by: Melinda N. Gainer
For the past few days, I have watched my newsfeed flood (almost assaulted) with video, written stories, and pictures regarding the heinous murder of this baby-faced, seventeen year old, black male. I’ve read the banter among my Facebook friends and their friends, I’ve witnessed the support for rallies and have read numerous blogs all surrounding this injustice…I’ve said nothing. Not because this situation is not worth talking about, but because this situation is nothing new to Black America. While many are outraged about Trayvon’s death, I am outraged because of a much bigger picture.
Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., citizens of Florida, Roland Martin, college students, Facebook users, are forming rallies, signing petitions, and are writing blogs every single day, but where was everyone almost 18 years ago when a black man in the South was ambushed, chained to a truck and dragged to death, dismembering his limbs, by white supremacists? And now in the age of Facebook, where were the FB posts, last year, when 7 drunk white teenagers, went on a hunt to “find a nigger” in Brandon, Mississippi; they beat a 46 year old black father and ran overhim with a F-250 truck? Where were the FB posts, when Michael Vick went to jail for participating in a dogfight (his worth was compared to that of an animal whenhe was jailed)? Where were the FB posts, about 6 years ago, when Marcus Dixon was put in jail for having sex with his white “girlfriend” but her parents called it rape? Where ARE the FB posts, when black children are being kicked out of school for minor offenses such as using cellphones? Where are the FB posts, protesting these Southern Governors who are creating Bills to make voting extremely difficult for minorities, on the brink of a Presidential race to re-elect a Black man? Where are the FB posts, protesting the disrespect this country has had for Barack Obama, even by often omitting his title President? Where are FB posts when Rick Santorum makes statements during his GOP primary rallies that suggest the country needs to stop giving everything to blacks?
The issue I have with OUR people, is it takes Trayvon Martin for us to go bonkers, but all of the other underlying racism and hatred we seem to miss. I even read sophomoric posts that somewhat scrutinize the “Black President” for not doing more. Our president is under an immense level of stress and while he has wrongfully addressed other state issues in his federal capacity, this may not be something he needs to speak about just yet, but for the sake of this conversation, say he hasn’t said or done enough…nor have our Black congressmen, black governors, black mayors, black lawyers, black presidents of sororities and fraternities, black doctors, black professional athletes and entertainers, black teachers, black union leaders, black mothers, black fathers, black preachers said enough either.
We are such a reactive group of people. This is why our race will continue to be 30 steps behind. At one time, blacks were at least second-class citizens in America today we are being outpaced by every other race. Even this Hispanic Zimmerman has more rights as a partial immigrant than a black man. We are being outpaced not because all other races are any better but because of situations like this. We react in the wake of something…they plan decades down the road. If we were to band together and fight for justice, fight for equality, and fight to improve our brothers and sisters who are clearly making a mockery of every struggle our ancestors had, we would not be able to prevent senseless murders, but we would be able to ensure we are receiving more than adequate justice.
We think we have arrived and we are owed something by this government. We are content with being able to share filthy water fountains and social space with white people so much so that we forget about everything that still needs to be done for our race. Half of us are so radically black that we miss everything sitting in front of us and others of us are so radically blind thinking “some of my best friends are white” that we have missed the continuous struggle that has in essence gotten worse. Our people are too focused on being rappers, video vixens, and welfare recipients or highly religious, extremely militant, or obsessively upper middle class. We are failing because we are a reactive society. We just sit back and wait for something to happen to be outraged.
So, you black people who have suddenly become so black…and so outraged, open your eyes. This has happened, will happen and will continue to happen as long as we protest WHEN things happen instead of plan BEFORE they happen. In a few weeks, FB posts, pictures, and videos about this young man will fade away, you will not post about the work that needs to be done by our leaders or even those of us who sit quietly in our homes or at the Ritz Carlton having brunch on Sunday’s with our friends…you will be back to posting statements, pictures, and videos about your food, your natural hair process, your cars, Dancing with the Stars, your outfits and makeup, your Black Girl Run marathon shots, your vacations and maybe even your children getting dressed for Easter but you will not address the ongoing issues that are plaguing this race and our people. Get it together and stop reacting!
