New details in the case don’t undermine the charge that Sanford cops acted irresponsibly — they underscore it.
It was all too good to be true.
Last week even conservatives expressed concern about the way Sanford, Fla., police handled the death of unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, one month ago today. Florida’s Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott asked for an outside investigation, and another Tea Party favorite, Rep. Allen West, fumed, “This is an outrage.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “an incredible tragedy” and said, “I’m glad it’s being investigated and we’ll take a look at it as the investigation moves along.” Then President Obama made a cautious comment of sympathy with Martin’s parents, noting, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” and our Kumbaya moment predictably ended.
What wasn’t quite as predictable was the last few days of push-back on behalf of accused shooter George Zimmerman – helped along by Sanford Police. Of course Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty. New details indicating there was a struggle between Martin and Zimmerman might turn out to be true. But nothing in those details undermines the argument that the cops botched the handling of Martin’s death – in fact, they underscore that case.
People hold signs as they protest against Senate Bill 1070 outside the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona April 25, 2010. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
Following a lecture I gave once, a student with a vaguely libertarian perspective asked, Is it possible to end discrimination without building up government? She didn’t like discrimination, but she also disliked interference in people’s lives. Ingrained in an organizing tradition that relies on government as the main locus of change, I actually had to think. Could we win racial justice without much government?
Fighting discrimination requires setting standards for both individual and collective behavior, educating everyone about those standards and ultimately creating some consequence for violating them. This young woman’s question implied that a society can generate compliance with such standards through volunteerism, an individual embrace of colorblind or gender-neutral ways of dealing with neighbors, students and employees.
RH Reality Check is an online community and publication serving individuals and organizations committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights.
We are contributing to the global effort to empower people with the information, services and leadership they need to safeguard their sexual and reproductive health and rights and to guard against false attacks and misinformation.
We are prochoice.
And we are thrilled to now be here in the Tumblr community.
If you want to kill someone and get away with it, do it during half time of the NBA All-Star game.
Appoint yourself captain of the neighborhood watch. Don’t set it up with the national program. The national program won’t let you carry a gun or pursue suspects. Do it in a gated development where your black neighbors — 20 percent of the community — are targets of suspicion afraid of leaving their homes. Drive around in an SUV and keep an eye out for suspicious individuals. Look for young black men, the kind you’ve warned people about, the kind you think “always get away.” Monitor the 7-11. Find someone who “looks like he’s up to no good, or [is] on drugs, or something,” someone “carrying something,” someone “looking about.”
Studies show that holding kids back doesn’t help them in the long run. So why is the idea making a comeback?
If Einstein’s definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” then it stands to reason that the politics of education have gone completely mad. That’s a logical conclusion as states now consider retention legislation to force young children to repeat a grade if they don’t meet state literacy standards. The legislation, in other words, would put students through the very same curriculum they just experienced — with the expectation of different results.
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand—glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.”—Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
There is a very bad man named Joseph Kony, who has spent the better part of 3 decades implementing massive human rights violations including, but not limited to, the recruitment of child soldiers. He is one of the most wanted criminals on the roster of the International Criminal Courts. In spite of this, he has yet to be caught and held by authorities of any sort.
But fear not, dear netizens. We, the USA, know EXACTLY how to fix this problem: With some hot suburban white kid action! We, the 15-30 year old demographic, can fix all such ills by using the internet to express some righteous anger. In this way, we can make it SEEM like we make a difference under the guise of awareness, all without having to do any real work outside of plastering a few posters or wearing a bracelet. Imagine that – just clicking a few links while eating your favorite brand of junk food, and you too can feel better about yourself, all the while promoting that wholesome image of the West and its selfless, genteel residents coming to save yet another helpless African nation!
Sarcastic rants aside; I must admit that my most immediate thoughts regarding the recent spike in popularity for the KONY 2012 movement went something along the lines of, “You HAVE to be shitting me.” And I, like many people peeved by this movement’s surge in publicity, have my reasons.
