Regarding Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman

Final word on the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case.

The only reason anyone outside the immediate circle of those affected directly by the shooting of Trayvon Martin even knows about it, is because it got picked up by the mainstream media and turned into a pop culture circus where the race war flames were intentionally and calculatingly fanned from both sides in a perverse competition for ratings. This is my contribution.

Edited to add 07-28-13:

After thinking about it for a while, my above refusal to throw in my two pennies in the aftermath of the trial is atypical of me, and I can’t have opinions that remain untold.

The country is mostly (but not entirely) split along racial lines with regards to the not guilty verdict of George Zimmerman. Whites think for the most part it was a just verdict, blacks not so much.

I myself was raging mad a year-and-a-half ago when this case made the news. Not so much because a black kid was killed by a white/Latino guy. Kids get shot all the time in America. No, I was pissed because Georgie was let go, not charged, not even investigated after the shooting. Gross incompetence by the Sanford police dept. and the local DA. Once the case gained national notoriety and charges were filed, I was happy to let the “system” do its thing. I still am. I’m also, if not happy, confident that a just verdict, all things considered, was reached.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t hold George Zimmerman blameless. Far from it. Getting out of his car and following Trayvon Martin after he’d called 911 was stupid and irresponsible beyond belief. But not criminally so. I also don’t think he would have done so had he not had a gun. Being armed made him over-confident, and, like so many have said, if your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails. I don’t totally disagree with that notion.

Given the known facts of the case and how they were presented in court (I followed the case relatively closely), I don’t see how the jury could have reached any other verdict. That being said, I do believe that had the races been reversed, I feel fairly confident in saying that the outcome might have been different, and that’s just plain wrong.

African Americans and other minorities have a valid grievance when it comes to how they receive different treatment by the legal system than whites in America. Slavery and Jim Crow may be technically dead, but their ghosts are lingering and we’re still suffering the after-effects. Those who say that I as a white man can’t possibly understand fully what it’s like to grow up as black male in America are right. We need desperately to have that “national conversationpresident Obama called for. In what form it should take place to make the Union more perfect is above my pay grade.

That being said, all criminal trials should be judged by the specific merits of each case, not by the rantings of professional race hustlers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (or Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh for that matter) and no matter how stupid you think George Zimmerman was that night (and I don’t believe he acted out of racial hatred for blacks; it was more of a cowboy mentality than anything else), there was enough reasonable doubt after closing arguments for another two or three trials.

Is Paula Deen The Subject Of A Witch Hunt?

The facts that I’m aware of (disclaimer, I haven’t followed the case very closely; I’m not big on food shows on TV and celebrity bashing):

During a legal deposition Paula Deen admitted to having used racial slurs (aka known as the n-word, or, more accurately, “nigger”) in the past.

She also said she wanted a “plantation-style” wedding with black waiting staff dressed as slaves.

Was it in poor taste? Yes. Should she have known better? Yes.

Do I think  Ms. Deen is a bonafide racist with a white supremacy bent, blacks being an inferior race? I strongly doubt it.

Will I give someone who was brought up in the South in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s some leeway? Yes. Meaning I understand how she got to be that way, but still demand that she self-corrects.

Have I myself on occasion used racial slurs (not for quite some time now), either because I didn’t know better or was in a pissy mood and wanted to poke somebody where it hurt the most (and regretted it later)? Yes.

Do I consider myself a racist due to the previous point? Not really, but we all have a seed of something in us. The object is to suppress that seed and see people for what they are, i.e. judge them by the content of their character, not their appearance. I could throw in a little anecdote here:

Some years back I went on a business trip to Philadelphia, PA. I needed a room for  the night and picked a hotel at random that was close to the place I had dealings the next day. After entering the hotel I noticed right away that I was the only white person there. Different shades of black and brown every where, except for me. All black staff, all black guests. Not a single one raised a curious eyebrow at my appearance, but I must admit that it was a totally alien experience for me and I felt a tad bit uncomfortable. Not because the place was seedy or I felt unsafe, but because it was different from anything I had felt before. Now I have some semblance of understanding of what it must feel like for a black person to exist in a mostly white world.

Does the above make me a racist? To some small extent, perhaps, yes, but certainly not in the KKK/Aryan Brotherhood league. It was a wake up call for me and I have since strengthened an already acute sense for racism and civil rights issues of all varieties in our society and around the world.

Do I have any black friends? No. Hardly even acquaintances, it’s just the way things worked out, but I do have a casual association with a couple of Jews. They seem like nice people, though, despite having murdered Jesus.

Do I think black people, especially young ones, use the words nigger/nigga loosely and without repercussion, partly as a term of endearment, partly in pop culture/music (if you can call that hip-hop shit music!) and partly to take ownage of the words and declare every white person who uses it a racist? Yes.

