Van Jones: As a Black Parent, I Don't Know How To Protect My Sons
On This Week, there was a panel discussion on the Trayvon Martin case, as there probably was on every Sunday show this week. It's somewhat ironic that most shows left the discussion to white men, who naturally understand what it feels like to walk down the street, unarmed, with some candy and iced tea and be looked at sideways like they're about to start a riot or rob the little old lady down the street. At least ABC saw fit to have Van Jones join their panel to talk about the Trayvon Martin case.
As it turned out, the discussion was less important than the illustration in many ways. Here's what George Will had to say:
WILL: Well, precisely. I mean, this is why we have what's called due process. We have institutions that are juries and grand juries and prosecutors who are supposed to look at the evidence and come up with the answer.
The root fact is, though, Mr. Jones, that about 150 black men are killed every week in this country. And 94 percent of them by other black men.
And this is -- this episode has been forced into a particular narrative to make it a white-on-black when "The New York Times" rather infamously now decided that Mr. Zimmerman was a white Hispanic, a locution (ph) that was not -- was rare until then, and I think they abandoned by Friday.
Before I get to Mr. Jones' response to this, I want to highlight why this is exactly the problem. You have George Will walking completely past the facts in THIS case in order to justify the frightened white guy shooting the unarmed black guy because there are so many cases where blacks kill blacks.
There is no equivalent there. Yes, it's tragic that there are killings like that, but it misses the entire point of the Trayvon Martin case and makes a hollow, intellectually dishonest attempt to ignore the fact of racial profiling and racial judgments made every day by cops and citizens alike. It ignores the "otherness" factor, which Van Jones brought right back around to the forefront, thankfully.
JONES: Well, let me say, you know, this -- I think this hits pretty close to home. You know, I'm -- as an African-American parent, I have two boys. I think I'm going to have to go broke dressing them in tuxedos every day so they can walk down the streets to buy a Snickers bar or Skittles. I don't -- the standard just seems to keep up and up.
This kid was not in a gang. He was not gang involved. And yet somehow somebody saw him, and, you know, let's give Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt. Let's assume that he was trying to do something good.
Let's assume he was trying to be his brother's keeper, but for some reason, when he saw this young man, this child, he didn't see his brother, he saw the other. We've got to look at ourselves about this. Now, this does not take away from any other problems that you're talking about. But this is disturbing.
As a black parent, I don't know how to protect my sons. And I think that the other thing is that when you are a victim of a crime, if something happens to your child, the only upside is that the police are going to be on your side.
If your child dies at the hands of somebody who's armed -- until now, here I am as a black parent, I got to dress my kid in a tuxedo and if he gets shot, I don't know if the cops are on my side.
That's the essence of it right there. How many of us who are white parents can say with a straight face that as white parents, we don't know how to protect our sons? How many white parents get blamed for their kids being in trouble because they're wearing a hoodie? How many white parents sit down with their kids and have The Talk about how to behave if they're stopped by cops or an angry white person? How many?
All of this leads into a discussion about the Stand Your Ground law, where Ann Coulter demonstrates her ability to completely misunderstand the principles of justice which are thrown out of the window with this law. Here's what the law does: It bypasses due process, enables police not to do a proper investigation, and judges the dead guy guilty without benefit of a trial in a court of law.
Who was standing his ground in this case? The guy with the gun or the guy with the Skittles? Whether or not Trayvon Martin actually knocked Zimmerman down, he was the stalked guy, not the stalker. This is not in dispute by either party. But watch Coulter try to distort the whole thing:
COULTER: You have two completely different narratives of what happened, including one in which the hoodie was not relevant and certainly not the race.
But we know basically what the two narratives are, and in neither one is the "Stand Your Ground" law relevant, because in one case, you have Zimmerman, the white Hispanic, tracking down the suspicious looking kid, just because he's black, blowing him away. Well, there's no (inaudible) -- the question is, did he have to retreat? No, he's the one doing the stalking.
And the second narrative, he's on the ground being beaten up by Trayvon Martin. There's no possibility of retreating when you're on the ground. That is -- all 50 states of the union have a law that if you need it for self-defense. This does not implicate the "Stand Your Ground Law."
COULTER: ...only is relevant if someone had an opportunity to retreat. And the law says you don't have to retreat. In neither narrative is retreating an option. It has nothing to do with the "Stand Your Ground" law. This is simple self defense on -- at least George Zimmerman's...
So in Ann Coulter's view, the Stand Your Ground law isn't even relevant here, yet she completely ignores the fact that George Zimmerman squats in an "undisclosed location" without facing the law only because of that law, despite the fact that in states without that law, he would have been taken into custody, a proper investigation would have been conducted, forensic evidence collected, and a grand jury or preliminary hearing convened to look for the truth.
Here, we have something altogether different. There was no proper investigation, Zimmerman was let go, both sides are spinning and trying the case in the press, and none of that changes the fact that there is a dead child and a man who is not facing justice.
None of that depends on how many times blacks kill blacks. It only depends on whether we're going to grapple with the race issues in this country, including racial profiling, in a meaningful way.