Thursday, July 18, 2013
UNITING GIANTS ARE NEEDED TODAY
Al Sharpton and his girlfriend.
Is this really the face of African American “leadership”?
TAGS: GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL, CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, MARTIN LUTHER LING,
MALCOLM X, NAACP, THURGOOD MARSHALL, VOTERS RIGHTS ACT, JIM CROW, PLESSY V FERGOSEN,
RALPH ABERNATHY, JESSE JACKSON, AL SHARPTON, REPUBLICAN GERRYMANDERING,
(Thursday July 18, 2013 NY, NY) The long storied and often bloody civil rights movement in America is replete with men and women of uncommon strength, persistence and moral fortitude. From the earliest of the abolitionists through the four centuries of slavery the struggle for equality can be traced through individual lives. The collective experience of segregation, discrimination, Jim Crow laws, and blatant bigotry was born by all African Americans. It took the actions of courageous men and women who were able to galvanize an entire people and bring a cohesive and united front to the movement. It took the perseverance of the entire African American populace engaged in that struggle but it also required some to step forward and bring the cause out of the endemic prejudice of the Deep South into the national conscience. The names of these individuals are forever etched in the history of our Country and they inhabit a special place in the story of “The Movement.”
Today the African American community has as its self-appointed “leaders” men devoid of any of the characteristics of those who truly were leaders for their people and cause. Men of the ilk of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are no more than self-serving hustlers who prey on the community they claim to serve and represent. There are others such as Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson who sanctimoniously preach from their lofty ivory towers in Ivy League academia. These men are all far removed from the realities of life and have become wealthy by exploiting the African American community’s ills and societal maladies. Men such as these seize any and every opportunity to aggrandize and insinuate themselves into every high profile controversy with even the faintest scent of racism. The recently concluded trial of George Zimmerman is only the latest example.
THERE WERE GIANTS ONCE
Long before the landmark Supreme Court decisions of the 1950’s and 1960’s and the federal legislation that ensued to eradicate systemic segregation, widespread discrimination, and the resultant inequality they fostered, there were brave activists like Harriet Tubman, Jane Pittman, W.E.B. Dubois, and many other lesser known people who literally put their lives on the line for what they believed. It was only in post-World War II America, a global conflict in which tens of thousands of African American men served with valor that what came to be officially known as The Civil Rights Movement began. In some of the earliest legal battles a young lawyer for the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall, won judicial victories but the real battles were in the cities and towns, rural and suburban areas, and on the streets of America from coast to coast. Thurgood Marshall went on to become the first African American Supreme Court Justice and never ceased to champion “equality under the law” for all Americans regardless of race, color or creed.
The 1960’s would prove to be the turning point, at least legislatively, in The Movement. As President Lyndon Johnson was signing laws such as the Voters Rights Act, The Fair Housing Act and other “affirmative action” measures, their emerged men able to galvanize the African American community in ways they’d never been represented or united before. From a humble church in Alabama Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. claimed his place in the Pantheon of civil rights leaders with his famous March on Washington in 1963. He along with Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, John Lewis, Julian Bond, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, James Shepherd, and a cadre of committed activists adhering to the principal of “peaceful non-violent” demonstrations, marches, and sit-ins, forced their cause into the conscience of the entire nation. This was no longer about what was happening on the hard sunbaked red clay of Georgia or in the humid Mississippi Delta, or any particular location in the Deep South. No, this was a quest for equality and acceptance touching virtually every institution and community in America. Some of these heroic figures paid with their lives while others suffered brutal beatings and unjust incarceration. However, in the long run they were victorious in that they paved the initial inroads that would bring the African American population ever closer to equality.
THE FALLACY OF A “POST-RACIAL AMERICA”
In 2008 with a huge plurality of voters America elected our first African American President. The freshman Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, obtained his electoral victory by capturing the votes of people across all demographic blocs. Some in the media cited his historic achievement as the beginning of a new age in our Country, an age where we were the “colorblind” society Martin Luther King dreamed of and spoke about so eloquently over 40 years before. Of course, given our nation’s history regarding race relations, this was a Pollyannaish pipe dream. But, it was an impressive start to what is a new chapter in our history. Those among us of a certain age, both Black and White never imagined we’d see an African American man and his family living in The White House.
Yes, we live in a Country with a twice elected African American President and that is a remarkable fact that will never be diminished. Still, we live in a society with deeply ingrained prejudices and biases although the younger generations are coming of age in a vastly different America as far as race relations are concerned than did their parents and grandparents. However, as the jury decision in the State of Florida v George Zimmerman case clearly illustrates, we are far from a colorblind society; if anything, we appear to be taking some backwards steps as a people. Contrary to some of the ascertains from the cable infotainment chattering class, the Zimmerman verdict will not prompt a “national debate” about race. When have we ever had a “national debate” about anything? What passes for national debate are the conversations we have with our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Since our elected representatives in Congress have no vested interest in responding to the desires of their constituencies no “public debate” is possible.
