Tag Archives: trayvon martin

Getting serious about civil rights and race relations in wake of Ferguson

1 Dec

When I was 20 years old, I was once biking on the sidewalk on my way to Loyola University to study. Along the way, a policeman on a motorcycle tried to pull me over, calling me from behind. But because I was wearing headphones listening to my Walkman cassette player (for you whippersnappers who don’t know what that is, google it), I never heard him.

Finally, he pulled alongside me. I stopped and he told me I wasn’t supposed to be biking on the sidewalk. I told him I wasn’t aware that was a law. He replied that it was and that he was going to take me in. Seriously? Arrested for biking on the sidewalk? After a brief discussion about why I would get arrested for such a petty offense, he sarcastically asked me, “Do you speak English?” As an Asian growing up in a low-income, crime-ridden neighborhood, I was used to racism—even from blacks in that predominantly black neighborhood. But I never anticipated it from a policeman—people portrayed as heroes in the TV shows I watched growing up. I replied back, “Better than you.” With that snarky reply, he handcuffed me and ratcheted it extremely tightly—clearly in retaliation for what I said.

I was eventually released on my own recognizance (I believe b/c the other cops knew he overstepped his bounds) and I considered whether or not to file a complaint against the cop for excessive force and/or racism. I decided to drop the matter. That was not my only negative brush with cops either. But the moral of the story is that I personally experienced some of the same things that supposedly caused teenager Michael Brown to be fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri (not to the same extent, of course, but similar in nature).

You might think that because of my experiences, I am outraged or saddened by the grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. You might think that I am joining the chorus of people who declare the legal system broken and that there was no justice for Michael Brown. You might think that when I read that King Obama is meeting with civil rights leaders about the Ferguson case, I’m excited and hopeful.

And you’d be wrong.

Did the grand jury really make the wrong decision?

If you think those things, you are being played for a fool. Everyone needs to calm down. Readers of my blog know that the Trayvon Martin case wasn’t at all what the media portrayed. So when this case came along, people with Minor Insights should know it’s time for caution instead of knee-jerk reactions.

Like the Trayvon Martin case, the media only served up one side of the story in the Michael Brown case. We never heard the other side of the story.

Like the Trayvon Martin case, the media only showed us the same one photo of the victim. In this case, an unintimidating neck-up picture of a chubby-cheeked Michael Brown wearing headphones at an arcade with little kids around. How many people knew that that chubby-cheeked teenager was 6′ 5″ tall and 290 pounds—the size of an enormous, hulking pro football lineman?

Like the Trayvon Martin case, the media portrayed Brown to be completely innocent—especially with the infamous “hands up” pose. How many people knew that Michael Brown charged at Darren Wilson, giving Wilson no choice but to shoot? How many people knew that Brown was at least an accomplice to a robbery of cigarillos just moments before the confrontation with Wilson? How many people knew that Michael Brown threw punches that landed square on Wilson’s face?

Brown completely innocent? If so, I’ve got some land in Florida to sell you.

After the grand jury’s decision, Darren Wilson gave an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that (finally) gave his side of the story. If you think Michael Brown and his parents got the shaft, you MUST watch the video. Even as Stephanopoulos tried to bait Wilson into saying contradictory or self-indicting things, Wilson was consistent in his story.

Then there’s the evidence that the grand jury saw. The evidence backs up Wilson’s story. How many people have seen the evidence? Nobody? Yet without any evidence, and without being a witness to the scene, thousands of people fell hook, line and sinker for the media’s portrayal that Brown struggled to get away from Wilson’s car and then was shot with his hands up.

Consider horrible Nightline anchor Byron Pitts. In one segment, he interviewed some people in Ferguson as they watched the Wilson interview and asked if any of them had been stopped by police. Everyone said yes. Makes for good TV, but does not make a good point. Just because police have stopped citizens does not mean the police are all racist pigs who are happy to shoot black people minding their own business. Pitts’ question is a red herring.

Pitts then ended the Nightline show by saying, “Darren Wilson had a chance to give his side of the story. Michael Brown does not.” Pitts conveniently forgot that the media has been giving Michael Brown’s side of the story ever since the shooting first occurred.

