Killing of Black People Still Not Important

During the height of the Civil Rights movement, Ella Josephine Baker said, “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

That was in 1964.

Surely, Ms. Baker would be reminding us of that thought as the alleged killer of a 17-year old, unarmed African-American teen has still not been arrested.

George Zimmerman, who has said he shot young Trayvon Martin in self-defense, is free, and despite how difficult it is to believe how this tragedy could in any way have been self-defense, the authorities have chosen to believe him, saying there is “no probable cause” to arrest him.

It’s this sort of thing that taps into the rage of African-Americans, who for too long have been exploited and mistreated by the justice system. In fact, when it comes to African-Americans, historically there has been little real justice.

The foundation of America is one that was built on racism, and on the belief that African-Americans were not really human. It is documented history that African-Americans could be and were accused of crimes with very little to no evidence, and jailed and or executed for the same. No justice system, local, state, or national, seriously intervened to protect the rights of African-Americans.

In fact, in the historic Dred Scott decision, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney said, boldly, and wrote, that “there are no rights of a black man that a white man is bound to respect.”

The accused killers of young Emmet Till, Roy Bryant and John Milam, were acquitted by an all-white jury after only 67 minutes deliberation. It is recorded that one of the jurors said they would have announced the verdict sooner had they not stopped to drink a pop.

The alleged killer of Medgar Evers, Byron de la Beckwith, wasn’t brought to justice until years after Evers’ murder.

And then there are the countless numbers of unknown African-American youths and men who get swallowed up in the “justice” system on a daily basis, challenging the ability of the African-American community to believe in justice in this country.

In the case of Trayvon Martin, the claim that his murder was done in self-defense is as insulting as it is angering. The young man was walking to his house; Mr. Zimmerman obviously had to approach him. Because the 911 tapes have not been released, nobody can talk about what really happened, but it seems very clear that Mr. Zimmerman provoked an encounter with this young man.

So, why the hold up in arresting Zimmerman? Is it because, as Ella Baker and so many others have noted, that the life of an African-American, and the loss of that life,  just isn’t a big deal to the powers that be?  There is no overt racism, or not like there used to be, but this is racism, clearly and surely. What’s going on is saying to those who think that way that it is all right to kill someone who “looks suspicious.”

What is really being said is that it is still free season on the killing of African-Americans. Make up a reason, any reason, and go for it.

As I study the history of justice in this country for African-Americans, I just get sadder and sadder. This is a country that would not even declare lynching to be wrong. The lynching era in this country lasted from 1865 to 1920, and the United StatesCongress would not pass a law outlawing it.

English: Portrait drawing of U.S. Supreme Cour...
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Over and over, all-white juries convicted African-Americans with little to no proof, and crimes committed by white people toward blacks were pretty much ignored.

And so here we now sit, in the 21st century, with more of the same. An unarmed African-American male youth, who carried only Skittles and a can of iced tea, is dead, and nobody, I mean in the justice system, seems to care.

It is hard to watch, and even harder to admit that America still has a long way to go…Ella Baker’s words still ring true. We cannot rest; the killing of black men and  black mothers’ sons is still not as important to the rest of the country is the killing of a white mother’s son.

A candid observation…

No Justice, Not Yet

Authorities are saying that the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was self-defense.

But few people are buying that explanation. This unarmed, African-American youth was walking home to his father’s house in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, when he was shot by a neighborhood watch captain, a man by the name of George Zimmerman.

To many onlookers, this case looks like another sidestepping of justice for an African-American.

Zimmerman was said to be white, but reports today say that he is Hispanic. Regardless, the case has enraged the African-American community, because Zimmerman has yet to be arrested. Police in Sanford say there is no probable cause, and the 911 tapes, which might help Martin’s anguished parents hear for themselves what happened, have not been released.

Today, a televangelist, Rev. Jamal Bryant, a preacher from Baltimore, Maryland, declared that people are going to “shut Florida down until justice” is done.

And I would suspect that Bryant’s expressed rage is just the tip of the iceberg. Black leaders in Florida are vowing to bring at least 1000 people to a City Council meeting in Sanford at the end of the month unless charges are filed against Martin’s alleged attacker.

The history in this country when it comes to African-Americans has been paltry at best; there always seems to be a reason for some unprovoked violence on a young man, and far too often, law enforcement officers and others who have murdered African-Americans have gotten off scott free.

Young Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was shot; as previously mentioned, he was unarmed. He was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. But for some reason, he appeared to be “suspicious” to Zimmerman. The gated community has signs up that “suspicious” persons will be reported to the police. Zimmerman apparently called police, but also apparently approached Martin. What happened next is unclear. The 911 tapes have not been released. But the aftermath of whatever happened is that young Martin was dead, shot once in the chest, allegedly by Zimmerman.

I am not an attorney, but it seems that if this was a case of self-defense, Martin would have had to have approached Zimmerman in a threatening way. Reports say that Martin was about 100 pounds lighter than Zimmerman. He was not armed. And…he had no reason to approach Zimmerman.

It seems far more likely that Zimmerman approached Martin and said something to him. Whatever was said, and however it was said, might have provoked an argument between the two…but then, what?

What is so disturbing about this case is that it is NOT unusual. African-American youths can look “threatening” or “suspicious” just by wearing a hoodie, where a white kid wearing the same hoodie might be ignored. A black kid wearing a hoodie in a gated community should not have in and of itself, however, made him a suspicious person. Yet it did, and far too often, black kids get pestered and even harassed because of the way they look.

The case reminds me of Amadou Diallo. In 1999, this young man from Guinea, West Africa, was shot 41 times and killed by four white officers who thought he was armed when he reached into a pocket. It turns out he was not; he only had a wallet in his pocket. He had been stopped by police because he resembled some other person, African-American, who was a serial rapist.

There it is again: he “looked” suspicious.

In the eyes of we on the outside, it feels like injustice is happening yet again in a case involving a young African-American male. Rev. Bryant’s response, when he heard the police say that there was not “probable cause” to arrest Zimmerman, was “you’ve arrested a lot of black men without probable cause.”

So true.

So, now the family, already aching because this young man, their son, has been senselessly shot and killed, is aching even more because it feels like they will have to fight for justice. Zimmerman walks free because there is no “probable cause.”

It doesn’t feel right.

A candid observation.

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