Jordan Davis, Another Victim of a Murderous Historical Continuum | Politic365

Jordan Davis, Another Victim of a Murderous Historical Continuum 

Dr. Wilmer Leon, Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio radio program “Inside the Issues”

Can a Negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, become a member of the political community formed into existence by the constitution of the United States…they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for…” Chief Justice Roger Taney – Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

The verdict is in.  Michael Dunn was found guilty on three counts of attempted second-degree murder but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the most significant charge of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Jordan Davis.

Instead of celebrating what would have been his 19th birthday, Jordan Davis’ parents continue to mourn the legally unrecognized murder of their son. I can only imagine that this verdict is analogous to killing him again.  Jordan Davis has become another victim of a murderous historical American continuum.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder, the killings of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, Sean Bell on November 26, 2006, Police Sgt. Cornel Young, Jr. on January 28, 2000, Police Officer Willie Wilkins on January 11, 2001, Amadou Diallo on February 4, 1999 and so many others we find ourselves coming to the same conclusion, by focusing on their color; people failed to see theirhumanity.

The subtext to all of these untimely deaths remains race.  The subtext to the inability of juries to convict the George Zimmerman’s and Michael Dunn’s of the world of murder is tied to race as well. They are the most recent victims of a murderous historical American continuum.  Tolnay and Beck in their book A Festival ofViolence, “identified 2,805 victims of lynch mobs killed between 1882 and 1930 in ten southern states.  Although mobs murdered almost 300 white men and women, the vast majority-almost 2,500-of lynch victims were African-American.  The scale of this carnage means that, on average, a black man, woman, or child was murdered nearly once a week, every week, between 1882 and 1930 by a hate driven white mob.”  Today, lynch mobs have been replaced by Zimmerman’s and Dunn’s and sanctioned by “Stand Your Ground” and “juries of their peers”.

As Africans in America and later African Americans, we have been engaged in a struggle for a very long time. Too many of us have forgotten what’s at the crux of the issue.  Many believe it’s economic, others believe its civil rights.  Both of those are important and play a significant role in improving our circumstance but what we’ve been  fighting to have recognized since those first 20 and some odd “African indentured servants” disembarked from the Dutch Man O War off the shores of Jamestown, VA in 1619 (395 years ago)is to be considered human.

According to the Virginia Statutes on Slavery, Act 1, October 1669; what should be done about the casual killing of slaves?  “If any slave resist his master and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not considered a felony, and the master should be acquitted from the molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepense malice should induce any man to destroy his own estate.”  We were property, not human – part of the estate.

In Dred Scott Chief Justice Taney wrote, “…they (Negro’s) were at that time an considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the government might choose to grant them.”  Unfortunately, Taney’s perspective remains prevalent in the minds of too many Americans.

For decades, the law recognized the value of life over property.  In many jurisdictions, before a person could use deadly force they had a duty to retreat.  They had to prove that the use of deadly force wasjustified. This is often taken to mean that if the defendant had first avoided conflict and secondly, had taken reasonable steps to retreat and so demonstrated an intention not to fight before eventuallyusing force, then the taking of a life could be considered justified.

Today, Stand Your Ground has turned this long held principal on its head.  Today it provides individuals (seemingly mostly European American’s) the right to use deadly force (seemingly against African American’s) to “defend” themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a circumstance of their own creation.

One cannot stress enough, in both the Treyvon Martin murder and the murder of Jordan Davis, both victims were in public space, engaged in legal activity, and at the time they were confronted were not a threat to anyone. George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn initiated the confrontations, put themselves in harm’s way, and thentook matters into their own hands, choosing to use deadly force against unarmed and non-threatening innocent victims.  Neither Martin nor Davis was given the opportunity to stand their ground.

What ties the death of all of the individuals listed above together is the culturally accepted stereotype of the threatening Black male. Defense counsels in the murder of Treyvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Amadou Diallo and so many others rationalized these irrationalshootings by tapping into the oftentimes unspoken but clearly recognized and understood fear of the Black male.

Even though no weapon and nothing resembling a weapon was found in the vehicle Jordan Davis was riding in, at least one member of the Dunn jury understood his claim that he was in fear of his life.  Even though Treyvon Martin was unarmed, members of the Zimmerman jury understood on a gut level his claim that he was in fear of his life.  Amadou Diallo was armed with only his wallet when NYPD unleashed a barrage of 41 bullets striking him 19 times.

Since those first 20 and some odd “African indentured servants” disembarked from the Dutch Man O War off the shores of Jamestown, VA in 1619 African’s in America and now African Americans have been victimized by a murderous American historical continuum.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon” Go to http://www.wilmerleon.com or email:wjl3us@yahoo.com. http://www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com  © 2014 InfoWave Communications, LLC

 

 

Jordan Davis, Another Victim of a Murderous Historical Continuum | Politic365.