One of my primary complaints? This movement effectively ignores the fact that once this monster is arrested, the problems of Uganda will be far from over. There WILL be a power vacuum because – gasp – there is a HUGE block of recent history that allowed this man to wield power in the first place. And no, my friends, you can’t find it in a 25 minute YouTube clip. Simply put, arresting the current ringleader doesn’t do anything to curb the likelihood of another equally ambitious individual taking the reins. Mind you, in no way am I saying this man should not be arrested – he is a war criminal of over 25 years and far overdue for quality time in a jail cell. However, simply convincing ourselves that his arrest will solve every problem this region has is both ludicrous and self-serving. And from a historical perspective, it’s what’s allowed us to comfortably distance ourselves from any fallout associated with our involvement in regions in which we intervene (Cue references to that ugly business with the Shah of Iran, popular support for the Mujahedeen in the 1980s, SE Asia post-Vietnam, etc.). Thus, in framing this dialogue in the language of one strict, short-term goal, we effectively remove ourselves from any responsibility for follow-through after the fact and further the image of the West as that of a colonial power to be distrusted. Regardless of if it’s done via federal government or an NGO – it sends the same message to the people left to navigate the mess.
Speaking of those millions of souls – One can only imagine how they feel about the fact that campaigns like these completely ignore the tireless work done by the very people living here to stop the atrocities that surround them – people like Betty Bigombe, who have been going about this process for decades, risking their lives on a daily basis. And at the end of the day, the work of people like these – people who live there, in the proverbial trenches – is the work that does the most good, yet gets the least attention. Make no mistake – the people of Invisible Children have done a good job in raising awareness of this issue in our neck of the woods, and I genuinely believe they have only the best of intentions. But at the end of the day, a few white guys backpacking through Uganda with a video camera does nothing for sustainable efforts for change. Instead of educating the public on why these events are happening in this location, or how to help enable successful grassroots efforts to do more, this approach ultimately boils down a hugely complex conflict (one so closely related to ‘Africa’s World War’, at that) to dangerously simple “truths” so that an impatient and uninformed audience will absorb the message presented more readily. And with all of this attention on our shiny new fad, the media saturation takes away the spotlight and associated resources from those best equipped to educate and affect change. Namely, because they are taking into consideration the very things that those living thousands of miles away in the comfort of hipster-friendly suburbia do not, and unlike said would-be good Samaritans, they have the trust of the people around them.
And finally, that point which I so smartass-ily brought up in the beginning of this glorious rant: We really have to stop presenting the nations of the Global South in such a condescending light. I can guarantee you that not one of them really needs a sympathetic White Savior to sweep in and rescue them. If we here really want to help, perhaps a little time to educate ourselves on what has allowed this conflict to fester would be useful - or, if we’re feeling REALLY ambitious, to do something in terms of economic or societal sanctions. For starters, perhaps we could consider how our very economic decisions and consumer trends directly affect the politics and associated conflicts of Central Africa (Yes, darling children, this includes Uganda).
I could go on about various other issues regarding Invisible Children, Inc. as an organization, its approaches, and other issues, but I’ll spare you another page of reading. For a few of them, I leave you uno, dos, tres, and my favorite, cuatro.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
For those asking what you can do to help, please link to visiblechildren.tumblr.com wherever you see KONY 2012 posts. And tweet a link to this page to famous people on Twitter who are talking about KONY 2012!
I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor…
If you really care about this conflict, I would suggest reading this before committing to KONY 2012.
One of the burdens of blackness, W.E.B. DuBois famously wrote, was facing down an omnipresent question from the wider society: “How does it feel to be a problem?” I’ve been wondering lately if white people might soon understand what he meant.
Convergence devices like tablets and smartphones are great because they eliminate the need for having a million different gadgets whose performance is only marginally better. But there are some instances when dedicated devices make more sense. As the NY Times points out, reading books is one of those instances.