The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal - If Trayvon Martin Had Worn A Nice Suit, He’d Be Alive Today (Or At Least Be Shot By Someone Le
March 26th, 2012
09:27 am

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If Trayvon Martin Had Worn A Nice Suit, He’d Be Alive Today (Or At Least Be Shot By Someone Le

So a kid’s been shot for the crime of carrying Skittles.  And of course, the media is raising the important question: did Trayvon Martin bring his death upon himself by wearing a thuggish, threatening hoodie?

Blame is, of course, important to assign.  If a woman’s been raped, the most critical piece of evidence we can gather is what clothing she was wearing, so that we can know whether she was asking for an assault.  So it’s kind of nice to see the symmetry here, as Trayvon’s dress code is questioned to see if he deserved to be gunned down for the crime of walking through the wrong neighborhood.

Remember: it’s all about the impression you present.  I mean after all, if I was walking down a dark alleyway dressed in a thousand-dollar suit, I’d just be asking to be mugged, wouldn’t I?

…except that never actually, you know, seems to happen.  I mean, Wall Street bankers get mugged on occasion, often in nice suits, and there’s never a big media question over whether they deserved to be knifed for wearing very fine clothing.  Occasionally, they might be questioned for their intellect for being in Those Neighborhoods, but nobody actually tells people with fine suits that they should have known better than to go out in that garb.

In fact, if a nice rich-looking person does get assaulted, there’s often a hue and cry about how unsafe the streets have gotten that they can’t wander around at will.  Their clothing choices are never in question. It’s other people who are at fault.

Make no mistake: any time you see someone being chastised for wearing the wrong clothing, they’ve slummed out.  Wearing a hoodie?  God, you look like a poor kid.  Wearing skimpy clothing?  You look like a slut.  There you are, a perfectly nice person, and you went out of your way to make yourself appear like someone who doesn’t deserve to have the protections that “real” society should have!  No wonder someone shot or raped you!  You purposely and knowingly discarded your protective identity!

How foolish you were.

The not-so-subliminal signal, of course, is that if you act like a criminal and/or slut, you have only yourself to blame if you get treated like one.  Even if the outfit you wear – say, a hoodie – is something that millions of quote-unquote lower-class people wear, only of which a few mug people.  But since we all know that the lower-class are mainly criminals (or at least we mainly interact with them as though they were criminals), the hoodie becomes the outfit of the criminal.

It’s really, really dickish and churlish to have the #OWS people harassing people in fine suits on the assumption they might be part of the bankers who almost destroyed America’s financial system!  That’s okay to get upset about.  But if a kid gets shot and killed because his low-class outfit threatened someone, well, maybe he should have known better.

The larger message is, of course, is that the lower class doesn’t really deserve to be protected.  If something bad happens to them, we should first look for the reasons why they had it coming.  They were in a bad neighborhood, they were probably not working very hard, they were almost certainly in some way responsible for their predicament.  ‘Cause you know, when a rich white kid vanishes on vacation and it hits the headlines everywhere, the first thing we do is start analyzing their history of teenaged drinking and sexuality in an attempt to unearth all the reasons why they might have stupidly caused their own kidnapping and/or murder…

…wait, we don’t?  We agonize unquestioningly about how such a lovely young thing could have been stolen from us?

How shocking.

The message isn’t subtle, but it’s there.  The whole Trayvon pushback is an attempt to get people to go, “Well, if he wore a nicer outfit, he probably wouldn’t have been killed!”  Which probably has an ounce of truth in it…. but it’s kind of like telling people that if they don’t go outside then they won’t choke on the cancerous gases emanating from factory smokestacks next door.  While wearing a hoodie might have saved one life, concentrating on the hoodie ignores the toxic class politics in play here.

The problem is that there’s this constant, subliminal signal that the wrong sort of people aren’t deserving of everyday protections.  If they get killed, it’s their fault.  We don’t really need to get involved.

That’s the core problem.  That’s what got brought to cold light when Trayvon got shot.

That’s what we actually need to fix.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/200455.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

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(34 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:bart_calendar
Date:March 26th, 2012 01:46 pm (UTC)
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Did you know that in the UK the police can legally ban you from wearing a hoodie if they think you might be a troublemaker and then if you are caught wearing a hoodie they can actually arrest you for it?

Of course in France you can get arrested for wearing a Burqua.

It's nice to know that Western civilization is so peaceful that the government has the time and money and resources to spend worrying about what people wear on their heads.
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From:stripedsocks
Date:March 26th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
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I agree with this so SO much. I am appalled that Trayvon's killer has not yet been charged with anything.
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From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 26th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
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You're leaving out the intersectionality. It was not that Trayvon was wearing a hoodie. It was not that Trayvon was not rich and wearing a hoodie. It was that Trayvon also had the audacity to be in a hoodie and black.