Three Minor Insights

I agree the system is broken—but not the way the protesters think. The system is broken in that the media is the one that is the jury to the American people. They don’t report the news objectively, trying to research and report both sides of the story. Instead, they report the most sensational aspect of the news—whatever will cause the biggest furor and thus draw the biggest ratings.

michael brown trayvon martinI also agree the Michael Brown case is like the Trayvon Martin case—but not the way the protesters think. LeBron James tweeted this drawing of Brown and Martin, insinuating that they both got a raw deal in the same way. But the evidence seems to indicate that if you were to look at the front of their faces in this fictitious drawing, they’d have devilish grins, knowing that they both got away with their respective acts of aggression and violence and yet are being lifted up as martyrs in the general public’s eye.

I also agree that America has a race relations problem—but not the way the protesters think. Protesters think white people have a racism problem when the reality is that many blacks too view things with racism as the reason. Many of the blacks I grew up with were very racist. In today’s age, much of the racism is hyper-fueled by the media (e.g., Stephanopoulos in his interview kept trying to bait Wilson into saying it was a race-related shooting). When a white policeman shoots a black citizen, many blacks automatically assume the cause was race. Sometimes race does come into play but you have to investigate each instance on a case-by-case basis; you just cannot automatically assume it to be true every single time.

Bottom line

If we really want to get serious about improving race relations, it’s critical to not be ignorant. The Ferguson neighborhood Michael Brown died in was a hood—no two ways around it, though most people don’t know that. It’s a crime-infested area and Brown himself has party to a crime just moments before his confrontation with Wilson. It’s sad when people gave Brown the benefit of the doubt instead of Wilson based on ignorance. But it’s even sadder when we loot stores, set cars on fire and make calls to “change the system” based on continued ignorance. Don’t be that person.

Ignorance leading the way in outrage over Zimmerman-Trayvon verdict

16 Jul

Black preachers, led by Rev. Al Sharpton, said on Tues, Jul 17th they were planning peaceful protests in 100 cities across the United States this weekend to press for federal charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, told a convention of the nation’s largest black sorority that the U.S. government will press for a federal investigation. Holder is to also address the NAACP on Wed.

Protests were held in various cities including Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento on Sunday, followed by rallies in Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston and Atlanta on Monday. Some protests even grew violent as 14 people were arrested including one hospitalized, stores like Wal-Mart and The Men’s Wearhouse were vandalized in California.

Everybody, take a deep breath.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THE VERDICT WASN’T RIGHT?

Here’s what we know with 100% certainty about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case:

  1. Zimmerman thought Martin looked “suspicious” as Martin walked through the streets of a gated Florida community, of which Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman.
  2. Zimmerman called the Sanford Police Department to report that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good.”
  3. Zimmerman leaves his vehicle, and after the dispatcher finds out Zimmerman is going to follow Martin, Zimmerman is told not to do that.
  4. A fight ensued since forensic experts following the autopsy determined that the gunshot to Martin’s chest was fired at close range (between 1-18 inches), not from long range.
  5. Police arrive on the scene, finding Martin dead (one shot to the chest) and Zimmerman with a bloody nose and two lacerations on the back of his head.

That’s it, people.

In other words, between the time Zimmerman trailed Martin until the time Martin was shot dead, we have NO idea what happened.

Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. Period.

There is some additional information but the certainty of the material is far less clear:

  1. Three witnesses said they either heard or saw a scuffle, with two witnesses providing visual details the indicate Martin was the aggressor on top of Zimmerman.
  2. One witness (Rachel Jeantel) was on the phone with Martin before the fight and said that Martin described Zimmerman as “crazy and creepy”. Jeantel was found to have lied about her age when giving her testimony.
  3. Autopsy reports on Martin’s body found one small abrasion on his left ring finger below his knuckle and no other injuries. A trace amount of marijuana was also found, but it could have been injested days earlier.
  4. Recordings of 911 calls could not ascertain whose voice was yelling for help. Zimmerman’s father was adamant it was Zimmerman’s. Martin’s father initially said the voice was not Martin’s but has since changed his story (claiming he heard an enhanced recording later).

Again, that’s it, people.

So, to all the verdict demonstrators, let me ask you a simple question: how do you know that Trayvon Martin wasn’t the one who attacked first?

