Black People : Hoodie Politics: Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America

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  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hoodie Politics: Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America

    By Henry A Giroux, Truthout

    ...What is missing in this debate over the legalities of the case (as against questions of justice) is a hard look at the underlying economic, racial and political conditions that make such a senseless act of violence possible. While it is easy to ridicule as racist Geraldo Rivera's claim that the boys "hoodie" was somehow responsible for his death, as if it carried an unequivocal and dangerous signifier for all young people, regardless of what their race, neighborhood, or class location might be. The real question in this case is, what kind of society allows young black and brown youth to be killed precisely because they are wearing a hoodie? Indeed the politics of diversion runs deep in American culture. And questions concerning what kind of society we have now become as reflected in such a tragic killing are simply ignored. Such questions are dangerous because they invoke wider social considerations and prevent us from wallowing in a purely privatized discourse that, in the end, for instance, only allows us to focus on the most narrow and restricted of issues such as the personality of the shooter, George Zimmerman. Defined by the parameters of an utterly privatized discourse the only question that seems to matter is, "Who is George Zimmerman and why did he shoot this young man?" Actually, the more plausible question is, "What kind of society creates a George Zimmerman along with a formative culture that elevates vigilantism over justice, emotion over reason, fear over shared responsibilities and violence over compassion?" This is not to suggest that Zimmerman should not be brought to justice through a fair trial, but that Zimmerman's dreadful act is symptomatic of a larger war being waged on poor and minority youth that places them in ongoing conditions of uncertainty regarding their education, health care, employment and also their future, particularly in terms of whether they will live or die. Nor does the narrow focus on the prevalence of a gun culture, gated communities and private security forces (Rambos for hire) in the United States provide either an adequate focus for understanding why, "Military force has replaced democratic idealism as the main source of US influence" or why war is a source of national pride rather than alarm.[3]Nor does it tell us why the spectacle of violence has become the greatest source of entertainment in American popular culture, furthering enabling, "the process whereby civil society increasingly organizes itself for the production of violence."
    An echo of the conditions that are responsible for Trayvon Martin's senseless killing can be heard in the words of politicians who embrace a culture of cruelty, suggesting that children who have predetermined illnesses not be given access to health care. It is evident in laws that sentence young people to adult prisons; it is clear in economic policies that drain income from working families and their children in order to line the pockets of the extremely and unproductively wealthy and private hedge fund managers. It is also visible in a carceral state that wages war on the poor rather than on poverty, defunds public schools so that they can be privatized, and demonizes young people while teaching them that punishing them is more important than educating them. A culture of compassion has been replaced by a culture of fear that radically forstalls future possibility. The manufactured national hysteria over private security has become a disease, massaged by endless moral panics about poor people, immigrants, minorities and dangerous youth, and all the while making us less safe and ever more vulnerable to violence. A consumer and hyper-militarized society that defines all relationships according to market values and enshrine a "survival-of-the-fittest ethic" leaves behind a string of abandoned visions, dreams, hopes and belief in the future. Symptoms of ethical, political and economic impoverishment are all around us...

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