Our Reluctancy to Follow Martin Luther King Jr

Taken from NewsOne

One of the best op-eds I’ve read concerning the Trayvon Martin murder (and make no mistake, it’s a murder) comes from AP writer Jesse Washington, titled, “Trayvon Martin, My Son, and the Black Male Code.”

Washington speaks about how every young black man must be on the look out when he’s by himself. When police confront him, he must be extra careful. When walking in a predominately white neighborhood, he must do all that he can to present himself as a non-threat. Why? Because more often than not his mere presence will look suspicious, which could lead to arrests or worse (especially in the tragic case of Trayvon Martin).

It’s safe to say that the Martin murder has helped to polarize our nation even further. On one side, we have people beginning to claim that Zimmerman was justified because he got into a scuffle with the young man. “Obviously, Martin got what was coming to him! He shouldn’t have fought!” But let’s reverse the roles here; Martin, who is black, is following Zimmerman, who is part white and part Hispanic. Zimmerman, fearful for why he’s being followed, begins to run. Martin follows. The two end up in a fight when Zimmerman decides to stand his ground and Martin ends up shooting Zimmerman in “self-defense.” How would the law and populace react there? The “self-defense” argument wouldn’t hold up because Martin had instigated it; besides, don’t we just expect young black males to case out their victims prior to robbing them?

And yet, because it was Zimmerman who hunted down Martin, because it was Zimmerman who chased Martin down, and because it was Martin who stood his ground and died for it, our first reaction is, “Well, he had every right to think that Martin was suspicious looking; he was wearing a hoody!” Hence the unfortunate and sickening necessity for the Black Male Code.

I agree with Washington that not all white people are this way, nor are all people period this way. Likewise, even for those that are, it doesn’t prove they are racist; merely that they’ve bought into certain social stereotypes. I know for myself this incident reminds me of my own reaction a few months ago, one that I’m ashamed of. As I was walking down the street, two young black males who had obviously just gotten out of school began to cross the street to the point where I was walking. My immediate thought was, “Are they going to try to rob me?” Now, to be fair, I’m a bit paranoid and having worked with teenagers I find it hard it trust any teenager, thus I’ve found myself thinking the same way when I see young white males with shaved heads. But the entire point is that my initial reaction isn’t indifference or a realization that they’re probably not going to rob me, but to fear them. Hence the unfortunate and sickening necessity for the Black Male Code.

Of course, as wrong as our society is to harbor these stereotypes, it doesn’t help when so-called “Black Leaders” help to enforce those stereotypes. When we have the New Black Panther party calling for the death of Zimmerman and the Nation of Islam doing the same, how far have we actually progressed as a society? If anything, when people call for such a thing and face no repercussions by our justice department, the oppressed have become the oppressors. We can think back to Mississippi in 1950 and imagine a black male killing a white male. Back then, people would have called for lynch mobs to kill the black male, especially if he escaped prosecution. We view such vigilante justice as abhorrent and racist; but we should view the modern calls for Zimmerman’s head as no less abhorrent and racist.

In short, our society has made great strides for racial equality, but has regressed significantly in the past few decades. The dream of Martin Luther King Jr, that all of us would be judged by the content of our character than the color of our skin, seems to be forgotten and empty on our current generation. Rather, it seems very much that we are still judged on our skin color; if you’re black and walking in a white neighborhood while wearing a hoodie, then you’re “suspicious.” If you’re white then you’re automatically a racist. If you’re black and commit a crime against a white person, then it’s “typical.” If you’re white and commit a crime against a black person, it’s a hate crime, regardless of your motive. In short, we’re still judged by how we look and not by who we are.

I’ve heard white people say, on multiple occasions, “Wow, he’s very articulate for a black man” or “Wow, he’s very intelligent for a black man.” Alternatively, I’ve heard black people say, “Wow, he’s very understanding for a white guy.” Thus, even when we do value the person’s character, we still do it in a racist manner; we’re shocked when someone of a different color than ourselves is actually upstanding and respectable.

It’s hard to see what the ultimate solution is other than sacrificial love. Short of viewing everyone in the way Christ views them, I don’t see how we can move beyond our racism. Short of helping one another out regardless of skin color, of desegregating our churches (the last bastion of segregation), of learning what it’s like to experience our society within one of our various sub-cultures, we cannot fix this problem. The early Church was composed of different races and cultures; it had high society Romans and Germanic Barbarians. It had the noblest of men and even their slaves. It had men and women. It had Europeans and Africans. Looking at the early Church Fathers we see black men (Athanasius was called “the black dwarf”), Arabs, Huns, Goths, Franks, and everything in between. Their unity wasn’t found in their skin color, nor was it found in abandoning what made their culture distinctive; what unified them was Christ and Christ alone. We should seek the same thing if for no other reason so that there are no more Trayvon Martins, no more Black Male Code, no more mobs against either race. Let us seek Christ so that we might one day judge one another on our character rather than our skin color.


4 thoughts on “Our Reluctancy to Follow Martin Luther King Jr

  1. 1st….How sad. You further fan the flame of injustice by saying, “and make no mistake, it was murder” in your opening paragraph. You have tried and convicted Zimmerman in public discourse and add to the disharmony. Martin Luther King Jr. quoting from Amos said, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream”! That statement expresses the Lord’s desire for ALL men. Proverbs 17:15 states “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.”
    So if a modern police department has yet to arrest the man ( can you really imagine in this day and age a police department acting like a 1960’s Alabama good old boy cop shop?) All the state and federal powers that be haven’t thrown him behind bars yet, let’s not convict him. And where you get your information is where I get mine. From a news media which has proven they demand their right to be wrong and not confess, repent or even publically acquiese and acknowledge. You’ve no idea how much of the facts you’ve heard nor if they were, indeed, facts.

    2nd…. Considering your initial gut reaction to the hooded black men crossing to your side of the street. Dear Sir… Is it shameful to be conscious of self preservation? Juan Williams was fired from NPR because he said that he feels uneasy and is more cautious when boarding a plane with Muslims in traditional dress. Juan Williams is the last thing in the world from a bigot or racist. There is a reason we have “knee jerk” response to some things. The fact is, when black youth are wearing hoodies it is because they wish to convey an image. They want to be “Gangsta”. And some are.

    And the percentage of blacks with hoodies commiting crimes as opposed to not would be quite revealing I would think. If I want to put forward an image of being “western” or “cowboy”, I wear the hat and boots. It’s what I want to do. And I want to talk the talk. I want to walk the walk. If I want to put forward a successful businessman image, I put on the suit and have a nice pen in my pocket. I want to be a succesful business man. And that thought will dominate a great deal of my behavior. I don’t dress like a businessman to act the cowboy.

    It is their intention to look “bad” or tough. And they want to talk the talk. And they do. And their musiical tastes bombard them with support of that talk. Adoration of cop killing, women beating, drugs, armed robbery, assault, murder, mayhem and general thuggery is constantly bombarding the ears of the pre-adolescent boy into adulthood. There is absolutely no shame in being more aware, even afraid. God gave you “fight or flight” reflexes for a reason. Control them? Yes. Absolutely. Be ashamed you have them? Absolutely not.

    Only insane political correctness would deny human nature the right to have God given human nature of self protection. Jesse Jackson himself blundered out the he was more nervous with black men walking behind him than white.

    And speaking of the “Right Reverend Jesse Jackson” or the “Right Reverend Al Sharpton” and all the lackies and minions that follow their powerful army of Victimites that has brought the press and the liberals to worship and brought innocent businesses, corporations and political powers to their knees and whites unnecessarily to guilt. Shame on them. Shame on the press that empowers them. Shame on the politicians that use them and the ones that cower from them.

    You mention that “our society has made great strides for racial equality but has regressed significantly in the past few decades”. I won’t dive deep but I must say that Amos speaks to blacks as quickly as whites. The verse has no color qualifiers. Racial division and tension has been driven far more by people of color than whites. That IS the business of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Constantly bombarding the black community with the message that they are substandard but it is the White community to blame. That we intend to subgigate, to oppress, to hold back, or to lock out stricktly because we are white racists.

    That is not true with me. Not true at all. My Father loves black people. He loves white people, hispanic, asian….. “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” In my best moments, I love everyone. In my worst, I don’t love those who have unjustly injure others by word or deed. I don’t care if they’re purple with pink polka dots.

