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Ask the White Guy: Why Is Trayvon a White-on-Black Crime?

Ask the White Guy, Luke Visconti, DiversityInc CEOLuke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Reader comment:
Very, very tragic situation. They should have arrested Zimmerman. I can understand the outrage. I don’t understand the perception that this is a white on Black crime.

* UPDATE: Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder on April 11,2012.

Response:
Thank you for sensitively expressing your desire for understanding. Asking is the first step toward gaining clarity. Asking with care builds bridges.

This is absolutely about white on Black. Please read my original column about Trayvon Martin to see my full explanation on “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Not understanding about this not being a white-on-Black crime is related to white privilege. White people can look at Trayvon’s murder as a horrible incident in isolation. We white people do not have to live under the context of a pattern of injustice—we cannot see the forest; we just see the trees. Most white people have no awareness of white privilege, and even if they do, it’s impossible to truly understand it from the perspective of being an outsider.

There’s a mechanical/legal reason for not arresting Zimmerman, but it is part of a pattern: The (white) police chief didn’t arrest Zimmerman because the police chief and the prosecutor don’t do things that ruin their arrest/prosecution percentages. Every state that passed the “Stand Your Ground law” has the same problem—judges can dismiss the case before the trial begins under the concept of “true immunity” based on a “Stand Your Ground” assertion.

The legal situation before the National Rifle Association started advocating the “Stand Your Ground” law and got it passed in 21 states was that an armed person was expected to back down from a confrontation. The combination of “Shall Issue” with “Stand Your Ground” equates to legalized lynching because there are too many guys like Zimmerman packing pistols.

Zimmerman gets to be the current poster boy for the widespread and historical practice of a white police force of a southern small town not arresting the murderer of a Black person. It’s a reminder that non-majority people STILL live in a United States where the powers that be in stinky little towns can put their heel on the head of anyone they wish. The cliché is that little southern town in Lowndes County, but I sure wouldn’t want to have to live in Arizona if I were Latino—and the south is not alone; just try Driving While Black in Clark, N.J.

The facts and figures are unarguable: Non-white people are food for the prison-industrial complex. The laws and law enforcement are geared up for a disparate and often capricious application of the law. We’ve gotten better as a nation, but the end results tell the tale: We imprison almost eight times the per-capita average of the rest of the world (yet Zimmerman walks free!) Almost 60 percent of prisoners are Black and Latino. The War on Drugs started in 1970—what kind of war would we still be fighting 42 years later if we weren’t winning? It all depends on how you define winning. Drugs are more available and are CHEAPER than they were in 1970, but the prison industry is a howling success! Who are we REALLY having a war on? Our Black and Latino neighbors, that’s who. Nobody but a sadist would describe anything about “Stand Your Ground” or the War on Drugs as “winning.”

If I were the police chief, I’d have arrested the murderer just to know that I did the right thing. If the prosecutor didn’t want to advance the case because he/she was afraid to hurt their conviction percentage, that’s on his/her hands. If the judge wanted to dismiss it because of “Stand Your Ground,” that’s on his/her hands. But if you just don’t care about a young Black man in a hoodie (or if you’re a coward/bully/moral cypher with a badge and a gun), then you do what’s politically expedient.

What makes Trayvon so powerful is his absolute innocence and that he was a very handsome young man. With no due respect for Sen. Santorum, what “makes me want to throw up” is that the less beautiful and less innocent around us get ground to bits without anyone hearing a sound or seeing a picture or knowing their names—in gigantic numbers. The patterns are what make this a white-on-Black crime.

I don’t want to close on a totally negative note. My sense is that we will see justice for Trayvon and that it may lead to a greater justice in repealing “Stand Your Ground” in less recalcitrant states. We also now know the power of social media—we don’t need to wait for a white reporter at The Sanford Herald to point a finger at his/her white neighbor. We can take communications in our own hands and Stand OUR Ground. Good—but it won’t let Trayvon grow up to be a man.

Read also: Why the ‘B’ in ‘Black’ Is Capitalized at DiversityInc

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150 Comments

  • Zimmerman is mixed race and self-identifies as white.

    • Luke Visconti

      Not really the point – and Latino is not a race. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

      • Chickiedee123

        Thank you Luke! I have been trying to tell my Dominican room mate that technically, he is not Spanish. He just speaks it. Just like I am not English because I speak it. I try to make him understand the difference between Race, Nationality and culture by pointing out Asians. That is a race but Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese are all nationalities. We both watch tennis and there is a Black player who was born in France. The commentators always refer to him as the “Frenchman”. My roommate says, he’s not French, he’s Black. So I say to him “if I was born in China and raised in China and only spoke Chinese then would I be considered Chinese? He said I would still be Black. I said “African American”? He said Yes… I give up….

        • T. Johnson

          Hilarious! Well, actually sad.

