Black Males

Martin Luther King Assassination Anniversary, And Trayvon Martin As A Symbol

Today marks 44 years since the tragic assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

As we mourn that event yet again, and as more Americans visit the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC, we have to ask how far have we come from that day in 1968.

Certainly, the conditions for African Americans are far better today than they were in 1968, but that does not mean we can sit on our laurels.

Having a President who is African American; having other political leaders in Congress and the states and cities who are African American; seeing the growth of a large black middle class; witnessing more African Americans in the professions; witnessing more interracial marriages–all these signs of progress are wonderful!

But they are not enough, when we still have a large crime rate in the inner city ghettos; when black males are an endangered species when they end up in white neighborhoods and are seen as intruders; when one third of young black males are in prison; when the educational attainment of many African Americans still trails that of other racial groups; and when the illegitimacy rate is still much too high in African American households.

And the case of Trayvon Martin, a young black male who was no threat to anyone except for his skin color, being murdered by a man who had no right to utilize his gun; was over 100 pounds heavier; and who was told by 911 operators to leave tracking of Martin to the police, so as to ascertain if he was looking for trouble, is just the tip of the iceberg!

As long as we have tragedies such as Trayvon Martin, we are far from judging people by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin. Prejudice and discrimination still run rampant, sadly, two generations after King’s death!

The “New” Lynching Mentality: “Stand Your Ground” Laws!

The death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the decision of the local police not to question George Zimmerman, the man who killed him, and not to detain him, because of the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law passed by the Florida legislature ni 2005, and signed by Governor Jeb Bush, is all a sign of the “new” lynching mentality that exists in the nation.

With 21 states having passed this law since Florida did so in 2005, it is clear that this is a method to allow “lynching” in a legal fashion, and avoid any accountability for any shooter’s actions.

Lynching went on a for a century in many states, particularly in the South and Border states, and was ignored, leading to very few prosecutions and convictions. The US Government refused to take any action until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed prosecution on a federal level.

Now there is a legal way to get around the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and there need not be any charges or accusations brought against the victim. Simply if someone is fearful of a black male, does not like the way he walks, dresses or looks you in the eye, is justification for the shooter to “stand his ground”!

It is hard enough to be born black, to grow up in many cases in a poor neighborhood, to have white people look at you as somehow someone not to be trusted, to be denied the opportunities for a good future that so many blacks, male and female, face, and to live daily with the internal fear that your life could end at any time simply because someone does not like the color of your skin.

This is a sad time in America, and requires serious assessment as to how to overcome the laws passed, that allow legalized murder simply based upon suspicion and racism.