A Video….And A Conversation On Race

A friend of mine posted the above video. She also posted the following.

I’m interested in the opinions of all races on this matter. Please let’s not start a negative debate or race war… I only wish to hear opinions as to what you feel the cause of this could be because it seriously hurts my heart to think children (of any race) would feel this way.
My question:
Would this be the response of any child from any race from how they are raised (what they see and hear from their parents/close circles either directed at them or towards others)?
Or is this the result of what society, the general population, television, magazines, etc. somehow imply (almost in the same way girls/women are “raised” by society feel they aren’t beautiful if they aren’t super models)?
Is it a mix of everything?
Other thoughts on it?
How can we fix it?

So, first, let me encourage you to go and watch the NBC special that this short segment is from. They have it on their website in four 20 minute segments.

NBC News: A Conversation About Race

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Martin & Zimmerman

One of my favorite Jiu jitsu professors will often say in class,

“I know this isn’t on the syllabus, but I feel I would be remiss if I failed to mention this…”

That’s how I feel about this topic. As a Social Scientist, I feel the need to at least mention my thoughts on this pivotal case. Not that my opinion matters at all, but it is mine.

So, unless you’ve been under a rock, or in a foreign country, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. If not, Google it. It’s quite interesting from a law perspective, as well as a social one.

So, it seemed that a lot of people were shocked by the verdict. I, however, was not. While every fabric of my being tells me that in a court of reason, Zimmerman was undoubtedly guilty.

For the sake of discussion, let us for the moment forget the situation of race as it pertains to this situation.

An adult male viewed, and then began following a teenage male. The adult male, also armed, confronted the teenage boy. A physical altercation then ensued, resulting in the teenager being shot and dying.

And the person who instigated the situation, even after being told to cease and desist said activity by a 911 operator, is innocent?

Oh yes….Stand your ground. The stand your ground law was what allowed Zimmerman to be declared not guilty.

A stand-your-ground law is a type of self-defense law that gives individuals the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. It is law in certain jurisdictions within the United States. The basis may lie in either statutory law and or common law precedents. One key distinction is whether the concept only applies to defending a home or vehicle, or whether it applies to all lawfully occupied locations. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. The difference between immunity and a defense is that an immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. A defense, such as an affirmative defense, permits a plaintiff or the state to seek civil damages or a criminal conviction but may offer mitigating circumstances that justify the accused’s conduct
More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle doctrine, that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. “Stand Your Ground”, “Line in the Sand” or “No Duty to Retreat” laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.[1] Other restrictions may still exist; such as when in public, a person must be carrying firearms in a legal manner, whether concealed or openly.

While in my mind, Zimmerman was the assailant, the jury didn’t see it that way, and he thus had “no duty to retreat” when the teenager allegedly attacked him.

And yet I think.. How would I react if a guy was following me, and then confronted me about where I was going and what I was doing.

My initial thought, I assume, is that I would fear for my safety. If the guy isn’t wearing a badge, he’s obviously got some problems..and at that point, I truly believe that I would make a reasonable verbal effort to make him leave me alone, and if ignored, would make a concerted effort to knock his dick in the dirt.

And if he then shot me dead… He’s in the right?

Wow.

And so, let’s throw race back in the mix.

So many people can attempt to live a pipe dream, but the fact of the matter is that race relations in America are still not what I would call good. It’s still a very volatile topic.

Racism is still alive and well in 2013 America, and the fact that so many people want to believe it isn’t an issue is what makes it such a treacherous time for race relations.

How does the saying go, “The greatest trick the Devil ever did was convincing people that he doesn’t exist,” or something like that.

But let’s think about it from a historical perspective:

The Atlantic Slave Trade ran for approximately 400 years

We are only 148 or so years removed from the American Civil War, as well as the abolition of slavery.

The last anti-miscegenation law( ban on interracial marriage) was struck down 48 years ago.

56 years removed from school racial integration.

57 years removed from Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus…and Emmett Till was murdered for reportedly whistling at a white woman only a few months earlier

50 years since the racially motivated church bombing that killed 4 little girls.

