Thursday, July 18, 2013
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
"We must organize for self-defense, in every meaning of the term, and create a Black political dynamic – a Movement – that will make our enemies fear the consequences of their actions."
For white American my advice is to look to the life of John Brown and figure it out.
Trayvon and White Madness
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“George Zimmerman is no more provably racist in a U.S. court than most white Americans” – which is why a Justice Department action will get nowhere. Whites consider it “reasonable” to believe in the inherent dangerousness of Black males. “’Not guilty’ is reasonable, when everyone that counts shares the same assumptions as the perpetrator.”
“The government would have to prove that Zimmerman was motivated by racial animus.”
When Trayvon Martin was murdered by a “creepy cracker” in February, 2012, an outraged Black America mobilized to force the State of Florida to put the perpetrator on trial. Seventeen months later, in the words of President Obama, “a jury has spoken,” affirming Florida’s original contention that Trayvon’s death was not a criminal act.
The White House also wanted Trayvon to be forgotten. Three weeks after the shooting, speaking through his press secretary, the president declared, “obviously we're not going to wade into a local law-enforcement matter." A few days later, Obama sought to placate Black public opinion with a statement of physical fact: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
In the wake of the acquittal, Obama’s press people have announced he’ll stay out of the case while Attorney General Eric Holder pretends to explore the possibility of pursuing civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. Holder told the sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta that Martin’s death was “tragic” and “unnecessary,” but a federal prosecution of Zimmerman is highly unlikely. The government would have to prove that Zimmerman was motivated by racial animus – a fact that is as obvious to Black America as a mob lynching at high noon at Times Square. However, except for the fact that he murdered a teenager, George Zimmerman is no more provably racist in a U.S. court than most white Americans – which is why the Florida cops and prosecutors initially refused to arrest him, why the jury acquitted him, and why the bulk of the corporate media empathized with the defense.
“Zimmerman was acting on the same racist assumption that motivates police across the country.”
The white public at-large shares with Zimmerman the belief – a received wisdom, embedded in their worldview – that young Black males are inherently dangerous. From this “fact” flows a reflex of behaviors that, to most whites, are simply commonsensical. If young Black males are inherently dangerous, they must be watched, relentlessly. Black hyper-surveillance is the great intake mechanism for mass Black Incarceration. Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watchman, was acting on the same racist assumption that motivates police across the country, which is why the cops in Zimmerman’s trial were more valuable to the defense than to the prosecution. The same goes for the prosecutors and judge, much of whose daily lives are organized around the inherent dangerousness of young Black men.
Naturally, the cops testified that they saw no racial animus in Zimmerman’s actions – just as they would deny that their own hyper-surveillance of Black communities is motivated by animus. The jury, like the vast majority of white Americans, approves of the Black surveillance regime, and of those civilians that also keep an eye out for “crime” – which is synonymous with “Black males.” As juror B37 put it, Zimmerman’s “heart was in the right place” – meaning, she saw Zimmerman’s profiling and pursuit of Trayvon as well-intentioned and civic-minded; clearly, not malicious. Something “just went terribly wrong" – an unfortunate turn of events, but not a crime. The unanimous verdict shows the other jurors also perceived no malice – no racial motivation – by Zimmerman.
In fact, white folks in general do not think it is racist or evidence of malice to believe that Black males are a prima facie threat; it’s just a fact. Therefore, it is “reasonable” that civilians, as well as cops, be prepared to use deadly force in confrontations with Black males.
“The white public at-large shares with Zimmerman the belief that young Black males are inherently dangerous.”
The answer to the question: What would a reasonable person do? is essential to American law. Police, prosecutors, judges and jurors base their decisions on their own subjective perception of the state of mind of people who harm or kill, and the reasonableness of their actions. To most white people, it is reasonable to reflexively suspect young Black males of having criminal intent, and reasonable to fear for one’s life in a confrontation with such a person. “Not guilty” is reasonable, when everyone that counts shares the same assumptions as the perpetrator.
Black people cannot fix that. We cannot change white people’s warped perceptions of the world, although, Lord knows, we’ve tried. It has been 45 years since passage of the last major civil rights bill, the Fair Housing Act, yet housing segregation remains general, overwhelmingly due to white people’s decisions in the housing market, based on their racial assumptions. So powerful is the general white racist belief in Black criminality and inferiority, the mere presence of African Americans on or near property devalues the land. This is racism with the practical force of economic law. The same “law” has locked Black unemployment at roughly twice that of whites for more than two generations – an outcome so consistent over time it must be a product of the political culture (racism) rather than the vicissitudes of the marketplace.
