Walking While Black

I’m sick to my stomach about the Trayvon Martin shooting that Jamelle Bouie mentioned here yesterday.

Over the weekend, Charles Blow at The New York Times (once again, my favorite columnist) wrote:

Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun….

One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.

Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime….

As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.”

Here’s how Mychal Denzel Smith puts it at The Nation:

On February 26, during halftime of the NBA All-Star game, the 17-year-old high school junior went to a nearby store in the Orlando suburb where he was visiting his father and stepmother in order to buy some candy for his younger brother. He returned to his family a six-foot, three-inch, 140-pound corpse.

We know who killed him.

And as the white parent of an African American grade-school boy, I feel sick to my stomach with helplessness.

Yes, Bouie and others point out that while this story is racially charged, there are other elements as well. Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic puts it perfectly:

The approach here is not "either it's about race or it isn't." It's "this is about race along with..."

(Follow him more generally to keep up with the emerging facts.) As The New York Times reports in its excellent roundup of the facts of the case, the Justice Department is looking into whether the local police have failed in their duties.

If the colors here were reversed, if a white man were dead by gunshot, do you think for a minute that the black man would be walking around free?

Some months ago, I wrote about the death of D.J. Henry, a Pace University quarterback with no history of trouble from an “exemplary” middle-class family, who died at the hands of someone who believed he was enforcing order. (A local TV station reports on the latest evidence released here; Boston-area radio reporter Philip Martin posts additional evidence here.) The black man is dead. The white man is walking around free. And I feel sick to my stomach.

You may not think so, but your brain is racist, as I wrote in December. It’s sexist. It’s full of all kinds of beliefs, unless we work consciously to offset the factory settings that we didn’t install, according to the neurologists and social psychologists. We may think we understand what we think and believe, but most of the time, our minds aren't telling us what they're doing. Why again did George Zimmerman think that teen looked menacing? He probably thinks he has a reason. I bet his brain has a different reason.

I feel sick to my stomach with helplessness, once again, as a white parent of an African American boy. My little man is 8, and most people guess that he’s 10 or 11. He’s a foot taller and much broader and more muscular than most other kids his age. His feet are already longer than mine, and I’ve got big feet. In just a few years, he’s going to look 16 or 18—the age when some people look at his skin color and, instead of seeing “child,” see “menace.”

Someday my young man is going to go for a walk, and I won’t be with him.

I feel sick to my stomach. 

Comments

While it's good that the Justice Dept. is investigating, they will never get beyond a civil rights violation for what appears to be a murder. The only way it can be a murder investigation is if the local authorities make it one.

I had thought about taking the kids to DisneyWorld this summer, but now I don't think so. Maybe a boycott of this august institution would lead to a little pressure on the local authorities to wake up and do the right thing.

"Your brain is racist": No! The psychology paper you linked to in that previous post says the opposite. The researchers tested snap judgments of black and white faces to see whether racial values were hard-coded into test subjects' brains, as earlier researchers had suggested, or whether brains just had an innate capacity to make unconscious snap judgments based on learned social values. They found the latter to be true, meaning that we aren't born with racist values, only the capacity to act on them rapidly and unconsciously if we acquire them from our society.

I realize that's sort of a lengthy, technical objection, but I think it makes a huge difference whether, ultimately, you blame society or biology for social problems. If you believe that the root of the oppression of, say, African-Americans is that human brains are biased against black people, then whatever suggest social remedies you can suggest, however positive they may be, they will always contain the message that "we" see "them" as different and inferior, and that this can never change. That, for me, would be reason enough for despair.

You're right. It's not a default factory setting. It's a setting that's instilled by culture, but so early that it might as well be factory-installed; it can be overriden, later, by experience and conscious effort, but not eradicated. Did you take the test that was at the link? 

 

If the colors were reversed, how would the author feel about it if Billy Graham or some other white preacher made a career out of holding press conferences, marches and fomenting white anger over incidents involving a black and a dead or allegedly injured white without regard to whether the police believed there was actually sufficient evidence to arrest the black?

