Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Conversation About Race



July 2, 2013/ 24 Tamuz, 5773

A Conversation About Race

By Arnold Ahlert


"So let's cut to the chase. Any attorney, jury member, judge or white person in that courtroom is not going to understand Rachel Jeantel. And I don't expect them to….She's hard. She's black. And your assumptions about her background and lack of education make you feel like you are better, somehow. That her testimony, no matter how powerful and impactful it may be to this trial, is implausible. Weak, maybe? Let's impeach her. But maybe the reason white people don't understand Rachel Jeantel has something more to do with white privilege than, what they would call, Rachel's capricious nature. Let's for one second try to understand why Rachel is 'angry' (read emotional), 'hood' (read blunt), and 'unintelligent' (read multilingual)."--Christina Colemman, "Why Black People Understand Rachel Jeantel by Christina Colemman"

"Coleman sounds like John C. Calhoun, the South's leading defender of slavery and segregation. Calhoun believed that blacks and whites could never live together, and that after any emancipation they'd forever be 'worlds apart.'"--J. Christian Adams, former attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Voting Rights Division

"Rachel's collision with Zimmerman's attorney Don West was uncomfortable to watch. They didn't get each other. I even thought at one point they were going to call in some type of translator. Yes, she mumbled, but the amount of times she was asked to repeat herself, speak up and slow down proved that they were indeed speaking different languages. But let's be honest. Rachel Jeantel's attitude is exactly what I would expect from someone from the hood who has no media training and who is fully entrenched in a hostile environment. There's nothing wrong with it."--Rachel Samara, "What White People Don't Understand About Rachel Jeantel"

Reaction to Rachel Jeantel on the stand "has been in terms of aesthetics, of disregarding a witness on the basis of how she talks, how good she is at reading and writing. These are subtle things that echo literacy testing at the polls, echo the question of whether black Americans can testify against white people, of being always suspect in their testimony. It's the same old dynamics emerging in a very different guise."--George Ciccariello-Maher, a history and politics professor, Drexel University

"Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic . . ."--New York Times, March 22, 2012

"George Zimmerman, you are a profiling, vigilante, racist, right wing, trigger-happy, child-killing coward. I wanna rip off your nuts, shove them down your throat, pull them back out your ass . . . "--Kamau Bell, FX comedian

From Twitter accounts. Pictures indicate the people making the following statements are black Americans:

"Random... If George Zimmerman is acquitted.. I'm Gonna Start A Riot"

"glad that ZIMMERMAN FINALLY got charged with murder of TRAYVON but if they find this fool not guilty, could have another riot break out!"

"I bet George Zimmerman get found not guilty so niggas can start a riot."

"I feel a Rodney King riot of Zimmerman is found not guilty."

"If Zimmerman is found not guilty I already know what stores I'm gone RIOT!"

"I swear if Zimmerman gets Not Guilty it's going to be a riot !"

"If zimmerman found not guilty, its gonna be a big ass riot"

"If you live in a large city be prepared to evacuate or put up a fight to win. You will need firearms, fire suppression equipment along with lots of food and water. Police resources will be slow and outgunned everywhere. America may see some combat related population control like we've not seen since the Civil War. Martial Law can't be far behind complete with major efforts at gun grabbing."--Paul Huebl, former Chicago police officer.

"That the jury is all white adds a complex and problematic element that is feeding the tension. It won't matter if every member of the jury is a woman if the verdict is 'not guilty'--and that is still very possible. The pervasive cynicism currently surrounding the trial could be validated by an acquittal--and there is the risk of a flashpoint as intense as the aftermath of that fateful Los Angeles police brutality verdict in 1992."--black American political strategist Charles D. Ellison

"George Zimmerman's six-person jury is finally in place, and two things stand out: All six are women, and none of them are black. Five of the jurors are white, and one is Hispanic."--Newser

"With the makeup of this jury, the question of whether every American can get equal justice regardless of who serves on their jury panel will be answered."--lawyers for Trayvon Martin's family

"I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together--unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction--towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren."--Barack Obama, 2008

"If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're going to punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,' if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's going to be harder and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2."--Barack Obama, 2010

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."-- Martin Luther King, August 28, 1963

Half a century after King spoke, it has never been clearer that the "content of one's character" is virtually irrelevant. Does racism exist in America? You betcha--on all sides of the color line. Are there people with a vested interest in making sure that racism is stoked to the max? Absolutely--their incomes and careers depend upon it. Are you ever going to convince me, or millions of other Americans, that people of different colors should be held to different standards? Even King wasn't buying that garbage.

No one, and I mean no one, with the exception of George Zimmerman, knows if he is guilty of murder or not. In order for him to be convicted, the state has to prove its case "beyond a reasonable doubt." Trial-by-media is not an option, yet nothing in recent times has come close to approaching their despicable effort to shape public opinion in this case, aided and abetted by the usual racial arsonists who couldn't care less if people end up killing each other in the street. In a better world, like the one King envisioned, they would be ashamed. In this world, as far as the arsonists are concerned, racial mayhem is "good for business."

This is where our "national conversation on race" currently stands. Realistically speaking, only one individual in the nation has the capacity to alter the seemingly inevitable--and tragic--trajectory of this dynamic.

Are you listening, Mr. President?


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