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A Movement of “Justice for All” is Happening Because of Trayvon Martin

Posted on 19 July 2013 by mdepeine

It is very hard to say in a few words what many have experienced as a result of the Zimmerman acquittal that occurred on July 13, 2013.  That day will hopefully go down in history as one of the days that changed America for the better.  Essentially, what the verdict said to “Black America” and other Americans who understood, is that it is now “open season” on black young men; black young men “have no rights.”

It seemed that with each passing year after the landmark Civil Rights legistlation of the 1960s there were attempts to get things to go back to “the way they were.”  There seems to be a movement in America that keeps trying to inch back to a time when you could kill a black man or any person of color and you just didn’t have to answer to anyone!  You had the all white jury.  You had the klansman as the judge and you had the laws that backed you up.  If any black person ever dared to take a case to court against a white person, the court procedings were a matter of “formality.”  The white defendant knew with certainty that he or she would not be “betrayed” by the system already put in place and he would not be betrayed by his “peers.”

There are people in America who are nostalgic about such an attrocity.  They long for the days when they could “take matters into their own hands.”  When they did in the past, they were held in high regard by the white majority.  These days, these same people are doing their best to “cloak” their motives in ways that are being communicated in somewhat “politically correct” language even though they have the same goals and motives on their hearts as the people of the past did.  So you will here things like “victim’s rights.”  You will here the emphasis on “the right to bear arms.”  You will hear about “the urban problem.”  You will hear about the “crime” and the “drug problem.” You will hear words like “thugs,”  “felons,”  and “welfare recipients.”  All those terms have have been carefully and strategically “placed” on the black  the community and other people of color.  They have become “code words” that say “We don’t like blacks but we have to deal with them  in a ‘smart’ way.”

As a black man who is a man of God, I know that God made us all.  He made us all so very interesting.  He has allowed us to have all kinds of skin, hair and eye color.   God loves diversity.  If He didn’t, He would have made all of us into one color (you pick one); eyes and hair the same color as well.  God would have made it so that we all have the same hair texture, the same length capacity and so on.  But, because we are so caught up in our pride of wanting to be better than the other, we would have found another way to discriminate.  He made us all human and we found a way to discriminate about color.  If we couldn’t discrimiate about color, we would probably discriminate about ear size and shape, or maybe tone of voice, feet length, height, torso height; you get the point.

This whole racism issue in America is “silly” but it is also hurtful and deadly at the same time.  Many American laws were crafted to oppress and control blacks and other people of color.  There was never a decision by the majority in the United States of America to voluntarily give equal rights to blacks or anyone similar.  Remember, blacks came from being treated as animals and property to demanding that they be treated as EQUAL!  To many whites of those days it was a preposterous demand.  “How dare they think that they could now be considered equal to us?”  That was the ringing and repeated question and the recurring protest, even in the present day.  Yes, many whites are still thinking, “How dare they ask to be equal, after all, we don’t lynch them anymore.  We don’t enslave them.  We even let them use the same facilities (for the most part) with us.  We have let our kids go to school with them.  In some cases, we have not killed them for mixing their blood with our blood (eventhough that has happened since the days of slavery when white men raped female slaves), something that certainly required death in the past.”  So I kind of get it.  Most white Americans never wanted the EQUALITY, they just went along with the laws that were put in place by “force.”  Then, they just had to live with it until they could find a way to undo those laws.

You see, America as a nation has never embraced the idea of EQUALITY.  It never said “You know, we were wrong for enslaving these people and treating them like animals and our property.  They are our equals and we need to do right by them.”  America has not said that and until America says that and learns to have a change of heart, there will always be Trayvon Martins, Amadou Diallos, Sean Bells, Jordan Davis, and many others who will get killed because their lives are “not equal” in the eyes of White America.  Until we do campaigns, laws and other activities that address racism, we will have Superior America versus Inferior America.  You will always have “two Americas.”

