Val Nickolas hits the nail on the head.Why most black men think the Zimmerman trial was a travesty.
Went through a couple of these experiences myself growing up, and later as an adult. Getting stopped in a$70,000 car, in a suit, with my then 80 year old mother 2 blocks from my house in a very nice neighborhood on the way home from taking her out to dinner… For having a loose license plate screw.
Had my Zimmerman moment as a teen, when I and two friends stopped by the local McDonalds for a meal. The driver was a couple of years older, and was known around the community as a bit of a bad ass. He later became a County Policeman and served with distinction for 30 some years. A car with four young white men first attempted to ram us in the parking lot as we drove out – missing us by a few inches. My older friend said “Forget it – they are probably a bunch of drunks”, and kept going without saying a word to the other driver. Half way home, we noticed the car full of guys was following us. We took a couple of turns through streets which basically took us around the block and back to the main, two lane road (the area was pretty country at that time) – the car followed our every move. As the numbers were 4 to 3,we figured those guys weren’t interested in a stand up fight. They probably were armed. My friend carried a sawed-off under the seat (I said he was a bad ass) – but we didn’t want to force a confrontation on the road. I suggested we go to my house, which had a long circular driveway, shielded by a row of bushes and a wall. My Dad, who was out of town with my Mom, kept loaded guns by the doors after having the house shot at because of their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (He never was real big on that “peaceful” stuff). When we pulled into the drive, the two non-drivers would jump out through the hedge unseen, and circle around to the house, letting ourselves in and collecting Dad’s venerable Pump and Double Barrel. IF the clowns followed us into the driveway, they would be faced with a three sided ambush, with no way out as the driveway would be blocked by our car, and the wall on one side, and the side of the garage on the other…
Which is exactly what happened. We made them get out, and besides a case of beer, found two revolvers when we searched them and the car. We took the bullets, removed the cylinders, and tossed the revolver frames into the car – and collected 6 beers from the stash for our efforts. And with a graphic description of what was going to happen if we ever saw them in our town again…
Sent them on their way with instructions as to where to find their revolver cylinders in a few days.
Those guys were so shook up we never saw them again, and they never did pick up their revolver cylinders which we set atop a fence post at the end of a dead end farm road.
Story could have been a lot different…But those beers were damn good.
Had another friend who managed to get stopped 3 times the same day by the same cop, supposedly looking for a robber on his way to visit his girl friend in the next county. Cop as hell on aged blue Mustangs.
The Don Imus controversy a while back brought racial discrimination into the national conversation. But for many African-Americans like me it dug up a lot of deep, suppressed memories of hateful things that have been said and done to us over the years. Things we thought we had moved past but came screaming back like a freight train into our lives again.
For me, it was the George Zimmerman trial that sparked my memory. As a vice president in a national news division, I watched the trial through an objective lens my eyes have long been trained to look through. However at the end of the trial, those long suppressed memories made an unwelcomed hello.
I grew up in a military family and we always lived in middle class neighborhoods. I was an honor studentin high school as well as a student athlete running track. I even had an after-school job to earn spending money. That said, twice as a teen, I ended up looking down the barrel of police guns for no other reason that I happened to be a black teenager. I had completely forgotten about these incidents but the Zimmerman verdict opened that door again.
The first time, I was merely waiting for a bus to go to my job. Suddenly two California Highway Patrol vehicles jumped over the concrete middle island and they came screaming to a halt on either side of me kicking up a huge cloud of dust.
My first instinct was to run away but before I could figure out how to handle this, an officer from each car jumped out with handguns pointed at me, screaming for me to put my hands up and get down on the ground.
I started to ask what was going on, but they were having none of it and forcibly pushed me down into the dirt making my work clothes a filthy mess. They then asked me if I was the name of someone they were looking for. I told them no and they demanded ID. I did not have a driver’s license yet but fortunately I did have a picture ID from work. If I had not had that ID, I would have surely ended up in jail. After they realized they had the wrong guy, they got back in their cars and drove off. No apology, no checking if I was OK, no nothing.
It was the first time I came to realize that being black was not just a magnet for racist speech and actions directed at me but also could also cost me my life had I responded to a normal human being’s natural fight or flight instinct.
The second time was while I was in a convenience store, and a voice from behind me told me not to move a muscle. I glanced back and saw a shotgun pointed at the back of my head. I thought I was being robbed and I had an envelope in my coat pocket with money I had just cashed from my paycheck. I was thinking about trying to get it out and hide it in the snack display in front of me.
Had I done that, I would have died on the spot…
Another great piece on “Waking Up” was written by Leonard Pitts for the Miami Herald –
Four words of advice for African Americans in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal:
Wake the hell up.
The Sunday after Zimmerman went free was a day of protest for many of us. From Biscayne Boulevard in Miami to Leimert Park in Los Angeles, to the Daley Center in Chicago to Times Square in New York City, African Americans — and others who believe in racial justice — carried out angry, but mostly peaceful demonstrations.
Good. This is as it should have been.
But if that’s the end, if you just get it out of your system, then move ahead with business as usual, then all you did Sunday was waste your time. You might as well have stayed home.
We are living in a perilous era for African-American freedom. The parallels to other eras have become too stark to ignore.
Every period of African-American advance has always been met by a crushing period of push back, the crafting of laws and the use of violence with the intent of eroding the new freedoms. Look it up:
The 13th Amendment ended slavery. So the white South created a convict leasing system that was actually harsher.
The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. So the white South rendered that citizenship meaningless with the imposition of Jim Crow laws.
The 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote; it was taken away by the so-called “grandfather clause.” The Supreme Court struck that down, so the white South relied on literacy tests and poll taxes to snatch our ballots all over again.
Our history is a litany: two steps forward, one step back…
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