Suspicion and skin color

One of the constant refrains during angry reaction to George Zimmerman’s acquittal for murder is that Trayvon Martin was killed purely because of his skin color.  Even the Race-Baiter-In-Chief pushed this line during one of the more disgusting passages in his surprise press appearance on Friday, when he said there was “a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of
scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and aftermath might
have been different.”  Obama apologists have claimed he was talking about the outcome of the trial, which doesn’t make any sense – he said “from top to bottom.”  He clearly means he doesn’t think the encounter between Martin and Zimmerman would have played out the same way if Trayvon Martin had been a white teenager.

This is true to a certain extent, insofar as George Zimmerman was on the lookout for several black youths who had committed burglaries and break-ins in his neighborhood.  A white teenager would not have resembled these particular miscreants.  But there’s no way to say for certain that Zimmerman wouldn’t have taken an interest in a white teenager dressed like Trayvon Martin, and behaving the same way he was.  Remember, contrary to the best audio-doctoring work of the slander artists at NBC “News,” Zimmerman didn’t say a word about Martin’s race until he was specifically asked to do so by the 911 operator he was talking to.

The “discrimination against young black men based on skin color” angle came up in the Associated Press report on protests over the weekend:

Speaking at the White House on Friday, Obama said it’s a reality for
black men in American to “be followed in a department store” while
shopping or to walk down the street and “hear the car doors lock.” The
nation’s first black president said he had both experiences before he
rose to social and political prominence.


At the New Orleans rally, La’Monte Johnson shared a similar story.


The California native said he’s been stopped multiple times by police
and handcuffed “because I fit the description of someone they were
looking for,” though he noted charges were never filed against him.


“You can be the greatest black guy around, but you can’t get away from it,” he said. “You’re not equal.”

Well, hold on a second, Mr. Johnson said he was handcuffed, and later released without charges, because he fit the description of someone the police were looking for.  That’s not the same thing as blind prejudice or unreasoning suspicion based on skin color.

“What’s so frightening about a black man in a hood?” said the Rev.
Raphael Warnock, who now occupies the pulpit at King’s Ebenezer Baptist
Church.


“History would suggest that we have plenty of data to be worried when
we see other folk moving through our neighborhoods in hoods. Some of
them have on pinstripe suits — but in their hearts, they’re wearing a
hood.”

Wait a second, I thought we were supposed to be outraged by suspicious treatment of people based solely on their skin color.  Now they’re wearing hoods?  That changes things a bit, doesn’t it?  I’m not sure what Rev. Warnock was driving at with his comment about guys in pinstripe suits wearing hoods in their hearts, but it sounds like he’s talking about behavior and attitude.  That makes another variable to add to skin color.

May we hypothesize that some of the supposedly unfair suspicion directed at young black men is prompted by their attire and behavior?  Have we got some hard data to prove that neatly dressed young black men who conduct themselves in an amiable, polite manner are causing car door locks to slam down as they walk past?  I’m not suggesting there’s no prejudice against the combination of age and skin color at all.  But the role played by voluntary cultural choices should not be overlooked.  Some of those choices are selected specifically because they make young men seem like dangerous outsiders.  Youths of every skin color have made such choices for generations, and they often cry foul when polite society responds to the signals sent by the affectations. 


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