In the wake of Trayvon: A pediatric resident’s search for answers

I heard the verdict in my car, driving from my birth home, Washington, DC to my new home, Baltimore, MD. I was stunned, my mouth agape and my mind muddled.

Not guilty.

Thoughts raced that hot July night, but mostly I cried and prayed. That Sunday morning I awoke with some clarity, but more sadness and more determination to try to fix this perceived wrong. Reaching out for stability and peace that I can only find in God, I went to a church in the Gwynn Falls neighborhood of Baltimore. Its name, Progressive First Baptist, attracted me. I had never heard of the church before that day, but I was searching for something, and took the name as a sign. Maybe I was looking for justice, or a way to move forward from this deep pain or even a way to envision the world anew, because this could not be. This cannot be how the story ends.

That day at Progressive, two boys were christened and welcomed into the church community. One, three months, held by his father, and the other most likely five. They were brothers, protected by their mother, father, grandmother and godparents. They both black, like everyone else in the Church that day. Like me.

As I looked on as this father cradled his baby child and rocked him back and forth, I saw Trayvon, being cradled in his daddy’s arms. I saw Trayvon’s mother pushing him out of her womb and into the vast world. I saw all the hopes his mother and father had for their son. They wanted him to be protected, to be loved, to be healthy, and to be safe. All of the worries and joys of new parents. Any parent. They wanted him to live freely and without worry. To be happy.

This is a story of human rights; the right for children to enjoy the same social protection, regardless of gender, sex, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. The right of a teenager to walk through his neighborhood on a rainy day, with a hoodie and khakis on without being deemed suspicious, or on drugs, or “up to no good,” by a man with no probable cause for this judgment. Unfortunately, in the United States, this is not the case. All childhoods are not created equally.

Six days later, I am in the clinic seeing patients. A 16-year-old is on my schedule for two o’clock; a routine well child visit. I wrap up the visit with my 5-year-old and head into the room to where my two o’clock scheduled patient awaits. Like most teenagers, he is there with his mom, and his two younger sisters are also accompanying him that day. Seeing the doctor is always a family affair. He is tall and looks like he plays multiple sports. He lets his mother do most of the talking, and chimes in every now and then.

Mom has her concerns that seem to be normal adolescent behavior. I ask about school, about exercise and diet. His grades are slipping says his mother. He tells me that he is having difficulty in math, but loves science. He is even thinking of majoring in environmental science in college. He is popular in school, has friends — some that are a good influence, others not so much. We talk about exposure to violence. I ask mom has she had a conversation with him about how to deal with the police. Tears well up in her eyes, her voice becomes shaky. She says yes. She says she is scared for her son. She says she is staying on top of him. She says she just wants him to be safe, and to have a good experience in high school. These are her hopes.

As a pediatric resident a key component of our doctoring is giving anticipatory guidance to our patients and their parents. This guidance is developmentally appropriate, and functions to provide parents with practical information that they will need to know in order to keep their child safe, and to prepare them for their child’s next developmental milestone.  It is our primary prevention, and it takes place at every visit.

We tell parents about the importance of having their child sleep on their backs when they are babies, locking cabinets storing common household cleaning supplies when they are toddlers, and the importance of autonomy and personal responsibility of a middle schooler. For our teenage patients we discuss use of contraception, prevention of sexually transmitted infections and preparing for the future. We screen all of our children for bullying, and at every age we always speak on exposure to violence, in the household, in the community, on the television and at school.

In this discussion we help advise our patients and families on strategies to avoid violence, and resources available in the community if they happen to be victims of violence. Luckily, I rarely have to address the issue of physical violence; however the shadow of intra-community violence is always lurking in the background. We tell our children, if you feel unsafe remove yourself from that situation and look for a safe space. Find a place where you can ask for help. This is basic, practical survival instinct.

However, in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing a child, and the recent deaths of Renisha McBride and Jonathan Ferrell, when their only crime was seeking out help when in a time of need, what anticipatory guidance do I give my patients and their parents? Where do my kids turn for help? I’m truly at a loss here. It’s frustrating when you are supposed to have the answers, but you do not.

