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                      ©World Magazine of Ideas and the Arts™ — Fall 2017 Volume XVII,  Issue 4

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Editorials

The Ghost of Trayvon Martin

Ghosts exist—in the sense that when a horrible crime has been committed against a person, it is not only a crime against an individual; it is a crime against humanity. When justice for that crime is denied, the injustice infiltrates the psyche of the community, and even of the world. It’s the lingering malfeasancethe ghostsin the collective consciousness that overthrew the wrongs in South Africa and conquered the Nazis. The night that Trayvon Martin was killed, the 911 responder told Martin’s killer not to take matters into his own hands. The killer did anyway, and bragged when selling his gun on-line that it was the one that killed Martin. This is serious. A seventeen year old boy was shot dead; there was no penalty, and the killer bragged. No society can allow this to happen and call itself civilized.

Since then, unarmed black men have been shot by policemen. African-American [AfrAms] are worried about how they can protect their sons and how their husbands can survive. Young AfrAm women write about how they might teach their sons to conduct themselves to avoid being a victim. A young AfrAm man made a widely-watched video about how to respond if stopped by a policeman. His father is a EurAm policeman who feared for his son and taught him how to avoid the dangers of police-AfrAm interaction. This is something that we EuroAms may have difficulty imagining.

Still, we have never understood the antagonism against “Black Lives Matter.” Nothing in those three words implies that white lives don’t matter.

In addition, we don’t  understand the hostility toward kneeling during the national anthem. Kneeling is the most dignified and respectful form of protest there is. Kneeling has been supplication for millennia. Objecting to that sign of distress over horrific events is evidence of ignorance about current situations.

PBS has a page dedicated to addressing violence against this part of our people. They list ten Rules of Survival for black kids stopped by police.

Ten Rules of Survival if Stopped by Police

How many EurAms can imagine having to teach their kids methods for surviving when they go out on a simple errand? Think about the fear evident in the PBS advice below:

There is a growing movement across the country represented by the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter that is driving awareness to the number of young Black men and women who are shot and killed during confrontations with police. 

For many, the story of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and too many others, have become symbols of the larger social divides in America, exposing the harsh and complex realities of race, class and identity. And for many African-American families, to be Black is to be at an extraordinary risk (Federal data shows that, in recent years, young black males are 21 times more likely to be shot dead than their white counterparts1).

This led PBS station WFYI, in partnership with the SALT Project, Trinity United Church of Christ and Christian Theological Seminary to develop the short film: "Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival." 

10 Rules of Survival if Stopped by the Police

  1. Be polite and respectful when stopped by the police. Keep your mouth closed.

  2. Remember that your goal is to get home safely. If you feel that your rights have been violated, you and your parents have the right to file a formal complaint with your local police jurisdiction.

  3. Don’t, under any circumstance, get into an argument with the police.

  4. Always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.

  5. Keep your hands in plain sight and make sure the police can see your hands at all times.

  6. Avoid physical contact with the police. No sudden movements, and keep hands out of your pockets.

  7. Do not run, even if you are afraid of the police.

  8. Even if you believe that you are innocent, do not resist arrest.

  9. Don’t make any statements about the incident until you are able to meet with a lawyer or public defender.

  10. Stay calm and remain in control. Watch your words, body language and emotions.

 Trayvon Martin was shot dead without cause. But he will be with us for a long time.

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