        • The problem with your roommate is that America has exported racism for so long, others buy into it. In the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc., nobody wants to be identified as black. Spanish is white, and therefore better, and they don’t care what you say. They refuse to be grouped in with black, although Africa is a very real part of their ethnicity.

          • Very well said, and the reasons is that colonialism has bred a profound hate for the African that even person that has some trace of African ethnicity denies their linage. And along with that hate comes the stereotyping of the African personage and unfortunately Trayvon was a victim of the stereotyping of the African male.

          • nationwyde

            Excellent point!

          • Federico Forlano

            Carla, my roommate in 1989 in college was from the Dominican Republic. I walked in one day while he was ranting about African Americans (not in a nice way). I asked him why he would do such a thing as he was obviously of African heritage. He became even more enraged and said “I’m not black, I’m DOMINICAN”. It’s a memorable moment to me.

          • on point! I deal with this everyday and it amazes me how much people don’t know about their own ethnic background. lol

        • C Martinez

          Many Latinos of African descent try to deny it. They use all sorts of terms to describe themselves as not black. In some places it is taken as an insult.

          In Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, blanco (white) is considered better. When you look at the people in control they tend to be blancos (whites) or “almost” white.

          • Yes, C Martinez, I noticed this with my in laws (Mexico) and was confused at first. My mother in law told me with pride that her grandson (my nephew) was so blanco y hermoso (white/light tone and handsome) soon after he was born. I agreed that my baby nephew was cute. However, I did not understand the significance of why being blanco was so important to her. My husband explained that his mother being very dark brown with native features grew up constantly teased for being so dark although her family was semi affluent. In some parts of Mexico, being blanco presumes that one is from an affluent family. My U.S. born friends are continually amazed when I put on telenovelas (Mexican soap operas) as the majority of the cast have lighter skin tones with green, blue, or hazel eyes. Apparently, there is preferential treatment in hiring as blancos are a minority there.

        • J.V.Story

          Get a new roommate!!

        • Well stated. I’m impressed.

        • I get you, Chickadee. I’ve tried so many time to explain that very thing. It is almost futile. But I keep on trying & I hope you do too.

      • Zimmerman is Mestizo. Mestizo is a race. It is the “Cosmic Race”. Read the writings of José Vasconcelos on this if you don’t believe me. Vasconcelos is the intellectual and philosophical founder of La RAZA.

        • Luke Visconti

          If he describes himself as Mestizo, you are absolutely right about Mestizo being considered a race. Thank you for the clarity. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

        • C Martinez

          Guest,

          You must be an Anglo (non Latino white). You are confused. The way that raza is used by La Raza organization, or meant by Dia de la Raza is meant as all Latinos/Hispanics regardless of race.

          Raza is also used the same as in English as when you say “la raza blanca” the white race or “la raza negra” the black race.

      • One MIXED RACE guy did something awful and not its all about how white people are so bad! Freakin stupid, my heart goes out for trayvon and his family becase this guy was a racist. Just because he is doesn’t mean all white people are or all hispanics are. Every person is different and I wish people would realize that. Color doesn’t define who you are. This really isn’t against your artcle it’s mostly about people I have seen talking about the “bad white people.”

        As much as people talk about equality it will never happen as long as we have people of ANY COLOR who are racist towards other people.

        • C Martinez

          We will not have equal opportunity or a level playing field in our Nation as long as Anglos (non Latino whites) benefit from the results of the pervasive and all encompassing racism that permeates it and holds back all non Anglos.

        • Ashley, I agree with your prospective. Each person is an individual, with their own individual belief system.

        • Intelligent Black Child

          I disagree a bit with your perpspective. Racism is an institution. It is one that black people did not create nor can we participate in it. So, I am saying that to say– We can’t be racist. We have the abliity not to like others, but we can’t effect them. Therefore, we are not racist. I will offer some further explanation. Whites can control the educational system, the jobs system, the legal system, etc. Black people cannot. Sure, we work in those areas, but we seldom have the ability to effect (influence many) large, global change in these regards. So, this is not just a white guy who committed a very heinous crime, but just as often as a white woman sees a black youth coming and they clutch their purse, so was this and is the thought about Trayvon and the like. The thoughts that are shared by many white people.

          • The basic definition of racism is a view and position that is based on precieved differences of race. You are changing that definition to something illogical. I have no power to change or influence people. But I am white. By your definition I cannot be racist.

            By your definition my black boss can be racist because he could change my life because of a prejudice view (my boss is great and not racist).

            I think one misconception you have is that white people are one giant community. We are not. Those in power do not care about me. They only care about themselves. Yes there is institutional racism, but there is also institutional elitism.

            My point is that in this world people will hurt and destroy you no matter what race they are and what race you are. Your race does give people another excuse to hurt you, but do not pretend they will not find some other excuse to disregard me if I present an obstacle to them.

