Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cuz my identity by itself causes violence

The following story has enraged me in a way that I haven't been enraged in a long time. And, people, I do rage really well. With style and flair. As other artists work in oils, watercolors or clay, I've erected monuments to spleen venting. Weaving together whole quilts of seething, snarling, vein-throbbing fury, I once could cast a pall over everything with the single act of swallowing my ugly thoughts, letting the words rest somewhere inside causing something almost electric in its negativity. You've heard the phrase sucks all the Oxygen out of the room?

Like that.

Then came the anti-depressants and my ability to rage was dulled. Until now.


Trayvon Martin is my son's friend. Not literally, of course, but if he's going to be reduced to one thing - a threat, if he's going to be tried, sentenced and executed for the crime of simply being black, then I'm going to presume to have him be a stand-in for all the young, black men I know.

He's Nate's classmates. His baseball teammates. He's the students at MathMan High School, the kids in the neighborhood, the boys draped across the living room furniture playing video games, watching TV and emitting deafening decibels of noise. He's the pick-up basketball players at the park, the young man looking through the sci-fi books at the library, the guy working the Wendy's drive-thru, the young athletes stoking our March Madness.

They are boys. Young men with young men interests, worries, hopes, dreams and fears. They are not so different, as it turns out, than my own son who is Irish pale.

And yet, every day is a risk for them in ways that I cannot comprehend. Their mothers have to worry about things that rarely cross my mind. They have to live in fear of some pussy with a gun, some asshole who thinks that every young man with dark skin is a potential criminal, an interloper, an intruder in his pristine gated world, a threat, a thug armed with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.

Wanna know what happens when you're a dark mark on George Zimmerman's gun-toting radar?

You end up with a hole in your chest. Boom, black kid. This is my world and you're no longer living in it.

Big man with a gun. Playing cop.

The only thing worse than George Zimmerman's murderous fear - the only thing worse - is the cavalier attitude of the police in Sanford, Florida.

This feels personal to me. This young man was murdered. Murdered. The local authorities refuse to do anything about it. They've dicked around with it, made excuses, and entirely gummed up the investigation until all they could do was kick it up the food chain. Talk about pussies with guns.

Listen, I don't hate guns. I hate guns in the hands of people who don't respect the power they hold when they've got their finger on the trigger. I hate it that guns can be easily procured by fearful people because fear  gets in the way of clear thinking. Guns are more dangerous because the people who have guns for personal protection are afraid.

That's not to say I don't have my own fears. Please. I have many and varied. A treasure chest full. Not surprisingly, one of my fears is guns in the hands of frightened people with itchy trigger fingers and not a lot of sense.

The fact that the authorities who are responsible for ensuring justice and the safety of the entire community - not just the white community - have refused to charge the confessed murderer with the crime is the insult, George Zimmerman, the shooter, is the injury. He's the open wound of our collective hate and fear of the other.

And if we remain silent about this, the shame of Trayvon Martin's murder belongs to all of us.

Sign the petition to demand justice.  Charles Blow on the Curious Case of Trayvon Martin.

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Hey, my loves, my friend Jurassic Pork is in a tough way. If you can help out at all, please do. Thanks, gang. xoxo

30 comments:

  1. Authorities with guns are way fucking scarier than your unfriendly neighborhood gangbangers with guns.

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  2. What makes this really horrible is how cliche it seems. A black kid, wandering in a gated community in the south, gets shot by a local. The young man in question was probably lost - the story makes it plain he was new to the area - and looking for help. For his troubles, some goober shoots him and kills him.

    I'm not hating on Zimmerman. He's scared. There have been burglaries in his neighborhood; I'd be scared, too. He's been taught to fear certain people, certain types of people. So, he's afraid because of these burglaries, and he's been given a general target of his fear by a society that paints all criminals with the darker hues in the crayon box. This is a recipe for disaster, and the timer when off when poor Travyon was around. It makes me sick and sad, and the attitude of the Sanford Police Department doesn't help.

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    1. Tough shit that he's scared. We all get scared by something. Let's really scare him by giving him life imprisonment with no chance for parole.

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    2. I'm not saying he shouldn't face consequences for his actions. I'm saying that I have compassion for him even in the midst of him having committed this horrible act. What I am not doing is saying he is a horrible person. For one thing, finding horrible people upon whom we can focus our fears and frustrations is part of what brought about Travyon's death. For another thing, even if Zimmerman turns out to be less than compassion-worthy, he still lives within a whole network of social and cultural structures that make it easier to commit a horrible act like this and justify it to oneself, rather than to act, and react, differently.

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    3. I'd have a tiny bit of compassion for George Zimmerman if the 911 tapes didn't record the dispatcher telling him not to do anything, not to follow the kid, and to just let the police handle it. Then when you add in the fact Zimmerman was in an SUV and the kid was on foot, that kind of cancels out any credible "he was afraid" and/or self-defense argument, doesn't it?