White kid in a hoodie = maybe a little bit of youthful hijinks. Maybe he was cold. Maybe it was his team colors. ::Here ensue acrobatics to characterize kid as a good kid no matter what he was wearing::

Black kid in hoodie = Zimmrman thought he looked SUSPICIOUS!! Nevermind Zimmerman called 911 FORTY SIX TIMES to report black males (including one 7-9 years old). Hoodies are suspicious! And hey, no receipt from the 7-11. He must've STOLEN that candy and tea [despite the fact that there has been no report of theft from the 7-11 the night of the shooting].

Edited at 2012-03-26 02:33 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:chessdev
Date:March 26th, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
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I'm surprised we havent seen a South Park episode with a black kid in a hoodie, and the
South Park hunters screaming "He's got a hoodie and he's coming right for us!!!"

*Blam* *Blam*
[User Picture]
From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 26th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
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Takes even them a little time to produce the animation.
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From:kmg_365
Date:March 26th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
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They can produce an episode in a week. Considering how underwhelming these past few episodes have been, I'm not holding out much hope that their take on this would be a good one...
[User Picture]
From:almostwitty
Date:March 26th, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
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but ... but ... that's what really happened, in a nutshell. That's not satire, that's a reflection on reality.
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From:jarodrussell
Date:March 26th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Token doesn't wear hoodies, you're thinking of Kenny...and he gets killed all the time, it's just no one remembers.
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From:dragonblink
Date:March 26th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
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This. I can wear a hoodie all I want, and nobody would even look at me twice. That's because I'm a white chick.
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From:lunabird
Date:March 26th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
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He was in a hoodie, black, and male

While the patriarchy/kyricarchy is way more intent on oppressing women, it's also intent on opressing males -- and in this particular case it adds to the intersectionality

White female-kid in a hoodie == HAHA. It's a girl, how could she ever hurt ME. Look at her in those oversized clothes. How cute.

Black female-kid in a hoodie == She looks so... urban. Maybe I should keep an eye on her. BUT SHE'S STILL A GIRL AND THUS PROBABLY ALL WEAK AND SHIT.

Black male-kid in a hoodie == SO SUSPICIOUS, as you pointed out. But also, he's gonna be perceived as ~violent~ and ~dangerous~.

All of this is not to say that a female PoC in the same situation wouldn't have something horrific happen to her, or that she wouldn't get shot -- but it's pretty clear that in this particular incident cultural tropes about men (and the tropes emphasize, especially -men of color-) being innately violent probably contributed on some le.vel

Edited at 2012-03-26 06:17 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:katranna
Date:March 26th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
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Exactly.

I'm a sweet-looking white girl. I wear hoodies all the time. I am never seen as "suspicious." I have to deal with other assumptions from strangers, but never that. And a young black man has to work a lot harder than simply not wear a hoodie to not look "suspicious" to people. (Let's say he was wearing jeans and a black tank top instead. Do you really think that would have helped him all that much?)
[User Picture]
From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 27th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
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Considering Zimmerman's other reports describe black males in tank tops? It would not have helped at all.
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From:chessdev
Date:March 26th, 2012 02:41 pm (UTC)
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Nicely said. Very good points
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From:asakiyume
Date:March 26th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
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There you are, a perfectly nice person, and you went out of your way to make yourself appear like someone who doesn’t deserve to have the protections that “real” society should have!

It's this that's so rage-inducing. The notion that only some people deserve to be worried over and cared about.

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From:almostwitty
Date:March 26th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
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"‘Cause you know, when a rich white kid vanishes on vacation and it hits the headlines everywhere, , the first thing we do is start analyzing their history of teenaged drinking and sexuality"

Not that this is a particularly brilliant example of the British press at its' finest, but when Madeline McCann (cute 8 year old white middle-class girl) disappeared from her parents' hotel bedroom on holiday in Portugal, the press started speculating that the McCanns had kidnapped/killed her herself, or that she was involved in some devil sacrifice...

The press will just reach for the nearest convenient angle on which to pitch a story. It's their job, and they wanna take shortcuts. Truth? Pah!
[User Picture]
From:bbwoof
Date:March 26th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
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Another, mostly-missed point: Who authorized the Neighborhood Watch to go armed? The program is supposed to support people who WATCH and REPORT... not vigilantes. Hell, the 911 operator *told* him *not* to follow the suspicious person, but he did it anyway.

Doesn't anyone get the idea that this guy WANTED to shoot someone? Anyone? Just because he COULD?

