America has given up on young black men, like Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin is more valuable to America as a dead young Black man than he ever was alive!  As a dead symbol, the president can claim  him as a son he never had, but as a living Black man, the American criminal justice system claims one out of three young Black men born after 2001.   As a dead symbol, Republican presidential candidates can claim that Trayvon deserves his right to live as an American; but many living young Black men, like Trayvon, are stripped of their rights every day because of harsh, racially-targeted and overly-punitive laws created by and pushed by Republicans.

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, reminds us that more Black men are in prison today than there were Blacks enslaved in America in 1850.  She suggests that we have not really ended Jim Crow, but have just given it another name – the criminal justice system.  We can also call it the education system or the economic system, but they all equate to a new system of racial control of Black Americans just like Jim Crow.

America knows how to use the symbol of a dead young Black man to achieve its objectives.  When symbols are used correctly sweatshirt companies profit, candy companies profit and iced-tea companies profit, for-profit prisons flourish and America cleanses its conscience while the deplorable plight of young Black men in America remains the same.  America has given up on young Black men, like Trayvon Martin.  As a dead symbol, Trayvon might spark a national conversation on race, but as a living young Black man, Trayvon probably couldn’t get a job at a fast-food restaurant.

No place in America is this stark contradiction of symbol versus reality for young Black men more evident than in Chicago, Illinois.  While hundreds of people in Chicago protested the death of Trayvon Martin, few people protested the violent murders of more than 100 mostly young Black males in Chicago in the past year, mostly at the hands of other young Black males. Chicago media, foundations and elected officials have ignored the blood of Black children running in Chicago streets while they congratulate those who speak in symbolic terms about race in America.

Chicago is ground-zero for the destruction of young Black men in America!  In Chicago, only three out of 100 Black high-school freshmen will graduate from college by age 25 (Consortium for School Research at U of Chicago).  Only 44% of Black males in Chicago graduate from high school (Schott Foundation for Public Education).  Last summer, approximately 90% of Chicago’s young Black males 16 to 19 years old were unemployed (Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University).  Black boys are arrested in Chicago at two to six times the rates of other populations (Project Nia). Young Black men who submit resumes with Black-sounding or Africanized names, like Trayvon or Barack, even with college degrees and the exact same academic credentials as persons “perceived to be White males,” are one-half as likely to be called back for a job interview (University of Chicago Study).  Chicago has no plan or good intentions to address this silent, devastating catastrophe!

As dire as this crisis is, there are solutions, but they are not in symbols or soul-searching.  They are comprehensive and substantial efforts and actions to ameliorate this stain on America’s reputation for fairness and equality.   Government, foundations, civic,  faith and community organizations must:

  • Help rebuild Black families with fathers as an essential, prominent and functional component of the family structure.
  • Provide mentors, positive role models and viable paths for young Black men.
  • Ensure that all young Black men are supported to value education and to experience a globally-competitive education.
  • Teach young Black men about how to succeed in entrepreneurship, small business, cooperative economics and in the work world.
  • Encourage young Black men to be spiritually sound and to be of good character.
  • Establish rigorous efforts in the largest 300 cities in America that address the issues of education, family, imprisonment and employment for young Black men.
  • Establish a national commission to manage a comprehensive, coordinated campaign for Black male achievement, similar to the one created by Open Society Foundations.

The death of Trayvon Martin is a symbol of the plight of young Black men in America.  As a symbol, his senseless murder is something to which most Americans can relate.  But the realities of Black men’s lives in Chicago and across America are the realities to which most Americans do not want to relate.  The truth is that America is comfortable with young Black men as symbols, being where they are in society, being like they are, hoodie and all, violence and all!

Addressing symbols is quite useful and practical when a society lacks the courage and integrity to deal with its disturbing realities.  America loves Black men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and even Trayvon Martin after they are dead.  It is the strong, vocal, positive Black men that they have trouble with while they are alive.  If America continues on its present course, the symbols for Black men in America might change, but the realities will remain the same or become worse!  And America will be lesser for it!

By Phillip Jackson

President Clinton Hopes Trayvon Martin Case Leads to Reappraisal of ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

Former President Bill Clinton said the “tragedy” of the killing of Trayvon Martin should cause a re-thinking of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

“There are different stories being told,” the former president said, “so the first thing I have to say is that it’s important to find out the facts.”

