Let's not kid ourselves. The title, above, is precisely what the jury and their verdict confirmed last week in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial, like it or agree with it or not.
It's been made clear once again, shoot a black male in America and chances are extremely good you will not only get away with it but not spend any time in jail whatever.
Forget that Mr. Zimmerman was told by the police to not tail the stranger in the hoodie:
Police dispatcher: "Are you following him?"
Dispatcher: "Okay. We don't need you to do that."
Put that out of your head.
All that matters is that it has been proven, once again, that a black male's life in our society still, to this day, has precious little value.
Douglas Blackmon, in his important, revelatory book Slavery by Another Name pointed out how, after the Civil War--and for far too many decades--black men in the South could be and were, repeatedly arrested for doing nothing more than walking in very public areas. If, at time of arrest, they couldn't prove they were gainfully employed, which was not uncommon at all, of course, they were not only arrested but found "guilty." To make matters far, far worse, they were not only put in jail but then sold--seriously, sold--by the jail to corporations for their work.
If you didn't know this, it doesn't surprise me. Far too many Americans know far too little of our nation's own history and far less than that, of course, about black Americans and their history.
So along with being discriminated against and lynched and held down socio-econonically, they were also treated like this, as I just described.
Keep in mind, too, the numbers and ratios of black Americans that are in jails now, and have been for far too many decades, showing our justice system incarcerates black men at far, far higher rates than white males or other minorities. Just a few of the very factual statistics:
- A black male born in 1991 has a 29% chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life.2
- Nearly one in three African American males aged 20–29 are under some form of criminal justice supervision whether imprisoned, jailed, on parole or probation.
- One out of nine African American men will be incarcerated between the ages of 20 and 34.
- Black males ages 30 to 34 have the highest incarceration rate of any race/ethnicity.
I'll stop with the statistics there.
Suffice it to say, as so many have so rightly pointed out, this society and our social and economic systems are slanted or tilted or worse, against the black male in America.
What's great is that we get to blame it on them, too.
Just as happened just now, with Trayvon Martin.
Turns out he was guilty.
Links: Statistics of incarcerated African-American males
Jail Inmates at Midyear 2009 - Statistical Tables