No Value at All

By Todd A. Smith

            Sorry Black men, but your life is worth nothing.  It is worth nothing in the eyes of the law, which allows others to brutalize you and murder you without any repercussions.  And it is worth nothing in comparison to other forms of life, not just human beings.

            Most of the country has paid attention to the senseless murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.  However, very little attention has been given to the beating of Houston teenager Chad Holley at the hands of six Houston police officers on March 24, 2010.

            Chad Holley was avoiding arrest on a burglary charge when officers were caught on video beating and kicking the then 15-year-old who appears to be submitting to the officers’ arrest.

            According to the Houston Chronicle, the six officers, including the recently acquitted Andrew Bloomberg, were fired for their actions by Police Chief Charles McClelland.  Nevertheless, an all-White jury in a town as diverse in Houston found Bloomberg not guilty of the misdemeanor charge official oppression, despite clear video evidence that he assaulted Chad Holley.

            The acquittal of Bloomberg harkens back to the acquittal of the officers who beat Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.  More peaceful protests have erupted throughout Houston since the acquittal on Wednesday.

            The next day, the Associated Press reported that Martin had traces of marijuana in his system the night he was murdered by Zimmerman.  The AP also reported that a photo surfaced “showing Zimmerman with a bloody nose on the night of the fight.  A paramedic report says Zimmerman had a 1-inch laceration on his head.”

            The evidence is crucial to Zimmerman’s defense that he shot Martin in self-defense, invoking Florida’s stand your ground statute.  However, where were Martin’s rights the night of Feb. 26?

            Many have sided with Zimmerman, stating that he had every right to shoot the teenager because he feared for his life as a result of the physical altercation, but why didn’t Martin have the same right to stand his ground and defend his life?  Was Zimmerman’s life worth more than Martin’s life?  Unfortunately, it seems so.

            Black male life has been undervalued, devalued or not valued at all for generations.  The murder of Martin and the police brutality endured by Chad Holley are just the most recent examples of the obvious.

            We can go back 15 years to the murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.  Despite evidence pointing to several suspects over the years, police in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, respectively, have seemed to turn the other cheek at evidence that could have led to the arrests of the murderers of these two Black men.  You can add Jam Master Jay and others to a growing list of unsolved murders involving high-profile Black males.

            Furthermore, football star Michael Vick was incarcerated for killing dogs, but it seems very few, Black, White or otherwise, are ever incarcerated for the deaths of Black males.

            To make matters worse, when Black men are victimized by crimes, the media and society at-large find a way to demonize these young men, as if one mistake in life justifies their assault or death. 

Yes, Chad Holley was wrong for his part in a burglary and he paid the price.  The officers who assaulted him should also have to pay the price for their wrongdoing.

            Yes, Martin experimented with marijuana like many teenagers, but that has nothing to do with what happened on the night of Feb. 26 and it is definitely not the reason Zimmerman confronted him on that night.

            He was confronted because he was a Black male, and because of stereotypes and stupidity some idiot decided his life was not as important as a non-Black life. 

It is just sad that Zimmerman is not the only person who feels that way; just ask Chad Holley, Vick and King among others.

Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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