A 'Hu-Manifesto' for a Post-Trayvon World
Our world may not be postracial, but five guidelines will help us confront our hang-ups with honesty.
1. First, Do No Harm
There was no excuse for Spike Lee retweeting what he thought was the address of George Zimmerman's family. It was an incitement to vigilantism that sent a family (not the family of the shooter, mind you) into hiding. Lee has subsequently apologized. Let's be clear: Even if it were Zimmerman's family, providing any information that could lead to tit-for-tat violence is unacceptable.
2. It's Not About You; Really
Let's look at the broadly covered showdown between CNN's Piers Morgan and MSNBC contributor Touré. Part of Touré's "post-black" theorem is judge not (someone's racial authenticity), lest ye be judged. But he quickly leaped to the judgment that Morgan could not understand race. I guess "post-black" is good, but stereotyping people of other races is fine.
Touré is known for viral but tonally inconsistent tweets and a fair dose of self-promotion. Like Lee, Touré apologized -- by Twitter, of course -- saying, "I should not have gotten caught up in 'winning' the debate with Piers. I got caught up with 'winning' on some masculine bravado BS when my whole point has always been justice for this boy. I lost sight of that." So, apparently, have many others -- in the media and the streets. Those who bring more heat than shed light are getting far too much attention.
3. Follow the Money
One of the basic tenets of journalism is to follow the cash and expose the manipulation of laws and justice. Although 21 states have "Stand your ground"-style laws, that didn't happen by chance or come from a grassroots movement. The National Rifle Association has lobbied ceaselessly (to the tune of $35 million annually) for concealed handgun and "Stand your ground" laws. In a perverse sense, they benefited from the election of President Barack Obama. Fear of a Black President sent gun sales through the roof.
On March 20, just weeks after Trayvon's death, a U.S. senator from South Dakota introduced Senate Bill 2213. Called the "Respecting States' Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act," it would permit people who have concealed weapons in their states to carry their concealed weapons anywhere in America. So much for states' rights, huh? The NRA also happens to have a concealed-weapons hoodie in its merchandising line. Keep it classy.
One of the best things we can do to honor Trayvon Martin's memory is to call out the laws, lobbyists and lawmakers that have increased the number of deaths of unarmed men, women and children. A lot of people have changed their social media avatar to Trayvon, a bag of Skittles or an image of themselves in a hoodie. Our country needs these people who can react instantly on social media to also plan ahead and vote in elections. And don't stop there. Engage with your lawmakers between and during elections, and track campaign contributions. That will help create a fairer and safer America.