Posted by Witch Hazel | Posted in brew commentary, Guest Blog, Trayvon Martin | Posted on 15-07-2013
By now, we’ve all participated in or witnessed Twitter debates and Facebook rants about the weekend verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Maybe you’ve unfriended a few intolerant folks since Saturday night, or perhaps you simply checked out weeks ago, before the trial even began. A day and a half removed since the verdict, many are asking what should the “next steps” be. Yesterday, one of my college friends, Dahkil Hausif, a filmmaker (you may have watched his work on HBO) and editor, penned this call-to-action on his Facebook page for Black America in a post-Zimmerman verdict world. He’s given us permission to run it here on the Brew. Read it and leave your thoughts below.
Solutions in the Aftermath of the Trayvon Martin Verdict by Dahkil Hausif
Here’s what I won’t be doing:
I’m not marching. I’m not blacking anything out. I am not wearing hoodies. Definitely not eating Skittles or Arizona Ice Teas and putting more money in the pockets of people who sell poison, just to make a statement (I credit my wife for that statement). I do not judge anyone who does. I do not see how any of these actions promotes change. I do understand that it can be cathartic for some.
I also will not be praying for karma to take effect. I was taught that karma is the cycle of your actions in THIS life time affecting your position in the NEXT life time. I most often hear people describe it as what you do today is going come back to you sometime in the future. That, I believe, is called sowing and then reaping, and I’m all in on that concept. But that requires work.
And here’s the work:
The sad reality is that whether we are in communities that look like us or not, young Black people attract a certain degree of attention that disproportionately ends in conflict when compared to young men of other races. We can argue about intention, socio-economic issues and a plethora of other causes, but we need to start focusing on the solutions.
Young Black people need to be taught the art of self-defense. As my mentor and martial arts teacher explained, “Self-defense is the art of preserving my life AND your life”. When people have an excellent teacher and learn the art of self-defense, they feel confident about being able to protect themselves, but they also understand what it means to hurt someone and so they avoid unnecessary conflict. That confidence can bring about a sense of responsibility, which is needed. I believe this whole-heartedly.
Young Black people need to be taught the art of conflict-resolution. So many times the “law” are the agitators in situations and this is dangerous when they are the “authority figures”. But then we make matters worse when we challenge or confront them when we don’t have anything near equal status in those situations (who has the handcuffs? who has to stop when told to? who has the gun?). My peers are mostly over the age of 30. We regularly get stopped by officers checking us out, passed up by cabs and stopped in buildings where we go to do business because we are mistaken as messengers. At our age, we know how to handle the situation so that the individual making the assumption at least thinks twice about making that assumption again, rather than flat out embarrassing them or challenging their egos.
Young Black people need to learn the law and understand their rights. Some situations can be easily defused with knowledge simply because “authority figures” will at times abuse their position based on your lack of knowledge.
Become a force in your community. Get to know your neighbors, especially the young ones. Especially the ones you think are knuckleheads.
Black people in general need to start waking up to the political reality of this country and understand the process and how it works. The Zimmerman verdict seems very simple to me because we’ve seen this happen before: the state’s DAs have a certain amount of resources and experience and the defense, if they can afford it, will have better lawyers who make a hell of a lot more, and then based on the parameters of the law, the defense runs circles around the prosecutors. OJ was guilty, but his attorney’s ran circles around their opposition. OJ could afford great attorneys.
Part two of this is that we need to generally be up on what’s going on. A few years ago I asked a group of friends of mine if they could believe how much Glen Beck made in a year and they asked me, “Who’s Glen Beck?” (ironically, I caught hell for asking “Who’s Drake?” a few months earlier). If you continue to live in this country but adopt a stance of “I don’t need to know about all of that” or even worse, “I don’t care about all of that” then you are doing so to your potential detriment. If you don’t care…move. Move to this simpler, freer place you’re always describing. But if you stay, want to be successful, want to own businesses and build ideas into realities, then you need to learn about your local and national politics. You need to learn about business law and tax law. You need to learn about school systems and how they work. If you do not, you are making yourself a victim.
And that leads nicely into the next topic: we as Black people need more lawyers, politicians and judges. Stand Your Ground is a horribly flawed law, but why does it continue to exist? Why do we not have enough people in the political structure to keep corrupt politicians from gerrymandering their way to controlling our lives? We invest a lot in athletes and entertainers, but we need a new generation of people to get into the system and make the necessary changes. This is not going to happen overnight… it’s going to be a generational change, but we need to be in it for the long haul.
These are some of the things that I have been and will be doing. Please add on where you feel necessary.
What changes will YOU make going forward? What will you tell your children? How do you plan to make a difference? Drop a comment below.