Will entrenched injustices cut us to pieces?
The death of Trayvon Martin on February 26 was not just another event in America’s troubled and tainted history of abusing the rights of African Americans. The controversy surrounding his death highlights a pivotal time in the history of our race relations.
For every Trayvon there are 50 other Trayvon Martin cases that are never addressed for a variety of reasons: The community is not organized; the community is not aware; the community is frightened and intimidated; the community receives poor and ineffective legal counsel; and our community is often at war with itself.
Not enough in Black and White America recognize that where there is a spark there is a potential for a full-fledged inferno that burns away and obstructs the quest for justice. This column has long warned that election year 2012 could become the most dangerous period in race relations in America’s recent history.
The events beyond Sanford, Fla. in Tulsa, Okla., Baltimore, Md., Spokane, Wash. and Minneapolis, Minn. are signals of the growing chasm of racial intolerance in this country. The execution-style killing of a young White citizen along the 3500 block of Fremont Ave. N. of this city and other incidents across the country of racial animus and physical confrontation represent a clear and present danger.
America refuses to enter into the kinds of discussions about the issues of race and racism that make up the four elephants in the room, the elephants of not only Whites killing Blacks and Blacks killing Whites, but the biggest elephants — Whites killing Whites and Blacks killing Blacks.
Male elephants have a history and an extreme effectiveness of creating damage and mayhem if they become irritated, agitated and angry. The strife that has begun to emerge, the polarization that is increasing daily, should not and cannot be dismissed as a momentary thing or something that will pass. One can sense when one is out and about in the communities of America that the patience of Black Americans to be treated fairly and with dignity and respect is beginning to run out. Only a razor-thin margin is holding back a serious and dangerous eruption in America over the issues of race and racism.
The solution is what Nellie Stone Johnson long called for: education that leads to jobs that leads to housing. Although it certainly appears that Trayvon is the victim of profiling, the reality is that 90 percent of Blacks killed are killed by Blacks and most Whites who are killed are killed by Whites.
Unless both communities come together to work out education, jobs and opportunity for all, this violence will continue with the Black community getting the worst of it. Where are our Black leaders making waves about the 90 percent of our brothers who are killed by brothers?
For those who laugh and attempt to dismiss the fragility of race relationships in America, they need look around more seriously. There is a seething in the minds of some, a well-constructed and dangerous mindset that there is no hope for meaningful opportunity for Black America. We fool ourselves when we try to respond by saying that the election and presence of a Black man in the White House guarantees automatic positive change.
In fact, as a part of the razor-thin condition muting racial animus in America, no president has been so disrespected, insulted, threatened and challenged based not on his actions as president but simply on the color of his skin. Being insulted and challenged happens to all presidents in a country that honors free speech, but now it is heightened due to the issues of race and racism that America refuses to address and resolve.
This president has been treated in a hostile manner that is unknown in the history of the United States and the institution of our presidency. And certainly there is a fear in this column that as the conservative right aligns itself for what they consider to be the final push to recapture the Whiteness of the White House, that razor-thin blade will cut us apart even more, risking the dismantling of our democratic institutions that are so important to maintain, and without which opportunity and strength will be denied both Blacks and Whites.
These events signal that we are no more than a razor’s edge from tearing this nation apart based on racial hatred and racial agendas. The only workable agenda is an agenda for protecting the rights and opportunities of all.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development, “web log,” and archives at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.