Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega
Chicago, Illinois, USA
September 11
A (Sometimes) Respectable Negro
Editor and Founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes He has been a guest on the BBC, Ring of Fire Radio, Ed Schultz, Joshua Holland's Alternet Radio Hour, the Burt Cohen show, and Our Common Ground. His essays have been featured by Salon, Alternet, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Kos. The NY Times, the Daily Beast, the Utne Reader, Washington Monthly, Slate, and the Week (among others) have featured his expert commentary and analysis on race, politics, and popular culture.

Chauncey DeVega's Links

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 26, 2012 1:51PM

Trayvon Martin is Dead Because Black People are "Scary"

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It's been a while since we have chatted about the invisible knapsack of black privilege in the Age of Obama. Tragically, the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman demands that we black folks engage in some "real talk" (as I like to say) about our special role in American society.

During the last week or so, I have spent a good amount of time listening to white folks talk about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. I have talked to friends, been invisible as I sat next to white people at bars and cafes, and eavesdropped on conversations while riding on the bus. Of course, I have watched Fox News and lurked on Right-wing websites to get a fair sense of "real America's" collective pulse on this issue. I truly care about white people. I am their best friend because I always tell them the truth.

After doing all of this research, I have come to a conclusion that may be a bit upsetting to some of you: black people are scary. In fact, I have come to realize that as a black man, I am a member of a group that scares white people more than any other in America.

I think we should own this fact. Could it be that the disproportionate coverage we are blessed with by the news media has convinced white America that we are a threat to them? Always suspicious, dangerous, and suspect? Is this fear a result of a deeply held--an almost primordial belief that still lurks in the collective subconscious and racial id of Whiteness--that black men are "naturally" more vibrant, masculine, dynamic, virile, and athletic than white men?

Who knows from where this fear flows, and our natural ability to frighten white people comes. As black men we are left to deal with the consequences; the mysterious ways of (some) white people are not ours to divine or understand.

However, I am sure of one thing: regardless of how we may be dressed, many white people find us scary.

It could be our cool pose, energy, or mere fact of existence that scares some white people. Black men are so scary, that even when wearing suits in order to mute the power of our habitus, we are subject to extra precautions and security measures by the police, as well as individuals like George Zimmerman who have nominated themselves the "protectors" of their communities.
Ironically, for some white people there is nothing more terrifying than a dignified, intelligent, confident, attractive, and brilliant black man wearing a fine and tailored suit.

Given these facts, it is only reasonable to know that a hoodie would frighten White People--and those who think like them--such as George Zimmerman. In all, common sense dictates that people wearing hoods cannot help but be anything but terrifying. 
Because he was 17 years old (and we cannot forget six feet tall), there are some white people who are quite upset that Trayvon Martin is being labeled as a "child" or a "boy" in the news media. Given that American society treats black children as though they are adults, this protest is both reasonable and fair. We must be empathetic and understanding here: for the white gaze, black boys (Ronald Reagan's "strapping young bucks") are always a growth spurt away from becoming a "giant negro" such as Willie Horton or a "superpredator."
One of our unique privileges in the United States is that we are forced into adulthood early; black people are spared the luxury of a purely innocent childhood. At an early age, we are made aware of the realities of race, "niggerized," and forced to understand what it means to be a problem.

These are necessary life and survival skills in America, even one that is post civil rights, and where a black man is President. This reality holds for both black girls and black boys. However, it is especially true for the latter, lest they end up dead like Trayvon Martin.

In her essential book Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison suggested that Whiteness as a color, abstraction, symbol (and indeed a "race" of people), has not been associated with purity, justness, and comfort by most people around the world.

Given the facts of European colonialism, imperialism, the Transatlantic slave trade, and other assorted barbarisms, white people have wrought terror and destruction around the globe. In practice, the "White Man's Burden" was a cruel contradiction in terms. Morrison's deconstruction of Whiteness, and how its owners have created a self-validating and benign sense of self, is spot on in many ways. But however trenchant her analysis may be, Morrison overlooks our unique and singular ability to frighten white people.

In the minds of white people (even those white people who are armed with guns), blacks have the magical ability to transform harmless objects into deadly weapons. So afraid they are of this power, that white police (and others) actually believe that candy bars, house keys, wallets, cell phones, and other objects are capable of lethal force when held in our hands.

