Cenk Uygur interviews Michael Skolnik of GlobalGrind.com about his decision to do more than wring his hands over the killing of Trayvon Martin, and he says it in a way that resonated with me. In his essay on GlobalGrind, he reminds readers that no one will ever consider him suspicious, even in a hoodie, because he's white. How true that is.
Contrast Skolnik's essay with that of Ajani Husbands' letter to his unborn black son:
When confronted by an armed individual, assume that this person is the police. As such, begin by placing your hands behind your head, fingers interlaced. This will assure that in the eventuality that you are shot and executed, there will be minimum opportunity for analysts and pundits to later ponder if you were the aggressor. Keeping your fingers behind your head is key as it prevents your fingerprints from ending up on your assailant or his weapon. If at all possible, turn your back on the person (whom we will assume always to be the police). In this manner, you will be shot in the back, another telltale sign that you were the victim.
You will not survive your encounter, so it is important to remember to show investigators, the courts, and critics alike that you were in fact the victim. This will be difficult as the assumption is ever-present that somehow, in some way, you did something wrong. That perhaps there was something different you could have, should have done. Perhaps you should have worn something different or walked in a less suspicious manner. I assure you, my son, this is not the case. Regardless of your actions, you were not meant to survive. All you can hope for is an easier postmortem investigation. This will be of some comfort to your mother and I as we cope through your loss, and so I ask you to follow these directions carefully.
Be clear and concise in your cries for help. This will not in any way add to the chance that you will survive the encounter. Instead, it serves to ensure that bystanders and anyone recording just the audio of the encounter will have a clearer depiction of what is happening. Phrases such as "help me!" are not enough. You must be clear. "Please do not shoot me! I am just a kid!" will alert others to the fact that it is you that is about to be shot, rather than your assailant. "I do NOT have a weapon! Please don't shoot me!" further emphasizes that you are unarmed (for after your death, no one is ever certain).
Wednesday night New York City's Union Square was taken over by marchers in hoodies. White hoodies, black hoodies, green and yellow and purple hoodies, along with the ubiquitous gray hoodies. Marchers were there in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, to show their support for his family and his memory and condemnation for his killer. It was an opportunity to remember that people of color live in fear of being shot for no reason other than their clothing on a daily basis. Some of the pictures posted on Twitter (hashtag #millionhoodiemarch) were moving, like this one from ChimiraMira:
As encouraging as this is, the same undertones still run through the "official response." Just as I began writing this, I began to see reports of the NYPD coming to surround Union Square. At 9:00 pm PDT, one person tweeted this:
Over 500 cops amassing on the scene at Union Square, including the second highest ranking officer of the NYPD.
Shortly after that, I began to see pictures flow through on the hashtag, like this one and this one. There are Occupy Wall Street protesters marching alongside many, many others, and I think it's possible that the NYPD is trying to pounce on them before there's a spring revival of last fall's protests. Still, there's a sad irony in the fact that people protesting wanton and unprovoked violence between citizens, racial inequality, and injustice are being treated like criminals.
Trayvon's mother and father spoke at the march earlier in the evening, reminding everyone that "This is not a black and white thing. This is a right or wrong thing!" Indeed.
Tonight Sanford's chief of police received a resounding no-confidence vote from the city's commissioners, allowing for the possibility that facts might matter. But wait. Glenn Beck's minions over at The Blaze couldn't wait to smear Trayvon Martin with their special brand of factless racism, suggesting that he was some kind of violent criminal. Be afraid, America, be afraid. Glenn Beck personifies what every black person endures every day from fearful white America.
And while Glenn Beck's three fans are shaking in their boots, Jonathan Capehart writes about the rules all young black men must learn, either from their parents or from their experiences. His interview with Al Sharpton is poignant, particularly when he says "I could have been Trayvon Martin. I could still be Trayvon Martin." Sharpton's question: "What do we tell our kids now?"
Put your hoodies on, and stand against the Glenn Becks and Sean Hannitys of the world, with Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Capehart, Ajani Husbands, and all of the others who are judged not on who they are, but what they look like.
Update: 1:00 3/22 - Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has stepped down "temporarily" while the Martin case is being investigated.