            For example, I was raised in a trailor park where we often did not have running water. I have gotten excellent grades and I am in college, but I have to work two jobs just to be in school. Where are the white powers at to give me a free pass? The truth is they do not care about me or make my life easier.

          • Luke Visconti

            Your boss can be bigoted, but in this country he could not be racist. It’s a semantic definition in the long run, however, and not meaningful if you’re actually being discriminated against.

            I understand white people are not one giant community—it’s why I don’t capitalize white, but do capitalize Black. One hundred years ago, there were hundreds of racial definitions in this country and southern Italians, Jews, Hungarians and many others were NOT considered white. A chief target of the KKK was Catholics (especially in the 1920s when the KKK recruited MILLIONS of Americans after President Woodrow Wilson endorsed the KKK in the movie Birth of a Nation). Over time, ethnic European people learned to sublimate their ethnicity and “become” white—not white enough for some places, but white enough in most.

            The poorest white person, with a little training and some cleaning up, can “pass.” A Black person cannot do that. The fact that Black households have one-twentieth the wealth of white households (Pew Research) is ample evidence of the power of being white in this country. Remember, most white families don’t have lineage back to the Mayflower—most wealthy white people have a trailer park, tenant-farmhouse, factory house or tenement in their background.

            White privilege is nothing to be ashamed of, and given your level of self-awareness and the poverty of your childhood, I hope you will leverage it to open doors for other poor children (of any race). Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • So if I drive by a group of African Americans and yell racial slurs, that isn’t being racist, because I can’t control aspects of their surroundings?

          • Why don’t you try that – then stop and ask the folks what they think. Please be sure to let us know what you learn. -Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

          • Why don’t you try that – then stop and ask the folks what they think. Please be sure to let us know what you learn. -Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

            Ah yes, glorying in the threat of violence. The mask of paternalistic caring may be false, but the threat of violence is real. Your roots are showing.

          • Luke Visconti

            What’s the matter? Things a little slow over at Stormfront? Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

        • Bobby Smith

          I think you mean to say he is a bigot. A racist is someone who believes and promotes the existence of one master race and genocide of all others.A bigot is someone who dislikes another due to race or belief.

      • Thank you – so not the point, and some people say that it can’t be white on black crime because he is Hispanic (sic). You were right on point – it is the historical pattern and its continuance that is the real crime.

    • T. Johnson

      He appears to identify as white supremacist actually. We are all mixed-race.

      • You are right. Most people in America are mixed race. I went on Ancestry.com to find out about my mother’s ancestors. They used to own the Thompson plantation and slaves for that matter. But my cousin couldn’t get past George Washington Thompson. It turns out he was mulatto (half black) and took over the plantation in 1790 when no all white children were produced. So the Thompson family had black ancestors but always passed for white. What’s so funny to me is that my uncle was such a racist like Archie Bunker but here he was with a drop of African blood making him black. Maybe all white racists have black in them. haha

        • Nancy, it is not that most people in America are of mixed race. Most people in the WORLD are of mixed race. The reason so many people assume this is not true is because they know next to nothing about their lineage and nothing at all about genetics.

    • I get that being Latin or Hispanic is not a race, but when I’ve signed up at job applications or other applications in the past, the choice of race is usually White, Black, American Indian, Asian, or Hispanic. Hispanic is considered a race by some although it should not. I’ve never liked the term Hispanic because it just lumps everyone into one group when all we may have in common is the language and we come in all colors from white to black. My issue with the Martin/Zimmerman case is this: if Zimmerman’s last name had been Rodriguez or Rivera we wouldn’t have made such a big deal in the news. But because he has a last name of Zimmerman this case was automatically made out to be a white/black issue.

  • I’m glad that the commenter asked that question – because it does go to a fundamental lack of understanding around white priviledge as Luke points out.

    For me, it comes down to asking the question of whether Zimmerman would have responded the same way to a young white male walking by talking on a cell phone. What if it were a young female – black or white or any other race?

    What if the person had been closer to Zimmerman’s age – and/or more physically imposing?

  • Enl2Officer

    My four teenage sons could be Trayvon. They’re educated, polite and outstanding, productive citizens: one at UofR, one headed to Harvard, the two others finishing up high school. What I don’t understand is how ANYONE could NOT see the fact that this is a racially motivated, white-on-black crime. What I’m sure would make it MUCH EASIER to understand is to SIMPLY reverse the races: The murderer is now a Black larger, older, want-to-be-a-cop persuant, and the victim is now a White young, innocent, 17-year old, skittle-holding football player who was walking to a friends house when he was tragically shot and killed. Who thinks the murderer would be free now? None of us are ignorant enough to believe that would be the case if the races were reversed. Its time for justice and equality in law.

