Friday, March 23, 2012

There Is An Epidemic Of Violence; We Can’t Afford To Be Silent Any Longer

I include myself among the millions of people all around the world who are outraged at the failure of the police in Sanford, Florida, to arrest and charge with murder, neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, for accosting, assaulting, and then murdering an unarmed 17 year-old, Trayvon Martin, as he walked home from a store.

There have been marches and demonstration all over the country demanding justice. In many places, the protestors wear like Trayvon, hoodies, and hold up what he purchased that night, a can of Arizona ice tea and a bag of Skittles.

Responding to calls to end his silence, President Barack Obama finally spoke out, calling Trayvon's death a tragedy.

"I can only imagine what these parents are going through," the president said, adding that he couldn't help but think about his daughters. "I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this. "My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin," he added. "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

I've lost track of the number of Facebook friends who have posted articles about Trayvon's murder. A comment in response to my comment about an article from the Guardian, by Gary Younge, that I posted on my Facebook page by a FB friend, Christopher J. Doucot, captures the essence of the rage many people feel about this senseless death:

"It's a damn nightmare. Never mind trying to achieve the American Dream[;] we just hoping and helping our kids survive the American nightmare. Zimmerman lynched Trayvon Martin. Genteel white folk might not have shown up with a picnic basket and their Sunday best clothes like we did before, but make no mistake- this young man was lynched because he was black. That his murderer said he was "suspicious" and that his murderer has not been arrested are the inevitable products of a society at large which tolerates the routine frisking of the black and brown kids in my neighborhood, and similar neighborhood across the country, by cops who assume everyone here is a criminal.

I was reminded by my brother Larry in a conversation they we had about Trayvon's murder the other day, that black youth are dying violent deaths – mostly by guns – all the time where he lives in my hometown, Detroit, Michigan. This epidemic of violence in black and brown communities adds up to a large number of young people dying prematurely and unnaturally on a daily basis across the country.

Unlike Trayvon, however, their tragic deaths do not garner the same level of media attention, invoke the same level of disgust and outrage from the public, or generate the same sense of urgency to do something. Instead, their deaths tend to be ignored by everyone but the immediate family.

In his commentary, Gary Younge makes a similar point, "It is not at all uncommon for young black men to leave the world in a shower of bullets followed by deafening silence.... Eight kids under the age of 19 are killed by guns in America every day."

Both my brother and Gary Younge are correct. I recently read an article from the March 14th, Detroit Free Press, about a grisly and growing number of children who were shot in the city over the last several weeks:

  • "12-year-old Michael Green II, 12, was working on his homework before he headed outside to play basketball with a friend in his neighborhood and was shot… A bullet pierced the boy's right arm breaking it and severed an artery that had to be repaired with a vein from his groin."
  • "A two year old was shot outside his home when police said two men were arguing."
  • "A 6-year-old was injured after being shot in an attempted carjacking on the city's east side Feb. 26."
  • "Nine-month-old Delric Miller IV was killed Feb. 20 when bullets pierced his home as he slept on the couch, and Kade'jah Davis, 12, died from gunfire following an apparent argument over a cell phone with the victim's mother at the end of January."

This kind of bloodshed occurs every day in communities across the country. For the most part, there is silence from both the media and the public, including the vast majority of the people who are seeking justice for Trayvon.

My point is very simple. There are too few marches or demonstrations by people demanding justice for the victims of the daily carnage going on in many of our nation's major cities.

We can no longer afford to remain silent. Social media has played a significant role in spreading the word about Trayvon's death. As a tribute to Trayvon and in solidarity with the other victims of senseless violence, if there are young men and women – regardless of the circumstances – dying in a "shower of bullets" where you live, blog about it, tweet about it, and post it on Facebook and encourage your friends to share that information with their FB friends.

We have to stop being silent and indifferent. I lost childhood friends to senseless violence. We cannot allow this madness to continue!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hidden Hues of Humanism | The Humanist

This is a very interesting article about secular humanism and communities of color that was published in The Humanist.

"There is already a robust freethought tradition in the black community, for example. We can go back at least as far as abolitionist Frederick Douglass. NAACP cofounder W. E. B. Du Bois is another prominent example. During the Civil Rights movement of the 1940s through the ’60s the leader of its well-established secular wing was journalist and union organizer Asa Philip Randolph. He organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Randolph was later recognized in 1970 by the American Humanist Association with its Humanist of the Year Award. Another such activist was Freedom Ride organizer James L. Farmer Jr., founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and the 1976 AHA Humanist Pioneer. Beyond social justice advocacy, we find the arts overflowing with prominent black freethinkers. During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s through the ’40s, writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larson, and Richard Wright could be counted among them. Emerging later were jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie “Bird” Parker, author James Baldwin, and novelist Alice Walker, who was named the 1997 Humanist of the Year."