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  3. People every where should be outraged over this act of madness. Great post.

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  4. Trayvon Martin's murder staggered me the way not too much does these days. Maybe the fact he had Skittles in his pocket and was on the way to see his folks... Spoke of his complete vulnerability. We all have fears. What's supposed to make us "civilized" is our ability to not act out on them, particularly those who carry weapons, whether police or individuals. Will say I'm sadly surprised I haven't seen more publicity, but...
    Thanks for writing this from the standpoint of a mom, Lisa.

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  5. It's an atrocity. We have so many people in the world that still don't understand that racism is not gone. They are living in a fantasy.

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  6. I don't know about this terrible case but one of my four kids is black/mixed and he knows already (at 13!) he's going to be picked up by the police more than his white siblings. He knows he needs ID and shouldn't take his school bag into a supermarket. It's not nearly so bad in Italy but that inherent racism is here. And won't be going away anytime soon.

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  7. I could not agree with you more. Wanabe cops are among the most dangerous critters alive. There is very little one can do now but, it seems quite clear that this young fellow was murdered and the nerd that shot him should get the needle

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  8. I'm equally disturbed by the murder of this young man and by the fact that the police are so blasé about looking into it any further. You can tell by the 911 tape that Zimmerman is following this poor kid and then he screams for his life and the guy shoots him anyway. What, exactly, are the police so confused about??? If the situation were reversed, and Zimmerman were shot in the chest, that kid would have been arrested immediately. No questions asked. I feel for this family, and wonder if they'll get justice for their son. Their son, who was innocent, and is dead now only because he was a young black man.

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  9. I am pretty strongly anti-gun, and this case is another example of why: too many of the people with the guns tend to be paranoid assholes.

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  10. I know I should not be stunned, but an event like this is stunningly sad and wrong.

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  11. I DO hate guns. I know I tread on the 2nd amendment & the "right" to be armed to the teeth. But really, ordinary citizens don't need guns. Pistols & AK-47s are not hunting guns, they are killing guns, for murder & military applications. Aside from hunting, I don't like weapons for single or mass destruction. Makes me think of Chris Rock's schtick about how things would be different if bullets cost a million bucks- each.
    For the record, I'm not fond of the military applications either.

    Yes, I consider myself to be a Peace activist. The word "Pacifist" sounds too lackadaisical- although it is defined as"opposed to war or to violence of any kind," the Peace activist label involves actively seeking non violence. I like the idea of being FOR peace, rather than, against violence- but by definition, I am both.

    Not that I need to present my case, but guns are the crux of the issue w school shootings, and PTSD soldiers doing unthinkable things, and even a little girl in Washington state who has had 5 surgeries and is fighting for her life, because her 3rd grade classmate picked up a gun @ home & it fired from inside his backpack in class. And this case, where the shooter did not see or think past the color-- could not even see that this was *a child*.

    The only good news is that since the story has become more widespread (thanks internets), the Orlando police dept are getting 10,000 requests per hour, that the shooter be arrested. Because shooting & killing a 17 year old kid "armed" with skittles and iced tea is not self defense, nor is it justice.

    Since when is a neighborhood watch volunteer allowed to carry a weapon?
    This gated community had better revisit it's charter.

    Double shame on the Orlando police, who tried to sweep this under the rug-- no crime here, no reason to arrest. Would they be saying that if it happened to their own child?

    I just listened to the call
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/videogallery/68871920/News/George-Zimmerman-911-call-reporting-Trayvon-Martin
    the shooter calls t 9-11 to say he sees a suspicious looking guy.
    Instead of the cop saying please describe the person, the 9-11 operator says "is he black or hispanic?"
    the shooter says he thinks he is in his "late teens".

    Wow! Because if you are suspicious looking in the Orlando area, you have got to be black or hispanic.

    The 9-11 operator said are you following him & when he answered yes, was told we don;t need you to do that.

    The poor kid must have thought he was being stalked or mugged, he was attacked.

    If Zimmerman would have listened to the instruction... cops are on their way, don't go after him, he would still be alive today. He should be alive today.

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  12. Lisa, i just signed the petition...and i hope all those who have commented did as well. good to know that there is a large outcry for justice to be done here. well done. thank you for posting this, as you are a mother i think this child represents any child. this is too sad. continue...

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  13. I'm surprised there haven't been more shootings like this all over the neoConfederate states that have passed those "shoot if you're scared" laws at the behest of the National Gunnut's Association. IIRC, Florida was one of the first to make it legal to gun anyone down in public if they feel like they were threatened.

    What I want to see is the first "2nd Amendment Death Blossom." A "death blossom" was what U.S. troops used to call it in Iraq when the Iraqi soldiers they were training would get fired upon, then start shooting in all directions, a blossom of deadly bullets. Seemed funny, until we found out that U.S. troops were doing it too, deliberately. One of these days, there's going to be a shooting at a mall or somewhere, and other armed civilians will take out their pistols and start shooting at the person they suspect is guilty, and other people will start shooting at THEM, and it will be a round robin of senseless slaughter.