The Brown Supreme Court decision is nearly 60 years old, yet school segregation is, in some ways, more entrenched than ever – again, because of white peoples decisions. Not only is school segregation on the rise, but charterization is creating an alternative public-financed system designed primarily for Black and brown kids. In many cities, whites can only be retained in the public schools by offering them the best facilities and programs. School desegregation has largely been abandoned as a lost cause, because of the whites’ “intransigence” – a euphemism for enduring racism: a refusal to share space with Black people.
But, the criminal justice system is white supremacy’s playground, where racial hatreds, fears and suspicions are given free rein. One out of eight prison inmates on the planet are African American, proof of the general white urge to purge Blacks from the national landscape. Trayvon Martin fell victim to the extrajudicial component of the Black-erasure machine.
“Racism is a form of mental illness, in which the afflicted perceive things that are not there, and are blind to that which is right in front of their eyes.”
White people don’t think they are malicious and racist; rather, they are simply defending themselves (quite reasonably, they believe) from Black evildoing. That whites perceive themselves as under collective attack is evident in the results of a Harvard and Tufts University study, which shows majorities of whites are convinced they are the primary victims of racial discrimination in America. Such mass madness is incomprehensible to sane people, but racism is a form of mental illness, in which the afflicted perceive things that are not there, and are blind to that which is right in front of their eyes.
To live under the sway of such people is a nightmare. Most of African American history has been a struggle to mollify or tame the racist beast, to find a way to coexist with white insanity, possibly to cure it, or to make ourselves powerful and independent enough that the madness cannot harm us too badly. George Zimmerman’s acquittal is so painful to Black America because it signals that our ancient enemy – white supremacy – is alive and raging, virtually impervious to any legal levers we can pull. The feeling of impotence is heightened by the growing realization that the Black president – a man who, in his noxious “Philadelphia” speech, denied that racism had ever been endemic to America – cannot and will not make anyone atone for Trayvon.
We have been in this spot before – or, rather, we have always been in this spot, but have for the last 40 years been urged to imagine that something fundamental had changed among white Americans. Trayvon smacks us awake.
We must organize for self-defense, in every meaning of the term, and create a Black political dynamic – a Movement – that will make our enemies fear the consequences of their actions.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Tomas Garcia, a leader of the indigenous Lenca community in Honduras has been murdered. Garcia died from a bullet fired by a member of the Honduran armed forces. His son Allan was severly wounded. Radio Resistencia reports:
Allan García, 17 year-old Lenca boy, was checked in to the Santa Barbara hospital this Monday at 1:00pm, injured by the Honduran military in the community of Río Blanco, Intibucá. The medical diagnosis is that a high-caliber bullet went through his thorax and that he requires urgent medical intervention. He was sent via emergency transfer this afternoon to Hospital Mario Rivas in San Pedro Sula. In the same attack, his father —Tomás García Domínguez, Lenca community organizer—was murdered around noon, also by the army which is guarding the DESA Company of the Chinese state firm SYNOHIDRO, which plans to build a dam on the Gualcarque River against the will of the indigenous community.
The dam being built by the Chinese firm is widely opposed by the indigenous people in the area. Honduran Culture and Politics tells us:
That company, SYNOHIDRO, is well known as the contractor for controversial dams proposed on the Patuca River in Olancho, in eastern Honduras, expected to cause major environmental damage in the Rio Platano Biosphere, and protested by indigenous people in eastern Honduras as prejudicial to their livelihoods.
This company, representing global capital in this situation, has paid little regard to the desires of the people of the region. As SOA Watch has stated:
In clear violation of ILO Convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Lenca community of Rio Blanco was not consulted on whether they wanted this project or not. And when the Municipal Mayor finally did hold a town hall meeting about the project, he got up and left the meeting when the community voted against the project, refusing to sign the acta in an attempt to invalidate the meeting.
Well, sometimes the multitude decides consulted or not they have something to say. The indigenous people of Honduras have been battling the Empire over this dam ever since the idea came along.
The fight of the Lenca people is part of a much larger struggle against the seizure of indigenous lands by international capital and its state representatives that started over 500 years ago, and continues to this day.
There is a displacement of the population that has traditionally lived on those lands, practically an eviction...DESA [of Honduras] and SINOHYDRO (a transnational Chinese hydroelectric project builder) have exerted brutal pressure against the communities, with maneuvers such as co-opting leaders and the offering of bribes, and on the other hand repression, systematic harassment, and the occupation of the territory by the army, the police and security guards and gang members.
