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Monday, April 2, 2012

I Am George Zimmerman

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'It could have been me.' 'It could have been my son.' 'Am I next?'

These are the rallying cries for justice for Trayvon Martin (background here). We recognize that any one of our black or brown brothers could have been walking home that night, only to find themselves the target of racial profiling and prejudice. Any number of them could have  been killed with no murderer brought to justice.

And so we say 'I am Trayvon Martin.'

But how many of us are willing to do the soul-searching necessary to say 'I am George Zimmerman'?
It could have been me. It could have been my son. Am I next? 

Suspicious? Be honest,
is your answer is still 'yes'?
I didn't pull the trigger that night, but I helped load the gun. I've breathed the racial smog and know what it means to see someone's skin and to be afraid.

That February night, I saw you walking down the street, and so I dead-bolted my front door. I heard the gunshot, and pictured you behind the trigger. And I didn't question it when the cop told me it had been white guy, not you, that was screaming.

You there, in your hoodie...I'll answer your question. Yes, you do look suspicious to us. We've seen too many TV shows,  too many newscasts and we've lost the empathy to see you any other way.

We've watched the movies, and we know who's the bad guy. It's never someone that looks like me. I'm always the hero...or at least the victim. We see the nightly news. We know not to walk alone in certain parts of town. We know who they arrest. And we've seen who's dealing the drugs, what they wear, and how they're dressed. The city didn't used to be like this, and we know who's to blame. Ever since they moved into town, the neighborhood just hasn't been the same.

So, we lock the doors on our cars as we drive downtown. We cross to the opposite side of the street and we clutch our purses. We vote for 'Stand Your Ground' because we've got the right to defend ourselves in this dangerous world.


We cringe at the loud base from the car in the next lane, and though we've never actually listened to any, we know rap is from the devil. We yawn through the diversity training we are forced to attend. We flip past the pages of the local newspaper that report the deaths last night in the 'bad' part of town.

We ignore the stats that say that black folk are disproportionately harassed by police, and instead believe that our society is better off having locked away almost a million black men (See post: Incarceration). We ignore the evidence that teachers discourage and hold back students of color, and instead believe that if they've failed out, it was their own darn fault. We ignore our inter-generational accumulation of wealth, and believe anyone unable to 'pull themselves up by their bootstraps,' must be lazy, stupid, or both. 

Zimmerman believed these things. He grew up in this environment, with this mindset.
He's not a rare monster. He's not a lunatic. He's a product of our society. And he's not the only one.

It could have been me. It could have been my son. Am I next?  


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37 comments:

  1. "There is nothing more painful to me … than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

    -Reverend Jesse Jackson

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  2. We are conditioned to expect the worst from black males, then when one does, we say, "aha, I knew it!"

    And yet:

    The majority recipients of welfare? Whites

    The profile of the most frequent shoplifter? A middle-aged white married woman with children.

    The perpetrators of most violent crimes? Whites

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  3. OnenessMinistriesApril 2, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    "it could have been me.  It could have been my son. Am I next to pull the trigger."   This is a possibility if I don't come realize my own racial bias.  This is a possibility if I don't fight against racial stereotypes that are fed to me through media.  This is a possibility if I don't confess that I am a racist and don't even know it."

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  4. Vitriol for Michael Vick, apathy for Trayvon Martin. What is the value of a life? 

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  5. Sounds like confirmation bias to me! Yup!

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  6. Another good one that I'm going to repost on my fb page. I really appreciate your honesty. We all must be honest, before anything can change. 

