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Op-Ed: Justice for Trayvon Martin: Fight the Zimmerman Mindset (Beyond the pail [pun intended])
The Rainbow Times ^ | August 1, 2013 | Keegan O’Brien*/Special to TRT

Posted on 08/01/2013 12:33:55 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Only in a country as racist as the United States could a grown adult racially profile, hunt down, and murder an unarmed black 17 year old boy—and get away with it. George Zimmerman’s trial revealed to the world what Black America has known for far too long; that in America, black lives don’t matter. But this time, people have refused to remain silent. The murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman have produced an explosion of anger and protests, forcing politicians, the mainstream media, and even the president, to engage in an explicit and rare conversation about race and racism today.

The first statement from the Obama administration was insulting; it ignored race completely while asking people to respect the jury and remain calm. But following Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict thousands took to the streets to express their outrage. The following weekend, in over a hundred cities, thousands poured into the streets again to demand the federal government take action. As a result of continuous pressure, President Obama, for the first time in his five years in office, went on national television and spoke honestly about racism and the Trayvon Martin case.

Obama’s words are refreshing compared to the total neglect these issues have received from politicians and the mainstream media, and have emboldened many to feel legitimate and justified in their anger. But, politically opportunistic rhetoric designed to placate people’s outrage and desire for change will not challenge the institutions and polices, which have created and continue to perpetuate the Zimmerman mindset that lead to Trayvon’s killing, and so many others like him.

According to Florida’s judicial system and many political commentators, race was not a factor in Zimmerman’s case. Zimmerman never explicitly mentioned race, he followed Martin because he was suspicious looking, not because he was black. But, this line of argument completely misunderstands the operation of racism in 21st century “color-blind” America. Today, we rarely witness the same kind of explicit, white hood wearing, troglodyte, anti-black racism that existed fifty years ago. Instead, racism is coded, concealed, and packaged into formally “color-blind” language and policies. So, although Zimmerman never said that he followed Martin because he was black (that would be considered racist), it was definitely an operating subconscious factor. The well-known truth is that if Trayvon Martin had been white, it is very likely he’d still be alive today. Race has everything to do with this case.

Take for example the highly controversial and now widely debated “Stand Your Ground” law, a policy that doesn’t mention race explicitly at all. But, when you examine the application and interpretation of the law, there emerges an undeniable pattern of racial biases. There are two cases everyone concerned about Trayvon Martin should know about, Marissa Alexander and CeCe McDonald.

Marissa Alexander is an African American woman and mother who fired a warning shot into her ceiling to prevent her abusive ex-boyfriend from attacking her. Instead of being granted the right to stand her ground and defend herself, the state of Florida sentenced her to twenty years in prison in 2012. CeCe McDonald is a young black transgender woman who defended herself against a hate crime from a white supremacist in Minneapolis and as a result faced the rest of her life in prison. Thankfully, instead of serving a natural life sentence, CeCe was offered a plea and given forty-two months in prisons. Although she deserves to be spending zero time behind bars, CeCe’s reduced sentenced was the direct result of an international pressure campaign launched by her supporters.

A recent study showed that in states with “Stand Your Ground” laws, white people were more than 300 times more likely to get away with killing a black person. So, if you murder an unarmed black teenager; no problem. But, if you’re a black trans woman who defends herself against a hate crime, or a mother who defends herself against a violent partner, or God forbid, a black man defending yourself against racist cops; tough luck. The message is clear; the right to “Stand Your Ground” doesn’t apply equally to everyone, because black lives do not matter.

One important question Trayvon Martin’s case raises is; how on earth could a grown adult be acquitted for profiling, stalking down, and murdering and unarmed black teenager? While Zimmerman pulled the trigger that took Trayvon Martin’s life, it was our racist society that socialized him to believe it was okay to view Trayvon as a criminal, hunt him down, and murder him; it was our society that told the Sanford police department it was okay to mark Trayvon Martin as a John Doe and test his dead body for drugs while they let Zimmerman walk free for forty six days. And, as horrific as Zimmerman’s actions were, they aren’t rare. Police officers in cities across the country profile, harass, brutalize, and even kill people of color, particularly black men, every single day. Should the fact that these men and women are armed and authorized by the state make their actions any more justifiable? Absolutely not.

This Zimmerman mindset has been produced by the corporate media and political establishment to justify and legitimize three decades of; racially charged “get tough” on crime laws and the war on drugs (essentially a war on poor people and people of color who use drugs), which have turned Black and brown communities into sites of police occupation, and a prison industrial complex and system of mass incarceration that have swept millions of black and brown people into cages while devastating communities of color. This matrix of laws and institutions is what civil rights attorney and author Michelle Alexander has termed “the New Jim Crow.”