Update: Marissa Alexander Is Given No Bail Today – New Evidence Comes To Court

WED NOV 13, 2013

Updated: Marissa Alexander Is Given No Bail Today – New Evidence Comes To Court

by Leslie SalzilloFollow

in SOLIDARITY mARISSAMarissa Alexander, the Florida woman who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to ward off her abusive husband, was granted no bail Wednesday afternoon in a Jacksonville courtroom. The mother of three will most likely not get to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with her children, as the ‘deciding judge’ opted to make no decision and set another hearing for January 15, 2012 – pending of course, that he does, or does not, change his mind.In 2010, just days after giving birth, Marissa Alexander fired a warning shot in self-defense to keep her abusive husband, Rico Gray, from attacking her. In his deposition, Gray who has a history of abusing Alexander, admitted it, stated he intended to hurt her had she not fired the warning shot, and said she did the right thing. He also said Alexander did not aim he gun at him. Gray then changed his story once the case went to trial. He walked out a free man – Marissa Alexander, the battered wife, received 20 years. The Florida Stand Your Ground Law did not work for Alexander because she fired a warning shot. Had she shot and killed Rico Gray that day, she would have most likely served no time at all.

My source who was in the courtroom today, reported new evidence has been brought forth – a text message of Rico Gray asking Marissa to come over for sex while there was an order of protection. Rico Gray claims Marissa should not be let out on bond because he is afraid of Marissa; he fears/feared for his life. Does asking her for sex sound like someone who feared for his life?

“I was in a rage. I called her a whore and bitch and . . . I told her, you know, I used to always tell her that, if I can’t have you, nobody going to have you. It was not the first time of ever saying it to her.”~ Rico Gray in his deposition on November 22, 2010.

Again, does this sound like a man fearing for his life?Marissa Alexander’s case has been highly publicized from the start, and the Free Marissa Now campaign has grown throughout social media. The case was catapulted into even more national spotlight, following the George Zimmerman case. In July 2013, Zimmerman was set free after killing teenager, Trayvon Martin, even though Zimmerman was the aggressor. Ironically, the same state attorney that failed to successfully prosecute George Zimmerman, is the same attorney that sent Marissa Alexander to prison. State Attorney Angela Corey ‘twisted the knife’ by refusing to drop Alexander’s case,even after it was overturned in September.

Unless something changes, it doesn’t look as though Marissa Alexander and her three children will be having happy holidays, as she awaits a new bail hearing, and then a whole new trial in March 2014. Supposedly the next trial will be different. This time, Florida courts say the burden of proof will be placed upon them rather than Marissa Alexander. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work, Florida?

If you’re in an abusive relationship, or know someone who may be, there is help: Call: 800-799-SAFE/National Domestic Violence Hotline or Call: 800-656-HOPE/RAINN (Rape,Abuse, & Incest National Network) 

Women’s lives don’t matter: The lesson of Marissa Alexander

TUESDAY, OCT 1, 2013

Women’s lives don’t matter: The lesson of Marissa Alexander

Laws fail to effectively stop violent men or protect us — that’s why we have to stand up for ourselves

BY 

Women's lives don't matter: The lesson of Marissa AlexanderMarissa Alexander (Credit: AP/Lincoln B. Alexander)

I am passionate about domestic violence, because I am a childhood survivor of domestic violence. I know all too well the ways in which men like my father, many of whom are themselves subjugated on the basis of race and class, use home spaces to assert dominance and control that they are not able to wield in the larger world.

I know intimately the terror of being under surveillance in one’s own home, of the prerogative that many men assert to control the comings and goings of their partners and children, often through the threat of violence and force. I have seen how difficult it is to stand your ground, when society is structured to give men economic and political control over private, domestic space. I know what the journey to survivor status looked like for my mother, and the way that my father’s violence demoralized him and ruined our relationship.

I think of the women survivors of gun violence that I personally know (and of the gun violence that snuffed out my father’s life at the age of 33, as he ironically tried to prevent another woman and her children from becoming the victims of domestic violence at the hands of another man).

I think of two high school classmates, a white girl named Mary Dee and a black girl named Jackie, both killed by fatal gunshots in murder-suicide scenarios involving their partners. I think of a class of first-year, college-age African-American women (18 and 19 year olds) that I taught several years ago, in which fully one-quarter of them admitted to having been in violent relationships in high school.

I think about all the stories that are almost too terrifying to remember and much too personal to confess.

Last week, a judge ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, a 33-year-old African-American woman from Florida currently serving a mandatory 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot into the wall to scare off her violent and abusive husband.

The new trial order comes just in time for our annual October commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it calls attention to startling new statistics released from the Violence Policy Center. In 2011, 1,707 women were murdered by men in single victim, single offender incidents. In 94 percent of these cases, these women were murdered by men they knew, and in 51 percent of the cases, they were murdered by guns. Sixty-one percent of these victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. This means that intimate partner relationships constitute one of the most significant contexts through which women experience violence within our culture.

The disproportionate amounts of violence toward black women, who are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than their white female counterparts, were significant enough to warrant their own section of the report. In 2011, 470 black women were killed in single victim/single offender homicides. In cases where the relationship could be determined, 94 percent of black women knew their killers.

That number is entirely consistent across racial categories, because most violent crime is intraracial. On the one hand, that fact would seem to highlight the erroneous nature of designations like “black-on-black” crime, an incendiary term use to pathologize black people, while failing to acknowledge that among white people most crime is “white-on-white” crime.