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  7. with all due respect i ask you - ARE YOU REALLY "GEORGE ZIMMERMAN" or can you control your prejudice way of thinking that causes your racist thought patterns??? if you ARE "george zimmermen" and you have no control, GOD HELP YOU because you are heading into a world of PAIN. probably prison and maybe serious bodily harm or death. because america is SICK AND TIRED of the george zimmerman's of the world - american is in the midst of an uprising and DECENT people are coming out of their homes. people are gathering and talking, meeting and sharing. and coming to the conclusion that THESE KILLINGS MUST STOP. you see i'm listening to zimmerman's dad right now on faux news, and he's telling a story. of george going grocery shopping and seeing someone "SUSPICIOUS" walking behind townhomes - someone who DID NOT LIVE IN THE TOWNHOMES. naturally hannity being a RACIST himself will not ask the appropriate question so i will - and to you since zimmerman' dad is on the tv and you are the recipient of this message. the question is, did george know EVERYONE who "lives" at the townhomes, did he know EVERYONE who has PERMISSION to BE IN THE GATED COMMUNITY??? of course not. that is why if he observed anything "suspicious" his only DUTY was to alert the AUTHORITIES. zimmerman never needed to get OUT of his vehicle.do i feel sorry for mr. zimmerman, YES. because he might very well lose his son to prison. because his son has committed a crime. but zimmerman's dad is guilty as well, without knowing it. guilty of perpetuating prejudice and bigotry. being white myself i have caught myself frowning upon young black men who look "suspicious" to me. but i talk myself down EVERYTIME because WHO AM I TO JUDGE??? the bible is VERY CLEAR ABOUT JUDGING. i do not wish to judge you pastor but here you are saying you "ARE" george zimmerman, and i'm thinking, NO YOU ARE NOT. but you might be getting close to his racist ways if you do not EXAMINE your life and change the way you talk, think and act. and pray. and i'll pray for you that you do NOT become mr. zimmerman, because i think he is going to jail to see justice served, because that's where people go who BREAK THE LAW. but being a pastor, you know that the judge that mr. zimmerman faces that matters the most is GOD and that will happen on judgement day. and i pray that god will forgive zimmerman for killing trayvon martin, who was JUST A BOY.

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  8. ummmm...did you read this post? Or the last one? http://bytheirstrangefruit.blogspot.com/2012/03/bias-matters.html

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  9. Good post. I worry, though, that you assume that Zimmerman is guilty of murder without appropriate evidence. We must be careful of justifying rage-filled mob justice. People are calling for Zimmerman's immediate arrest- "Wanted dead or alive". They are calling for his execution, they are calling for his assassination, and this is wrong. It is still unclear from the evidence what went down during the incident. It is not alright to create a story that fits your biases, regardless of what your biases are. 
    People are outraged that he has not been arrested. But, according to the laws of his state (The 'stand-your-ground laws'), it is legal  for a person to use lethal force in self-defense when they fear that their lives are in danger. If it is true that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, then he is justified in using lethal force, and it is up to the prosecution to build a case for his arrest. Don't get me wrong, there is obviously a case for his arrest. The law does not say that it's alright to go around picking fights with people and then to kill them when they fight back. If he is guilty of murder without the justification of self-defense, then that needs to be proven in court. Zimmerman deserves a trial. It seems like common sense, but this is exactly the point that is being questioned!

    I ask you, What if Trayvon had killed Zimmerman? 

    What if he had grabbed the gun out of Zimmerman's hands and managed to shoot him in the face?

    The laws in the state are designed to protect the weak. They are designed to protect the discriminated against. They are designed to protect victims of domestic violence, and yes, the victims of racial profiling. If Trayvon had managed to kill Zimmerman after Zimmerman attacked him, he would have had a much stronger case under the law that he acted in self-defense. He would have been attacked by a person with a gun who was much older than him and much more heavily armed. Zimmerman must have had 100 lbs on this kid. Trayvon would have had good reason for feeling threatened and responding with deadly force. I imagine that he would have been let free without any charges, exactly as Zimmerman was. I wonder if we would have even heard about such a boring case. 

    On the other hand, would Trayvon have faced immediate arrest? and contrary to the laws,  had to fight for his case of self-defense? What if people were calling for his immediate arrest and assassination? What if they were asking for him to be delivered, "Dead or alive", into the hands of mob-justice. This would be wrong. It would be unjust for a black kid to be accused of murder when he acted solely in self-defense. It would be wrong for anyone to be accused of this. But in your last point, you assume that Zimmerman was guilty of a long list of racial insults and murder. You have already found him guilty, even with your limited knowledge? This is wrong.  

