Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trayvon Martin, Marley Lion and Racial Resentment

It's happening...you can usually count on it...

Someone who is resentful, begins to raise questions that really have nothing to do with an issue and then others who are resentful begins to raise those same questions and by the sheer volume of resentful voices people actually think there's something to it.

It's called false equivalence. And its born out of resentfulness...or something worse.

Take for instance the Paula Deene imbroglio. She confessed to using the 'N' word (worse - at least to me - she wanted black men dressed as antebellum era 'slaves' to serve at her brothers wedding). Then there is the chorus of voices saying, 'If black people use the 'N' word among one another why can't everybody? If whites can't use say it then no one should.' The latter point being true, the fact is, it makes no difference what blacks call one another, it doesn't give anyone else the excuse for using it. But, go ahead if you're that resentful, you have my permission to walk up randomly to any black person you want and use the word. I would suggest you first try it with your co-worker, or boss, or maybe the next black police officer you come in contact with. Or maybe your child's playmate's parents. Or your customer who happens to be black. Be my guest...

And then there's the Trayvon Martin killing. What about the number of black on black shootings about which we never hear? What about the number of black youth being killed in, say Chicago? Why is no one protesting those?

Of course, there has been attention called to those murders before and, clearly the ones who are claiming no attention is being paid to those killings weren't paying attention then!

And the resentful are also comparing the Trayvon Martin murder to that of other murders committed by black perpetrators with white victims. The one going viral now is the brutal murder of a young man in Charlston, South Carolina, named Marley Lion. Marley, a 16 year old white teenager was killed in a robbery by four black men. And the resentful are saying that it is 'hypocrisy' and 'racist' that this tragedy is not attracting the same moral, national outrage as the Trayvon Martin tragedy.They seem not to notice the difference.

I'll try and help them here...

It took 45 days and national protests to get an arrest in the Trayvon Martin murder...when authorities KNEW who killed the teenager.

While it took 6 weeks to make an arrest in the case of Marley Lion, that was a six week investigation and the alleged killers were promptly arrested.

Marley was killed during the commission of a crime. Trayvon was killed after he was confronted by George Zimmerman because he 'looked suspicious'. Zimmerman, of course says he shot Trayvon in 'self-defense', but we have no alternative account of the conflict...security cameras in the gated community where the incident took place weren't working. In Marley's case, the police used surveillance camera's to aid in the identification of the perpetrators.

There are also complaints that the crime in which Marley's life was wrongfully taken never made past the local news. MOST murders never make it past the local news. Frankly, the majority of murders don't make the local news! Had Zimmerman been arrested at the scene of Trayvon Martin's shooting it probably wouldn't have made it past whatever Sanford news outlet there is. It made national news because of how the case was handled.

As a matter of fact, statements by the respective law enforcement authorities provide my final example of the difference between the two cases.

First this was the public statement of the Sanford police chief after Trayvon's case...“In this case Mr. Zimmerman has made the statement of self-defense [italics mine],” [Sanford Police Chief Bill]Lee said. “Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.”

After the arrests of the four suspects in Marley Lion's death, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said"Unfortunately, sometimes I don't think the community or maybe even the media understands that this is not just a job for us. I take this personally. These people take it personally. We spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying about what's going to happen next, and you never want to get the call that there's a murder, but you certainly never want to get the call that it's a juvenile and it's for absolutely no reason at all."

I think that's a huge difference...

Race is very difficult subject. There are people who severely afflicted with guilt, shame, insensitivity and, yes, resentment over the issue. It's an inconvenient aspect of our history in this country that we don't want to look at because of what it says about us...all of us. The reaction to incidents that involve race, for far too many white Americans, is resentment. Resentment is not easy to admit and is no more positive an emotion than guilt or shame, in the minds of many. 

Trayvon Martin is dead. Marley Lion is dead. They are both tragedies. As a parent who has lost a child to gun violence, I know first hand the horrible feeling. I hate, absolutely hate, that any other parent has to experience it. 

Trayvon Martin is dead. Marley Lion is dead. The killers of these two men are white and black respectively. Statistics say that those involved in Marley's murder will most likely spend the rest of their lives in prison. And if they are found guilty by a jury of their peers in a fair trial, that's as it should be. 

George Zimmerman is a free man...


No comments: