Racism: The Most Violent Weapon in Human History

Trayvon Martin wore a hoodie in the rain..In the world of Don lemon and Geraldo, maybe He should've had an umbrella instead

Trayvon Martin

Stop denying that race doesn’t matter.

To claim that killings of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Darius Simmons, Garrick Hopkins, Carl Hopkins, and countless others have nothing to do with race erases generations of white-on-black violence.

And before you trot out some example from history of an African American who killed a white person, or cite some FBI statistics (deflection is a form of denial), hear us:

The history of violence directed at African Americans is grounded in a history of systemic racism; efforts to protect slavery, irrational fear, segregation, Jim Crow, stereotypes and white privilege are all part of this history.  It is what binds together Emmett Till and Jordan Davis, what links together the countless incidents of lynching throughout America’s history with killings of Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride who were seen as “not belonging.”

white mobsThe history of the United States is one where whites have killed with impunity; the murder of African Americans has been carried under a culture that continues to sanction this violence. Our society has refused to hold white killers accountable within the criminal justice system. On the flip side, African Americans have historically and continually experience the opposite: the unequal brunt force of the criminal justice system.  Unlike their white counterparts, who have been let off the hook over and over again, blacks have been policed, locked up, lynched, and executed for s**t they didn’t do.  Just as those involved with countless lynchings and Emmett Till’s killers never faced consequences for killing black people, Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman have been left off the hook.

Race matters because of continued circulation of racial stereotypes. From Dunn’s views about “thug music” or Zimmerman’s profiling of Martin, or the belief from Theodore Wafer that Renisha McBride’s an intruder has everything to do with race.  How many different jokes about blacks and crime do you hear each day, either from popular culture or from friends?  How often do you confront media reports, video games, films, TV, or conversations that depict African Americans as dangerous, as “thugs,” as threatening criminals?

Michael Dunn

Michael Dunn

One cannot understand Michael Dunn, or George Zimmerman or countless others within a colorblind fantasy.  We must talk about racism, stereotypes and the history of criminalizing black bodies.  Research proves that whites, from college students to police officers, are more likely to misidentify a gun when in a black hand.  According to B. Keith Payne, “Race stereotypes can lead people to claim to see a weapon where there is none. Split-second decisions magnify the bias by limiting people’s ability to control responses.”  Racism thwarts many in white America from seeing how racism kills.

According Project Implicit,  “An analysis of more than 900,000 completed Implicit Association Tests (IAT) at the Project Implicit website suggested that more than 70% of test takers associated White people with good and Black people with bad…”   It is easy to dismiss race and racism but the daily consequences of American racism are real; the trauma and pain, the ongoing history of racial violence, and a culture that is more likely to see black criminality than black innocence.  Racism kills and so does denial.

Geraldo Rivera Blames TrayvonRace matters even in death.  How else can we explain the lack of concern society shows for the anguish of black parents who have lost a child?  The mantra of not speaking ill of the dead is rarely applied to black youth.  For all too many, that means routinely seeing the victims as criminals, as unworthy of sympathy and assumptions of innocence. Instead of being seen as victims, as someone’s son or daughter, someone’s friend that lost their life, they are turned into criminals deserving of death.  Writing about Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin, Eric Mann highlights the longstanding history of blaming black youth for their own murders:  [D]eep in the white American psyche” rests the controlling belief and script that sees “the impossibility of Black innocence.” Efforts to convict black youth for their own murders is engrained in the American fabric, enshrined in the history books, and centuries old in the script of white supremacy.  Racism continues to turn the victims of racism into criminals who either deserved to die or did something that resulted in their own death.

Whether citing school suspensions, problems with the law, drug use, clothing choices, being drunk, loud music, whistling, not listening to authority or simply their attitude, the presumption of black guilt, black criminality, and black pathology is reason for black death.  Don’t look at the killers or a history of white supremacy since the “victim” is in fact responsible for his/her death.  The message is clear: Don’t mourn for them; don’t seek justice for them since it is they (and their parents, their “culture”, and their community) that is responsible, not the killers, not the laws, not the gun culture, not the racism, and not America.

