Et tu America?: Race, Trayvon, and Education

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Is denying racism was not a factor, does not exist or doesn’t matter, or we should ignore it so it wont matter one day, or it harms the “beneficiaries” the new racism?

In the Fisher case (and also Grutter), the US Supreme Court essentially weighed in on these issues.

From Yahoo News:

In a blistering dissent, Thomas wrote that universities’ desire for a diverse student body is not necessary or pressing enough to justify affirmative action, which he describes as racial discrimination. Thomas compared the case for “racial tinkering” in admissions to arguments made by segregationists 60 years ago that “separate but equal” education would ultimately help black people. “The Constitution does not pander to faddish theories about whether race mixing is in the public interest,” Thomas wrote. “The Equal Protection Clause strips States of all authority to use race as a factor in providing education.”

So essentially their perpetual argument is that it is equally problematic to consider race for EXCLUSION and well as INCLUSION.

Honestly, I would be sympathetic Thomas’ (and Scalia and Rush Limbaugh etc.) arguments if America was a post-racial society. What is post-racial? From Wikipedia:

Post-racial America is a theoretical environment where the United States is devoid of racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice. Some Americans believed that the election of Barack Obama as President and wider acceptance of interracial marriage signified that the nation had entered this state.

As if our educational data (inequity in education spending, achievement test scores, disproportionality in school discipline) is not proof enough that we don’t live in a post-racial America, the Trayvon Martin case has again exposed the insidious elements in our society that cast negative racial attitudes towards Blacks (and other people of color). I perused the comments on the Detroit News coverage of the Martin case and copied a few particularly disturbing racist comments. I also noted that most of them had many “Likes.”

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Is America really post-racial? People still cast dispersions and make blanket racialized statements about swaths of people solely because of the color of their skin.

In my view, not considering race, when America is clearly not post-racial is essentially locking in and gauranteeing inequality in our schools, universities and elsewhere. We must stand our ground.

See also this great blog about “wannabee thugs” by Mark Naison.

To close, a poignant comment…

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Categories: African Americans

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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9 Comments on “Et tu America?: Race, Trayvon, and Education”

  1. Dongmei
    July 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Complicated.

  2. Monty J. Thornburg, Ph.D.
    July 14, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Privatization: One key factor.
    Overt racism is no longer accepted in the media by high profile persons. Many have been “brought down” with the loss of fame and fortune because of “overt” and “explicit” or spoken racism over the past few decades. We have a Black President! Well, a multi-racial President but many see him as Black. His skin color makes for the socio-cultural construction of him for many American’s to be Black; yet, his “politics” and his “persona” Harvard Law Review President; strong leader who got Osama; speeches about one nation neither “Black or White, North or South,” has others seeing him, and seeing him define himself as- Post-Racial.
    At issue now is does ‘racism” exist, or, are we post-racial? Justice Thomas argues that in a legal sense, in an Affirmative Action sense, racism doesn’t exist. Dr. Vasquez-H. you argue that; “As if our educational data (inequity in education spending, achievement test scores, dis-proportionality in school discipline) is not proof enough that we don’t live in a post-racial America, the Trayvon Martin case has again exposed the insidious elements in our society that cast negative racial attitudes towards Blacks (and other people of color).”
    I agree with you completely! However, unfortunately, I don’t think most people examine or think about such data. I think there’s a deeper, other, historical argument to be made, too! That argument has to do with the history of segregation and discrimination in education and other areas before the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. This deeper argument, I think, goes to the core of the Civil Rights Movement and to a core of what’s happening in America today. Fundamentally, it’s about the “Trojan Horse” that we’ve discussed on your Blog called- Privatization.
    In George Zimmerman’s mind, I believe, he was protecting private property. That is, ALL of the property inside the Gated Community where he was a “neighborhood watch” captain. Think about it. This was not a “neighborhood” like in the old movies, for example; even like those in the segregated South. Remember the neighborhood in “To Kill a Mockingbird” where the entire town, not just a “gated part” was the neighborhood? Neighborhoods used to be sections of Cities, like towns in cities, not “gated communities” another form of “privatization.”
    No, the Gated Community gave Zimmerman what he thought was “extralegal” authority. Apparently the Police thought so too for almost a month as he wasn’t arrested and that made this a Civil Rights case. Privatization in education and across America in many, many other areas of life began at the time that victories in Civil Rights took hold. Privatization, I think, has turned “overt” and “explicit” racism, into “covert” and “implicit” racism using this Trojan Horse- “Privatization.” Unfortunately, our President and persons of all cultural and racial groups are participating in this new economic and civic paradigm, and it has been gradual, so it has gone unnoticed. Privatization, the using of public money for perceived private endeavors, charter schools for example, allows persons to take the attitude of ownership and “extralegal” authority in many areas of post-modern society.

  3. July 15, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    If the roles had been reversed … if young whites had been burgling Black properties in a certain area, and a Black Neighborhood Watch had followed a young white, who later turned out to have a legitimate reason to be there, who then got angry about being followed and began to beat the Black man to death … and had been shot by the Black Neighborhood Watch in self-defense…. … would all the race-Industry grievance-mongers be up in arms?

    No, they would be cheering to the rafters! If the Neighborhood Watch had been indicted, they would have, quite correctly, called the indictment an act of racism.

    Bravo for that jury!