    Blacks need to rise up and be responsible for speaking against the ills of their own. Violent, repulsive Rap. “Gangsta” glorification. They need to stand against the acceptance of substandard academics, against the incredible absense of black males accepting responsibility for fathering children, against the women who do not hold them accountable, against the glorification of drug dealers and gang members, against “hoodie wearing, pants on the ground, major attitude juveniles who are trying to play the Gangsta part with headphones blaring insults of women and death wishes for cops in their ears, whether or not it is acheived.”

    As a white man, I need to stand against even the hint of racist hate. I need to challenge every insinuation that a person of color is less than ………… any positive quality mentioned. Problem is, I so very rarely run into a white supremecist. I never run into open bigotry. I know its out there somewhere. It’s just not around me.

    1. I was thinking about leaving a long reply, but I’ll do my best to keep it short.

      To summarize my response (in case the rest gets longer): Thank you. You unintentionally prove everything I’m trying to say. You prove, to me, that bias and stereotypes are imbedded so deep within our culture that we can’t even see it; maybe we refuse to see it, maybe we don’t. But the fact is, racism is so deep in our culture that it infects everyone, regardless of color; ironically enough, one of the few things that unites us all, regardless of race, is racism.

      To elaborate:

      Here are the facts we have. Zimmerman followed the kid, kept following the kid, and from there it gets fuzzy. It looks like the kid attacked him and Zimmerman then shot him. I stand by what I said – if a guy was following me, at some point my flight or fright instinct would kick in. At best, Zimmerman should be arrested and tried for manslaughter. As for whether or not I believe a “good ole’ boy network” would be in place, I simply ask if you actually read what I wrote. My point is that we have stereotypes and biases that aren’t healthy or good; thus, those biases could have easily come into play for the police investigating the incident.

      Secondly, you state the following line:

      “The fact is, when black youth are wearing hoodies it is because they wish to convey an image. They want to be “Gangsta”. And some are.”

      I have a lot of black friends. Some of them wear hoodies. You know why they wear hoodies? Because they’re cold and they want to be warm. They don’t want to be looked at as “gangsta,” in fact that’s their fear – but some have a certain taste in clothing. If I see a white kid wearing dark jeans and a dark shirt and has a shaved head, shall I assume he’s a skin head and treat him appropriately? Your statement is an example of the racism I’m talking about; all black males who wear hoodies want to look “gangsta.” It never crosses your mind that maybe they just wear them because there’s a practical purpose or they like them and that perhaps our culture has created a negative stereotype.

      If I see a white guy who is rough looking wearing a biker jacket, should I just assume he’s up to no good? Should I assume he’s a criminal, or attempting to “act the part?” Or could it be that he’s just part of a motocycle club?

      But you keep on going. “Their” musical tastes. “Their” clothing tastes. You state this as if all black people somehow have this intention. You act as though any black youth who has donned a hoodie somehow did so because he wanted to look thug. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve made that association that we see it this way. When the whole irony here is that suburban white kids listen to the exact same types of music. So there isn’t a “their” in this whole equation. Is the music horrible? Absolutely it is. But it’s not limited to a race.

      You then talk about the black community standing against such thugs, but they have been. That’s the whole point – they’ve been taking this stand and it goes largely unnoticed because white people and black people so willingly segregate themselves. It’s not a “black problem” either that “they” need to fix; it’s a human problem that we all need to fix, because we have all contributed to it. The problem of “thuggery” extends well beyond black people…or need I remind you of the KKK or even the Italian/Russian/Irish mob, or even Hell’s Angels?

      In the end, you don’t see racism because you don’t consider how it comes across to the “other.” Most racism isn’t overt like a white supremacist, rather it’s very subtle. It’s the Democrat saying that we need to increase welfare and food stamps to help black people (forgetting that the majority of recipients are white) or it’s the Republican saying we need to cut welfare and food stamps to help black people to live on their own (like they’re unruly children who need to grow up). It’s found in the outrage by the New Black Panthers over a Latino killing a young black man, but showing nothing over the black on black crime that happens everyday, or not caring one bit when a white man is killed by a black man.

      That’s racism, and it’s quite subtle.