The Rio Blanco case is very important and emblematic because it is a struggle against a very strong transnational power such as SINOHYDRO and it represents the opening of the doors to big capital for the creation of mega projects through the Law of Special Regimes or better known as the Law of Model Cities that gave a chance to not only this transnational, but to large investments in the north.
Because of these facts, it's important to fight against the Agua Zarca project which is the beginning of the plunder and eviction through the Model City projects which is a laboratory for what is being executed in Honduras, within what is perversely known as the Transpacific Treaty.
The Company and the State blame the indigenous for the death. El Heraldo writes:
How many times have we heard such nosnsense, whereby those killed by the Empire are at fault for being killed by the Empire. The Empire, of course, is never responsible and the multitudes are just resisting whatever, I guess, becasue they have nothing better to do.
The following is from Intercontinental Cry.
Monday, July 15, 2013
It's Monday and I can't quite let it go yet, won't ever really let it go. I am compelled to once again return to the inglorious injustice done this weekend by what the defense and the prosecution in the Trayvon Martin case call the best legal system in the world. Such arrogance. How often does someone describe something, anything about the USA the best in the world. Ask them why they think that and they will stutter and say it just is. The USA is the best at everything and that's the way it goes.
What is important to keep in mind is that the US judicial system WORKED exactly as it is designed to work in the case of Trayvon Martin. It WORKED again exactly as it is designed to work in the case of Marissa Alexander. Many see a contradiction. There is none.
One can't possibly take an honest read of US history, of the founding papers, of the founding fathers, of a few centuries of Supreme Court decisions, at a history of slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration...at a foundation of white supremacy, of murders of civil rights activists and those struggling for liberation of the African American People, of the every day bits of racism that blacks in America face always...and on and on and reach any conclusion other than the system worked just fine in both cases.
The system needs to go.
It ain't broken. It was never otherwise. All the white liberal media pundits, all the good white liberal folks who honestly are outraged by the verdict in one or both of these cases miss the point entirely. You want to be outraged, be outraged at America, be outraged at the pillars upon which this "greatest country" in the world is built.
And don't just be "outraged" and then head home to your own gated communities, to your own private schools, to your own pieces of heaven and go back to sleep. GET IT! DO SOMETHING!
It is time for white working people to GET IT, too. Get that you are the recipient of all sorts of privileges just because you are a member of the white club. Get that those who do exploit and steal from you, who keep you down are sitting at the top of a white power structure laughing at you, but happy to have you aboard. GROW UP and smell the roses already. Sometimes I grow weary of making excuses for you and talking about how white supremacy is all mystified and hidden behind a mountain of material advantages. You aren't blind and you aren't idiots. Quit pretending you don't see what is going on. Figure it out already. This white skin privilege thing has been going on for a long time now. It is hard to miss.
Yes, I should come down harder on the out and out racists, white supremacist scum, profiling murders, and the like, but that is too easy. It is too easy to blame a few white sheets for all the dirty laundry that makes up this brave and free and land of ours.
Am I pissed. Yes, I am pissed. Walking around pissed all the time is not the way I want to live, but boy is it hard not to do just that. Of course, like everyone else I find many moments of joy and good feelings, even sometimes of hope.
This is not one of those moments.
The following is from The Frenzy.
Trayvon Martin, Marissa Alexander, and
the founding of the US
July 14, 2013 by thisfrenzy
The murder of Trayvon Martin and jailing of Marissa Alexander aren’t just about racism —they’re about slavery.
Many groups of people face racist violence and discrimination in the US, but what African Americans, or any other people deemed to be “Black” face runs even deeper. This whole damn country was founded on these principles: Black people are the property of white people, and Black people count only as 3/5 of a human.
And these rules aren’t just legacy, but are still our lived realities, every day. White people get away with murdering Black people, every day, every day, every day. And Black and Brown men, imprisoned in large numbers in rural parts of many states (and hey, I’m talking up North here —stop blaming this on “the South”!) count as “population” to determine local congressional seats in the counties where they are imprisoned, not in their homes, yet aren’t allowed to vote for those seats. I think that’s pretty damn close to counting as only 3/5 of a human, don’t you?