Simple questions have simple answers: you don’t.

It is certainly possible that Zimmerman followed Martin after ending his 911 call, but even that part we don’t know with 100% certainty.

And since you don’t know beyond a reasonable doubt what exactly happened between the time Zimmerman ended his 911 call and when Martin got shot, what exactly are you upset about?

The whole thing is one big shrouded mystery.

For all you know, Martin attacked Zimmerman first, pummeling him while Zimmerman is on the ground (which would explain Zimmerman’s lacerations in the back of his head and the bloody nose), and forcing Zimmerman to shoot in self-defense.

THE MEDIA’S DECEPTION

The mainstream media went beyond mere bias with this story; it played this story with outright deceit.

Even I rushed to judgment and initially believed that Zimmerman was 100% at fault based on the media’s coverage…that Zimmerman followed Trayvon just for being black and then simply shot him from afar. But then things started to come out from non-mainstream sources and that’s when some Minor Insights started to come forth.

For example, the media showed us a baby-faced photo of Martin when he was much younger (plausibly he was 12, not when he was 17—the age in which he died). President Barack Obama fed into this baby-faced Martin photo lie when he famously declared, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

It reported Martin had Skittles and a sugary drink, as if to insinuate that Martin was like a helpless little toddler (to match the photo the media was posting in their stories). It implied that Martin’s only crime was wearing a hoodie in a white neighborhood.

And the black community (and some non-black folks) swallowed it all up—hook, line and sinker.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that—to this day—we do not have a recent photo of Trayvon. (Psst: the autopsy reported Trayvon was 5′ 11″ at the time he died.) Why is that?

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that Trayvon, though he never had a criminal record, did have an arrest record—four arrests, to be exact. This does not even include his suspensions from school (such as for graffiti and punching a bus driver). Does anyone know Trayvon has a violent streak that, oh I don’t know, maybe came into play in this incident too? The point is, Trayvon is not this Gandhi-like figure that the media portrayed him to be.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that the media omitted Zimmerman’s response to the dispatcher’s request to not follow Martin, which was “OK”.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed (or just ignored) that NBC intentionally edited Zimmerman’s audio in the 911 call to make it sound like racial profiling. NBC played a recording where Zimmerman said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something… He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male,” as well as “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” But in the original 911 recording, Zimmerman said: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” The 911 operator then asked: “OK, and this guy, is he black, white or Hispanic?”, and Zimmerman answered, “He looks black.” The phrase, “He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male” came several exchanges later in the conversation. NBC never apologized on air for its deception.

All the Trayvon supporters never noticed that ABC News lied its audience when it showed surveillance video of Zimmerman walking into the police station and declared that no abrasions or blood could be seen in the video. When this claim was disputed, ABC then admitted there were indeed “a pair of gashes” on his head but insisted the story’s main focus was on a doctor who claimed it was unlikely that Zimmerman’s nose had been broken—even though the doctor had never seen Zimmerman.

As this blog has been warning since Day 1, be very skeptical about what the mainstream media tells you.

HYPOCRISY

So now the NAACP is up in arms. Yet is the NAACP all up in arms when most of the black people who are gunned down in America are gunned down by black people? One black person is shot dead by a white person—and we don’t know exactly how—yet there are rallies and demonstrations and protests and outrage.

On the other hand, thousands of blacks people are shot dead by other black people EVERY YEAR—yet where is the outrage from NAACP? Where is Al Sharpton leading rallies and demonstrations over black-on-black crime?

Or as one commenter astutely pointed out, when O.J. Simpson, who is black, was acquitted of murdering his white wife Nicole and white Ronald Goldman, where was the outrage then? Oh wait…the NAACP, Jesse Jackson Sr., Al Sharpton and those of their ilk don’t work that way.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’ve experienced racial slurs and discrimination, so I’m not naive to think it doesn’t exist. But this particular shooting was not about race. This particular verdict was not about race. Everyone needs to calm down. Race relations are not healed by knee-jerk reactions and ignorance. Instead, knee-jerk reactions make race relations worse.

So put down your “We are all Trayvon” signs.

Because if you don’t, what your sign really says is “We are all ignorant.”