In Peril

Courtesty of News National Post.com

Courtesty of News National Post.com

What in the hell went wrong?

How did this happen? Why did this happen? How did an admitted killer walk out of the courtroom a free man?

I am not going to attempt to dissect the trial, the minds of the prosecution or the jurors. There are others far smarter than I who can take on this exercise, I am sure they will.

On March 31 of last year, I wrote this Trayvon and Me, his murder came on the heels of the anniversary of my assault and I was compelled to compare the two events. Last year, one of my offenders was Released as an Inmate after serving his entire twenty year sentence, the other two were released to parole after serving twenty years of their thirty-five year sentences. Yesterday I received from Texas Victim Services notification the second of the two has been violated and will be returned to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence. This means both will now be back in prison after less than 6 months of freedom.

I found myself sitting on the stairs reading that letter my mind returning to a justice system that does not seem to serve justice equally. While my fury ran red hot at their release to parole, I cannot help how I feel as a victim, I find I see beyond my victim status in light of current events and weep for lives wasted. Young lives wasted by society’s inattention, by poverty, by misery, by bigotry, institutionalized racism; by a Drug War focused on those who could not fight back one that irrevocably broke families and communities. Lives devastated by thirty years of economic destruction of the hope, opportunity and finally of the middle class.

I wrote about their original release to parole here and here.

I haven’t always had a compassionate heart; yesterday I found my heart had less fury and more empathy more compassion.

With all this being said, the more vital topic remains how will the killing of Trayvon Martin and the “Not Guilty” verdict of George Zimmerman change the national conversation?

  • Should we be talking about Stand Your Ground? Eric Holder said it best in his recent Keynote speech to the NAACP when he noted SYG fixed a problem that did not exist and talked about the conversation he felt compelled to have with his own 15-year-old son.

  • Should we be talking about guns, conceal carry and how NRA and ALEC have pushed an agenda, one that is dangerous to all of us but most especially to Black and Brown young men.
  • Should we be talking about Racism and Bigotry in this nation? I believe we must have these discussions. We must stop hiding our head in the sand, stop saying, “I cannot be a bigot I have a Black / Brown / White friend”. The truth, racism is making a strong comeback and as a nation, we are showing our true colors. We might not like it, in fact might hate talking about it but the results of the 2012 AP Poll cannot be ignored. I have not included the comparisons from 2008, in all cases the increase averages 3%.2
Image youlikes

Explicit Anti-Black

Implicit Anti-Black

2012

2012

All Americans 51%

56%

Republicans 79%

64%

Democrats 32%

55%

What does this mean? First, it means despite opinions to the contrary it is not getting better in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It means, despite having elected our first Black President, bias and bigotry runs deep in America and those who held power for over two hundred years, are truly not prepared to share it, not prepared to see it slip through their hands. It also means, despite all of our good intentions, many of us still cross to the other side of the road without intending too, we still unintentionally profile and thus we perpetuate stereotyping and allow racism to continue as both an emotional response to our fellow citizens and an institution.

I responded to a question the other day on Facebook: “Why does the media refer to President Obama as Black when in fact he is bi-racial”.

Ann Dunham and a young Barack Obama

Ann Dunham and a young Barack Obama

My response, it is history and tradition, the history of our nation going back to Emancipation, Reconstruction, The One Drop Rule and Racial Integrity Laws. The person I responded too and many others did not like my response, in fact, they ripped into me calling me names (many of them true) and attempting to debate my premise. They could not; it always helps to know history. This unfriendly discussion though led me to understand how poisonous some are in their anger, to deny a history that is less than 50 years past. I was stunned by the virulence of some of the responses and finally left the discussion in dismay.

What in the hell do we do?

I don’t have an answer; I don’t think any of us do. I know this; young men in communities across this nation are dying every single day. Most of them are Black or Brown, their mothers weep beside their graves. It is unnatural to bury a child. With the expansion of the Castle Doctrine, many feel a target has been placed directly on their sons, directly on their husbands, directly on their fathers, directly on any male that isn’t White or at least can pass. I am not sure I don’t disagree with this assessment of what SYG really means, I am not sure I don’t disagree that it isn’t simply a license to commit murder.

ALECNRA

I also know this; we must begin to talk about what ails this nation. We must pull our heads out of the sand and out of our own proverbial asses, if we don’t we fail. We fail our children we fail ourselves and we fail the future. We must change the laws that encourage vigilante justice and while SCOTUS has told the police they may not profile based on Race, any citizen may do so with impunity and then shoot to kill because the streets are now his castle and he has no duty to retreat. We must change what ails us. We must remove the targets from the bodies of our young Black and Brown children, from our husbands, our fathers and all others in our lives.

We must begin to heal this nation.