Clinton continued “but to me, beyond the incredible personal tragedy- this young man was not armed, he clearly presented no threat to anybody’s life – is, the most important thing I’ve read was from the former police chief in Florida in the community, he was one of many law enforcement officers testifying against that Stand Your Ground law. And he said, you know this is going to create all kinds of problems. And it’s going to be almost impossible to prove what was in someone’s mind when a certain thing happened.”

Clinton said “people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home- to protect their homes- then we’ve seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90’s into this decade, far – if you will – to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

“And now the Stand Your Ground law,” he continued. “I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can – anyone who doesn’t have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks – can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they’ve had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

“So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws,” President Clinton said, “and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man’s loss will not be in vain- it’s just terrible. Whatever the facts were – all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life- that’s irrelevant because unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss.”

He said: “the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?”

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

-Jake Tapper

Click on link below to view video:  http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/president-clinton-hopes-trayvon-martin-case-leads-reappraisal-111305679–abc-news-politics.html

JSAIS: Why is Zimmerman still a free man? 

Al Sharpton: Civil disobedience will escalate if Zimmerman remains free

If George Zimmerman is not arrested in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin soon, theRev. Al Sharpton will call for an escalation in peaceful civil disobedience and economic sanctions.

Sharpton would not say the efforts would be taken against the city of Sanford specifically, but he has been critical of the police department’s handling of the case.

Saturday’s scheduled 11 a.m. march from Crooms Academy of Information Technology to the Sanford Police Department headquarters was organized by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Coordinators said people will be bused in from other states to participate.

The civil rights activist and syndicated television show host said he will elaborate on this plan Saturday.

“I will speak about how the National Action Network will move to the next level if Zimmerman isn’t arrested,” Sharpton said, who founded the organization. He added that it was the Martin family and lawyers who first asked him to get involved and nationalize this story.

TheRev. Jesse Jacksonis also expected to participate in the event.

The case has ignited ire and debate across the nation, galvanizing thousands of Trayvon supporters to the streets and social media, donning hoodies and toting Skittles.

Sanford police this week released a video of a handcuffed George Zimmerman apparently showing no visible signs of physical injury after he claimed that he shot the 17-year-old Miami teenager in self-defense.

Zimmerman’s family have come to his defense on national news networks, releasing details about his version of what happened the night of Feb. 26 when police found the teen face down in wet grass.

Sharpton said the recent revelations only underscores the need for an immediate arrest and trial.

“Whether he [Zimmerman] had a swollen or broken nose, neither one means he had to take a 9mm and kill someone,” he said. “It’s not about saying Zimmerman is innocent or guilty, this is about whether there was probable cause to arrest him.”

He criticized the way authorities have released information about the case and said they are setting a harmful precedent, he said.

Sanford city officials announced several road closures in anticipation of the march including 13th street, from U.S. Highway 17-92 to Lake Avenue; as well as, Persimmon Street from McCracken Road to 13th.

The demonstration is expected to end at 2 p.m., organizers said.

By Arelis R. Hernández, Orlando Sentinel

arehernandez@tribune.com or 407-420-5471 or @OSTrayvonMartin

Oprah Winfrey is the only African American on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list

According to the The Forbes World’s Billionaire list, out of 1,226 billionaires, Oprah Winfrey is the only African American billionaire. This is a problem folks because African Americans, the “BLACK COMMUNITY” in North America has an annual spending-power of about $788 BILLION! Almost A TRILLION DOLLARS.

We have buying power, but we don’t produce goods. Our money goes everywhere but in our own communities. Only in black neighborhood can an Asian set up shop, feed his family, and educate his kids. Let your aunt Linda try to set up shop in china town. We have to start being more supportive of our own businesses, we have to start creating more business, businesses that produce goods. After all money is power…………Let’s get some.
Big ups to Oprah Winfrey, she has always been a role model for all of us. She is a phenomenal woman…And a rich one;-)

Click on the link below to check out The Forbs World’s Billionaire List:

http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/#p_123_s_a0_All%20industries_All%20countries_All%20states_

Geraldo Rivera Apologizes For Trayvon ‘Hoodie’ Comments

Written by Associated Press on March 27, 2012 8:01 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel commentator Geraldo Rivera said Tuesday that he’s sorry for suggesting that a hoodie worn by unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was as much responsible for his death as the neighborhood watch captain who shot him.

Rivera said a conversation with his oldest son on Monday convinced him he was wrong. Rivera said it was the first time 32-year-old Gabriel Rivera had said he was ashamed of something his dad had said – and it caused the dad a sleepless night.

