- accused by the police of possessing marijuana paraphernalia
- suspended from school (several times)
- known to respond impert and with violence to white men who follow me around, inquire about my own personal business, and try to assault me
- a graffitist
- a fan of socializing with friends in public places after dusk
- standing next to someone who was holding a cellphone
- reckless with receipts given to me for items purchased at convenience stores
- autonomous enough to walk without a white escort through my own neighborhood
It warms my heart to see how many of My Fellow Americans think any of those behaviors, taken together or individually, are perfectly reasonable grounds for me to be shot-to-death.
Walk up to the fourth floor of your university’s library instead of taking the elevator.
This Week’s Exercising: ACCOMPLISHED.
President Obama talking to the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon. (via juliasegal)
This man. Don’t ever change.
Our Geek In Chief, ladies and gentlemen.
Doing Important Work.
Reading about Trayvon Martin’s killing and am beyond saddened, sickened, and outraged at the continuation of state-sanctioned killing of black and brown youth. I wonder, however, if there another way to push for justice for Trayvon, without appealing to the prison-industrial complex as a means of retribution. Even if the state does prosecute his killer, what does it do to our communities in the long run when we ask for more surveillance, stronger penalization, more brutal justice? In the end, whose bodies will be most subjected to the PIC?
As we demand Justice for Trayvon, I wonder if we can keep the call for prison abolition and real social transformation in mind.
A few resources on the prison abolition movement and the prison-industrial complex’s disproportionate targeting of communities of color, especially women and queer/trans people of color:
Yes. This is one of the complicated paradoxes of demanding justice from the very state that is so often the object of our critique—in order to demand justice we end up conferring legitimacy on the state whose ability to use violence we try to delegitimize. We may want George Zimmerman’s arrest, prosecution, and, probably, imprisonment, not only because some of us, in our more sadistic moments, would like to see him suffer, but also because some of us likely believe it will be a way to make our collective rejection of the white supremacist imperatives that make a person like Trayvon Martin killable. Yet, in appealing to the power of the police power to arrest, and to the power of the courts to sentence Zimmerman, we also make heard a message that we might otherwise hesitate to send: namely, that we believe that these institutions—the police, the courts, the law—are institutions capable of delivering the justice we want. The irony here is especially high in light of the track record of the Sanford Police Department that would, ostensibly be doing the arresting we demand. To what extent are we willing to appeal to a white supremacist police force as if it were capable of delivering justice for Trayvon? And also, why is this just about justice for Trayvon?
It is no disrespect to Trayvon Martin’s memory to point out that our ability to make him into a slogan is based less on who he was as a person as on our desire to fit him into a mold that will allow others to see him as worthy and deserving of justice. That mold is called the Innocent Victim, and its shape can be seen in the details that we choose to highlight and repeat ad nauseam about the case: He was unarmed, he was holding Skittles and Arizona Ice Tea, he was on foot, he had no criminal record, he was a “good kid.” Add whichever narrative that you’d like to hang on him here. It’s rather perverse, really, our collective love and desire for the innocent victim, the victim who “did nothing,” the victim who, we convince ourselves, must have been so pure that we immediately scoff at George Zimmerman’s alibi that he was acting in self-defense. What if Trayvon Martin had come at this white man who held a gun? Would his killing have been justified? Would we be protesting and petitioning as righteously as we are? What if he’d had, instead of Skittles, a bag of weed? Or a beer? Or a knife? Or something else that made it harder to make him look like a kid? How many fewer signatures would that correlate with on change.org?
It should hardly be disputable that a great share of what killed Trayvon Martin was his existence in a racist state system in which to be black is always to be seen as being guilty of something, a system in which criminality is always implied in blackness and in which blackness is understood as a predisposition toward criminality that nonblacks learn to imagine themselves as the innocent victims of.
It should also hardly be disputable that a great share of what subjects young black persons like Trayvon Martin to “the state sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death” has something significant to do with the ways in which we fetishize innocence. It has something significant to do with the ways in which in order to see a person, or a group, as deserving of justice, we expend so much energy toward shoring up evidence that they did nothing at all, toward proving, once and for all that the Trayvon Martins of the world get killed not because of what they did—not, that is, because they are criminals—but because of who they are. Black. Not criminal.
But what about the blacks who do commit crimes? The blacks who have criminal records? The blacks who might be found carrying knives and not skittles, or both? The blacks who, unlike Trayvon Martin, might not have a parent living in the subdivision in which they happen to be walking at night? Would George Zimmerman’s bullets have been more appropriately directed at them, and not Trayvon? It may sound vulgar to say this, but in our collective dwelling on the details that prove Trayvon Martin’s “innocence,” I get the sense that the answer is, yes. Or, to put it less vulgarly, I have little doubt that if Trayvon Martin had a criminal record, we would be seeing anywhere near the degree of public outcry that we currently are. There would be, in other words, much less of a palpable feeling that there has been a major and significant breach, breakdown, and failure of justice. We’d have a much harder time maintaining certainty that Trayvon’s killing was caused by what he was (black) than about what he’d done (break the law, in whatever fashion).
