Dem’ shoot at us
Turn around and deny it.
People on the streets are dying.
We must come together
Fight depression and pull de pressure
On de system that tries to diss us,
tries to hurt us, and tries to kill us.
We don’t win, we fight again.
We gwon fight until the end, until the end,
We fight until we win, until we win.
~ Immortal Technique, Fight until the end
I didn’t want to speak on this. I actually deplore having to shed light on this. This should never be something that happens! Today marks day 6 of my hooded salute to a Florida youth, Trayvon Martin, whose only crime was eating skittles, drinking Arizona and fearing for his life. As a Nubian man, I feel great sadness over the events taking place down south. I’m an advocate for justice, regardless of race, colour or creed. This is foolishness and I’m not sure where to start, so this may be disjointed. Let’s start with “Stand your ground”.
A stand-your-ground law states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. In some cases, a person may use deadly force in public areas without a duty to retreat. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. The difference between immunity and a defense is that an immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. (Wikipedia)
Let’s break this down, for those not in the know. Trayvon Martin is a seventeen year old youth who was craving Skittles and Ice Tea. He decided to head to 7-11 to obtain these products and was confronted by a man, who was told to desist and wait for police presence. The stranger approached the youth, who he describes as “looking suspicious” and shortly after Trayvon was dead. This stand your ground law is what prevents this man for seeing a cell. Preposterous, I know.
The law states that a person may use deadly force as self-defense. My question is how did a package of Skittles and Arizona ice tea frighten you? I can tell you what frightened him and forgive my candor, but it was Trayvon’s melanin and hooded shirt that frightened this man. I’m by most counts a friendly and affectionate person, but have been told on more than once that I frighten people while wearing my hoodie and doo rag. This man, George Zimmerman, feared a perception, not a “suspicious looking” character. His ignorance and inability to differentiate perception from reality ended in a youth’s death.
I have some more questions to pose.
1) Why is there a need for neighbourhood watch in a gated community? Isn’t the purpose of the gates to keep everyone out?
2) Why does stand your ground exist? This law reminds me of a Dave Chappelle skit that treaded on this very topic of injustice. The skit shows a crack dealer pleading the fifth to everything because it’s within his rights to do so. This law sounds more like an exit strategy for mindless gun-toting cowboys.
3) Why would I speak to strangers? George’s friend, Frank Taaffe, explains on CNN last week that, “First of all, Trayvon Martin was a guest in our community. He was confronted by George Zimmerman, he was not aware of who Trayvon Martin was and all he did was just go up to him and asked him what was your business here. And essentially all he had to respond was, I’m here visiting my mother, I just got back from the 7-11, what’s the problem. End of story. There would be no tragedy today . . . .
The most basic principle taught in preschool and kindergarten is “DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS!” Why in adulthood should I forget such lessons? Who is George or Frank to question anyone? They’re not police and they’re certainly not of sound mind. Let me tell you this, if anyone who I perceive as a stranger comes up to me and I fear for my life – I’m not talking.
I’m getting a little agitated just writing this because it’s as clear as day to me. Trayvon was murdered because he was dark-skinned and had a hood on. This is the outfit of a criminal in the mind’s of society. Hoodies, doo rags, bandanas, stocking caps and hats have long been the accessories of fear. These articles of clothing pose a threat. As popularized by mass media in rap videos, movie of the week dramas and one hour serials for years. The fact that these ‘suspicious looking” items didn’t scare Zimmerman is a testament to the power a gun gives. One of my favourite hip hop artists, Nas, described it from the perceptive of the gun.
A gun in the hand of a coward is not unlike liquid courage for an introverted person. This tool gave him the power to disregard the 9-1-1 operators words to stand down. Zimmerman wanted to be on the news for arresting a “perp”, the hero of his community and champion for the day. I don’t know if Zimmerman is racist and quite frankly, I don’t care because I’m not, so shades, hues and colours mean nothing to me. I do know this, if Zimmerman was the black neighbourhood watchman and Trayvon was Tom Smith, would we see this playing out the same? I don’t know, you be the judge. As it stands for me, I’ll continue to wear my hoodie every day until justice is served.
Carpe Diem Que