Kendra McDow is a pediatrics resident.

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  • Frank Lehman

    I wasn’t there that night and you were not there that night, so neither of us knows what actually happened.

    But if you want to “advise our patients and families on strategies to avoid violence,” you might want to tell them to teach their children that they should not dress and act like criminals (ie. should not put themselves in suspicious circumstances, and certainly not when wearing something, ie. a hoodie, which tells others that they are likely to be criminals).

    • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie

      You mean like this guy, who is evading hundreds of millions in taxes while wearing a hoodie?

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    Young men of color in this country have invisible targets on their backs. That is the way it was, is, and shall be for many years–maybe forever.

    How to avoid getting shot? Act and dress conservatively, smile a lot, kiss up to people. I know, I know, not the way that any of us would want to have to act, but you can indulge in righteous indignation or you can look at the world how it is. And no guarantees of course, but even good kids that adopt tough-guy personas are at risk of getting hurt or killed.

    The fool who shot Martin relied on the stereotype that a young black man is dangerous. People rely on stereotypes if they don’t have further information. This is how people have always been.

    • Frank Lehman

      buzzkillerjsmith A few comments about what you said.

      It is true that “Young men of color in this country have invisible targets on their backs.” But the ones with the biggest problems are the ones who add “visible targets” such as wearing a hoodie, acting in a manner to cause suspicion (eg.adopting tough-guy personas), etc.

      You also said “The fool who shot Martin relied on the stereotype that a young black man is dangerous.” You ;don’t know that and I don’t know that.

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        Get a grip, Frank. If a middle-aged white man like myself had been walking through there he would not have been shot. Come on.

        Look, I’m not saying white bad, black good here. I’m saying that human beings, normal human beings, do stuff that is based on fear. No need to get your backs up, fellow white people.

        • AKMaineIac

          Most likely, had you been walking through that neighborhood, you wouldn’t have been shot because you wouldn’t have been sitting on top of someone, putting the knuckles to them and beating their head against the ground telling them, “You’re going to die tonight!”

          Backs up? No… just examining the situation for what the evidence available says it was. Pointing out where you’re miscalculating.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            You have completely missed my point. Go back to my first comment and read it. Maybe two or three or a half-dozen times.

          • AKMaineIac

            I’m pretty sure I could read it twenty times and it would still be the same silly, “Black people are the victims here! Trayvon was murdered by a idiot! He was killed because he was black, and he was wearing a hoodie!”

            There is NO evidence at all to support that crap. Fact is, there was enough doubt about it that the jury was unable to convict Zimmerman of what you accuse him of.

            In our system of justice, that makes him innocent.

            You seem to have a big problem with that when black people are on the receiving end of it. Racist much?

            I don’t like it when ANYONE is on the receiving end of it. When I worked in law enforcement and corrections, I made sure of what I did and was doing. It had nothing to do with the color of any person’s skin.

            One accuses me of racism and another one without any intellectual courage tries to make me out an idiot. Nice try folks, but neither is true, and you’re not getting any bonus points for effort here.

            Silliness.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            I suspect that I would have voted to acquit Z.

            But he was a fool, getting into this situation when he could have stepped back and not confronted M, called the police to let them handle it. A non-idiot would have done so.

            My big problem only with racism received by blacks? I never wrote it, never even thought it. You have imposed your agenda on what you wanted me to say so as to be able to blather rather senselessly, at which you excel by the way.

            He was killed because he was black and wearing a hoodie. When did I mention a hoodie? Commenting while delusional is never good, AK. Get a grip on yourself please.

            Your third and fifth paragraphs make sense.

            I do not accuse you of racism. In my replay to Sarah I stated that I do not think that persons who disagree with me on this are necessarily racist.

            I see you are not a doc, just at a doctor blog. Ah.

          • AKMaineIac

            You have no evidence that Zimmerman ever “confronted” Martin… The recorded version was that Zimmerman had lost contact with Martin and was on his way back to his truck when Martin bushwhacked him.