The notion that we are in a post-racial era in America has been fomented by very strange bedfellows. The Republican Party claims that our society has evolved racially and that affirmative action initiatives are no longer needed. Yes, it is true that affirmative action has leveled the playing field over the last 40 years for minorities including African Americans and yes, some of those programs have outlived their utility. However, in the same breath the Republicans in Statehouses across the Country have done everything in their power to disenfranchise voters of Color. Similar measures have been taken in Congress and it was just two weeks ago that the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voters Rights Act when they struck down Amendment 4 of that landmark Bill. The so called “Tea Party” has taken up the cause to suppress the vote joining with their Republican colleagues by redrawing Congressional districts with convoluted gerrymandered maps. These maneuvers are designed to assure that their “seats are safe” while simultaneously making it more difficult to have fair elections. No, we are far from a post-racial America when efforts are on-going to this day to make it increasingly more difficult for people of color and poor urban voters in general to vote.
FROM GIANTS TO DWARFS
That we are in a new era in our history regarding race is undeniable. The United States Census Bureau said earlier this year that America is no longer a “White” majority Country. The demographic shifts are tectonic and will continue as we become “Browner” and the birth rate among “Caucasians” continues to decline. This new era requires a different brand of leadership in the Black and Brown communities; leaders more adept at truly representing underrepresented segments of the electorate. Sadly what passes for leadership today in the African American community are no more than cheap hucksters, charlatans, blowhards, and rabble rousers. Gone are men like Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall. In the void left by the true pillars of the civil rights movement are shallow, craven men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. These two men are greedy opportunists never far away where ever a racially controversial issue hits the media. They are shameless ambulance chasers out to enrich themselves under the guise of “spiritual advisors” and “activists”.
Just as crass and craven are the members of the “professional Black class” like West and Dyson. They write books and collect huge speaking fees for exploiting the conditions their “people” live in. They do not offer scholarly work that provides practical remedies. Not at all. They write books titled to get them maximum exposure while breathing the rarified air only available to those who have risen in intellectual academic circles. They may be more damaging to the African America cause than Jackson or Sharpton because their “influence” is more insidious. Their education and the perches from which they pontificate lend them a measure of respectability that the like of Jackson and Sharpton can only dream of.
What is needed is for some of the highly successful African Americans we have become familiar with over the last decade or so to step up and contribute to their community. There is certainly no lack of prominent African Americans to become engaged in a serious manner addressing some of the seemingly intractable issues that plague pockets of Black America. Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, J.C. Watts, Dr. Ben Carson, and so many more brilliant accomplished African Americans should be involved in a broad sense. They serve as powerful examples and are great role models. They should be at least as well known as the hottest rapper or athlete of the day.
If there is one major lesson that was taught by MLK and his peers is that unity is the key to progress. When a group of disparate people with diverse circumstance are able to come together as a united bloc, they can affect more change than any number of “activists” working in their own self-interest ever can or will.
President Obama was twice elected to his Office by the votes of a vast coalition who came together and made history. There is still much more history yet to be made.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved
Sunday, July 14, 2013
CRIMINAL ACQUITTAL JUST THE BEGINNING
Trayvon Martin’s parents with Benjamin Crump their attorney
TAGS: GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AQUITTAL, TRAYVON MARTIN, ZIMMERMAN MURDER TRIAL
BERNIE de la RIONDA & JOHN GUY PROSECTORS, MARK O’MARA & DON WEST DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
RACE RELATIONS IN AMERICA,
(Sunday July 14, 2013 Sanford, FLA) Whether one agrees or disagrees with the jury verdict in the State of Florida versus George Zimmerman criminal trial, there is one fact that everyone can agree; the Prosecution failed in this case. The team of Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda and Assistant District Attorney John Guy never presented the jury a cogent, concise, consistent factual portrayal of the events of the night of February 26, 2012. While the intense media coverage of this case from the delayed indictment until the verdict last night provided the public with all the relevant facts of the night and events in question, the Prosecutors seemed unable to do so for the six woman jury.
Ever since this case made headlines far beyond this central Florida community of just over 53,000 residents, it has prompted discussions about race and guns, crime and security as well as brought the often controversial Florida “Stand Your Ground” Law to the fore. As only cases like this can do, the facts, as they were known, spoke to the worst of African Americans fears while simultaneously exposing some of the long standing beliefs of White Americans regarding those very same issues. What actually transpired on that rainy Sunday night in the middle class gated community here between George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch participant, and the 16 year old unarmed hoodie clad teen, Trayvon Martin, is now known only to Mr. Zimmerman. That Mr. Zimmerman followed Mr. Martin and ultimately engaged him in a confrontation that resulted in the shooting death of young Trayvon Martin are the broad strokes of an event that has been racially laden from the start and is most likely far from being over. The criminal acquittal of Mr. Zimmerman of the charges of Second Degree Homicide and/or Manslaughter marks the end of the first chapter of what will undoubtedly be a much longer legal ordeal.
