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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Mystery of Racism behind the Trayvon Martin Case

RE: “Wheels of justice moving in Trayvon Martin's case” by Bob Ray Sanders

The Trayvon Martin case boils down to this, says Star-Telegram editorialist Bob Ray Sanders.

“The wheels of justice are in motion. Let them move deliberately and fairly toward the truth. The outcome is still likely to leave the country divided over another tragic incident… As for that discussion on race? How many more do we need until we expect a different result from all the others? Maybe we leave it to the newly energized young folks to talk about it. They can do it on their social media -- without ever coming face-to-face.”

My old friend and colleague sound exasperated and burnt out over the issue of race, racism, and race relations, especially in light of the recent Trayvon Martin shooting death. This I can understand, because I am sick of talking about it too.

The mainstream media has gone to great lengths to identity George Zimmerman as Anglo-Hispanic just for the purpose of denying “racism” as a factor in the shooting case. But, as I have always said, the faulty premise of race cannot help but lead to a false conclusion on racism. And the suggestion of leaving the discussion on race relations “to the newly energized young folks”, on the basis that more discussion would be fruitless, does not remove the mystery that baffles the minds of young people. Why Trayvon Martin was shot and why George Zimmerman was not arrested?

Some good, honest, and intelligent people have weighed in on this controversy, only to go off on a tangent, with a pied piper following in tow, not to mention all the buzz and chatter of after-the-fact tales adding fuel to the firestorm. People are no closer to understanding motives other than to accuse the shooter of being a racial bigot, to which there are many counter-claims.

Even a race-hating bigot is only a bigot, whether brown, white, or black. A racist, on the other hand, has the power and backing of the state to make a judgment call that, in this instance, absolves the shooter of criminal liability for the death of a young black man. Therefore, the Sanford Police Department, in its judgment, denied Trayvon Martin the legal protection for his right to life, not by killing the teen itself, but by not fairly weighing the evidence of probable cause to his murder. That judgment, that decision, is what we are protesting as racist. The rest is all about bigotry.

The implication of the Stand Your Ground law, and no arrest for the shooting, and the proliferation of gun permits, endangers all potential “suspects” where suspicion is in the eye of the beholder alone. It gives legal consent and acquiescence to shoot and kill, anyone in shady circumstances and under murky laws, where the dead cannot testify in their own defense. The most vulnerable to be gunned down is, of course, young black men.

These are our children. And, as the editorialist writes, we “have a right to be sad -- even angry -- about what they feel has been an injustice.” But as for being heard, I don’t think so. The shooting of Trayvon Martin is only one grievance in a whole string of grievances as to what is happening to our black male youth. And, until that is rectified, Bob Ray will continue to have recurring nightmares about Emmett Till.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Ghost of Emmett Till & Rise of Trayvon Martin

Is there ever a time when it’s too late? When the time is past, and the guilty has not even said “I’m sorry”.

Yes, I am looking. But I am not seeing what I hope and expect of all decent humanity; and that is, the empathy we should have one for another, as human beings, in the midst of a tragic situation such as this.

Did not George Zimmerman shoot 17-year old Trayvon Martin to death? Why am I not hearing or seeing what I’m supposed to see and hear?

Maybe the answer is in one-upmanship politics. Who gains what, for what in exchange?

Politics is the art and science of speaking to and speaking for a body of people.

It is not Left or Right, not Liberal or Conservative, not Democratic or Republican. These latter are inventions of Politics.

But the Trayvon Martin case has turned into politics, and the politics of it gets ugly.

On yesterday, I attended a Justice for Trayvon Martin rally at the University of Texas in Arlington, the same school I attended during the Civil Right movement days in the 1960s. On that eve, we attended a community prayer vigil on behalf of the Martin family.

This is groundswell politics, driven by the youth, and supported by black parents and grandparents everywhere. Young people see young Trayvon Martin as themselves- somebody more like them, than the hoodlum they are portraying him out to be. Black Parents, on the other hand, see in Trayvon their own teenage sons, and the dangers they face in a racially aroused society.

Grandparents, like myself, see another generation, with maimed and wounded idealism. Grandparents do not see the pie-in-the-sky Disney World that the children have been accustomed to. Unfortunately, we see the ghost of Emmett Till rising from the grave of racism that we had all hoped to have laid to rest.

Yes, there is a restless spirit creeping across Black America like the ghost of Emmett Till. I see every black community around the country in deep deep mourning, unlike what others can understand. Trayvon Martin was not just any black child. He was our child, our beloved grandchild; and if the youth marching in the street had their say, they would say as the signs read: “I am Trayvon Martin”.