    • Enl2Officer

      Additional thought: People of color shouldn’t have to prove we are “good” or “innocent” before being given the benefit of the doubt. We want and strive for the same things that other Americans strive for: education, success, the pursuit of happiness, the American dream. It’s time for justice and equality in law for ALL Americans.

      • People not of color shouldn’t have to prove we are good either. Did you know a white older couple just got murdered? Probably not because it didn’t make the news because it was no considered a hate crime. There are good black people, white people and other people of all races- one person doesn’t define a race.

        • Luke Visconti

          You either don’t understand or are obfuscating the main point: A white police chief in a mostly white police department in a white-run town (that threw Jackie Robinson out of town during spring training) decided not to arrest a self-appointed “neighborhood watch” guy who pursued, confronted and shot an unarmed BLACK teenager who was doing nothing wrong – AFTER the police told him not to follow the kid. Here’s a news flash for you: RACE HAD EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THIS. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

          • Luke, that may very well be true, and I understand your points. That still does not make this a general black-white issue. This is solely about the people that were involved in this case. I am white, have many black friends, and I do not wish to be categorized with the white people involved with this case.

          • Luke Visconti

            You can say it’s solely about the people that were involved with this case – but it’s really about the people who are running that police department, the court system and the government of the state of Florida, who are almost entirely white, certainly at the level at which authority is exercised. That you have the ability to bow out of that situation and white people in general do not accept responsibility for this situation (even though they hold the power) is the difference between being Black (capitalized purposefully) and white (lowercase purposefully). Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

          • Ray Droppadime

            The trial has just barely started and you are pontificating that “this has everything to do with race”. Who the hell died and made you Sheriff Luke? Where the hell do you get off jumping to conclusions about any of this based on what happened to Jackie Robinson in 1948? That is the sort of demagoguery that I thought your magazine was against. I am outraged sir that you have the temerity to ask for justice with the same breath that you would deny the pursuit of same. Such hypocrisy puts you in the same category of race baiting fools as George Wallace or Al Sharpton.

            I will not deny that historical evidence does not favor Justice being done, but recent history does not in any way justify the notion of any ‘lynchin’ of anything but decency. Let the courts do their job, then calmly evaluate the result. I can respect justified righteous anger. I will not condone pandering to fear nor stirring unjustified passions.

          • Luke Visconti

            The extremist movement in this country, which I will not call conservative because it isn’t, is more like a mash-up of the KKK movement in the 1920s and the old Know Nothing party (look it up). It has bombarded this publication with rants about Zimmerman’s race and evil insinuations about Trayvon’s character. Now it’s turning to “let the courts do their job” all in a desperate attempt to obfuscate the obvious murder that occurred. PAY ATTENTION: This is all about protecting the “Stand Your Ground” laws, which, in conjunction with the majority of states now having “Shall Issue” laws for concealed carry of firearms, make bullet-propelled lynching legal.

            You can tell I’m not exaggerating when you study the fact that the Sanford police department had to be overridden by a state-appointed special prosecutor. God help you if you’re shot in one of the two dozen “Stand Your Ground” law states after being provoked by an armed “neighborhood watch” fool and you’re not as photogenic as Trayvon. Your murderer will go as free as Zimmerman was until public outrage stepped in to force some degree of justice (potentially).

            Finally, be clear on one thing: I AM Sheriff Luke of DiversityInc (because I own it). Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

          • C Singleteary

            Love the clarity you bring to this topic! Some people refuse to accept the truth about the real issues that affect our country. It’s refreshing to know there are fair and honest people out here who really get it and are willing to speak up for justice.
            Thank you!

          • agreed

        • C Martinez

          Ashley,

          “People not of color” as you state it, do not have to prove they are “good”. You are assumed to be good. Sometimes even when you obviously are not. That is the point.

          The police, Anglos (non Latino whites) all decided not to take any action, or even to try to find the young man’s identity. His body lay in the morgue unidentified, for a week before his father found him.

          The shooter, identified as Anglo (non Latino white) does not even get arrested, let alone charged. Mr. Zimmerman is assumed to be “good”.

        • I used to teach special ed where the majority of my students were black. One of my students once asked me during February when we would have White History Month and I replied every month but February. There is racism in this country and history proves it has always been white on black crime. Because of social media and young people not being as racist as their elders, we have heard about Trayvon. We never would have heard about it 30 or more years ago. Maybe this is progress.

          • Apparently, you haven’t been reading any of the comments by, persumably young, whites on the internet. The internet is filled with racist comments by young (white) people, juxapositioned with the tweet by a young white girl that when she realized a character from the Hunger Games book was actually a black character (as depicted in the movie), she was not so sad by the death. I found that comment absolutely chilling. Am I supposed to trust that I will get fair treatment or my son would when we have young people with that kind of thinking and who will be in charge later in life deciding our fate?

