Thursday, March 29, 2012

The CeCe McDonald and Trayvon Martin Cases; How Are They The Same Or Different?

Guest Post by Cheryl Courtney-Evans of the abitchforjustice blog

First, I feel "honor bound" to say that I am NOT a separatist; I believe in respecting and caring about ANYONE (be it man, woman, child, black, white, gay, straight...etc.), as long as I get the same treatment from them. By that same token, I am not one to close my eyes to truths and calling 'em like I see 'em. And after the last few days of watching the Trayvon Martin case unfold (and being angry as hell about it), it occurred to me that there was another case that seemed as important but hasn't gotten (in my opinion) enough attention, so I decided to post this.


I don't know what is going on in this country, but it seems to me that since the advent of President Obama's election, the ugly animal of racism, who had been thought by many to have been thoroughly "slayed", has only been sleeping; an atmosphere that has continued to be just below the surface has burst through with an intensity that's so obvious it's astounding to behold...

Now I know there will be those so naive as to say, "You all are always 'pulling the race card'..." when it's pointed out, but there are also those who say the same thing, because all along they know it exists, and only want us to believe they believe it, or are that we are mistaken...

Now, although we are righteously incensed at the recent murder of young African American Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.
 by a Caucasian George Zimmerman (Feb. 26, 2012), I don't believe we can view this as a "down South thing"; there has been another case whose injustice has been carried on since June 6, 2011...that is the arrest and continued prosecution of African American CeCe McDonald, accused of killing Caucasian Dean Schmitz in Minneapolis, MN. 

My piece today is to show the differences in these two cases, while also showing how the ugly beast of racism seems to be hard at work in both.

Dean Schmitz

CeCe McDonald

Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman

The most glaring evidence in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is the fact that besides being unarmed, he was a young Black man walking down the street minding his own business; he was breaking no law...just running a "refreshment call" to the local 7-11 convenience store for Skittles and a can of ice tea. He was alone, so there was no eyewitness; so police only took into consideration the claim from Zimmerman that he'd shot Trayvon "in self-defense". The police then allowed this claim to keep Zimmerman out of jail, uncharged.

In the CeCe McDonald/Dean Schmitz case, CeCe was, by eyewitness accounts, also minding her business; walking to a neighborhood store with a few friends. Their route took them by a neighborhood tavern, where they were accosted by a group of loitering Caucasians who verbally assaulted them (using racial and gay/gender identity slurs); when CeCe refused to accept their insults and responded, she was attacked and injured by a female in the group busting a glass in her face, a brawl ensued and Dean Schmitz was stabbed. CeCe was the only one arrested that night and charged with murder, and her claim of self-defense was ignored. Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, has a history of racially "slanted" law distribution...he has refused to drop the charges, and she remains in jail awaiting trial.

So now, what are the ways in which these two cases are the same?

1. Both folks who seem to be getting the "short end of the stick" with regard to 'justice' are Black. (On his own word, armed [and by the way, he was much bigger physically than Trayvon Martin], non-injured Zimmerman was allowed to walk and has not been arrested & charged YET [and in hiding]; CeCe with eyewitnesses to her attack, sustaining 11 stitches to her face after being the first to be attacked, had her claim of self-defense ignored and is still in jail.)

2. Both Blacks were minding their own business; doing nothing illegal or infringing on others...just OWB (Out While Black).

3. Both are atrocious miscarriages of justice that cry out for attention and correction.

4. Both cases appear to be hate crimes.

How are they different?

1. Trayvon was an African American young man, a presumably heterosexual (was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone the night of his death) member of the "mainstream", while CeCe is an African American transgender woman, a member of a community that is the most marginalized in the United States (perhaps that's why, although her case is very nearly as heinous, it's gotten almost NO media attention or "community support").

2. CeCe was arrested for Dean Schmitz's death the same night, but Zimmerman is still free after 3 weeks.

3. Trayvon's case occurred in "the South", and CeCe's case happened in "the North" (so I suppose we can see that the "beast" is nationwide).

So in conclusion, here's what I propose. That ALL Americans of good conscience make their outrage known about these and other cases like them that may have slipped under the radar of public attention. We have to rout out the bigots who have intensified their efforts to erase the progress made this far to create a more equitable America. And we have to advocate for one another regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity...we're all part of the HUMAN RACE.

1 comment:

Lorax said...

This is a fantastic post. Thank you, Ms. Courtney-Evans for your thoughts, and thank you Ms. Roberts for providing the platform.

It is interesting how you say that the "beast" has been more visible ever since Obama took office. I think that this is a positive thing, although sad. It's good to get that racism out in the open where we can point at it and punish it. I am a white girl, I am a cisgirl, I appear normative and femme and straight, and was raised by folks who insisted that racism no longer exists.

I know that racism has always been hiding just under a thin veil of white etiquette, as those who think of me as one of them would whisper racist, transphobic, or homophobic things to me when they assume I am one of them. So thank you to Obama for being the catalyst to bring this beast to light where we can see it and properly deal with it.