And what if the sky was red? Your made-up scenario has no basis in reality. In reality, Trayvon Martin is dead, killed by a stranger with a gun who chased him and is now claiming the guy he stalked and chased "threatened him" when common sense dictates the reverse was true.

But nice try at changing the subject.

Defiant are flat out insane? That "scenario" is a daily event in the United States, statistically closer to twice a day. Here is some data if your actually interested in making sense and not just some race baiting lunatic. This case is (obviously) cherry picked, as a chance to race bait, there is no evidence that race played any factor, and despite what this idiotic article goes on about, you are far more likely to be killed for walking while black by a black offender, than all other races combined.
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cvus0802.pdf

"...Your made-up scenario has no basis in reality...."

You're right, no white preachers get the kind of press for race-baiting that Sharpton and Jackson do.

"...In reality, Trayvon Martin is dead..."

That part is correct but if you've been following news stories the reality is shaping up to be a bit different than what was first asserted. There's no law against approaching someone to talk to them. It *is* illegal to start beating on someone because you feel like it.

...and further if the colors were reversed, what if it turned out that the accusations against the black were baseless but the white preacher after rabidly calling for "justice" against the black accused never uttered a word of apology or retraction for their misguided crusade?

No where does the article bother to mention that Zimmerman isn't white. Ironic considering the article's talk about the insidious nature of reflexive beliefs. A typical leftist reflexive thought drove this article: Black man shot under suspicious circumstances... It must have been the evil Southern White Guy.

I'm not sure I assumed he was "Bubba," if that's what you mean. Is light-skinned Hispanic so far from white? But you are right, given the name and the picture that I saw, I did not dig any further, and should have. 

Is light-skinned black so far from white?

"Is light-skinned Hispanic so far from white?" In this country's dominant view of race, the answer to that question is an unqualified yes. The fact that Zimmerman isn't an "Anglo" actually gives much more force to the larger point that the negative stereotype about black males can be lethal as it is so widespread that it can have deadly consequence in spite of that fact. (Apparently it seems it can be a cause of horrifying actions taken by trigger-happy morons of many colors). Reflectively screaming, "Bubba did it" won't help spread consciousness of this fact, and I'm sorry to say that this is the way the article came off.

Or in a country of 300 million people someone like Zimmerman was bound to happen somewhere, and probably many times, but of course statistically the victim of a Hispanic is usually also Hispanic, many ethnicity and races self select into neighborhoods of a dominant group. There have been hundreds of murders since this occurred, across the country. You are race baiting, and probably determined to judge by skin color, but there is no evidence that Zimmerman wasn't one of the common murderers that have been a frequent event for all of recorded history regardless of race.
I'm giving out free violent crime stats to everyone that makes themselves sound stupid today:
http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cvus0802.pdf

Why should the article bother to mention something that isn't true? Zimmerman is listed as white on the police report, ergo, that was his response when the responding officer asked him for his race.

#tryagain

Have you seen his picture?
http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/03/trayvon-martin-shooting-george-zimmerman-has-ties-to-manassas-74026.html

Hispanic isn't a race, like Caucasian or Asian. So one can be Caucasian and Hispanic. Or Black and Hispanic. The article and the comments make it out that this is some racists southern white guy who didn't have time to put on his KKK robes.

If Trayvon had been killed by Julio Rodriguez would it have elicited the same reactions about Republicans, whites, southerners, etc? I'm thinking not, because liberals are, by far the most prejudiced people in this country.

...And three comments in a row in favor of despair. I guess it's not too early for a stiff drink and a long moment staring at the wall.

I am sick at the death of this young man and my thoughts go out to his family.
I cannot imagine what his family is going through.

But as a women and mother of a daughter I know that republican, religious, white, southern men top my list of men to be afraid of.
I am afraid of them, very afraid of the power they wield over my life.
My husband and I have decided not to visit Disney World, not support the culture of life in Florida.

not that Disney World will miss you or your attitude that whites are evil

but clue us in on what is the culture of Flroida

We know from the racist Sharpton what the cultural attitude of Harlem is

Guess that explains, how you always vote at election time, since skin color is all that motivates your racist thinking

Question: how do you know if a person is a republican and religious? Do you ask him for his voter card and the last time he went to church when you meet them? Are you saying if you made a friend with a republican, religious, white southern woman (I'm mean since that mixture of classification you're fine with) you would talk to her husband?

