Tweets in the media? Are you serious?

Is the American media so starved for another story about racism to jump start waning interest in the Trayvon Martin case that they’ve resorted to writing about racist tweets? On Wednesday Joel Ward, one of the few black Hockey players in the NHL, scored a game winning goal in game 7 to lift his Washington Capitals into the 2nd round of the playoffs. Now I’m pretty far from considering myself an avid hockey fan but I know an impressive feat when I see one. He was the man of the night and he made an outstanding play but is that what people are focusing on? No, because journalists are too caught up in people using the “N” word on twitter.

Are you serious? The best moment in Ward’s career is being marred by the rants of random people on social media, how absurd is that? It’s equally absurd that the creator and star of Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae felt compelled to speak out against the racist backlash on twitter in response to her wining The Shorty Award for best web series.  Why can’t both of these modern day pioneers just enjoy their respective moments? I mean do we really need to see offensive tweets smeared all over national media?

People are racist. People will always be racist. So why does a drunken college student with a twitter account and a smart phone get a chance to completely sabotage another person’s success. The same thing with people taking to twitter to hate on the fact that the film version of “The Hunger Games” apparently had too many black people—so what! Can national columnist, and syndicated news sites think of something else to write about besides the racist tweets of random people? Are they really trying to inform the people or are they trying to piss us off? Well if it’s the latter then mission accomplished. I’m hella ready to move on.

-YB    

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Moving Forward

3.26.12

When I hear a story about an African-American teenaged boy being shot to death by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain I want to hear the voices of other young black boys who are protesting. I want to see them in podiums and at press conferences expressing their pain, rage, and disbelief at George Zimmerman not being arrested. I want to hear the voices of the young ladies who lost a classmate and a friend to senseless gun violence. I want to see the next generation who have chosen to wear hoodies in solidarity with their fallen peer representing on television. I do not want to see Al Sharpton in a suit. I don’t want to hear his voice either.

When I see Al Sharpton fly all over the country and subsequently water down every potential movement involving black people it makes me a bit nauseous. I would love to hear a kid from the projects of Miami with thick dreads and a southern accent talk about how Trayvon Martin’s death is affecting his everyday life but instead I get another typical Al Sharpton sermon. It reminds me of how an American can travel to Seattle, New York, Washington DC, and Atlanta only to eat the same Big Mac and Coke from McDonald’s for dinner. The rhetoric of the black liberation movement has become nationalized, highly profitable (Sharpton does not work for free), and completely harmless to the establishment.

The era of Al Sharpton (and Jesse Jackson for that matter) will have to come to an end in order for true progress to be made. It’s time to let the youth who are hurting so badly speak for themselves.

YB

My Epiphany in Oakland

 

The Trayvon Martin situation resonates with so many Americans, myself included. Here is a piece I wrote a few years ago that expresses the same sentiments that Trayvon must have felt the last moments of his life.

 

 

I’m 17 years old and it’s a Saturday night.

I’m driving my mother’s 1994 blue Honda Accord with two of my friends in the back seat. We’re about to get on the freeway to check out this party when we see two of our other friends riding in the opposite direction. So we both pull over and because I haven’t seen the other two guys since they dropped out of school, we have a little reunion on the side of the street.

We laugh, clown a little and try to figure out where we want to go. Everything is all good; the weather is warm, the women are out and it’s just a care-free atmosphere. Then we all stop talking as we notice a police car pull up behind us.

“Hey is everything alright?” One of the cops asks us, not out of concern, but to put us on the defensive.

We tell him “yeah” like, of course everything is OK why wouldn’t it be?

“Whose car is this?”

“That’s my mother’s car,” I respond quick and agitated.

“Hey don’t get an attitude with me bro. I’ll have everybody here lying face down with their hands behind their backs.”

Then another squad car pulls up and as I stare at the officer who is doing all the talking and is now a few steps away from me and I experience an epiphany. It felt like that moment represented a perfect culmination of my teenage experience — it was as if my ethnic identity had now become perfectly clear.

When I was 13, I remember walking home from school one day and having a black woman around my mother’s age, with huge burning eyes, ask me if I had any rocks to sell her. By the time we were 15, everybody asked us for dope; Mexicans, White people and black folks as well. They would ask me, my cousin and our friends for drugs while we walked home from football practice with our pads on like that was our one purpose on Earth.

And when we went to the corner store on E. 15th, down the street from my cousin’s house, to get some Now & Laters or some Funions or Donald Duck orange juice, the old Korean lady would shout “Philly Blunt?” as she held two cigars up, one in each hand, behind the cash register. And we would have to tell her, just like we told all the dope fiends, “NO!”

