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What If Uncle Ruckus Had Killed Trayvon Martin?

You laugh, but I am asking a very serious question.

I was introduced to the topics of racism and violence against women very early in life…probably too early. The Color Purple on VHS was a movie stable in my house, and it is with pride that I tell you that I can quote each line from the movie – verbatim – on demand. I only saw the movie A Soldier’s Story once, and as I recall it was around the same era as The Color Purple: 1984-1985. That would make me 6 or 7 years old when I first saw either. The themes in both these films were weightier than my young mind could conceive, centering around Black men’s hatred for other Blacks and misogyny.

Now I find myself at 34, in a new century, recalling these masterfully told stories with utter dismay. I am dismayed because they are still very relevant in America today. My family left to live in Ghana when I was 8 years old, and my world view and experiences were immediately shifted. Suddenly, everyone around me was Black, and apart from those 4th of July picnics – where I felt horribly out of place – I rarely saw White people. My teachers were Black, my headmaster was Black, my housekeeper was Black. When a crime was committed, there was no politicizing the event of “Black on Black” crime. Kofi Amadou had simply robbed Earnest Baidoo. There was no colorizing the crime – and our community was outraged at such an event.

“Be on the lookout for strangers in the area,” I would hear grown-ups caution while eavesdropping on their conversations in the living room.

“Sometimes they break through the windows with a crow bar, or they may come to your house looking for work and then rob you.”

There was no mention of a skin color, because it was Africa. What was the point? 98.99% of the people who live in Sub-Saharan Africa were Black like me.

So when I got back to America in 1996 and picked up a copy of Ebony that year, I was confused by the graphics and the tagline of an article I stumbled across.

The Problem with Black on Black Crime is that You Can’t See It…

read the words in grey font over a black backsplash, so that they appeared to fade. The assertion of the article was that because Black on Black crime was so prevalent and accepted in Black communities, residents had become immune or apathetic towards it. In one sense, I think that argument can be made, but in another I hardly think it’s true. Ask a mother whose son has been gunned down if she cares who pulled the trigger was Black or White, and I daresay she’ll vehemently shake her head “no”. The loss of a child, friend, or relative is no less painful because it was gang related, or “Black related”. At the end of the day, it’s still a crime!

With all the hostility that Blacks face in America, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay focused on the business of just living. It’s been said that Blacks have to navigate two worlds just to survive: the professional/corporate world where they have to appeal to the sensibilities of Whites (and all who identify with that race) and the Black world that they return to at night, where they are tasked in proving that they are still “down” and haven’t “crossed over” or “forgotten where they’ve come from”. Some Black people give up straddling that divide, choosing root allegiances over professional development, or conversely, choosing upward mobility over the futility of wallowing in solidarity with The Race. In the latter scenario, something amazing happens. Given enough time and pressure, a Tom DuBois or Uncle Ruckus is formed – Black men who can no longer identify with other Black men, or Black men who hate Black people altogether.

If you are not familiar with these two people, they are characters from Aaron McGruder’s comic strip, The Boondocks. Beyond hating Black people, Uncle Ruckus “has a deep respect, admiration and love of white people. To him, there’s only one King, and that’s Elvis, not Dr. Martin Luther King.” Tom is a successful African-American attorney, and as their next door neighbor, probably could qualify as a role model to Huey and Riley (escapees from Chicago’s South Side to the boonies). Instead, he’s seen more as a tool of the establishment, working to keep the black man down. Both types of Black men live among us today. Neither fits the profile of a ‘killer’, but then neither does George Zimmerman…yet he gunned down an unarmed 17 year old Black boy in cold blood. The reasons are clear to anyone with half a brain: he was motivated to kill because of his fear and hatred for Black skin, which in his world signify worthlessness, crookedness and violence. Such a person is only worthy of violence in return, never mind that he is armed only with a noncarbonated drink, a cell phone and some candy.

George Zimmerman and other White Hispanics (or whatever the media is classifying him as this week) are not alone in that view. Some Blacks too only see folly and perversion in the skin of others who share the same hue.

