Justice is not color blind
Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez
As we continue to protest and question the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood, I've read a bunch of news stories, and comments touting the belief that "justice is color blind." One of the people who shouted the loudest was hypocritical and hypobigotal Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Those people who willfully ignore reams of data and statistics showing it is not, are those who are busy dismantling civil rights gains as fast as they can, from the Roberts Court 5, to states like North Carolina, which recently repealed the Racial Justice Act, which included dealing with racial bias in jury selection.
Let's be clear. We don't live in a "post-racial" America.
All-white juries are still convened in areas where there are large numbers of African Americans.
The racial composition of juries affects outcomes, and the dispensing of unequal justice.
This graphic from a Duke University study illustrates my point.
Claiming "color-blindness" is just another method of denying racism.
When I look at the photo above, "am I next" raises many questions. Next for what?
Next to be shot by a cop or vigilante? Next to be racially profiled stopped and frisked? Next to die via gun violence? Next to go to a segregated school? Next to face unemployment? Next in the school to prison pipeline? Next to be stopped from voting?
Until this nation addresses racism in all its forms, the only thing I can answer this child is "yes, dear heart, you will be next."
That does not mean, that we will stop trying to change the ugly system that perpetuates inequalities.
If anything has been learned by watching the travesty of "justice" enacted in a courtroom in Florida, it is that we have a long road ahead of us.
Get angry, channel that energy, organize.
Re-double your efforts.
Support organizations that are fighting back.
Take a good hard look at your community and ask, "what am I doing to move us forward?"
There are no easy answers. But without commitment there will be no solutions.
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons…
We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes
News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
The most damning component of George Zimmerman’s acquittal is the painful knowledge that Trayvon Martin was essentially found guilty of being a young black male. New Yorker: Trayvon Martin Found Guilty of Being a Young Black Male.
The not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial came down moments after I left a screening of “Fruitvale Station,” a film about the police-shooting death of Oscar Grant four years ago in Oakland. Much of the audience sat quietly sobbing as the closing credits rolled, moved by the narrative of a young black man, unarmed and senselessly gone. Words were not needed to express a common understanding: to Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old he shot, fit the description; for black America, the circumstances of his death did.
The familiarity dulled the sharp edges of the tragedy. The decision the six jurors reached on Saturday evening will inspire anger, frustration, and despair, but little surprise, and this is the most deeply saddening aspect of the entire affair. From the outset— throughout the forty-four days it took for there to be an arrest, and then in the sixteen months it took to for the case to come to trial—there was a nagging suspicion that it would culminate in disappointment. Call this historical profiling.
The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty. During his cross examination of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, the defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked if she was avoiding the idea that her son had done something to cause his own death. During closing arguments, the defense informed the jury that Martin was armed because he weaponized a sidewalk and used it to bludgeon Zimmerman. During his post-verdict press conference, O’Mara said that, were his client black, he would never have been charged. At the defense’s table, and in the precincts far beyond it where donors have stepped forward to contribute funds to underwrite their efforts, there is a sense that Zimmerman was the victim.
Drudge up to his usual antics. Slate: Who's Disappointed About the Lack of Mass Zimmerman Verdict Riots?
Via Alex Koppelman, we see that the Drudge Report's banner of links creates the impression of America "gripped" by "fury." The careful reader will notice that the photo doesn't seem to reveal any burning buildings or cops buckling under a hail of rocks and bottles.
Instead, there are links to a white guy in Portland saying that "every cop is a target," another link to the Oakland protests from Saturday, and a headline from the Daily Mail that doesn't really jibe with the story:
Demonstrations, from Florida where the trial took place to Atlanta, DC and New York, remained largely peaceful, though Los Angeles protesters managed to shut down an entire freeway and thousands of New Yorkers mobbed Times Square and blocked traffic for an hour.
But "shutting down a freeway" by walking into it was not the wave of riots speculated about on Drudge's site and elsewhere. If you only got your news from that site and its links, you'd think that race riots were breaking out with regularity, and the media was ignoring them because the perps were black. (As McKay Coppins reported at the time, the "why aren't you covering this" coverage surged in the wake of Trayvon Martin stories.)
Did police scramble in the wake of the verdict to prevent anything from going sour in the cities? Yes. It just seems noteworthy that very little went sour. "Urban blacks may riot when X goes wrong for them" is a perennial story, one that got written in the run-ups to elections in 2008 ("Police fear riots if Barack Obama loses US election") and 2012 ("New threats to riot if Obama loses the election"). An act of civil disobedience that blocks traffic—on a Sunday, not even rush hour!—isn't an act of fury that tears a country apart. Honestly, don't the panic-mongers remember what it felt like when peaceful Tea Partiers were accused of incipient anti-government violence?
Find out what made them stay put during slavery. The Root: Why Did Free Blacks Stay in the Old South?