So deep is our power to scare white people, that many of them have developed a subconscious association that links together black people, apes, and gorillas. These white folks are so terrified of black people that they are significantly more likely to give black defendants the death sentence during criminal trials. Historically, white people have been so afraid and fearful of black people, that even when they outnumber us fifty to one, such numerical superiority was not sufficient to guarantee their sense of safety or security.

Black people are also uppity troublemakers. We make a habit of going where we are not wanted, and of appearing in the most surprising places. During our centuries of bondage, black people absconded, killed overseers, and searched out their kin. The South would witness hundreds of slave rebellions during which African Americans fought a white supremacist military state and the overwhelming force it possessed. Blacks fought and served in America's wars, dying by the tens of thousands, even when the country treated us as second class citizens.

As more evidence of our willful natures, African Americans earned jobs and positions in industries, universities, colleges, and offices where the vast majority of rank and file whites resented and resisted our presence. In the year 2012, some black people have the authority to tell white people what to do on a daily basis; one black man was even arrogant enough to run for the Presidency of the United States of America and to win. What nerve!

Blacks migrated by the millions from the South to escape Jim and Jane Crow, leaving everything behind, in order to seek out freedom and opportunity elsewhere. We dared to achieve and succeed. Black people had to be at least twice as good to get half as far as the average white person.

How can a people with that level of hardheadedness, drive, and determination not scare those Americans who were born into racial privilege?

Much of the fear of black people, and black men in particular, comes from the fact that Whiteness, and white American culture in particular, are very much a story of absence and emptiness.

Black people have given whites a gift: what is a sense of cohesion, community, and meaning. There would be no "white people" if there were no "blacks." As Ralph Ellison famously observed, the first word the European immigrant learned upon arrival in America was "nigger." This gave him or her an automatic foot in the door of white American belonging.

Those Europeans, and especially those who we now know as "white ethnics," had to come to America and take slaves, kill the red man, and exploit the yellow man, in order to no longer be called Irish, Norwegian, German, Dutch, Polish, Italian, or Greek. This is the odd and synthetic mix of loathing, fear, and need that creates the ties which bind together White racial identity. To be "white" is to be anything but "black." Most importantly, Whiteness is a identity defined in juxtaposition to blackness.

What would America be like without us?

It would certainly be a less culturally vibrant, interesting, and democratic place. But in our absence, Whiteness would have to create new "black" people. Why? white people would eventually realize that being "White" is a lie, and all of the prejudices, stereotypes, and insecurities that are transferred onto black people would have to be processed elsewhere so that the collective White psyche could remain intact.

Empathy matters. As we think through why black people are existentially and perpetually scary to many white folks, we should also take an accounting of the White Soul. Could this fear be a manifestation of something pathological and unhinged? Could there be something amiss in the heart of Whiteness?

White people have witnessed many radical changes in the racial order of this country. Black people went from being property to citizens; from the periphery of America, to the center of its life and culture. Because of demographic changes, white people will no longer be the majority group in America by the year 2050. There is even a black man and his family living in the White House.

One of the great ironies of the post racial era, is that a white America which spent many years denying the very existence of racism against people of colr, has now discovered it for themselves, as conservatives and Right-wing reactionaries boohoo and fret over "reverse discrimination" and how "white people" are "oppressed" in the year 2012.

Could it be that many white folks are scared of black people because at a root level there is anxiety about karmic justice, that as Brother Malcolm suggested, the proverbial chickens could potentially come home to roost?

Most white folks are good and decent. A notable few have been allies to people of color in our struggle to make America a more fair and inclusive country for all of its citizens. But in total, white Americans have demonstrated quite a bit of naivete and innocence about matters of race. For example, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement public opinion data suggested that most white Americans believed that black people were treated equally and fairly in America. In their eyes, there was apparently no "race problem." Decades later those numbers are little changed.

This is not necessarily a function of malice or bias. It is simply the privileged and cultivated ignorance of life that comes with being on the other side of the color line. Given our special insight, people of color must be patient with our white brothers and sisters on these matters.

In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing, black people need to be especially careful of the feelings, anxieties, and fears of white folks. Many of them appear willing to work with us on this issue; we must be sure not to antagonize them, or ask too many difficult questions.

Because black Americans are the conscience of a nation, we must also ensure that George Zimmerman's rights and liberties are respected. We must always be role models on matters of justice and fairness.