Poor babies, indeed they are. The teenager's death is the cold-water-dash-in-the-face realization of every black parent’s worst nightmare.

The news of Trayvon Martin’s death was devastating, not merely because of his being added to the growing dismal and depressing statistics on the fate of young black male youth, but it was the merciless way he died.

Emmett Till was dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night, out of the arms of a loving uncle who could not protect him from the men who came to get him. They took him to a barn where they meticulously tortured him all night. They castrated him, cut off his ears and fingers and nose; and, if there was still a breath of life in the child’s body, they shot him through the head and dumped in body in the Tallahatchie River.

The memory cannot be undone and the ghost never forgotten. And neither do the lies concocted around his murder ever cease. They portrayed Emmett Till as a sexual menace against the sactity of a married white woman in the South. They claimed the 14-year old boy untoward advances upon the woman, by Dixie standards, warranted his lynching. We, as a Colored community, were forbidden to humanize or defend the teenager without we ourselves becoming contaminated by the curse of his stigma.

All Colored people are alike. They always defend each other, even in the wrong. That's what they said.

Now, we see the same type of vilification of Trayvon Martin. They have gone to great lengths in digging through personal records and pictures just to show that Trayvon was no angel. Why? For the very same reason they vilified 14-year old Emmett Till, so no one would humanize him or want to defend him.

This is why parents and grandparents try to teach their kids to always do the right thing, be in the right places, keep the right company, and stay out of trouble. Nobody has to tell us that our kids are not saints. And, they would hard put to produce saints of their own. But Trayvon was about as good a kid as any child, and most certainly did not deserve to be shot down like a dog in the rain.

It is too late to recast the image of the dead. It won’t wash with black folks, not this time, say black leaders and preachers all over the country. We are not buying whatever the spin doctors are selling. Neither will Black America be silent. This is one ghost that is not going away any time soon. This sin so egregious that we vow to never let the country forget.

Why? Mainly because there are other issues here that forms an unbroken pattern of discrimination, abuse, and murder. There is the issue of what why Zero Tolerance only affects our kids, while other kids are tolerated. Is it because, what we suspect, that teachers are looking at our young men and making judgment in their minds and seeing them as George Zimmerman saw Trayvon, as some kind of a thug? Is this why are young black males more likely suspended, why they are pushed into dropping out and wounding up in prison? Why they are discriminated against in employment and more likely to be pulled over in a traffic cop? Does being black and wearing a hoodie automatically makes them suspect?

When we were young, our parents taught us to never accept candy from strangers. Black parents, living in the South, had to go one step further, and teach their kids to seek safety away from bigoted yahoos who target Coloreds for their "coon hunting" sport. Though we still teach children not to accept candy from a stranger, we should not have to teach them to avoid all white people because of a few racially incited psychopaths lurking around with guns and licenses to shoot to kill anyone that appears to be a threat to them and their supremacy.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trayvon Martin: A Reminder of Emmitt Till

What I say as an old black man, I say in truth, sincerity, and love.

When 17-year old Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a vigilante neighborhood watchman, something woke up young Afrian-Americans. What I am seeing and hearing from these youth is the same thing that I experienced when I was a 9-year old child and I got the news of Emmitt Tills’ murder in 1955.

Like a sleepy-headed youngster rudely awaken from a dream-world reality, my eyes were forced open to a new reality that I had never contemplated. I was a black kid in a segregated America, and some people hated me for no other reason than the color of my skin. I was as heartbreaken as Toxie in that unforgettable movie that made me cry my eyes out. In that movie, Toxie discovered the same sad lesson about being black and hated for no reason,except that she was black.

But hip-hop hood rats disdain the teachings about the old days of segregation, lynchings, and civil rights marches. Suddenly today, it hits home, like a dash of ice water in the face. Black boys are particularly hated and stereotyped, and people ignited with color-aroused prejudices will shoot them dead on the streets, for no other reason than the color of their skin.

A young black man, wearing a hoodie, looks like a "menace", they say. But to whom do they look a menance, except to someone aroused and incited by skin color? It is confirmation that they never really accepted the black hip-hop generation and its thug imagery.

But hip-hop never knew that there were sick people out in society who would will shoot them dead, without mercy, at the drop of a hat pin, just because of the way they look.

Mama and Daddy tried to teach them about this old obsolete concept of "racism", which went in one ear and out the other, because they are deluded by its relative dormancy into believing it was non-existent in these times. And, Mama and Daddy were no help in sheltering them from the harsh, cold realities behind the screens and phoney masks. Things could not be as bad in race relations as in their own day.

