It rained in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, just like it did exactly a year ago when Trayvon Martin died there.
The shooting death of an unarmed black 17-year-old at the hands of a part-white, part-Peruvian neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community catapulted the central Florida city into headlines around the world and launched heated discussions about race and guns and Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Despite the damp conditions Tuesday, a crowd amassed outside Sanford’s Goldsboro Welcome Center and the Goldsboro Historical Museum by midmorning. Museum curator Francis Oliver said she opened the welcome center a few hours early to accommodate the score or so of people who gathered to get a glimpse at the items memorializing the slain teenager.
There are crosses and flags, dolls and pictures of the teenager, Oliver said of the items showcased at the permanent memorial made from the items that initially cropped up outside the Retreat at Twin Lakes, the gated community where Trayvon was fatally shot.
- Marisa Gerber, Los Angeles Times
By Andrea Plaid
Award-winning author James Earl Hardy mentioned that quite a few people may have seen his best-selling book, B-boy Blues, outside of college classrooms–where it’s required reading in African American/multiculti lit and queer lit courses–and bookshelves: actor Isaiah Washington, who plays one half of a same-gender loving (SGL) couple in Spike Lee’s 1996 flick, Get On The Bus, is a holding a copy of it.
Lit-checked in a Spike Lee movie? Such is Hardy’s swag.
After the jump is the interview, in which Hardy talks about the “One Superstar Person Of Color At A Time” mindset in publishing, Black masculinity in pop culture, and his writing a one-person play about a man of color who’s a porn star and entrepreneur. (You read that right.) Hardy also talks about Washington’s career-ending homophobic remark, made a decade after his role in Get On The Bus.
By Guest Contributor Jamilah King, cross-posted from Colorlines
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series on people of color and mental health. Read the second part: “How to Do Right By Yourself While Saving the World”
Earlier this month, news surfaced of a Louisiana school psychologist who posted racially charged messages on Twitter. Mark Traina, who later resigned, worked as a psychologist at an alternative school in Jefferson Parish Public School System, a district that’s been under intense scrutiny in recent months. According to a court complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jefferson County has been sending a disproportionate number of black and special-education kids to “languish for months” in the district’s alternative schools.
Traina had already taken to Twitter to post his support of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch captain charged with murdering Trayvon Martin. But back in January, Traina went on a rant against “young black thugs.” Traina, a self-proclaimed “American Civil Rights Activist who unlike Jessie (sic) Jackson and Al Sharpton presents all Americas,” tweeted that “Young black thugs who won’t follow the law need to be put down not incarcerated. Put down like the Dogs they are!”
While black children aren’t often ceremoniously “put down like dogs”, they do face harsh school punishment at much higher rates than their white counterparts. Jefferson Parish’s problems are symptomatic of a disease that’s already been diagnosed nationally: the tendency to dole out harsher than average treatment for people of color. From the classroom to the clinician’s office, there’s a long and troubling relationship between racism and the mental health field.
By Guest Contributor David J. Leonard
As individuals from throughout the United States and in other parts of the world voiced their anger and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, there was an initial frustration from many in the social media world about the reticence and silence from today’s (black) athletes. The wish that athletes, and really black athletes–since it is rare to hear about the failure of white athletes–would uses their platform to shape change has become commonplace. So when the Miami Heat and several other players joined the calls for justice, there was certainly a level of joy and satisfaction.
Whereas individual athletes have a long tradition of protest and using the platform of athletes to express political sentiments, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Toni Smith, few teams have collectively taken a stand. Donning hoodies, the Heat stood in solidarity with Trayvon, shining a spotlight on the deferred justice in his case and the real-life dangers of racial profiling. As a team, they stood together as one, although it is clear that both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were the ringleaders beyond this effort. The picture and the tweet, under the hashtag of #wewantjustice, were in fact the impetus of James himself.