The murder of Trayvon Martin has pushed the national conversation on race one step forward. White folks have been kind enough to share their deepest fears and worries about black men. As a reciprocal act, black men need to acknowledge our profound power as we imagine ourselves from the point of view offered by the white gaze. 

Dress up. Smile. Grin. Show some teeth. And don't wear a hoodie. If we do these simple things, white folks and their anxieties will be soothed. Black people, and black men in particular, are privileged and blessed. We are the most envied and imitated people in the world. With this privilege comes a special burden.

Let's acknowledge how we scare and frighten white people. Once we take this step it will be possible to move forward as a country, and all of us can find peace in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's murder.

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What can I say? You've said it all.
Chauncey, I don't always agree with every thing you write but I am always enlightened. Plus, you are always provoke a level of introspection in me that is welcome, discomfitting and illuminating. Thank you.
Just the pictures alone are so maddening and humiliating to me as a white girl.

You're so right that if there weren't black people someone else would serve as "the other." See Mexicans in California, Irish & Italian people in early Boston & New York, etc. - too many etc. - for examples.

WTF is wrong with us?
Don't you suppose there's a direct correlation between privilege and fear?
Bold and strong, Chauncey. I just posted it on Facebook where it is sure to scare the holy shit out of some bigots. Of course, they'll quickly morph their fear into righteous annnnng-ger and howl that this is playing into Obama's hands to racially divide this wonderful country, which was oh so harmonious and good before that...that...that Racial Divider seized the White House!
Your mind is a national treasure, Chauncy. There is so much here to provoke thought; I just hope it is not too sophisticated in its irony to be absorbed by those who would derive the greatest benefit from reading it.

Scary, my ass. I'm scary!
Long haired, bearded, tattooed, burly white guys and guys with shaved heads whether they're Hispanic gansta's or Neo Nazi white supremacists, scare the hell out of white folks too... but with a wardrobe change and a bit of cosmetic clean up most of these guys can morph into a socially "acceptable" appearance. The problem with Trayvon and Obama is that they can't change the color of their skin... sad but true.
Chauncey, I also am a friend of black folks, because I always tell them the truth too. You are right that white males experience trepidation at the thought of the physically more powerful African. But, alas, if only that physical prowess was matched by a commensurate intellect...if only the norms of civilization would be upheld in black communities. On St. Patrick's Day, in Chicago, 49 people were shot, ten fatally. Needless to say this occurred in the black community. THAT'S the problem Chauncey. Create some civilization first, then engage the larger European based white community in dialogue.
Oh, and please, don't exaggerate the numbers of black folks with high intellectual achievements. Most educated whites, not the white trash that is indeed intimidated by black intellectual/societal accomplishments, welcome black achievement. Sadly, it don't jess happen that often. In Zimmerman's neighbourhood something like 6 home burglaries occurred recently where the perpetrators were young black males. That was the context in which Zimmerman over-reacted. And that's the plain truth.
Zimmerman's story is starting to come out today in the news. Of course it's pointing to him having to defend himself. But, it's important to keep in mind that he was told NOT to follow Trayvon and Trayvon had only his youth and fists to defend himself. Zimmerman said Trayvon knocked him to the ground and went for the gun. Damn right. Running away from a man with a gun who'd been following him would have been asking for a bullet in the back. The kid chose to fight. I would have too, and I'm a fat old white-looking I probably wouldn't have been followed or seen as threatening despite the fact that I often wear a hoodie while out on one of my walks.
Once again, I can't read all the way to the bottom because of my eyes. Just as with native Americans, i believe that there is not a unitary black culture; rather, there are sub-cultures--true of whites, as well.

Am I scared of black people? Some. Scared of white people? Some.

I am scared of lack of conscience when it arises in any group, but no group is immune from the scaqry sociopathy that threads through our culture.
Oh, and by the way, I fervently wish that, and would actually gladly pay higher taxes if, your community could turn out more Alan Keys, and Clarence Thomases...wink
This should be on a much bigger site than OS. ~r
Should be a cover piece.
@L. Thanks, how kind. If you read some of my hate mail apparently an eponymous blogger is mean old anti-white "racist."

@Sheila and Joan. Thanks too. Circulate it, tell the folks who are the powers that be here on Salon, let fate decide.
The truth is painful. But definitely the truth.

I hope what we are seeing now is just a last dying gasp of the lingering remnants of white stupidity and southern resentment. It's only a matter of time until it dies off, because it's got to be a ghost of the past, not a sign of the future.

