Around the Margin – Trayvon Martin

Brought to you by: Across the Margin

Trayvon Martin’s murder (The use of the word murder in this introductory paragraph is a telling sign of where we stand on this one) in a gated community in Sanford Florida has stimulated intense reactions across the country. The voices of Across the Margin felt compelled to weigh in what they could…..

PG: Did either of you read The Classical’s shorts essays on the NBA and Trayvon?

MCS: No. What am I missing?

PG: It’s right here. It’s worth a read. It delves into how this event cuts to the core of who these dudes (athletes) are and compels them to act…say, versus Nike’s slave wager practices in China. The pieces primarily focus on Bron Bron.

MCS: I am looking it over now and it appears well thought out. I saw the picture of the Heat in hoodies and also read Bron’s tweets as they came across the wire. I have to applaud him for that. And I completely understand how it hits home to him.

MCS: I really do appreciate the outpouring of people affected by this. Seeing NY Senators in hoodies and the rallies. But what I am seeing almost as much of lately is blatant smear campaigns against Trayvon.

PG: Who hasn’t been suspended for carrying a lil grass in their pockets?

MCS: Weed…What the fuck? What does that have to do with anything?

PG: Nothing.

PG: I do think its interesting that state senator Eric Adams was one of the Senators wearing a hoodie, as he is the voice behind the ‘stop the sag’ campaign.1

MCS: This has so much to do with sag.

PG: I guess there doesn’t have to be a conflict there. His next campaign after sag, pre-Trayvon, could easily have been a stop the hoodie campaign.

MCS: From what I gather, in this particular case, the violence and lack of response to said violence can be traced back to a Florida law called “stand your ground”. It was passed in 2005 and it eliminates the requirement that a person seek an alternative – like fleeing – before using force if they feel they are threatened. The Florida State Senate passed the bill 39-0, and Jeb Bush signed her into law.

MCS: There is a great article at slate.com by Emily Bazelon about the law. In the article she delves into laws such as the ‘Castle Doctrine’ and the ‘True Man Doctrine’ that paved the way for the stand your ground law. Laws that lead to more shooting and less retreating. She points out that this Florida law does 3 things. It further loosens the restrictions on using deadly force at home. It scraps the duty to retreat in public places. And it gives people who use self-defense civil and criminal immunity.

Rau: I think thing whole thing shows mainly how far we still have to go with race and racism as a whole in this country. I mean not only the fact that this happened because he was black but also the aftermath… the whole hoodie thing, and the fact that George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested that night for shooting someone with a gun. I read this blog and he used the Trayvon case as an example. I find it extremely relevant.

PG: I couldn’t agree more Rau….this shit happens EVERY DAY.

Rau: Well… I’m not sure how to say this without jumping off into something really deep. But in the internet age it’s almost like our reality is spoon fed to us. Everything moves so fast and so massively. It’s like there was Kony for two weeks, then this for two weeks…..

MCS: I thought about that myself, and think of it often. Didn’t something happen in Haiti not to long ago everyone cared about? I think some mid-western town got blown off the face of the planet not too far back. People seemed real upset for a minute.

Rau: And then, just like that, it’s gone from the mass media. Shit just blows up. And we get this massively huge story made out of something truly awful and we all go completely nuts over it as a society

Rau: And then at the same time there are a million other things exactly like it that are happening, we could know about if we (or they) wanted, but we just kind of don’t have those things fed to us….

PG: Didn’t KK get meat pied a few days ago?

Rau: That she did.

PG: Perp was arrested on spot.

MCS: Well at least someone is arresting somebody. George Zimmerman is free as a bird.

PG: I find it appropriate to add some insight gathered from my personal work experience. We, at GOSO2, teach an entire workshop on how kids, not dissimilar than Trayvon, are to deal with police when you are stopped. A know-your-rights type workshop. We also run a seminar on how to deal with POs and COs. The thrust of the course is about how all things are not even and/or fair and how the gut reaction when being treated unfairly and unlawfully is to react strongly and be like fuck you. But that in doing so you give the limited amount of power you have to the person(s) who already have the majority of power. In order to preserve your power and give the bigger FUCK YOU you must try to maintain composure, get thru it, and try and do you and accomplish all the shit you want to do.

PG: Now, this is a fucking tough pill to swallow and a tough pill to feed out because it feels dis-empowering, second class shit. BUT until equality exists, on every level (see Bob Marley war), this is what we have to teach to help people get through this shit.

Rau: No doubt. We live in a country where you get arrested instantly for dropping a pie on Kim Kardashian, but if you shoot a black kid dead you can sleep in your bed that night

PG: So, big ups to Lebron for his tweets and such, but i wish there was a way for him (not his responsibility perhaps) and others to address the reality of what it is like to be a young person of color every fucking day, and how loaded the deck is, and how that shit gets internalized from a very young age, and leads to belief systems of doubt and self sabotaging behavior.

MCS: Leads a confused kid into believing he is the trouble they see him as, and then acting accordingly.

PG: Or just a kid walking to slev for some mentos.

MCS: Iced tea and skittles.

PG: Right. See, there are programs for days and money has actually been doled out for reentry programs to try and help folks returning form prison, folks that are policed and incarcerated at a higher clip then white folks. The model is: train them, education them, and give them jobs. But these programs do not do very well for the most part and people wonder why? They speculate on the value of the human they are designed to serve, and what they deny is the impact on the human psyche of being treated like shit for most of your life, treated as less valuable.

Rau: Education. Everyone in the world needs more education.

PG: We, as an organization, usually stay away from advocacy. We preach to our dudes that authentic advocacy is when we can show city and state governments how many of you graduate, get jobs, and the like.

MCS: Show them by actually showing them.

PG: Right. Its hard not to feel like we are all completely fucked.

MCS: To scale it back some. How do you feel about George Zimmerman being a free man?

PG: Not so hot. Dude is a murderer.

Rau: I think there is no way anyone should ever be in a situation where they kill anyone else and not be at least taken to the police station that night. We have a justice system and it should be used, particularly in situations where life is lost.

Rau: However, our justice system is completely fucked up and if I were a black person why would i have any reason to trust our justice system?

MCS: I hear that. The po-lice be fucking up. Florida police have an awful tract record as of late.

PG: Dude needs to be punished.

MCS: Has to.

Rau: I agree. He should be punished. But what happens if he isn’t?

MCS: Lynch mob? I kid.

Rau: I think the most important thing is that something gets better because of this, and things don’t get worse….like further division based on race. It would be amazing if his death is a catalyst that helps to prevent kids from having to be scared their whole life. Not that that can happen just from this, but you know… baby steps. Otherwise all the crazy hoopla, social media, mass media bullshit is for nothing and might as not be real.

PG: I concur.

MCS: You have to hope something positive comes from this. Trayvon ‘s untimely death shouldn’t go in vain.

PG: The other issue is the fact that a gun was involved.

MCS: Gun laws play a MAJOR part in this whole thing…or lack there of.

PG: Gun laws + stand your ground laws = dead kids.

MCS: That pretty much sums it up.

Rau: People should not be allowed to patrol the streets with guns. We already pay people to do that job badly – and they are trained.

MCS: Sad but true. And I would just like to add before we go. Fuck Geraldo.

  1. Eric Adam’s “stop the sag” campaign encourages black youth to stop wearing saggy pants. []
  2. PG, a contributor for _Across the Margin_, works for Getting Out Staying Out (GOSO) in New York City.  It is a reentry program for 16-24 year old young men returning to the community from incarceration that provides mentoring, educational guidance, job readiness training, and mental health services in order to help them successfully transition back to community. []

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