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Did Trayvon Have the Right to Defend Himself? Bernard Goetz Did!

Posted on 17 August 2012 by mdepeine

Somehow Trayvon Martin did not have the right to defend himself as he felt threatened or was threatened by a complete stranger who followed him in the dark.  In New York, in1984, Bernard Goetz (37 years old), who was white, felt threatened and he opened fire and shot four young black males.  He was later acquitted of attempted murder but found guilty for possessing an illegal gun.   He served only 8 months in jail.  Suppose Trayvon carried an illegal gun, shot George Zimmerman, would he only have served 8 months like Bernard Goetz did?  Suppose he had killed George, instead, would he have been out on bail or would he have been on death row already?

Bernard Goetz just “thought” that four (4) black young men were going to mug him on the train and he “opened fire” and wounded all four.  Many hailed him as a hero, while others saw him as a racist.  The four black men, in this case, “pursued” Bernard Goetz to his subway seat. Bernard Goetz was asked for $5 by four young black men and he opened fire because he “felt threatened.”  He felt “threatened and he “opened fire!”  He concluded that he was being mugged, again.

Trayvon Martin was “pursued” by a white man (Spanish mom does not necessarily mean, “nonwhite” mom, there are plenty of Spanish people who’s race is “white”), he obviously felt threatened and possibly “fought” for his life before his life was unnecessarily taken by George Zimmerman.  George could have followed the direction given to him by the “real” police but he instead aggressively “pursued” an innocent (was not committing any crime which warranted apprehension or lethal force) “young black male.”

Surely, in America, we are not saying that only white men and women have the right to defend themselves  (“stand your ground”) when they “perceive” a threat or are aggressively “pursued” in the dark of night?  Suppose Trayvon had managed to wrestle the gun out of Zimmerman’s hand and shot / killed Zimmerman, would he have been found “guilty” of murder / manslaughter?  Would it have been an “open and shut” case?  Bernard Goetz carried an illegal gun to “protect” himself and used it, not against one person, but against four (4) people, and he was not found guilty of the shootings.  He carried a loaded, illegal gun.  That showed premeditation!  Yet, as a white man, he was not found guilty of the shooting.

Why is Trayvon Martin’s “right to life” an issue?  Perhaps he fought George? Perhaps he knew martial arts?  Does that take away his innocence in this situation?  If he fought George Zimmerman, he may have done what any white American has the right to do, defend himself based on a “perceived threat.”  If someone who is not a police officer pursues me and he has a gun, I can only assume that that person is out to harm me in some way.

Goetz was asked for $5 by four young black men and he “opened fire” because he felt threatened.  Why are so many shocked and concerned that Trayvon Martin may have “fought” Zimmerman for his life?  If he fought for his life it was because he, like Bernard Goetz, felt threatened.  Only, in Trayvon’s case, he was black, he was not armed and he was killed after he was “pursued” and threatened.

Whether Zimmerman should be convicted of second degree murder is for the court and jury to decide.  But it is clear that Zimmerman “pursued” an innocent young black man and caused the death of that young black man, Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman disregarded the direction given to him by the police and he escalated the situation until it became violent and eventually, lethal.  Trayvon Martin did not bring this on himself, Zimmerman “brought it on” Trayvon Martin.  If George Zimmerman had listened to the police, we would not have even heard of a Travon Martin or a George Zimmerman.  It would not have been a story at all.  Trayvon would have gone home to his family and that would have been the end of the story!

The fact that there is a Trayvon Martin story is because this young black man was wearing a “hoody” in a certain neighborhood (his father’s neighborhood).   We have to explore this issue and address the “profiling” that occurs in America.  We have to address the racism that causes the death and incarceration of so many young black men in America.  We have to take a “real” look at this issue and not be quick to dismiss it as “nonsense” or “sensationalism.”  There is still a race problem in America and the sooner we address it the healthier we will be as a nation.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0412/17/lkl.01.html

 

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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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The Importance of Environment in Student Success

Posted on 13 December 2011 by mdepeine

As an educator I realize more than ever that a child’s success is not only dependent on what occurs in the school (between student and teacher) but also by all the events that occur before the child walks into the “safe haven” that is often the school building.  Below is an article addressing the impact of invironment on education.  I originally published this article on Helium.com:

I have been an educator in an urban school system for approximately 10 years. Prior to getting into education, I was in banking and finance. I majored in Psychology (clinical and social) and I have always enjoyed working with people and looking for ways to empower people to succeed at what they do and overcome obstacles. I realize that educating a child is not just a matter of curriculum but overcoming environmental stimuli that compete for a child’s attention.

The city that I work in has a lot of distractions that are very hard to avoid or ignore. There are shootings. There is gang violence and drug trafficking. There are also many single parent households. There are car thefts and of course high unemployment. Many of my students are experimenting with sex and some are being afflicted by sexual diseases. A student in that environment has to overcome and process many things just to get an education.

Each child, unless he or she has severe learning disabilities, has every opportunity to succeed. What I am seeing is that some children have more obstacles to overcome than others. Also, one child’s obstacle may be another child’s “easy pass.” Many of my students come in on Mondays discussing not their difficulties with the homework, but who “got shot” during the weekend and who was “jumped” by gang members. Some have seen their parents killed right before their eyes. Some have seen their friends killed or severely beaten. Many have had brothers and sisters who died before reaching the age of thirty. Many have friends and family members who are in jail. It is a common thing to see students wearing shirts with pictures of loved ones as a tribute to those who have died at a young age.

I often ask my students about their parents. Many of them do not know their fathers. Some have lived from one foster home to another. Many of their moms are eager to treat them as equals by the time they are 12 years old. Many are confused into thinking that they are adults even though they so much crave the attention of caregivers who will sit them down and gently walk them through how life should be lived as a child. It is common to hear young boys (11 – 13 years of age) refer to themselves as “grown men.” It is true that many have seen things that many adults have not yet experienced or never will experience. Yet, they are, at the core, children. They are children who still need to be taught to hope and to still expect the best and strive for a good education.

In such an environment It takes more than just a good curriculum and good supplies, it takes understanding the community and devising ways to counteract the negative effects that are produced. Often, I want to teach my students the importance of Newton’s Laws of Motion (Physics) and I think to myself, “wow, how calloused? These kids need some type of debriefing before I can get into any academic topic with them. They need to be able to say ‘here is what I’m going through'” They need to get the attention that many of them are not getting at home. Many parents would like to be there for them, but with minimum wage being such a “minimum” they work a lot of hours just to get by. The children need to hear over and over again, that “you will live a lot longer than your brother did,” or “you don’t have to go to jail, you can get a meaningful education and career,” or “sports and music are not your only options, you can be a doctor also, or president, if you would like.” They need a class that is not based on any standardized test. They need a class that is simply geared toward helping them have a “voice” and learning how to hope and overcome the negative effects of their environments.

I grew up in areas that were negative. Fortunately, I had two parents and other people that helped me look beyond my environment and look at what I can become and how I can make a positive difference. I had a great support system that many students, especially in “depressed areas” do not have. It may be time that we create areas in our curriculum that are geared toward enriching the emotional health of our students.

 

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