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  10. This blog was re-posted on my Houston Chronicle blog, The Peace Pastor.
    If you like this post, and want to read the comments that are a bit more volatile, challenging, and question the post, check out the comments here: http://bit.ly/I1W3So

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  11. Thank you for your thoughtful response. 

    You mention those calling for Zimmerman's execution/assassination.  Have you heard me do so? Indeed, as folks villainize and distance themslefs from zimmerman, here I extol an identification with him. 

    Before there were the folks that call for his conviction without a trial, there was an established power that proclaimed his innocence without a trial. Both are wrong. Thus, you and I are largely on the same page: we call for due process. 

    Unbiased legal judicial process, however, is all but impossible now (as though it ever would have been!). Beginning with a biased and poorly executed investigation, and continuing with polarization you mention, the truth has been obsured. 

    I do call for Zimmerman's arrest because I believe there is doubt to the claim of self-defense and that it is the judicial system's role to determine whether the claim matches the evidence. If there is doubt in the minds of jury at trial, then so be it. But when officers take it into their own hands to be detective, prosecution, jury, and judge, things go awry. 

    What would have happened if the roles had been reversed? We needn't wonder. There are numerous examples of self-defense claims being brushed aside for accused people of color. Consistently, records show more arrests, more convictions, and harsher sentences for people of color when facing similar crimes as white counterparts. What if Martin had killed Zimmerman? We will never know for sure, but we have excellent records of what has happened to others. 

    Regardless, you're right in that I do suppose what what going on in Zimmerman's head. Indeed, the statements are not based on my knowledge of Zimmerman,  but rather what we know about anyone living in our society. We breathe the racial smog and no one is immune. Studies covering all ages and races have well characterized the phenomena I mention. Zimmerman could have been supernaturally able to resist such imprinting, but these are the realities of our culture and the context within which we all act. 

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  12. Thank for saying on Twitter, you get tired of me sometimes. That informs me of your character. Sweet face unkind heart. It makes everything you write, questionable as to your authenticity..Also being catty. I have released your from your pain, and blocked you. Instead of ragging me all you had to do was unfollow. Very unkind.

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  13. As I mentioned in reply to your tweet, I have said nothing against you at all. Please see the thread of the conversation for context before you jump to conclusions. 
    Be at peace, K

