Back on April 13th of this year, the police in Milledgeville, Georgia managed to create a national controversy for their self after they handcuffed a six year old kindergartner and took her to the city jail for throwing a temper tantrum in school. According to police, when Selicia Johnson began tearing items off the walls in the principal’s office at the school she attended and started tossing around furniture on Friday, the school called emergency operators for assistance. When the police arrived, the six year old girl resisted the officer’s attempts to calm her down in the principal’s office and threw a shelf at the principal’s leg. School officials said that the police were called in to assist due to safety concerns for Selicia, other classmates and the school staff. The girl was subsequently placed in heavy duty steel handcuffs, the kind used to restrain men who beat their wives, murderers, and other hardened criminals, and the girl was taken away by police.
When Selicia’s aunt picked her up from the police station later that day, Selicia was being kept in a holding cell. The little girl complained that the handcuffs were too tight and hurt her wrists. The little girl found the experience horrifying and devastating. The parents and other relatives of the little girl said that while she may have misbehaved they asked the question was her behavior so abhorrent to the point where it was necessary for her to be handcuffed and taken to the police department.
The only thing we know about the incident was that the girl tore items off the principal’s wall and threw furniture. She was six years old. How big and heavy was this furniture that was being thrown? Did she turn green, grow overdeveloped muscles that would do a bodybuilder proud, grow larger than life, referred to herself as the Hulk and threatened to smash everybody and everything? Highly unlikely. If the school needed help how come they didn’t call the girl’s parents or relatives instead of calling the police and creating a controversy that was totally avoidable? It’s a fair bet that the parents would have been much more successful in calming the little girl down than a police officer itching to pull out his handcuffs.
Milledgeville Police chief Dray Swicord defended the police action with an announcement that it was department policy that any detainee transported to the police station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back and there was no age discrimination on that rule. If he wanted to prove his point, he should’ve pointed to all the other incidents where the police handcuffed a six year old and took them to jail for having a temper tantrum. Unfortunately, he couldn’t because this incident was the first of its kind and marked a new low for the professionalism of his department. Initially, Selicia was to be charged with juvenile assault and criminal damage to property. However, somebody at the Milledgeville police station came to their senses and ultimately decided not to file charges against the little girl due to her age. According to a criminal defense attorney, filing charges against Selicia would blatantly ignore years of precedent which says that children cannot form intent at such a young age. And it was just a coincidence that little Selicia was black.
Compare the official response to six year old Selicia to another incident that happened, albeit a few decades ago.
In 1965 John Lauber was perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality in his junior year at the prestigious Cranbrook School. When he changed his look so that he walked around the all boys school with long bleached blond hair that draped over one eye, it was more than some of his fellow students could handle. One incensed student, the eighteen year old son of Michigan Governor George Romney, complained that something had to be done about the walking eyesore that threatened their sense of conformity. The Governor’s son concocted a plan. A few days later, with the help of several friends, Mitt Romney walked out of his dorm room shouting about a plan to cut John Lauber’s hair. When they came upon John they tackled him, pinned him to the ground, and as his eyes filled with tears while he screamed for help, Mitt Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.
The incident was recalled by the other attackers who gave their account of what led to the shaming of John Lauber independently of each another. One of the attackers went on to become a dentist, another became a lawyer, a third became a prosecutor, and another became a principal. They described the incident as something senseless, stupid, idiotic, and vicious. Each expressed remorse about their participation. Days after the incident, all were guilt ridden and waited to see what form of discipline would befall them at the famously strict institution. The incident had the potential of being a hate crime. But nothing happened. And the son of the Governor himself went on to become a Governor and the conservative’s best hope for a return to the White House.
Growing up in a world of privilege young Mitt Romney was protected from himself. He could initiate an assault on a defenseless student and walk away without so much as the slightest blemish on his record. In fact, he doesn’t even recall the incident that his bullying buddies remember so well. Mr. Romney went further to say that even though he doesn’t remember that assault taking place, he can say that it wasn’t because John Lauber displayed homosexual like behavior. Which begs the question, how can Mr. Romney not recall the event but defend it at the same time?
Little Selicia isn’t the daughter of the Governor. Her parents aren’t privileged and she doesn’t attend a prestigious school well known for strict adherence to the rules except when the Governor’s son is involved. She was just a little black girl having a bad day with the manifestation of a temper tantrum that sent her to jail at the prepubescent age of six. It’s a fair bet that if she misbehaves sometime in the future somebody won’t bother to fight the urge to call the police on her again. Her record of jail time will come up and that’s all the justification somebody will need to throw the book at her. She would be considered a perpetual nuisance and the strong arm of the law will come down on her like Mitt Romney coming down on a potentially gay student.
If the roles were reversed and it was little Mitt Romney that was six years old and throwing a tantrum by tearing a principal’s bulletin board down and using all his might to hurl furniture across the room, would anyone bother to call the police on him? Chances are the answer would be a resounding no. Privilege makes people care about the outcome of things. Who gives a shit about a little six year old black girl whose parents are nobodies? But the eighteen year old son of the Governor? That’s a totally different ball game. That boy’s future is at stake and we can’t allow anything to interfere with that despite his abhorrent behavior.
See the difference? One is protected from his self at the ripe age of eighteen, not quite mature enough to take on all of the responsibilities of being adult, but old enough to understand right from wrong and actions have consequences. The other is six years old and is punished severely for not having the foresight to think about their actions just a few years out of diapers and being weaned. One has a bright future that includes a shot at being President of the United States. The other has a future that will have a record of a brief stint in jail for throwing a tantrum. One is black and the other is white and the two are worlds apart.
