Saturday, June 29, 2013

About Racism In America, 'Yes, Of Course,' And 'A Long Time' Ago'

You can understand the backlash against Paula Deen, head of a southern cooking empire unraveling after she admitted during a sworn interrogation for a civil lawsuit that she had used the N-word.

I was also struck that she began her answer to a question during the interrogation about whether she'd used the N-word with, "Yes, of course."

Deen added that it had been "a very long time" since she'd used the N-word, but I'm not buying the suggestion that racism is over in America - - even though the US Supreme Court's conservative majority last week said 5-4 that voting discrimination happened such a long time ago that jurisdictions known to have practiced it don't have to prove their laws today aren't full of tricks and traps to block minority voters.

Right, Texas?

Freed by the Court from such election law reviews, Texas jumped right back in after just a few hours with a hearty 'Yes, of course' and a tough Voter ID law that will disenfranchise or obstruct minority voting there.

And you cannot confront racial reality in America right now without confronting the murder trial of George Zimmerman - - the Florida condo association concealed 9 mm carrier and self-appointed Super Hero who tracked down - - despite being told not to do so by a 911 operator - - and shot dead Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teenager whose only crimes were walking near Zimmerman's house last year and wearing a hoodie in the rain.

I watched some of the trial testimony last week and saw Rachel Jeantel, Martin's teenage girlfriend who'd been on the phone with him when the murder took place, hardly get treated during cross-examination like someone who'd gone through the trauma of hearing her friend gunned down.

Social media, racially-tinged, had a field day at the expense of the young woman of Haitian descent:

While some have rushed to defend Jeantel’s multi-lingual background, others leaned hard into her personally, letting fly on social media a swirl of epithets that roughly amounted to dismissal of her as “ghetto trash,” as one commenter said. That reaction has steered the trial into a new phase, reflecting, some commentators argue, more on America’s privileged classes, including blacks, than Jeantel’s trustworthiness as a star witness.
This didn't happen to her a long time ago. We're talking about a matter of hours.

I don't know what the outcome of the trial will be, but I do know this:

Will young black men keep dying if they cross paths with self-declared law enforcers with pistols hidden in their waistbands?

Yes, of course.

Remember the New York City subway shooter Bernhard Goetz?

His racially-motivated gunfire did take place a very long time ago - - but the consequences and the suffering have continued more recently.

I suspect George Zimmerman won't be the last of his ilk to go for his gun, and Trayvon Martin won't be the last such victim even though the Supreme Court says that happy days are here again - - because Zimmerman and Paula Deen embody and inflict their peculiar and timelessness enervation to the national experience.



Anonymous said...

I've experienced racism overtly expressed from citizens of African decent toward other cultural Americans as the worst in our nation.

I don't agree with the slanted bigotry and personal bias in this opinion piece.

However, Paula Dean's base of Savanna, Georgia does it's dammed best to hide it's history of slavery from tourists. All tours of it's historical districts are completely void of the words "slavery", "blacks", "ownership" or any other reference to one of American's central slave trading posts.

That's not to say that racism is overt. But you can't help but notice differing cultures in different occupations

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I've experienced racism overtly expressed from citizens of African decent toward other cultural Americans as the worst in our nation.

Yeah, I'll bet.

MAL said...

Michael Tomasky has a piece out on a new GOP guru asserting that appealing to whites (with no regard to blacks and Hispanics) is the winning strategy for the GOP in 2014-16.

See .

Anonymous said...

Is the prosecutor in the Zimmerman trial doing a good job? From reading some coverage (and this trial makes me so uneasy that I have trouble reading about it), I sense that the prosecutor is not building his case. The defense gets more of the story. Martin seems to have been minding his own business at least until the moment Zimmerman pulled a gun, and the freedom to mind one's own business is what so many Americans say they want, sometimes to an extreme degree. If Martin had the opportunity to fight back, his behavior would be unsuccessful self defense, right? He was not carrying a gun; he was carrying snack food. It's unbearable to see the young woman witness get mocked, in this or any context.