Ad Nauseum…

60 years ago, blacks in America were oppressed, terrorized, and subjugated at every twist and turn.

I think we simply haven’t had enough time to move ourselves away from those cultural norms, particularly in the south, where that animosity and hatred ran so deep, on both sides of the fence…and Florida is still the south…and chest deep in racism.

A dear friend of mine who lives in Cocoa, Florida recently had a woman tell her that her interracial daughters made her sick.

Post-racial America?

I wasn’t surprised over what happened in Florida, because the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I was dismayed, and slightly horrified…but not surprised. Hopefully, this case will have some positive results, in causing good discussion and debate, and further understanding about America…as it truly is, and about how we someday hope it will be.

What’s wrong with Cheerios?

Oh, that’s right…it wasn’t the taste or contents of the staple of many breakfasts since 1941…it was a commercial…a simple commercial.

So what could Cheerios put into a commercial that would get people fired up.  How risque could a cereal commercial be?

Well, enter an interracial family, and all hell breaks loose.  I don’t watch television, so I only happened to see the commercial after seeing a link to this brief video editorial on Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/cheerios-commercial-racist-backlash_n_3363507.html

After watching the video, I shared it on Facebook, commenting that the reaction it received on Youtube didn’t surprise me at all.  At that point, a friend asked me “why?”

and that leads us to here.  Why do I not find a barrage of racist comments towards a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family surprising?

Well, in my honest opinion, and I only speak for myself, and from my life experience, I always feel like semi-sheltered caucasians are the only ones who find these things surprising…well, them and black politicians getting their 15 seconds of soundbite on the news.

It’s not surprising because our post-racial America of 2013 is full of prejudiced, racist, grimy motherf***ers.  I can’t even think of a nicer way to say it.  Is that everyone?  No, of course not…well…

…ok, well aside from Avenue Q’s opinion, we all have prejudices. But taking that next stop to “racism”, that’s not everyones bag.  However, it’s pretty obvious, to the observant eye that quite a few people are willing to take that step.

Case in point:

“President Barack Obama Is the Most Threatened President In History.”

That is a quantifiable fact.  All over some health care issues???  Riiiiiiiggggghhhhttt!

Let that thought sink in for a minute.  Our first black president is also the one that has received the most death threats…ever.  He averages 30 a day.  30…A….DAY!

Don’t even get me started on the vitriol that arises when Islam is brought into discussion.

Look, point blank, if you have a problem with all Muslims because of the actions of a handful (simply a handful; 23% of the world’s population is Muslim, or 1.6 billion people)…you suck. You’re a mouth breathing neanderthal.

Also, there was an interesting article 2 years ago that may have slid under many an average person’s radar:

Interracial marriage should be illegal, say 46% of Mississippi Republicans in new poll

Yeah….that really happened.

So, do I find the reaction to this commercial surprising?  Hell no!  I like to be optimistic, but I’ll never have blinders on to the current state of affairs in America.

Do I sometimes think that my life would run “smoother” if I was white?  Hell yeah it would!

Even in 2013, the knapsack of white privilege is still full. However, would I ever want to be white?  Hell no!

Not that there’s anything wrong with it.  I think there is an inherent character that is gained from the black experience in America. I attribute my strength of perseverance to that gained character.  I was often told as a child “You have to work harder than the white kids.”  I’ve found this idea to be true. Besides, I have a damn sexy year round tan that I wouldn’t trade in for anything.

That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with those white kids, or any other kids.  I can only say that from my viewpoint, being the only black person, let alone male, in my major in college was “interesting”, and it was f***ing awesome when I won the award for being the best student in the program.  However, I worked my a** off for that award. All those kids with mommy doctors and daddy lawyers couldn’t keep up with me, and part of that I attribute to the idea that in America, “You better learn to run nigga run!” Once my feet hit the ground, academically, I’m off and running.  Keep up if you can.

So, am I surprised?  No.  Should you be? No.  If you are, you’re not paying attention.

I could literally talk for days on this topic, but that won’t do any of us any good.  Namaste.