Having a black man in the White House has stirred the nasty cockroaches from their hiding places. There are people who long for the day of unchallenged white privilege, when the dumbest white loser could get a better job than the smartest black man. And now that the most powerful job in the country belongs to a black man their brainless zombie heads are exploding.

On a lighter note, some happy images.
I'm only scared of scary looking people. I do not fear black people and I am not convinced ,at all, that many whites do. I am optimistic that it is a minority of creeps . But, then I am overly optimistic sometimes. I know it sounds dumb but I prefer black people to whites-- More humor, better sense of injustice, and more soul, on the whole. Terrific article, but I just don't want you to think that all white people are so lousy.
I agree with Joan. This needs a wider audience.
Truth plainly spoken.

Call me a cynic (though i prefer 'realist') but "peace in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's murder" is not as likely as the possibility that this murder will fall off the front pages & be forgotten... till it happens again, and again and...
sadly, it seems we learn some truths the hard/painful way.
Thought provoking, as always. I've read it twice now and am probably not done.
Chauncey - I find you scarringly on the dot.
Podiatrist: someone desperate to be called "Doctor" who lacks the academic ability to be accepted in any medical school. Do I have that right?
Well at least you think some white people are decent. Many blacks fear their fellow black neighbors-‘"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.”- Jesse Jackson.

Chauncey- Through history blacks have murdered,enslaved,raped pillaged other blacks in Africa and beyond-it continues to this day.
Through history whites have committed atrocoties as well.
The fear might be that black males make up 6 % of the population and commit a disproportionate amount of the violent crimes in this country.
You actually seem to "white-wash" history and make it seem as if this Amazingly talented people is kept down and persecuted by the white man to keep them from overtaking the world.
Yet, when a great man like Clarence Thomas or Thomas Sowell comes along, they are demonized as Uncle Tom's not celebrated for their achievements.
Victims of the man and the self-loathing whities (OS is loaded with them) so want to be hip and cool.
I know some great people who happen to be black-I do not fear or desire to be in their presence any more or less than the next and in my opinion that is the right track. I think MLK made a speech about that desired end.
You make a lot of good points. As a white person in an integrated neighborhood, I see enough undercurrents in our local culture (and some more blatant signs) that I know we still have a LONG way to go before our society achieves true racial equality. My mother saw a lot more blatant signs of racism (aimed at her friends) back in the 1950s and was disgusted by it then. I am disgusted at the fact that we've failed on so many levels to make enough progress since the 1950s and 1960s.
"Could it be that many white folks are scared of black people because at a root level there is anxiety about karmic justice, that as Brother Malcolm suggested, the proverbial chickens could potentially come home to roost?"


It feels extraordinarily difficult to listen to the horrors that were and continue to be practiced on black Americans, and to accept that now bred in their bones is anger against me. These images you post are hideous, and the white people are beyond ugly to my eyes, yet I feel obligated to look at them, over and over, for as long as you need to show and tell. Maybe that will be always. There things so horrible that people can never get over them.
Man Chauncey you're getting a lot of mileage out of this.

Those white devils are good for some EP's.

Keep spreading the love -- I feel the World getting better with each of your angry posts.
While I understand much of this was sardonic, and you did come *very close* to the heart of it, I'm surprised you didn't mention that the potential root of white fear is white shame that they/we have not sought out to correct the injustice, or have given up trying to change the status quo, yet continue to benefit from it.
Yes, whites are fearful of their impending comeuppance, rather than embrace the chance to see a whole new world, they/we would gathet hide from the Truth that all black men deserve to be acknowledged first as a fellow human being, a soul, a mind, a dignity, an honor, a life.
You do good things Chauncey.
Chauncey, much respect.

Again, thanks for stating the unfortunate truth. Many avoid THAT, won't confront reality at whatever cost to society, certainly won't say out loud what we all on some deeper level recognize to be forthright TRUTH.

The FUNDAMENTAL truth that bigotry is on the rise, that it's gaining acceptance and momentum in the guise of dyslexic "South Will Rise Again" emotionally driven hysteria, motivated by the stunted mentality of morose, intellectually impeded "Good Old Boys".

So these often buried yet deeply recognized truths are not often given voice, aren't exposed to the more complete light of exposed public attention, aren't given over to the transparency of honest conversation in the "Polite" medium of thoughtful discourse.

