Thursday, March 22, 2012

What if Trayvon Martin were White? and John McWhorter Mentions Chauncey DeVega in the NY Daily News

As popular as statements like these are this week, I’d have a hard time chiming in with writers like Chauncey DeVega — who said that the vicious murder of Trayvon Martin shows that even in modern America, “black people’s citizenship and humanity are forever questionable.” America has come a long way since lynching and the Scottsboro Boys.
Still, police brutality and insensitivity against blacks remain, as I have often argued, the main obstacle to racial healing in this country. I analogize it to a chimney left standing amid the smoking ruins of a house. No one sees the chimney as evidence that the fire never happened.
Yet we can’t rebuild till we get that chimney torn down.
You judge yourself by the quality of your critics. It would seem that I am moving up to a more exclusive neighborhood. My apartment is rent controlled; the lease is up tomorrow. But for now, I will enjoy the view.

John McWhorter offered up a smart and quite incisive piece about the murder of Trayvon Martin in today's edition of the New York Daily News. His lede? a kind mention of me, "Chauncey DeVega." I have at times disagreed with Dr. McWhorter's opinions regarding folks such as Herman Cain, as well as black cultural politics, more generally. However, I have a deep respect for his thinking and argumentation.

The whole essay is worth reading, but one part especially merits further discussion. Here, McWhorter works through the "what if?" Trayvon were white and Zimmerman were black by alluding to the 2006, John White case in New York:
The fashionable line is that the Sanford cops went easy on Zimmerman because Trayvon was black. Certainly, we are told, if Zimmerman were black and had killed a white kid, he would have been hauled off to jail, no questions asked.
But do we know that? The Sanford police would deny it and insist that Zimmerman is free because of the Stand Your Ground law.
It is this law that stands as something concretely addressable. In fact, it even lends itself to the alternate-case racial scenario that so many are applying to the Zimmerman-Trayvon clash.
New Yorkers will recall the case of John White.
White, a black man in his 50s, came out into his Long Island driveway on an August 2006 night to confront white teenagers who had come onto his property making threats against his 19-year-old son, Aaron, including ones to kill him. There had been an argument at a party, related to a woman.
White was carrying a gun. In a scuffle between White and 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro, when Cicciaro grabbed for White’s gun, White fired. The shot killed Cicciaro.
White said that he did not intend to kill the boy. He claimed, reasonably, to have feared for his life and/or that of his son. Yet he was sentenced to two to four years in prison. Then-Gov. David Paterson commuted his sentence after five months in 2010.
White stood his ground — albeit in a state without a law by that name on the books — and went to the slammer.
And now we have Zimmerman and his claim to have stood his ground.
What counter-factuals or "what if?" scenarios have you come up with regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin? What alternate variables can we entertain, ones that reveal more than they would potentially obscure?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is so impressive about the commentary of a Black apologist who often provides cover for right wing think tanks?

What is so creative and informative, instructive about his logic and reasoning? He is a classic racial contrarian who creates defensive posturing and naaratives for his investors..

More importantly often his talking points and analysis don't advance or elevate nor takes us to any new understanding of anything.

I would opine that you would be in more valued circles if your words are echoed by street activists and even whites not on the grid..Notice I have omitted the academic bandwidth of his orgins.

McWorthy is a creation of the chatterclass and cottage industry of Black Apologists who provide the narrative, cover, buffer, currency whites seek.

He is wounded by white racism like many of us given the legacy and depth of this pathological condition on our personhood.It leaks out often in his inferences and of course stains his analysis.

The tragic truth about people like him as that the wrong people in the ruling class and to many others pay homage to his underdeveloped and pedestrian analysis.

So then who would I like to notice me and reference my body of work in the MSM or some venue where words matter.

That person is an iconic thinker and griot with the skills and ability to be COMMON with the ability to reach all of our reactive frequencies that will inspire and activate us to do something..An talent that reaches the high and the low..

I know only a few of these people on a personal level. I observe the reflection of one daily in the mirror and I think I read the words of one who is the author of this blog..

Peace

Ps: Like you one day soon..I will reveal myself...

sjelly said...

What I will never understand (by "understand" I mean "believe") is how ANY human can truthfully say that the fact that Trayvon Martin was black had nothing/little to do with his murder. Yes, I said MURDER. How many fucking examples do these fucking people need? How many unwarranted arrests, taser-ings to death, beatings, shootings, SLAUGHTERS of black boys and men do these creatures NEED in order to see the foully obvious: black peoples' lives are cheap/worthless in the frigging country. Anyone, with any paltry, feeble excuse may take any black person's life. Everyone in this country knows that if Trayvon had shot George, Trayvon (if he were lucky) would be in jail, if not already dead. When do we get to be citizens, when do we get to be people? How fucking many of us need to die unjustly before we get to be citizens?

k_pr said...