Innocence, Victimhood. Two social and legal constructions that make an almost inordinate claim both on whom we are and are not able to see as deserving of justice, and on whom we are and are not able to tolerate seeing as targets of violence. Our insistence in representing Trayvon Martin as an innocent victim is a stark reminder of how much we will will have to shift our angle of vision—to say nothing of our social infrastructure—in order collectively to regard millions upon millions of black and brown people as not only deserving but fundamentally entitled to a substantive kind of justice. For so many of those who have no claim to innocent victimhood, to have not done anything wrong, our public discourse has a radically difficult time imagining a form of justice whose instruments are something other than the barrel of a gun, or the interior of a cage.
Whenever a white person kills a PoC, the murder always gets labelled an “isolated incident”. Trayvon Martin’s murder? Isolated incident. Shaima Alawadi? Isolated incident. Sean Bell? Isolated incident. Ramarley Graham? Isolated incident. Dwight Person? Isolated incident. Kathryn Johnston? Isolated incident. Corey Ward? Isolated incident.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point. At what point are all of these murders no longer considered “isolated incidents”. At what point do we start calling this terrorism or genocide? It may seem like hyperbole to some, but once you start looking at the body count those words become relevant. If a PoC were to do half of the things white people have done to us, you better believe the media would label all of us “terrorists” at the drop of a hat. Since we’re the ones being killed, it’s just an “isolated incident”.
It’s like when that Public Safety Official assures Everyone the umpteenth woman brutally murdered this month in an act of ‘domestic violence’…is certainly not a Public Safety Concern. ANOTHER ISOLATED INCIDENT, they say. And I just rage and rage and rage.
For freeeeeeeee, you guise. For free.
I know it’s unfair and impractical,
but I do.
and thee bougiest Venezuelans talking so much pro-US, Good Colonial Subjects, We’re Not Really With Him, Pero Yo Quiero Beisball! nonsense. I mean, arch-fucking-coonery on the internets today, friends.
And I just…
I cannot. I am unable. Hugo, be a fence.
*takes a deep breath, goes back to work*
Here in the Northern Hemisphere.
*tugs down the hem of her sundress*
We made it, guise! We made it.
Two years and two months ago, I was handed an opportunity that essentially devoured half a year of my life. I was tasked with developing and teaching a course for “underrepresented” undergraduate students (a term which is sometimes the post-Proposition 209 substitute for the more familiar term “students of color”). All of these students were on the verge of becoming the first in their families to complete postsecondary degrees, and what brought them to this course was the fact that they were all deeply interested in continuing their schooling by pursing graduate education. The purpose of the class was complicated: each student had secured a faculty member with whom they were to work in tandem in developing and completing an independent research project. What attracted me to this was that it provided the opportunity, so rare when you’re operating on the quarter system, to work with the same fifteen students over the course of six months.
What happened over those six months was amazing and frustrating. On one hand, it was, unquestionably, the most fulfilling teaching experience of my life. And, on the other hand, I don’t think I can responsibly record that fulfillment and that transformation without also noting that the labor conditions that generated it were, well, fucked. I was regularly working upwards of forty hour weeks when I was barely being paid for twenty, and thus violating the hard-won union contract that existed to protect me and my fellow graduate student laborers against such things. Like many of my fellow graduate students, I was compensating for the difference between the cost of living and my teaching salary by taking out student loans in order to sustain myself. My decision to put considerably more work into this course than I was paid for shouldn’t be seen as just one bad individual decision, as its impact, both shitty (because I was overworked and underpaid) and satisfying (because in spite of the overworking and underpayment, I loved what I was doing) has repercussions that extend systemically beyond my individual working conditions. Doing so doesn’t simply devalue my labor but also the labor of others positioned like me—after all, wouldn’t the person who held my position in upcoming years be expected to do the same work that I did, and have their performance evaluated by the standard that I set by overworking?
I sometimes wonder how some of the people I see interjecting into conversations on Tumblr to say things like “but that doesn’t apply to everyone!” manage to navigate something like an interstate highway.
Like say there’s a sign that says “Richmond, Next 4 Exits”. If they aren’t going to Richmond, how do they begin cope with a fact that there’s a sign telling them “Richmond, Next 4 Exits”?
I mean, how do these folks not stop right there and start screaming at the sign not to fucking tell them that Richmond is the next 4 exits when it should know that not everyone is going to Richmond and it’s not fair to address a sign to everyone on the highway when some people might be going other places?
I’ll allow the question.
It is really disgusting in an article that talks about Black residents being afraid to walk around their neighborhood for fear of “fitting a profile” to see the police chief who refuses to arrest Trayvon Martin’s killer saying that he’s sure if we could all go back in time, Trayvon would have done something differently that night.
Like what? Not walk to the 7-11? Not being wary when an un-uniformed stranger in an unmarked car starts following him? Not running away when the stranger comes after him?
Yeah, he’d probably do things differently, and that’s a criminal shame in and of itself.
The trite arguments of some animated third graders from Colorado notwithstanding, this is what makes a hate crime different from other crimes: they are acts of terrorism targeted against a specific group of people. They victimize entire communities and send a message to the survivors.
The message Trayvon’s death sends is:
Stay out of our neighborhoods. Stay off our streets. Don’t challenge us. Don’t resist. Stay in your place.
Police Chief Bill Lee apparently doesn’t have a problem with that message. If Trayvon would have just heeded it, he wants us to know, all this unpleasantness could have been avoided.