After the Trayvon Martin verdict, as a Christian, I know what God wants.  I know His standard.  I also know that this body that I have, that has the outer covering of color, the color brown; this body is really just a tent (2 Peter 1:12-14) that houses the Spirit of God.  We impose various characteristics to the “tent” that we have and others have.  We attribute “like” to some tents, “hate” to others and to some tents we say “stay away from those tents because…”  The fact is, however, we all are just spiritual beings living in a “tent.”  We have made the “tent” more important then what God intended it to be.  As a Christian, I know that when I die, like everybody else, I will put this tent away and God will give me an eternal body.

So, as a Christian, I also know I serve a God who is just.  I would not have known what justice is if it was not for what God has shown me in His word, the Bible.  I know He hates injustice (2 Chronicles 19:7) and oppression (Isaiah 58:6).  It bothers me that some who are “Chritians” can “miss” the injustice that occurred in the Trayvon Martin case.  The young man was profiled by an average citizen, not a law officer (still illegal to do so).  The citizen, George Zimmerman, pursued Trayvon and eventually shot him in the heart and killed him with that one shot.  All the “code words” that I mentioned above were applied to Trayvon to criminalize him because he, after all, belonged to the “inferior America.”  By the time the case was done, those who just looked at the so-called “facts” seemed to feel justified in acquitting George Zimmerman while dishonoring and devaluing the life of Trayvon Martin.

The American criminal justice system is set up to look at the “facts” for the most part.  There are a lot of biases that are inherint in the system.  Here are some:  Most judges are white, most jurors are white, most laws were written by whites,  most police officers are white and the list goes on.  The bias in this system is simple; a white judge, police officer, or juror is readily “connected” with a a white  defendant or plaintiff.   They can relate because they could say, “Wow, he could be my father, my brother or my son.”  When both the defendant and plaintiff are white, perhaps a greater emphasis is on the facts of the case, however other biases (economic status, nationality, etc.) can be at play. When faced with a black defendant or plaintiff, the connectivity (translated here as bias) is nonexistent.  The white judge, police officer, or juror can’t picture this black defendant or plaintiff (black youth, in the case of Trayvon) as a possible father, brother, or son.  That is too much to ask.  The only thing these people tend to do in the case of a black defendant or plaintiff is “apply the law of the land.”  Just the “facts” and only the “facts” are looked at.  The idea of a human life being taken, the hurting parent, wife, husband, the future, the pains, none of that comes into play because there is no connection and there is no relatability.  It is hard to understand motive and the implications of the crime in question when there is no connection or  empathy.  If a case is not made to “humanize” the black defendant or plaintiff,  then, the so-called “facts” and statutes will inevitably “do him in.”  I am almost certain that the mostly white jury that acquitted Zimmerman did not say to themselves:   “Wow, this could happen to my son if I don’t convict Zimmerman.”  They could not say such a thing because this does not happen to white young men.  The empathy was so far removed from this case but that’s “normal” in America.  This issue must be addressed if we are to have somewhat of a fair justice system.

Regardless of the “laws of the land,” we are all human beings.  It is unfair to have a sytem designed to empathize with whites while it serves to alienate and disenfranchise blacks and other people of color.  That is simply unjust by any real sense of the word.  Anyone who does not understand what I have said so far should approach (preferrably during the day in an open environment – they may thing you are behaving like Zimmerman?) any black person and ask them:  “What has it been like for you living in America as a black person?”  The older the person, the more they can tell you.  If you feel brave enough and you really want to understand, then ask them this question:  “What did the acquittal of George Zimmerman mean to you?”  Don’t try to tell them how to think or look at the facts, just use this to get a glimpse of the “world” that a black person lives in.

As a Christian, I don’t think it is enough to say to other Christians, “Hey the world is evil and that’s just how it is.”  That is a very true statement and I absolutely agree with it and believe it.  But, as the light of the world (Mathew 5:14-16) Christians have to try to empathize with those who are hurting like God empathizes.   Christians must validate people’s pain and see how they can relieve those pains.  There were many “Christians” in the time of slavery, lynchings and state-sponsored terrorism against blacks.  Some of those “Christians” made it worst for the oppressed when they should have stood up and said “This is wrong!”  God’s standards are not limited to a church gathering.  He wants the whole world to know His standards.  If I could say a few things to shed some “light” on how the world is treating innocent people then I see it as my duty to shed light.