As I stood in the street on my way to the Trayvon Martin rally in Atlanta a little over a week ago, I was moved by the emotion and dedication of all the people there. People from all walks of life: teachers, t-shirt sellers, musicians, mothers and students. The majority of them were Black. Calling to mind the hateful words that Zimmerman had used to profile this young boy – f’ing coon, a**hole and the like – we stood in solidarity, chiming for his arrest, willing justice to be done. But I have to wonder, would we have done the same if Zimmerman had been Black?

If Uncle Ruckus, motivated by the same loathing and irrational fear that plagued Zimmerman, had shot Trayvon Martin, declaring him an f’ing coon and no-good miscreant, how would we react? If the voice on the 911 tape had been the angry slurred speech of a Black man who hated his own people with every breath in his body, while treasuring the very air that his beloved White man breathed, would we rally and march? If he had simply claimed self-defense as a reason for shooting this child and consequently gone scot-free, would we take him at his word?

Some people are of the view that we would be silent…hauntingly silent. After all, Blacks call each other worse names and gun each other down every day, and no one rallies. However, another group of people say that there would be no need to rally. The only thing more repugnant than a racist is a race traitor, and the deep sense of betrayal would be more than some folks could handle.

Uncle Ruckus wouldn’t have lived to see the next morning.

Perhaps I am too much of an idealist, but I ascribe to the thought that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. I might be in the minority, but I believe I would gather my sandals and picket against Sanford and Uncle Ruckus just as quickly as I did against George Zimmerman. But let’s be honest: Is that where we are as a race or as a people? Have we arrived to this ethereal conclusion collectively? I hope the better question is: should any of us – Black, White or Hispanic – be looking at this murder through our race at all; or as a crime committed by one human being against another?

You decide.

This article has 13 comments

  1. siaj won

    We cannot escape racial issues of this case but as you pointed out,a mother doesn’t care who guns her son down,she wants justice.For instance the black woman in SC who killed her two boys is being looked at in disgust by both races.Justice is what most rational people are looking for in the Tm case.It is difficult to focus on it being just a murder and ignoring racial issues,the same way with the OJ simpson case..A smile is the same in every language around the world and Murder hurts regardless of race. What makes it hurt so bad is when you know the victim had a long life waiting for them,that was prematurely cut short.

  2. NM

    It’s hard for me not to view the Trayvon Martin case through the race lens. When black people commit crimes against each other, we can most certainly rely on the police and detective agencies involved to do a thorough job in bringing the culprits to justice; sometimes concocting evidence in the process to close their cases. Am convinced that if the man responsible for Trayvon’s death was black, the investigation would have been handled quite differently. Try as I might to believe race relations have changed in this country I am reminded the more things change the more they remain the same.

    So yes a mother or loved one doesn’t care who pulled the trigger, but damn it if it doesn’t add salt to the wound to see the perpetrator walk free by virtue of being the ‘privileged’ race.

  3. poi

    “Perhaps I am too much of an idealist, but I ascribe to the thought that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. I might be in the minority, but I believe I would gather my sandals and picket against Sanford and Uncle Ruckus just as quickly as I did against George Zimmerman.”

    When I think that two Black men guilty of the recent MASSACRE in Boston were acquitted, even though they slaughtered 2 Black women, 1 Black man, and 1 Black baby, i have to say that the hypocrisy surrounding the Trayvon martin case is glaring. i am a Black woman, proudly so, but my biggest fears are of white men AND Black men – many Black men have chosen the path of the devil and demons, and hate other Black people more than any racist whites.

    If we do not raise an EQUAL cry and a hue for Blacks killed by Black men (mainly,although

  4. poi

    i k now there are some Black women guilty too), then we are not fit to yell about crimes committed by other races against us – worse than when others attack you is when we attack our own, based on other peoples viewpoint. many Black men have joined the white supemacist, racist way of thinking and are as violent and deadly and hateful as george zimmerman, and black women and black youth are in just as much danger from our own Black killers as we are from non-Black racist haters.

    There are no more excuses anymore. Our own actions against one another as black people in the last 25 years makes us look like hypocrytical idiots in the wake of trayvon martin and the killings in Tulsa, OK and cheapens the impact of their unjust deaths. How can I defend some Black men anymore when I don’t know if they will be the perpetrators of hatred against me as much as white men? I can no longer distinguish who is the enemy anymore, white racists or black male raciss who hate black women. and that’s a sad statement to make.