Some days I think that if there weren’t for-profit prisons and strong prison guard unions the State wouldn’t even pretend to care about Black-on-Black crime; they don’t actually care about those killed. They only care about two motives: making profit, and maintaining white supremacy. Imprisoning people for Black-on-Black violence serves both of these, the latter by the myriad ways having been imprisoned destroys lives by making employment impossible, breaking up families, destroying education, denying the right vote and on and ugly ugly on.
Imprisoning white people for killing Black people might serve the profit motive, but maintaining white supremacy trumps profit, every time. To have found Zimmerman guilty of murder would be to say that Trayvon Martin was fully, legally, human, and that’s not how this country was set up.
Imprisoning Marissa Alexander definitely serves both profit and supremacy. What in the world would the US do if Black folks thought they had the right to take up arms to defend themselves? And this question goes to the heart of how the US was established to protect a slave-holding social system, for the deepest fear of that system was that the enslaved, who outnumbered the owners so greatly, would rise up.
I’ve already seen many many comments about how “The system is broken” or how this was a “travesty against justice.” But THIS IS HOW THE SYSTEM WAS SET UP TO WORK. And while the acquittal is a travesty against the abstract concept of Justice, it is exactly what the US justice system was set up to do —maintain the vision of the founding fathers. Who held generations captive in violently enforced slavery, raped women held in slavery, and sold their own children from these rapes as slaves.
Where, in those founding principles, does anyone possibly think Trayvon Martin’s murder would matter?
And, finally, because I found this on Facebook this morning and it so brilliantly sums up the situation, a quotation from Frederick Douglass’ My Bondage and My Freedom:
The slaveholders, with a craftiness peculiar to themselves, by encouraging the enmity of the poor laboring white man against the blacks, succeeded in making the said white man almost as much a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the white slave and the black slave was this: the latter belonged to one slaveholder, while the former belonged to the slaveholders collectively. The white slave had taken from him by indirection what the black slave had taken from him directly and without ceremony. Both were plundered, and by the same plunderers. The slave was robbed by his master of all his earnings, above what was required for his bare physical necessities, and the white laboring man was robbed by the slave system of the just results of his labor, because he was flung into competition with a class of laborers who worked without wages. The slaveholders blinded them to this competition by keeping alive their prejudice against the slaves as men, not against them as slaves. They appealed to their pride, often denouncing emancipation as tending to place the white working man on an equality with negroes, and by this means they succeeded in drawing off the minds of the poor whites from the real fact, that by the rich slave master they were already regarded as but a single remove from equality with the slave. The impression was cunningly made that slavery was the only power that could prevent the laboring white man from falling to the level of the slave’s poverty and degradation. To make this enmity deep and broad between the slave and the poor white man, the latter was allowed to abuse and whip the former without hindrance.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
It is supposed to be theoretical weekends at Scission. Unfortunately there is nothing theoretical about yesterday's ending to the George Zimmerman trial which completed the "legal" lynching of Trayvon Martin. I have not felt such a visceral sense of sadness, anger, and outrage in a long, long time as when I heard the verdict of "not guilty." Was I shocked that such a thing could transpire in this country? Not really, but still I listened with a sense of disbelief which grew as I watched the smiling reaction of the "special prosecutor," as I heard her colleagues on the prosecution team thank the jury and actually comment that their prayers had been answered. I had to turn off the television. When I turned it back on, I found myself watching the loathsome defense team gloating and actually commenting that it had taken too long for justice to be found for George Zimmerman. They and Zimmerman's brother added that if Zimmerman had been black there never would have been a trial. I felt like I was living in some alternate universe.
I lay awake last night knowing that I had to say something here, but the words to use failed me. How could I express anything near what I was feeling? I awoke this morning to an email from my old friend Bill Berkowitz and to a poem which he had written which took care of that for me. I will share that with you now.
Does George Zimmerman Have a Line He Wouldn't Cross?
Does George Zimmerman have a line he wouldn't cross?
If he does, would it be a 15 year-old black boy
Would it be a child of 13, 11, 9, 7, or 3?
Would the black child have to be taller than five feet ten inches?
What if that child was five feet eight inches or five feet three inches or barely five feet?
Would he still have attacked if it was a five feet two inch six year-old girl
carrying a soda and a bag of skittles?
Would his defense attorney still be so smug and disrespectful?
What if our five feet two inch girl walking home carrying a soda and a bag of skittles
wore a hoodless sweatshirt?
Would Zimmerman have accosted her?
Would he have shot her dead?
Is another self-declared neighborhood-watch armed-vigilante
setting his sights on another black child?
Bill Berkowitz, July 14, 2013