Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't Let Them Fool You, Keep Fighting for Justice!

Thousands of people around the country are united as one voice demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. Thousands of people are marching in the streets, signing petitions, and wearing hoodies as a sign of solidarity. Apparently, there is an effort to undermine the movement by distracting it. The sources of distraction are the Sanford Police Department, Rev. C.L. Bryant, and the so-called New Black Panther Party.

Physically killing Trayvon Martin and leaving his body in the morgue for three days was not enough for Zimmerman and the Sanford Police Department. They had to assassinate Trayvon's character as well. Through leaks of school records and by scouring Trayvon's Twitter account, Zimmerman's supporters have attempted to label Trayvon as a gold teeth wearing, marijuana smoking, graffiti spraying, good for nothing thug. Here are a few excerpts from the Miami Herald:
As thousands of people gathered here to demand an arrest in the Trayvon Martin case, a more complicated portrait began to emerge of a teenager whose problems at school ranged from getting spotted defacing lockers to getting caught with a marijuana baggie and women’s jewelry.

The Miami Gardens teen who has become a national symbol of racial injustice was suspended three times, and had a spotty school record that his family’s attorneys say is irrelevant to the facts that led up to his being gunned down on Feb. 26.
The fact remains that none of that information has any bearing on whether Zimmerman committed a crime. None of that information justifies the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman's supporter's goal is obvious. They want the American people in general and the potential jury pool in particular to view Trayvon Martin as a thug who got what he deserved. They want us to focus on Trayvon's flaws, and not police department's ineptitude and callous disregard for black life.

After demonizing Trayvon, according to the Orlando Sentinel, the police released Zimmerman's account of the incident to the press.
With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.
After that information was released, a few gullible people prematurely began to ask if the Trayvon Martin case was the next Duke Lacrosse case.  Well, the new police video should silence all of that chatter. Check out the video.

Dear Sanford Police, where is Zimmerman's bloody nose? Where is Zimmerman's bloody head? Where is his wet and grass covered shirt or jacket?

Another diversion tactic is this sudden and phony concern about so-called black-on-black crime. Some are questioning why the Trayvon Martin case is getting so much media attention while black on black crime gets little or no media attention. These critics suggest that black people are only concerned about racial incidents and have no concern about black on black murder.

Nothing could be more untrue. There are plenty of stop the violence groups and community anti-gang initiatives. Stop the violence rallies and marches regularly occur in our communities. Many civil rights organizations have fought to eliminate the root causes of inner violence such as high unemployment, inferior schools, influx of firearms and drugs, etc.

Some critics have even argued that black leaders are exploiting this tragedy to promote racial tensions. As reported in the Daily Caller:
Former NAACP leader C.L. Bryant is accusing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton of “exploiting” the Trayvon Martin tragedy to “racially divide this country.”

“His family should be outraged at the fact that they’re using this child as the bait to inflame racial passions,” Rev. C.L. Bryant said in a Monday interview with The Daily Caller.

The conservative black pastor who was once the chapter president of the Garland, Texas NAACP called Jackson and Sharpton “race hustlers” and said they are “acting as though they are buzzards circling the carcass of this young boy.”

As Roland Martin pointed out, critics such as Rev. C.L. Bryant don't really care about black-on-black violence. They are merely trying to distract us. If they actually cared, they would be out there marching to stop the violence. If they really cared, they would fund anti-violence and anti-gang groups. Instead, all they are doing is attacking committed freedom fighters such as Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The Trayvon Martin case deserves all of the attention that is receiving for several reasons. You have an unarmed young man who was labeled as suspicious just because he was black in a white neighborhood. The young man was not committing any crime. He was simply walking home from the store after purchasing Skittles and iced tea. A white Hispanic man followed, tracked down, hunted and shot down Trayvon like an animal. The killer weighed approximately 100 pounds more than the victim. The police know who the killer is. They had the killer in their custody. They released the killer solely based on his flimsy claim of self-defense. They had the audacity to let the killer keep his weapon. They know exactly where the killer is. Yet, they do nothing.