We feel so great when a popular and well-liked celebrity takes on a good cause and speaks up on behalf of an oppressed group.  It means something to us.  If God parted the heavens and said, “This injustice has to stop and everyone must do their part to stop it!” We would be impressed.  He essentially did that when He sent Moses to free the Jews (Exodus 3:1-10) from the Egyptians.  If all of us look hard enough, we will all see that our American system, as it is, is very flawed, biased and deadly.  It is time for all of us to do our part to redo this system and remove the “perks” for some but serve as a death trap for others.  Americans have not decided to be EQUAL.  We must effectively tackle this issue and help as many  Americans as possible to see that EQUALITY is the reality…anything else is a myth.  God did create all men equal in His sight.  Our diversity is there to experience the various qualities of God, that is all.

Every man and woman with a conscience should do something to keep this discussion going and expect significant change.  Everyone who believes in EQUALITY must step up and lend a hand to create a movement in America that will not be stopped.  Pressure must be applied to this dysfunctional system that is full of bias.  Federal standards need to be put in place to protect all citizens in every State of the United States of America.  It should not be left up to individual states to decide the value of the life of American citizens or that of the aliens who live among us.  Let Trayvon’s tragic death serve as the catalyst that gets us, in America, to discuss and tackle this issue of race openly, from the White House to the alleyways of Bronx, NY.  Every corner of this country needs to be free for every American and denial or dismassal of this issue cannot be accepted anymore.

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Taboo: Speaking on Behalf of Blacks and other people of Color

Posted on 30 August 2012 by mdepeine

When something is considered “taboo” it is something that you dare not mention or bring up.  A common response to you mentioning something that is “taboo” would be “Don’t speak of it!”  When something is “taboo” everybody around “knows” that only a fool would bring up the “taboo subject” in a public setting.  You don’t blurt out such subjects when you are in a crowded room.  You don’t bring them up when you speak from the podium.  You don’t mention these “taboo subjects” at a cocktail party.  You only discuss them in the privacy of your home and in your bedroom with someone you trust.

In America, I realize that “race, racism, prejudice” are “taboo subjects.”  These subjects usually come up when a “victim” of racism or prejudice wants some expression or justice in relation to what they have experienced.  Then and only then do I see these things become almost “acceptable” to discuss openly.  For example, race was discussed openly when we saw what happened to Rodney King.  It was also discussed openly when we saw what happened to Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Chavis Parker and a host of other black men who were killed  by the police.  Other than these extremely publicized cases, it seems that the topic of race, racism and prejudice goes back on “the shelf” until needed again.

Another taboo subject in America is a person’s color.  There seems to be this collective consciousness that says that “We are all the same and we need not make distinction about color.”  Ideally, that is where we would like to get to as a country.  Realistically, however, that is not where we are.  There are too many examples that “scream” of inequality.  Too many blacks, yes, I used the word, live in poverty. Too many blacks are not getting a quality education (elementary, secondary and college).  Too many underperforming school districts are being “ravaged” by bureaucrats in the name of “school reform.”  Too many black men are in prison and have no possibility of parole.  Too many blacks are in and out of jail and don’t even have the “right to vote” any more.  Too many young black men are being brutally killed by police and other security forces in the name of “justified force.”

Yes, God has created all of us as human beings.  We breath the same air.  We drink the same water (H2O).  We bleed the same way.  Our bodies get the same sicknesses and have the same organs.  Genetically speaking, Science has linked all humans to one common mother they call “Eve.”  So, we are all the same, but when you look at the history (include slavery), we have not all been treated the same.

So, I want to shatter this “taboo” and freely discuss race, racism, prejudice and skin color (all shades) freely for the purposes of highlighting a problem that must be addressed so that lives can be improved.  The non-victims of race don’t care to discuss race.  For the victims who daily navigate this society with the understanding that the dominant (white) race barely “sees” them or cares to “hear” them, this is a true reality.  Sometimes it is more real than the air that they breath, if that were possible.