The ugliness of racism has been brought back into the spotlight with the murder of seventeen year old Trayvon Martin by self appointed, wannabe sheriff George Zimmerman and the botched, seven hour and thirty minute investigation, give or take about five minutes, by the Sanford police and other Florida authorities who failed to give the crime its due consideration. Initially, the police claimed there was no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim that he murdered the black teenager in self defense. The police bought the story and sent the shooter home with the gun he used to kill Trayvon in hand. It wasn’t until the people protested did the higher ups in Florida realized that a high profile travesty of justice was happening in their backyard and reopened the investigation and Zimmerman was finally charged with a crime and held in police custody.
The protest that brought Zimmerman to justice was led primarily by people in the black community. People all around the world gave their support. But the mass of thirty thousand people that descended onto Sanford, Florida was disproportionately black, outraged over another example of white on black crime compounded by a police department with a history of contributing to racial tension that appeared reluctant to take the murder of an unarmed black teenager seriously. President Barack Obama was asked his opinion of the Trayvon Martin case. Along with an expression of sympathy to Trayvon’s family, Mr. Obama said that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon.
Mr. Obama’s sentiment only added fuel to the fire people used to justify the shooting and subsequent lack of an investigation of the boy’s murder. People already dismissed Trayvon as unworthy of justice simply because he was black, kind of like Zimmerman denied Trayvon the right to walk down the street without being harassed because he was black. But when Mr. Obama made his statement saying that he could identify with Trayvon, some people took their racial animosity to the stratosphere. It was wrong for Mr. Obama to insert race into a situation that had race written all over it. Newt Gingrich went so far as to interpret Mr. Obama’s statement as an endorsement that it would have been acceptable of Zimmerman had murdered a white kid. Only a race baiter would attempt such a colossal and irrational leap of logic and few people outside the seriously ravenous hatemonger took Mr. Gingrich seriously. Nevertheless, the fact that race was playing a part in this whole ugly ordeal could not be ignored.
The news was filled about how once again we should be opening up a nationwide dialog about race. Did race play a part in the murder of Trayvon? Did race play a part in the initial lack of an investigation by the Sanford police? How did race factor in the response by the black community? What role did race play in the response by so many people who were saying that black people were rushing to judgment? What role did race play in America’s history of racial intolerance? You get the point.
Many television news programs asked the question is it time for America to have an honest talk about race. I saw it on many of the programs on MSNBC including Morning Joe, Up with Chris Hayes, Now featuring Alex Wagner, Political Nation with Al Sharpton, and quite a few others. Many people were talking about whether or not the shooting of Trayvon was an opportunity to talk about race. But few of these shows took the opportunity to actually talk about race.
Instead of asking a question if now is a good time or talking about racism from a perspective that only adds ambiguity and confusion to the issue in order to spare somebody’s feelings, why can’t we have an honest discussion about America’s racial disparity. How is it possible that even in twenty first century America an unarmed black teenager can be murdered by a man who, if rumors of his compulsion to call the police at the site of an unknown black person holds true, obviously has a problem with black people and can walk away from the scene of his crime with the murder weapon? How does that not bring to mind the history of pre civil rights era of a place like Mississippi or Alabama when racism was so rampant? Why don’t we talk about the fact that something like half of the white population were tired of hearing about the Trayvon case just weeks after the boy was shot and Zimmerman remained free while more than eighty percent of the black community felt otherwise?
If we are going to ever have a conversation about racism then let’s have a conversation about racism. Talking about why we should talk about racism just doesn’t cut it. That ranks right up there with talking about arresting somebody who killed an unarmed teenager and yet the police told him to have a good day as he walked away. People need to want that conversation about race instead of pretending that racism is just a ghost story from our unenlightened past. It’s nothing to fear. And the longer we put it off the longer it will take for America to heal the wounds that we have suffered all in the name of racism and the continued subjugation of people of color.
Comedian Bill Cosby says that the debate over the killing of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman should be focused on guns and not race. In Mr. Cosby’s opinion, saying that the unprovoked shooting that took the life of an unarmed black teenager walking home from the convenience store and minding his own business was racially motivated doesn’t solve anything. In an interview with CNN’s State of the Union that aired this past Sunday, Mr. Cosby says that the bigger question is what was George Zimmerman doing with a gun and who taught him how to behave with it.
This is a stark contrast to Mr. Cosby’s reputation for criticism of people in the black community and how black people are not willing to do their fair share to help lift the black community out of its perpetual second class condition with higher than average instances of poverty, crime, and everything else that’s socially unacceptable. For example Mr. Cosby didn’t hesitate to stand in front of his well to do peers and tell them that they’ve done enough and now underprivileged black people need to step up to the plate of responsibility and quit purchasing five hundred dollar running shoes.
Mr. Cosby gave a speech to the NAACP back in May 2004 in which he was highly critical of black people. He ridiculed poor black people’s speech, poor black people’s dress, poor black people’s goals, and other stereotypical aspects of black people that are often portrayed in various media. The speech is referred to as the pound cake speech. And Mr. Cosby had no problem with his criticism even though his criticism didn’t solve a goddamn thing.
In fairness to Mr. Cosby, maybe he has learned a thing or two since he took his criticism of black people on a high profile nationwide tour to try and shame the black community into some kind of action. Maybe he’s learned that just saying black people aren’t doing enough isn’t enough and now Mr. Cosby is operating from a theory that not saying anything about anybody’s behavior is the better route to go. Maybe Mr. Cosby has figured that people aren’t the problem but the things people used to manifest what they feel are the problem. Ergo, if somebody gets shot the problem isn’t the shooter but the shooter’s gun. Therefore, if we just eliminate the guns utopia will fall into place.