Over a month later, the killer remains free and armed. Each day, that Zimmerman remains free is a blatant reminder that black life is worthless in America. Essentially, Trayvon Martin was treated like road kill. That's an outrage!

There would be no DOJ and FBI investigations if thousands of people didn't march in the streets around the nation. There would be no State's Attorney investigation or grand jury investigation. The Sanford Police Chief would still be in charge. Again, this extraordinary case deserves our attention. So, those who keep crying about how much attention this case is getting need to just shut up. Don't let them distract you by their disingenuous emphasis on black on black violence.

Finally, the New Black Panther Party is another media distraction. The media has been pushing the story about those lame, imitation Black Panthers issuing a bounty for the capture of Zimmerman. The right is going to try to use those idiots to undermine the legitimacy of the struggle for justice. We must be cognizant of the fact that the power structure routinely uses agent provocateurs to incite and entrap activists. We should ignore them and make it clear that they do not represent us.

As Bob Marley said, don't let them fool you. Don't let those those punk police fool you. Don't let uncle toms like Rev. Bryant sidetrack you. Don't let those buffoons masquerading as Black Panthers or anyone else trick you into doing something crazy. Keep marching, keep petitioning, keep speaking out, keep blogging until we get justice for Trayvon!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Friday, March 23, 2012

President Obama: "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon."

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In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, "a time comes when silence is betrayal." I salute the President for speaking out on this horrific tragedy. His comments were compassionate, yet measured and calculated.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Should President Obama Remain Silent About Trayvon Martin?

Politico reports that:
It’s been a month since Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old Florida high school student, was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman in an incident that has sparked a national uproar. Now that the issue’s exploded into the national press, African-American bloggers, commentators and their allies are calling on Obama to personally condemn the incident.

That’s created another agonizing headache for a president who’s faced trouble when wading into racial issues before—and who’s seemed reluctant to do so every time.

“I would personally be disappointed if the first black president didn’t speak on an issue that has affected so many people so much,” said Boyce Watkins, a Syracuse University professor and community activist. “Trayvon’s death is quickly becoming a national tragedy. But even in spite of the fact that this case is so clear-cut to so many people, it still draws a line” that Obama is unwilling to cross.

Watkins noted that while Obama personally phoned the Georgetown law student whom Rush Limbaugh called “slut” on the air, he hasn’t offered condolences to Martin’s family, publicly or privately.

“It says a lot to me. I think that in the minds of a lot of people of color it speaks to the traditional double standard – that he’d call a privileged white female,” Watkins said. “Yet in spite of this disappointment, we would still make excuses for the first black president.”

Even with the added attention likely to come from the rally Rev. Al Sharpton led in Sanford Thursday and Vice President Joe Biden’s south Florida campaign event Friday, the White House says not to expect Obama to stand at a lectern and speak about the tragedy anytime soon. Though staffers and Democratic operatives interviewed Wednesday said the shooting has been a hot topic inside the West Wing — and that Obama is monitoring the situation closely — they’re wary of a repeat of the uproar caused by Obama’s 2009 offhand comment that a policeman “acted stupidly” in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.
Is Boyce Watkins right or wrong? Should President Obama just remain silent about Trayvon Martin? Why or Why not? Tell me what you think.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rev. Al Sharpton - Trayvon Martin Update

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Good morning all. Yesterday, Rev. Al Sharpton provided an update on the Travyon Martin. No justice! No peace!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DOJ and FBI Will Investigate the Killing of Trayvon Martin

Initially, the White House Press Secretary gave a disappointing, non-committal statement about the Trayvon Martin case.

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Fortunately, the Obama Administration decided to actually do something about the situation. The Miami Herald reports that the US Department of Justice issued the following statement regarding the killing of Trayvon Martin:
"The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation. The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids – the highest level of intent in criminal law.

“Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.”
This action carries more weight than any speech. This is great news. However, we should not let this news placate us and make us complacent. We must remain focused and vigilant until Trayvon Martin and his family get justice. Keep protesting, keep petitioning, keep blogging!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Lynching of Trayvon Martin - Part 2

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For background information on this horrible tragedy, please read my first article, The Lynching of Trayvon Martin. Yesterday, the police finally released the 911 tapes. To listen to the tapes, click this link. We cannot let this story fade. We must be relentless. We must continue to demand justice for Trayvon!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Lynching of Trayvon Martin

Reuters reports that:
"The February 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin has shaken Sanford, a small city near Orlando, Fla. The 17-year-old was shot by George Zimmerman, the white neighborhood watch captain of a local gated community. His only crime was walking from a 7-Eleven to a nearby home in the pouring rain.

Martin's parents and black community members are outraged at the way Sanford Police have handled the investigation. There have been no charges in the neighborhood watch shooting, and there are accusations of police misconduct and witness contamination.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee claims he does not have probable cause to arrest Zimmerman, but that may not actually be true. Just before the shooting, the neighborhood watch leader called 911 to report a suspicious person, explains the Orlando Sentinel. Sources tell ABC that he was ordered to wait for officers to arrive.

Instead of listening, Zimmerman got out of his car and went after the teen on foot, chasing him between two rows of townhouses. A fist fight broke out, and a 13-year-old boy told the news outlet that he saw them on the ground but separated. Even though he outweighed Trayvon Martin by more than 100 pounds, Zimmerman claims he then shot the unarmed teen in self-defense."

CNN provides additional details:

"When you add it up, it just doesn't even make sense," said Ben Crump, the Martin family's attorney. "Trayvon Martin, a kid, has a bag of Skittles. (Zimmerman) had a 9 mm gun. Trayvon Martin didn't approach George Zimmerman, George Zimmerman approached Trayvon Martin. So how can he now assert self defense?"
According to CNN, the case is now in the hands of the State's Attorney. Yet, while Trayvon Martin's family continues to grieve over the loss of their dear son, George Zimmerman remains free as a bird. That's a damn shame!

This situation raises serious questions. Why did Zimmerman leave his home to harass Trayvon Martin after the police told him not to? Why did Zimmerman chase Trayvon Martin? Zimmerman weighed 100 pounds more than Trayvon. Trayvon Martin was unarmed. Why did the police believe Zimmerman's ridiculous self-defense claim?

The answer to all of those questions can be summed up with one word, "race". Trayvon Martin is a modern day Emmett Till. Martin's killing is a modern day lynching. He was harassed and killed just for being a young, black man in a predominately white community. By virtue of his skin, he was presumed to be a criminal, a thief, a thug and a gangster. There is no other rational explanation for this horrific tragedy.

Black people, are you going to let Zimmerman get away with killing this young brother? What are you going to do?

We cannot let this injustice stand! We must keep up the pressure on the State's Attorney Office through petitions, demonstrations and blogging. We must call for the immediate resignation of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee. We must demand that the police department release all of the 911 tapes regarding this incident.

Get involved today. Let your voice be heard. Start by signing this petition calling for George Zimmerman's prosecution! We cannot rest until Zimmerman is arrested and charged for killing Trayvon Martin!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kony 2012 is An Imperialistic Propaganda Campaign

Hat tip - Colorlines and Davey D

Before I go any further, I want to be clear. I strongly condemn Joseph Kony and his so-called Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). They allegedly kill civilians, maim children, abduct thousands of children, force boys to serve as soldiers and force girls to serve as sex slaves. Obviously, they should be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. However, I do not agree with the tactics and motives of Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign.

By now, I am sure that most of you have seen the Kony 2012 viral video. Before jumping on the Kony 2012 bandwagon, one must know about the organization and carefully analyze the facts. We live in a time when many people no longer read newspapers. They do not conduct research. Unfortunately, they rely on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for news and information. Substance is replaced by short paragraphs, entertaining videos and catchy slogans. Critical thought is minimized, and the herd mentality becomes the norm.

