Trayvon’s Class of 2013


BSLA Scholars, Members & Community

BSLA Scholars, Members & Community

By Sikivu Hutchinson

Yesterday, at Black Skeptics Los Angeles’ scholarship ceremony, my colleagues and I had the profound honor of giving scholarships to five brilliant youth of color who are first generation college students.  They are 17 and 18 year- olds who have known more struggle and sacrifice than many adults have known in their entire lives.  They have each battled the dominant culture’s view that they are not white, male, straight, wealthy or smart enough to be genuine college material. They have all seen their neighborhoods—South L.A. communities powered by hard working people, students, activists, educators from all walks of life—portrayed as ghetto cesspit jungles where violent savages roam, welfare queens breed, and drive-bys rule.  They have all mourned the absence of young friends and relatives who did not live to see their high school, much less college, graduation ceremonies. Looking around the room at their bright young faces, surrounded by proud family members, teachers, and mentors, the collective sense of duty and obligation everyone felt toward this next generation of intellectuals, activists and scholars was evident. 

Because the ceremony occurred in the midst of national anxiety over the murder trial of George Zimmerman it was both a celebration of promise and a bittersweet paean to the burning loss and betrayal communities of color routinely experience in this racist apartheid nation.  Trayvon Martin would’ve been 18 this year, a graduate of the class of 2013.  He might have been college-bound, anxious, bracing against the fear of the unknown, heady with anticipation about the future.  He might have been mindful of the psychological and emotional miles he’d have to travel to be freed from the prison of society’s demonizing assumptions. He might have experienced all of these feelings while grieving the untimely deaths of his own friends and being told that young black lives don’t matter.

Zimmerman’s acquittal for his cold-blooded murder is a turning point and baptism by fire in the cultural politics of colorblindness.  It is a turning point for every middle class child of color who believes their class status exempts or insulates them from criminalization.  It is a turning point for every suburban white child whose lifeblood is the comfort and privilege of presumed innocence.  It is a turning point for every Talented Tenth parent of color who has deluded themselves about the corrupt creed of Americana justice.  And it is a turning point for a collective historical amnesia in which race and racism are soft-pedaled through imperialist narratives of progress, enlightenment and transcendence.

For black people who have had faith in the criminal justice system and due process it is no longer possible to pretend that black life is worth more than that of a dog killed in broad daylight on a city street.  People who kill dogs—or those who run vicious dog-fighting rings like NFL football player Michael Vick—receive longer prison sentences than do law enforcement officials (or their surrogates) who kill black people.  For a predominantly white female jury that did not see the crushing loss in the murder of a young man pursued by a predator who was expressly told not to leave his vehicle by law enforcement; the life of a dog was apparently more valuable. 

This is one of the indelible lessons in “democracy” and American exceptionalism that Trayvon’s class will take with them to college and hopefully spend their lives fighting to upend.

Comments

  1. Stanley "Doc" Scott says

    Trayvon Martin’s Media Blackout Weekend – The First Weekend in September 2013
    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    To the People around the world with humility, love for life and humanity let the first weekend in September 2013 be Trayvon Martin’s Media Blackout Weekend.

    A silence protest for life, family and prosperity for all is what needed now in the world. Everyone can contribute to this cause if you care. This is your day to be heard throughout the world in a silence protest for life, family and prosperity for all.

    I am asking people of empathy for life, family and prosperity for all around the world to tune out the media by turning off the television, radio, and social media and print media for a weekend and spending time with family members and friends (listening to recorded music, free concerts, cooking outs, or reading to our youths and etc.).

    No television, radio, social media or print media of any kind to show the World our power and resolve for peace, end to wars and violence and love for humanity.

    It’s time for the people of the world to unity in a worthy cause for life for all people. It’s time to show our governments that we are tired of the lack of concern for life, family and prosperity for all.

    We the people of the world can change the world and make it a better day and place for all if we unity in a common cause for Trayvon Martin’s Media Blackout Weekend.

    Join me in tuning out the media the first weekend of September at 9pm Friday night until 9pm Sunday night around the world.

    We stand together in peace and love or die as individuals because of our own lack of compassion for life.

    If you agree pass this around the world. Let get it started now.

    Stanley “Doc” Scott
    Activist for Critical Thinking Education and Economic Empowerment
    Founding Member of the African American Economic Recovery Think Tank
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/AAERTT/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stanley-Doc-Scott/417685324989803
    http://www.jacksonville.com/interact/blog/stanley_scott
    Inspired Living Application Wealthbuilder2013
    http://www.ilivingapp.com/home.asp
    doc3507@msn.com;
    PO Box 2672
    Jacksonville, Florida 32203
    404-719-7188

    https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=477927535632248&id=417685324989803

  2. gwen says

    We MUST be active in overturning those “Stand Your Ground” laws which are a license to kill our black youth with impunity.

    • M can help you with that. says

      …and it wasn’t even “stand your ground” laws that were pitched to the jury in this case. According to a whole range of thoroughly respectable legal scholars and such shining intellectual FtB beacons as genocide-monger slc1, Zimmerman was totally justified under basic self-defense law; and any racial elements in how that set of legal principles is enforced are totally minor and not even worth discussing.

      (Because, seriously — I don’t care what some sort of Platonic ideal reading of “the Law” says, when the de facto, as-enforced law is so blatantly and so egregiously race-based, we have a racist legal system. Period.)