In more fairness to Mr. Cosby, the man is almost seventy five years old and just might be suffering from some form of dementia that keeps him from thinking straight. That’s the only thing I can think of to explain his head up his ass philosophy that prevents him from taking a more encompassing look at the social issues that confronts the black community as a whole and individual black people like Trayvon Martin who lost his life to a man who had so deeply embraced the social programming that has taught us to quickly condemn black people as unworthy and inferior.
George Zimmerman was taught a subconscious suspicion of black people. His mistrust of black people was so deeply ingrained that he was willing to bet that if he killed a black person under the most dubious of circumstances he would be vindicated once the true nature of the unfortunate black person comes to light. If Mr. Zimmerman encountered a young white male under the same circumstances, it’s a fair bet that nothing suspicious would have registered on his consciousness.
The Sanford, Florida authorities that were responsible for investigating the shooting of Trayvon saw that the victim was a teenaged black male and quickly wrapped their investigation up in less than eight hours confident that the dead boy was nothing but another young black gang banger who got his comeuppance. Authorities across the country have been programmed to see black people as more trouble than they are worth. Therefore, if a black person gets shot, it’s a fair bet that the shooting was justified and so no thorough investigation, no true opportunity for justice, is necessary.
It is this same programming that has influenced the behavior of Mr. Cosby. The man can turn a blind eye to the social stigma that has been placed squarely on the backs of black people. Like a lot of people who look down their nose at black people, Mr. Cosby has shown that he holds black people responsible for what happens to black people and continues to absolve everybody else of any responsibility. To this day, Mr. Cosby gives lectures in black communities expressing his frustration with the problems that seem so endemic in the black community such as illegal drugs, teenage pregnancy, crime, offensive clothing, single mothers, and all the other problems that impact every social economic subgroup. Even though everyone is impacted by these problems, only the culture of the black community is defined by these problems.
What if George Zimmerman didn’t have a gun? What if he used a knife to kill Trayvon Martin? Would guns be off the hook and knives be declared the source of our problems? What if it wasn’t a knife and George Zimmerman used his fist to beat Trayvon to death? What if he used his feet to kick Trayvon when the boy was on the ground? Would hands be the problem and the easy solution would be to amputate everybody? That just sounds stupid. It sounds about as stupid as saying that the real problem we suffer as a collective is the tolerance of guns.
The real problem we suffer is the tolerance of racism and social discrimination based on race. It wasn’t the gun that was responsible for the killing of Trayvon. What killed that young black man that night was an irrational suspicion that black people are criminals. This idea was planted and nurtured by a culture that not only tolerates racism but perpetuates it. It is perpetuated by people driving down the street who see a black man walking on the sidewalk. It is perpetuated by authorities who fail to take the murder of a black teenager seriously. It is even perpetuated by old black comedians who bend over backwards to dismiss any notion of motivation due to race.
The more I see of Mr. Cosby the more I am convinced that he is a black man who suffers from willful ignorance about the black community. Instead of adding something meaningful to the conversation, he offers an out for everybody that applies responsibility to nobody. And if Mr. Cosby really felt that way would he be willing to give a speech and go on tour saying that black people have done enough to reverse the ills of the black community and that black people have done enough? Somehow that sounds very doubtful.
Mr. Cosby says that it’s the gun that’s our major problem and not our psychosis of perpetual racial disparity against black people that allows somebody to kill a black teenager and then allows that same person to walk away with his gun in hand. But that’s just not true. The gun is just the tool that helps manifests our social collective’s desire to punish black people for the offense of being black.
Black people have been programmed to think that it is some kind of virtue for us to always take the higher ground when we’ve been wronged. You see it a lot when some poor soul who has spent the last twenty years behind bars convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. When evidence is uncovered that their DNA didn’t match the DNA sample that was recovered from the crime scene after years of legal hurdles put up by the prosecutor’s office to keep the truth from seeing light, the poor guy who has had his life stolen from him will say something virtuous like he’s not mad at anybody and just gives thanks to Jesus for never losing his faith that one day he would be set free.
While people want to point to this guy as a model of civil behavior and the epitome of understanding, our larger society is never so forgiving and understanding to black people. It’s pretty rare to hear somebody say that they forgive the black man they believed has committed a crime against them. Hello No! Black people are more likely the scapegoat for somebody else’s crime. How many times have we heard some white woman claim that a black man stole her children from the back of her car only to realize that the woman killed her children herself? I might be wrong so I won’t say it’s a fact, but I’ve never heard anyone say that the black man did me wrong but I forgive him because somebody has so much faith in Jesus. The black man is rarely forgiven or given a break. It is standard procedure to come down on black people with the heaviest hand available, whether they or guilty or not, which explains why so many innocent black people get released from jail.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise to see Trayvon Martin’s mother offer a few words of understanding to killer man Zimmerman. After weeks of freedom after he murdered Trayvon under very suspicious and dubious circumstances, George Zimmerman was finally charged with second degree murder and was finally in police custody. Zimmerman says that he killed the young black teenager in self defense because after Zimmerman got out of his SUV to run after Trayvon on foot armed with his nine millimeter pistol, Trayvon decided to attack Zimmerman with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman said that Trayvon knocked him down with a punch that broke his nose and then jumped on top of him to bash the back of his head into the sidewalk. And then Zimmerman claimed that while he was on the verge of blacking out from Trayvon’s attack, he remained conscious enough to scream for somebody to help as he maneuvered his hand to his concealed weapon and killed Trayvon with a single shot to the chest.