“He had never, ever used language like that,” Rivera said. “It was like, `Whoa, what have I done that would make my son say that?’”

Rivera’s comments last week triggered an angry response among people concerned about the case involving the 17-year-old Martin, who was carrying a bag of candy and a can of iced tea while returning to the Sanford, Fla., home of his father’s fiancée when he was shot last month.

Martin, who was black, was shot by George Zimmerman, who has a white father and a Hispanic mother and has said he was acting in self-defense. The lack of legal action taken against Zimmerman has stoked racial tensions and led to protests around the country and debate about self-defense legislation.

Rivera said he was apologizing “for offending anyone.”

“I apologize for the language,” he said. “I don’t apologize at all for the substance of my advice. I was trying to save lives.”

Rivera said his oldest son was witness to tension between his father and brother, 24-year-old Cruz Rivera, over the young man’s clothing. Rivera said he wanted urban parents to realize that clothing their children wear – such as hooded T-shirts or low-slung pants – could appear menacing to people who don’t know them and could put them unnecessarily in danger.

People lost sight of the message because of the provocative words blaming the hoodie as much as Zimmerman, Rivera said. The death of an unarmed teenager should be the issue, he said.

“I wanted to provoke a response,” he said. “I never expected it to be a viral avalanche.”

 

JSAIS: kudos to Rivera’s son for checking his dad on this matter.  But it does not surprise me that the the only person who could convince him that his statement was wrong was his son.  If the victim of this heinous crime was his son, I’m sure his stance regarding this crime  would have been different as well.

Sinead O’Connor Demands Justice For Trayvon Martin In Open Letter

Sinead O’Connor posted an open letter on her website, expressing her strong feelings about the case of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot and killed in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

In the lengthy post, the outspoken Irish singer/songwriter is outraged that George Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense, has not been arrested. She writes:

“I would like to extend my very deepest sympathies to the family and other loved ones of murdered teenager, Treyvon Martin. I am very sad today (and am certain the whole of Ireland is) to learn of poor Treyvon’s terrifying ordeal and horrified by the fact his known and named and admitted killer has not been arrested, despite the crime having taken place a month ago. This is a disgrace to the entire human race.”

Several other celebrities including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Spike Lee and members of the NBA’s Miami Heat have all expressed their concern and support for Martin’s family.

President Obama has called for a full investigation of the incident, even adding in a recent speech: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
O’Connor, who made headlines in the 1992 when she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II during a Saturday Night Live performance, is known for expressing her political views. She sang Bob Marley‘s “War” and changed some of the song’s lyrics and tore the photo to protest sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

On her website, she writes with similar conviction about the Trayvon Martin case. She denounces racist reactions to the case as being historically short-sighted because, she writes, Africa is the birthplace of civilization:

“For those out there who believe black people to be less than pure royalty, let me inform you of a little known, but scientifically proven, many times over, FACT. Which after reading, you will hopefully feel both very stupid and very sorry. For you dishonor your own mothers and grandmothers.

EVERY human being on earth, no matter what their culture, creed, skin colour, or nationality, shares one gene traceable back to one African woman. Scientists have named it ‘The Eve Gene’. This means ALL of us, even ridiculously stupid, ignorant, perverted, blaspheming racists are the descendants of one African woman.”

She continues to explain how black people have contributed to society, invoking Jesus Christ:

These beautiful people continue to believe in and even manifest Jesus Christ better than you do. That alone could stand as the greatest reason your racism is blasphemy, were it not for all the other reasons.

These people you hate and fear ARE the body of Christ, just as we all are. Every child, woman or man. And they know it. Maybe thats why you cant bear to look at them. Because you see Jesus Christ and you cant stand the light.

Stop this ridiculous and uneducated attitude. You would be dead without black people. Think of all the greatest music ever composed. The greatest songs. The greatest inspirational heroes.. Muhammad Ali, Mandela, Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Soujourner Truth, Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Curtis Mayfield. So many absolute angels, sent from God.

Without the inspiration of these people many millions of so-called ‘white’ people, including myself would not have had the strength to pay the price of life.

But she also urges black youth to love themselves, put an end to black-on-black violence and not get caught up in hip-hop’s materialistic messages. She writes:

Go back to strong black musical guides who left you information in the 60s and 70s. when they were living through the civil rights struggle. Curtis Mayfield. The Impressions. Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson. Sing back the Holy Spirit ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as those artists did.