And the behavior motivated by such stunted lack of recognition, by the above mentioned (intellectually deprived) "Good Old Boy Willful Ignorance" can become painfully obvious if neglected for long enough, as we've seen with killings outside of abortion clinics.

Or the case of Trayvon Martin, OF COURSE.
We white people are scared because we know full well that, "What goes around - comes around." It looks like our turn is coming......

Appearances matter.

A lone white man in his 30s sits on a park bench near a childrens playground. You as a mother ...would you be more or less concerned looking at this man vs say if the person was a young lady...

If a woman walks to her car in a dark garage, and you are a man, do you try to keep your distance regardless of your color, of course, its common sense, and understandable. People do the math in their heads, its not always fair, but its based on something. If I say school shooter, do you look for a young black boy or girl, or a scrawny sad sack looking white boy, tell me, lets be honest. You know what you thought, and why, most ..almost all school shooters are white boys, its not racist to say this.

The problem is we've been sold a lie by the family..they posted misleading pictures of him as a young child. His friends and family also have suspiciously not been forthcoming with any recent pictures of this boy, its just rather perplexing, even if his own facebook page is blocked, friends family and even aquaintences should have a group picture from the last year on some of their own pages, but nothing, its like they are working together to airbrush the kids image...
As for the media, its quite the opposite. If an alarm company needs an advert they hire a white actor to be the burgular. White over compensation for not looking racist actually white washes the image of african americans in the media, many times they won't even post the race of the suspect in question. This has the perverse effect of people seeing through the game and being doubly suspicious that things are being hid from them for the sake of political correctness, so as usual, misleading people tends to backfire.

If you want to look at rape statistics, black men raping white women, I dont think the numbers will be good for your case.
You write: "In fact, I have come to realize that as a black man, I am a member of a group that scares white people more than any other in America...Is this fear a result of a deeply held--an almost primordial belief that still lurks in the collective subconscious and racial id of Whiteness" and Asians (see Kate O'hehie's comment) and Hispanics (various posts on Zimmerman's heritage) and no doubt Indians although I have found no reference recently.

What if, for some reason, we do have a "primordial belief" stored in our "collective conscious", a racial memory of a hierarchy much like a rainbow -- that the colors are fixed in a certain order, but our strong preference for or attraction to one or the other is not dictated by this ordering.

What if our sole goal, our only purpose is to evolve to understand that just as all colors make up the rainbow, all races make up that group of souls known as humankind? Each of the races has their gift, a vibrancy and place in our imaginations. Generally, we do not say, "Purple is the lowest color because it is the darkest". Purple is just purple in all its wonderful and various shades and hues -- we prefer it or we don't.

If we are born with some instinctual preference toward people like ourselves, which psychologists have noted is an innate bias, perhaps our goal as spiritual beings is to overcome this inherent bias? To remember and then know that we are part of the SAME rainbow, that creation of the One God known as humankind.
It's interesting to observe the formation of two very distinct groups. Commentators like Bill O'Reilly express sympathy for the family of the dead teen and stress the importance of a complete and measured investigation of the facts. Others immediately pounce, protest, march, place bounties, and otherwise seize upon any opportunity to express their only reason for existing. This group is not the least bit concerned that Tayvon may turn out to be another Tawana Brawley.

I have no difficulty in deciding which group expresses the more heightened version of intelligent life.
Needs wider coverage, people...
I am not thrilled to be the one to bring this here but, we may have a rush to judgement by many here.
Chauncey - You can live in your scared world.
This is my world.

I recently went school play in rural LA near Baton Rouge. An old friend is a teacher and I thought I would the person up.
Not knowing where I was going for sure I ended up literally on the wrong side of the tracks. The street name was the same on one side of the track than the other. So I took my best guess and was wrong. After 3 blocks of being on the wrong side I ran into a end of road with a right turn only (track on my left).

And Oh my god, it was a black neighborhood at night with 3 black guy hanging out in the street. Oh horror. What to do now. Pull my gun certainly. Well unfortunately I don't carry my gun 99.9% of the time.

Did I keep driving to make two more lefts and get the hell out? No. I stopped and and asked directions of those scary people. I must me an idiot. And guess what. They actually answered me. Amazing.

They asked which school and told me I was on the wrong side of the track. Given my bad night eyesight (just had cataract surgery to fix that) I almost hit the stop sign as I backed up.
They yelled to stop me. That was nice of them. They also were sort if laughing a bit at the stupid old guy (or was it the stupid white guy? hmmm) that cant back a car up.

