The summer of 2009, became the summer of discussing the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is also a close friend of President Obama. I have spoken on this particular event at Yale University and even three years later it becomes one of the top two interview question. However, the act remains that in the case of professor Gates, his status in America delivered him “room service justice.” Who in America can get arrested for a misdemeanor (which could have been an issuance of a coupon/PTA) and have the ability to call the President of the United States of America? Get a call back from the President even during a time of war and failing economy. And then, get an invited to the White House for a beer and a photo shoot with the officer who arrested you? This can happen when you are prominent and in America prominence will most often over shadow the darkest skin tone.
The case was not the same for the countless number of Black,Hispanic, and Latinos in East Haven who endured years of blatant “Racial Profiling and Police Misconduct.” They suffered because of there race and because of their class. In a recent NPR interview on Where We Live, I stated that “Racial Profiling” is not just about race. Racial Profiling is also about class. America is the first modern-day society where discrimination is measured by race or class and when possible both.
We are fast moving towards an America that is split across both racial and economic lines. It is most unfortunate for many young people as in this case of Trayvon Martin, who no doubt became a victim of being “Racially Profiled” (by a White resident in this case) because he was a young Black male visiting a gated non-poor community. It has been no secrete that Florida has often been the origin of “cutting edge pro-gun laws for owners.” One could make the argument that it is due to Florida’s large retirement community. No doubt that everyone in America wants to be safe. This shooting is a case of blatant racism and the test here is “color over class.” This aspiring young male was killed because he was suspicious of being Black (color) in a gated community (class) where apparently there are few Blacks if any. Because if more than a few live in this gated community, seeing a young Black male walking down the street would not have prompted a 911 call. This is absolutely outrageous for 2012! I hope that the next time CNN’s Soledad O’Brien works on “Black In America” she focuses on the racial inequities that is destroying the fabric of America.
In the case of Trayvon Martin, he was killed by overzealous Block Watch Captain George Zimmerman because of his race and status as a young Blck male who was assumed to be poor. From the numerous verified news accounts, it is clear that George Zimmerman believed that this young Black male was dangerous and too poor to be in this gated neighborhood. Therefore verifing a historical racial mentality in America that “if you are Black in a rich neighborhood, you are automatically deemed as being a dangerous and a suspicious person.” For Trayvon Martin, the mere color of his skin enhanced by his assumed status of being economically “out of pocket” was enough to cause alarm. Unlike professor Gates, the family of Trayvon Martin does not have close ties with President Obama. There has been no invitation to discuss this matter at the White House over lunch or tea. There has been no comment from President Obama about his outrage and discuss about this incident of “Racial Profiling and Racial Injustice.”
There is also a new category to discrimination in America known as “age.” It seems as if over the last 15 years, being a young male in American, has become a class of it’s own. And if you are a young male of color and poor, well you may be seen as three times more dangerous.