball and his daughters being cute and wanting a puppy and his wife being the one who wears the pants in the family. And we may celebrate the country’s milestone achievement of electing our first African American president. But underneath it all is the same fear and loathing we felt during the Bush/Cheney years and all the times before. Only it seems to be getting worse. And as the curtain is pulled back more and more to reveal the nearly dead and decayed heart of American morality, the American populace seems to be getting more and more violent. Turning in on itself. Neighbor attacking neighbor. Family members killing other family members. It’s a spiritual crisis. But it’s roots are socioeconomic and political. It’s the reason why HLN’s schedule is chock full of real life true crimes and murder trials.
A little more than a year ago a young black high school student was walking home from his local 7-11 with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of Arizona Iced Tea. He was unarmed and talking on the phone with a friend of his on his cell phone. His name was Trayvon Martin. At the same time a lone gunman drove through the quiet streets of his neighborhood armed with a handgun in the name of “keeping his neighbors safe”. He spotted the young black student, became suspicious for no apparent reason except that he was black, called the police to report it, was told by the police to stay away from the boy, but instead he somehow ended up coming face to face with him, getting into a fight with him and ultimately killing him by shooting him three times with his gun. The man is now on trial. But he claims it was in self defense.
America is split on how to feel. Horrified, shocked, sad, frightened. But still split. This is the face of what has become of our American Dream. For all the reasons mentioned above. And THIS is what makes the case a racist issue. If the boy had been white, same clothes, same bag of Skittles and iced tea in hand, America would be even more horrified and shocked. Zimmerman would be ostracized from society, lucky to still be alive today and on trial. It most certainly wouldn’t be for second degree murder but rather murder in the first. But as we’ve already learned from trials past, these things are tricky. George Zimmerman could very easily get away with the murder of Trayvon Martin. And that is what makes the case so important, why regardless of how opposed to reality TV or televised court trials one may be it is still one of the most important events in modern American history.
If George Zimmerman, his name and who he is entirely unimportant, if this man is found “innocent” of murder, if he gets away with being able to kill another person who didn’t break into his home, didn’t attack him or his family, but who was simply walking home in his family’s neighborhood, it will set a precedent in our society that has for decades been “unprecedented”.
It is not that we are all so anti-racism that we need Zimmerman to be convicted of murder. (there is certainly some of that in many of us admittedly; as stated, the fact that Martin was black is surely the cause of his being picked out by Zimmerman and ultimately the reason he is dead.) It is not as if we knew Martin personally or were friends with him. It is not that he was still only a child. He wasn’t a public personality nor particularly cute and thus captured the heart of America as soon as his picture graced the front pages of national newspapers and magazines. It is all these things and yet it is much more.
It is more than anything the gruesome possibility that this kind of frightening horrific event can happen in America and the person who did the killing could possibly get away with it. There is something abhorrent and unbearable about the prospect of this becoming our new reality. Regardless of what the facts turn out to be (and it looks as though as with all things we will never truly know), it is frightening to consider that this is the new direction America is headed. Will any neighborhood be immune to such horrors? Could it happen HERE next? Just downstairs and out our own window? Why not? What makes Sanford, FL different than any other town in America?
These are just some of the questions that arise out of this sad and woeful case. I shudder to consider how many more people may take up arms and ride around their own neighborhood armed with a handgun if Zimmerman is found not-guilty. As much as we all desire true justice to be served in this case as in all others, this one seems to carry a heavy load in terms of its long term ramifications on society. Besides the race issue which is another matter entirely. Regardless of the jury’s eventual verdict I for one don’t want to NOT know a thing about the case and how it was decided. I believe it to be too historically important. It is in the bigger picture a fascinating story, true as it is — making it all the more impactful, of two innocent people caught in a tangled web of unfortunate circumstances. One dies, the other lives. Both men’s lives and the lives of their families’ changed dramatically forever. But down here on earth, above and beyond the great story and inevitable movie and book rights, one gets the feeling there are real hearts and minds that have stopped temporarily and waiting to be shaped by the verdict of the case. This is the aspect of this event that has the most power to haunt us well past the drama emotion and excitement of this latest trial of the century.