Beyond the racially problematic dimensions of these kinds of demographic designations, there is the problem of gender. Black women are never the subject of either community or national discussions about “black-on-black” crime, which is largely focused on stopping the epidemic of homicidal violence among young black men. The invisibilization of black women from discourses about victims of violence makes it hard to actually see black women as victims.

In Marissa Alexander’s case, she inadvertently encountered her husband, a man against whom she had a restraining order, when she went to their home to retrieve her clothes unaware that he would be there. When he showed up, she felt threatened, went to her car to retrieve her gun, and then fired a shot into the wall in order to scare him away. Perhaps, this is why the judge also ruled that Alexander cannot use a “stand your ground” defense in her own trial.

The failure of the law to protect Marissa Alexander from her husband, who has admitted under oath to treating her violently, placed her in a difficult set of circumstances. There is no reason that she should be serving 20 years in prison for defending herself against a violent attacker. Yet, she was sentenced through a combination of overzealous prosecuting, by the same Florida district attorney, Angela Corey, who had to be convinced through national protests and marches to prosecute Trayvon Martin’s killer, and extremely punitive mandatory minimum sentencing laws that require some crimes in which a gun is used to carry a 20-year sentence.

Yet again, Angela Corey, and the Florida justice system in general, seem to have a hard time distinguishing victims from perpetrators.

In an ironic twist, Shellie Zimmerman, wife of acquitted killer George Zimmerman, has also had trouble finding any protection on the basis of Florida’s domestic violence laws.  In early September, Shellie Zimmerman called 911 to report that George Zimmerman was brandishing a gun at her and her father, as she attempted to remove her belongings from their home after filing for divorce. Mrs. Zimmerman never saw the actual weapon, but instead observed her husband using threatening body language, while gesturing toward his waistband. She concluded that he had a gun, and since he is legally entitled to carry his gun after being acquitted of Trayvon Martin’s murder, that seems like a credible conclusion on her part. To date, no charges have been filed against George Zimmerman, even though this is not his first run-in with the law on charges of domestic violence.

Fifty-one percent of female homicide victims are killed with guns. In a world where women’s lives matter, robust gun control would be non-negotiable. But in a world where women’s lives don’t matter, Marissa Alexander doesn’t have any ground on which to stand, nor a fighting chance at freedom.

Lest folks convince themselves that these kinds of occurrences are anomalous, I would encourage you to spend some time this month talking to the women you know about the violence they have experienced at the hands of men in their own lives.

Marissa Alexander stood up for herself. She did not retreat. She refused any longer to take her husband’s shit. Unaided by laws that can effectively stop violent men in their tracks, all women survivors reach a point where they refuse to take it anymore. Even as we work to transform our culture of misogynistic violence into a world safe for women to inhabit, we must stand with and for those women who are standing up for themselves.

Brittney CooperBrittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon. Follow her on Twitter at@professorcrunk.

LISTEN LIVE TO OUR LIVE INTERVIEW WITH Ms. Alexander hours following her sentencing.

5-12 aCTION aLERT

A Black Boy is Dead

A Black Boy is Dead

 

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Histories of gender and slavery focus overwhelming on women, as if gender and women are coextensive and men have no gender. This observation points to a problem with the conceptualization of sex and gender across academic disciplines. For if there is a structural neglect of manhood in studies of gender, and if womanhood is misunderstood to be synonymous with gender itself, then this approach signifies an extension rather than an analysis of gender ideology, which traditionally inscribes women as being gendered and men as being generic and beyond gender.

Greg Thomas—The Sexual Demon of Colonial Power—2007

Introduction:

Last week, Black America’s heart was broken and their hopes and expectations of fairness, justice, and equality shattered. The murderer of a young Black boy was freed. George Zimmerman gets to live his life an acquitted killer, and Trayvon Martin, his family, and other Black men and boys will forever be impacted by the reality that any confrontation with white men and/or women can mean death. Black men and boys remain invisible to conversations about gendered violence and death. Their existence and suffering is replaced by negation, or replaced with only the problematization of any scholarship that seeks to address their peculiar racial existence as being marginalizing to the their Black female counterpart. In short, any work seeking to speak to, and for Black male oppression is attacked for not being sufficiently feminist, and as such, worthy of dismissal and censor.

Being Black and Male is not a Privilege—It’s a Death Sentence

Within minutes of the verdict, Black feminists from across the web began posting and comparing the life of Trayvon Martin to that of Black women killed or incarcerated within the last year. On facebook, Black feminist postings about Rekia Boyd, Marissa Alexander, and Aiyanna Stanley-Jones, were on statuses and shared prolifically. Reiterating Jamila Aisha Brown’s piece, “If Trayvon Martin had been a woman…” these feminist posters/bloggers saw themselves making a point about the difference in the attention Black men’s and boy’s deaths receive next to these Black women’s lives. However, when one actually reads Ms. Brown’s piece one can only be amazed by how causality and history are vacated for ideology. Brown’s piece is written as a response to a Marc Lamont Hill’s interview where he was asked “How would things be different if Trayvon was a young Black girl? Hill responded “[Zimmerman] would have been convicted, because we have this history of seeing Black male bodies as dangerous and threatening and always worthy of lethal force.” Hill makes an observation many Black men and women across the country actually agree with, namely that Black men and boys are by and large the victims of state sponsored murder and violence and white vigilantism. This is not to deny Black women as victims, but to acknowledge the dangers of being Black and male in the United States. A point recently supported by Melissa Harris Perry’s admission that  America is so dangerous for Black men that she wishes her sons away, a burden only alleviated somewhat by “the relief I [she] felt at my [her] 20-week ultrasound when they told me [her] it was a girl.”