I said to them I cant see with a damn at night. they said we got you and directed my back up safely.

Now this cant happen in your world. In your world I am scared they will steal my nice SUV or whatever. I would not EVER actually stop my car and talk to these guys.

I recently took a black man at 5:30 in the morning in my car to give him a ride. He did not ask. I could tell he was out of his home town on foot and trying hard to gt to the bus so he could get to the employment office. I only overheard this conversation. What did I do. I approached him and offer the ride. Again, no gun in my car. I could have been killed!!

Just yesterday morning at 4:00am a black guy was asking directions in a convenient store. He said he was looking for a construction site to start work. The clerk gave him horrible directions. He would have never found it.

I hurried to catch up with him before he pulled away. I asked if he knew the area at all. He said no. When I came to find out the place he was looking for it was clear he was only a couple miles away. I was on my to hospital for testing 50 miles away. But I could see this was another traveling person probably showing up for the first day on the job (Monday morning). I made sure he was not late. I simply altered my route a bit costing me 5 minutes and gaining him getting where he needed to get.

I am sure that fMRI scan would have showed my fear factor. After all it is built in. Why was I NOT scared Chauncey?

I grew up in this bigoted state!! How did I escape this. I would like to think I am enlightened but I am not. I am a NORMAL human being. Behaviors scare me. Skin color does not. Economic class does not. A down an out guy looking for a job that happens to be black does not scare me. 3 kids in the street do not scare me. And you know what, If I get harmed for not being scared, so be it. I can live with dying acting like a human to my brother. Lots of worse ways to go out.

Sometimes I wonder if racism is worse up north than it is in the south. I do nt see it here in rural LA and I been visiting here for the last 8 months. Reality is simply not the way you
present it.

In the hospital yesterday a black family were waiting on the family member in surgery. But 2 white were with than also.
Whites waiting with a back family out of concern.

The world you describe does not exist for me. And I am where it is supposed to be the worse.
You know what I have noticed. There are some issues in proper New Orleans. But not out here in the country.
We are just friendly.
Maybe it is because I grew up with this. It is normal not scary. Why can't you see the hope rather than the constant bashing? It is offensive because I am the stereotypical person you target with your comments. And you are WRONG!!!
Awful event, Zimmerman should be charged. The original lead investigator in the case said today he wanted Zimmerman charged with manslaughter, but was shouted down.

Now, personally, about the hoodie...I think they're stupid, except for teenagers. I've always thought it was silly for grownups to wear sports jerseys and hoodies as everyday clothing. Adult men (white, black, whatever) now do this well into their forties and fifties. When does one start wearing grownup clothes? Adults look like idiots when they wear this stuff out in public.

Will somebody say, "AMEN"?
Can I get an

White privilege is over in this country and that loss of status and power is unbearable for a segment of the US population. Race issues for this country have never been solved as long as some individuals believe that skin color permits power over others. Sadly, this young man is the victim of just such mindless ignorance and the violence of racism marches on. Black skin threatens and is a constant reminder of the past that would love to be forgotten, overlooked, and bleached out.
Now that I've read this, those Black teens in my living room, playing video games with my sons are starting to look scary.

Thanks for heads-up Chaunc !
If we're so hell bent on arresting someone, how about the New Black Panther members who are offering a bounty for Zimmerman "dead or alive" or Spike Lee, who gave out a false address for Zimmerman that has resulted in an elderly couple cowering behind their sofa.

Of course that might require action by that great protector of human life and rights--Eric Holder. So don't bother to wait for it.
Negrophobia has a long shelflife in our country at some point this pathology will create another civil war but it won't be regional...
Well reasoned enough to not argue with a lot. "We make a habit of going where we are not wanted, and of appearing in the most surprising places. "- made me laugh. Though where we see physical power isn't really a question worth asking- NBA, NFL, OLYMPICS, etc. Where I live it is obvious where the 'scary' neighborhoods are (look at a crime map of any city) and the fact that many black people strive to remove themselves from their own neighborhoods should show that it's not just whites wanting to avoid such 'virile' accommodations. Also, I think this case shows a dumbass (Zimmerman), and an unruly kid (Martin) and that is all. As far as escaping the south and Jim Crowe I know many succeeded but there has also recently been a return. Why? Because they have made a sinkhole of Detroit and other cities in their own neighborhoods and have migrated out of the places and communities that became too bogged down with crime, drugs, delapidation. Show me any modern U.S. city, town, neighborhood from anytime as dangerous and 'scary' as Cabrini Green was but with white people and I will send a fruit basket. White people know it's not all black people but we tend to err on the side of caution. Also, we don't know where that suit came from; could've stolen it- j/k... J/K! I liked your post. Good talk.
Brilliant. This is one of your absolute best. I couldn't agree more with what you've written here. Thank you. I suspect you must be a noted African American Studies professor blogging on the sly.