At least that was one of the stories that were told. Another one has Trayvon coming out of the shadows and telling Zimmerman that he was about to die. After he made his announcement like some over the top bad guy from a Dolemite movie, Trayvon then went after Zimmerman’s concealed weapon because even though Zimmerman never pulled the weapon out, somehow Trayvon knew it was there. There was a struggle between the two men that wound up with Trayvon being accidentally shot.
Regardless of what story or stories or combination of stories he told to the police, the authorities quickly wrapped up their investigation and declared the incident an open and shut case of self defense based on Florida’s stand your ground law. Zimmerman went home and Trayvon’s body went to the morgue for three days before his parents were allowed to claim him.
Now I’m a parent. In about a dozen years my son will be Trayvon’s age. What in the world would possess me to forgive somebody who would shoot my defenseless son as he walked home from the convenience store minding his own business? Not a goddamn thing is the answer that comes quickly to my mind. Why would I want to offer compassion to a man that started stalking my son as he walked home because he looked suspicious, a man that looked down on my son because he was black and wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up because of the light rain that was coming down? What could possibly motivate me to show sympathy to the man that had no sympathy for my son?
Then after he slaughtered my son, why would I forgive the man that would then slander my boy? The man with the smoking gun tells the police that my son attacked him. I hear the 9-1-1 tapes of my son screaming for help. I recognize my son’s voice. But the man that murdered my son says that the voice on the tape wasn’t my boy screaming for help. Zimmerman claims it was his voice screaming at the top of his lungs as he took aim at my son’s chest and pulled the trigger.
I don’t know Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother. I don’t know why she would say that she believed that the shooting of her son was an accident. Maybe she misspoke. Maybe she meant something totally different. But when I saw her say that she believed that the shooting of Trayvon was an accident and all she wanted was an apology, I could’ve reached through my television and slapped her out of her delusion to appear as upright and moral as possible. She probably didn’t want to look like just another angry black woman because that’s a racist and sexist stereotype against black women that has all kinds of connotations.
But the truth of the matter is that Ms. Fulton has lost her son because of the actions of a single individual with delusions of grandeur. She has every right to be angry and to focus that anger on the man that took her son’s life. She doesn’t have to forgive him and she doesn’t have to wait for George Zimmerman to apologize to her. Mr. Zimmerman has already exercised too much control of her life. Sever that link and be done. If that was my son, Zimmerman could apologize until he was blue in the face and I’d still want him to rot in hell for the rest of his life and the rest of his unnatural life.
Me show compassion for my son’s killer if I was in this situation? Fuck that shit!
Forty five days after seventeen year old Trayvon Martin was shot dead for the crime of looking suspicious as he was walking home with a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, the long and painfully slow arthritic arm of the law finally has reached out to apprehend his murderer. Special prosecutor Angela Corey has finally charged the twenty eight year old Mr. Zimmerman with second degree murder. Mr. Zimmerman has turned himself into the custody of Florida law enforcement.
From the very moment that Mr. Zimmerman called the police to report a suspicious character in his neighborhood this case was suspiciously bizarre. Within minutes Trayvon would be dead from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Although we were told that there were no eyewitnesses who saw what happened, there were plenty of people who heard what was going on between Trayvon and Zimmerman. People heard the pleas for help and called the police to report trouble. Police were on the scene within minutes. But after less than eight hours of investigation, the Sanford police closed the file with the assumption that it was an open and shut case of self defense. Less than eight hours after he killed Trayvon, Mr. Zimmerman was a free man.
For weeks the police dragged their feet, stone walling while Trayvon’s parents searched for answers to the question of what happened to their son. They were told that he attacked somebody and that person defended himself. It wasn’t until the 9-1-1 tapes of Mr. Zimmerman’s call to the police were released did people understand the depth of the perversion that was trying to pass itself off as justice in Sanford, Florida. It was revealed that the bias of the local authorities caused them to actively defend the actions on behalf of Mr. Zimmerman. Bill Lee, he captain of the Sanford police, stood in front of a podium and told everyone that there wasn’t enough evidence to contradict Mr. Zimmerman’s story that he was attacked. But that was before it became so obvious that he was working hard to sweep the whole affair under the rug. Mr. Lee was forced to step aside and Governor Rick Scott appointed Ms. Corey to take over the case.
Suspecting yet another case of a young black man being deprived of his life based on nothing but the prejudice against black people, the community protested on Trayvon’s behalf. No justice, no peace. Tens of thousands of people descended onto Sanford to show their support for Trayvon and his family. The President of the United States had to take a moment to acknowledge his disappointment. People from around the world protested on behalf of Trayvon.
Everyone was advised to be patient and to stop trying to rush to judgment. But forty five days to charge a man for the murder of an unarmed teenager isn’t rushing. In fact, forty five days to charge and arrest a man who was at the scene with a smoking gun in his hand and who confessed on the spot that he had killed somebody that he was stalking just minutes before is agonizingly slow. If Mr. Zimmerman was black, he would have been charged, arrested, and in custody behind bars well within forty five seconds after the police were on the scene. And that’s only if they could restrain themselves from killing him as soon as they arrived.
If anything, the rush to judgment was made back when somebody decided to let Quick Draw McGraw go before Trayvon’s body had sufficient time to grow cold. The rush to judgment was made by George Zimmerman when he jumped out of his car with his gun making a clear choice to create a situation that would result in the loss of somebody’s life. And since he was the only one armed it was a foregone conclusion that the young black man that caught Mr. Zimmerman’s eye would be the one that would lose his life.