  2. Ok. Let me be very brief. You be Joel. :^) I’ll try to limit mine too. I won’t deny my powers of observation and common sense just to appear PC. Where do sterotypes come from? Simple. Not a politically correct answer but a simple one. Truth is simple more often than not. Stereotypes exist because there is the stereotypical. The quinessential. The individual that exemplifies the whole. But because I see the stereotypical does not make me a racist in the least, which you strongly imply that I am. It makes me observant and factual. It makes me unshackled to the populist, feigned compassion of the “enlightened” which is more frequently the bigotry of pity and the arrogance of self righteousness.

    Your blog has a picture of 12 year old Trayvon, baby faced and more childlike than a man. He was 16 when he died. 4 years past that picture. I suppose you might not have known that because every media outlet was using the 12 year old picture of Trayvon rather than a more recent, more adult looking Trayvon. I hope you didn’t know that. And what is the purpose of publishing a picture of a child instead of the late teen he was? To garner sympathy. To attempt to persuade by manipulation. It tells a lie. A very subtle one. But it is distortion none the less. Truth does not need the support of a lie.

    I did indeed read what you wrote. Every word. Several times. Precisely why I felt so compelled to respond.

    What is the fixation of being blind to the obvious? Of course the “they” are a “they”. Of course “their” music …whatever… is “theirs.” Did Gangsta Rap come out of the suburbs? If you don’t immediately associate Gangsta Rap with the black community, you are fantasizing in order to be PC. Yes. I’ve seen the white suburban kids that idolize it, that imitate …. hhmmmm ………. immitate what? They immitate the urban black culture. There is even some in my little burg.

    The white man who is wearing every opportunity to look mean and tough probably wants to look mean and tough. And I probably won’t interefere with

    And my good personal friends, some of our High School Teachers, ….Christian teachers, …Christian Teachers who pour heart and soul into the kids and make herculean attempts to reach troubled kids will acknowledge that the “hoodie” look….., the walk, the head down, hiding faces, pants low, chain loop does not adorn the average student with average peers with average attempts at education and staying out of trouble.

    It is the troubled kids. Plain, simple observation. That is not prejudice. After all, their white. It is what it is. I don’t love them one ounce less. I’m under command from the Father and the Son and the compulsion and desire of the Holy Spirit.

    Grant yourself a moment of piercing reality. You have 2 paths of equal length to your chosen destination. On one path stands a large group of young, black High School kids, dressed in conventional attire. With school books in hand books and late teen conversation on their lips. Smiling. The other path equally occupied by a group of black teens wearing the hoodies, the pants, etc. They are looking down. You can only see a full face if they look you straight on. Not a smile among them and every word is accentuated by exajerated black gesturtes and postures.
    I don’t even have to ask the question, do I?

    Your observation will lead you down the first path. So would mine.

    “I have a lot of black friends. Some of them wear hoodies.” “They don’t want to be looked at as Gangsta. In fact it’s their fear.” What the????????…………….. c’mon man. Give me a break. If you fear looking Gangsta, you don’t wear Gangsta clothes. “they’re cold and want to be warm” Hoodies are the only winter wear? Are you implying that blacks don’t have the ability to work through 2nd grade logic? … “certain taste in clothing.” Why? I’ve no idea why you said those things. Are you trying to convince me that blacks don’t have the good sense to wear warm clothes that do not invoke emotional response from …… EVEN OTHER BLACKS?

    I was at least 40 before I decided to like what I like regardless of who wore what. Until then, my attire was chosen by immitation of whom I wanted to emmulate . Be it an individual or a group or those belonging to a movement of some sorts. In my early twenties (cir 1970) I emmulated the hippie culture. I identified with it. I loved the music. I loved the “peace” culture. I was long haired, bearded, bib overalls and moccassins. I also loved the drugs. Everyone I knew that did drugs dressed like I dressed. It was an identification I wanted to project.

    People who judged people by their dress bugged me. And I felt quite self righteous in saying things like, “Just because they have long hair and ……… doesn’t mean they smoke pot.” And, ultimately, I was correct. Not EVERYONE did. But minority would be an insufficient term for those few who did not. Police were right to keep a more watchful eye on people like me. Common sense. Not PC. Just plain old everyday farm boy common sense.
    more coming…

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