As a result, the masses are more susceptible to propaganda. That is part of the reason why that Kony video has been so successful. It is one of the most effective pro-imperialism, pro-militarism pieces of propaganda ever produced.

As defined on Wikipedia, propaganda

"is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the desired result in audience attitudes. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare."
Through Twitter, Facebook and mainstream media, the Kony video has been repeatedly dispersed worldwide. When one's cuts through all of the sensationalism and emotionalism of the video, the purpose is clear. Invisible Children's Kony 2012 campaign seeks to persuade the American public to promote its goal. Its ultimate goal is to support, sustain and possibly expand US military intervention in Central Africa. It urges the public to pressure Congress to support the Ugandan military. Obviously, such an objective is pro-militarism. Western troops occupying African land is imperialism.

Invisible Children's purpose cannot be to truly assist the Ugandan people. Although Invisible Children mentions its life saving projects in Uganda, such programs constitute a relatively small portion of the organization's expenditures. As reported by ABC news,
But Visible Children pointed out that although Invisible Children had spent more than $8.6 million last year, "only 32 percent went to direct services with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production."
Russell defended the group's spending, saying that Invisible Children needed to spend money on advocacy and awareness of young people, especially in the West.
Like most propaganda, the video omits and/or glosses four key facts. Such glaring omissions make me question Invisible Children's true motives. First, although it calls on us to support the Ugandan military, it fails to mention the human rights violations and atrocities committed by the Ugandan government.

As reported in the Washington Post,
[C]ritics here said the video glosses over a complicated history that made it possible for Kony to rise to the notoriety he has today. They also lamented that the video does not inform viewers that Kony originally was waging war against Uganda’s army, whose human rights record has been condemned as brutal by independent observers.
Second, it fails to mention that the United States intervened in Uganda in 2008. That year, United States Africa Command launched the failed Operation Lighting Thunder. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Operation failed to protect civilians. More specifically, a Council of Foreign Affairs article titled Obama Takes on the LRA notes that:
"Operation Lighting Thunder, and other such missions to fight the LRA in the Central African Republic and in southern Sudan, served mostly to kill efforts to keep beleaguered peace talks going. And, far from neutralizing the LRA, they prompted a strategically effective and ferocious response. In January and February 2009, the LRA abducted around 700 people, including an estimated 500 children, and killed almost 1,000."
In light of that history, it is clear that increased military operations in Central Africa may only exacerbate the problem by increasing the number of civilian causalities. Although we all want to do something to improve the situation, US military intervention is not necessarily the best course of action.

Third, according to Amnesty International 2011 Annual Report on Uganda, Northern Uganda is currently, "relatively calm". That fact is glossed over and only mentioned briefly in passing on the Kony 2012 video.

Finally, as part of its sales pitch, Kony 2012 emphasizes that the US has no strategic interest in Uganda. Invisible Children uses that as a primary reason for demanding that the public keep up the pressure on politicians and celebrities. However, the Kony 2012 video conveniently fails to mention that in recent years oil was discovered in Uganda. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uganda could become one of the top 50 oil producers in the world. Under the circumstances, stability and US influence in the region could serve American corporate interests.

Perhaps, this explains the Obama Administration's and Invisible Children's sudden interest in the region. The United State rarely acts solely for humanitarian purposes. Kony and LRA have been committing their brutal crimes since the 1980s. Of all the many vicious dictators around the world, maybe oil is the real reason why Kony has been singled out. Again, those four important omissions cause me to question the motives of Invisible Children.