Being a man and a grandfather of black grandson, it seems to me you have the same attitudes that killed the young man, do you agree? I'm glad that this tragedy had the right mix of colors in it for you to comment on and show your bigotry and hatred.

mgardener, as someone pointed out hours before you posted, Zimmerman is not a "white southern man." But then as a coast liberal woman, facts only get in the way of your own prejudices. You are certainly free to stay in your bubble instead of visiting other parts of the country, learning how strange your life really is, and why so many folks reject your way of thinking.
Oh, and BTW, I don't know any republican, religious, white southern men or women who believe Zimmerman should be free. But I know a lot of liberal black activists who march on a regular basis to free their favorite terrorist.

Only problem with your partisan rant: Zimmerman todl the police he was white and is thus listed as such on the police report.

You were saying?

Hispanic isn't a race, like Caucasian or Asian. So one can be Caucasian and Hispanic. Or Black and Hispanic. One with a good HS degree would know that because they know that Spain is in Europe!

The article and the comments make it out that this is some racists southern white guy who didn't have time to put on his KKK robes.

If Trayvon had been killed by Julio Rodriguez would it have elicited the same reactions about Republicans, whites, southerners, etc? I'm thinking not, because liberals are, by far the most prejudiced people in this country.

yet statistics tell us more blacks are brutalized and killed by other blacks then by whites

yet the old racism persists that whites are the enemies of blacks

strange how blacks never seem bothered by the plague of black on black violence that infests their neighborhoods

It is surely not right that "walking while black" ends up with apparently horrible injustices like this. But this kind of tragedy is not entirely the result of irrationality or racism in our communities. Many of our communities are really scary and dangerous places. And strangers, often easily identified by their race, frighten us. And with good cause -- sometimes.

In my town, last week a young, nondescript black man broke into an elderly couple's house, raped and beat an 85 year old woman to death in front of her 90 year old husband. He then beat the 90 year old Bronze Star Veteran who fought at D-Day and left him for dead. He then stole a flat screen TV, some jewelry and a Dodge Neon and left. He was later captured with the stolen goods and confessed.

He left that defenseless old man in a hospital bed saying over and over "I loved that old woman" -- his wife of 65 years.

Yes, it is wrong for a young man to have to live in a world where "walking while black" can have such horrendous results.

And it is also wrong for the real victims and potential victims of dangerous strangers to have to live in constant fear of horrendous results. What are they supposed to do? Wait for the criminal to enter the premises and wait, often futilely, for the police to show up in time to bag their bodies?

I do not in anyway condone this young man's shooting. But I am repulsed by the Rev. Jacksons of the world who will demonstrate when a tragedy like this happens and not even raise his little finger on behalf of the proposition that reducing their crimes against strangers would go a long way to reduce the level of fear that permeates our communities.

Maybe some of that fear is irrational and racist. But tell that to the friends and family of this couple. An old man and an old woman who never hurt anyone.

Trayvon Martin, in fact, was a victim of a dangerous stranger who chased him and shot him dead. He is "real victim" of a stranger's "horrendous result." So I'm not sure what kind of moral equivalence you're trying to draw. This case is not about Rev. Jackson or the rational fears of an old couple. It's about Trayvon Martin, and he does not automatically deserve to die because of a stranger's fears or Rev. Jackson's actions. And no one can tell anything the to the friends and family of a dead kid who never hurt anyone and still ended up dead for no reason.

P.S, To the people claiming Zimmerman wasn't white, he is listed as "white" in the police report, meaning he told the police he was white when they asked him for his race. Unless the detectives botched that too.

He is drawing the obvious point that you don't scream racist for all the crimes black commit, only for ones committed by other races, Is your logic blacks can't help themselves but anyone else acting that way must be racist? if so you might be...

"As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.”"

