Modern Day Emmett Tills: Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin...
By Dennis Loo (2/21/14)
Emmett Louis Till was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 at the age of 14. While buying something from a small local grocery store, he reportedly called to the married 21-year-old white proprietor, "Hey baby." Till lived in Chicago and was visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, not knowing that his friendly greeting was a capital offense for a black male in the South. Roy Bryant, the husband of Carolyn Bryant, the proprietor, and his half brother J. W. Milam, kidnapped Till from Till's great uncle's house, took him to a barn where they beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, then shot him through the head, and before dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River, tied a 70 lb. cotton gin around his neck with barbed wire, a reminder that blacks were and always will be slaves in the minds of white racists. Till's brutal torture and murder helped to spark the civil rights movement.
"You're not going to talk to me that way!" -- Michael Dunn, before he fired ten shots at five black teens, killing Jordan Davis, while Davis and his friends sat in their car at a gas station. Their crime? Playing their music too loud and not turning it down when told to by a white man.
When he was found guilty of four counts of attempted murder but found not guilty of murdering Davis, Dunn held up his hands in shock as if to say, "How can this be?" He was no doubt thinking, "How can I be found guilty when I told them they were not going to talk to me that way? They brought this on themselves."
Jordan Davis' fate was not determined by he and his friends playing their music too loud. Jordan Davis' fate was sealed when he didn't instantly obey a white man's command.
And the jury trying Dunn were deadlocked, with two jurors convinced that Dunn was justified in murdering Davis, because, after all, let's be clear, Davis is black and Dunn is white. We need not say any more, as the right-thinking folks of this great country all nod their heads in silent agreement. Nothing more needs to be said. We all understand: Davis is black and Dunn is white. It's obvious.
Trayvon Martin's fate was sealed by being black while wearing a hoodie. To white racists everywhere, both those who are self-consciously racists and those many more who are unaware of their buried so deeply that it's-taken-for-granted-like-breathing-racism, George Zimmerman was justified in taking Trayvon's life. Why?
Because a 17-year-old black teen does not have the right to defend himself against a stalker, whereas a white man does, because a black person, especially a black male, is an existential threat. There is no "stand your ground" for blacks because they don't have any ground to stand upon to white racists of polite and impolite society. They are guilty by the fact of their blackness and they are especially guilty if they act as if they have the same rights as white people do. You can kill them for this and be found not guilty for it as the verdicts in the Zimmerman and Dunn case show unmistakably.
"These assholes always get away" muttered George Zimmerman, when he spotted Trayvon Martin walking in a gated community in which to Zimmerman, Trayvon "didn't belong."
Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman, making sure that those who "don't belong" are not allowed to stay alive as trespassers.
Dunn was also a neighborhood watchman in the sense that he was also enforcing the unwritten rules about who belongs and who doesn't and what the social hierarchies are.
When Renisha McBride was trying to get some help for a broken down car in Dearborn, Michigan, she made the mistake of thinking that she could knock on the door of a house in a lily white neighborhood and that she would be given assistance, instead of a rifle shot slamming directly into her face, killing her instantly.
When Jonathan Ferrell had a car accident in North Carolina and he was walking towards a white policeman to seek his assistance, he made the mistake of thinking that a white police officer would not regard his walking towards him as just cause to shoot Ferrell ten times, killing him.
If you're black and you do things out of the natural order of things, then you're fair game to be killed. Judges and jurors have said so too.
Some people thought and some people still think that electing a black president means that we're a colorblind society now. Some people think that having a billionaire talk show host who is black - Oprah - means that we have left racism behind. These notions and these people are wrong and they need to pay attention. It's open season on black people (and Latinos) in America. It's open season on those who authorities declare an existential threat like those that even and especially this black president executes with drones every week. There are those who think that Obama wants to do the right thing but the institutions keep him from doing the right thing. And though they are wrong about Obama's intentions, they are not wrong about the power of these institutions.
The oppression of black people is practically in the DNA of many white people in this country. (Indeed, if they look closely enough at their DNA they will see that black people are in many of them.) Imagine Obama intoning that line when he says, "We're not black America. We're not white America. We are the United States of America." We cannot continue to be the United States of America without the continued existence of virulent white racism. This is what so many of the Tea Party are so aroused about, for the wrong reasons. This is why they could call black representatives during the Obamacare vote "n*****s" and then deny that they did so. The USA without anti-black racism is as sensible as a peanut butter sandwich without the peanut butter is still a peanut butter sandwich.
As Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow where she documents how the enslavement of black people continues in the form of mass incarceration and a racial caste system, racism against black people is intimately intertwined with this country's very nature: "It may be impossible to overstate the significance of race in defining the basic structure of American society" (Emphasis added, p. 25).
As I have previously pointed out, the fact that the highly aroused fascist social base - most evident in the Christian fundamentalists and much of the Tea Party - fear a "black planet" or the falling of whites from majority status into minority status and are ready and willing to take up arms to violently defend in a last ditch effort their long-standing privileges, tells you something profound about what the US has been and is in its essence. These people are not crazy in the sense that they see their privileges under threat of being diminished or disappearing. They recognize very clearly what it means to be a white American and how other groups are subordinated to that top tier privilege.
The civil war ended slavery but it did not end the oppression of black people. The civil rights movement supposedly ended Jim Crow, which was how the oppression of black people was continued in the face of slavery's end. But the civil rights movement did not end Jim Crow because mass incarceration and its main justification, the Drug War, has replaced it with the New Jim Crow, a racial caste system in which blacks are guilty by their mere existence and appearance. What the civil rights movement did is allow some blacks to experience upward mobility, people such as Barack Obama and Colin Powell, Oprah and Condi Rice. But other blacks are still treated as and seen as "thugs."
These legal lynchings by people like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn and the collusion by juries in these executions are loud wake up calls to what this country is really.
February 26, 2014 is the two year anniversary of the slaying of Trayvon Martin.
In LA there will be a march beginning at 2:30 pm at Slauson and Crenshaw ending in a rally at 4 pm at Martin Luther King, Jr. and Crenshaw. Hoodies Up! We are All Trayvon. The Whole System is Guilty! The Youth are Not Suspects, They are Human Beings!
This site aims to accomplish two related goals. First, it complements Dennis Loo's book Globalization and the Demolition of Society so that people reading the book can get more deeply into it. (See navigation bar above, labeled "GDS Book Annotations"). We believe that his book is a landmark, providing a solid foundation for politics of a new path. Taking such a path is critical to humanity and the planet's future. As his book's dust jacket states:
[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
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Defeating the empire is not something that occurs only on the literal battlefield. It is also something that is determined throughout the continuum of battles over many issues, including: ideas; philosophy; forms of organization and leadership in economy, politics, and other realms; ways of arguing; ways of responding to and respecting empirical data; interest in truth as opposed to expedience; how people and the environment should be treated; the nature of relations among people (e.g., between women and men, different races and ethnicities, rich and poor countries, etc.); ways of responding to criticism and ideas that are not your own; ways of handling one’s own errors and those of others; and more, all the way up through how warfare is carried out. The contrast between the methods and goals of the neoliberals and those of us who seek an entirely different world is stark. (Globalization and the Demolition of Society, Pp. 326-7)