July 15th, 2013


You Are Not Trayvon Martin (If You're White)

"You Are Not Us"


"A short essay on telling Whiteness no from the perspective of a pained Black woman. Specifically about how White people talk about young people of color in the news, Trayvon Martin, Rachel Jeantal and Kiera Wilmot. Warning there is racialized language in this piece. "

I read my friend Shannon's essay a couple of days before I heard the not-guilty verdict on George Zimmerman. It was timely and I thought about it a lot as I read the anguished responses in my twitter TL. I've thought a lot about issues of race since I watched my family implode from their racism when I was ten. (My aunt married a black man and suddenly I found out that most of my extended family was racist.) While I have tried to educate racist people all my life and I have been angered and saddened, in turn, by watching my friends deal with it directly, I will never know what it is like to live with it directed at me personally. That's just a fact. I can be sympathetic; I can express solidarity; I can try to apply what I've learned from being subjected to classism, homophobia and fat phobia in an effort to empathize, but I can't know. Since we can't know, we should try for some humility and listen.

Common Sense Applied to Domestic Violence: Protecting Women Who Leave

Massachusetts’ Simple Solution for Preventing Domestic Homicide

This is genius! Excerpt:

How do they do it? They take the details of each reported case of abuse, looking at risk factors like stalking and chronic unemployment, and rate each abuser on a point system for how violent and controlling he is. Men who are rated high are then subject to heightened risk monitoring, and their victims are given extra resources to stay safe. If the abusers start acting up, they can have their child visitations terminated or be made to wear GPS trackers. They may even be put in jail or in a psychiatric hospital for violating probation or restraining orders—courtesy of a preventive detention program that was mostly used to prevent gang or drug violence in the past, a program that gives the government leeway to restrain you even if your behavior otherwise falls short of the threshold to charge you with further crimes.

The system works in no small part because it turns the logic of an abusive relationship on its head. The abuser works by making the victim feel like she will never be free of him, his violence, and his surveillance. If she tries to leave, he escalates. If she gets a new boyfriend, he escalates. The idea is to make her feel like her choices are to submit or to live in terror. The high-risk teams shift the burden of being surveilled from the victim to the abuser. Now, if he makes a threat, Massachusetts has the power to escalate. If he uses visitation time to attack her or her children, Massachusetts restricts visitation. Now he's the one who has to make his decisions with the understanding that someone with power can further restrict his movements and his ability to live freely. Abusers often victimize for years before taking things to the level of a serious beating or murder. By restricting movements in the early stages, it appears that the program helps keep abusers from getting to that point.

It's such a simple principle, and one that hopefully other states will pick up on: The person who should pay for the abusive relationship should be the perpetrator, not the victim. It's not just the fair and moral way, but it also seems to be more effective.

I know I was afraid to leave. How many women will be encouraged to end their abusive marriage now that there are systems in place to help them remain safe? A lot more, I imagine.

"Dark Underbelly of the American Criminal Justice System"

CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, July 15, 2013

Mark Geragos was asked by Jeffrey Toobin how he knew from the beginning when the jury was selected what the verdict would be.

Mark Geragos: "Race. Race is still the biggest issue in the criminal justice system in America. I see it every single day. You see it in every single trial. It explains 95% of what goes on in every courtroom in America and jury selection is the sine qua non of the racial institution. Why do you think that they reverse cases--the U.S. Supreme Court instituted Batson, why do you think that they reseat jurors, why do you think that they say that it's unfair when an all white jury judges a black defendant. Why do you think that if a prosecutor eliminates blacks so that you get an all white jury people say that is a pretextual thing. That is reality."

Sunny Hostin says she didn't think the case was about race but listening to juror ‪#‎B37‬ and also some of the hate mail Sunny received, said she now believes that race is a significant part of this.

Geragos replied that he'd seen some of the hateful tweets directed at Sunny and "I can tell you this is not a news flash to anybody who's in the trenches in the criminal courtroom. This is the dark underbelly of the American criminal justice system and it's unfortunate but you know maybe this discussion that we're having is going to bring it out so that people understand that this is what goes on. There's no way that you can understand this verdict if you don't take it through the prism of how people look at race."

I transcribed this myself.

ETA: Geragos takes on the prosecution in this excellent piece: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/07/15/michael-jackson-lawyer-mark-geragos-on-race-and-trayvon-martin.html "It’s one simple word: race. Prosecutors, used to demonizing young black males as violent predators of the night, weren’t ready to fight for Trayvon Martin."