The hoodie wasn't even a good excuse. It was raining. Some people wear hoods to keep the rain out of their eyes.

...None of which invalidates your main point, Ferrett; I expand on it. The fact that the shooter isn't in jail is a national shame.
[User Picture]
From:radiumhead
Date:March 26th, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Its Florida, i think if youre white youre allowed to have a gun.
[User Picture]
From:drewkitty
Date:March 26th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin

The dispatcher said, "We don't need you to do that." [Follow the kid.] That's different from ordering him not to follow the kid.

Florida has shall-issue CCW and the entire event took place on private property. The shooter had a legal right to be armed, but no right to provoke a confrontation that ended in a death. Thus, either manslaughter or murder.
[User Picture]
From:metalfatigue0
Date:March 26th, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
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If there are people who are above the age of 20, who will actually listen to what you are saying, but who still need to be told it explicitly in order to get it, I do not understand them or their personal noöspheres.
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From:roniliquidity
Date:March 26th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
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My 61 year old mother, wife of a cop, who lives in an "active aging" retirement resort wears a hoodie regularly. When did this become a criminal thing?
[User Picture]
From:roniliquidity
Date:March 26th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
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Incidentally, I got my first hoodie when I was 19. It was issued to me by the US ARMY for PT.
[User Picture]
From:kenp_v3
Date:March 26th, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
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This story gives me a whole bunch of confused feelings. Not because of the racism/poverty/hoodie wearing angles that everyone else is talking about (although I've always been a fan of the hoodie). But because I have a friend who recently shot and killed a man in what he describes as self defense. He was charged with first degree murder. It's a tragic situation, although I'm pretty confident that he'll be acquitted. But I look at these two cases and I'm perplexed as to why my friend is in jail right awaiting trial right now and Zimmerman isn't. Not saying Zimmerman should necessarily get first degree, but it should at least go to to trial.
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From:drewkitty
Date:March 26th, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I am looking forward to the grand jury report because there is so much BS being spewed on all sides and none of it has even a passing resemblance to the truth.

-- California is a stand your ground state. Has been since the 1880s. Just by taking place On Private Property, this isn't a stand your ground situation. Note that both the kid and the shooter had every right to be there, but the shooter had no right to confront the kid.

-- It's likely that the kid did attack the shooter, who again had no valid reason to confront him. This makes the crime committed by the shooter either manslaughter due to imperfect self defense (if the kid was armed and trying to kill him) or straight up murder (if the kid was not armed.)

-- That this incident has caused the national non-conversation about race to explode once again has nothing to do with either the kid or the shooter, but some to do with Florida law enforcement and a lot to do with the news media.

The media seems to be pushing home a message about criminalizing self-defense. That doesn't make sense no matter which side your prejudices put you on. (It's too early to pick a side based on facts . . .)
[User Picture]
From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 26th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
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Nothing to do with the kid or the shooter?!

The kid was black.
Zimmerman has a known mad-on for young black males and his 46 calls to 911 were to report suspicious young black males.
The fact that the police took Trayvon's body and tested it for drugs, but did not test Zimmerman for anything, and took him at his word for having a squeaky clean record when he had nothing of the kind is all about race, and the good old boy network closing ranks around one of their own.


[Edited for correct icon]

Edited at 2012-03-26 07:22 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:drewkitty
Date:March 26th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
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And it begins.

Sanford PD, racist. No possible doubt. All persons at the scene of a violent death should be tested for gunpowder residue, as well as tested for drugs and blood alcohol.

Zimmerman called PD 46 times in connection with his duties as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer. Only 9 of those times did he call to report a suspicious person. I have not seen any records identifying the ethnicity of the persons reported.

To put this in perspective, police came to the property 402 times in the preceding 13 months.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/17/v-fullstory/2700249/shooter-of-trayvon-martin-a-habitual.html

I have not seen any information supporting your claim that the shooter "has a known mad-on for young black males." The article I link is mixed, pointing out that the shooter is biracial and that he sent out E-mails describing suspects as young black males, with a 25 year old neighbor describing him as "a pretty cool dude."

I feel the need to respectfully point out that until new evidence is revealed, we don't know how the shooter felt about young black men at the time he killed the boy in question.

In my uneducated opinion, the shooter either committed manslaughter or murder.

My sympathies are with the terrified kid being chased by a grown man who wouldn't stay away from him or leave him alone, who may well have attacked that grown man in self-defense.
[User Picture]
From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 27th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
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"And it begins." Wow. Slightly more polite than an eye-roll and "here we go." Kind of dismissive and disrespectful, don't you think?

