Culture — 24 March 2012
Hoodies Up: Five Things Trayvon Martin Teaches Us About America

I have never ever ever been so proud of the power of pop culture.

Together, regular citizens, celebrities, students and politicians have come together to decry the injustice that is the Trayvon Martin case.  Because of the Tweets, comments, Facebook posts and unprecedented flurry of signatures to this change.org petition, the heat on this important issue continues.

Yes, it still makes me heartsick to think of this promising young man laying on the ground, armed with nothing but an ice tea and skittles for his baby brother.  But at least we are being forced to discuss some of the ugly realities of this American life.  Even President Barack Obama, quite clearly wanting to stay out of this case after the Henry Louis Gates debacle, was moved to make some very touching remarks about the situation.

And as we continue this conversation, I have come across several beliefs and thoughts that it seems helpful to examine.  I’ve addressed five below and welcome even more.

1.  This is a huge problem, but the rallies for Trayvon don’t mean that we’re ignoring other problems.

There is a growing faction of people pointing out that Trayvon Martin isn’t the only kid to be shot for nothing.  In fact, as one hoodie-hater points out on Facebook, here in Chicago, an adorable six-year-old girl was killed on her porch during a drive-by.  And hopefully, all of our hearts are big enough for room to care about Martin, this poor baby girl and all those others cut down by senseless violence.  Why is it an either/or proposition?  The reason Trayvon is getting the press is because his shooter has been identified and currently not facing justice.  I’m quite certain that if we knew who cut down other innocent lives in those thousands of other cases, we’d all go just as hard to get them punished.

2.  This is not political.

Even the man who authored the Stand Your Grand law thinks George Zimmerman’s Charles Bronson-arse needs to be in cuffs.  So how this is turning into a battle between liberals vs conservatives, instead of humanity vs injustice?

3.  This shouldn’t kick off a race war.

Whether or not George Zimmerman (who is Latino) targeted Smith because he was Black or because, as Geraldo claims, he wore a hooded sweatshirt in the rain, the outcry against Zimmerman should not be limited to Blacks.  It should be from everyone who believes in justice.  What we don’t want to do is to contribute even more anger and hatred to the already crazy, and thinly veiled, “take our country back” fervor.  (Note to country-reclaimers, you sound a lil’ bit like the Ku Klux Klan).  If you are a human being and understand that nobody should be gunned down for no good reason, you should be hoodies up, all the way.

4.  Stand Your Ground is stupidity.

There is simply too much leeway in feeling threatened. This dumb law is why Mr. Z isn’t cuffed up right now, not to mention he came across Barney Fife as the cop on the scene.  If Zimmerman, per the numerous media reports, really had area police on speed dial during his self-appointed reign as Bad Lieutenant of his gated community, sounds like he might feel threatened by any damn thing, including a leaf that turned too quickly in the fall. This law is a get-out-of-jail-free-card for the kooks of the world.  I certainly hope this is something we can see wiped out across the nation.

5.  You can have a “black friend” and still be racially profiling strangers. 

As a follow-up to the above point on race, I am appalled that George Zimmerman’s lawyer is now apparently giving the names of every Black person this man ever knew.  Really?  The black-friend defense in a case where someone ends up dead? That is weaker than cell signals in bomb shelters, son.  Hell, even Strom Thurmond, a proclaimed segregationist had a bi-racial child by a black woman.  If you want to take it there, slave owners too co-mingled with their (ahem) property, so having a black friend or anything else, does not preclude you from being biased.  So, George Zimmerman’s lawdog needs to get the hell out of Dodge with that bull ish.

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