Monday, July 22, 2013

What IF Trayvon Had a Gun?

What if Trayvon had a gun?
What if Zimmerman was Black?

American Journal
I don’t know Juror B37 anymore than you do.  I think it is safe to assume that she doesn’t believe she's racist.  I'm sure she'd say she doesn't hate Black people anymore then Paula Deen.  However, any Black person that listened to her interview with Anderson Cooper heard how laced with race her comments actually were. 

The term you may be looking for is “implicit racism.”  Contrary to others (I’m sure) I don’t believe many people who say or do things that most Black people consider racist actually HATE Black people.  I do believe, however, that due to “implicit racism” they either (1) buy into the negative stereotypes, images, and generalities, or (2) come to a conclusion by relying on only part of the available facts and information.  Implicit racism led the AP to produce two similar stories implying two different acts.   It led (and leads) fraternities to host racially incentive parties, then turn around, shrug, and say, "what's the big deal?"  And this is where we find ourselves today.  Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman have thrust implicit racism to center stage.  Implicit racism is still racism. Yet, because it is hidden within the subconscious, it may be more dangerous than general racism.  How do you "fix" something when others don't see the problem?  Implicit racism takes an image or a small sample, and applies it to the entire race.  This allows some folks to say, "[ALL] Black people don't care about education" when the dropout rate for Black people is 8% according to the Dept of Ed.  So what would lead someone to apply an attribute from less then 10% of the population and apply it to the ENTIRE race?  Especially when the argument could be made that not only do Black people care, they care more since they've made the greatest improvements (from 13% to 8%) compared to their White (9% to 5%) counterparts.  As you can see, even if you THINK you don't have a problem -- Houston, there's a problem.

Full disclosure, I’ve had my issues with “young black men.”  I’ve often thought of writing a post to ask the question, “Am I racist?  But I never actually putting pen to paper (or keys to keyboard… or whatever the analogy is for typing a post…).  I’m human just like you.  I see the images on television, I see the stereotypes come to life in the community, and I succumb to the realities that come along with living in “Black communities.”  However, what separates me (and I’m sure, others) from the Zimmermans, Richard Cohens, and even Mayor Bloombergs in the country, is that I make all attempts to look past what the capitalists want me to see and take a comprehensive approach to identifying the REAL issues, problems, and concerns.  Not doing so, even after the presentation of the facts, is yet another example of implicit racism, ironically. 

Zimmerman, just like Richard Cohen, and Mayor Bloomberg (and yes, some of our commenters),   His default position was that Black boys are criminal thug gangsta wannabes.  It’s the same poison that makes it “okay” to “stop-and-frisk” black and brown men at a rate higher than their white counterparts.  It’s the same poison that has Richard Cohen justifying racial profiling because, “In New York City, blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78 percent of all shooting suspects — almost all of them young men.  And yes, it's the same poison that makes it okay to follow Trayvon Martin, provoke him, and kill him.  
Just like Obama said, we aren't naive.  I’ll admit the numbers are staggering: 1 in every 15 Black men is incarcerated; 1 in 3 can expect to go to prison; high school completion rates for Blacks lag behind Whites, etc. These are facts.  They’re based on hard numbers.  I can see how someone can infer negative images about Black boys.  Black people make up 12.6% of the population and are overrepresented in most of the crime and prison stats.  Seems pretty cut and dry, right?  But that's the point.  This is where folks like Zimmerman start and (unfortunately) stop and begin to draw conclusions: Black boys (especially those in hoodies) are criminals.  Are they?  If so, why do Black people get so upset when you say this?  Are Black people just overly sensitive?

This is why President Obama’s statements were so poignant.  He used the “bully pulpit” to say the same thing that Black folks have been saying for years: there are a lot of issues that lead to higher incarceration rates.  All Black boys aren’t violent or criminals.  Something else is going on here.  And that "something else" is the playground where general and implicit racism play.  And I believe it was what pushed Zimmerman to follow Trayvon Martin.  It is also the nucleus of Juror B37s “not guilty” vote.
This is what President Obama was referring to on Friday:
“The African American community is also acknowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.”

“Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.”

“[Black folks] understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor Black neighborhoods around the county is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.  And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.” (emphasis added)

“… [Black folks] get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied.” (emphasis added)

What does President Obama mean?  What’ this ‘context’ he speaks of?

The context shows that:
  • 50% of ALL criminal exonerations are Black men
  • 64% of ALL cases overturned due to DNA evidence are Black men
  • 47% of exonerations in homicide cases are Black men
  • 65% of exonerations in rape cases are Black men – Of all rape cases, 50% of those exonerated sexual assault cases involved eyewitness misidentification
  • Blacks are almost 4 times as likely to be arrested for weed despite Whites having a slightly higher usage rate
There are WAY more statistics, but I think you get the point…

If not, let me summarize: To say, Blacks are more violent because they are convicted at a higher rate than Whites while ignoring the fact that Blacks are wrongly convicted at a higher rate than Whites shows your bias and desire to WANT Blacks to be more violent simply to support your prejudice. 

Why isn’t there more interest in resolving these discrepancies by those CLAIMING to seek equality? Why do you ignore them?  Why do the courts continue to overlook them?  Why does congress refuse to address them?  Why do ‘critics’ refuse to acknowledge them?  Why didn't Richard Cohen even reference these inconsistencies in passing?  It makes sense for Obama to ask us all to "wring as much bias" out of yourself as possible.  Not doing so makes these issues worse.  These are the problems that piss most Black people off!  When Chief Justice Robert’s says that the only way to not discriminate on race is to not discriminate on race isn’t a solution to the problem, it’s breathtakingly insulting and insanely scary resolution that sounds good but does nothing to address the racial disparities that we know exist.  And, adding insult to injury, is used to scale back the efforts made to level the playing field.  Coming from one of the highest ranking officials within the judicial system, this underscores the frustration within the Black community.  Especially when juxtaposed against the Zimmerman jury.  The majority of Black people have a hard time believing that a jury comprised almost entirely of White people is void of racism.  The verdict represents the plight of Black people and the Judicial System.  Where conservative White people see the stats and presume that Black men are more violent, Black people see the same stats and ask, “I'm not shocked.  What did you think the outcome would be?  Black people are treated unfairly; didn’t you see the other stats?  If the group at the center of the enter conversation has a certain perspective, I’m baffled how the country tries to convince them they’re wrong.  It's as if we've moved from the findings of Brown v. Board to something equivalent Jedi Mind Trick, "these are the racists you are looking for."

So, what IF Trayvon had a gun?  What IF Zimmerman was a Black man?  The statics show that the Black male would be found guilty and be off to prison adding to the statistics.  It's amazing how easy the numbers certain folks love to throw up in our faces can grow due to biases.  It's also amazing that we are still having this damn debate on those biases... yet, here we are.

Why do we ignore the OTHER numbers?
Do the images of Black people on TV contribute to stereotypes (COPS, First 48, Housewives of ATL)
What, if anything, can be done?
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