Unfortunately, the sentiments that express fear, anger, and hopelessness are lost on Brown and many of her readers. Despite the outrage of the Black community, the powerlessness endured by the parents of young Black men and boys, and the fear of death Black men/boys suffer, Brown seems to conclude these emotions are simply inconsequential to the larger identity politics needing to be advanced.  For Ms. Brown, any and all experiences of violence against Black women are examples that they could in fact have been Trayvon Martin. She begins her argument with a brief point that Black women have been lynched, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by historians or even anti-lynchers back in the 19th century given the cataloguing of Black women’s and girl’s names and alleged offenses in both Ida B.Wells-Barnett’s Red Record (1895) and John Edward Bruce’s A Blood Red Record (1901).  In Brown’s view, however, these women’s lives have been erased and go to prove that if “Trayvon Martin were a young Black woman, we would not even know her name.”  

 

On the face of it, this seems silly. All violence is not the same, so to suggest that Black women who have been focused on less regarding lynching, or police-state-sponsored violence means that an unarmed teenage girl who was shot by a white man on the claim of self-defense would not been known to Black America is non-sequitar. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was clear that lynching was justified against the manhood of the race and used as a weapon to discourage Black economic independence. Contrary to the popular account of Well’s anti-lynching activism as revelatory, Ida B. Wells-Barnett understood the unique vulnerability of Black men, because at one time she supported the lynching of Black men as justifiable. As she confesses in Crusade for Justice “…I had accepted the idea meant to be conveyed—that although lynching was irregular and contrary to law and order, unreasoning anger over the terrible crime of rape led to the lynching; that perhaps the brute deserved death anyhow and the mob was justified in taking his life.” After the death of her friend Thomas Moss, she began to understand that lynching was a punishment driven by the desire to murder Black men. When the white lynch mob declared to Ida B. Wells-Barnett that her “sex would not save her,” if she returned to Memphis, it reaffirmed the masculine ontology at the bottom of lynching. It was Wells-Barnett’s debasement to the status of Black maleness that threatened her life and erased her sex. Despite the historical evidence that give ample support for the view that anti-Black death (lynching, police state violence, and public executions) are directed primarily at Black men, Black feminists cannot conceptualize a reality in which Black maleness is a gendered vulnerability that warrants being the center of any account of American racism.

Brown claims that the deaths of Rekia Boyd, Deanna Cook, Aiyana Stanley Jones, and Tarika Wilson, despite being protested, taken up by the NAACP in their respective cites, and warranting lawsuits, are ignored because of “Black male privilege,” or the idea that “the victimization of young women is subsumed into a general well of black pain that is largely defined by the struggles of African-American men.” Are they not ignored by the asymmetrical power relationship between impoverished Black communities and the police state, or the general apathy for Black life? By asserting the existence of “a Black male privilege” that somehow remains unaffected by the exponential deaths, imprisonment, unemployment, and poverty of Black men and Black boys—conditions that deserve particular attention, these authors make acknowledging Black male privilege axiomatic, and indisputable.  In short, these feminists claim that regardless of the death historically associated with being a Black man, these Black men enjoy the political privilege of being male, and of being recognized even in death over Black women, some of whom are still living and breathing. Rather than being a serious analysis of how Black men concretely have privilege (education, wealth, mortality, health), this contention is about the ideological politics of academic recognition confined to blogs more than an empirical study offering insight into the tragedies that actually impact the Black community. In the death of Trayvon Martin, Black male privilege attempts to demonize a community that has lost Black fathers, sons, and husbands alongside mothers, daughters and wives for not holding a particular brand of feminist politics. These Black feminists pretend that despite the tragedy of losing a 17 year old Black boy, a child, they are ultimately the arbiters of what his life should mean for the Black community, or what his life would mean if the Black community was not blinded by the ignorance of their hetero-patriarchal pathology.

 

While the Black left, and Black independent news outlets have concerned themselves with the death of Black men and women, as well as Black boys and girls, Black feminists have not made the death of Black women killed by state violence, police brutality, racial profiling, or anti-Blackness their central agenda, unless of course those women were killed or brutalized at the hands of Black men, which makes their suffering fit nicely with their predetermined (Duluth) account of domestic violence. Voxunion presented evidence of Black men and women dying hourly, Redding News Review covered the death of Rekia Boyd, and Aiyana Stanley Jones, as well as the arrest of Marissa Alexander; I  constantly commented on these deaths as topics of conversation on my own radio segment, and Black Agenda Report has reported the deaths of Black women and children alongside their Black male counterparts. But given the gender ideology in the university, these Black feminists feel more than comfortable using the death of these women and children to point out why the death of Trayvon Martin should not be valued as much as it is because he is a Black boy.