Somehow, in America, it is wrong to speak up and say that “This was done to him/her because he/she is black.”  Those of color KNOW more than anybody when they are discriminated against.  An “outsider” can never define that for them because the “outsider” does not know what it is to really experience that racism or prejudice as a minority.  Yes, a white person will experience racism and it is wrong, but even that “offense” is a lot different from the person in the minority experiencing that offense.  The person in “power” who experiences racism could say, “Well, that’s your problem if you don’t like me because of my color, I control things anyway, you will still need to come back to me.”  On the other hand, the person who is not in “power” does not have the luxury of saying what the dominant, white person can say.  The one in the minority can say “Wow, another reminder of what I have to overcome to get somewhere in this country, I hope that he/she doesn’t close too many doors for me.”  This is just a glimpse of the thoughts that people could have.  One person sets the conditions for racism, one person is forced to navigate through those conditions.

Those who are afraid to address racism in America will call anyone who points out these trends a “race monger.”  They may call anyone who wants to bring to light these issues a “racist.”  The reality is, they don’t want to open up this “can of worms.”  But those who are daily victims of it, live in the “can of worms” every day.  They just want the “can of worms” to be addressed constructively as a country, as a nation.  Lots of good was done in the 50s and 60s during the Civil Rights Movement, but still a lot more needs to be done today, in the twenty-first century.

I believe that all Americans, Christians and non Christians, should put in the effort to address this issue of race.  The funny thing is, our best churches and fellowships are afraid to tackle this issue thoroughly, even though it exists there as well.

Let’s shatter the “taboos” of race discussion.  Let’s discuss what really is there and not speak from a point of view of only what we wish was there.  You can’t confront and fix a problem that you won’t acknowledge is there.  The first step is “admitting that you have a problem.”  So, we don’t have to live by those “fake rules” that say:  Don’t mention black or white, don’t mention racism, don’t talk about slavery and its impact on race relations today, don’t talk about reparation, don’t speak up for blacks, don’t help the poor, don’t talk about trends against blacks, don’t talk about inequality, don’t talk about the contributions of slaves, and a host of other don’ts.  You fill in the rest.

We must bring race relations in the United States to the table and confront it.  It affects every facet of our society and our daily lives in an adverse way and we pretend that it doesn’t.  Barack Obama spoke about it four (4) years ago in 2008.  That was the last major attempt to address “race in America.”  Tons of books have been written about the subject and hundreds of millions of people are adversely affected by it in this country alone.  Yet, can we continue to stand by and ignore such a big PROBLEM?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tribute Song: Shot Into History (Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell…)

Posted on 05 August 2012 by mdepeine

Mario Depeine, Sr. | Shot Into History (Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell…) | CD Baby Music Store

Tribute Song: Shot Into History (Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell…) – YouTube

This picture of the lynching of Tom Shipp (19) and Abe Smith (18) in Marion, Indiana (1930) was used because it speaks to an epidemic that is still current in our Modern American Society and “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  More than 70 years ago young and older blacks were being killed because they were seen as “suspicious” or they were accused of various crimes and all you needed was a frenzied white crowd and black lives were taken away in an instant.  Families were left devastated and horrified as they replayed the events in their minds.  These families had to try to move forward knowing that someone precious to them was taken away and these families were left only with deep sorrow, agonizing pain and only the memories of their loved ones.  Black families which were still intact had to live with the fear that at any given point they could be the next victim, all it would take is a look, a glance, a “bad day” or just someone “looking for some excitement” and a black life could be lost.  That was all.  This was clearly a form of state sanctioned terrorism.  It was legal and accepted in America for over a 100 years to systematically kill blacks.  It was a way to exert “white supremacy.”

We have advanced in many ways as a society, however when you look at public education, we still have “separate but unequal.” Studies have shown that American schools are just as segregated if not more segregated than they were before the landmark “Brown vs. Board of Education” ruling in 1954. Racism in America is still a “stain” that continues to work its poison and relegates “black or non-white blood” as inferior to “white blood” although the reality is, there is only red blood in all of us. This is a very very serious issue because precious lives are being lost as a result of it (unchecked racism) and nothing concrete has been done to stop it.

