Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Racism that Lusts After the Kill

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin/Zimmerman verdict, an image of Martin Luther King Jr. in a hoodie has been circulating on social media.  Said to have been tweeted by former Obama advisor, it has taken the internet by storm over the past few days, receiving over a thousand retweets.[1]

Compare the Zimmerman ‘not guilty’ verdict with that of a black woman in the very same State, sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting her husband during a violent confrontation. Her lawyers invoked Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law (the Zimmerman defence) yet the jury sided with prosecutors in deciding the woman’s actions were not in self~defence. [2)]

It reminds me of an old and sometimes dark place, that I stepped away from some years back. I have ceased being actively engaged in, metaphorically speaking, hand~to~hand combat around racism, particularly with those key agencies (the 3 P’s) in the criminal justice system – police, prosecutors, and prisons; and I'm not forgetting the judges.  

There are so many horror stories rolling down the centuries of our lives where systemic racism and xenophobia ends in tragedy…

before and after America's First Nation buried its heart at Wounded Knee...

before and after The Middle Passage (the longest, hardest, most dangerous and horrific part of the journey of the slave ships)…and KKK lynchings...

before and after the Holocaust...and the massacre in Srebrenica...

before and after the deaths of Stephen Lawrence and Trayvon Martin, both of which have fallen into the category of cause célébre, for better or worse.

No doubt the horror stories will continue well after I’m dead, and into the lives of my great~grand children; of that I have little doubt. It appears that we all need some sort of scapegoat on which to project the darkness in the human psyche.
                       
Kwame Kwei~Armah, British actor, playwright and broadcaster, now Artistic Director of the CentreStage Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, wrote the following about how he should respond to his young ones’ question about why Trayvon Martin had to die:

Spent the day talking to my sons and daughter, nephews and nieces about the Trayvon Martin case. It was hard on the heart, hard on the mind, but even harder to hear the younger ones ask in their under ten curious fashion – "So is this racism then?"

One of the hardest parts of raising a black child is this moment. 'To use, or not to use the dreaded R-word?'

The question is however is there any protection in not naming it, or rather in doing so does it single them out? Raise their head above an already shallow parapet? I've been thru this three times already; this fourth is whipping my ass.
           
Maybe because I'm older, maybe because when I was younger I was hoping that it would be done by now, at least in this most blatant form. Or maybe it's because I feel a little embarrassed that my generation failed to solve the problem and that I am handing it down to them to fix, in ALMOST the exact the same fashion as it was handed to me.

And I know how angry I was at the previous generation for that. End of soul purge.

Systemic racism was never going to be 'solved' by your generation Kwame, nor will it be by the next, given what is right now. It therefore goes without saying that the previous generation had neither a hope in hell nor a prayer in heaven of finding a solution.
          
For now, what we can all do is teach our children to love, and to aim always for the best that they can be. It also seems to me that the descendants of the Middle Passage era deserve a platinum medal for long distance running and the peace prize for non~retaliation.
          
While - like the Hundredth Monkey Effect theory of social change - the Kennedys, Kings and Mandelas can spearhead the revolution, but something more is needed. The solution has to come from the very heart and soul of those who hate and fear, those who collude and condone, and the silent majority who, in their many and different ways, pass by on the other side.
          
At the end of the day the solution can only come from a growth in human consciousness. Right now the Reptilian Coping Brain is in control, and a racism that lusts after the kill gets a free pass.
             
~
An interesting question for debate though is what do we make of CNN commentator Abigail Thernstrom’s view that Obama’s response was a mistake - Opinion: Obama's mistake on Trayvon Martin case - CNN.com.

 


No comments:

Post a Comment