Black Males are Victims of Racism and Sexism
It’s sickening that these individuals are now claiming they get to decide how Martin’s death should be valued, but say nothing against the specific white supremacists and institutions that devalued Black life in the first place. The central question posed by Piers Morgan in asking what would happen “If Trayvon Martin was a Black girl,” is whether or not a white vigilante could have claimed he feared for his life and used self-defense as a justification for killing her. Many commentators simply think Zimmerman would have been arrested for killing a Black woman, and the opposing feminist commentaries have offered no reason for this not to be the case. So, in an attempt to “one-up” Black male death, these commentaries pose endless hypotheticals that ask the audience to imagine the Black female victim being raped and sexually assaulted rather than simply being murdered in cold blood. Mind you, these hypotheticals are being embraced as fact, something that would necessarily happen to the Black female victim, despite Rachel Jeantel telling the American audience that she actually told Trayvon Martin that Zimmerman could have been a rapist. This sexualized aspect of racist violence is completely ignored when talking about Black men and boys.Eric Glover and Terrence Rankin were murdered to fulfill the necrophilia fetish of three white teens, and as expected not one “feminist” analysis on the particular gendered vulnerability of these Black men.  But this fear, the fear a young boy may have of being raped, is ignored, because as Greg Thomas explains, “for feminism, gender means for females only,” and as such, only females can fear, be assaulted by, be victims of, rape.

Why are these Black feminists not attacking the comparison between white men’s, women’s, and children’s lives next to the death of these Black women? Why are the deaths of Black men and boys the only comparable examples? Why are they not attacking their figureheads like Beverly Guy Sheftall for publically announcing the agendas of Black feminism in popular venues like the Root, but excluding Black death? Why are these Black feminists not writing about these women in their journals and blogs as analyses of anti-Black death and suffering rather than the reaction to the death of a Black boy? Why is it when a Black community mourns, the feminist response is to divest the meaning the symbolism a Black male life has taken on—a life embraced by Black men, women, and children alike, a life taken from Black families across the world, and a life that continues to represent the fear of growing up a Black boy who wonders if he shall live to become a man? Does this fear of death not warrant political organization around Black male issues and erasures?

In this case, Black Feminism isn’t any better than the white supremacist who denies the political possibilities held by Black manhood. Black manhood is not a pathology; a sickness to be cured by either death or by feminism. Angela Davis is clear in Women, Race &Class that Black men didn’t have male privilege during slavery, because it endangered the slave system, nor did they have it during the civil rights movement despite Michelle Wallace’s contention given the myth of the Black male rapist. Feminists are using this tragic incident to bring further attention to their political agendas. J.N. Salter’s article, “Am I A Race Traitor? Trayvon Martin, Gender Talk and Invisible Black Women” argues that Black women are expected to put their race before their gender and ignore the issues that black women have within our communities,” but this is not an issue for the black community, this is an issue for the Black feminist community who demands that the deaths of the Black women and girls they have handpicked garner the same attention recently afforded to Trayvon Martin.  Haydia Pendleton was killed in January, and her death, the death of a 15 year old Black girl sparked, national attention, so much so that the First Lady Michelle Obama attended her funeral, but this did not create the attention to Black women’s death by Black feminists that Trayvon Martin’s death did. Salter argues that “Black women are expected to put their race before their gender, to choose between their dual identities (“black” or “woman”) at the expense of their full humanity,” but this is untrue since many Black women from Ida B. Wells-Barnett to mothers like Sybrina Fulton have resolved this issue. This is a Black feminist issue that pretends being Black and being a woman should not be criticized, despite the fact that the identity politics lurking behind their idea of womanhood is about their political alliances with, and the benefits they receive from their relationships with white women. Our focus should not be on whether the Black person was/is a woman or a man it should be on protecting our communities from violence. It just so happens that in this case, the case of white vigilantism, Black men and boys deserve much of our attention.

A Conclusion
Of the 300+ Black people killed in 2012 by extra-legal violence, how many names do we know?  Every year,hundreds of Blacks are killed by police, most of them men, we don’t know who all of them are, and they don’t all get marches; some names are never uttered. Black children, little boys and girls, are killed and no one cries, mourns, or marches for them. A white vigilante kills an unarmed teen and suddenly the fear and sorrow felt by the death of a young Black boy is transformed into “the only death Black people care about.” Whereas Black feminism has no problem turning the pain and torture of a community—its families—into a metric measuring Black death and rationing this dehumanizing spectacle into the “meaningful” deaths of  Black women, and then everyone else; the Black community, the dead Black men, “we,” as their voices should.  Ideology (political, moral, or otherwise) is not the barometer of truth.

The indifference to the death of Black men and women from the near silence of this Black feminist academic cadre on issues like state violence, anti-Black death, and murder for their preferred discourses of recognition, be it phrased as: intersectionality, love, or education, is self-inflicted. Stop talking to white women and white people for academic recognition and write about the (Black) deaths of the people you claim should be at the center of consciousness. These posts that continue to react to the importance the Black community has attached to Trayvon Martin’s death, instead of suggesting any analysis of the conditions that gave rise to it, demonstrates the negating drive of Black feminist identity politics against Black men/boys, rather than concrete analysis of Black people’s vulnerability to sexual violence and murder—and how that acknowledgement helps the Black community. These posts show that vitiating Black masculinity is academically profitable, not that the death of a Black boy is tragic.