Now, in the 21st century, the lives of blacks are still being “taken” as if these lives are worth less than the lives of white American Citizens. This is still a “lynching” but a very well organized “lynching.” Blacks are still being shot or run-over (Victor Steen-FL-10/3/2009, Tamon Robinson-NY-4/12/12, to name a couple) for “any and every reason” by mostly white “officials” and “police” personnel who don’t seem to care much about the lives that they “take.” There is not any justice, just the “execution” of black men with very little repercussions. “Judges” in the judicial system casually uphold the unjustified forces used against these black men and put “the blame” squarely on the “silenced” victim who could never say “his side of the story.” So the deaths, the bloodshed continues.

Those who are in the middle of this injustice understand how wrong it is. Those who prefer to look at this from “afar” have a hard time understanding the “outrage.” It will take a lot of empathy and “putting oneself in the other’s shoes” to understand how bad and terrible this is in America; the land of “liberty and justice for all.”

Too many young black men have been gunned down needlessly and there has not been any “real justice” or real change. “Shot Into History” is a song that I wrote and produced to bring a sense of humanity to the lives lost. I want people to hear this song and say “Wow, a young life was lost.” I want people to say “These young men had families just like white young men have families that care about them.” I want people to not look for ways to justify “another shooting of a young black man” but rather look for a way to STOP the shootings and the inherent bias associated with these killings.

You do not hear about cases of young white men being shot by police or so-called “neighborhood watch” security individuals. The Us community would be outraged if there were so many white young men being shot in the way that young black men are being shot. Then, it would be an “American problem,” it would become a “suburban problem / epidemic.” This is happening in America and it does not appear to be much of a problem. A lot of people want to look at this as an “individual” problem or look at it in isolation. Meanwhile, all the families who no longer have their sons with them are having to grapple with the lost of someone who was precious to them, but not to America. They are grappling with the memories that are left to hold on to. These mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc. are trying to “make sense” of the sudden lost of a family member who was so dear to them but who was only seen by his color to the rest of America, the law, and the systems of racism and prejudice put in place to justify such bias treatment. These families are left to wonder what else could they have told their sons to assure that they are not “targeted, profiled and shot.” They taught them to “not run when the police calls for you.” They taught them “Do not put your hand in your pocket when the police stops you.” They taught them to “Say ‘yes sir, no sir’ when the police addresses you.” They tried to teach them everything to keep their sons alive and yet, their son is still dead, “Shot into history” nowhere to be heard again, nowhere to be found, unreachable. How does a parent reconcile that lost? How does a parent accept the phrase “Justice for all” when they could not even get justice for one?

This is not a “black community” problem. This is an American problem. There needs to be a greater sense of compassion in America for all of America’s children, not just the white children. Don’t fault people for stating the “race” in this issue because that is the reality. When black parents have to prep their kids about the police and the likelihood that the police could “kill” them, then race is definitely a central issue here. How many white parent prep their boys on the issues (don’t run, keep hands away from pocket, etc.) that black parents prep their boys about? You don’t hear that talk happening in the “white community.” That “talk” is not being done in the “white community” why should it be done in the black? This is a true disparity and it “screams” inequality and “inferiority” yet as Americans we treat it as if it “should be” that way. No sense in Americans being outraged about inequalities abroad while remaining silent about inequalities in our “own backyard.” Let’s lead in this area America, let’s lead!

So for all the Trayvon Martins, Amadou Diallos, and Sean Bells who have lost their lives senselessly, I say SPEAK UP AMERICA! Speak up for all of America’s children. Address the racial issues that are built-into the systems that we are upholding. When we really address and admit the racism, we will start moving toward solutions that will save “precious lives.” Yes! Those lost lives were precious. The Trayvon Martins, Amadou Diallos and Sean Bells that are still alive today, their lives are precious as well. Let’s see to it that their lives are not “snuffed out” because of bias that is left unaddressed, by racism that is disguised as “justified force.”

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