            In the movie, “A Time To Kill” (black father kills white male who raped his daughter in the deep south). At the end of the movie the defending attorney asked the all white jury to close their eyes and asked them to imagine what had happened to the little girl. He proceeds to describe her rape in excuriating detail and then at the very end said, “Now imagine her white.” Everyone on the jury jerked. The defendant was acquitted. Yes, it’s only a movie but the writers (more than likely white) very clearly demonstrated what they already know. Whites are unable or unwillingly to put themselves into the place of the “others” when crimes and any injustices or indignities happen. Whites tend to justify, explain away, or obfuscate the reality.

            Just as someone else pointed out, if this had been a large black male who shot an innocent or even not so innocent young white male, the aftermath would have been very different. And by the way, this is not the first time a vigiliante took it upon himself to kill someone black. There was a case that happened several years ago. A black male was being pursued in a mall parking lot, persumably because he had stolen something (or maybe he just needed to rush to his car). A white male decided to pursue him and in the end killed him (I believe he shot him). He was acquitted. I don’t know if the jury was all white, but I know on the show in the aftermath all of them being interviewed were white. One white female was very indignant that she when she was asked if she treatef black patients differently than white ones (she was a nurse). I’m sure she believes that. But study after study shows that people do react differently depending on the individual’s race. I would rather deal with someone aware of their bias and prejudice but makes a conscious effort to be fair than someone who *thinks* they are not. One of the white males on the jury started to dismiss the seriousness of an average citizen taking it upon himself to involve himself in something that authorities should handle when a black person is involved. I don’t know how provocative the comment would have been, but I do know the TV show cut off his comment.

            Sadly and unfortunately (especially if you are non-white), racism is alive and well and living right here in the good ol’ USA. I know I will die before I ever see any different and I had such high hopes during the 60’s. BTW I worked in a predominately white high school for a six years and, yes, the same old attitudes are indeed still around.

        • Actually, Ashley, it probably did make the news because news outlets tend to show more crimes on white people than any other race. Additionally, this was a hate crime because George Zimmerman explicitly said that he found Trayvon to look threatening- he saw a black boy in a hoodie, followed him in HIS OWN NEIGHBORHOOD, then murdered him. All because a black unarmed boy in a hoodie is threatening.

          As white people, we get the privilege of hearing about crimes against people of our color and usually getting justice for it every day. On the flip side of that, every 28 hours a black man is killed by the police or a vigilante, yet Trayvon’s case is one of the only, if not the first, stories of this that has made the national news. Look up Jordan Davis; look up Sean Bell; look up Latisha Harlins; look up William Torbit Jr.; look up Jimmel Cannon; look up Stephon Watts.

          Sure, there are good black people and good white people, but we assume black people are bad and carry guns and white people are good, which is nowhere near a fair assumption.

          • The bias on news reporting also helps feed the prison-industrial complex.
            We imprison six times more people per capita than any other country on earth. There are stock-exchange listed for-profit prison companies that depend on an increasing flow of prisoners, just like McDonald’s depends on an increasing flow of customers, to keep their stock moving up. There are economic motivations for things being the way they are—58 percent of prisoners are Black and Latino, roughly double their percentage of the adult population in our country.
            Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

      • Manhattangurl

        I couldn’t agree with you more Enl2Officer. Worth reposting….

        We want and strive for the same things that other Americans strive for: education, success, the pursuit of happiness, the American dream. It’s time for justice and equality in law for ALL Americans.

  • Not sure why the fact that “he was a very handsome young man” has any bearing on this case whatsoever. Would Trayvon have been less “powerful” if he had been ugly? Luke, do handsome people deserve justice more than the less attractive?

    • Luke Visconti

      If Trayvon had cornrows, scruffy facial hair and a scowl in his picture, this story would never have become as big as it is. That’s life in our celebrity-driven media society. There are thousands of people who have suffered the fate of Trayvon whose names we do not know. Someone today will be beat up or killed for nothing other than the color of their skin.
      So yes, Jill, the fact that he was a very handsome young man has a LOT to do with this situation, no doubt in my mind about it. It’s only foolish to insinuate that I would believe that handsome people deserve more justice.
      So go outside and take a few deep breaths and clear your head.
      Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

      • Luke,

        You are so right in your assessment. The primary reason so many people are “appalled”, is more because Trayvon looks like “such a nice boy”. The greater question is why more people don’t realize how often Trayvon’s story is repeated with NO media attention.

        I have 2 adolescent grandsons – great kids, great students, great citizens. I worry about their safety, because too many people are willing to assume negative intent……..and clearly with the increasing number of “Stand Your Ground” laws, those people now have a legal license to kill for no other reason than their own perception of danger!

      • Well said.

      • Luke,

        You are absolutely correct. In today’s culture, how you look carries a lot of weight. So, in this instance, while it seems trivial and besides the point, you are correct in stating that had the late Treyvon Martin had dreads and a “gangsta” look, this story would have very probably gone unnoticed.