~ This post was written by guest blogger Dr. Tommy J. Curry, Associate Professor of Philosophy,Affiliated Professor of Africana Studies, Texas A&M University and his wife, Mrs. Gwynetta Curry.

9-14-13 Curry4

white out – from Gone agape.

Gone Agape.

white out.

http://goneagape.tumblr.com/post/55996194687/white-out

I haven’t had much to say about the trial of Trayvon Martin (yes he was the one on trial) because like many of you— this shit was emotionally destructive. What you may not know is me and Trayvon are from the same neighborhood. Literally. That I went to the elementary school and middle school that fed into Rachel Jeantel’s highschool of the same name. My brother went to Rachel’s high school, as did most of my friends growing up.
Had I not suffered from extreme anxiety that arose anytime I made a mistake, I would have gone to the same high school as Trayvon. The day I was to audition for their vocal program, I didn’t bring background music and after being chastised by the white woman organizing the auditions, I decided not to audition at all and lied to my mom about my rejection. I regret that.

So when I say this shit hits home, I mean it. It hit 197th Terrace in Miami Gardens, Florida. This hit home and it sucks. Because I know very well what comes out of North Dade and what died with Trayvon that night was a whole hell of a lot of potential and no conviction of George Zimmerman will allow us to see what Trayvon could have been.
But as much as this entire fiasco is about racism— it’s also about privilege. Privilege white people refuse to acknowledge and Black people can’t seem to communicate enough. No doubt that the privilege with roots in racism played a role in the trial… but, it’s not enough to say, things would be different if the races were reversed. People never want to deal in the what ifs… and no one seems to want to touch racism with a 10 foot pole. Though the acts are no doubt racist at the root, I rather be effective than right- so I need to acknowledge these things in a way people can digest.

White privilege is being able to live your life as a white man for all intents and purposes and become Hispanic when denying you are racist. That same privilege allows you to not know the difference between race and ethnicity. Privilege involves always getting the benefit of the doubt… because you are trusted.

No matter how ridiculous it might sound that you disobey an order by an emergency professional, and shoot someone to death for nothing really. Privilege is like that. Privilege is about the right to be an individual. That no matter how heinous crimes are that white people are accused of, no one looked at George Zimmerman and thought of Dahmer, or Bundy, or Gacy. No one diagnosed his anger issues, his insecurity, or overzealous nature as something indicative of a propensity to commit violence again. But when you’re Black, you are everyone else. Because, violent and mischievous Black teenagers exist, it was okay for Zimmerman to assume Trayvon was one. And because we don’t ever exist as individuals, then Trayvon becomes at fault for his own murder. Black children can’t make mistakes, white adults can.

Whenever there is an instance of one account versus another, the account of a White person is always more true. It’s the reason that I pull out my whitest voice possible when making any customer service transaction over the phone. When you’re white, you are you— when you’re Black you’re all of us, and all of us, are bad Black thugs. I don’t even like the premise that Trayvon could have gone to college and been a “good nigga.” Don’t show me a picture of another teenager with baggy pants and then with a graduation cap 10 years later… because, Trayvon wasn’t wronged because he could have been a college graduate and traded in his hoodie for a bowtie. Trayvon was wronged because he was here. We are wronged not just because we aren’t afforded individuality, we are wronged because someone believes they can determine the value, or lack thereof, of Black lives.

Privilege is when there is outrage about a white terrorist who makes the cover of Rolling Stone after killing white people in a horrific display of inhumanity. But awkward white boys with backpacks across the world will continue boarding planes, going hiking, being publicly intoxicated, and playing violent video games without so much as a nod in their direction. They will go to school without being tracked, and they will drive cars freely without being stopped. Privilege on privilege is when people are outraged he made the cover and not at the article that promises to tell us how a “popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam, and became a monster.”
No one is troubled by the suggestion that the Boston Marathon bomber was failed by his family and became a monster and Trayvon was supported by his family and born one. Privilege is telling Black people these things are not related in a world where everything is. Privilege is failing to understand the very real physical and psychological damage privilege and racial microaggressions cause. Since I have gotten a new car, I’ve been pulled over three times- more than in almost 10 years of driving. Privilege is when seeing the police is a sign of relief and not one of anxiety.

This discussion about racism will never be valuable if the subject matter and those discussing it are always the oppressed. It will never be valuable if we keep saying people who do racist shit are not racist because they are nice people. The cop who stopped me for “rolling through a stop sign” was a fucking racist. Why? Because he wanted to know where I was going, how long I owned my car, and asked to see my license and registration even though by his own admission, “everyone who comes to that sign always does the same thing.” And maybe he volunteers at his church or takes care of his sick mother and I’m supposed to believe he can’t be racist because he’s a nice person. Well, like people we love are addicts, or thieves or liars— we can love racists.  And while we pity him, it is me who has PTSD from being followed in the dark, humiliated, scared, and even as a civil rights attorney well aware that I was stopped for DWB in a nice car, I had to be non threatening and apologetic for a stop that I know was complete bullshit because I wanted to make it out alive.