In fact, the Free Negro population (to use the contemporary term for them) in the South before the Civil War actually outnumbered that in the North by a substantial margin. Of the 488,070 free African-American people in the United States in 1860 -- 11 percent of the total black population -- according to the federal census, some 35,766 more lived in the slave-holding South than in the North, as analyzed in Ira Berlin's magisterial study, Slaves Without Masters, and more recently in Eva Sheppard Wolf's graceful book Race and Liberty in the New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia From the Revolution to Nat Turner's Rebellion. Just as remarkably, the vast majority of these free Southern black people stayed put in the Confederate states even during the Civil War. How was this possible?
As you can imagine, the comments that last week's column received were wide-ranging. "White people back then made the Freeman's life a living hell. It was almost better for them to be slaves than to be free," one reader responded. Another took a rather different view: "All the talk about slavery all these years and now we are finding out it wasn't nearly as bad … a lot of the blacks were actually free." But remember, while almost half a million free black people before the Civil War is no insignificant number, 89 percent of all African Americans in 1860 remained enslaved.
Moreover, the plight of the Free Negroes, as I pointed out last week, could be quite perilous, leading some people in places such as New Orleans and Pensacola to flee just before and during the Civil War to Mexico, Haiti and Cuba. Some who were living in border cities such as Baltimore chose to move to Northern cities such as Philadelphia and New York, only to return after the War was won.
Still another reader points out, with a great deal of common sense, that given the fact that Free Negroes were sometimes given land by their masters upon being granted their freedom, we shouldn't be surprised to learn these facts: "I'm not really sure why it's so confusing," this reader added, "moving is hard." And moving away from loved ones, whether slave or free, is even harder. I think this was true in the case of my own freed ancestors, on two of my own family lines, living for about a century in the slave state of Virginia (and from 1823 on another line) rather than resettling in the North. Ira Berlin helps us to understand why the vast majority of these former slaves stayed in the slave states.
Voices and Soul
by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor
I came across a poll from a few years back, showing that working class whites without four year college degrees, back Republican and TeaBircher policies with great majorities. Makes sense then, why we hear the continuing calls from Republicans and TeaBirchers to dismantle the Department of Education; if an educated voting public votes Democrat, then assure that the voting public is uneducated.
I have been harangued myself by this group, folks I went to high school with and have found me on the world wide web. I remember them as slackers and partiers, cheaters on tests who had no real expectation of a four year college education. They were very reminiscent of the characters in a parody of the movie, Saturday Night Fever on Saturday Night Live in the '70's, where Dan Akroyd happily proclaims in a disco club,
"To be young and stupid with no future, god I love this life!"
I have been accused by these "friends", because of my BA's in History and English, and an MA in American Literature, to have been brainwashed by the Liberal Educational system. Excepting homeschooling, or attendance at Regent or Liberty Universities, they are of the belief that the more educated one is; specifically, educated in public schools and "secular" colleges or universities; the more brainwashed that person. Never mind that I started Catholic School before Vatican II, never mind that one of my history professors at Portland State for example, Basil Dmytryshyn, could hardly be considered liberal.
The terrible ramifications of such an approach is obvious; from the problems of Science, whether it be Physics or Evolution, to the problems of historical revisionism and the...
Problems of Translation: Problems of Language~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I turn to my Rand McNally Atlas.
Europe appears right after the Map of the World.
All of Italy can be seen page 9.
Half of Chile page 29.
I take out my ruler.
In global perspective Italy
amounts to less than half an inch.
Chile measures more than an inch and a quarter
of an inch.
Chile is as long as China
Back to the Atlas:
Chunk of China page 17.
All of France page 5: As we say in New York:
Who do France and Italy know
at Rand McNally?
I see the four mountains in Chile higher
than any mountain of North America.
I see Ojos del Salado the highest.
I see Chile unequivocal as crystal thread.
I see the Atacama Desert dry in Chile more than the rest
of the world is dry.
I see Chile dissolving into water.
I do not see what keeps the blue land of Chile
out of blue water.
I do not see the hand of Pablo Neruda on the blue land.
As the plane flies flat to the trees
below five thousand miles below
my Brooklyn windows
and beside the shifted Pacific waters
welled away from the Atlantic at Cape Horn
La Isla Negra that is not an island La
that is not black
is stone and stone of Chile
feeding clouds to color
scale and undertake terrestrial forms
of everything unspeakable
In your country
how do you say copper
for my country?
Blood rising under the Andes and above
the Andes blood
spilling down the rock
corrupted by the amorality
of so much space
that leaves such little trace of blood
rising to the irritated skin the face
of the confession far
I confess I did not resist interrogation.
I confess that by the next day I was no longer sure
of my identity.
I confess I knew the hunger.
I confess I saw the guns.
I confess I was afraid.
I confess I did not die.
What you Americans call a boycott
of the junta?
Who will that feed?
Not just the message but the sound.
Early morning now and I remember
corriendo a la madrugada from a different
I remember from the difficulties of the talk
athwart the wine the dinner and the dancing
meant to welcome you
you did not understand the commonplace expression
of my heart:
the truth is in the life
la verdad de la vida
do you say la mañanita?
But then we lose
the idea of the sky uncurling to the light:
Early morning and I do not think we lose:
the rose we left behind
broken to a glass of water on the table
at the restaurant stands
por la mañanita
-- June Jordan
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