        • Yeah, but the fact that he was such a cute young man didn’t keep him from being stalked and shot down by Zimmerman,unfortunately. It didn’t matter that looked like a nice boy—all Zimmerman saw was a young black male, ad in his sick mind, “young black male” automatically meant that Martin just HAD to be a thug, despite no evidence to back that assumption up. I’ve also seen conservative sites claiming that Martin was a thug and accusing hi of all kids of crimes, with,frankly, not much evidence to back that up either. How sickening—the truth is,if he had been a white boy, all of that would not have even been an issue.

  • I think I want to marry you Luke. I am a regular reader and I’ll tell you, you’ve got it. You understand. Now the only question remaining is , do you pick up your socks? seriously, thank you for being willing to articulate what so many people cannot, willing to take the heat for speaking truth. You are an important voice in America. Please keep up the good work. And I was serious about the marriage offer too, if you’re single. Let me know.

    • Chickiedee123

      I was thinking the same thing Karen. Lol! To Luke: As Karen said, thank you for speaking up in an intelligent and articulate manner on a subject that is so very important. Now answer the question: DO you pick up your sox??? :-)

      • Luke Visconti

        Yes, I pick up my socks. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Hobson Goulart

    Thanks Luke for articulating it so well. I am originally from Brazil and am what is defined in the US as of “brown” skin complexion. In Brazil I was a member of the majority and could not see prejudice or racism anywhere (I was a member of the middle class there and loosely classified as “moreno” or almost white) . When I came to the US, one day I entered a video store 15 minutes before closing time to pick up a video and the woman behind the counter said very loudly to her co-worker: THE POLICE ARE OUT THERE AREN’T THEY?. The co-worker not picking up on the clue that she was scared of me kept asking her: why are you talking so loudly and why are you saying something about the police? She just kept repeating herself. For the first time I understood what it was like to be a member of a minority and be singled out by white people. What I also realized was that as a “white” person in Brazil I had discriminated against poor and blacks and nordestinos (Brazilians from the Northeast who migrate to Rio and Sao Paulo) too, but hadn’t really realized it. I just couldn’t see it because I couldn’t pick the forest from the trees. Now that I have lived in the US for almost twenty years, I can. Thank you for the blog.

    • Do you think this might be an American thing? When I travel to foreign countries I don’t encounter the kind of racism you see here in the States. But it’s not just the South, you can go to Iowa or Chicago and see the same thing.

  • Thank you for saying what needs to be said. White families do not have to have the following conversations;
    1. “driving while black;”
    2. don’t have to call the local police station chief to ask that they stop harassing their son because he works the midnight shift in a predominately white town and keeps getting pulled over for a “faulty rear light” which has been checked and doubled checked; and
    3. don’t worry when their son texts to say he is with a friend coming from taekwondo practice and were pulled over again in this predominately white town to be “looked” over for suspicious activity.
    We have raised our sons to be honorable, productive contributors to their families, community and country. What frightens me most is that as Black young men, it’s NEVER enough, and as a mother my soul weeps for yet again for a tragedy that THIS time has the name of Trayvon but next time may have my sons’ name.

    • T. Johnson

      So true.
      As a mother of 3 sons (24, 18 and 16), who happen to be well educated and handsome, I have had many conversations about driving while “Black, male, and young” (hold on….) especially driving my nice vehicle. To make the point clear, the VERY FIRST TIME my middle son got behide the wheel of my pretty ride with me in the passenger seat, we were followed by 2 police cruisers as he circled around a parking lot to practice. I used it as a lesson…”this is why you had to get your driving permit first…this is why you need car insurance, this is how you slowly pull over and respectfully say, “Yes, sir.”
      Do white teenagers go through this? CASE CLOSED.

      • Perhaps it is an economic status thing as well for the ‘this is why you need car insurance, this is how you slowly pull over respectfully say, ‘Yes, sir/madam’.’ My dad used to tell me this growing up along with ‘the officer is right on the street, do not argue, stay calm and polite. Court is the time to speak up in front of the judge.’ Also, authority figures tend to look at teenagers with suspicion as a general rule. I grew up in a low income Caucasin household and married into a middle income Mexican household. My husband tends to speak up more around authority figures while I tend to not speak up to avoid conflict.

      • I totally agree with you, T. Johnson. Before my 19 year old son leave the house ( every single time, every day!) I go though a drill…I ask does he have is ID, insurance card, car registration in the car, does he have his cellphone on him, does he have enough money to make a phone call if he needs to should his cellphone not work in a certain area, and lastly please avoid trouble and be on your very best behavior. In addition to that I now have him call me to let me know his location through the day…especially if he leaves one place for another. That is because I know how dangerous it is to be a Black male in the South…now more than ever!!! It is a shame that in this country that is suppose to be so humanitarian and free I HAVE to do this in a country that claims to be so humanitarian. Really?