And anyone whose privilege won’t allow them to recognize that fact, I suggest they ask Trayvon Martin how the decision to defend or be offended is so often a life or death one. I have no doubt Zimmerman spent his life relishing in microaggressions that were dismissed as non racist, and of people being too sensitive or obsessed with being politically correct. But the reality is, many microaggressions make for one big ass MACROaggression and a whole helluva lot of Trayvons. The running theme is, they are not like us, they are dangerous and they are all the same. So long as I have a Black friend, I can’t possibly have ever caused harm to another Black person. And if engaged in a fist fight with a black person, I must use a gun because the pure brute strength of the Black African makes any object in the universe a weapon. We can be armed with fresh air so it’s best to suffocate us all if given the chance.

And suffocate us they do, bit by bit. While we march for Trayvon and pack theaters to watch Fruitvale, I encourage everyone to call out these microaggressions and deconstruct the myth of Black inhumanity. We are human when we are born, not because we go to college, or because we wear bow ties. We are worthy because we are here.

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About

gone agape is a blog that is centered around understanding the world with love as a compass. to go agape is to BE love. agape (uh-gop-ay) is the most divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional and thoughtful love.

to go apape is also to be open, and to find freedom in being honest about who you are. we may not always like what we find, but we must love it. and sometimes that means repairing the most broken parts of us. every post is a chance to challenge everything we have been taught, and unlearn when necessary. you don’t always have to agree, but you do have to be open to the process.

Agape Always.

Plan for Economic Sanctions Against Florida Dr. Ron Daniels

Dr. Ron Daniels Gives a Plan for Economic Sanctions Against Florida

 July 26, 2013.

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by Dr. Ron Daniels

In a recent article I called for economic sanctions against Florida to compel business and political leaders in that state to change the “Stand Your Ground Law” which provided the basis for the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. There are times when there is a convergence of ideas, a meeting of minds, such that a particular strategy has the potential to galvanize a movement to achieve a major victory. It appears that such a convergence of ideas has occurred around at least one strategy to translate the anger and frustration over the Zimmerman verdict into justice in the Trayvon Martin tragedy – Economic Sanctions/Boycott Florida. The idea is not a Ron Daniels idea or Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) call but one that is on the minds of Black people all across the country.

Dr. Patricia Newton, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Psychiatrists was so outraged by the Zimmerman verdict that she cancelled a $1 million dollar contract she was about to sign for a conference in Florida. When I asked an elderly Black professional couple I met at Penn Station in Baltimore [who were returning from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida] whether they would be going back to Florida next year… Before I could get the words out of my mouth, the wife defiantly proclaimed that they discussed the murder of Trayvon Martin at the conference and had already resolved that they would not hold another convention in that state until there is justice in this case! Then music legend Stevie Wonder issued a statement at a concert in Canada proclaiming “until the Stand Your Ground Law is abolished, I will never perform there again.” Since his pronouncement Eddie LaVert, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick and Mary Mary are among the artists who have publicly come out saying they will not perform in Florida until this abhorrent law has changed. While celebrities like Stevie Wonder provide credibility for the Boycott, it will be the actions of the multitude of conscious/committed convention goers, vacationers and consumers that will make the campaign effective. Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come.

Just as Katrina ripped the scab off and exposed the raw naked structural/institutional racism in distressed Black neighborhoods in America like those in New Orleans, the murder of Trayvon Martin has ripped the scab off the persistent phenomenon of the criminalization of young Black men, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk and the structural/institutional racism in America’s criminal justice system. The problem is that despite episodic protests and periodic mobilizations, there has not been a persistent sense of urgency in Black America about these issues. The murder of Trayvon Martin may be a decisive turning point.

One week after the Zimmerman verdict, rallies and prayer vigils were held across the country to demand that the Justice Department bring criminal charges against George Zimmerman for violating Trayvon Martin’s civil rights. While we agree that this is a righteous strategy, there is a high probability that the Justice Department will not find sufficient racial animus in the proceedings to justify bringing charges. However, even if the Justice Department does find sufficient cause to bring charges, I contend that the economic sanctions/boycott Florida campaign is necessary.

At the end of the day, not only must we seek a conviction of Zimmerman, we must also indict and fight to change the law that is so flawed that it would permit an armed adult to pursue an unarmed teenager deemed “suspicious” and permit a grown man to kill a kid who fearfully sought to stand his ground against a menacing stranger. Fighting to change this flawed law is about justice for Trayvon Martin, but it is also about all of the Trayvons in the state of Florida and across the nation who are victims of criminalization and racial profiling. It is about Black people consciously and collectively standing our ground against the attacks on the gains of the civil rights/human rights/Black power movements, the abandonment and disinvestment in distressed Black communities and the daily indignities we have quietly suffered for far too long. In his last speech the night before he was assassinated in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King urged Black people to use boycotts to achieve justice. He said, “now we must kind of redistribute the pain.” As IBW said in its Press Release on this issue, “Blacks and all people of conscience and good will should inflict some non-violent pain on the state of Florida and keep inflicting it until business leaders and the politicians scream for help and plead for the economic sanctions to be lifted.” But, to achieve our goal we need a targeted (not scattered/shotgun) approach to succeed.