Melinda N. Gainer is a freelance event planner. She recently re-launched her
event-planning company Eventually Yours, after leaving her alma mater, Hampton University. Prior to this new opportunity, Melinda was the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admission and an Adjunct Professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. Melinda is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and has served on the board for Girls, Incorporated of South Hampton Roads. In her spare time, she enjoys entertaining for friends, gardening, and writing. To reach Melinda, contact her at Melinda.firstname.lastname@example.org
I listened to the 911 call that records young Trayvon’s last moments before he was premeditatedly murdered in cold-blood. A neighbor, after hearing repeated cries for help, did her part to help by calling 911. If you listen carefully in the background, you can hear Trayvon desperately pleading for anybody to step in and do something to help him and save his life.
It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. It’s angering.
The reason it’s so angering is because when you contrast the main characters, you can easily see how uneven the match is. On one hand, you have an armed racist who is carrying out a perverted interpretation of an assignment to keep his neighborhood safe. On the other hand there is a defenseless and unprepared youth who had no idea of the trouble he was in, or the mentality of the person he was up against. And when I look at it in this way, I see this as a lot bigger than Trayvon. This whole situation parallels Black people, and if we don’t learn lessons from this tragedy, we will be cold bloodedly destroyed just the same.
I will not use this space to present the whole case of how there are a groups of people who have taken on a perverted and sinister assignment to cleanse/ purify the human race while drastically decreasing the world’s population. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about how, like Zinnerman, lies are being perpetuated by the media about the victims before the murder that will justify and protect the actions of the murderer.
I do, however, want to briefly show how we, as a people, are in the same position as Trayvon Martin, unaware of who our enemies are, and unprepared to defend ourselves once we are attacked. Whether you agree with violence or not (and I am not necessarily advocating it), you cannot disagree with the natural inclination to protect and defend one’s self in times of trouble. You also cannot deny the physical, emotional, economic, and other kinds of violence that is inflicted upon Black people daily.
What is our response to such violence? We march and protest—yelling for someone else to help us. Why can’t we help ourselves? Don’t we know that if we leave it up to the people who are designated to help us, we will find ourselves in the position of Trayvon and so many others—screaming for help as a dispatch officer asks Good Samaritans a bunch of unnecessary questions?
Even after this tragic event, there is a united outcry for help. But as admirable as said unity is, I question the efficacy of such outcries. For instance, Trayvon’s parents are crying for help. “All we want is justice for our son.” To whom is Mr. Martin directing his statement? The governor of Florida who said that he will look to see that “justice prevails”? I hope we don’t think that he means that Trayvon’s murderer will be prosecuted. All that means is that the structure will carry out its process.
It’s funny. We can look at movies like A Time to Kill (1996) starring Samuel L. Jackson and Enough (2002) starring Jennifer Lopez, sympathize with the character who is denied justice and celebrate when the main character takes justice into their own hands but when it comes to real life we make signs and beg enemies to give us justice and cry when they do not. Smh.
It’s funny. We can be in agreement with the government when they hang Saddam Hussein and “kill” Osama Bin Laden or other enemies of America, but when it comes to dealing with our enemies we are limited to forgiving them or calling some big time preachers to hold press conferences so we can demand that a corrupt system run by our historic enemies use their resources to lift us out of our rut of defenselessness and powerlessness. The presupposition with such a cry is that the justice system works for us! But it doesn’t. Once we accept this truth—that Black people have never been tried by a jury of their peers or been given a fair trial in America, or that white people are permitted to murder Black people with impunity, we will stop begging America for it. If you want justice, you’ve got to secure it for yourself!
Trayvon’s mother should not have spent the last month of her life and the first weeks of her grieving period to call for the arrest of her son’s murderer. The family shouldn’t have to ask Americans to sign a petition. Shm. I am sorely disgusted.
Let us not get consumed with getting Zimmerman arrested. Zimmerman is just one of many. Let’s not get consumed with seeing that Trayvon “get’s justice.” He, too, is one of a slue of others who have not and will not in the present system. Instead, let’s use our energy to organize ourselves and empower ourselves so that we are not dependent on any other entity to protect us, defend us, or give us justice.
The time is now!
The story has become an American classic. We’ve heard variations of it before.
The 250 pound 28 year old claims he was defending himself against a 140 pound 17 year old carrying skittles and a can of iced tea.
Police cannot find evidence to suggest that the white man is lying—even though everybody else sees it.
Lawyers busy themselves preparing arguments.
Black parents claim racism.
Protests and press conferences are held where irrelevant Black leaders parade in front of cameras.