Hmmm. Lets put this into perspective, using a few facts from current FBI files: Of all violent crime (assault, rape, murder) 20% is cross racial crime Black/White. Of those 20% cross racial Black/White crimes, 95% involve Blacks attacking Whites while 5% involve Whites attacking Blacks. Additionally: there were just over 12,000 murders with all types of firearms last year. Of those 12,000 murders, 10,000 were with handguns. Of those 10,000 handgun murders, over 8,000 of the assailants were Black youths. We all have fears when we walk around the world, but some fears are more reasonable and substantial than others: that Black youths are more likely to be attacked by whites simply for being black does not seem to be one of them.

Please stop using facts. It just annoys the liberals both because they don't understand them and because it seems to be messing with this fantasy world they've created for everything.

The worst thing for the liberal has been the internet. In the old days a newspaper could print whatever it wanted and, finding out the truth was time consuming and even if you did, the only way to refute the liberal press was to write a letter to the editor.

"The worst thing for the liberal has been the internet."
Nicely put.

Where did you get those FBI statistics? I can't find them anywhere and the DOJ seems to have completely different figures (at least with regards to homicide) http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/race.cfm

Its true that Black on Black violence is the most common type, Black on White violence is the next most common, and White on Black violence is the least common, but I think the main issue with us liberals is Black on White violence gets punished much, MUCH more severely than White on Black violence. The Trayvon Martin case is getting a lot of press because it is a particularly egregious example of this; the police barely investigated the case, wheras if the case had been reversed, the case would have gotten a much more thorough investigation.

That's not true, it just happens less frequently, Thomas Sowell the BLACK chair of political science published in his books that accounting for repeat offenders and frequency of calls, resolutions appeared virtually identical. (Sorry no link, as I have a dead tree copy, but he is famous enough I am sure you could find)

Sowell is an economist, not a criminologist. He's also a hardcore idealogue. Researchers who specialize specifically in sentencing disparity and do not cling to a political affiliation find that there is racial bias in how cases are prosecuted at almost every level (See the sentencing project and the Vera institute.) Its also been found that there is racial disparity in sentencing for first time juvenile offenders, which eliminates the effect of previous record.

I know how important it is to you to use race as a qualifier, so I'm writing this comment t as a white grandfather raising a black grandson.

Do you know what make me sick to my stomach? People like you who write articles like this only when a tragedy happens with the right mix of color in it.

Would a black man, walking around free after killing a black teenager upset your stomach? Would a white man walking around free after killing a white teenage put a pain in your belly? Or a black man, freed after shooting a white teenage (in GA a few years ago) upset your stomach?

The tragedy here is a teenager is dead and the killer is walking free. Period! But if you need this tragedy to be highlighted by race for you to feel something then I would say that you have the same attitudes that killed this young man and your prejudices will bleed into the next generation.

Is it only when a white man kills a black teenager that you stomach doesn't sit right? It seems that you have the same attitudes that killed this young man.

Here's a novel idea. Before we convict Zimmerman let's let the police complete the investigation and the grand jury do it's work. We really only have one side of the story and nobody should be judging at this point.

Amen. To assume the kid was just eating an ice cream cone and sing it's a small world after all and doing nothing wrong is BS.

One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.

Right when the story first came out and they thought the shooter was white it was mentioned every sentence. Now that the shooter is Hispanic he is just "not black". Walking while black? How about walking while white in Detroit or East LA or whatever minority area? Screw the writer of this story and all the whining race baiting blacks. My cousin was 19 and white in Detroit had his brains blown out by a Black because he was white and tall 6'6". The shooter spent 6 months in jail. Maybe this kid was doing something wrong. Maybe he was threatening the man and he defended himself. To assume he is innocent and pure as the driven snow is BS.

Virtually all my close friends including my partner are Black although I don't happen to be. It is just amazing how much racism Black people face in the USA. I suppose at one time most anybody who was different probably had a similar experience in this society over its history; that seems to be human nature. Maybe it dates from the days when strangers inevitably brought violence, disease, competition, or maybe all three. BUT every other group eventually finds itself on the "I'm OK" side of the line, as opposed to the "They are NOT OK" side, except Black Americans. Are others around here just too guilty over the past that they insist upon demonizing the same folks forever? Looks like it to me.

