Injury & Insult: Trayvon Martin, racism in the system & a revolution amongst us by CeCe McDonald
August 5, 2013
As I sit and watch Michelle Alexander and Chris Hayes have a conversation about race, as well as all of the nation in light of the George Zimmerman acquittal, it can’t be any clearer that the injustice system has failed us once again. So with that it’s obvious to know how I feel at this time. Not just for myself but for all the “minorities” who have been affected by this faulty judicial system that treat us as second class citizens, even less than that. To be looked down upon and to add injury to insult, laugh in our faces, throw salt on our wounds, and even piss on our graves. Rapper Lil’ Wayne said it best, and I quote, “God bless Amerika, this ol’ godless Amerika… sweet land of kill ‘em all and let ‘em die.”
Highlighting on the injury to insult, many right-winged conservative foot-mouthed assholes, which include Zimmerman’s defense team, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly, who have tried to justify Trayvon Martin’s killing by demonizing Trayvon by saying “he was wearing what most criminals wear,” referring to his hoodie or that his toxicology report came back with positive test results of marijuana so “he was up to ‘no good’.” So I guess that means that wearing hoodies and smoking pot, going to the store and walking home talking to a friend on the phone is deemed “suspicious” and therefore someone can follow you and kill you and because you seemed suspicious, your death will be overlooked. But we all know that this was more than hoodies and marijuana–it was about racial profiling and the (implicit) racism that still exist in what’s supposed to be a post-racial “color-blind” society.
I’m watching a news show when they did a segment on Rush Limbaugh doing his “angry white man” rant where he went on record to say that white people don’t have to feel guilty about slavery, that in fact they should be the last people to feel guilty about it, that a white man (referring to Abraham Lincoln) saved blacks from slavery and how the nation went to war just for that. But here’s a fact: Lincoln said that if he could save the union without ending slavery he would. So that goes to show that he didn’t care for blacks, or for that much wasn’t racist.
With that he continues to make ignorant and offensive comments about blacks, and then he says that Pres. Obama was “selfish” and “inconsiderate” for a comment the Pres. made at a press conference calling for mature conversations and discussions about race after the Zimmerman verdict where he said that “Trayvon Martin could have been him 35 years ago.” Tell me, how can a white man make any comment about a situation or an experience that he would have never dealt with (racism or discrimination) in his life, EVER? And how can someone be so oblivious and ignorant about race relations in this country? And why isn’t he, and others like him, being called out on their disconnect from reality with ignorance and deliberate disregard to the sensitive issues surrounding race and the inequality for minorities in this country.
Then there is Bill O’Reilly, who made the most outlandish comments about African Americans starting with something he said about black people who were dining at Sylvia’s–a soul food restaurant where he too was dining. He said that “there wasn’t one person yelling “I need more iced tea, m-f’ers.” It was like being in an Italian restaurant in a white suburban area. The tone of his voice made me think that he was sincerely surprised that he didn’t walk into some stereotypical idea of an African American establishment and of African Americans as people. As an if he were going to come upon a group of uncouth Neanderthals who have yet to discover how to use eating utensils and speak with proper grammar. But that was only one of the many insults aimed at the African American community. This very same man said that “to take on black crime, black culture needs to change,” the root of black crime is because of the disintegration of black families, and that “young black women need to be stopped from having babies out of wedlock.”… Really? See, it’s that kind of ignorant thinking that halts the progression of equality and perpetuates stereotypical ideas and racial profiling that stigmatizes the minorities who are nothing like the ideas others associate with our cultural backgrounds. These men, and many other people like them, are the pioneers of prejudice, and as long as they’re not being called out on their bullshit, they’re going to continue,
After the Zimmerman trial, many activists and organizations rallied and demonstrated for Florida’s Governor Rick Scott to call for a special session to reform or reject the “Stand Your Ground” law.” As of late Phillip Agnew with the Dream Defenders have been occupying the capitol building there in Florida until FL Gov. Rick Scott calls that special session. He stands with the SYG law, and feels that it needs no reform. Now… this law that has let a man get away with murder, has caused a Florida woman to spend 20 years in prison! Marissa Alexander, a 30-year-old African American mother, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars after she was charged for firing a gun as a warning shot at her then-abusive husband who admitted to the allegations. She never shot anyone, in fact no one was even injured–well, except her at the hands of her husband, and a man who shot a teenage boy in claims of self-defense. In the case of Marissa, she was denied the right to use SYG–not killing anyone–and sentenced to two decades in prison. Can someone please explain to me how an injustice such as this not make one question the biased laws and the discrimination that still exist in the “justice system.” And people wonder why the prison percentages between whites and non-whites are so disproportionate. More importantly when are people going to ACT on these injustices and fight for the equality of each person in this country, both free and in the “system.”