  3. ERVIN BURCHFIELD says

    REALY , AM DONE WITH THIS ONE SIDED CONVERSATION. EVERY ONE KNOWS BLACK PEOPLE ARE AS RACIST AS WHITE PEOPLE. AND THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE’S WITH RIGHTS! IT’S TIME THIS STUPIDITY ON BOTH SIDES STOPS! WE ARE ALL PEOPLE, SOME GOOD SOME BAD THAT’S WHAT WE NEED TO BE FIGHTING!

    • snebo says

      @ Ervin
      If you can tell me that you truly believe that the verdict would have been the same if Martin had chased (against instructions from the police), shot and killed Zimmerman, then I would see your comment as insane rather than racist. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances where it would be relevant. (Even without caps lock)

    • beelzebubba says

      “EVERY ONE KNOWS BLACK PEOPLE ARE AS RACIST AS WHITE PEOPLE.”
      Really, everyone knows that? I certainly don’t, and I don’t see how you can know it either unless you can magically read the thoughts of every black person and white person to see who’s more racist. More importantly, how black people feel about white people is irrelevant to this case. What we are seeing here is a “justice” system that is biased against Black Americans and people of color more generally. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument your baseless assertion that black people are as racist as white people it would be irrelevant because black people in general do not have the means to deprive white people of their rights through the legal system.
      “AND THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE’S WITH RIGHTS”
      Again, this is completely irrelevant. No one is taking away white peoples’ rights. The legal system is not biased against white people. George Zimmerman wasn’t even arrested until there had been over a month of nationwide protests. If he had been a black man who shot a white kid, he would be arrested, tried, and would probably be on death row by now.

    • thascius says

      @3.0-What planet are you living on? I’ve seen and heard plenty of people defending “poor George Zimmerman.” Zimmerman who could have avoided the whole thing if he had just followed the neighborhood watch guidelines and NOT carried a gun when he was patrolling, NOT gotten out of his car to confront Trayvon, stayed back and waited after contacting the police. Even the most generous interpretation of Zimmerman’s actions are that he is someone who does not think the rules apply to him.

    • Rasmus says

      I guess that if you think you live in a fantasy world where white people and people of color exist as perfect spheres on a horizontal frictionless plane in a vacuum, then okay… But that has nothing to do with reality.

      I would not be surprised if there are as many black people who secretly wish they could speak and act racist towards white people as it is the other way around, but the chances that it would hurt me as a white man are extremely slim. I personally can’t recall a single instance where I have received a negative comment about my skin color or race, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.

      Individualism and liberalism are nice ideas, but supporting those ideas as ideals does not mean that you get to pretend that the goal of liberating individuals has been achieved already. Saying that everyone ought to be equal does not magically make everyone equal and if you pretend that everyone is equal and they’re not you are hindering progress towards the ideals that you say that you hold.

  4. Melanie V says

    My heart is torn by the case of Trayvon Martin. While I understand that the legal system is not about justice and rather about the weighing of evidence, I cannot help but feel pain. I feel pain to know that a black life, even in 2013, means so little in this society. Everything about Trayvon’s death screams preventable. Racism killed Trayvon Martin, how can this be denied? As much as I am usually irritated by black people who seem to cry racism at every injustice in their life and seem intent on ignoring/ minimalizing progress, there is no other explanation in Trayvon’s case.

  5. John Horstman says

    Racism is an endemic system of prejudice. In a social-cultural space (or “discourse”) dominated by and operated primarily in the service of White people, anti-White racism is literally impossible, because “racism” is definitionally systemic and pervasive. Anti-White bigotry is possible, though I would argue that non-White people in USA are perfectly justified in distrusting White people as a group, so animus running in that direction isn’t even bigotry.

    Of course, as beelzebubba points out, that’s irrelevant anyway.

  6. Neil Schipper says

    They have all seen their neighborhoods [..] portrayed as ghetto cesspit jungles ..

    They have all mourned the absence of young friends and relatives ..

    Some tension there.

  7. Truth0315 says

    Racism does exist. It exists because the once oppressed fear of becoming oppressed once again. So we have to cry wolf for every chance we get. But we can never be a united America because it has become the status quo to be un-united. Unfortunately there is nothing that can change the inevitable. Remember with every action comes a reaction and it’s the actions of our country that have caused this reaction. There is nothing we can do but wait… Wait for the next decades for this wave of reaction to pass. Until then we will continue to oppress one another, accusing each other of segregation, discrimination and racism. Continuing to be violent and irrational towards bystanders just because we feel the actions of our government are to ignore and target us. Tred carefully, the wave hasn’t reached its swell. If we don’t agree with a situation and we can tangle our oppression in with it then we will. We will because we can. What is scary is we don’t even have to be knowledgeable of the situation, because if you react to us you are the monster. It’s our time. We are racist and you’re the reason for it, therefore the target. With every punch we throw it will be justified because of who we are, the minority, so be scared.
    The unfortunate truth.

    • blackskeptics says

      Wtf? Fact: an unarmed Black boy is dead in the grave and his killer is walking around free as a lark due to the blatant white supremacist privilege granted police and de facto law enforcement who target people of color with impunity. As is the case with so many young people of color, Trayvon was failed/lynched twice by the killer and the criminal justice system. If the situation had been reversed Martin would be behind bars, just another savage Negro who attacked an innocent unarmed white man — period. Just “ask” Eulia Love, Margaret Mitchell, Amadou Diallo, Aiyanna Jones, Oscar Grant, Elinor Bumpers, Kendrick McDade…

      • great1american1satan says

        I think Glenn Beck’s popularity hinges on making extremely ignorant people feel like intellectuals. At least, that’s the most meaning I could derive from this strange tone poem.

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