Affluenza DefenseWhite youth, on the other hand, even those who go on shooting rampages at in public places, even those who drive drink and kill people, who shoot first and ask question later, are regularly imagined as innocent, good, and all-American. Sometimes this takes place within the court of public opinion and other times within the courts.  We see this regularly in the aftermath of “mass shootings” at least those involving white perpetrators, in white communities, and with white victims. From James Holmes, who perpetrated a mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, to Adam Lanza, who shot and killed over 20 children at a Connecticut Elementary School, society works to understand the backgrounds of these assailants and questions “why” and “how” these wholesome kids became evil.   Maybe it’s video games; or maybe its affluenza, or it could be mental health issues.  It’s never whiteness, it’s never racism; it’s never white pathology and ultimately that means little accountability

The effort to exonerate white shooters, from Lanza to Zimmerman, from Holmes to Dunn, embodies the power of race.  The failure to mourn Black Death, to protect black life, or the failure to understand the fear and anger reflects entrenched white privilege.  The yearning to cite Black on Black crime demonstrates the historic disregard for black life.

Khali Gibran Muhammad

Khali Gibran Muhammad

“It’s true that black-on-black violence is an exceptionally grave problem. But this does not explain the allure of the violence card, which perpetuates the reassuring notion that violence against black people is not society’s concern but rather a problem for black people to fix on their own,” writes Khalil Gibran Muhammad, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. “The implication is that the violence that afflicts black America reflects a failure of lower-class black culture, a breakdown of personal responsibility, a pathological trait of a criminally inclined subgroup — not a problem with social and institutional roots that needs to be addressed through collective effort well beyond the boundaries of black communities.” Is it astonishing the black life is only valued when it can be used to deny white terror, to obscure solutions, and to otherwise blame EBW (everyone but whites). If black life was truly valued, we would all join those demanding justice for Jordan and Trayvon, those working to repeal stand your ground laws, those working to combat the insidious racial stereotypes that sustains anti-black racism.

If Black Death is such a concern for white America there are plenty of ways to get involved; to be a solution. There are plenty of organizations and individuals that are demanding justice for Mark Carson, Islan Nettles, Adrian Broadway, or Ricardo Sanes.  What are we doing for these victims, for countless others?    These are people, not talking points.

We do wonder where are the white leaders, whether Democratic or Republican, the organizations so concerned about gun violence, the media pundits, and those who like to obfuscate with “black on black crime” in addressing these killings? Where are the calls against Stand Your Ground, given its clear racial consequences?  Where is the support for those organizations and individuals that are challenging America’s pathological and destructive gun culture, or those working in communities like Chicago to combat injustice?  Where is the action and outrage about the violence that ravages Chicago or Detroit?  Where is the demand for something other than more police and lectures about sagging pants and fathers? Or do the concerns begin and end when trying to derail discussions about the continued history of racist violence that continues to plague this nation that continues to lead to deaths of Black Youth.

Stop racist violenceWe ask, what are we going to do about “white on white crime,” “black on black crime,” and the culture of violence that is ravaging communities? What are we all doing in the name of justice, in the name of every lost live?  What are we doing about permissive gun and mental health no matter the neighborhood?  We need to commit ourselves to having honest discussions about racism, inequality, and violence.  We must fight for justice for Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride, for Adrian Broadway and Mark Carson, for Jordan Davis and Darius Simmons.  Justice will remain an illusion as we refuse to recognize the ways that they and so many others are seen as criminals when alive, remaining as “violent thugs,” in worthy of blame and reproach in death.

If we want to stop the violence, maybe we should look in the mirror, and look at racism, the most violent weapon in human history.  To deny race is to deny this history. To ignore racism and refuse to deal is to allow for the most dangerous weapon to continue to kill and kill without any consequence and intervention.  To wipe clean this history is to erase the pain and trauma of racial terror.  And worse, to keep repeating it, over and over.

Stand up for what’s right

written by  JLove and David Leonard

See, Judge, ACT:

What white folks can do:

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. Become a member and get involved directly: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/

Don’t have time to organize?  At the very least:

-Sign up for ColorofChange.org and sign petitions demanding justice for all

-Donate to ColorofChange, SURJ and/or a multiracial group organizing around racial justice issues

-Post up on social media and circulate KNOWLEDGE so that your community is more informed; build an intentional community committed to justice, change, and accountability!