While Zimmerman deserves punishment for his horrible crime, so do the countless police officers who’ve committed the same atrocities, but have never been held accountable Ultimately, it is the Zimmerman mindset—the widely held and normalized belief that black men are a threat requiring policing, incarceration, or even death—and the institutions, policies, and lawmakers that have perpetuated this out look, that deserves to put on trial.

Why should the LGBTQ community concern itself with issues of racial justice and a case such as Trayvon Martin’s? Firstly, because much of our community is people of color and for them these fights are inseparable. Secondly, as a community that is continuing to fight for our most basic civil rights, we have an obligation and reasonability to stand by those who are continuing to struggle for theirs. Lastly, our capacity to fight and our potential to win is dramatically increased when we overcome the divisions fostered between us and champion the struggles of other oppressed community—it’s called solidarity.

So what can we, as an LGBTQ community, do to show our support for Trayvon Martin and the broader fight for racial justice? Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the NAACP, ACLU, American Federation of Teachers, and a host of other civil rights and labor organizations are continuing the fight for Trayvon Martin by calling for a national demonstration in Washington D.C. on August 24th , the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Protesters will be demanding the Department of Justice prosecute Zimmerman and that the federal government seriously begins to tackle the range of injustices—from racial profiling to mass incarceration—that Black America continues to experience. August 24th will likely be one of the largest demonstrations for civil rights and racial justice in decades.

While a single protest won’t dismantle the prisons system over night, the August 24th March on Washington will contribute tremendously to forcing this conversation about racism in America today back to where it belongs—in the political mainstream. Secondly, it will be a crucial moment in the development a nation-wide movement against racial profiling, and all the injustices of the New Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration. Why does this matter? Because it has been grassroots activism and pressure from below that have pushed those in power, such as President Obama, to even shine the spotlight on these issues. What we’ve been doing has started to work, we better keep it up. August 24th, Washington D.C.; because if you want to live in a world where there will never be another Trayvon Martin, CeCe McDonald, or Marissa Alexander, you’ve got a responsibility to join thousands of people—black and white, queer and straight, young and old—in Washington D.C. on August 24th. A better world is possible, but it’s up to us to fight for it.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: queers; racism; trayvon; zimmerman
*Keegan O’Brien is a long time LGBTQ youth activist in Boston, anti-war organizer, a student at UMass Boston, a former board member of BAGLY, and member of the International Socialist Organization in Boston. He also has written extensively on LGBTQ social justice websites.
1 posted on 08/01/2013 12:33:55 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

For sure the kooks are coming out of the woodwork because George go justice. They are so used to manipulating the media and courts they can’t believe they lost one.


2 posted on 08/01/2013 12:45:54 AM PDT by pallis
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

You folks are really searching to the goofiest distant reaches of the Internet to bring back every last Traybagger screed to FR.

Zimmerman outrage jumped the shark two weeks ago. Seriously now, lets call it quits.


3 posted on 08/01/2013 12:50:08 AM PDT by The KG9 Kid (Demand Common Sense Nut Control.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I think the best way for people like this “author” to prove that they are not racist is to kill themselves. Until then I will accuse them of being closet racists.


4 posted on 08/01/2013 12:51:31 AM PDT by Cowboy Bob (Democrats: Robbing Peter to buy Paul's vote.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

LMBO!!
Sorry, but I couldn’t get past this pathetic crybaby’s first line from laughing so hard.
Somebody please let me know if the rest of this simpleton’s screed is as funny as that first line, haha...


5 posted on 08/01/2013 1:16:12 AM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Democrats are Law-Less.....Republicans are Ball-Less.


6 posted on 08/01/2013 2:02:19 AM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion......the HUMAN Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: The KG9 Kid
Zimmerman outrage jumped the shark two weeks ago. Seriously now, lets call it quits.

To the contrary - let's expose them all and take names. Let's remember who is dishing out this BS. Let's call them on it and let the world see just how it's being done.

Granted, a number of hard lefties will continue to parrot the lie, but a number of people will finally see the naked emperor before them and will lose faith in our bought-and-paid-for media and the racists on the left.

7 posted on 08/01/2013 2:11:00 AM PDT by meyer (What would John Hancock do?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“...racism is coded, concealed, and packaged into formally “color-blind” language and policies.”

In other words, Zimmerman is proved racist because he didn’t act racist.