It took twenty days from the time she was assigned to the case for the special prosecutor and her team to gather enough evidence and information to put together a case they felt was strong enough to bring charges against Mr. Zimmerman. If nothing else, it sounds like they took their time to uncover all the particulars of what happened that night. It sounds like they were a lot more thorough than the keystone cops that spent less time than the number of hours in a normal workday investigating the death of a black teenager that night back in February.
All of the protest that was made that others try to dismiss as a simplistic rush for judgment was anything but. The protests were pleas for somebody to step in and make the corrections necessary to put the train that wrecked the night Trayvon was murdered back on track. And now that the train is back it looks like justice will actually get a chance to put right what went horribly wrong.
A few days ago I read Tyler Perry’s account of his encounter with the police after he made an illegal left turn from the right lane on his way to the airport. Mr. Perry wrote that he was taught by his security team to drive in an erratic manner to throw off people who might be trying to follow him. A man of Mr. Perry’s prominence can’t be too careful. Anybody could be trying to hijack him for whatever reason. Mr. Perry would be an attractive target for anybody looking to kidnap somebody with deep pockets for ransom. Mr. Perry’s problem was that he did his trick traffic maneuver in front of a police car.
When he was pulled over the police were suspicious of him and his behavior. A black guy driving along is already a suspect. A black guy driving like shit is more than enough reason to pull the car over and investigate what’s going on. When the police walked up to Mr. Perry’s car to find out what’s going on, Mr. Perry replied that he drives the way he does to make sure he’s not being followed. At that point the hairs on the back of the two police officer’s neck must have risen up. Their hands may have already been on their service pieces in their holsters. But I’m quite sure at that point they disengaged the safety and whatever straps were used to keep their piece in check. A black man talking about he’s being followed must be a drug dealer or something else criminally oriented.
It’s one of the most vicious stereotypes about black people, especially black men, which have been used to justify the mistrust and suspicion of black people since day one. Black people are violent and so you have to be prepared for anything. And Mr. Perry is more guilty than just about anybody else in the perpetuation of these stereotypes with his minstrel heavy persona that has helped to make Mr. Perry a very wealthy man. For people who are familiar with his work, obviously not the cops that pulled him over, you cannot help but think of Madea when you think of Tyler Perry.
Mabel Simmons, highly more recognizable as Madea, is a character portrayed by Mr. Perry as an extremely tall black elderly woman. She is about seventy five years old, very argumentative, and will threaten people with the gun she keeps with her regardless the occasion. She has a criminal record that goes back to when she was nine years old when she was arrested for shoplifting. She has been charged with illegal gambling, check fraud, identity theft, insurance fraud, assault, attempted murder, and car theft. She has a history of running from the police. In the movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, Madea was charged with criminal trespassing, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a handgun, assault with a deadly weapon, driving with a suspended license, driving a vehicle with an expired registration, and reckless driving.
Considering Madea’s reputation maybe the police that pulled Mr. Perry over really did know who he was. If this is Tyler Perry and he writes about that kind of shit, he might know a little something about that shit, so he might be in the middle of doing that kind of shit at that very moment. You just can’t take a chance with black people like that.
Mr. Perry’s more notable work revolves around his Madea character for which he has been praised to a large extent. But less well known is the criticism that condemns his work as buffoonery at a time when a lot of black people are struggling for respect and equal treatment. Black people love his movies and Mr. Perry is more than ready to give his audience what it wants. But if his chickens are rooted in comic stereotypes that help reinforce every negative stereotype about black people, should Mr. Perry be surprised when those chickens come home to roost and the police approach him the way that they would approach his Madea character? What else has Mr. Perry given people to consider about black people?
To be fair to Mr. Perry he has done a great deal for black people. When most people in Hollywood were employing black people as if they were only trying to meet a quota, Mr. Perry was employing black people for a predominantly black cast in his predominantly black film. And those films have done extremely well. But enough of the type of juvenile comedy that only makes people think that black people are only up to no good. It’s time to do something that black people can be proud of and promotes the idea that black people should be respected as contributors to our communities and not just users.
Hopefully Mr. Perry will come away from his brush with the long arm of the law with an awareness that he needs to do more to help people understand that black people are more than just foul mouthed characters always toting a gun. Maybe he can do something to promote the idea that black people are people too. He’s done well with his minstrel show. Maybe it’s time to do something a little more sophisticated that can help undo some of the damage characters like Madea have already done.
When former Illinois Senator Barack Obama made his pitch to become the next President of the United States, he was dogged rabid style with criticism over the way he responds to controversy. Mr. Obama had to respond to accusations that he would be willing to tolerate racism against white people after video clips of his former pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright became public. Mr. Obama tried to stiff arm his long time spiritual mentor, but that wasn’t good enough. He had to address the issue head on. The result was Mr. Obama’s speech titled “A More Perfect Union” where he denounced his pastor, but made the mistake of describing his white grandmother as the typical white person who held deep suspicions of black people, yet embraced him as her own. People accused Mr. Obama of throwing his grandmother under the bus.
In July of 2009, Mr. Obama’s friend Henry Louis “Skip” Gates was arrested for being angry about someone calling the police on him. Mr. Gates had just returned from a long trip overseas and his front door refused to budge even after the door was unlocked. A passerby saw a black man looking suspicious and called police. The police showed up to make sure everything was on the up and up. Mr. Gates probably wasn’t in the best of mood. The result was a confrontation between the angry black man in his own home and the police and the police took Mr. Gates to jail for being disorderly. Mr. Obama wanted to defend his friend and said that the police behaved stupidly. The backlash was quick and fierce. The President apologized and extended an invitation for both Mr. Gates and the arresting officer to share a beer with him at the White House.
