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OP-ED: Being Black in America




By DeWayne Dickerson

I was talking to my kid on Sunday about the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial. She’s six. She asked me the most thought-provoking question I’d ever heard. “Daddy, why does the United States hate black people?” I don’t know. My ancestors were tortured into erecting this nation with salt in the wounds of their broken backs. The last time being black was universally cool in America was during the Minstrel show era of white people in blackface.

Rational folks talk about how the prosecution sucked. They couldn’t prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was a psycho killer capable of second-degree murder. Rational folks can kiss my grits. The only truth that came out of this verdict was that, once again, the system declared a young black man’s life worthless. Is there a god, or is God into Rush Limbaugh? I don’t get what’s happening any more. All I know is that the story of February 26, 2012 has somehow managed to penetrate the souls of black folk at our core. We can no longer be the mule and the goat. We can’t break our backs for America… it’s breaking them for us!

Doesn’t matter if it’s family court, a criminal case, or a parking ticket; the Libra scales of America are hella crooked. Self-defense is an inalienable right for NRA, bible-thumping goons, but was a threat to the very fabric of our society when the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam attempted to apply that principle in the corrupt, vicious, and hypocritical court of law.

Trayvon Martin had every right to go off on Zimmerman – who at one point had lost a job as a security officer for having, an aggressive temper. It was beyond overzealous of that dude to stalk, harass, threaten, and shoot the 17-year-old who dreamed of becoming a pilot someday. The boy was aiming too high. Our society can only accept three different types of endangered Negroes: Blackie Buffoon, who can always make ‘em smile; Jiggaboo Jive Turkey, who charms us with the ability to spark catchy slang and house party dance moves; and the-minded Step ‘N’ Fetch, whose fear of Massa’s wrath is greater than his fear of God.

This may sound crazy, but given those standard options, I’m proud Trayvon went out swinging. Was he supposed to call the police instead of striking Zimmerman? Hell no! They would’ve put 40 bullets through that boy faster than you can say “right to remain silent.”

Trials are never about “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” It’s all about what you can prove. How convenient! Of course, the outrageously disproportionate amount of my people in prison on drug offenses, and all of our people on death row, got there because in every single case 100% red-handed proof was submitted! Beyond a reasonable doubt, I’m genetically exposed as another one of those evil-doers, right? Which means the answer to my daughter’s question is that the US hates black people because we’re bad guys, fiends and scary monsters, and Trayvon was growing up to be one of those villains too, right?

The killer ended up being the only living person who witnessed the entire incident. Yeah, the prosecution did suck. He presented contradictory details to authorities during his police interrogation. There was very little evidence of any furious assault by the hands of some lunatic black man-child. He referred to Trayvon as “one of these assholes” and a “punk”. He showed no sign of remorse for taking someone’s life. Despite all that jazz, we’re supposed to walk out this theatre thinking that Zimmerman was just a really dedicated block watch captain.

All but one of the jurors was white. When the prosecution’s star witness, who was on the phone with Trayvon as the incident occurred, she recalled hearing him refer to Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker,” those jurors were offended. They let their ill-conceived notions of whatever the hell, reverse racism is cloud their judgment.

These are only a handful of transmissions from the post-racist society. The same place that encourages people to attend GOP presidential rallies with Obama dolls hanging from nooses. The same place that would rather incarcerate than educate its black youth. The state of the union is shaky at best, and Florida deserves a fat chunk of the blame. I still see dimpled chads in my nightmares.

Two months ago, Marissa Alexander, from Jacksonville, received a 20-year prison sentence for firing warning shots into a wall during an altercation with her husband. You don’t even have to see a picture of the woman, or know anything at all about the case, to know her race.. When you look at it that way, clearly, racism is here to stay.

The verdict of Zimmerman’s case was painfully predictable.

Dickerson has earned a Eli Coppola Memorial Book Award and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. The 35-year-old Louisville native has been a social justice teacher, active social commentator, and community organizer for most of his life.

Dickerson has earned a Eli Coppola Memorial Book Award and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. The 35-year-old Louisville native has been a social justice teacher, active social commentator, and community organizer for most of his life. Email Dickerson at





East Oakland Organizer Needed

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) is seeking an Oakland-based grassroots organizer for a short-term engagement to help grow and mobilize our coalition! Comprised of local businesses, workers, labor organizations, and community members, we are deeply concerned about the Oakland A’s proposal to leave the Coliseum site in East Oakland and build a new stadium at the port. An ideal candidate has on-the-ground campaign field experience, a strong awareness of Oakland and Alameda County political figures, and deep ties to East and West Oakland communities. Being a local resident of Oakland is a plus.

Employment with EOSA is a part-time role and will last for a minimum of four months with an opportunity to extend longer. Transportation and cell phone use would be reimbursed and candidates of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

If interested, please send a cover letter and resume to Emily Penrod, For more info about EOSA, visit our website and check us out on Twitter @AllianceOakland.


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