It’s hard for me having to watch the trial and seeing everything unfold. Where all of us speculating knowing that this whole situation, from the incident itself to the trial, is all based on race–racial profiling and racism spewing from it all, regardless of what anyone say or think. I know that people have been comparing my case to Zimmerman’s, and yes it’s obvious that laws are biased. But even I can say I came out blessed knowing that (a) the system was against me to begin with, and that (b) looking at other cases similar to mines, I didn’t have to spent extensive time–even decades–in prison. People don’t understand that I actually feel a guilt for that. I know that nothing beyond the incident and getting arrested was in my control, as it is for anyone who is a victim of the system. But for me it hurts–a lot. My heart aches for the Patreese Johnsons, the Marissa Alexanders, and the Chrishaun McDonalds. But no pain can bring back the Trayvon Martins, the Oscar Grants, the Matthew Shepards, the James Birds, the Gwen Araujos, and all of our brothers and sisters who were victims of hate in this world. I can say that survivor’s guilt is real. That I’m still, to this day, dealing with the fear and sadness of my experience with hate and discrimination. How blessed am I to have so much love and support from my family, and I say family which extends to all my friends and supporters around the world.
My love and support is with Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin as they go through this journey of leaving a positive legacy for Trayvon. I couldn’t help but to cry after hearing Sybrina tell an audience at the National Urban League to “wrap their minds around that there is no prom for Trayvon. There is not high school graduation for Trayvon. There is no college for Trayvon. There aren’t any grandchildren from Trayvon” all because of George Zimmerman. When I went through my own incident, that was something that harbored on my mind constantly–how would my death have affected my family and friends, and how different would things have been if it were the other way around? That question was rhetorical. We know what the outcome would have been, just like we know what the outcome would’ve been if Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white. Or even if Zimmerman was black and it was just a black-on-black crime. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are catalyst for not just their own son’s death, but for all those who have been victims of hate and violence. They are heroes in my eyes. Strong and brave, creating a voice that has been long overdue to be heard, and they deserve the acknowledgment and respect that some, not all, have given them. I love them as if they were my own mom and dad, and we should understand that their struggle is our struggle.
Aside from the attention surrounding the Zimmerman trial, issues of racism and discrimination extend beyond that. The debates about immigration reform and the Voting Rights Act have pulled back the veil of intolerance of equality and acceptance in this country. The insults aimed at the African-American and Latino communities are disrespectful, dehumanizing, ignorant, unintelligent, and very hurtful nonetheless. Indeed it’s a blessing that the SCOTUS recognize the rights for gays and lesbians to get married legally in and have the same federal rights as hetero-marriages, but I don’t want people to lose sight of the other issues that will affect us all in the long run. Their deliberate efforts to minimize the minority by restricting voters rights is a slap in the face of the civil rights movements of the past and present that fought so hard for the rights of minorities to vote. And the idea that sending all the immigrants back and building large fences will solve all of America’s issues. But it seems that this policy only apply to black and brown people, and knowing all of this is the attempt of Republicans and right-wing conservatives to win elections that they’re obviously losing. So I’m guessing that insulting and stereotyping us will bring them those votes they need? These people need to get a serious grasp of reality, like really soon…. Not that I care for them to ever take office. Actually, I just don’t care for them at all, but I do believe we all deserve respect as humans, regardless of our race, gender, or social status.
I really want people to start thinking on how we can help minorities and the poor to help us all grow as a community and united front. Can we challenge ourselves to unite all races of this nation by taking an initiative to end our own preconceptions of each other? I know that I was extremely upset after having a visit from a close friend, and he told me that people have been criticizing him and my other non-Black friends for being in pictures that they post online. That divisive attitude is why I ask for a mend in race relations. Have these people ever thought how it feel for them, and myself, to have to deal with me being in prison. It’s always easy for someone to conjure up negative thoughts and reactions to my “white” friends who’ve gained popularity from their “black” friend in prison. First of let me say that there is nothing glamorous or “popular” about being in prison. And why can’t there be support for those who have went through this struggle with me instead of backlash. I love these people. They have been here for me since day one, and regardless of what others say, they will be my support and my family and at this point you’re either with us or against us and none of us have time for hate or divisive attitudes or ideas, especially at critical times like now. And that’s not just directed at those who are commenting about me, my case, and my fam–but for all people across the nation and around the world.
I feel a revolution is amongst us, and I know that there is no better time than now. I wish that I could march with the many of people who will be marching across Washington this August (8/25-26) in honor of the 50th year anniversary for the Civil Rights March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent figures of the Civil Rights Movement of that era. I encourage everyone to join the march and the experience of unity amongst all people–races, genders, sexualities, social statuses, and cultural backgrounds. Even if you can’t make it to the march still get active and get involved however that may be.
Before I go, I just want to say that I love you all more than ever now. I couldn’t be more conscious of the love and support you all give me–my family, and that’s kin and chosen, and of course I have chosen all of you. You’re all my family and I will love and cherish and appreciate you all until there’s no more of me. We are the future, we are the revolution!
The quote of the month is given to us by author Ashley Smith:
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
Until next time my loves keep fighting, stay strong, and live out loud. Do you, cause no one can do it better!