Though it hasn’t even been 24 hours since the verdict was rendered here last night, the incessant chatter of the punditry, commentators, talking heads, and the legion of cable infotainment attorneys all “former” this or that, assure that this case will not drift out of the public‘s sight. Already there is speculation about when Trayvon’s parents will file a civil suit in Federal Court and instigate additional legal action in filing torts from “wrongful death charges” to “personal injury”. That they will is not in question. No doubt they will be aided by organizations such as the NAACP and ACLU and individuals from Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton. That is their right and prerogative. There are other legal venues they can seek “justice” in now that Zimmerman has been exonerated in Criminal Court.
To even the most casual observer, this trial, from the start, appeared to be a relatively straightforward matter. An unarmed African American teen was shot dead by an armed man who was heard on tape to make derogatory remarks about Trayvon Martin as he followed him through the neighborhood. The circumstances seemed to imply that Zimmerman was motivated by racial stereotyping and “criminal profiling” rather than objective suspicion. That Zimmerman was armed and claimed afterwards to be acting in “self-defense” sounded more than a little preposterous. Despite these facts Zimmerman was not initially charged; only after an outcry and protests did the State of Florida conduct an investigation and indict Zimmerman 44 days after the event. By the time the trial began almost five weeks ago most were convinced Zimmerman would be found guilty especially after Judge Nelson instructed the jury they could consider the lesser charge of Manslaughter if they found the original charge of Second Degree Homicide disproportionate to Zimmerman’s actions. Judge Nelson had also made some decisions during the trial regarding admissibility of evidence and other technical issues that favored the Prosecution and made the Defense’s case more of a challenge. Yet, 16 hours alone in the Jury Room they presented their verdict of Not Guilty on all charges. Mr. Zimmerman is now a free man.
Now the debate begins anew. Naturally there are many in the African American community who see this verdict as the latest blatant example of institutional discrimination and feel that the criminal justice system has once again “failed” them. Certainly anyone can sympathize with the Martin Family who lost a child to a violent death. However it is difficult to agree that the trial was not conducted fairly; if anything, as mentioned earlier, the Court seemed to favor the Prosecutors. The only component of “the system” that may have failed anyone is the Prosecution. Rather than make the case to the Jury they presented a seemingly endless array of possibilities often presenting rhetorical questions and multiple alternatives to the very same questions they themselves had stated. They appeared to be giving the Jurors a veritable menu of options any one of which they could believe and then find the defendant guilty. Attorneys de la Rionda and Guy were unable to make their case; it’s as simple as that.
Now with the threat of protests and marches, demonstrations and recriminations a strong probability, we are left with no real winners in this case. Sure, George Zimmerman is free and will have his firearm returned to him while the Martin Family grieves publically and privately as they consider their next step. Since the night Trayvon Martin was killed almost 12,000 other young African Americans have been murdered in “Black on Black” crime across the Country. Where is the outrage about this disturbing fact of American society today?
We are supposed to be living in a “Post Racial America” with the political ascendancy of an African American man to the Presidency 150 years after the end of “The War Between the States” better known as The Civil War. But we would all be naïve’ to believe we live in the kind of “colorblind” society that Martin Luther King dreamt of. We do not. Yes, we have made great strides to closing the divide between the races and the many and varied ethnicities that comprise America today. But we have much farther to go towards true acceptance of and equality for all who inhabit our Country.
We also have to admit that ours is a violent society and what passes for much of our “culture” today is violent. As our elected politicians remain frozen in inactivity regarding immigration policy and “gun control” we go about our lives as unengaged from such matters as possible. And that is how it should be, right? We work and provide for our families, have high hopes for our children and restrict our emotional investments to the smallest circle of family and friends possible. This is also how it should be, right? Yes, there is only so much we can do, so much we can care and worry about at any given time.
If nothing else the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman is a cautionary tale for our day. That this one murder became elevated to a “national dialogue” and rose to prominence among the 20,000 murders since February 26, 2012 illustrates what animates us collectively. There were two sides to this story and either you thought Zimmerman guilty as charged or you did not. There was no middle ground, no room for the nuances of human nature and the odd happenstance that often crafts unforeseen circumstances. Our lives are not defined by pure black and white choices. We operate in the large hues and shades of gray amid those two poles. Our society is not simply a matter of Black and White either. There are shades of Brown populating the broad plains between those two poles as well. Both Martin and Zimmerman brought their own thoughts and fears, prejudices and biases to that fateful altercation that night last year just as we all bring our own such collection of variables out into the world every day. Our society is only as colorblind as we make it.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2013 © All Rights Reserved