Instead of depending on some suspicious Western organization to play the role of Tarzan, African people must find African solutions to African problems. Rather than drinking the Kony 2012 Kool Aid, I recommend that all concerned citizens financially support organizations that are really doing work to assist the Ugandan people. I agree with something that one of my critics said. We must create our own social media campaigns to serve the interests of the Ugandan people in particular and African people in general.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Remembering the Life of US Rep. Donald Payne

When we pass away, the material trappings of this world, such as fame and wealth, no longer matter.  What matters is one's contribution to humanity. Rep. Payne, we will always remember your undying commitment to African Americans, minorities, working families and the poor.  For that, we honor you. May you rest in peace.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Must Defend Affirmative Action Now!

As reported in the New York Times,
In a 2003 decision (Grutter v. Bollinger) that the majority said it expected would last for 25 years, the Supreme Court allowed public colleges and universities to take account of race in admission decisions...[T]he court signaled that it might end such affirmative action much sooner than that.

By agreeing to hear a major case (Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin) involving race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas, the court thrust affirmative action back into the public and political discourse after years in which it had mostly faded from view. Both supporters and opponents of affirmative action said they saw the announcement — and the change in the court’s makeup since 2003 — as a signal that the court’s five more conservative members might be prepared to do away with racial preferences in higher education...

The consequences of such a decision would be striking. It would, all sides agree, reduce the number of African-American and Latino students at nearly every selective college and graduate school, with more Asian-American and white students gaining entrance instead...

Ms. Fisher is soon to graduate from Louisiana State University. Lawyers for the University of Texas said that meant she had not suffered an injury that a court decision could address, meaning she does not have standing to sue.

Ms. Fisher’s argument is that Texas cannot have it both ways. Having implemented a race-neutral program to increase minority admissions, she says, Texas may not supplement it with a race-conscious one. Texas officials said the additional effort was needed to make sure that individual classrooms contained a “critical mass” of minority students.
The University of Texas clearly satisfied the requirements of Grutter by implementing a multi-factor admission policy. The top ten percent of all Texas high school graduates are automatically admitted to the university.  They make up 88% percent of the students admitted.

The remainder are admitted using a multi-factor admission policy. Race is just one of many factors that the university considers. As noted in the Fifth Circuit's decision, the school considers standardized test scores, high school class rank, essays, "leadership qualities, awards and honors, work experience,...extracurricular activities and community service...socio-economic status of applicant and his or her high school and...the applicant's race."

That is not reverse discrimination. For decades, as documented in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Sweatt v. Painter, the University of Texas deliberately denied qualified African Americans admission solely because of their race. Today, vast inequities continue to exist between affluent, suburban white public school districts and poor, urban minority school districts.  Affirmative action is a means to remedy the continuing impact of that despicable legacy.  In the words of President Lyndon Johnson, "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair." (Source: Leadership Conference)

Clearly, by deciding to hear this case, the Supreme Court is sending a clear message. The days of affirmative action are numbered.  The legacy of Brown is in jeopardy. If we do not act, we may witness the re-segregation of higher education. While doors to higher education close to black people, the doors to prison remain wide open. As stated in the Fifth Circuit's opinion, the African American enrollment rate at the University of Texas dropped almost 40 percent when the university ended its prior affirmative action program in 1996. According to a June 2005 Social Science Quarterly study, at elite universities:
"....without affirmative action the acceptance rate for African-American candidates likely would fall nearly two-thirds, from 33.7 percent to 12.2 percent, while the acceptance rate for Hispanic applicants likely would be cut in half, from 26.8 percent to 12.9 percent. While these declines are dramatic, the authors note that the long-term impact could be worse."
It would be tragic and ironic if affirmative action ends while a black man is in the White House. We cannot passively allow that to happen. Certainly, civil rights law organizations will file amicus briefs in favor of affirmative action. However, the legal strategy is only one aspect of the struggle.

We cannot let affirmative action die without a fight. We must protest in the streets, on the college campuses, on the airways and on the blogosphere immediately. We must do everything in power to educate the public about the benefits of diversity and affirmative action. We cannot afford to wait until the US Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments. We must act now! We must defend affirmative action!

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.