Forget bling. Forget “Get Rich Or Die Trying”. That is an evil message. Evil my dears is only life backwards. Turn it the right way up. With music. The messages American black youth are being given through music are not about the spiritual and therefore strong and conquering but PEACEFUL making of YOUR country into the wonderful place it secretly is and can be.. BECAUSE OF YOU, and BY YOU!!

You know not how you are adored, appreciated, valued, loved, cried for,smiled for, prayed for, all over the world. You know not how much inspiration and uplift-ment of heart you give to millions just by your presence on earth. These musical guides will give you self-esteem. When you have self-esteem you can achieve anything. You can stand in the street as many did yesterday and change your country peacefully and with song. Chant down Babylon as the Rastas say. Rastafari will also give you self esteem. Investigate it.

She even implores all Americans and her fellow Irish to seek justice for the Martin family:

Please.. ALL Americans should deplore this crime. As should ALL people of ALL nations. And deplore the fact this man has not been arrested. All Irish people should do the same. And I ask that we here in Ireland should express through our American embassy that we would like to see this man arrested this very minute. Because racism is not acceptable. Nor is vigilantism. And this was very clearly in no way at all a case of self-defense.

It’s powerful stuff that few celebrities would dare to express.

Written by Brett Johnson on March 26, 2012 11:52 am Click for MoreNext Post

JSAIS: Kudos to SinO’Connor for telling the truth! There is power in the truth. Thank you Sinead.

Joe Oliver: I’m Black And Zimmerman Is Not Racist (VIDEO)

Joe Oliver, long-time friend of George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain who killed 17-year old Trayvon Martin in a vigilante-style execution because he looked suspicious Walking While Black, wants everyone to know that his friend “George” is not racist and that he cried his eyes out after murdering Trayvon in cold-blood, reports the Chicago Tribune

Click Link to see full story and video:

http://newsone.com/nation/kirstensavali/joe-oliver-im-a-black-man-and-zimmerman-is-not-racist/?omcamp=sf_N1FB

Friends fear for safety of man who shot Florida teen

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) – Friends and supporters spoke out on Sunday on behalf of the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager in Florida, saying he fears for his safety after receiving death threats.

George Zimmerman, who has claimed he shot Trayvon Martin on February 26 in self-defense, is staying at an undisclosed location after widely circulated death threats and word of a $10,000 bounty to find him, said legal adviser Craig Sonner, who said he would represent Zimmerman if charges are filed.

Fury over the shooting in the gated community of Sanford, Florida, of the 17-year-old boy, who was carrying an iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy, and the lack of an arrest or charges prompted demonstrations nationwide calling for authorities to take action.

On Sunday, supporters of Martin staged events at churches, where congregants were encouraged to wear hoodies, or hooded sweatshirts, like the one he was wearing when he was killed.

At Middle Collegiate Church in New York City, the minister and members of the congregation wore hoodies, pulling their hoods over their heads during prayers at a crowded service that made repeated reference to Martin’s killing as a symptom of the discrimination felt by young black Americans.

Jacqui Lewis, the church’s senior minister, gave a sermon in which she said people were “fed up with centuries of race-related hatred and fear in this country.”

“We will not rest until this disease called racism is stamped out,” she said, calling for Americans to mix more frequently with people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures.

She asked congregants to mail packets of Skittles candy to the Sanford Police Department and post pictures of themselves on the Internet wearing their hoodies and holding signs saying: “I am not dangerous. Racism is.”

Martin was shot dead after Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, believed the young man walking through the gated community looked suspicious. Zimmerman followed him and an altercation ensued.

Friends of Zimmerman, who has not spoken to the media, said he was extremely upset about the shooting.

“I mean, he took a man’s life and he has no idea what to do about it. He’s extremely remorseful about it,” said his friend Joe Oliver.

“What makes all these people who are threatening George any better than the person they think he is?” he added. “You’ve got all these people wanting to lynch the man, and they don’t know the whole story.

“There are huge gaps that are being filled in and interpreted without evidence,” he said.

A candlelight vigil was planned for Sunday evening in Sanford, where civil rights activist Jesse Jackson was slated to appear. A rally of Martin supporters was also planned in Seattle.

While state and federal investigations are under way, the shooting has put a focus on so-called “Stand your Ground” laws, adopted first in Florida in 2005 and in at least 16 other states since.