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  14. Looking at this from Europe, I can't help thinking that this kind of incident - apart from all the ghastly stereotyping racist stuff - is an inevitable result of your US gun-culture.

    Having been involved in many on-line discussions about this, I repeatedly promise myself not to discuss this with US Americans any more, because most of them are not capable of rationality on this issue. The experience of other civilised countries generally shows that the fewer firearms around, the harder they are to get and the more controls fenced around their possession, the less people die of gunshot-related incidents. But most Americans seem to live with a continual low-level fearful paranoia which means that they will only give up their 2nd Amendment rights when they are taken from their cold dead hands.

    I'm over fifty years old and have never had a firearm in my hands in my life. I've been around quite a bit of Europe, including some of the rougher areas of quite a number of big cities. I've been nervous a couple of times, but it never occurred to me that I would be safer if I possessed a weapon with which I could kill my attacker. On the contrary, I feel safer knowing that, even if were to be mugged, the chances are quite small that my attacker would be in possession of a gun. Getting the shit beaten out of you is not nice, but it's better than getting killed.

    Proponents of the 2nd Amendment like to claim that firearms don't kill, people do. Sorry, people with guns kill other people. That's what guns are for.

    When will the USA leave the Wild West behind and join the rest of the world? How many deaths will it take till they know that too many people have died?

    But, hey, don't mind me ... I'm just a pinko liberal commie-loving European, being oppressed by my undemocratic, aristocratic, socialist government, which forces me to accept things like general public health care, subsidised college education and all that other stuff, and which makes it majorly difficult for me to arm myself to the teeth with deadly weapons. I'm so oppressed I can walk anywhere in the 100,000 population town, with over 25% immigrant background, where I live without being afraid.

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  15. Thanks for this post. Everyone should be outraged by this blatant example of racism. When we elected out first black president, I hoped it had indicated a change, a growth in the national mindset. But, instead, it just stirred the fears of those who cannot handle anything that isn't "just like them." Racism seems more pronounced today than it was four years ago. Its tenacity disgusts me.

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  16. It is sad and wrong that Racism is not,nor ever has really become a "White People's" issue. Many of us "helped" Black people, but we don't similarly see the importance of working with (fellow) White People.

    We Men - similarly - rarely work with our fellow men and see gender (and not always seemingly on the surface gender) issues as being "men's issues". Killings in general are rarely women killing - except in some tragic family situations.

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  17. I do hate guns and I've signed the petition.

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  18. My heart just broke into a thousand pieces. And yes, I signed the petition.

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  19. If Zimmerman isn't prosecuted for murder then that fucking state should be on fire. What a fucking outrage. Of course this case got under your skin, it's one huge fucking sign that something is really wrong in this country.

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  20. It sounded like Zimmerman said, "They always get away." Clearly biased from the get go. What a tragic story, in so many ways.

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  21. Sobering in its truth, confusing in its moral and ethical fence sitting. So many things to be outraged over, and unfortunately, the unjust death of an innocent young man the least of these?

    So much tragedy. Thanks for posting...

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  22. Lisa,
    Thank you for writing this for all of us, all of our sons. Nothing will happen until we get our collective heads out of our collective asses and make it happen.

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  23. The murder of young Mr. Martin is something I haven't touched on, yet, because my own rage makes me incoherent and coherence for any writer is an absolute must. His murder in and of itself is despicable on its own merits: A neighborhood watch guy, with a gun, acts as judge, jury and executioner when he sees a black kid who OBVIOUSLY must've been packing something more dangerous than processed sugar. Shoot first and rightly trust the police won't ask any questions later.

    But it's also the followup, the Three Stooges version of a police investigation conducted by what is obviously a racist police department. Obviously, if the shooter was black and the victim white and a member of the gated community or one of their own, the Sanford PD would go all Alice's Restaurant on the shooter and bring out the choppers, SWAT and produce dozens of glossy 8x10s with circles and arrows showing each shell casing.

    This kid could have been one of my own. I have two biracial sons who've just come back into my life. One is about to celebrate his 20th birthday, the other is 17. So everything horrible that needlessly happens to an African American strikes at my heart because my sons share that heritage. This is worse than Jenna, LA, worse than anything we've seen in years. And those sworn to serve and protect the public interest have made it plain they will protect only certain segments of the population. If you're black and needlessly gunned down, well, you had it coming to you.

    (PS, on a personal note, thanks, Lisa. No donations from That's Why, yet, but it's the thought that counts.)

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  24. This nutbag Zimmerman had been previously arrested for assaulting a police officer. He had no business owning a gun.

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  25. I signed, I invited, I feel rage.

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  26. This Zimmerman had called 911 almost 50 times in the last month so they knew he was a crack pot already. The fact that he hasn't been charged with something is very disheartening.

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