If that’s the case, remember that the only people who got here without being effectively chattel were a few Native American tribal chiefs and a few folks who owned the ships they came in, probably 1000 people in the entire history of North America. Everyone else was an N-word type at the beginning, particularly including the early English Protestant folks, who were universally debtors, indentured servants, or feudal retainers, with a very very few exceptions. But all of us except out Black brothers and sisters are allowed the possibility of something about this changing someday for them or for at least some of their descendants.

Shame on my country!

BTW the last time I prepared to die fighting - and I mean it - I was with my best male friend in a part of town strange to us both when someone hollered in a very loud voice behind us, "HEY N****! What the F*** are You doing in MY part of Town!” As I should have guessed, but did not because of the Television English accent, the man was a close, Black friend of my friend, and a casual acquaintance of mine as well.

If my son got shot for no reason, I would not be happy if it was any less valid or unfair because of his race. Would it be ok if it were a white child being killed? Would it be ok if the killer was black. Most of the above comments are about race. The important thing is that some idiot shot a little kid. THe idoit is an American and so has the right to bear arms. However, with rights come with responsibility. When he shot that kid he shoud suffer all the criminal and civil consequences that go along with stupidity. When some one is reckless driving and kills a person, that person is prosecuted as a criminal and the family of the slain sues that person for every penny they have. Is this not the way its supposed to work in our society. It is not self defense if you follow the person.

If my son got shot for no reason, I would not be happy if it was any less valid or unfair because of his race. Would it be ok if it were a white child being killed? Would it be ok if the killer was black. Most of the above comments are about race. The important thing is that some idiot shot a little kid. THe idoit is an American and so has the right to bear arms. However, with rights come with responsibility. When he shot that kid he shoud suffer all the criminal and civil consequences that go along with stupidity. When some one is reckless driving and kills a person, that person is prosecuted as a criminal and the family of the slain sues that person for every penny they have. Is this not the way its supposed to work in our society. It is not self defense if you follow the person.

Let's be clear. I am a white senior with a concealed carry permit. I am conservative. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms and the right to defend oneself. I am usually armed. I take defending myself and my family seriously and do not intend to be made a victim while I wait 30 minutes for the cops to show up.

Anyone deserves the right to walk down the street unmolested - no matter whose neighborhood they might cross. A black kid should be safe in a white neighborhood just as a white kid should be safe in a black neighborhood. They are all someone's little baby boy. This sh*t has got to stop. What happened here (if we accept the narrative) was wrong. It was murder and the "guard" who did this deserves to be punished.

Do NOT blame gun-owners, conservatives or white (or Hispanic) people. They are not at fault. Guns are not at fault. Prejudice and racism are to blame and that comes from both blacks and whites.

Don't race bait to protect your political cause, there is no evidence Zimmerman's motivation was racist, and most murders, including most gun murders are within the same race. Actually, I agree a tool doesn't do it's own work, but screaming racist every time something that commonly happens within a race happens in a diverse setting is ludicrous.

What a dilemma for ObamaHolder administration that has made it a policy to not prosecute any brown or brown on brown incidents.

Hey, it could still turn out Zimmerman was stopping the kid in the commission of a crime, the author is just making up a fairy tale story, no one knows the real answer yet.

Its been pretty well established Martit was on his way to his dad's girlfriends house. He was carrying snacks. Most people don't commit crimes while carrying snacks.

Hate to break it to ya, dear ejgraff, but statistically your kids are FAR more likely to be killed by a black than by a white, and not for the reasons you mention. Blacks seem to enjoy killing one another over shoes, sunglasses, laundry detergent, women, dogs, drugs, or just to seem tough. It's far more likely that this is how your sons will die than by a random nut case out patrolling the neighborhood. Please stop spreading this nonsense and start speaking the truth about why young black men die.

Has anybody seen reporting on the race of the responding police officers? I nave not. I would bet that there are black officers involved or we would see 4 or 5 mentions in every news report that the officers were all white. Having black officers involved in the investigation does not fit the narrative the media wants.

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