            Funny how one can come away with such divergent understandings of the same situation. Especially when it is based on a recorded 911 call.

            You seem unable to comprehend when someone points out your pejorative bias. Not my problem that you can’t comprehend it.

            No, I’m not a “doc”… So, after several semesters of research methods, statistics, advanced statistics, and publishing a couple of papers, I guess there’s no possible way I could ever think on your level?

            You amaze me…

            Oh… That’d be Dr. AK to you… but not a “Medical Doctor”… never wanted to be one. Well, considered it, took the MCAT… got some phone calls. Did the math. “No thank you.” I can help many people doing what I do, without surgeries and complication ridden medication. We all have a role to play and when we work together we do better.

            It’s “Doc’s” like yourself that give em all a bad name.

          • buzzkillerjsmith

            “…surgeries and complicated ridden medication.” Wow. It’s all clear to me now.

          • AKMaineIac

            Things have been clear to me since I read the first word of the first post by you I ever say. You think you know everything.

          • AKMaineIac

            Nothing is clear to one who believes he knows everything. It appears clear… only.

          • ninguem

            Hey buzz:
            “But he was a fool, getting into this situation when he could have stepped back and not confronted M, called the police to let them handle it. A non-idiot would have done so.”

            I’m not disputing that Zimmerman had a screw loose. I suspect neither of the two would be on my short list as someone I’d want to invite over for crabs and beer.

            Thing is, by the accounts, and map of the apartment complex, Zimmerman was, in fact, walking away from Trayvon, back to his car, as instructed by the 911 dispatcher.

            Trayvon went out of his way, AWAY from his house, back to confront Zimmerman, and the rest we know.

          • SarahJ89

            Oh, god freaking bless you, buzz. You have way more patience and persistence than I do. This whole discussion is quite depressing.

      • SarahJ89

        I’m really sick to death of people actually blaming someone for their own death because they wore a hoodie. Come up with something new. I live in a northern state. Where it’s cold. Where we have very few black people. Where little old ladies were hoodies.

        I guess we’re setting ourselves up for getting shot as criminals, huh?

        This is just flat out ridiculous.

        • Frank Lehman

          Sarah

          Well it didn’t happen during Dec -Feb in a northern state. It happened in Florida. People around there did not wear hoodies because of the mild Florida climate.

          When someone wears clothing associated with criminals, in a climate/area where there would not be a legitimate reason for wearing it, they are asking for trouble. Is that so hard for you to understand?

          Is it okay for you to wear a hoodie in your northern state during the summer? You can wear anything you want, of course, but you would be well advised to not dress like a criminal and act in a suspicious manner.

          Why is it so hard for you to understand that young black males especially, the demographic associated with far more crime than any other in the US, would be well advised to not wear such clothing? No one is saying that it is right to kill someone who does such a dumb thing-but is really a dumb thing to do and anyone (such as McDow) looking out for the best interests of young black males should advise them not to dress like a criminal.

    • FEDUP MD

      Maybe Emmett Till should have not looked that white woman in the eye or maybe even whistled (up for debate). According to this logic, he was to blame for not acting the right way for a young black man at that point in time in society and so it was his fault he was tortured and murdered. And as we all know, that event clearly had no effect in changing the face of race relations in America.

      Sometimes just accepting that that is how things are is not good enough. We would still be having slavery if everyone felt that way.

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        I do not rule out the possibility of progress in human affairs. I just don’t rule it in either.

  • DoubtfulGuest

    Google search terms o’ the day: “attribution error” AND “actor-observer bias”. Happy Holidays!

  • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie

    The “jury of our peers” consisted of 6 women, 5 white and 1 which “appeared Hispanic”.

    • NormRx

      And before it even went to a “jury of our peers” the police said it was self defense. It was only after the usual race batters and Obama got into the act did they file charges.

    • John Henry

      So you have a problem with the jury profile?

      • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie

        Yes, I do.

  • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie
    • NormRx

      Here is more FBI data.
      Of the offenders for whom race was known, 52.4 percent were black, 45.2
      percent were white, and 2.4 percent were of other races. The race was
      unknown for 4,077 offenders.
      http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expanded-homicide-data

      When Jessie Jackson even says that if he is walking at night and he hears foot steps behind him and he turn around and sees it is a white guy he is relieved.
      We know there is definitely a problem with violence in the black community.

      • Rob Burnside

        Norm, These are the grandchildren of young men who were drafted out of the ghettos in the 1960s, turned into grunts and sent directly to Vietnam. Many came back addicted to heroin, if they came back at all. The rest came back to a country that didn’t understand, or care about what they’d been through. Every effect has a cause. Sometimes, we have to look a little deeper.

        • Eric Thompson

          Good info, but does not address a solution. Most all vets came home to denigration, spitting and name calling. That was a sad result of the peace movement in the 60s.

          • ninguem

            Thanks Eric, but again I have to take issue.

            The spitting never happened either.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spitting_Image

            Anyone with a DOCUMENTED story of a returning veteran being spat upon, I’d like to know about it. So would a number of reporters who have looked for a verified story over the years.

            Vietnam veterans…..and I was a shade too young to be one……really did get a bad deal. For all the “greatest generation” talk, the Vietnam soldiers volunteered in numbers as good, if not better, than WW-2 soldiers, and conducted themselves in-country at least as well, if not better, than the “greatest generation”.

            Read Rick Atkinson’s “Army at Dawn” for documented stories of some American soldier’s behavior in North Africa.

            If it had happened in Vietnam……..

          • ninguem

            The “soldiers wasted their efforts” meme, that we were duped, fought the wrong enemy, they were shafted, existed in Vietnam, the current conflicts, sure as heck existed in WW-1, probably every war, ever.

            And it definitely existed after WW-2. Not everybody felt that even that was “the good war”.

            The lunch counter scene in “The Best Years of Our Lives” in 1946.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq2huwJJTOQ

            You don’t put a scene like that, in a movie like that, unless it reflected something that really was happening at the time. Not a lot, just enough that a moviegoer would have been familiar with such a person.

            Richard Winters, of “Band of Brothers” fame, said in his autobiography, that he faced the same thing. IIRC, it was at a fancy club with his friend Lew Nixon, Yale Club or some such. So a college-educated upper-class crowd, and somebody at the club tried to tell Winters he was duped into fighting.

            A bartender got into the middle of the discussion to defuse things, as Winters was about to deck the guy.

          • Rob Burnside

            Truly, Ninguem, there’s no such animal. No such thing as a “good war.” Once the proverbial dogs are let loose, anything can happen and usually does. War should never be more than a last resort. There are, however, necessary wars. Thank you for another good link.

          • Rob Burnside

            Ninguem’s right (see below) Eric. The spitting and name-calling was minimal. The largest problem, I think, was public indifference. But that’s the way it was all along. because that’s the way the war was conducted–it was called the “first television war.” For many citizens, it wasn’t real until someone from the neighborhood, or a family member, was killed, and the casualties were spread-out geographically and chronologically.

            It gave the American public, in general, an unrealistic perspective. The trauma combat vets endured was underestimated, and therefor unappreciated, and this, in turn, gave rise to a severe case of national cognitive dissonance–something we still suffer from today, to my great dismay.

            I wish I could suggest a good solution, Eric–my hindsight is much more acute than my foresight. I’m hoping the violence is largely a demographic problem, and that it will play out eventually, but I’m not too optimistic this can happen without something like LBJ’s Great Society social intervention, sensibly applied this time. One ray of hope is the Job Corps, still alive and working after all these years.

  • Frank Lehman

    Martha, you may wish it were not the case, but there is a criminal element that wears hoodies as a means of self identification. Your son would be well advised to take that into consideration when he wears his hoodie.

    I don’t know if there is a similar criminal element that uses the type of makeup you bought for your daughter to identify others in their criminal enterprise. But if there is, your daughter would also be well advised to avoid identifying herself as a criminal.

