Wednesday, 28 March 2012

They Don't Really Care About Us

This week news of a 17 year old boy shot dead in Florida by a self proclaimed neighbourhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, entered the UK mainstream news in a big way.
His name was Trayvon Martin.
His crime? Walking 'suspiciously' through a neighbourhood watch area with a hoodie and allegedly "not abiding by the neighbourhood watch rules" as he went to get some sweets for his brother.

George Zimmerman (left) and Trayvon Martin
The first sight I can see on the web of any mention by the UK flagship news caster, the BBC, is on March 19th 2012 (BBC World March 19th) yet this week the UK news has been full of Trayvon, presumably due to Obama's "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon" speech. Never one to miss an opportunity, brand Obama went in to full swing to remind everyone of his connection to his people, and the 'fact' that he is black, according to the one drop rule. Zimmerman however has not been arrested as he was invoking the Florida law on 'stand your ground' whereby you are granted immunity by the law if you use deadly force, inside or outside your home, whilst defending yourself.
That the establishment in North America, as it is commonly known, does not take the murder of young black people seriously, should not be of surprise; Laurie Penny in the Independent hit the nail on the head when she compared the reaction from middle class America to the scenes of young white women being pepper sprayed by the NYPD during the Occupy Wall Street protests, to some other horrendous cases over the past few years in America such as Sean Bell and Ramarley Graham cases.

Thankfully some people in America see it differently and have taken to the streets in protest, a 'million hoodies' march has been talked of which would be something to see. There have been people of all ages in hoodies, from all back grounds, marching whilst scattering skittles, the sweets that Trayvon had gone to buy for his brother.
The people chant his name.
They chant the names of others slain.
Obama, they do not chant your name.
There has been the other side to this coin though with the New Black Panthers offering a bounty of $10,000 for the citizen arrest of Zimmerman. The fear here is that this could lead to more violence and blood shed, blood that will not bring Trayvon Martin back to his devastated family. Despite Obama's comments and all the words written on this so far, it is important that this is not depicted as a race row or racial flash point. Somewhere the discussion must challenge the idea of race and racism being obsolete and nurtured in ignorance. It should be noted that Florida was also the scene of a fatal shooting of two young British men in April 2011. This violence is not a white problem or a black problem, it is a human problem.

Violence will only bring more violence, an eye for an eye mentality will eventually leave us all blind.

What does this mean for us? Nothing on the face of it but then we do have short memories. Last summers London riots started due to the killing of an unarmed man by the police in Tottenham; in England there have been a series of high profile incidents such as the Charles de Menezes case. There is the rise of fascism to contend with (and I do not mean our own governments in this case) such as the EDL, BNP or the Infidels, who continue to prey on the fear whipped up by the mainstream media, of people in towns up and down the country.
We must ensure that the ignorance of the people behind any extremist groups or radical individuals of any ideal, do not secure footholds in the minds of our youth and work hard to repair the damage done by these different parties and foster a culture of peace and understanding, a world where people look not for our differences but our similarities.

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