  • Living in CT

    I’m a female it can be difficult to understand what a male goes through, his thought process, his trials or his actions. He’s thinking like a man because he is a man. As a Black person, I know some White people truly “try” to understand our experience. Some ask questions to get a better understanding of our trials and tribulations but unfortunately unless you walk in my shoes… you’ll never truly understand how those shoes fit.

    I’m the mother of a twenty year old son, my only son, my Black son. And every time he leaves the house, I worry. I worry about the Po-Po (police) possibly pulling him over. There doesn’t have to be a reason, you see we (Blacks) get pulled over all the time for “no reason”. I worry that he will reach for his license and that could be mistaken as “a threatening” move & that be his last move. Do the police care that my son was a Honor Roll student all his life and is currently a college student? Or do they just see a Black male “up to no good?”

    Most of my shopping experiences – like to Target or Macy’s includes me being followed around by Loss Prevention because like Zimmerman they have a preconceived notion that “all” Black people are up to no good. Does Loss prevention care that I’m an educated woman who makes six figures, owns my own home, drives a Benz and would never steal anything because of my moral/religious upbringing? Or do they just see a Black woman “up to no good?”

    Trayvon Martin was minding his own business. He was not causing a disturbance and he wasn’t up to no good. You see he was headed back to his father’s girlfriend house to finish watching a game. Zimmerman approached him. Zimmerman chased him. Why because he was a BLACK male & Zimmerman “thought” that young man, who was a good student & somebody’s son, was “up to no good.” Had Trayvon Martin been a White male, he would’ve never been followed, chased, questioned or shot.

    This is what makes this a Black/White issue.

    • Linda in Birmingham, AL

      It is funny and sad that you mentioned [deleted]. My 19 year old college daughter was harassed at a [deleted] in Mobile, AL. Because we are not from the Mobile area, my daughter had never been to this particular [deleted]. She did not know where to find the items she needed. Not only was she followed while inside the store, she was also followed to her car. The security officer stood by the register and called two other [deleted] personnel who followed her to her car and said, “Have a good day”.
      I told her to return the items and ask for the manager.
      The security officer said she was looking up at the camera which is what people do when they are trying to locate the cameras before taking items. He even told me, “If you are worried about what your daughter does while she is in the store, maybe you should go with her.” I guess looking up at the signs to locate items is wrong when you are Black in Mobile, AL.
      Not only was my daughter upset, she was terrified. She called me crying and shaking. It did not matter that this 103 pound, 5’2, 19 year old girl is a college student. It did not matter that her father is currently serving this country with 20+ years in the military. It did not matter that her mother is a college graduate currently pursing a Master’s Degree. All that mattered to this security person is that she is Black.

      • Wow, no kidding. Particularly when cameras are conveniently located near the signs. Perhaps stores should move the signs or the cameras. I have noticed that loss prevention has followed me on occasions when I have looked up at signs that happen to be near cameras or if I am just browsing through a store rather than speed racing through the aisles. Now, I know why. Or maybe they just do not like comparison shoppers? I am white and beyond my teen years. So, it is no longer an age issue…

  • The saddest part about this whole incident is that a young boy was murdered. There is no defense for a Adult man saying her feared a young man unless he was armed and we all know this was not the case. I hope I live to see the day when that is what we are mad about and not what the race is. My heart goes out to Trayvon’s family.

  • Luke – this issue is a travesty and I do believe that Zimmerman stereotyped and should be held accountable. But, here’s what I ran into pumping gas the other day – a young (black) female pulled in to pump gas with several friends in her car – she left her music on (which was very loud) it had curse words (F-this F-that) in it and the use of the “N” word. Now, I don’t mind rap music, but I can’t stand anything derogetory. I made eye contact with another man pumping gas (black male) and he said,”No wonder are youth have problems.” I agreed with the man. I then turned to the young lady and said, “you should turn down or off your music.” She said why is it to loud… I told her, “No- it’s tastless.” Now, I for one hate the “N” word – but, it seems the younger generation has no clue what their mother/father/grandparents etc went through over that word. I then starting thinking about the gang shootings in Chicago… The thug persona needs to change. I would like to see Rev Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson head to Chicago and spear head a campaighn to put an end to black on black crime as well. Enough is enough for everyone..

    • Luke Visconti

      I think many people agree with you about the n-word – doesn’t matter who’s using it or where – it’s offensive. However, I think many people make the mistake in thinking that Rev. Jackson doesn’t care about Black on Black crime. He does a lot of work community-building and much of what we see as crime is a repercussion of what the majority culture has done to others, so his work on the Trayvon case (for example) will lift us all. In other words, when Rev. Jackson advocates for Blacks, he is really advocating for whites too – we all live in the same society. Black on white, white on Black, white on white, Black on Black – it’s all crime. You’re right – “enough is enough for everyone”. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Luke, I do believe just like you, this is a “white on Black” crime, most important, we cant forget, this is a child, a son. I believe that protesting about how it was handled and getting support is a great step and support for the family. There is racism in the US and against blacks or hispanics. Hispanics because we are considered “illegal immigrants”, though we have fought for this country and have been born here and pay our taxes. For Blacks, look at the history books.
    What I do not believe in, is the slogan some protesters are using “They are killing our young”. People forget that our own race is killing our young people more then the racist. You hear about crimes with bullies, drive by, drug killings, gang killings.