I'm finding it hard to see the parallels between the two incidents. In the case of John White, he knew the victim or at least his son knew the victim. The argument from the party spilled over on to Mr. White's property. Outside of the racial tensions between the parties or even if Mr. White was with in his rights to shoot, there was already confrontation in the air.

In Trayvon's case, he was unknown to Mr. Zimmerman, he was not on Mr. Zimmerman's property, he was not armed or threatening Mr. Zimmerman. And not until after Mr. Zimmerman had initiated contact by following Trayvon was there any confrontation present. Yet still, Mr. Zimmerman killed Trayvon for looking "suspicious." And the police not only failed to arrest Mr. Zimmerman but also seemed to intimidate a witness.

Maybe a more important question would be what would the police reaction would have been had Trayvon actually been armed and responded to being stalked by an armed Mr. Zimmerman by shooting him first? Would the police been as quick to apply the "stand your ground" law?

This also leads to a serious issue in regards to the NRA who promote these sort of laws based solely on the fear of being attacked by a stranger. Not only do they set up the law for this scenario, they feed the pervasive fear the "other". When in reality the story of Mr. White is much more common - an argument between parties who know each other escalates to deadly violence.

Dan Boyd said...

sjelly: Why would you let some latino looking white guys actions strip you of your citizenship?

How can you or anyone else prove that Trayvon was murdered because he was black?

And even if he was, how can anyone point to this mans murder and arbitrarily declare the whole melting pot of a country that is the United Startes of America corrupt and anti-black? The same country, led by a black man and is also home to the richest woman on plant earth that also happens to be black.

Deny your emotions influence over your reason.

A thousand years from now something like the Trayvon murder will happen again. There will always be different races. Sometimes one race will murder the other. Today blacks murder more white people than whites kill blacks and yet your here crying foul? Condeming and entire nation? Getting a heated up with your renewed hatered of the white race? Why? The media loves stories like this! These accounts stir up racial tensions and cause people to tune in, and when you tune in the sponsors can sell you car insurance and switch you to Direct TV.

JGreyden said...

Dan Boyd is offended that we are offended.

Now, that is full circle thinking.

The word of the day is : Platitude.

Platitude:A trite or banal remark or statement, especially one expressed as if it were original or significant

Example : Deny your emotions influence over your reason.

oooobrrr!! i'm still having goosebumps over that one. hehehe!

Anyway, beside the concrete fact that a teen got his life snuffed out for no other reason than being black but not any kind of black. The coon kind, the scavenger type, the type who impose their happiness on others and help themselves through other's belongings, the pest kind for whom it's open season all year long, the legendary kind for which you are not really a member of the master race if you have never ever caught one red handed in your lifetime.

So beside all that, there is the delicate question of the place of the black man and woman after inhabiting those lands for half a millennium, and whom roaming's right are still being questioned.

Which indirectly infer to white masculinity and black comeuppance. It seems those two are somehow linked even though it's thoroughly denied.
Maybe Zimmerman found his father lacking and was trying to shape his own solution. An idea of virility who appealed and pleased him and for which the boy was just an accessory or ingredient. The opportunity was too good to be true, maybe an once in a lifetime.

So what if Zimmerman was black? The only equivalent i can think of , would be if he was a gang member ordered to kill some random whites.

dtwo said...

@Chauncey read ur posts on da-daily and find them extremely informative. Keep doing ur thing.

d2

@Anonymous

Where's ur blog at? If you have one please share the address. If not pls start one.

Enjoyed your comment a great deal and I think you are right on in terms of your desription of Mcwhorter and ppl like him.

CNu said...

Dan Boyd is actually on time today.

The 15 useful minutes for this incident have expired, and now only carrion-eating parasites are still picking at the carcass...,

ah, the joys and vicissitudes of the 2nd/3rd line inheritor hustle!

Comrade Physioprof said...

Still, police brutality and insensitivity against blacks remain, as I have often argued, the main obstacle to racial healing in this country.

What the fucken fucke does "police brutality and insenstitivity against blacks" have to do with an unhinged racist motherfucker fatally shooting a black kidde with the tacit approval of a bunch of whiteasse fucken cops?

Anonymous said...

Why are black adolescents racially profiled? Is it because they're black? Or is it because of the culture of thuggery that encourages them to act gangsta, look dangerous to seek respect, and maintain an us versus them attitude at all times? Is it because they're black, or because many of them hold the law in contempt, commit crimes, and deal drugs? Its an appearance that is chosen. I would venture to say that if a chain-wearing tattoo'd white punkass kid would have been walking through the neighborhood mr Zimmerman would have followed, confronted, and shot him just the same.

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

I have no tears for Trayvon Martin. I have a fear that if I start to cry, I may never stop. I might remember the many that have been killed with no justice. RIP Trayvon.

Plantsmantx said...

Daniel Cicciaro was NOT a "white Trayvon". Trayvon was minding his own business. Cicciaro made death threats against Mr. White and his son on their property.