In Trayvon Martin case, historical context points to racial injustice

July 27, 2013 

President Obama was right when he stressed the importance of historical context in his recent White House talk on the Trayvon Martin verdict.

An article titled "The U.S. vs. Trayvon Martin: How the System Worked" by a black University of California, Los Angeles instructor, Robin D.G. Kelley, provides such context:

"Martin died and Zimmerman walked because our entire political and legal foundations were built on an ideology of settler colonialism ... an ideology in which the protection of white property rights was always sacrosanct; predators and threats to these privileges were almost always black, brown, and red; and where the very purpose of police power was to discipline, monitor and contain populations rendered a threat to white property and privilege. This has been the legal standard for African-Americans and other racialized groups in the U.S. long before ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) or the NRA (National Rifle Association) came into being. We were rendered property in slavery, and a threat to property in freedom. And during the brief moment in the 1860s and '70s where former slaves participated in democracy, held public offices, and insisted on the rights of citizenship, it was well-armed (white) citizenry that overthrew democratically elected governments in the South, assassinated black political leaders, stripped African-Americans of virtually all citizenship rights ..."

Unequal treatment persists today. John Roman, a senior analyst at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, has found that white people who kill black people in "Stand Your Ground" states are 354 percent more likely to be cleared of murder than a white person who kills another white person in these states.

Data compiled by the Malcolm X Grassroots movement finds that a black person is killed by the state or by state-sanctioned violence every 28 hours. No justice, no peace.

Robert Phillipoff


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