  • Leslie Coleman

    It’s rare that you actually witness this type of courage in America. Thank you!

  • I just want to say that what you wrote brought tears to my eyes. Your words were eloquent, passionate, and so true and you ended it poignantly. Thank you for your wisdom and insights on diversity. You are truly an amazing voice that needs to be continously heard – and hopefully as your words are spoken in print and in sound that it will penetrate peoples spirits and bring about a transformation that will heal humanity.

  • The reader is part of the white privileged group. Fortunately he is sensitive but he is still out of touch especially when all the news this week is so obvious. Your explanation is excellent.

  • TellTheTruth

    Why have the SPG (The Sanford Police Gang) not arrested Zimmerman? Why is the SPG willing to face extinction over Zimmerman? The answer is easy. He is a police informant and he is owed FAVORS by the SPG. Also Zimmerman probably has some interesting stories to tell about the SPG if he is arrested.

    By the way, Bill Lee will probably get a job at Foxx News.

  • Thank you for your very assertive writing. It is dissapointing that we are experiencing the same type of hate crimes as during the civil rights movement. We have come a long way, but there is so much still to be done… and you are doing just that. Thanks!

  • Linda in Birmingham, AL

    Luke
    Thanks for your articles. This one I appreciate even more.
    Please read my comment concerning [deleted]. Have you received any other information concerning [deleted]’s racist activities. I was just wondering.

  • Spot on, Mr. Visconti. God bless you!!!

  • Thanks for the article Luke. well written. I am a mother of 4 African American sons; 2 serving our country in the War(S), the other two work for fortune 100/50 companies. In the South, we were taught that we had to raise our sons to be overly cooperative with the police, almost to the point of cowardice because the end result would possibly be death if a white policeman intrepeted any move or comment as being aggressive. The police have murdered, beat, imprisoned( read” Slavery by Another Name”), humiliated our community for a long time. Look at all the convictions that are being overturned from Chicago to Dallas because of bad policing and abuse in the African-American community. Until the larger community can demonstrate that they believe we have the same right to justice, that our children are as loved and valued by us as theirs are to them, andt stop buying the stereotype of the”suspicious black male”, there will be more cases like this. I pray that Trayvons parents do receive justice for their son. It is any parents worse nightmare no matter what your color to get that call that your child has been murdered.

  • Think about it this way: If the shooter had been Black, and the murdered child with a bag of candy had been white, what do you suppose the outcome would have been?

    • Who knows? What if it were a black doctor living in a gated community who shot a white drug dealer?

      A better question is what if both were black? Take race out of the equation entirely, and it is also a far too common occurrence. That said, I was the foreperson on a jury that acquitted a black drug dealer of murdering a black customer. Most of us were convinced he probably did it, but the state didn’t meet the beyond a reasonable doubt threshold.

      • If the situations were reversed, it sure as hell wouldn’t be on the news.

        Nobody cares about black-on-black murders or black-on-white murders. They don’t matter as much as white-on-black murders, according to the mainstream media.

        Oh, and by the way… black-on-white murders occur roughly 2.5x more frequently than black-on-white murders despite white Americans outnumbering black Americans 6-to-1.

        FBI Murder Stats by Race 2011
        http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-6

        FBI Murder Stats by Race 2012
        http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2012.xls

        But let’s keep that our little secret… We all prefer to spread the myth of the white-on-black genocide after all.

        • Luke Visconti

          Sure, it would—and it does every day to help perpetuate racial stereotypes by the almost all-white editorial teams. The Black-on-white crime myth is a drum that people like Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter beat on all the time to whip up tired old FOX viewers. Using your FBI statistics, 83 percent of crimes committed on white people are committed by other white people (91 percent of crimes committed on Black people are committed by other Black people). Crime is relative to wealth, with poor people committing most of the crime. According to Pew, Black households have 1/20th the wealth of white households, so if you adjusted for wealth, we are in the middle of a white criminal epidemic.

          There are other factors to consider, including the quality of police work. For example, the subprime crisis was a theft of hundreds of billions of dollars by white male bankers, yet none of them went to jail. Where you see poor policing most often is in black majority areas like Ferguson, which is clearly a police thugocracy. Here’s an interesting article about the relationship between poverty and crime. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

    • The black man would have been arrested and locked up,without a doubt.

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