A quick google search on George Zimmerman reveals:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/03/23/george_zimmerman_s_long_lonely_war_against_black_youths_doing_things.html


In August 2011, he called to report a black male in a tank top and shorts acting suspicious near the development's back entrance. "[Complainant] believes [subject] is involved in recent S-21s"—break-ins—"in the neighborhood," the call log states. The suspect, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, fit a recent description given out by law enforcement officers.

Three days later, he called to report two black teens in the same area, for the same reason. "[Juveniles] are the subjs who have been [burglarizing] in this area," he told the dispatcher.

On April 22, 2011, Zimmerman called to report a black male about “7-9” years old, four feet tall, with a “skinny build” and short black hair. There is no indication in the police report of the reason for Zimmerman’s suspicion of the boy.


So respectfully, you must not have looked very hard. The black community has been keeping a very close watch on this case, so I've seen these calls and reports repeated over and over again.

You might want to consider divorcing yourself from the idea that because you haven't seen it, there is no evidence to support it. Maybe you also want to consider looking for the evidence to support a "claim".
[User Picture]
From:drewkitty
Date:March 27th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
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I can't seem to see my comment above, what I see instead is "Suspicious Comment."

I have a day job and I tend to ignore polemic screeds such as the one you linked.

Fortunately, the inflammatory and inaccurate summary created by a highly biased source actually linked to reliable source information, as here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/23/did-trayvon-shooter-abuse-911.html

or here:

http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/docs/911CallHistory.pdf

For example, the call regarding a 7-9 year old makes total sense in the context of the raw logs:

"COMP ADVS S43 IS WALKING ALONE & IS NOT SUPERVISED ON BUSY STREET // COMPL CONCERNED FOR WELL BEING."

This by the way makes the article you quoted a flat out lie, "There is no indication in the police report of the reason for Zimmerman’s suspicion of the boy."

I'm not buying the claim that Zimmerman is a racist. I'm clear that he's a killer.

What I'm watching in disgust is everyone else's racist reactions, and I feel comfortable in including the article cited as among those racists.
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From:drewkitty
Date:March 27th, 2012 01:14 am (UTC)
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What I recall of my 'suspicious comment' was that I pulled up the actual numbers and determined that of the 46 calls to police:

-- only a handful concerned suspicious persons
-- most were to the non-emergency number, NOT 911

That's a far cry from "his 46 calls to 911 were to report suspicious young black males." Your words.

Now that I have the raw dispatch log, when I next get a spare hour I'll analyze it.

My professional observation is that the media is almost always biased and usually gets it wrong. So if hundreds of sites and thousands of bloggers are saying X, that is neither proof nor the absence of proof. I have been on the ground too many times and read a completely baloney news article the next day or week -- and both of the times I was on the ground when CNN was there, CNN got it wrong.
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From:stacymckenna
Date:March 26th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
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Thank you.
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From:jeffpalmatier
Date:March 26th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
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This incident makes me so angry and sad. That poor kid had his whole life ahead of him and he had the horrible luck to run across this asshole.
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From:lysystratae
Date:March 27th, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
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Yep
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From:elsewhereangel
Date:March 27th, 2012 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Not only do I agree with you but I think you did a particularly nice job here with tone and expression.
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From:tormentedartist
Date:March 27th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)

Well actually....

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‘Cause you know, when a rich white kid vanishes on vacation and it hits the headlines everywhere, the first thing we do is start analyzing their history of teenaged drinking and sexuality in an attempt to unearth all the reasons why they might have stupidly caused their own kidnapping and/or murder…

I usually think of what slip in judgement led to the kidnapping/murder. But maybe if I were white I'd feel differently? But I doubt it. I always look for ways to keep out of trouble. Hell, about 10 yrs ago I was in a situation that could have ended badly because the people around me were doing stupid shit in another state...so I got the hell away from them.

I don't care if people call that victim blaming....I call it common sense. Trayvon's case was different because he was just walking back home. And that hoodie argument was/is just stupid. A lot of white people wear hoodies too. Just like a lot of women get raped wearing non revealing clothing.
Having said that I'd never go to a KKK meeting, because that would be dumb. Yeah, they would be wrong to hurt me, but I would be stupid to put myself in that spot. Again common sense.
I think that Zimmerman was looking to kill a black person, I think that Zimmerman was a loose cannon and I can't believe he is still free. Well maybe he isn't because I haven't watched the news yet. But still.
[User Picture]
From:paradisacorbasi
Date:March 28th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)

Re: Well actually....

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He has not been arrested yet, but his history is beginning to come to light.

Three prevoius arrests, all closed. One for DV and two for resisting arrest, one of which included assault on an officer.
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