Wolves in Thug’s Clothing

On 18 May of 2012, television pundit, Bill O’Reilly, interviewed Geraldo Rivera about the Trayvon Marin/George Zimmerman case. During the interview, Geraldo stated that Martin was “dressed in that thug wear,” meaning a “hoodie.” He further stated that being dressed in that “thug wear” was just cause for Zimmerman to suspect that Martin was up to no good. Weeks earlier, Geraldo verbally chastised parents for letting their children wear “hoodies” [even though his own son wears them].

If what Geraldo posits is valid then I assert the following: Given that the greediest and vilest of thugs can be found on Wall Street [they precipitated the greatest recession since the Depression and have literally stolen billions of dollars from the middle class], then suits and ties can also rightfully be considered “thug wear.” The Wall Street thugs and other thugs in corporate America [as has been documented by various sources] have fleeced Americans of more money than all the street thugs in the US combined. These thugs have also been the recipients of more government welfare than the 46 million or so Americans who receive monthly welfare payments from the government. These facts are indisputable.

These thugs wear suits and ties, cuff links and cotton dress shirts as well as animal-skin shoes. So, if “hoodies” are “thug wear” then so are the clothes worn by corporate executives who are guilty of fraud. To that end, would Geraldo advise others not to wear the corporate “thug wear?” In fact, why doesn’t the IRS or law enforcement agents profile corporate executives, just like Zimmerman and Sheriff Arpaio of Arizona [the so-called “Toughest Sheriff in America” who is known to profile and arrest suspected illegal aliens], on the suspicion of graft and fraud? After all, if it walks like a thug and is dressed like a thug, then … thug.

As alluring as that fantasy sounds, rich criminals have always been treated with deference and even respect. We fear the street criminal and with good reason, but as a matter of course, those who dress in white collar “thug wear” have been granted tacit permission to deplete retirement accounts of the working class while ravaging the US economy. Could this deference be because their “thug wear” is more expensive than the “thug wear” Trayvon Martin was wearing?

Jesus is credited with using the phrase, “wolves in sheep clothing” meaning by all outward appearances certain beastly people would present themselves as sheep, thus making them more difficult to detect. Well, if I use Geraldo’s insightful observation as the basis for my logic, then thugs today are relatively easier to spot than they were in Jesus’ day – they’re the ones in the suit and tie.

“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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