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  14. HATERED HAS WORKED VERY,VERY HARD AGAINST PEOPLE OF COLOR.
    EVIL, NOT GOD REALLY HATE TO SEE BLACK MAN RECEIVE THE TRUTH.
    AND,SO MANY SO EDUCATED WHITE PEOPLE CLAIM THAT THE BIBLE,BACKS UP THEIR POSITON ABOUT BLACKS.
    THERE IS A SMALL NUMBER OF WHITE PEOPLE THAT KNOW AND BELIEVE GOD'S WORD
    WHITE PEOPLE ARE AFRIAD TO HELP BLACKS LIKE THEY HAVE OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR.
    1930'S AND 1950'S,THAT WAS THE TIME FOR THEM TO HELP BLACKS. And AS TIME MOVE
    ON THE OPPORTUNITY WILL BECOME LETS IMPORTANT,GOD WILL VERY SOON MAKE EVIDENT THAT
    HE IS HELPING BLACKS. WHEN IN THE 20'S 30'S AND 40'S AND FIFTY'S,IT WAS CLEAR THAT
    FRUIT AND WATER,SWIMMING HAD GREAT DEAL TO DO WITH BLACK PEOPLE HEALTH.
    THEY,BLACK PEOPLE SKIN LOOKED VERY CLEAN AND CLEAR,THESE DAYS WHITES, I BELEIVE
    THEY REALLY ENJOY BLACKS LOOKING NASTY,DIRTY AND HOMELESS.O THE GREAT NEED FOR DRUGS.
     . THIS I BELIEVE SOME HOW MAKE WHITES FEEL IN CONTROL
    OF SOME ONES LIFE ,LITTTLE HELP PLEASE. GOD DID NOT TELL WHITE PEOPLE TO PUT BLACKS
    IN CHAINS,I DON'T CARE IF KINGS OF THOSE COUNTRYS GAVE WHITE PEOPLE ALL THE AUTHORITY
    THEY NEEDED,GOD DID NOT SAY GO GET THOSE BLACKS AND DESTROY THEM.WHITE GO.
     NOW IF I WAS A SO CALLED WHITE PERSONS WHO DID NOT LIKE OR CARE ABOUT
    BLACKS I WOULD JOIN A HATE GROUP OR LEAVE THEM ALONE AND STAY SEPARATED. I WOULD
    ALSO SUPPORT ANY DRIVE THEY HAD IN GOING BACK TO AFRICA,OR GIVE THEM TWO STATES.
    WHITE PEOPLE,WHITE REALLY MET CLEAN PERSON WHO TRUST IN GOD,IN GOD WE TRUST.THEY HAVE ENJOYED THEMS IN MARCHING FOR HATE,THEY HAD MANY HAPPY DAYS HANGING BLACK PEOPLE. OH AND TOO,LET'S SHOOT A BLACK  HAS CERTANITY FLET WARMER THAN A HOLE IN ONE. THINK ABOUT IT FOR REAL. I'AM NOT HATING WHITE PEOPLE,THAT WOULD BRING A GERM IN TO MY OWN MIND AND BRAIN...WHAT A  WASTE
    I'AM LOOKING  AT HOW SWEET IT HAS BEEN FOR WHITES....RAPE,MURDER,HANGINGS AND ALL MATTER
    EVIL AGAINST BLACK,BROWN AND YELLOW FLESH. JUST THINK HOW WHITE PEOPLE HAVE ENJOYED
    SHOUTING COON,HATE YOU NIGGER LOW DOWN DIRTY COON,DOG KISS MY BOOTS,OBEY ME FOOL.
    YOU STINKIN NIGGER. WASH MY BACK NIGGER,YES WHITE PEOPLE HAVE REALLY,REALLY HAVE HAD
    PARTIES ABOUT KILLING NIGGERS, NOW YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT THEY WANT TO STOP THE PARTY OR THE WAR, I WOULD SAY THE WAR OR WARS WORLD WIDE,YES. IF A POLICE OFFICER SAY, HAY YOU COME HERE,A MINUTE SIR;I'AM GOING IN THE STORE,OFFICER WOULD GET OUT THE CAR
    WITH HIS PARTNER,FRANK WE GOT SMART ONE HERE LET'S GO IN AND TEACH HIM A LESSON.
    HE HAS A GUN,WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THIS GUN,OFFICER'S I HAVE A PERMIT...CALL FOR BACK
    UP,WE ARE GOING TO CHECK YOUR STORY....OFFICER I'AM SITTING BACK HERE,I HURT MY ARM ...O
    LITTLE BLOOD IS COMING OUT,NO PROBLEM WE ARE PULLING INTO THE STATION AS YOU SPEAK.
    OFFICERS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING, WE MUST PUT ON RUBBER GLOVES BEFORE WE CAN CHECK YOUR
    ARM,I STOPPED BLEEDING OFFICERS. FRANK DO YOU HERE THAT,SIR IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE,WE
    MUST KEEP THESE GLOVES ON. OFFICER HAD NOT PUT GLOVES BACK WHEN THE GOT OUT THE CAR
    EVEN IF THEY CHECK HIS HEAD NO GLOVES.BY THE WAY YOUR GUN DOES HAVE A PERMIT IN YOUR
    NAME. BUT SIR SOME ONE OR YOUR SELF FIRED THE GUN NOT TO LONG AGO,WE COULD TELL. O YES
    OFFICER I DID, YOU DID,WELL IN THAT CASE WE WILL HOLD YOUR GUN AND RUN A FULL CHECK ON
    IT. SIR ,I BELIEVE WE WILL PUT YOU IN A CELL FOR A FEW HOURS AND WHEN WE GET THE REPORT
    BACK IF EVERY THING IS OKAY YOU WILL BE PERMITTED TO LEAVE. WAIT LET EXPLAIN...ARE YOU GEORGE ZIMMERMEN, NO I'AM NOT WELL YOU WILL BE BACK THERE IN THE AT LEAST STILL MORNING.  
                      From: rooe2612 