About the Authors

David Leonard is a professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race at Washington State University. http://drdavidjleonard.com/

JLove Calderon is a conscious media maker, social entrepreneur, and author of five books, including her latest: Occupying Privilege; Conversations on Love, Race, and Liberation. www.jlovecalderon.com

Hard Knock Radio: White Vigilantism, Stand Your Ground & Jordan Davis – Meet The Lumpen (02-18-14)

Kali Akuno

Kali Akuno

Hard Knock Radio (02-18-14) We speak w/ Kali Akuno, Special Projects and External Funding Director for Mayor Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi and member of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Our conversation starts off with reaction to the Michael Dunn/ Jordan Davis trial verdict and its larger implications.

We spoke with Kali about connecting the dots and looking at the larger issues connected with what seems to be an uptick in vigilante style killings of Black people at the hands of ‘scared’ white folks who than try to hide behind Stand Your Ground laws that now exists in 26 states.

Kali had unique perspective to this incident because he did organizing work in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina where there were a number vigilante killings involving mobs of white folks literally hunting Black people.

Ground zero was the Algiers section of New Orleans, but there were also disturbing incidents on the Gretna and Dezanger Bridge where Black people seeking dry ground were shot and killed. In the last couple of years we’ve seen high profile cases with the murders of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Jordan Davis.. A lot of this was highlighted in the documentary Katrina’s Hidden Race War and the explosive article by AC Thompson for the Nation Magazine.

Katrina vigilantismIn our conversation Akuno noted that many of these incidents seem to borrow from the same play book with vigilantes claiming they were frightened and felt threatened by unarmed Black people who they thought were armed.  The same excuse is used by police who have been gunned down unarmed and innocent Black people.

Kali pointed out this history of fear is rooted white supremacy and the notion that the Black people who have been killed were somehow not in the ‘right place’. Their presence is deemed out of the ordinary which leads to folks becoming ‘suspicious’ and acting with malice..

We talked about ways in which people are organizing to combat this and what organizing will look like ideally as more people step up and push back.

We also asked Kali to put on his other hat as Special Projects and External Funding Director and give us some insight as to how people in his city of Jackson are organizing and protecting themselves given the sordid history of Mississippi and that it too is a Stand Your Ground state.

Kali noted that is organization has gotten a number of calls to investigate troubling incidents that have gone down in the state, primarily in rural areas. With respect to whats going on in Jackson, the Lumumba administration has been carefully laying down groundwork to enact bold, progressive initiatives that has gotten many people excited and simultaneously gotten many in power upset.

Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi

He noted that the state legislature is one of the most reactionary in the country and have put forth a bill similar to Michigan where the governor can arbitrarily appoint an Emergency Manager. Dubbed the ‘Takeover Jackson Bill‘, this would allow one individual appointed by the governor to come in and usurp the power of the Mayor, City council and other local elected officials. The Emergency Manager would have the power to set budgets, oversee the police, hire and fire administrators as they saw fit etc.

Kali noted that such moves were to be expected and that their response as an administration is not be shocked and surprised but instead apply their skill sets and years of fighting in the trenches to organize and employ strategies and counter measures of their own.

Kali noted one of the first steps is to raise awareness and make sure folks are in the loop as to whats happening. The second step is to organize folks on the ground and get them prepared for the latest attack and attempts to oppress folks..

Hopefully news outlets like Democracy Now Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC Roland S. Martin of TV One to name a few take up this matter and shine a glaring spotlight on this…

As Shamako Noble of Hip Hop Congress recently noted whats taking place is that many of these new laws are being put in place with Black People being used as training ground.. Once the proverbial kinks are out they are then applied to everyone else who is deemed a threat or ‘the other’.

Far too often everyone ignores these laws when its hitting the Black community and literally sweep it under the rug until it’s too late.. That’s one hard lesson folks should’ve learned with the fight around mass surveillance. It was ignored when it was being used in the Black community for a couple of decades under the banner War on Drugs..

The Emergency Manager tactic was ignored and even justified by some who should know better when it was impacting cities like Detroit and Flint. Some rationalized that such places were run down and needed a change..Now they are directing it at Jackson, Ms toward a progressive Mayor who hasn’t even been in office 6 months.. Who will be next and how are we prepared to fight?

The Lumpen

The Lumpen

Later on in the show, we hear excerpts from an hear a panel discussion featuring author/scholar Rickey Vincent and members of the Black Panthers Funk band The LumpenWilliam Calhoun, Clark Bailey and James Mott speak about their experiences as revolutionary rank and file members of the panthers and what led to them forming a band. They note that its important to keep in mind they were Panthers first before ‘rock stars’..

right click the link below to download or  stream the HKR Intv

right click the link below to download or
stream the HKR Intv

hkrfullshow_02-18-2014 Kali Akuno- Meet the Lumpen

People Stay Alert as the Jordan Davis Trial Starts Today in Florida

Jordan Davis**Update*** The trial has already started with Michael Dunn pleading NOT GUILTY for the murder of Jordan Davis.. Guess he’s hoping it plays out the way it did for George Zimmerman..