  5. Abid

    wow!! can i republish this ? powerful !! i do agree you with totally. I live in Africa and i sometimes dont get this whole black on black or white on white or black on white tags to some activities that the western media ascribes to events and crimes. A crime is a crime.

  6. Abid

    Danke…will do

  7. Simple facts

    Hi Malaka,
    Please excuse the typos ahead. I read your eloquent piece, although I dont agree 100%, I found it great. Now that we know more about the case since its done, many things come to my mind and I can only use logic and reason. Most of the media is to blame for all the inflamatory racial baiting and I feel disgusted as to how it was one sided all the time. From posting GZ picture as a mean guy, to TM baby faced pictures. No one wants to see the reality that TM was short of becoming a man, who was 160lbs, 5’11”, that did drugs, that had violent breaks, that was suspended from school, that his father had pleaded him to stop his bad ways, that had pictures of guns and marijuana. All that get thrown out because he is 17. GZ is portrayed as a wannabe cop, with hate and seeking to kill. But the fact that his best friend is a black man, that hevolunteered to help minorities including black kids, that his neighboors all speak good things of him gets all thrown out because it does not help the agenda. Now lets look at the scenario and I would like you to put yourself in that situation. As per witnesses of previous break ins, most of the break ins in that community were black. You live in a community where there are constant break ins. No one gets caught. You get frustrated. One night you see someone walking around (TM was visiting his father, not a regular resident in the community) you call the police, they tell you to not follow, but you are frustrated that it will take too long for the cops to arrive, you anyway to check whats going on (mistake on GZ). You follow this individual, you dont know the person’s age, its dark, the hood its on, you assume it could be a robber based on your communities experience. TM was almost home and decided to confront the creepy ass cracker following him (racial profiling againt GZ). Instead of saying to GZ that he lives with his father and he is going home, his behavior turns to the person we know from his school records and pictures in his cellphone. He becomes the aggressor (mistake on TM). From the accounts we know that the gun was holstered, so to say that GZ cold bloodly killed TM is a lie. GZ did not follow him with gun on hand. We all of this from witness, police and investigator’s testimonies. Why, I ask you, is that the media ignore all of these. You are an educated woman, why not use logic instead of emotions? The media outlets are fueling the hate and dividing this great nation using this young man’s death for profit, for ratings, for political careers. As you say, if it was black on black or black on white, it gets sweeped under the carpet, it happens to often to make the ratings or does not fit the agenda. Please I ask you to not analyze it with emotions, but with logic and facts as the jurors did. Thanks.

    • Malaka

      None of this changes the FACT that Trayvon was not in drugs when he was walking home and brutally murdered. He was buying tea and candy. That is the ONLY fact that matters.

      By your logic, there are several people who deserve Trayvon’s fate. Robert Downey Jr, Winona Ryder, Steven Tyler and Lyndsay Lohan are all either drug abusers, thieves, trouble makers or a mixture of all 3. Do they too deserve to be gunned down for their vices? Certainly their past/present/current behavior falls under the realm of thuggery.

      That you would come to my blog and spew such foolishness and expect me and my readers to co-sign on it is reprehensible. You are low, sir. Your pronouncement of who deserves death and judgement and your rejoicing in the acquittal of a man who murdered a kid, has yet to apologize or show remorse for it, lied to law enforcement on several occasions and is himself expecting MY community to apologize to him for it is equally repulsive. There’s another “simple fact”.

      • Simple facts

        If those are the only facts that matter to you then my words, like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence. I never said I rejoiced, but like most people with your like thinking assume I did. Someday we will live in a world where assumptions are not made and we are not quick at dismissing people as fools for not thinking as we do. God bless.

        • Malaka

          I don’t want any blessings from whatever god you serve. You are inhumane, and my God abhors the wicked and hates the shedding of innocent blood.

          Don’t be late for your cross burnin’.

  8. Malaka

    ‘Simple facts’ is clearly trolling websites with content about the Trayvon Martin case and has been blocked from making comments on this site again. MOM will not be used as a platform to air anyone’s ignorance. MOM is a No Troll Zone. And that’s a simple fact.

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