  4. Monty J. Thornburg, PhD
    July 15, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    I’m a teacher and have taught many youth over 40+ years, including many Black youth around Trayvon’s age. I really take offense to the comments above.
    “Doug 1943,” I’m assuming here that you are white and may have been born in 1943, as was I, and I’m white too. So we’re both 70 or so and have seen some stuff. How do you come up with such a vitriolic comment, i.e., “race-industry grievance- mongers”? … This is sad and angering too. Trayvon Martin had just turned 17 years old. He was shot and killed by a 29 year old man. I had been a teacher for over five years at 29. Zimmerman was a man carrying a loaded and presumably cocked weapon. There’s nothing to suggest that he was “beat (nearly) to death” … just a supposition as a defense. And, Zimmerman by not following the instructions of the police initiated the confrontation! He was told to stay in his car by a police dispatcher. No one knows how the confrontation occurred because of the inconsistent testimony and because of legal openings allowed by the prosecution attorneys. The defense attorneys were able to put dead Trayvon Martin on trial as a defense, and then to suggest Trayvon “beat Zimmerman.” We don’t, however, really know what happened, do we? Had Trayvon done so, however, or had he had a gun and shot Zimmerman and lived, he could have claimed the “stand your ground law” as he was within 60 yards of his dad’s house. Or perhaps not, because as a child, Trayvon may not have been legal to carry a gun! Ironic isn’t it! As to the Civil Rights case that you characterize as “race-Industry grievance-mongers” you might remember that there wasn’t even an arrest for nearly a month. That’s what made this into a Civil Rights case and I support it 100%. I can tell that statistics and history are meaningless for you. When we were kids if you were born in 1943, as I was, please remember, African Americans were going off to fight for the U.S.A. in WWII and yet, still being lynched for walking while Black in the South. As for the jury. They followed the law and the lack of evidence to convict explains the “not guilty” verdict, but does not mean “innocent.” Open your eyes!

  5. Monty J. Thornburg, Ph.D.
    July 18, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Jeb Bush for President!!!??? Republicans can celebrate! The law Jeb signed, worked!!?
    SYG: Stand Your Ground. “(In)Justice” was served!???
    In CA without SYG it would have been different … Do we need to follow Jeb Bush and Florida? Let’s get ALEC in here and change our CA law as some say, “liberals are ruining the state.”
    Most “liberal” states have rules and court instructions that there is “a duty to retreat” if deadly force might be used in uncertain circumstances. In FL as a teacher I could carry a gun, with my concealed weapon permit, and feel much safer legally. If I were to shoot a kid in FL and “prove” I felt threatened, I’d be OK legally. In TX where Jeb’s brother, W, resides, and where new voter ID laws passed after the, 5-4, Shelby County v. Holder Case, I could use a gun permit to register to vote as well. TX college student IDs don’t work for voter registration so you can see, these new laws work all the way around for some.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    At the end of Zimmerman’s trial last week, the judge instructed the jury, with language mandated by the SYG law, on the grounds for justifiable homicide. Here is exactly what the jury was told to consider in its deliberations:
    “If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
    Even though a Florida law-enforcement agency had asked Zimmerman to stay in his car and not pursue Martin, in the end, it didn’t matter: The NRA had successfully changed the law in Zimmerman’s favor. That rainy night in Florida, one man was armed with a deadly weapon and looking for trouble and a kid was walking home from the store to watch a basketball game. But according to the law, Zimmerman had no duty to retreat. He could follow Trayvon anywhere he “had a right to be.”
    And what about Martin’s “right to be”? What about his right to stand his ground, or to defend himself from an angry man with a gun? The jury instructions said nothing on that.
    That is not all that SYG changed. It also put the NRA’s thumb on the scale of justice if the family of a shooting victim sues the shooter. The SYG law says that if the court finds that the shooter gets civil immunity in the case — based on his right to stand his ground and not retreat — then the plaintiff must pay the killer’s attorney’s fees, court costs, and lost wages. Any grieving family seeking to hold a shooter accountable will have to think twice about the financial risks of a civil lawsuit. And that’s exactly the outcome the NRA intended.
    That’s not just the law in Florida. It’s become the law in more than two dozen states after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of state legislators and corporate lobbyists that is funded by some of the biggest corporations in the world, ratified the NRA’s bill, signed into law by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as a national model.

  6. Monty J. Thornburg, Ph.D.
    July 19, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    New racist code on Trayvon Martin case:
    The Right Wing has said it is Obama, again, using the “code” Black on Black crime, in Chicago. The talk jocks on Fox and other airwaves say, “the law” is clear! Yes, “the Florida law” is “VERY” clear. The Florida Law, thank goodness, is not “the law” everywhere in America! As many now understand, the Florida Law helped create a tragic death and injustice and it needs to be changed! Changed back! That’s what the new civic actions in Florida and elsewhere are about! It needs to change to its original form where Jury Instructions should have been that Zimmerman had “a duty to retreat” – after all he had a loaded automatic. The “duty to retreat” instruction still used in most states is based on common sense and common law. The systematic legislative initiatives by the NRA and ALEC and their allies, Jeb Bush as leader and Governor in this case, made “the Florida law” that got Zimmerman off. Zimmerman seems like a pathetic individual and this is not about him at this point. The civil rights and civic actions going on demand change back to the original law. The Right Wing, of course, is trying to blame the civil unrest on Obama, too.

  7. Lila Welchel
    September 17, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    Racial inequities continue to present themselves in various ways – from the media (Miss America – and the countless racial slurs people have posted about her), to education gaps, to the countless desperately sad acts of brutality, as in Trayvon Marton’s death. These events continue as people aren’t willing to recognize that America is laden with racial issues, many of which stem from peoples’ unwillingness to address their own privilege and advantage.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] I wrote Et tu America?: Race, Trayvon, and Education, I have had several discussions with friends about […]

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    […] the post-Trayvon Martin environment, I also found his proposals to reach out to foundations and communities to “help men of color to […]

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