Hope people stay alert and pay attention to the latest Stand Your Ground Trial in Florida which starts today.. This involves 17-year-old Jordan Davis who was shot and killed by a 46-year-old white man named Michael Dunn.. This killing took place 9 months after Trayvon Martin was killed..Jordan was unarmed and sitting in a car with several friends when Dunn who isn’t even from Jacksonville where the incident took place demanded the teens turn down their music..

According to Dunn, the teens complied but then turned the music up and an argument ensued.. Dunn claims one of the teens reached under his seat like he had a gun so he shot 8 times into the car where the 4 teens were at, killing Jordan Davis… According to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, the person who is shot does not have to have a weapon, he only has to look like he has one….

The mother of Jordan Davis notes that her son was like her shadow and was scared after Trayvon was killed. She had a number of talks with her son as to what he should do if confronted with someone determined to shoot him down… Sadly he was gunned down before he could even get out of harms way..

Meanwhile closer to home we had yet another teen gunned down over the weekend along with a 35-year-old man he was walking with as they left the Boys and Girls club here in Oakland..This was not a case of stand your ground, but sadly another case of unchecked nihilistic behavior, which gets highlighted on the nightly news and convinces all the stops must be pulled to contain, eradicate and suppress young Black males who are perceived as frequent perpetrators and the overwhelming majority of victims…




Hard Knock Radio: The Plight of Florida’s Other Slain Unarmed Teen, Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis

HKR August 15 2013: Today on Hard Knock Radio Anita Johnson sits down with John M. Phillips the attorney for the Jordan Davis family. For those who don’t recall last year Florida had two 17-year-old Black teens who were killed by racist individuals using Stand Your Ground Laws. We all know about the murder of Trayvon Martin and how he was profiled, followed and killed by George Zimmerman but not too many know about Jordan Davis.

Several months after the Trayvon slaying in November 2012, a white man named Michael Dunn saw some Black teenagers in a car and felt he they were playing their music too loud. He confronted them, according to him, words were exchanged. Dunn said he felt threatened and thus emptied his gun into the car containing 6-8 unarmed teenagers. When the gun smoke cleared 17-year-old Jordan Davis laid dead.

We discuss the particulars of the case, what steps are being taken to bring about justice and how they compare to the Trayvon case.

Later in the show we hear a commentary from political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal and a riveting speech from Michelle Alexander the author of the book ‘The New Jim Crow‘.

Click the link below to download or listen to the HKR Intv

Click the link below to download or listen to the HKR Intv

Hard Knock Radio_August 15 2013

Controversial Video Re-Enacts Murder of Trayvon Martin, Demands We Oppose Stand Your Ground Laws

Trayvon Martin wore a hoodie in the rain..In the world of Don lemon and Geraldo, maybe He should've had an umbrella instead

Trayvon Martin

Below is a new video to bring attention to the horrors of Stand Your Ground Laws which now exist in at least 26 states.. This is an eerie re-enactment of what took place the night Trayvon Martin was racially profiled and later shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. It includes the infamous 9-11 call Zimmerman placed to police as well as words from witnesses after the shooting.

The PSA is from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence which is urging Americans to “Stand up to ‘Stand Your Ground'” laws many of which are products of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council ) efforts. ALEC in many places are heavily financed by the far-right wing Koch Brothers.

For more information visit http://www.csgv.org/standup to sign a petition to your state legislators calling on them to oppose “Stand Your Ground” laws.


As We Watch the Trayvon Martin Case, All of Us Should Know Marissa Alexander

As we look at the drama surrounding the Trayvon Martin case, we encourage folks to connect the dots and pay attention to other cases to get an idea on how justice is elusive for some and the working quite well for others.. Yesterday we saw how George Zimmerman was granted bail after giving a half-hearted, insulting, insincere apology to the Martin family for profiling, stalking and eventually killing their son..