I leave you with this beautiful song, that I dedicate to all the young men who leave the house each day with the potential someone will find them threatening and do them grave harm.

2012: http://surveys.ap.org/data/GfK/AP_Racial_Attitudes_Topline_09182012.pdf2

2008: http://surveys.ap.org/data/KnowledgeNetworks/AP_Election_Wave6_Topline_W6%20ALL%20weight5_091808.pdf2

Additional Reading:

The Defense of George Zimmerman https://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/the-defense-of-george-zimmerman/

Nevermore Forever

I sat back yesterday, I watched and I wept. Yes, I wept. In fact, I am still weeping, I can’t stop my tears from falling.

Israelites encounter undrinkable, bitter water on their journey

Every single time I read anything about the Sikh temple murders I start crying again. Not because I am personally related to any of the victims, rather because I am connected through my humanity, through my empathy and through my compassion for their loss.

We should, all of us be connected to them, weeping for them and reaching out to them in their pain with our sympathy. We should all be standing shoulder to shoulder with them offering our human compassion. We should all be offering to mourn with them.

When will it be enough?

When will there be enough innocent lives piled at the door of the NRA and those who do their bidding for sane people to say ‘no more’.

When will we say we have seen enough senseless death on our streets, in our town squares, in our public buildings, our schools and places of worship to demand change and stand up to the bullies. When will we stop, as a nation and a people, kowtowing to these tyrants with corporate money and an agenda that has nothing to do with our safety, our peace of mind and everything to do with xenophobia and fear-mongering. When?

Isn’t enough?

What will it take for us to change the hearts of the heartless?

I am not going to throw statistics out there of all the innocents dead this decade, or even this year; these numbers are easily found. I am not going to rail at those who demand their rights in the face of the horrifying and senseless violence; this clearly falls on deaf ears. I will only say this; I am speechless, heartbroken in truth at the depths we have fallen, the bitter water we drink and call it sweet.

I leave you with this, because this is what the victims will not have –

525,600 minutes or another Season of Love

Now What America?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Declaration of Independence, Adopted 4 July 1776, Continental Congress of America

What has happened since those significant words were adopted by this nation? Did they mean what they wrote? Well we know they meant to be inclusive only to the extent of their understanding of human and man at the time of the writing. Since the time they wrote those words we have expanded their meaning, but now it seems we are contracting them again. Contracting them how far is the question.

Let’s talk about misdirection, the idea that what is important is directly before us but we look the other way. Focused on what is not important, not relevant to our public or national lives or future. We stare mindlessly at the little screen, listen thoughtlessly to those who will never live in our neighborhoods, walk in our shoes, work in our factories or send their children to our schools; we listen as they tell us what to think, feel and fear about our neighbors. We grow ever more terrified of those who mean us no harm, certain they will bring about the demise of all we ‘hold dear’, the American Way of Life, The American Dream. All the while, that dream has left the building, tripped blithely out the door with a wink, a nod and a secret handshake.

We all stood by and let it happen. In truth, we applauded the sleight of hand, the magic trick that stripped us with each presidential term since Ronald Reagan of opportunity and Rights, more of our chance at achieving the much-vaunted American Dream. Meanwhile, our cities, suburbs, schools all become more dangerous. We not only fear for the lives of our children each day we send them off to school, we have to fear they will not have the basics of literacy the competency necessary to compete in the world of the future in a world that increasingly is leaving our nation behind in basic skills, as well as, new sciences and innovations where once we led the world.

The American Dream popularized and defined most accurately perhaps by James Truslow Adams in Epic America:

“But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”[i]

What is your chance of achieving a slice of The American Dream? The better question might be if you are a parent, what is the chance your children will do as well or better than you in life? The outlook isn’t good for either you or your children today.

Charts courtesy Mother Jones

Where does this leave us? We have been fooled into believing we are the best, the greatest nation in the world. We no longer are, we have in fact been sold down the muddy river our futures and that of our children ransomed for a pushcart and extra bullets at Wal-Mart. Fewer of our children will graduate from college and have a job in the coming years or if they do they will be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt they will be unable to pay in their lifetime. Violence is escalating across the nation, yet those in high office refuse to have a conversation about gun control for fear the NRA will spank them, withholding their future support at election time.

We are a nation on the brink of failure. We have failed our children by looking away. We have failed future generations by refusing to take action when we could. Instead of rising up and saying HELL NO, when we had the chance to do so we looked away, we sat idly by enthralled by our cheap toys and two-bit entertainment; we allowed our nation to fall into disrepair. No matter what we call ourselves, Progressive, Liberal, Democrat, Libertarian, Republican, Conservative, New Whig, Green; we have failed our children and our nation. We have looked away for far too long, allowing those in power to strip us of our voice through misdirection and outright lies.

The question is:

Now What America?

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