Can't you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in
Make a world that we can live in
--Teach Your Children, CSN&Y
Since we are in Florida and guns and police are occasional topics, Ranger will address the furore surrounding the 26 Feb 12 death of a 17-year-old black youth in the central Florida town of Sanford.
First to the hagiography of Trayvon Martin and concomitant vilification of his killer, Zimmerman. [Anything that follows is not to justify murder, if that needs be said.]
An associate of Ranger's in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) commented this morning to him that Trayvon Martin's police file has been sealed. We know that Martin was in Sanford because he was expelled from his South Florida school for as-yet unverified offense(s). So what we do know is, both participants in this engagement had rap sheets. Neither were lily white when it comes to their experience with the law.
Another fact is that thousands of black / white /brown /yellow people shoot and kill thousands of other black / white / brown and yellow people every year in the U.S. Can they all be hate crimes?
The exact statistics are hard to come by; a rough estimate is 30,000 firearm deaths in the U.S. per year, with almost half of those being suicides. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC),the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all release their own stats; the FBI also tabulates justifiable homicides separate from murders. For instance, in 2005, there were 337 justifiable, fatal shoots by the LEOs and 143 by private citizens.
Since this is a criminal investigation, the general public can have no idea into which category this killing falls. It doesn't make anyone smarter or more liberal to side with the black youth over the late 20's Hispanic in the absence of all the data. However, it does appear to make some people feel better to slot themselves with one over the other. Why would that be? Do liberals suffer a higher collective guilt over past treatment of black people than we do over the treatment of Hispanics? If so, why is that?
We suggest if you really sympathize with the plight of blacks, you back it up with equal concern over every blight facing the black community in America, namely:
- What are you doing about the disproportionate rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD's) -- especially AIDs -- in the black community? According to Zack Burgess of the Philidelphia Tribune:
"African Americans represent one-half of the new HIV infections, those living with HIV and those who succumb to it each year in the United States. We also have higher rates for other STDs. Not to mention that Blacks represent 50% of the 2.8 million new Chlamydia infections and our infection rates for Gonorrhea and Syphilis are 16 and 23 times those of whites respectively."
"Nowhere is this impact greatest than in young people, especially young women. A recent CDC study estimated that 48% of black adolescent girls in the United States had at least one STD. Moreover, many are unaware of it."
- As of 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Justice estimated there were over 846,000 Black men in prison, making up 40.2% of all inmates in the system at large. More black men are now in prison than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2010, 25 percent of all students and nearly 40 percent of black and Hispanic kids fail to graduate on time; the dropout rate is slightly higher for Hispanics than for blacks.
- About 25% of the U.S. Army is black (though a much smaller percentage join front line combat units.)
- Black women have the highest teen pregnancy rates of any demographic @ 117 per 1,000 women aged 15–19 -- over twice the rate for non-Hispanic whites (46 per 1,000)
- African Americans have 2.4 times the infant mortality rate as non-Hispanic whites. They are four times as likely to die as infants due to complications related to low birth weight as compared to non-Hispanic white infants.
- In 2004, the homicide rate among black victims in the United States was 18.71 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide rate was 4.86 per 100,000 and the national homicide rate for whites was 2.97 per 100,000.
- While African Americans comprise 13.5% of the U.S. Population, 43% of all murder victims in 2007 were African American, 93.1% of whom were killed were African Americans (Black on Black Crime Coalition.)
Do you know these statistics? Do you care? If you think Trayvon is some kind of aberration, than you do not, and your wailing and gnashing of teeth is fallow and will flame out once the next new outrage is fed to you. If you do not care about the reality girding this discrete episode of violence, you can save your bile.
Maybe it is just like those adverts for the World Health Organizations that solicit funds for children with bloated bellies. Kids are cute and we feel sorry for them. We would turn away if the ads featured adults with festering sores and vermin surrounding them. It feeds our egos to have the little picture in our wallet of "our" Third World kid"
Ditto the way the press is marketing the Martin-Zimmerman fight: We see the latter's mug shot, but the former's smiling, pre-17-year-old face. We envision laughter and Skittle-eating Trayvon, and the lurking vigilante, Zimmerman. We do not see the scowling, hooded Trayvon or the one sporting his gold rack, because that would plant a seed of doubt in our minds, and the press and your ego trafficks in simple black and white.
Outrage can feel cathartic, but to what end?
Next: The Armed Citizen II: Race in America