If nothing else those experiences have taught Mr. Obama that he has to be even most careful and think twice before expressing his own opinion regarding an issue that is bound to be controversial. Indeed, if Mr. Obama expresses his opinion over the most mundane issue, his political opponents will stop at nothing to paint him as an out of control liberal doing his best to undermine the constitution.
Earlier this year Mr. Obama called Sandra Fluke to offer his support after she suffered more than two days of vicious attacks by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh because Ms. Fluke had the audacity to testify before the Congress and express her opinion of the healthcare mandate that insurers must offer contraceptive coverage to women. Mr. Obama’s opponents accused him of trying to manipulate the controversy for political advantage in the middle of a presidential election year.
When the news of the travesty regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin went national, Mr. Obama was asked his opinion and the President made the mistake of expressing his sympathy to Trayvon’s family. Mr. Obama said that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon. Frankly I was surprised that Mr. Obama would identify with Trayvon so personally. Mr. Obama rarely expresses his connection to the black community so publicly. I would have expected a generic statement about how we have to be patient while somebody goes to the wheel store to buy a new wheel of justice, mount that wheel to the legal system and wait for it to do something radical like turn. But the President’s statement gave just a hint that Mr. Obama recognizes the racial problem we have in this country.
Mr. Obama’s political opponents took the President’s statement about Trayvon as an attempt to introduce race into a situation that already had race written all over it. The statement was interpreted to mean that Mr. Obama doesn’t care when white teenagers are murdered the way Trayvon was. It should be noted that the political opponents who are trying hard to defend Trayvon’s murder actually admitted a possibility that Trayvon was indeed murdered. Goes to show how confusing partisanship can be when opponents are only focusing on being Mr. Obama’s opposition.
Now Mr. Obama’s statement on the Supreme Court and the future of the healthcare law is getting the take it totally out of context treatment. When asked his opinion of the high court, Mr. Obama said that he was confident that the unelected nine justices would not overturn the law that was appropriately passed by the Congress. Now Mr. Obama is being accused of attacking the Supreme Court and making a threat against them. Conservative presidential contenders accuse Mr. Obama of being a bully. It’s now being billed as POTUS versus SCOTUS and the justices are now in their chambers cowering in fear for their very lives. People are gathering in the streets to defend the highest court in the land from the anticipated onslaught that is bound to come because we all know Mr. Obama has a history of attacking anybody and everybody at the drop of a hat.
The President has been accused of being a proponent of food stamps for black people. He has had his faith questioned at every turn from people suggesting that he is a Muslim or an atheist even when he’s accused of being a Christian in Rev. Wright’s church. His birth certificate is routinely rejected by people who refuse to accept him as an American citizen. People in the United States Congress are so bold that they yell the President’s a liar while he gives his State of the Union address. His wife is routinely criticized for trying to help people live healthier lives by eating right and exercising. He is called arrogant, ignorant, stupid, incompetent, and every other negative adjective that comes to mind. People say that the President should go back Kenya even though his home is Hawaii. He is accused of not loving America. He wants to see America fail. His opponents hope he fails in his bid to make the country better. Marines under his command have the audacity to put a derogatory image of their commander on a Facebook page with a comment that they would not follow his orders. United States regional Judges currently sitting on the bench distribute tasteless jokes about the President’s mother having sex with animals. The President has to deal with boney fingers from Governors thrust in his face.
But now he’s on an attack against no less an entity than the Supreme Court. If Mr. Obama saying that he has confidence that the Supreme Court will let the healthcare law stand is a veiled attack then Mr. Obama is pretty lame when it comes to starting something with somebody. And what would one say about all the shit’s that been said about him? Are any of those statements or the many others that weren’t mentioned an attack on our President?
It was the worst of times…
We don’t know why two white men decided to go to the black side of Tulsa, Oklahoma this past Friday on a shooting spree to randomly kill black people. Nineteen year old Jake England and thirty two year old Alvin Watts climbed into their pickup truck, took a quick drive to the north side of town, and shot five unarmed black men. Three of the five men were fatally wounded. The two men have been charged and are expected to face three counts of first degree murder and two cases of shooting with the intent to kill. The two men were arrested at their home on Sunday following an anonymous tip.
The three dead black men have been identified as forty nine year old Dannaer Fields, fifty four year old Bobby Clark, and thirty one year old William Allen. None of the victims are believed to have known each other or the assailants. All of the victims were simply out walking, minding their own business, when the two white men drove up and shot them. Although the reason for the shooting has yet to be determined for sure, Tulsa police have said that based on Jake England’s Facebook postings he may have been seeking revenge for his father’s death two years ago. On Thursday, Jake England posted an update that blamed the death of his father, Carl England, on a black man. Jake also used a derogatory racial slur to reference black people. Alvin Watts was Jake’s roommate.
Because some people might think that black people will use any excuse to protest, it should be noted that nobody from the black community is marching in the streets looking for national attention to help shame the authorities into doing their job to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. It looks like the police are already doing their job and need no prompting from anyone. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan promised that his officers would do whatever it took to apprehend those responsible for these vicious and cowardly attacks. The police have their suspects in custody and the investigation is continuing without any signs of abating three days later.