Opponents call them “Shoot First” laws that put the burden on prosecutors to prove a shooting was not self-defense.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called on Sunday for a Justice Department investigation into “Stand your Ground” laws to determine if they increase violence and prevent prosecutions of crimes.

“They’re all new. They’ve been passed very, very quickly and I think the states who passed them, if they find out the real facts, they may decide to repeal them,” Schumer said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“I have a lot of faith in our police and in our sheriffs and I don’t like a move to vigilantism,” Schumer said.

The incident has become part of the presidential campaign as well. Republican Rick Santorum, also on “Face the Nation,” called it “a heinous act.”

“We need to focus on being there to be supportive and for the family that’s going through this tragedy,” he said.

President Barack Obama talked about the case on Friday, saying it made him “think about my own kids.”

“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” Obama said of Martin, who was African-American.

Sonner said Zimmerman fears he is in danger. He cited a document circulating that has Zimmerman’s photo with the words “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

“I think to not take that seriously would be a mistake,” he said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday promised a thorough investigation and said he had faith in the state attorney leading it.

Scott also said he was not aware of any requests for protection from Zimmerman, but would provide it if asked.

“If he feels unsafe, we’ll make sure nothing happens to him,” Scott said.

Sonner has said Zimmerman suffered a broken nose, a gash to his head and had grass stains on his shirt after the confrontation with Martin. Oliver said details about the altercation remain unclear, but he said Zimmerman told him he was not the aggressor.

The New Black Panther Party announced on Saturday it was offering a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman.

“We will reward that individual or group of people who take George Zimmerman into custody and we will deliver him to the authorities. They would be better off holding him than letting him out on the street because there is an angry mindset among black people,” said Mikhail Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party, a black political organization that takes its name from the radical movement of the 1960s.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Jonathan Allen in New York, Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Bill Trott and Stacey Joyce)

In Arlington, Jeb Bush says ‘stand your ground’ invalid in Trayvon Martin case

By GROMER JEFFERS JR.

GROMER JEFFERS JR. The Dallas Morning News

Staff Writer

gjeffers@dallasnews.com

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bushsaid Friday that the “stand your ground” self-defense law he signed while in office should not apply to the case of a teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in his home state.

“This law does not apply to this particular circumstance,” Bush said after an education panel discussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

He was referring to last month’s incident in which 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was pursued by the volunteer and fatally shot in a scuffle.

“Anytime an innocent life is taken it’s a tragedy,” Bush said. “You’ve got to let the process work.”

Bush signed the law, pushed for by gun rights advocates, in 2005. It allows Florida residents to use deadly force rather than retreat if they feel threatened, even if they are not at home. Police and prosecutors cited the law in deciding not to charge George Zimmerman, the volunteer.

The Martin case has opened up questions about race and justice. The teenager was walking home from a convenience store Feb. 26, in Sanford, Fla., an Orlando suburb, when Zimmerman followed Martin, after calling police to say he looked suspicious. Zimmerman pulled his gun when the two got into a fight, and Martin was fatally shot.

Martin had no weapon, carrying only a drink and a bag of candy.

Zimmerman said that Martin attacked him as he tried to return to his truck. But supporters of the teen’s family say that would have been wildly out of character and that the case is typical of black youths being harassed and endangered for simply being in an area.

The case has sparked protests and demands for a new investigation. The town’s police chief and a local prosecutor have stepped aside in hopes of defusing tension.

Bush said Friday that he wondered why the investigation has taken so long to reach a conclusion. He said it took several weeks of outrage and media attention for local officials to step up their efforts.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. Bush added that he didn’t want a rush to judgment, but that officials should be mindful that “there are a lot of people who are very concerned about this.”

“You’ve got to let the judicial process work,” he said. “Hopefully it’s done at a pace that is respectful for people hurting.”

Bush also said that he still liked the law. “Applied properly, I support the law,” he said.

The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating the killing as a civil rights matter.

Turning to politics, Bush, a son and brother of former presidents, said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney   would win the Republican nomination and that freshman Florida Sen. Marco Rubio should be Romney’s running mate.

Romney is “the candidate that can beat President Obama,” Bush said.

He also said that his son, George P. Bush, should one day seek public office. The younger Bush, who lives in Austin, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Texas land commissioner.

“I hope he gets involved,” he said. “I don’t know if he will or not. He’s a special young man.”