Black people leave justice in the hands of the authorities.
Black people stay in their rut.
Regardless of what happens regarding the arrest and conviction of the murderer or whether or not the Department of Justice, FBI, or FDLE find anything in their investigations, if Black people continue leaving justice in the hands of so-called authorities, Black people will remain in defenseless and powerless positions—crying over injustice and complaining about unpunished racism in the 21st century.
Are we destined to remain in such anemic positions?
What, if anything, can we do about this?
How should we respond to this?
- Should we fight to introduce a law into congress that makes it illegal for a white man to murder a black boy ?
- Should we fight to make sure already existing laws are enforced?
- Should we assemble to express our disappointment with the silent local police?
- Should we make a sign with a MLK quote about justice and injustice?
- Should we write a blog expressing our disappointments and how this is incident is reminiscent to Emmitt Till’s murder in 1955?
- Should demand that Barack Obama or other political figures call for the
arrest of Zimmerman and not vote for them if they don’t respond to our demands in a way that is sincere?
I’m running out of ideas… I honestly don’t think any of these ideas will do anything to address the heart of problem of Trayvon’s murder. And I hope I’m not alone. Malcolm X’s words ring clearer to me, now more than ever: that the government is either unable or unwilling to address the problems that confront Black people in a satisfactory way. The most natural response seems to be self-evident : address the problems ourselves–but that is not what’s happening. smh.
“I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.” –Malcolm X
We know the problems. We’re affected by them every day. Let’s create some solutions. Here are a few of mine:
1. We should recognize our power and use it:
- Power concedes to nothing but power. White power is dominating us because Black power has not responded in a way to nullify or overpower white power.
- Black people have power. Always have and always will. Unfortunately, because we don’t know how to use it, we are misusing it. We have fallen into the trap of misdirecting our energies to kill each other in service of white domination (part of the plan of white power).
- If our power is redirected in ways that will help us get out of our current social, political, economic, and spiritual rut, we WILL succeed.
- We must want “freedom, justice, and equality” so badly that we will seek to obtain them using any means necessary.
- We must reject any and everything that is thrown at us to stifle our attempts to empower ourselves to lift ourselves. We cannot limit ourselves by dismissing ideas for Black elevation because they may not be the ways that we have historically fought.
- Let’s fight the fight and let the chips fall where they may.
2. We must redefine independence.
- Independence and freedom are often used interchangeably. As a result, people may erroneously conclude that we (as a people) are independent.
- Consider independence as NOT dependent and slavery as being dependent.
- Are we (as a people) independent?
- When the government provides assistance to “underprivileged” (namely Black) people, it creates a level of dependence that is paralyzing. We are very dependent on the very systems and structures that are failing us.
- Let’s stop putting our trust in people or systems that have not helped us in the recent and distant pasts.
- Let’s be intentionally about becoming self-determining and self-reliant. We must get to the place where we are not dependent on structures and systems that have been put in place by our former oppressors to do for us what we should do for ourselves.
- Understand that our formal education is one of the most important instruments used to keep us in the mentality that keeps us working in the interest of white domination and against the interest of ourselves and our children.
- We have been educated/conditioned to respond to situations in ineffective ways.
- When is it acceptable for children of former slaves to be educated by children of former slave masters? Have things change that much to where one thinks whites will teach blacks how to beat them at the game they’re playing?
- Recall the 5th point in the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program: We should want an education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We should strive for an education that teaches our true history and our role in the present society. “We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.”
- Reeducate yourself on the importance of Nationhood. (Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad , John Henrik Clark, and a host of others talk about it in their books and recordings). Land, food, and shelter are very important in this equation.
4. We must separate.
- When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected with another… Language from The Declaration of Independence, one of the founding documents of America. It made sense for them then and makes sense for us now. It’s time for us to get out of the mindset that this system will do right by us. It has not, it is not, and if history proves to be a good teacher, will not.
- Put little faith in the American system/ government/ way of life. Begin to devalue the structures that we have accepted as indisputable and unchangeable. This is the first step in independence.
- Lose respect for the laws—Since they do nothing to protect us, we should have no obligation to respect them.
5. Stop being so damn afraid.
- Fear paralyzes. It will prevent an individual from reaching a goal and a race.
- Remove all notions of fear and doubt.
- Be lead by the Spirits. We have more help than we realize.
- Fight the fight. Let the chips fall where they may.