So now there are like five cops gathered around us and I suddenly understand that I, along with my friends, are now fully-grown monsters. I mean if criminality had a color then it was the same complexion as us. If criminality had features then it would look exactly like our reflections in the mirror. If criminality had a dress code then it would wear its pants, shirt and shoes exactly like we did.

“I got a report about a fight … is there any fighting going on here?”

“Naw, no fighting.”

“Can I see your drivers license?”

I show it to him and he looks at it with a flashlight because apparently he needs to analyze every letter and every number. When he’s done, he tells us to have a good night and both of the squad cars speed off to their next confrontation.

My friends and I stay there for a few minutes and try as hard as we can to regroup. But needless to say, we find it to be impossible.

-YB

Lost in the Details: Notes on the Murder of Trayvon Martin

March 15, 12

It’s amazing how technical some folks get about the law when a young black man is murdered by a white police officer. What is even more amazing is the asinine things that people say when a fake cop, whom for whatever reason is allowed to carry a real gun, kills a young black man.

Let’s use the most recent case of George “The Jackass” Zimmerman as an example. The Jackass was a rogue volunteer captain of a Florida neighborhood watch group before he decided to use deadly force on 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Apparently this wasn’t your average neighborhood watch group that The Jackass was heading. It was not by any means an organization that encouraged community members to sit on their porches and document suspicious behavior, and it for damn sure wasn’t about planning neighborhood movie nights.

George The Jackass decided to follow Trayvon because he looked “suspicious” while he walked down the street with a bag of Skittles to take back to his little brother. Now I’m not sure why this is, but for law enforcement officers (and wannabes) the word suspicious is synonymous with black. I suppose it’s the American way.

At any rate The Jackass decided to confront Trayvon who was visiting his dad for NBA All-Star Weekend even though when he radioed it in to the real cops they told him to stand down. I guess he just couldn’t resist the opportunity to put a young black man in his place—which from a historical perspective, most white men can’t.

From that point on the details are sketchy as of right now. But we do know that The Jackass was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head. And we do know that Trayvon was killed by a single bullet wound to the chest. Mr. Jackass has not been charged with any crime because…well he’s white.

People really trip me out in these kinds of situations. I’ve seen the extremely ambiguous self-defense laws in Florida cited several times in this non-case. I’ve also watched the news media casually bring up the fact that a few homes in that Florida neighborhood had apparently been burglarized in the months leading up to the shooting. I even saw one journalist report that Zimm—uhhh I mean The Jackass was very well liked in the community.

Oh my god. So what!

An unarmed high school students was shot to death by a man who is supposed to be making sure elderly women aren’t mugged on their way back home from the grocery store. He’s supposed to be armed with binoculars, and a walky-talky, OK pepper spray at best. So why the hell is he toting a damn 9mm pistol like he’s in 50 Cents entourage? It’s the most ridiculous thing imaginable.

It’s just as bad as when Oscar Grant was shot in the back and killed by a BART cop.  BART is routinely one of, if not thee, safest rapid transit system in the country. So why does a BART cop like Johannes Mehserle need a gun in the first place? The main difference between that incident and this one was the Oscar Grant murder was caught on videotape, but unfortunately it didn’t matter. People watched the video of a handcuffed man on the ground being shot and scratched their heads and said; “Well he does seem to be resisting a little bit. I mean look at him squirm. He’s being belligerent. And on top of that it was New Year’s Eve. I’m sure those cops were having a long day.”

It was this kind of not so subtly racist rhetoric that landed Mehserle a sentence of less than one year for killing an unarmed man in front of dozens of people. And it is this kind of thought that justifies The Jackass not being brought to justice after murdering an unarmed teenager carrying a bag of Skittles.

The general reaction to the tragedies of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin prove that American racism has come a very long way since Jim Crow and the K.K.K.  Just like medicine and technology racism has advanced. It is no longer out in the open like the word “nigger” but rather it is hidden in details like the word “suspicious.” Evil folks don’t hide behind sheets and burn crosses anymore. In 2012 they make up titles and get permits to carry guns so they can continue to kill with impunity and be supported by a society that will never admit that they are enabling these racist psychopaths.

Racism is in the details these days. It’s in the questions that people have and the doubt that is cast over whether or not it’s actually wrong for an unarmed black man to be murdered by a white authority figure.

Because we all know Trayvon instigated the situation and why was he wearing that “suspicious” looking hoody. And as for Oscar Grant, he had drugs in his system and he had gotten into a fight earlier that night. I mean I’m not racist but I just don’t know. It seems a little suspicious to me.

Meanwhile Oscar Grants daughter Tatiana will never really know her father and Trayvon Martin’s parents will never hear their son’s voice again.

Black men continue to be gunned down like animals while we scratch our heads and ponder about silly little details.

-YB