Do I believe that some blacks were insulted by Paula Deen’s remarks? Yes, and justifiably so, but being angry and vindictive doesn’t do anything to fix the problem.

And YES, I do understand that in the vast majority of cases there’s a big difference between a white person saying “nigger” and a black person doing the same. However, understanding isn’t necessarily agreeing.

Do I think everybody should stop using the word and any other racial epithets? Yes.

Do I think anybody over the age of 10 who claims to never have let a racial slur of any kind pass through their lips is a liar? Yes.

Was it right of the Food Network to fire Ms Deen over the “incident”? It was a business decision, I have no opinion. She’ll land on her feet.

Do I think the media is overreacting on this case, willing and eager to throw Paula Deen under the bus for the single purpose of increasing ratings? Yes. I have a strong feeling many reporters over the past few weeks have acted very hypercritical.

Should there be some kind of repercussions for Ms Deen? I don’t know, but in my not so humble opinion I think she has learned her lesson and we should give her a break.

What would a suitable punishment be in case you’re hellbent on her having to suffer some consequence for her ill thought-out behavior? Give her a slight rap on the knuckles with a ruler and get on with your life.

Do I think Paula Deen is at heart a decent person? Yes!

Finally, America suffered though 250+ years of slavery, followed by a century of Jim Crow and organized discrimination. We can’t wipe the slate clean within a few generations. If we all don’t step up to fix the problems, men and women of all races, we’re looking at hard times ahead.

Accidental Racist – A Story Of Four T-Shirts – If You Wear One, You Are One

Brad Paisley and LL Cool J recently teamed up to release the song “Accidental Racist” in an effort to cure racism in America and bring the Country and Western crowd and the Rap people closer together. Good intentions, yes? Maybe…

Not being much of a fan of either C&W or rap I think the song stinks from a musical point of view. Much worse, however, is that it completely fails as a Kumbaya piece and makes a mockery of our nation’s history, comes very strongly across as an apologia for Southern racism, and stereotypes blacks as saggy-pantsed gangstas.

The theme of the song is a black Starbucks barista who is offended by a rebel-flag t-shirt wearing patron. We find out through the song that it’s just a big misunderstanding on both sides, the t-shirt only means the redneck likes Lynyrd Skynyrd, we should all hug and try to respect each others’ backgrounds and  just get along.

Well, it ain’t that simple. The flag of the Confederate states was conceived solely as a symbol for those who so hated the idea of giving up their right to own African-Americans as chattel, that they were willing to go to war and secede from the Union. It is just as disingenuous to brandish the rebel flag and claim racial innocence based on “southern pride”, “cultural heritage” and other such nonsense as it would be for someone to fly the Swastika and say it’s just a symbol of Alpen Pride or Lederehosen History. Worse, actually, because the swastika is an ancient symbol hijacked by Nazis; the rebel rag has never meant anything other than white supremacy and enslavement of blacks.

There is no substantive difference between the four t-shirts pictured below. If you wear either one, you are all of them.

If you wear this you are a racist.  slavery-tshirtIf you wear this you are a racist.  jews--tshirt

I Am Trayvon Martin

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Paraphrasing Edmund Burke: All it takes for the assholes to win is you not giving a shit.

trayvon-martin

Trayvon Martin, February 5, 1995 – February 26, 2012

Symptom of the Universe. I see some people are exploiting this opportunity to make a 2nd Amendment argument, both pro and con. But this isn’t about guns or the right to bear arms; it’s about the spirit of Jim Crow still haunting the South, it’s about racism, law enforcement misconduct, if not criminal negligence or even an outright cover-up, as well as class warfare.

George Zimmerman needs to prosecuted, the entire police force of Sanford fired and investigated, and the rest of us should try to salvage what is left of justice in America.

Sign the petition to prosecute Trayvon’s murderer here.

Former Negro Slave Tells Former Slavemaster To Go Fuck Himself

FYI, this isn’t news; it happened 147 years ago, but it’s worth repeating.

The Civil War interfered with Colonel P.H. Anderson’s, of Big Spring Tennessee, ability to own slaves (since they were emancipated and all) and run his farm, so he wrote a letter to one of his former slaves, Jourdan Anderson, asking him to come back to work for him. While not saying so outright, from the sarcasm in Jourdan’s response, the ex-slave clearly is telling his former owner to go fuck himself, and remarkably eloquently to boot. This is what happens when we teach the niggers how to read and write.

Go Jourdan!

slaves

Pictured slaves not Jourdan and his harem of jolly Aunt Jemima's from the happy pre-emacipation days down on the plantation. For illustration purposes only.

Dayton, Ohio,

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.