Several black parents from around the country, has said since, that this shooting of this young 17-year old black kid, resurrected their greatest fears, a secret that they had kept hidden in the family closet of skeletons: That there were psychos lurking out there in society who felt intimidated and threatened by their very presence, by their mere existence. And, sometimes these psychos do go off, especially where circumstances are murky and the law is quiet unsure and there's no living witness around to testify... reminiscent of the back roads of Mississippi, where only God knows the brutal torture and death of three civil rights workers.

Circumstances and times change, but attitudes rarely. Given a dark, moonless, rainy night in Sanford, Florida, couched under a hoodie from the element, Trayvon Martin dashed his way down to the local convenience store to get some candy and ice tea. Little did he know that evil lurked in the dark with suspicious eyes.

Trayvon Martin was in George Zimmerman's cross-hairs.


I remember the words of Toxie in that movie so long ago that made me cry like I never cried before. In that unforgetable movie, the little colored girl had been adopted by a white family, who wanted to give her a decent upbringing. Then one day, on Toxie's birthday, the white family invited all their families and friends to the birthday party. There were no other coloreds invited.

Toxie turned six years old, the same as me, a big boy old enough to sit in a moviehouse all alone.

But the little white kids treated Toxie so badly at her own birthday party that I cried my eye out for Toxie and with the young actress. To top it, one especially cruel little white girl took a chocolate cupcake and taunted Toxie until the little colored girl could not hold back her tears.

When the adopted parents asked Toxie why she was crying at her own birthday party, when she should be all happy and gay, Toxie asked: “Why do they hate me because I am so black?”

Wow! It was an odd of way saying something she could not understand. I never will forget, as big a boy I thought I was, I walked out the movie with eyes full of tears, and my brand new jacket left behind on the seat where I sat.

The movie ended with no answer to Toxie's question; then came the lynching of Emmit Till, and I asked myself the same question.

But the rest is history of an old black man, of times past, oblivious to today. And, I think, when I condemn hip-hop in “sagging pants”, I could have warned them that the gangster thug image could get them killed.

Why do they want to look and dress like they are so big-and-bad tough? But that’s looking at it through a grandfather’s eyes.

Youth are correctable, if the Lord gives us a chance to mold them into men. But this society will not allow us to teach and train them to grow up to be men, because they take their lives, from our control, at a very young age. They, however, cannot train them up to be men- men of strength, honor, and integrity- rulers of empires- leaders among men.

If they think it is not racial favoritism, just watch how many white people hire white people, at the exclusion of blacks, and how quickly they rise up the corporate ladder. High unemployment among young black men is the result of the same attitude behind the Trayvon shooting. They routinely reject young black men in employment, in competitive job positions, favoring white candidates of equal or less skill sets.

Blacks are placed in positions of inferiority by design, office without windows, titles without meaning.

These are systematic rejections and retardation in self-development that we call Racism, never being able to catch up, from a behind the line start and no inheritance in the land, never being equipped with the education and skills for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, being asked to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, with our hands cuffed behind our back, and a criminal record in our future. A young black man, with a hoodie over his head, looking as suspicious as a crime waiting to happen, his future cut off, never rising to be his true potential, but going down in the dust as a suspect of nothing more that the color-aroused stigma.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Firebombing Brings out the Best in Wendy Davis

Like Grace under Fire

When Texas State Senator Wendy Davis office was firebombed on yesterday, and before anybody knew anything of suspect, we panicked. But Wendy herself, coolly and calmly, vowed to be back in business by today, doing what she always does, the people’s business, for Senate District 10.

But of course, by now, most of you know, they have apprehended the man who supposedly tossed the incendiary device. No, this was not a clandestine GOP revenge like the CIA in Bolivia, nor a case of a Manchurian candidate on the loose. This was a normal abnormal homeless man looking for a home, most likely inside the nearest caboose.

Here is latest inspiring FB Post:

Wendy Davis updated her status: "Friends - as you may have heard, the Fort Worth Fire and Police Departments, working together, apprehended the person that they believe was responsible for throwing an incendiary device at my senate district office door yesterday. I am so thankful to them for their quick, extremely capable response. Please know how much all of your thoughts and kind words have meant to me and my team over the past hours. We are blessed beyond words to have supporters like you. xo."

She sealed it with a x-kiss and an o-hug.

The FB response was overwhelming, hundreds and hundreds of supporters rallying to her defense, some willing to stand all-night watches, others wanting to be her “bodyguards” (no thanks, please).

Through it all, Wendy Davis has been marvelous as Grace under Fire

Eddie Griffin
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

In Defense of Wendy Davis

As a 2008 SD 10 delegate, I believe we have been justified in the election of Wendy Davis to represent State Senate District 10.