Now compare that to the investigation of the Trayvon Martin killing that happened more than six weeks ago in Sanford, Florida. On Sunday, February 26th, the Sanford police arrived at the site of nineteen year old Trayvon’s murder with his killer George Zimmerman still on the scene with a nine millimeter pistol in hand. Less than eight hours after Trayvon’s death, George Zimmerman was told that he was free to go home and he could take his murder weapon home. The authorities in Sanford, Florida made public statements that the investigation was concluded because there was insufficient evidence to contradict Mr. Zimmerman’s claim that he had to defend himself when the young black teenager lost his mind and used a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea to attack the man holding a pistol. The police wrapped their investigation up in a record seven hours and some change.
In response to the authorities’ rush to acquittal, the family of Trayvon Martin started asking questions, and the answers that were given simply didn’t add up. It wasn’t until the recordings from Mr. Zimmerman’s calls to the emergency operators were made public weeks later did we become fully aware of the travesty of this injustice. And the authorities in Florida continued to drag their feet and dismiss any call to reopen the investigation or to bring charges against Mr. Zimmerman. Recognizing a possible case of racial disparity, protests led primarily by the black community erupted in Sanford, in Florida, throughout the country, and around the world.
In response to the protest, supporters of Mr. Zimmerman accused the black community of its own special brand of racism. Black people were only using the death of Trayvon Martin as an excuse to inject racism into a case that has nothing to do with race. But it is hard to accept that preposterous contention given America’s history of racism in matters of law. When was the last time a black man was allowed to go home with his murder weapon after he told police that he had just killed someone? Long before Mr. Zimmerman picked up his cell phone to report a black suspicious character walking down the street this case oozed with racism.
Six weeks after George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, the police in Tulsa, Oklahoma nabbed two white men suspected of killing five black men. This appears to be another obvious case of white on black crime. Except that this white on black crime isn’t being augmented by the criminal collaboration of the authorities trying to aid the perpetrator by claiming there isn’t enough evidence to charge anybody with anything.
The people in Tulsa obviously recognize a crime when they see one. And people in the black community recognize justice being done and when it is not. Even though some really sick and hateful white people went on a rampage to kill black people, the black community is more than willing to let justice do its thing. We may not like the result, but that’s part of the risk of our legal system and justice system. Even though it clearly favors white people with its heavy hand against black people, we have no choice but to go along for this racially disparate ride. We accept that.
But when people who are trusted to uphold the law, when our authorities actively do their best to keep the wheels of justice from working, when people in the black community see a return to the days when people who are charged to protect us would look the other way while black people are being murdered right before our eyes, everyone with a reasonable sense of fairness, law, and order should be concerned and demand that justice be given a fair shot to set things right. It’s not a black and white thing. It’s a right and wrong thing.
Scott didn’t say why he felt the need to reply with the name of O.J. Simpson. I can only make an assumption. So I’m assuming that Scott wants to say that because Mr. Simpson was charged for the death of his wife and his wife’s associate just five days after their murders were discovered, when he went to jail and stayed there until his murder trial was over, faced a jury of his peers, and was eventually found not guilty, the injustice in Sanford, Florida with George Zimmerman being allowed to go home with his murder weapon in hand after police showed up at the scene of Trayvon Martin’s death and declared the case closed after less than eight hours of investigation is somehow justified. The racial context is self evident. White people felt that a black man got away with murder so it’s only fair that black people now feel that a white man is getting away with murder. White people felt robbed of fairness eighteen years ago. It’s only fair that black people get robbed today. It’s only an assumption, but I do believe it is an appropriate one.
Six weeks and counting, George Zimmerman is walking around free as a bird and is amassing a group of supporters to counter the protest for his arrest that’s being led primarily by the black community. Because so many black people are outraged over the fact that Trayvon’s murder was dismissed so quickly by the authorities as they tried to sweep everything under the proverbial rug, a number of white people have taken up the defense of Mr. Zimmerman. Black people are accused of trying to inject racism into the picture. But people conveniently forget that the picture in question is already painted on the landscaped canvas of America already covered thick with brush strokes of racism from industrial grade sized rollers.
Mr. Simpson wasn’t a man who lived as a member of the black community. He spent his life amongst the people who loved him most, the white community. These were the people who made Mr. Simpson a football star, who then decided to put him into their movies, and bought all of his high priced football paraphernalia that made O.J. a member of the well to do. When his wife was murdered, the people who supported him for so long attacked him for his otherness. He was a black man privileged to live well in the upper crust whites and the white community felt betrayed by him. A black man isn’t allowed to kill a white woman no matter what may have happened. Mr. Simpson could’ve pleaded all day long that he was just trying to defend himself, but that defense would’ve held up like wet tissue paper on the ass of somebody suffering from dysentery. Mr. Simpson was charged, tried, and not convicted.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Mr. Simpson did get away with a crime he committed. Even if that may have been the case, what does that have to do with Trayvon? As far as we know the young black teenager didn’t even know O.J. Simpson. So why would so many people who were outraged at the injustice of Mr. Simpson getting away with murder be pushing for the world to accept the injustice of George Zimmerman getting away with murder? At least O.J. Simpson was charged. We are still waiting for George Zimmerman to face his day in court. Some people want to argue that the murder of Trayvon was justified despite the fact that the teenager was walking home unarmed when Zimmerman decided to get out of his car with his nine millimeter, chase Trayvon down even though he was told not to, and pulled the trigger shooting Trayvon to death under very suspicious circumstances. But even if that is the case and the murder of Trayvon was justified according to law, let Mr. Zimmerman be judged by a jury of his peers in a courtroom like O.J. Simpson was.
