Dr. Kwame Nantambu

White xenophobia in America

Trayvon Martin latest Black victim in Florida

By Dr. Kwame Nantambu
April 12, 2012

The 26 February 2012 killing of the unarmed 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida speaks volumes as to the omnipresence of white xenophobia ("fear of other races") in America. And it must be pointed out that this putative fear, real or imagined, only targets the African-American (Black) male.

Conventional wisdom suggests that enshrined in Florida's utter unconscionable, disgusting and untenable "stand your ground" law is that George Zimmerman, a white male, felt his life was threatened by a Black teenager who was wearing a hoodie that night in Sanford, Florida.

Florida's "stand your ground" law authorizes a victim to use deadly force if he fears for his life. Ergo, on that fatal night, George Zimmerman shot the Black teenager. The salient truism that Trayvon Martin was unarmed is totally immaterial and irrelevant according to the strict adherence to Florida's "stand your ground" law. The bottom line is that Mr. Zimmerman acted in self defense--- that's it.

And this unfortunate racial incident in 2012 seems to concur/coincide with the 1857 US Supreme Court Dred Scott decision to the extent that "the Black man has no rights which the White man is bound to respect."

The stark reality is that if Mr. Zimmerman had encountered a white, blonde unarmed teenager who was also wearing a hoodie that very same night, his white xenophobic subconscious mind-set would have never kicked in.

In fact, one can correctly assume that Mr. Zimmerman would have calmly and voluntarily offered to give the white teenager a ride home. Furthermore, Mr. Zimmerman would have never asked the unarmed white teenager: "What are you doing around here"? as he allegedly asked the unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Such racial profiling only applies to the African-American (Black) male.

In addition, if the reverse were true in that this Black teenager had killed Mr. Zimmerman, a white male, then, he would have been ceremoniously arrested and charged with murder on the spot and carted off into police custody in Sanford, Florida. Let's be real!

The unarmed Black teenager would never have been allowed to go free as the Sanford, Florida police officers allowed Mr. Zimmerman to do so. Furthermore, it took the law enforcement authorities more than six weeks to charge Mr. Zimmerman with "2nd degree murder." Again, this would never have happened if the culpable racial mix/dynamics were different.

Indeed, it must be pointed out that an African-American male is shot in the back on a regular basis by the NYPD because the white policeman "thought he had a gun."

And a October 2008 report by the American Civil Liberties group found that "Los Angeles police officers are more likely to stop and search black ... residents than they are whites, even though whites are more often found carrying guns or contraband."

The study also poignantly confirmed the truism that "African-Americans are over-stopped, over-frisked, over-searched and over-arrested" by white police officers in America.

Everyone remembers the Rodney King encounter with the LAPD on 3 March 1991 and let the record reference Dr. Henry Louis Gates' encounter with officers of the Cambridge Police Department in July 2009. Dr. Gates is an erudite, well-respected and internationally known African-American Harvard University Professor.

These are just de jure examples/evidence of the nature of the racist beast in America today. The societal status of the African-American (Black) male is totally immaterial and irrelevant. White xenophobia is only triggered by racial hue as in skin color of the victim.

Indeed, one may have naively assumed that with the anomalous election of America's first African-American (Black) President, Barack Obama, this white xenophobia mind-set would have gradually been relegated to the ash heap of America's societal history--- not so fast!

It is at this very crucial juncture in 2012 that all Americans should heed the salient but apocalyptic admonition of the slain African-American Civil Rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as follows:

"Now the judgement of God is upon us and we must either learn to live together as brothers or we are all going to perish together as fools."

In the final analysis, as equal human beings in the eyes of the Creator, the obvious question that comes to the fore is : "Why can't we get along?".

Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is Professor Emeritus, Department of Pan African Studies, Kent State University.

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