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  15. YOU KNOW,JUST LIKE THOSE FALSE CLIAMS OF PEOPLE WHO SAID THEY HIT THE LOTTERY,I  DON'T
     THINK  ZIMMERMEN LAWYER HAVE NOTHING FROM HIM. ZIMMERMEN, I BELIEVE HE GOT CAUGHT UP
    IN THE MOMENT, VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE TRUSTING EVIL LIES AND THOUGHT THAT HE WAS GOING WALK...THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR SOME TIME AND HE MOST LIKELY WAITED IN AND THOUGHT THE MOMENT TIME WAS AT HAND, THAT HE COULD GET IN THE GANG,I TELL THAT HE HAS NEVER SHOWN THE BODY LANGUAGE THAT HE HAS EVIDENCE

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  16. I am reminded by Romans 12:14 and Matthew 5:44 that I should be praying for George Zimmerman. I haven't been

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  17. If people would wait to speak until they had knowledge then is sure would help things, but because many often speak without knowledge then their own personal prejudices are exposed.

    If you were George Zimmerman your great grandfather would have been Afro-Peruvian. 

    If you were George Zimmerman you would have been raised in a racially integrated household and for several years shared the meal table with two African-American girls who lived with your family.  

    If you were George Zimmerman  you'd have partnered with an African-American friend to open an insurance office.

    If you were George Zimmerman you'd have a African-American neighbor saying this concerning what happened 'There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood, That's why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.'If you were George Zimmerman you'd have a bounty on your head and people urging others to kill you. But alas you aren't. You are a minority part of the white majority who likes to indiscriminately (or perhaps with great discrimination) cast stones and to wallow in some kind of white guilt.

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  18. hmmm...having black friends doesn't make one immune to the racial prejudices all around us (http://tiny.cc/0b4jdw). In fact, the racial smog is so pervasive that we all breathe it in, both white folk and people of color. Perhaps the saddest effect of racism is the self-internalization that occurs. Thus, your, while valid and important, don't necessarily change the context within which Zimmerman's actions were taken. 

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  19. Perhaps you know Zimmerman's context better than I since I have never been to his hometown yet, looking at the life of the man I have drawn a different conclusion than you.

    Concerning the color of suspicion,  you might find Jesse Jackson's thoughts interesting,
    "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in
    my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start
    thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and
    feel relieved."

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  20. Yes, that is an incredibly poignant quote that very much relates. Came to my mind as well (Great minds think alike!--see comment at bottom of the page). Thanks for sharing it. 

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  21.  thanks for pointing it out. I should have read all the comments before I made mine.

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  22. Not at all! Reading all that can get onerous. Glad you brought it up. 

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  23. I'm interested in where you got you information.  Here is some which comes from the U.S. Department of Justice.

    While African Americans
    comprise 13.5% of the U.S. Population, 43% of all murder victims in 2007
    were African American, 93.1% of whom were killed were African
    Americans.

    Victimizations of African Americans from violent crime which
    include the following; rape/sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and
    simple Assault was 24.3% in 2007, with the highest percentages of
    victimizations within the age ranges of 15-24 totaling a percentage
    greater than 38%.


    The Justice
    Department provides a breakdown of homicides by the race of both the
    victim and offender. Looking at the data for 2005 (the latest year
    available), we find that whites committed 48.0% of all murders and
    blacks committed 51.2% of all murders.  However, whites outnumber blacks
    in the population. In fact, non-Hispanic whites are about 69% of the
    population and blacks are about 13%.  These statistics alone, shows that
    blacks are 13% of the population, but commit 51.2% of the murders,
    indicate that blacks commit a seriously disproportionate number of
    murders."

    You are right about welfare recipients 38.8% of whom are white and 37.2% are black.  Note however that African Americans comprise 13.5 percent of the population yet more than 1/3 of all welfare recipients. 

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  24. Disturbing for three reasons. #1 it happened.   #2 the media silence  (including bloggers)  #3 the public silence

    http://hamptonroads.com.nyud.net/2012/05/beating-church-and-brambleton

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  25. Indeed, so much pain in this world. So many consequences for our collective brokenness. It takes folks like you, spreading the word by grace to affect reconciliation.