8 posted on 08/01/2013 2:32:37 AM PDT by ShasheMac
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To: ShasheMac

Yup. Lack of evidence is absolute proof of the crime.


9 posted on 08/01/2013 2:34:42 AM PDT by GeorgiaDawg32 (www.greenhornshooting.com)
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To: meyer

‘To the contrary - let’s expose them all and take names. Let’s remember who is dishing out this BS. Let’s call them on it and let the world see just how it’s being done.’

yes yes Mr MEYER ..agreed...NEVER is NEVER enough in re these knotheads....everytime these wacky editorial screeds show up somebody has to shove em back down the author’s gullets...

Didn’t somebody way smarter than kid dimwit here..say ‘the only thing needed for evil to prevail is that good men be silent’ REPEAT this over and over kid...then work on that ged...and someday you’ll be able to move right up on out of mom’s basement and get a job. ...bwahahaha


10 posted on 08/01/2013 3:34:23 AM PDT by jimsin
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

http://mediatrackers.org/florida/2013/07/16/no-marissa-alexanders-conviction-was-not-a-reverse-trayvon-martin-case-in-florida

Marissa Alexander appears to be spouse abuser and not nearly as afraid for her life as she claimed.


11 posted on 08/01/2013 3:41:10 AM PDT by skr (May God confound the enemy)
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To: The KG9 Kid
  ...searching to the goofiest distant reaches of the Internet

  The internet is inside a wireless aluminum box on top of Big Ben.
12 posted on 08/01/2013 3:53:00 AM PDT by Maurice Tift (Never wear anything that panics the cat. -- P.J. O'Rourke)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I do not believe that most blacks care very much that Trayvon Martin died. After all, they seem to ignore more black on black violent deaths every day. I think what blacks care about is that some “white” guy had the temerity and the means to defend himself from a beat down.
That is really what this is about, cow white people so that the black hoodlums can rob, steal and kill more of them with impunity. The Obama administration panders to this approach, because it buys black votes, just like Obama phones.


13 posted on 08/01/2013 4:06:06 AM PDT by LOC1 (Let's pick the best, not settle for a compromise.)
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To: Lancey Howard

I had the exact same reaction.

These guys really can’t figure out what happened. They thought their control of the media was that good, and through them everything else, that they couldn’t lose.


14 posted on 08/01/2013 4:12:29 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Yeah, I really care what this guy says:


15 posted on 08/01/2013 4:45:39 AM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
...rare conversation about race and racism today...

OMG! Do we ever do anything BUT sit around talking about your Blackness?

We used to discover stuff, make stuff and build a future for ourselves and the world - now we just sit around discussing how evil Creepy-Assed Crackers are for not recognizing the wonder of your blackness.

I am sick of all this ni**er-navel gazing.

You may have your conversation but you will be speaking with the part of my anatomy that looks most like you.

Apologies for the language but I'm angry.

16 posted on 08/01/2013 4:49:54 AM PDT by Aevery_Freeman (Behavior Insights Team Exigency Monitoring Executive (BITEME))
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To: LOC1

Go to the head of the class.


17 posted on 08/01/2013 4:50:28 AM PDT by BilLies (I despise The Progressive Liberal American Press, its corporations, management, reporters, readers.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

18 posted on 08/01/2013 4:51:05 AM PDT by JoeProBono (Mille vocibus imago valet;-{)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Keegan O’Brien........What I fine sounding name to be “dragged” in the mud. I’ve been told that the “O’Briens” were once kings ....and now they’re queens.
(could not resist that).


19 posted on 08/01/2013 4:58:25 AM PDT by BilLies (I despise The Progressive Liberal American Press, its corporations, management, reporters, readers.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

trayvon thought he could get some ‘skittles’ by rolling a queer. what a surprise he got.


20 posted on 08/01/2013 4:59:55 AM PDT by maddogtiger
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

>>Keegan O’Brien is a long time LGBTQ youth activist in Boston, anti-war organizer, a student at UMass Boston, a former board member of BAGLY, and member of the International Socialist Organization in Boston. He also has written extensively on LGBTQ social justice websites.<<

In other words - unemployed.


21 posted on 08/01/2013 5:13:33 AM PDT by ItsOurTimeNow ("This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I thank Keegan with starting out like this: Only in a country as racist as the United States could a grown adult racially profile, hunt down, and murder an unarmed black 17 year old boy

That way I didn't waste time reading the rest of the article.

5.56mm

22 posted on 08/01/2013 5:34:26 AM PDT by M Kehoe
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

And we should care about a queer blog opinion, because?


23 posted on 08/01/2013 7:06:53 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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