The major component of the campaign should be to shut off tourism to Florida. This means Black organizations should not schedule conferences/conventions in that state until the law is changed. Groups that have already scheduled conferences six months to a year out should seek to cancel the agreements and notify the venues that Black people no longer feel safe to travel to Florida, particularly with their sons. An option is to hold conferences/conventions at a Black College/University or Black owned retreat centers. In the event that your conference is already scheduled in the next few months, resolve to spend as little money/cash in the state as possible. This campaign requires that kind of discipline.

Do not schedule a vacation in Florida until victory is won. Do not travel to an amusement park in the “tragic kingdom” or golf tournament until victory is won. At the NAACP Convention, Martin Luther King III urged the delegates not to buy Florida orange juice. In conversations with Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and George Fraser, President/CEO, FraserNet, they advised that refusing to buy Florida orange juice is an excellent way to “democratize” the economic sanctions/Boycott Florida campaign by creating an avenue for ordinary people everywhere to participate in the effort whether they had planned to travel to Florida or not. So, here’s a set of marching orders:

•             No Conferences/Conventions

•             No Vacations

•             No Amusement Parks or Golf Tournaments

•             No Florida Orange Juice

We also hope the major civil rights leaders will embrace this righteous campaign and mobilize their constituents to actively support it. The people are ready and the train is already leaving the station. IBW has posted a petition on its website http://www.ibw21.org where organizations, leaders and individuals can Sign a Pledge to Boycott Florida. Finally, while this campaign is spearheaded by Black people, we obviously appeal to and welcome the support of our friends and allies of all races and ethnicities who believe that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” that “an injustice anywhere to anyone is an injustice to everyone everywhere.” Economic sanctions against Florida is an idea whose time has come!

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website http://www.ibw21.org and http://www.northstarnews.com. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at info@ibw21.org

 

 

The “Unsophisticated” Mirror of Rachel Jeantel thefeministwire

The Feminist Wire

The “Unsophisticated” Mirror of Rachel Jeantel

July 22, 2013

By 

By Lauren G. Parker

The prosecution needed to represent Rachel Jeantel as much as they represented Trayvon Martin because her assumed unintelligence and subsequent worthlessness were inadvertently assigned to him. Aware of this, prosecution attorney Bernie de la Rionda attempted, but failed, to insist upon her credibility in his closing statements. Before queering a Dr. King quote by saying that she “should not be judged by the color of her personality but by the content of her testimony,” he told the jury that she was “a little unsophisticated” and “uneducated.”Rachel_Jeantel_rtr_img

By insulting her to gain credibility, he complied with the idea that she was insignificant and by default, so was Martin’s life. Such inherently assumed superiority over Jeantel from the prosecution’s closing statement, the defense’s humiliating tactics and venomous commentary from cyber voyeurs was deeply remnant of a passage from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in which Morrison stated:

 All of us—all who knew her—felt so wholesome after we cleaned ourselves on her. We were so beautiful when we stood astride her ugliness. Her simplicity decorated us; her guilt sanctified us, her pain made us glow with health, her awkwardness made us think we had a sense of humor. Her inarticulateness made us believe we were eloquent. Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used—to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.

Afraid to embrace those realities, many dwelled on their critiques of Jeantel’s dialect. Here, too, there was a deep politic that neither the talented-tenth, code-switching middle class Black folks who claimed to be ashamed by her nor those who maintained the racist ideology that she was merely another ignorant, fat black woman, could bear to acknowledge. James Baldwin’s 1979 essay, “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What is?” best presented this truth where he states,

…language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.

He further explains,

Language, also, far more dubiously, is meant to define the other–and, in this case, the other is refusing to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize [them]. People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate.

Just as many have never considered that Trayvon Martin, who we know for a fact was followed by George Zimmerman, was standing his own ground, many who shared Juror B-37’s condescending viewpoint and “felt bad” for Rachel who was “using phrases [they] never heard before” have not considered themselves ignorant for not understanding her. Those same individuals may never challenge the absurdity of having deemed themselves the standard of comparison; nor will they realize that they misnamed her “uneducated” in order to hide from the paralyzing fear of a heavy-set, dark skinned teenager unwilling to bow to their assumed superiority.

Rachel Jeantel cannot be reduced to just a witness in a popular trial because what she endured in court and from the media were private acts made public: the mocking and silencing of black women and girl’s stories as well as the devaluing of their traumas. In response to critics, Jeantel shared with Piers Morgan that  “[My critics] should be appreciating [me]. You should learn from this situation. If it happened to you or your family, would you step up or would you just say ‘oh, it ain’t my business’?” To my mind, she has remained brilliant and strong in spite of the overwhelming grief of losing a friend and then being publicly labeled as ignorant–as a national embarrassment–because she, like James Baldwin, knows that  “it is [never] the black child’s language that is in question, it is not [their] language that is despised: It is [their] experience.”

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L_G_Parker-The_'Unsophisticated'_Mirror_of_Rachel_Jeantel-lgpLauren G. Parker is an undergraduate, intended Creative Writing major at George Mason University. Currently, she is co-coaching Richmond, Virginia’s internationally competing youth slam poetry team.