“One of the burdens of being a black male is carrying the heavy weight of other people’s suspicions. One minute you’re going about your life, the next you could be pleading for it, if you’re lucky” says Jonathan Capehart. He continues, “You’ve heard me talk about the conversation my mom had with me before my first day at a predominantly white school. Reading about Trayvon reminded me of the list of the “don’ts” I received.
- “Don’t run in public.” Lest someone think you’re suspicious;
- “Don’t run while carrying anything in your hands.” Lest someone think you stole something;
- “Don’t talk back to the police.” Lest you give them a reason to take you to jail or worse”
Trayvon Martin at 17 years old was well on his way to understanding these nearly 4 century old lessons Mr. Capehart’s mother taught him and my mother thought me. Unfortunately for Trayvon, it appears he was hunted, and gunned down before the lesson really had meaning in his “post racial” society.
So why, I ask, why is full citizenship elusive to blacks and other minorities in America in 2012? Could it be because at the highest ranks of government institutional racism is codified in legislation? Or is it because we live in a “hyper-me” society?
I will not restate what we have already heard about this particular case, instead I only note that as usual we focus on the pathology of a single individual perpetrating a single heinous act and in so doing, we protect the very system that sets the tone for continuing the marginalization of minorities. You must have already heard the familiar “how could this be? Or “not in my country” and “we elected our first black president, we are way past that”. Well, not for Trayvon and countless other minorities who disappear into the ground or are warehoused in privatized jails without national protest.
Whether it is the NY State Republican Senate trading minority voting rights with a Democratic Governor for “casino gambling”; or laws that criminalize the way some young people dress; or attempts by power-drunk locals and politicians to co-opt the names and stories of Blacks that are remembered during the month of February, we accept or we buy into soft racism every day.
Trading minority voting rights (gerrymandering) for gambling may have far reaching negative economic impact on various Indian tribes in the state. Here again after nearly 4 centuries of sustained assault we have “successfully” trimmed the Native American populations to endangered species status. The New York Republican – Democratic “deal”, notwithstanding the rhetorical silence - the thief in the night silence, could easily be seen as continuing the long range plan to expire the Native American populations. After all, the Shinnecock Indian Nation believed to be less that 1,700 strong and the Seneca Indian Nation believed to be about 7,800 occupy prime real estate in various parts of New York and casino revenue is a major source of income for the tribes.
So, here is the bigger picture, no baloney. We should not exalt those who promise jobs and revenue from casino gambling now. Our Indian brothers and sisters will suffer the losses. Likewise, Trayvon Martin is no accident and certainly not an isolated incident. Remember Prisco and all the excuses and rationalizations by local residents? I knew Trayvon Martin then and I know him now because he is emblematic of a wider ill – It is still dangerous to be black in America weather you are wearing a hoodie or a suit and tie. Why is full citizenship elusive to blacks and other minorities in America in 2012?
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