But I have one bone to pick with you: What about the brown man and brown woman? Hispanics/Latinos have been in this country from day one. Most of us have American Indian heritage and Spanish heritage, and the Spanish arrived and colonized North America (including the United States) before everyone else. (Yes, and maimed, murdered and raped in the name of religion, gold, power and land grabbing, just like everyone else, too).

Hispanics/Latinos have always experienced, and are still experiencing, a lot of bigotry because of new immigration from Mexico, which is right across that infamous, invisible border. And we get it from all sides: from whites, blacks, Asians, Russians, Italians, and even, ironically, from recent Latin American immigrants who try to distance themselves from those of us who have lived here for generations, as if we caused the racial problem in this country in the first place. We didn't set up this system. We're just as much victims of it as everyone else, and I mean everyone else.
OS made sure to "back up" your article with another EP on "The Neuroscience Behind Trayvon's Death". Apparently your words from the front lines as a black man and the outcry in the black community aren't enough to convince people that white America despises black men, including the president. No, we need "scientific" evidence about how a brain's amygdala is trained to react to certain threats. Please, I feel like its 1950 again. Thanks for your continued efforts. I applaud all you do.
thanks for writing an article so all the non-blacks can pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves that they are so accepting, understanding and not racists. fred sanford drinking colt 45 isn't scary.
A lot of very good points, and some exaggerated ones. But to claim that acquiring slaves was how "Irish, Norwegian, German, Dutch, Polish, Italian, or Greek " joined the white mainstream seems more than a bit off to me. The vast majority of Poles, Italians and Greeks came to the US after slavery was already outlawed, and the Irish immigrating in the mid-19th century would have been far too poor themselves to have slaves. Arguments are more convincing when they stick to facts...
I'm sincerely disappointed with almost all of the congratulatory comments here.
What on earth does the author mean by 'white people?
Are we really going to play this faux-identity politics game? Because it is one that we can never be victorious in.
I'm a 'white person'. And what? This simple fact gives you NO MORE information about who I am as a human being, and you, I am afraid to say, are perpetuating racial stereotyping and homogeneity by insisting that individual human behaviours are not mutually exclusive to race.
I am, quite frankly, disgusted by your claims.
Thank you for your beautifully voiced, brilliant perspective. I have been waiting for time (due to my lack of good habits I blew off my workout to stay home and read!) to catch up on your work on this subject. It is profound. I'm grateful to be on OS and be exposed to it.
You say "who knows from where this fear flows, and our natural ability to frighten white people comes..." but I thinks maybe because you were born in america you are not aware of what's called socialization, because when I came to america in 1966 my country algeria had just won it's independence from france and at once I began to learn to act, talk, walk, etc., like a black american. I was told never to talk to cops (or white people in general), never look away first when a white man looks at you and NEVER show fear and after 20 years as a public defenders psychologist I know that not showing a natural emotion like fear scares everyone no matter what color--I have to keep reminding public defenders to talk in court about their clients fear (mostly because a white jury thinks if you show no fear there must be something wrong with you--this does NOT help get an innocent verdict--especially if it's a murder case which most of mine have been).
Also, white police officers tell me that they hate using knight sticks because they are convinced that if they do a picture of them will be on the evening and it's the same with black vs white violence. Remember the LA riots... and remember how many time the media showed black violence vs white violence. So sometimes we get our pictures taken and give the media some excuse to show us at our worst--I'm not sure who's to blame since we've all seen similar pictures from LA, Chicago and everywhere in between, but I do know those people are out to make money and they don't care how they do it.
Fighting for independence in africa is one thing kicking a white truck driver where they can get a picture of you to sell is another.
As far as trayvon... he was stupid enough to get high and extra stupid to pick a fight with a guy who had a gun--he scared zimmerman and zimmerman shot him. Simple.