Some Statistics…Response from Michael McKnight – Rolled into One… Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

“[People] hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King

I guess what bounced back and forth in my head was your title:

I Am Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman Rolled into One

My immediate reaction was… no I am not!  I am really neither of these human beings because we all have lived very different lives… leading us to very different ways we perceive the world.  My world view is way different than the George Zimmermans!

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in an area with lots of black people around me.  I was also fortunate enough to have grown up with black team mates and friends.  I went on to become a teacher of troubled young people and have spent hundreds of hours with black and brown as well as white teens over the decades.  I have had experiences with native American youth too when I taught in Arizona and had the eye opening experiences as a young adult to take some of them home for a visit on their reservations.

So nope… I am not like George Zimmerman, not even close.  George Zimmerman and I would have completely different perceptions if we saw a young black male walking in our worlds.

It saddens me…but I believe there are way more George Zimmerman’s in America then not… we continue to be that isolated, that segregated that we do not get to know each other at all.

Our schools have become more and more segregated over time and the data on Charters also see the majority as segregated schools.

One of our most honored presidents of recent history, Reagan, ( do not mistake my words here, I did not honor this man ) began the law and order regime that has lead to some of the following statistics that have taken place in America as our generation came of age.

•From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people

•Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners.

•Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in ever y 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control

Racial Disparities in Incarceration

•African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population

•African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites

•Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population

•One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime

•1 in 100 African American women are in prison

•Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

Drug Sentencing Disparities

•About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug

•5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites

•African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.

•African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

*** 35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites

***Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than  70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics  one-fifth of confined youth today.

***According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates. The data showed that  96,000 students were arrested and 242,000 referred to law enforcement by schools during the 2009-10 school year. Of those students, black and Hispanic students made up more than  70 percent of arrested or referred students. Harsh school punishments, from suspensions to arrests, have led to high numbers of youth of color coming into contact with the juvenile-justice system and at an earlier age.

***African American youth have higher rates of juvenile incarceration and are more likely to be sentenced to adult prison. According to the  Sentencing Project, even though African American juvenile youth are about 16 percent of the youth population, 37 percent of their cases are moved to criminal court and 58 percent of African American youth are sent to adult prisons.

As the number of women incarcerated has increased by  800 percentover the last three decades,  women of color have been disproportionately represented. While the number of women incarcerated is relatively low, the racial and ethnic disparities are startling. African American women are  three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely than white women to be incarcerated.

The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses. According to the  Human Rights Watch, people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites, but they have higher rate of arrests. African Americans comprise  14 percent of regular drug users but are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses. From 1980 to 2007 about  one in three of the 25.4 million adults arrested for drugs was African American.

Between the 1860s and 1960s, the official number of lynchings in the U.S. was around 75,000 people, though the actual number is probably many times higher. While lynching predominated in the South, no state was immune to the terrorism of the lynch mob.

What kind of scars does this leave in a populations?

For me…George Zimmerman is the product of systemic, institutionalized systems of race and privilege that we all live in.

I am sure he has not idea that he is a racist.  None.  Most people these day do not.  Yet we all swim in the water that allows someone to shoot and kill a teenager because he was black and had a hoody on.

I keep asking myself….. what I would need to teach Nate…. If he were black…. that I do not even need to think about or consider?

thanks for your article Lori… your writing always takes me somewhere !!

talk soon… michael

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