What we didn’t hear about was a how an African-American women who in the course of protecting herself from an abusive husband who beat her while she was pregnant, shot a gun that she legally owns into the air. No one was hurt, but she is now looking at 25 years. Yes indeed, you read that right, facing 25 years.. Her name is Marissa Alexander, she lives in Florida, is a mother of 3 and everyone should know her name and her case.The person who prosecuted her case is Angela Corey, the prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.

Here’s a letter that was written on her behalf laying out the details… As you read this letter ask yourself the following questions:

Where is the NRA on this case? Don’t they have supporters who come to the aid of people like Alexander, a legal gun owner who used a law they designed to protect herself, or was she supposed to actually shoot her husband?

Where’s the folks behind ALEC who pushed for Stand Your Ground Laws, not just in Florida but in other states around the country?

Where are all the folks speaking loudly about the injustice around Trayvon, but silent on Marrissa Alexander, because they choose to see Trayvon in isolation and not connected to the larger system of continual injustices impacting Black people and people of color all over the country?

Here’s the letter….

April 3, 2012

Dear Supporters:

On August 1 2010, my premature baby girl, born nine days earlier, was in the Baptist South N.I.C.U. fighting for her life and I would too be fighting for my life in my own home against an attack from my husband.

My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances.  I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm.

Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women.  Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.

In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom.  He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.  After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing.  I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out.  For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit.  Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave.  Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave.  Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself.  I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened.  The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me.  In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling.  As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home.  Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons.  The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

I was devastated and would continue to be for months following the incident.  I had to appear in court all the way up until trial as I plead not guilty and know that I acted in self-defense.  I believe my actions saved my life or prevented further harm, but preserved that of my husband who was completely irrational, extremely violent, and unpredictable that day.

Florida has a self-defense law and it includes the right to stand your ground.  Below are the facts of my concern with the incorrect way the law was applied and ultimately the injustice in my case.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, under sworn statement in November 2010, admitted he was the aggressor, threatened my life and was so enraged he didn’t know what he would do.

·        The alleged victim, my husband, was arrested for domestic violence two times, once for abuse against me.  The attack against me was so violent; I ended up in the hospital.

·        Prior to my arrest, I told the office I was in fear for my life due to the prior violence against me.  I also told the officer there was a domestic injunction in place to protect me against abuse from the alleged victim.  This information was written in detail by the officer in my arrest report, but ignored for some unknown reason.

·        In July of 2011, a hearing was held, where I along with the alleged victims testified as it relates to the stand your ground law and its immunity from prosecution.

·        After the hearing, Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt denied my motion, citing that I could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door.  The law specifically states: No duty to retreat.

·        My attorney entered a standing objection on the record to the ruling and we proceeded to trial.

·        During that time, Angela Corey, our State Attorney met with the alleged victims.  I also along with my attorney met with Angela Corey, John Guy, and then prosecutor Christen Luikart.  I justified my actions to them and the truth as I have told it has remained the same.

·        Knowing our prior domestic abuse history, Angela Corey was hard pressed for the minimum mandatory, which provisions allow for prosecution to wave those stipulations.  I was not guilty, nor did I believe that was fair and just under the circumstances.  She also allowed for those same provisions in the State vs. Vonda Parker, same charges different circumstances which did not include self-defense.

·        Florida uses a law commonly known as 10-20-life as a sentencing guideline when a felony takes place with the use of a weapon.  Under this statute, my felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.

·        Stand your ground law has been applied in multiple recent incidents, the following is just a couple of incidents.  Carl Kroppman Jr was allowed to use this law to avoid being arrested/charged during a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville, FL in August of 2011.  Marqualle Woolbright of Ocala, FL avoided murder charges due to the stand your ground law when he shoot and killed someone.

I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one.  I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day.  The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?

A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies.  I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.

The threat that day was very real, imminent, and the battery on me occurred minutes before the decision I made to protect myself.  That decision was a last resort, necessary and a reaction to the continued threat on my life.  I am a believer that grace allowed for my response to be carried out in a non-lethal manner.  This prevented the imminent threat and harm a non-fatal tactic, but not against an unknown attacker, rather my very own husband.  That was by far the most difficult position to be in nine days after giving birth to a six week premature infant.  My heart goes out for my two stepsons and always has had a hurt and sincere empathy for them being subjected innocently to that trauma.

The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court.

So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?


Lincoln B. Alexander Jr on behalf of Marissa Alexander

You can get more info on this case my going to: http://justiceformarissa.blogspot.com/