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  26. What are you trying to tell us with these stats?

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  27. I was responding to bawlin' .  I'm weary with partial truth, ignored truth and twisted truth. My point is that Christians (and really all people) should not emphasize one part of the truth to the neglect of the other. When should want to receive and to give an accurate picture.

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  28. So true! One side of the story has been consitently portrayed for years.

    True, balance isn't achieve by swinging too far the other direction. But at the moment, there is definitely still one perspective that predominates over all others in the medias, schools, conversations (http://tiny.cc/cmfdq and http://tiny.cc/fcqd0). So frustrating!
    I'm still not sure what you attribute those statistics to though. What conclusions are you drawing based on those numbers? What do you think the causes are?

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  29.  

    The statistics speak for themselves.  I attribute those statistics to failed social
    policy (including Johnson's "War on Poverty") which didn’t/hasn’t take fallen human nature into consideration and which often hurt more than helped. I don't think much will change until the message preached by the voices below are heard
    and heeded.


     
    Note: all but the last are voices of African-Americans



     http://www.amazon.com/Black-Rednecks-Liberals-Thomas-Sowell/dp/1594031436/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336325413&sr=1-6


       - what really has and will bring about the "success" of cultural and ethnic minorities



    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/05/-8216-this-is-how-we-lost-to-the-white-man-8217/6774/


       - an evaluation of Bill Cosby and his message of personal responsibility.



    http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Crow-Michelle-Alexander/product-reviews/1595586431/ref=cm_cr_pr_hist_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar


      - a review of the book "The New Jim Crow" 



    http://trk.cp20.com/Tracking/t.c?QC8B-Q2Kl-nTevw9
      - this one is rough, but it is a message that some need.


     


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1fG9KQwztg


       - Morgan Freeman on Black History month

    Dr. Carter Goodwin Woodson, the African-american historian who lived 60
    years ago and was behind the creation of Negro-history week which became
    Black History Month -- "If you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his
    action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to
    concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a person feel that
    he/she is inferior, you do not have to compel him/her to accept an
    inferior status, he/she will seek for it. If you make a person think
    he/she is a justly outcast, you do not have to order that person to the
    back door, that person will go without being told, and if there is no
    back door, the very nature of that person will demand one."

    http://www.amazon.com/When-Helping-Hurts-Alleviating-Yourself/dp/0802457053/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336335112&sr=1-1

     


      

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  30. Does anyone know the details of the is case, or the grounds on which her 'Stand Your Ground' defense was denied? smh...
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57433184/fla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots/

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  31. I deeply apologize for my slow response. The month of May has been...interesting. 
     
    Statistic rarely speak for themselves.  As you have pointed out, they are always subject to contextual bias, misplaced causation, and human interpretation. Had it been obvious, I wouldn’t have asked. Thus, I’m still interested in your personal interpretation of the figures you presented.

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  32. And then there those of us who could be either George Zimmerman *or* Trayvon Martin, depending on our current circumstances.We belong to the majority and the minority simultaneously. As a white person, I'm the one who averts my eyes walking past a group of brown-skinned teenagers on the sidewalk. I have that condescending lilt to my voice talking about education--and who usually ends up suspended or in Special Ed. As an autistic woman, I have police stop me on a regular basis because I flap my hands, wear heavy duty headphones, and lay flat on the ground to restore bodily sensation. With milder autism spectrum and family in the upper-middle class helping me financially, I usually occupy the majority slot. But I know with the way society is structured, I'm one meltdown away from occupying the minority.

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  33. What a great perspective! Thank you for sharing here. There are so many spectrums of marginalization. Many of us probably are in a position of privilege along some lines, but are oppressed or otherized in others. Both Zimmerman and Martin!

    Thanks again!

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  34. It wasn't denied, Zimmerman opted not to go for Stand Your Ground and instead claimed Self-Defense (pretty similar, but different laws)

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  35. Sorry for being unclear. My question was in reference to the defense for the woman in the CBS article linked in that comment. It was her SYG defense that was denied.

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