Here it is the Ninth of Av again. I’ve been doing this for four years now, today.
When I started this blog, it was meant to offer commentary on all my worlds, Black, Jewish, Black Jewish. Somewhere along the line it became a little bit more niche, talking about the Black every now and then, sure, but mostly focusing on the Jewish and Black Jewish worlds. And here, on my fourth birthday as MaNishtana, I’d like people to remember I am very much “just” Black too.
Especially in the wake of the Trayvon Martin trial. Yes, I said Trayvon Martin’s trial, not George Zimmerman’s, because apparently it was Trayvon who was on trial for his own death. And, unsurprisingly enough for me as a Black man in America, justice was not served.
However, the majority of White America, especially and infuriatingly my fellow Jews (again, the white ones), want to tell me “it’s not a race issue”.
In May 2012, Marissa Alexander, a Black Florida woman with no prior police record, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into a wall to scare off her husband who she felt was threatening her. Alexander was estranged from her husband, Rico Gray, and had a restraining order against him, even though they’d had a baby together just nine days before. Thinking he was gone, she went to their former home to retrieve the rest of her clothes. An argument ensued, and Alexander said she feared for her life when she went out to her vehicle and retrieved the gun she legally owned. She came back inside and ended up firing a shot into the wall.
She invoked Stand Your Ground self-defense and was denied. Why? Because the judge threw out Alexander’s “stand your ground” self-defense claim, noting that she could have run out of the house to escape her husband but instead got the gun and went back inside and therefore created her own scenario.
Wait…So then doesn’t that mean that George Zimmerman likewise shouldn’t be able to invoke “stand your ground” as a defense since he was ordered by the 911-operator to NOT get out of his car or pursue Trayvon? Did he not create the scenario in which Trayvon was fighting him?
Yet somehow, when a Black woman is confronting a person who she has a RESTRAINING ORDER against, she can’t invoke “stand your ground” because she created the additional scenario, but a White guy (and please stop saying “He’s not White, he’s Hispanic!” as if you’ve never filled out a form in your life and seen “Black, not-Hispanic” and “White, not-Hispanic” as ethnicity choices) can invoke stand your ground when the fact is if he stayed in the car, Trayvon would’ve had no idea he was even being followed in the first place. Right.
Let’s not even talk about James Dooley, a 71 year old Black man who was denied stand your ground against a White attacker 30 years his junior…who was choking him and reaching for his own gun.
Because this isn’t a race issue.
“People want to make this about race when it was about justice. There was reasonable doubt! Race had nothing to do with this!”
As if “law” and “justice” were ever synonymous in this country when it came to Black people. As if they forgot that everything Hitler did in Germany was actually legal. As if here in America–in NEW YORK–our illustrious Mayor Bloomberg hadn’t just said two weeks ago that “I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say.” …Despite the fact that white New Yorkers make up a whopping 9% of Stop-and-Frisk stops. While Blacks and Latinos comprised over 86%.
“Don’t compare the Third Reich to the American court system,” someone said to me.
He’s right, actually. I really can’t. The Third Reich was actually defeated.
Yet here, on the cusp of the Ninth of Av, my Facebook Jews could not see any kind of correlation. Which to me is hilarious. Because I happened to come across some things while Googling.
Things have apparently not been awesome in Poland recently. Over the last five years or so, there have been an alarming amount of incidents involving the mishandling of justice when it comes to Jews.
In 2006 Nachman Marczewski was killed while leaving from his aufruf which had stretched late into the night, after being fired upon by three police officers who did not identify themselves. The cops were found not guilty.
In 2009, while on the ground after being arrested at a subway stop, unarmed Mikhail Korczak was shot in the back by the arresting officer. Mikhail died seven hours later.
Last year, Jewish teen Hayyim Aronszajn was arrested and placed in the back of a police vehicle, handcuffed. Mysteriously, he died in that backseat of a gunshot to the head. The arresting officers claimed Hayyim shot himself. In the right side of the head. In the back of a police car. While handcuffed. And being left-handed. The coroner’s office signed off on it. No charges were ever brought.
And then there is the troubled town of Lubusza. In 2006 two private security guards—one the son of a local police officer, the other a volunteer for the department—killed a Jewish teen with a gunshot in his back. Even though they admitted to never identifying themselves, the guards were released without charges. Then, in 2010, the son of a Lubusza police lieutenant, sucker-punched a elderly Jew outside a bar, and officers on the scene released him without charges. He eventually surrendered after video of the incident materialized online. The police chief at the time was ultimately forced into retirement. As it would turn out, the same patrol sergeant in charge on the night of the assault on the Jew outside of the bar, would also be the first supervisor on the scene of the shooting death of Jacob Steinhaus in 2012, a teen who was gunned down by a paranoid neighborhood watchman believing Steinhaus to be trouble. The gunman got off.
This year, Stanislaw Tarski, another Jewish teen, would be gunned down at a gas station for playing his music too loud.
So tell me, what’s different between those scenarios and the Trayvon Martin case? How exactly are those two situations and climates different? Let’s hear some excuses. Don’t tell me governmental sanctions or precedent of supporting policies to mistreat Jews or past history of blood libels or Nazi involvement, because I’ll just shoot back Jim Crow laws, 3/5 of a person, lynchings, the Ku Klux Klan, and, y’know, that whole foundation of 400 years of slavery thing.
Because there is no difference. Because the stories I just told were false.
All I did was substitute the real life recent racial history of the town of Sanford with a random Polish town. All I did was swap out Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Oscar Grant and Chavis Carter with some nondescript White Jewish kid. I didn’t even change the dates.
Now go ahead and finish pretending like you didn’t get riled up and upset just now about hearing Jews being picked off like flies. About how your blood was boiling at anti-Semitism. And then try to tell me again how “it’s justice”, “it’s the law”, “it’s not a race thing”.
Then again, the sad part? Is that in all likelihood none of those events I described even seemed remotely familiar to you, which is how you just fell for it. Because, since it didn’t affect you and yours, you probably didn’t pay attention to it in the news ever. Because unjust loss of life of African-Americans really ISN’T a race thing to you.
It’s just a normal thing.