Trayvon Martin’s Right to ‘Stand His Ground’

trayvon-hoodie300x2851We’re told over and over that if Zimmerman was afraid of Martin, according to Florida law, he had the right to put a bullet in the chamber of his concealed handgun, get out of his car after being told not to by the 911 dispatcher and follow and confront Martin and shoot him to death.

That’s from CNN opinion writer, Miller Francis. He continues:

At the same time, we are told that Martin, who had far greater reason to fear Zimmerman, practically and for reasons of American history, did not have the right to confront his stalker, stand his ground and defend himself, including by using his fists. We are told that this was entirely unjustified and by doing so, Martin justified his own execution.

Talk about victim-blaming!

The contradiction-in-rights likely arises because we tend to see through the eyes of the powerful and not through the eyes of the powerless. After all, the powerless have little control over media or the political or religious pulpits. With that in mind, I’m reposting the following as the Martin v. Zimmerman jury deliberates:

The Crimes of Hoodies, Short Skirts and Fannie Mae

More guns, fewer hoodies” and we’d all be safer, Gail Collins advised in a New York Times piece after Trayvon Martin was gunned down for “eating skittles while black” – and while wearing said hoodie – in a gated community. A clear threat that had to be stopped.

That’s right. Guns don’t kill people, hoodies do: Trayvon Martin’s “hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did,” claimed Geraldo Rivera (who later apologized).

Sounds familiar. When women are raped short skirts become the culprit.

Yet few rape victims are wearing short skirts. And even nicely dressed black men can create fear. Journalist Brent Staples noticed that people got out of his way when he nonchalantly walked about. Amazed at his ability to alter public space, he tried humming Mozart to project his innocence. Seemed to help.

But why aren’t pricey cars, fancy suits and expensive watches blamed when rich, white men get robbed? What thief could resist?

Why? Because making more powerless members of society the culprit is meant to distract from the sins of the powerful. It’s women’s fault if men rape them, and it’s black men’s fault if lighter men kill them.

In another example, some blamed liberals for foolishly using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help Blacks and Hispanics “buy homes they couldn’t afford,” leading to the banking crises that nearly drove the U.S. economy off a cliff.

What really happened is that rich bankers gave rich campaign contributions to government officials, who in gratitude disposed of pesky regulations. That helped bankers get mega-rich by devising complex financial packages that no one could comprehend.

Used to be that when someone bought a home bankers made sure they’d get paid back. But under deregulation it didn’t matter because the loan was sold to someone else. And that investor sold the loan again. And financial packages were created and sold, composed of fractions of many people’s mortgage loans. They were rated AAA since they were 1) diversified – and hence “safe” investments and 2) the housing market never goes down. (Yeah, right!)

Fannie and Freddie entered the process late, thinking they’d better join in or lose out.

When the housing market dropped and people couldn’t afford their homes, or sell them for a profit, the banks began collapsing. Lucky for them, the taxpayers bailed them out (or the whole economy likely would have collapsed).

Did deregulation get blamed for the fiasco? By some. But plenty of the “powers that be” — and especially “hate radio” — blamed Blacks and Latinos.

Because blaming more powerless members of society distracts from the sins of the powerful.

The crime does not lie with the man who pulls the trigger, nor with the man who rapes, and certainly not with the fat cat who pays to rig the game. No, the crime lies with those who wear hoodies, short skirts and who bank while black or brown.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 13, 2013, in feminism, psychology, race/ethnicity, rape and sexual assault, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Such an accurate comparison. It’s terrible that people of color are blamed for their death and that rape victims were raped because of what they were wearing. It’s interesting that a black man has to hum Mozart in order to create comfort for the people walking by him. Someone shouldn’t have to act a certain way for others to respect him or her.

    During the summer I went to Harlem. Harlem is known to be a predominantly African American community. My family did get a few weird looks, but I think it’s because there aren’t a lot of people that are a different race who visit Harlem. Other than the looks we got, the people were very normal and friendly.

  2. what an interesting read of comparisons, I agree that power only wants more power and support each other with it, but when it comes to helping the less fortunate or not as white as them then it’s a problem. We as a society need to stop trying to appropriate this culture of fear that surrounds people of color. We need to stand against the media who portrays our people differently that the white majority, we need to demand more for our government instead of being content with the scraps were forced to feed. Most of these type of situations can be avoided if people took the time to educate themselves about culture, society and their own customs. There needs to be more information about this everywhere instead of the same old propaganda stamps all around us.

    I have lived in California all my life and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon”rich white” neighborhoods where I felt awkward and under surveillance, like when I was just walking through a random neighborhood in LA because I wanted to checkout the big houses. I was young but I knew my rights, a police officer asked where I was going and why, to which I responded that I didn’t need answer any such question, he speed off, didn’t even respond after that, I didn’t understand what had happened until later in life that I had been profiled, that was my first encounter with the law, I wasn’t asking for help, I wasn’t lost, I just didn’t fit in.

  3. Interesting article! I feel like a lot of people need to stop having favorites, such as having a certain skin color be their only favorite, because even though, they don’t recognize it right away, they could be hurting the other person, who’s not their preference skin color. And not only that, but seeing the difference between a person of a skin color, isn’t so nice, because in the end, we are all the same, we talk the same, possibly think the same and it isn’t fair for some people to be more privileged than others. And social media needs to do a better job at portraying people.

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