“Standing Our Ground”

The recent killing of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman has been cited as defensible based on the Florida law, colloquially known as the “Stand Your Ground” law. The law expressly overturned previous laws that required a person to make an attempt to escape before using lethal force. This law has been presented as the basis for not arresting or charging Mr. Zimmerman with manslaughter or murder. Based on what I have read and heard about this case [television, print and internet news], this homicide has the shape, odor and color of a racially motivated killing that had been marginalized by virtue of “stand your ground.”

As black people we need to stand our ground also. That is, we must stand our ground against two forces, both of which are formidable and equally as baleful. Those two forces are racism, which has and will probably continue to be part of the DNA of the United States of White America, and the self-destructive values and beliefs we as black people have long embraced since the inception of slavery in this country. These two forces have essentially competed, in concert with each other, against our interests.

It is alleged that George Zimmerman’s used of the term, “fucking coon” while following Trayvon Martin [after being discouraged from following him]. If so, then this was merely an example of the pervasive and deep-seated scorn other races have toward us black people. The police investigation, cursory at best, was also an indication of how the life of a black person is valued [i.e., devalued]. And wearing a “hoodie” while carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of Ice Tea only made Trayvon Martin even more sinister.  But the primary point is as far as Zimmerman and the local police were concerned, Trayvon Martin should not have been black. To a racist, being black is the crime and being white allows them to be judge, jury and most of all, the executioner.

As further proof of how much we black people are viewed with disdain and disrespect please note the following: In the book, “The Hunger Games” written by Suzanne Collins, the character “Rue” is described as having “dark brown skin and eyes.” Nonetheless, after seeing the movie, several people tweeted or wrote on Facebook –

  • “why does rue have to be black gonna lie kinda ruined the movie.””Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad. #ihatemyself.””Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.””Everything from the innocuous ‘She’s not how I pictured her’ to ‘I was all sad and like ‘she’s black!'”By Vera H-C Chan | Movie Talk – Tue, Mar 27, 2012 2:27 PM EDT [Race Controversy Over The Hunger Games]Racism is more American than “mom, apple pie and baseball.” This racism is both overt and insidious and as such, we as black people must “stand our ground” against it by calling it out and loudly urging our leaders to enforce the laws that are supposed to provide “life, liberty and freedom for all.” This is not pollyannish advice; it is reality. Racism is often an ugly face behind a pretty mask. 

    The other aspect that requires that we “stand our ground” is for us to aggressively oppose many of the notions that sometimes reinforce the racism that pushes us to the bottom of the totem pole. We need to esteem education, and reject the idea that embracing respect for self and others are luxuries we cannot afford. Yes, indeed, we must work harder than, be better than, be smarter than, in so many ways in order to receive a modicum of respect. Such a reality is patently unfair but racism by its very nature imposes that burden on the oppressed and until it is eradicated or at least until it becomes marginal, that is life in these United States of White America. In other words, we must not give racists a stick to beat us with; they will find one without our help.  True, racists will loathe us no matter what, but at least we do not have to be complicit in that regard. 

    This does not mean I am exonerating racists for their actions or minimizing their culpability. This does not mean that Trayvon Martin bore any responsibility for his death. I am simply invoking the spirit of Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman saw racism/slavery for what it was and resisted it – called it out. She also believed in black people helping themselves while fighting against racism. It is this second idea that was integral to who she was. Helping her people to help themselves. She was so emphatic about black people helping themselves that she threaten to shoot any of those in her charge who became faint of heart.

    Thus, with regard to racism, we too must stand our ground against the forces that oppose our advancement [even our existence] as a race. But unlike George Zimmerman and those of his ilk, we must stand our ground, not with violence, but by shining the light on racism – by not letting it go unchallenged and finally,  by changing the perception we have of ourselves as a race. 

Published in: on March 29, 2012 at 3:20 AM  Leave a Comment  
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