The Asian Task Force on Domestic Violence has been instrumental in bringing Denim Day–part of an international protest against victim–blaming to the Boston Area. But as April 25th approaches, the youth focused group has a major problem:
This year, the youth program has no funding. In order to do Denim Day, we need donations of fabric paint as well as safety pins. So to help us stop violence in our communities, we ask you for some much needed help. Usually Tulip brand fabric paint is easiest because it’s a squeeze bottle. You can generally get them at Michael’s (Medford or Braintree), at A.C. Moore (Somerville), and at most art stores. If you are in the Boston area, just contact Danny (info below) and we can definitely try to meet up and pick them up. If you’d like to mail them, please also contact Danny & he can give you our mailing address. You can also get them from Amazon.com At checkout, you can set it to send it to ATASK, and the items will be sent directly to our office and to the youth.
For more information, visit their site.
Farai Chideya is on the Root, penning “A ‘Hu-Manifesto’ for a Post-Trayvon World” on approaching volatile situations in the media and cutting through the noise to get to the substance. A sample:
3. Follow the Money
One of the basic tenets of journalism is to follow the cash and expose the manipulation of laws and justice. Although 21 states have “Stand your ground”-style laws, that didn’t happen by chance or come from a grassroots movement. The National Rifle Association has lobbied ceaselessly (to the tune of $35 million annually) for concealed handgun and “Stand your ground” laws. In a perverse sense, they benefited from the election of President Barack Obama. Fear of a Black President sent gun sales through the roof.
On March 20, just weeks after Trayvon’s death, a U.S. senator from South Dakota introduced Senate Bill 2213. Called the “Respecting States’ Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act,” it would permit people who have concealed weapons in their states to carry their concealed weapons anywhere in America. So much for states’ rights, huh? The NRA also happens to have a concealed-weapons hoodie in its merchandising line. Keep it classy.
One of the best things we can do to honor Trayvon Martin’s memory is to call out the laws, lobbyists and lawmakers that have increased the number of deaths of unarmed men, women and children. A lot of people have changed their social media avatar to Trayvon, a bag of Skittles or an image of themselves in a hoodie. Our country needs these people who can react instantly on social media to also plan ahead and vote in elections. And don’t stop there. Engage with your lawmakers between and during elections, and track campaign contributions. That will help create a fairer and safer America.
The “Face It Campaign” and HB 56 after the jump. Continue reading
By Arturo R. García
The tensions surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin continued to fester, with even United Nations officers getting involved.
“As High Commissioner for Human Rights, I call for an immediate investigation,” the U.N’s Navanethem Pillay said at a press conference Friday. “Justice must be done for the victim. It’s not just this individual case. It calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this.”
As hip-hop journalist Davey D reports, “situations like this” show no signs of stopping: 29 African-Americans have been killed by police or security officers this year–16 since Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman little more than a month ago.
By Guest Contributor Aurin Squire, cross-posted from Six Perfections
Don’t make eye contact.
I have felt like Trayvon Martin. Many many times while walking at night, being pulled over by police, being told that I’m not supposed to ‘be.’ My ‘being’ in a space has caused questions, concerns, suspicions. In the back of my mind I always wondered if there would be a reckoning. If my ‘being’ would become so intolerable to someone that they would try to end my existence rather than engage in a conversation. The only difference between me and Trayvon is that I am still here and he is not. Still, the question lurks around the subconscious when I walk home every night from the subway and a police car slows down alongside me. The squad car slows down. Eyeballs examine my ‘being,’ noticing any signs of anger, insanity, guilt. I continue walking, pretending to be oblivious. In most cases this is the best sign of innocence: by pretending to not notice.
Unlike myself, Trayvon physically noticed the accusation. He noticed the suspicion and dared to walk toward it. Stare at it, as he spoke with his girlfriend over the phone. Curious, as to who could be staring at him so intently he took a step in Zimmerman’s direction. Staring directly at George Zimmerman before quickly walking away.
When I am walking in strange or dark surroundings I try to keep it moving. No time to stop. I hear my parents’ voice of survival.