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July 16, 2013

Trayvon Martin is the Emmett Till of 2013

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The court decision on the trial of George Zimmerman on the murder of Trayvon Martin is insulting and disappointing. The verdict is in. Zimmerman walked out of court as a free man.   But justice has not been done. The adage of when you go to court, you don’t know how you are coming out has never been more evident.

The court decision is one thing but the court of public opinion is quite another.  This case has had media attention from the very beginning.  It was because of public national protest that Zimmerman was arrested in the first place.   This is the Emmett Till case of the day.  Till was a male teen from Chicago, killed in Mississippi in 1955 because he whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant.  Her husband, Roy Bryant and his half brother, J. W. Milan went to his uncle’s home and did the unthinkable to the “Chicago Negro.”  They were acquitted for the slaying in court, but later confessed their evil deeds in an exclusive interview with Look Magazine.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/sfeature/sf_look_confession.html Till’s murder gave real impetus to the Civil Rights Movement.  Black America said enough is enough.

Young Black men are in danger for doing the simplest of things.  The case of Trayvon Martin illustrates the point.  A young black teen male was walking alone in a gated community in a well to do Florida community and was killed with pop and candy in his hand.  He was alone, when racially profiled by a want to be, self-appointed neighborhood patrolman, Mr. Zimmerman.  He did not like the way Martin looked in his hoody. When Zimmerman called the police to issue a report of the stranger in the neighborhood, he was told to back down.  He did not comply.   He took matters in his own hands and ending up killing the young teen.   Other than walking in a neighborhood as a Black male, visiting his father, Trayvon did nothing wrong.

 

The Victimization of the Black Male is Deep in American History

Martin was minding his business.  He was not disturbing the peace.  He was not out of order. He was walking alone.  Zimmerman picked on Martin. The story is alarming and disturbing because of its reoccurrence in American history.  Black men, particular young ones, can still be killed or attacked by whites only to be set free.  The evidence does not seem to matter.  There are always the legal technicalities verses the obvious.  Zimmerman’s father is a retired judge, and perhaps his legal skills saved his son from the murder charge behind the scenes.

Many white men escaped jail and were not tried or found guilty in the Deep South for lynchings of yesteryear.    The Tuskegee Institute recorded 3,446 lynchings of Black men from 1882 to 1968.    Often it was well known in the town that killed the victim but evidence was ignored, weak or hidden.   Sometimes these cases came to light with true confessions when the white murderers were old and at death’s door, far too late to be court tried, let alone jailed for the crime.

America has experienced a Black Holocaust, where Black males, are concerned.   Martin ‘s tragedy triggers the reality of this history.  It cannot be overlooked. This is racism in 2013, existing in what some consider a post racial society with a sitting Black President in the White House.

The Florida Courts have sent a loud message to Black America.  A young Black man can still get killed for simply being Black and in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The murderer can go free.  Black male teens need to be aware and alert.  Hoodies, backpacks and baggie pants can be dangerous attire.

The law and justice are not necessarily on the Black man’s side in America.  With state laws like, “Stand Your Ground” and “Conceal and Carry” potential killers like would be cops could simply say they were afraid for their lives and get away with murder.

The message to young Black males is simple, you are not safe anywhere.  Young Trayvon  Martin was not walking in the ghetto.  He was walking in a safe, guarded, gated private community where his father resided.

A Jury of Your Peers

The American court system states that you will receive a jury of your peers, but it should read you would receive a jury on the draw, like the lottery from your jurisdiction.  Peers has nothing to do with it, peer needs to be redefined.  Peers for Martin’s case would mean young Black men on the jury.  Not a one. There peers were all women, one of color.

Perhaps a different decision would have been rendered had young Black males passed judgment. The courts, once again have sent a powerful message, with its diversity of women in place. Black men just lost a big one.  You can still kill a Black man and get away with it.  It is interesting listening to the TV pundits talk about the case, as they explain the racism away. The female States Attorney of Florida stated the case was definitely one of racial profiling but not racism.  How about further explanation in a room with Black journalists only.

Racism is alive and well in 2013, with a Black President of the United States.  I am hoping the Trayvon Martin will spark a renewed Civil Rights Movement.  The change has not come yet.



About the Author

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Hermene Hartman
Hermene Hartman serves as President and CEO of the Chicago-based, Hartman Publishing Group, INC. NDIGO, was founded in 1989 and is a significant voice in Chicago. Hartman provides social commentary on WVAZ's 102.7 radio Monday - Friday at 9:15 a.m. She is an author and appears as a guest on TV with commentary. Ms. Hartman is the founder of The NDIGO Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which began in 1995, for the sole purpose of raising funds for educational pursuits.