We already know that the judicial system is unfair. We have lived with the racial disparity of our courtrooms for years. It’s one of the reasons that so many black people felt vindicated when Mr. Simpson was declared not guilty by his peers. It may not have been right. But after so many generations of black people being unfairly convicted in court in so many different reenactments of To Kill a Mockingbird, it was a surprise to see a black man emerge from a courtroom a free man when so many white people wanted his conviction. The white community gave O.J. Simpson all the tools he needed to obtain some semblance of justice. The white community made O.J. Simpson a very wealthy man with notoriety that he used to his advantage. It may not have ended the way all of us may have liked. But the man had his day in court and was found not guilty.
It is intolerable for people to think that it is okay for Zimmerman’s crime to go without prosecution because of what happened with O.J. Simpson almost two decades ago. The only thing Trayvon Martin and O.J. Simpson have in common is the color of their skin. In fact, O.J. Simpson has more in common with George Zimmerman. But of these men were suspected of committing crimes. And both of them need to go to court, explain themselves, and face the judge and jury. Mr. Simpson faced that music eighteen years ago just five days after the murder he was suspected of committing. It has been six weeks and George Zimmerman is still a free man. Even if people didn’t think justice was properly dispensed eighteen years ago, it is not an excuse to circumvent justice today.
And lastly, if we are going to say that a black teenager’s murder is payback for O.J. Simpson eighteen years ago, then people from the white community should never complain about the injustice of holding America liable for the enslavement of black people and the denial of justice that has led to the unfairness of America today with respect to the black community. If you can argue that Trayvon’s murder is payback because of the unfairness of O.J., if Trayvon must pay the price because of what somebody else has done back in the day, then it should be acceptable for America to pay the price of what America did back in the day to the black community that has led to the racial disparity that allows some of us to actually support the murder of our young black people. And we all know that’s never going to happen.
In the religion of the Yoruba people, Obatala is the king of the white cloth. This Orisa must love chlorine bleach and Mr. Clean because his white clothing is always unblemished and pristine. He is often depicted as a wizened elder dressed in his white cloth from head to toe. His great age is simply a manifestation of his wisdom. And if he is illustrated with hair it is always the peppered or white that indicates significant age. He is the one Orisa with the responsibility to create land over the water. Baba Obatala’s realm is the mountains, especially the ones with snow capped peaks. He is the old man that rarely moves and when he does, it is slowly and with a purpose. But when he does move, pay close attention because its significance is as great as a massive earthquake.
His energy is the essence of clarity. It is clarity that allows humans to make the right decisions and to differentiate right from wrong and perhaps most importantly, to see things as they truly are. And it is because of this energy that Obatala is the Orisa of the courthouse and of all things judicial. White forms a perfect background for correctly seeing and identifying that which is around you. His association with the color white is also viewed as a sign of purity in the ability to discern and to make judgments. His energy gives us the ability to see the complete picture for any issue needing to be judged and weighed despite the complexity. For the children of Obatala the world is seen in black and white and there is no gray area. With Obatala help, we can see things as either right or wrong and there is rarely any middle ground.
Obatala can only help us do our jobs to find clarity and seek the truth when we make the honest search for truth our goal. But when our law enforcers are not honest and use their position as arbitrator to push a particular outcome based on personal bias and prejudice, Baba Obatala has no choice but to wash his hands of the matter and leave people to their own devices void of any clarity or righteousness. And the result is chaos and mistrust and nothing that even remotely resembles justice.
Ever since people of African descent set foot in America we have been forced to deal with the painful backhand of America’s justice system. It is this alleged justice system that judged black people as less than human. An honest look at what it means to be human would have recognized black people as people with a different skin color and heritage. But people had an agenda when the question was asked if it was right to consider the children of Africa the equal of the Caucasian. White people would lose their source of cheap labor if the question was answered honestly. And therefore, from the beginning black people were judged a lesser form of life void of any hope of justice. And the lack of true justice that was established then is the same pattern of justice that we continue to follow today.
Today, the prejudice against black people is thick. Despite the legal presumption that a defendant is innocent until he or she is actually proven to be guilty, our justice system regularly operates under the presumption that black people are in fact guilty and a trial in a court of law is just a formal, drawn out process full of legalese to reach a foregone conclusion. Statistics show that black people are more inclined to commit crime and so we can dispense with any real determination of facts and just run with our racially tainted prejudice. Never mind the fact that the circular logic that black people are more likely to be guilty therefore we can find them guilty without really looking for truth. The chance for real justice is lost, or at the very least unfairly far more difficult to obtain. It is very unfortunately that our national collective has decided to stumble down this path of mistrust and fear.
Just like all of our other social systems, the judicial system is heavily biased and heavily weighted against the well being of people in the black community. We like to promote the idea that our courtroom is a place where people are judged by the merits of their case. But all too often the baggage of our learned social orthodoxies is just as much a part of standard courtroom procedure as a gavel or the black judge’s robe. Color that robe black and give your honor a matching pointy hat and nobody would know the difference. Give that same modified uniform to a lot of people who work to keep the wheels of justice moving, if only at a snail’s pace, and you would have a much more precise image of our justice and legal system.
It’s time people wake up to the fact that the United States judicial system was never meant to be a place where black people would be treated fairly. When it comes to black people America’s special brand of justice is about as blind as the Hubble space telescope. There is no clarity. There is no truth. There is nothing to make sure the process is fair for people in the black community. That’s the way it was founded. That’s the way it exists today. Hopefully, we will come to the realization that this injustice needs some kind of attention. And just like when the mountain moves things will be shaken up to such a point our national community will have no choice but to sit up and take notice. And maybe then Baba Obatala will take his rightful place in our courtroom and we will have true clarity for a change.