The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin:
Racism Remains Pervasive

Oct 14, 2013

The following was presented at a SPARK public meeting in Baltimore, Maryland after showing the documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Till.

Trayvon Martin is this generation’s Emmett Till, the proof that this is still a racist society, that there still is no justice for young black men. Just like the case against the two men who murdered Emmett Till, the case against Zimmerman should have been open and shut – GUILTY of MURDER.

The “justice” system is still violently racist. And blindness to that racism still pervades a large segment of the white population.

Many whites and Hispanics claim that race was not an issue, not in the murder, not in the acquittal. A cousin of Zimmerman known as witness 9 said: “I know George. And I know that he does not like black people.” Of course, everyone who heard Zimmerman’s 911 call knows he is racist when he said: “These assholes, they always get away.” Clearly, he was racial profiling – young black man in a hooded sweatshirt – obviously a criminal according to this racist.

Over the last eight years, Zimmerman made at least 46 calls to the Sanford Police Department, reporting “suspicious activity” involving black males. Yeah, they were black, male and in HIS gated community!

The media, the police, the prosecutors and even the jury explain that the reactionary Florida “Stand-Your-Ground” law made it impossible to convict Zimmerman, not racism.

What bullshit!

If the case really had been decided based on Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law, Zimmerman would have been convicted. Because the person to whom that law applied should have been Trayvon Martin. He was the one who was stalked, followed through his father’s neighborhood. He was the one threatened by a man with a gun. Zimmerman was the one who initiated the confrontation. Zimmerman, against police instruction to the contrary, chose to hunt Trayvon Martin down.

Trayvon Martin had every right to defend himself.

Yet, NONE of the jurors thought the law supported Trayvon Martin! To them and to many other whites and Hispanics, the law only supported Zimmerman. They actually believed that an unarmed young black teenager was a danger to a much larger, older white man carrying a gun.

They turned the victim into the threat, and the murderer into the victim.

The defense put Trayvon Martin’s character on trial, as if he had done something wrong, something to deserve being shot to death. While Zimmerman was portrayed as a model citizen, Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, was portrayed as a thug. He smoked pot. So what? So have a lot of people. Maybe the kids of the jurors or the jurors themselves, even.

White and Hispanic people who excuse the murder of Trayvon Martin have let themselves be blinded by the racism peddled in this society. To accept that black men are criminals and are to be feared, to accept the devaluing of black men IS racism. And it degrades and de-humanizes those who accept such lies.

White or Hispanic workers who accept and agree with racist lies are fools. They are shooting themselves in the foot. Because they are helping to reinforce the ditch that racism has cut in the working class. Only the bosses benefit from that division. This division between black and white only serves to maintain the exploitation of the whole working class.

Most whites and Hispanics may believe they aren’t racist – maybe so. But like the three jurors who wanted to convict Zimmerman, but didn’t have the backbone to do it, how many of them fail to stand up to the whites and Hispanics who are racist?

And now I want to speak as a white worker to other white workers:

We need to stand up to our white friends, family and co-workers when they say racist things. We need to stand up against the racist verdict. Not standing up means giving your approval to the lynching of young black men.

In the 1930s there was a bitter coal mining strike, and a song was written about it with a line in it saying “there are no neutrals here.” Racism is way bigger and broader than the coal strike in Harlan County, Kentucky. Confronted with this level of violence, there is no way for anyone to be neutral. Saying nothing is equivalent to approving of the racism.