By Mark David Blum, Esq.
I am, by society’s definition, a White person. I am a man. There is no denial that as a result of being both, doors have been open and benefits may have been granted me solely because I am a White Man. (I am also a Jew which brings its own tsuris. My religious history is not evident on my face so unless I share that information, nobody knows).
What I will not do; not now and not ever, is apologize for being White or being a Man. I would even challenge the ‘white’ thing as my current summer tan makes me darker than a lot of my brothers and sisters. In reality, there is no black and white, only a long list of shades of color. For example, everybody says President Obama is the first black president. What makes him Black; his appearance or his genetics? If you look at genetics or lineage, the president is as much a white man as a black man. Also, since when is George Zimmerman a white guy? His parents are Hispanic and Asian. To white people, that aint white. But the wave of white guilt has changed the narrative.
Yet I will not apologize. I am not guilty for the sins of my fathers. I am not guilty for the sins of my sons. I am not guilty for the sins of my brothers and sisters. I will not feel guilt or allow myself to be torn asunder because of the color of my skin.
I have spent a career standing up and in front of people under attack because of their race or ethnicity or economic status. I have taken the bullets. I have taken the public and political heat. I have stood between police and public, between prosecutors and accused, and have fought in every venue I could to bring about change. After more than 20 years, I have learned the hard cold lesson: People just don’t give a crap. They love to march and protest and yell and burn. But to get off their butts and change a law, change people in office, or change their own attitudes, it will never happen. It is easy to criticize but sit in the comfortable airconditioning instead of working up a sweat in the trenches.
No, I am not going to be another victim of the raging white guilt running rampant today throughout the nation. I will not be stamped with any scarlet letter because I do not go along with the PC movement. White people are tearing each other to shreds right now over the Zimmerman verdict. I was not on that jury and I had nothing to do with it. Leave me out of the discussion. The #1 place we need to refocus is not on a person’s skin color. If you want to see how real bad the incarceration rates are, don’t control for skin color. Instead, control for income, for education, for environment. Yes, there are a vastly disproportionate number of black folks in prison. But I am moreso convinced there is an even higher proportion of poor, uneducated, and mentally ill people in prisons across American than of any particular melanin count. The United States has the world’s largest prison population and I know it is not because we are summarily arresting black folks when compared with arresting poor and uneducated folks.
It all depends on the variable you control. Control for geography and I bet red states have more prisoners than blue states. I bet blue states have more people in treatment programs and more government intervention in privacy spheres than red states.
People are batting the word “profiling” around like a modern day Salem witch. Profiling absolutely goes on every day everywhere. Human beings make value judgments on what they see first. There is real truth to the adage, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Back in 2009 right after being sworn into office, President Obama hosted a kegger at the White House. Guzzling their favorite brews, the President and Vice President sat and listened to two very pissed off people vent their respective perspectives about a race based confrontation. Injecting himself into a national discussion and perhaps even a learning moment, the President involved himself and opined on a matter of local police practice.
If you recall, the arrestee, a Harvard professor and noted Black citizen, tired and drained from a trip home from China and struggling getting into his home came face to face with a white police officer investigating a reported possible burglary. Indeed the arrestee gained entry into his home with a key and proved his identification as being the homeowner. But the arrestee couldn’t let things go. Showing racial bias against the police officer, the homeowner got mouthy and accused the police officer of acting out of racial bias against Blacks. The evidence bears out that this police officer is not of the ilk to target Blacks for police action. As the officer was leaving, the homeowner followed and words were continually exchanged between the citizen and the officer. There came a point when the officer had enough and decided to arrest the citizen for “disorderly conduct”. Those charges have since been dismissed.
Frankly I had to agree with the President that the arrest was a stupid thing to do. Police have a right to be treated with respect and most Americans feel that their response to a cop is “yes Sir” and “no Sir”. Others feel that when they have done no wrong and are still confronted by police, that the citizen has the right to speak his mind. That too is lawful activity in the United States. How we deal with each other speaks to the outcome of that relationship.
The word of the day has become ‘profiling’ and that too is being wrongly applied. ‘Profiling’ is a law enforcement tactic and is absolutely applied across the board across the nation. People say Zimmerman profiled Martin. Maybe. The question is what was profiled – was it race? Was it age? Was it the hoodie? Was it an unrecognized person in the neighborhood that attracted the attention of the wannabe cop? We don’t know. People seem to want to say ‘race’ was the determinative factor but the record reveals that it was the 911 operator who first injected race into the discussion. NBC tampered with that tape and lit the flame of racial oppression in context of the Zimmerman case.
I wont for a moment argue that racism does not exist in the United States. As a Jew I can tell you how it feels to have a bullseye on your back. Most of the people who hate black folks hate me too and would moreso hate me (and do) because I have always stood shoulder to shoulder with my friends of any color or stripe.
I will not, however, carry any guilt nor shoulder any burden for “the verdict”. As a lawyer friend of mine so well said, any verdict is the correct verdict. On that I agree so long as the jury has been properly instructed. People want another prosecution because they didn’t get the verdict they want. A lot of people in Los Angeles felt the same way when four white police officers were acquitted for beating Rodney King. More people felt the same way at the O.J. Simpson verdict.
None of that was my doing. I stand on my own two feet and my own history. I am not pointing any fingers and see the whole Zimmerman case as a sad disaster and prime example of bad decision making all around from the moment of first contact.
Folks, I am not the enemy. I am a white man and am not ashamed of it. I am proud of who I am, not because of the color of my skin but for the content of my heart and character. The question is begged whether you will judge me as such.
We have to stop feeding on each other. Is there a racial disparate impact in our laws? Absolutely and until we fix that flaw, we will remain at each other’s throats. I, however, am not playing that game. Show me what you want me to see and I will act accordingly.
The white guilt movement burning all over America is demanding that I take away a false narrative from the Florida. I refuse. If there is indeed a lesson we should all take from the Florida case, it is that we all bleed red. It is that self inflicted bleeding that has to be stopped; not juries who follow the law.