A Relationship with the Community Base

Wendy Davis is one of us, grew up on hard times, and clawed her way to high achievement. Her story is our story, in the 2008 election over the incumbent Kim Brimer.

Eddie Griffin had long dubbed Brimer one of those “good ole boys” in the state senate, surrounded by a conservative group of buddies known as the 21-Club, an legislative obstructionist group, contrary to the interest in urban districts.

When she made it to the state senate, Wendy Davis found herself in the midst of some pretty hostile good ole boys, who bullied more than legislated. They derided Wendy as “showboat” (an allusion to Little Shirley Temple) and “little girl”.

And yet, Wendy Davis stood her ground, and filibustered her way into a legacy as the champion of state education.

She step up at the 11th hour, our last hope of education funding increases, and she filibustered the legislature into special session, which angered GOP presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry.

They characterized Wendy’s filibuster as a “last stand”, after having her district was carved away through GOP redistricting. (Read “Wendy Davis’ Last Hurrah?”)

Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat, put on a memorable filibuster late Sunday night. She not only talked to death a key school finance and revenue bill, but in the process blew up the final night of the 82nd legislative session. Thanks to Davis, the Legislature likely will reconvene for a special session in the very near future to debate and pass a school finance plan...

It was a night few Capitol watchers will forget, a night when the best-laid plans of the governor and the legislative leadership were obliterated by a first-term Democrat who may not return next session

Standing under the dome lights with a glow on her face like an angel, Wendy Davis spoke. She was “the last chance” before the clock struck midnight on education funding.

When she rose to speak, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said “I think I know why, but Sen. Davis, for what purpose do you rise.”

Wendy Davis answered the bell and delivered. The 82nd Texas Legislature went into special session. Education did get a little more funding, but the school financing system was structurally broken. But odds were that Wendy Davis would not get a second term to fix the problem.

According to “Wendy Davis’ Last Hurrah?” by Dave Mann

The conventional political wisdom is that Davis can’t win reelection. When Republicans redrew the Senate district lines this session, they did Davis no favors. The new map will likely be the subject of a court battle. But if the proposed lines are upheld, Davis will find herself in a Republican district.

When the Western District Court looked at the redistricting complaints of Wendy Davis and the minority communities, it reached an immediate decision that the GOP bounds violated the Voting Rights Act, insofar as minorities were selectively and systematically carved out of Davis' SD 10.

The appeal, Perry v. Davis, went to the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court on Friday unanimously overturned orders issued by a federal court in Texas that drew its own new maps for legislative districts, and ordered it to reconsider.

In an 11-page unsigned opinion, the Court said that the three-judge District Court in San Antonio may not have used the “appropriate standards,” which the Court spelled out in some detail. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a separate opinion, repeated his view that a key federal voting rights act implicated in the Texas case is unconstitutional. The decision is here.

Because of Justice Thomas’s view about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he would have ordered the San Antonio court to let Texas use its own maps without change for the 2012 elections. However, the other Justices did not accept that approach, instead ordering the court in Texas to start with the state’s plan but also to make some rulings about whether any parts of it are likely to be nullified in court.

Then the case went back to district court, where the Attorney General ceded back to Wendy Davis all of her minority communities.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wendy Davis says: "Mama Bear is Mad"

One of the good ole boys who hold women in low esteem made a snide comment about when “Mama Bear gets mad, change occurs”. This enigmatic statement dates back to the days when women were suppressed, to the days when every good ole boy the best way to keep a woman was “barefooted and pregnant”. The joke usually followed that you could have dominion over his wife “until Mama Bear got mad.”

A few weeks ago, Foster Friess, a billionaire supporter of Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC that in his day “gals” used aspirin as birth control — “They just put one between their knees.” The attempt at humor left the veteran newswoman speechless.

This is why we call them the good ole boys. They keep their women suppressed. But now Wendy Davis, crusader for Texas Senate District 10, says: “Mama Bear is mad.”

State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth said that, based on the number of calls her office is getting, she believes such attacks are going to have a dramatic impact on the upcoming presidential election, to the benefit of President Obama and the Democratic Party.

“The outcry is extreme, from Democratic and Republican women alike,” she said...

Davis recounted a story by former Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, talking about the Mothers Against Drunk Driving group and their success in forcing drastic changes in state law.

“When Mama Bear gets mad, change occurs,” Davis quoted Ratliff as saying.
And right now, she said, “Mama Bear is mad.”

Wow! The little lady with the big voice, Wendy Davis, is a thorn in the butt of a good ole boy named Rick Perry.

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS WOMEN coming to a town near you