    • FEDUP MD

      My whole family wears hoodies- late 60s grandparents, mid 30s parents, and toddler and baby. They are practical for when it is cold and raining. We are not the only white and middle class family I see dressed like this, in fact, I would say it is a majority I know who wear them regularly in the part of the country where I live. They just make sense for rapidly changing and unpredictable weather.

      Do you think people see my 68 year old mother or 2 year old son and think they are part of a crime syndicate?

      And why should we be able to wear what everyone else is wearing, but if the color of our skin was different, could get us shot? Is that the type of country you really want to live in? Because I don’t.

      • Frank Lehman

        Should you be able to wear whatever you want to without being at increased risk for violence? Of course, you should. But you should also realize that if what you choose to wear is something that is associated with lawbreakers, and especially if you are of the age and demographics with an inordinate proportion of criminals (see some of the other postings here giving the FBI statistics), you should not be surprised if you are suspected of having criminal intent.

  • Rob Burnside

    I think it was a combination of things, Norm. The pre-exisiting social issues LBJ tried to fix but, as you point out, but only exacerbated in the main go all the way back to post-Civil War Reconstruction. But there’s no question Vietnam accelerated the country’s heroin problem and adversely impacted poor whites and blacks through the draft. Black soldiers from the ghetto came back to something that was, on the whole, worse than when they left. And many lacked intact families, or suitable father figures who might have helped them re-adjust. These are the facts as I remember them. They do nothing to alter the honorable service of millions, but they do impact the culture of drugs and violence we’re witnessing today.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    I never wrote that Z should have been convicted, never even thought it. I was making a larger point. I did, however, suspect that my comment would cause someone to reveal himself, as has been the case.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    I’m not sure if you’re a doc, Norm. If you are, shame on you. You have confused specificity and sensitivity, the very essense of stupid stereotypes. If you are not a doc I’ll cut you some slack because Bayesian analysis is not intuitive–unless you have studied statistics, in which case no slack is warranted.

    Also, I think the black population is 12 %, not the black male population.

    Let’s go through this, using your numbers.

    If murdered, then 50% chance by YBM. If encountering YBM, what is the chance of being murdered? Much much less than 1%. Hence the stupidity of the stereotype.

    Google sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value if you wish to improve your thinking. A basic medical epidemiology book would also be of use.

    • AKMaineIac

      Well… A CDC study found that a young black male gang member in Atlanta, GA is 1,000 times more likely to be injured or killed in gunfire than someone who wasn’t a young black male gang member in Atlanta Georgia.

      If that does not demonstrate the subset of American culture in which there is an issue with gun violence… then one has blinders on.

      “Black person” is generally not a danger… I sat beside many on planes, eaten and drank with them, and many I would call “friend” and likewise.

      Young black male, in a neighborhood where gang activity and poverty, drug use, are rampant?

      A person would have to be politically correct beyond stupid to not recognize the difference.

      • Sarah Rosen

        You should provide a citation for that study, for starters. Secondly, what does your point have to do with how Blacks, particularly males, are treated by law and enforcement and society in general??

        Comments like this make me feel like I’m sitting in the U.S. Senate in 1964 listening to racist southern White Senators oppose Civil Rights on the grounds that it violated states’ rights. (If that went over your head, let me explain- you’re essentially cloaking your racism with “reasoned” arguments about topics that don’t even pertain to the original blog post… and the old, “I have Black friends, therefore I can’t be racist”.

      • Sam_Dobermann

        So you are damning a group because they are most often VICTIMS?

        That doesn’t speak to who is doing the violent acts. And it just is speaking of gang members — not all Black youth, the majority of whom are decent ordinary young people.

        Although Trayvon was not “Young black male, in a neighborhood where gang activity and poverty, drug use, are rampant” unless you are claiming that was the sort on neighborhood Zimmerman lived in.

        • AKMaineIac

          You would have to specify which group you believe I am damning before I’d be able to answer your query, honestly. But gang members commit a vastly disproportionate number of crimes in this country. They commit them against other gang members, and sometimes against non-members.

          The majority of all people, including young black males, are overwhelmingly decent and honest people.

          As far as Zimmerman’s neighborhood goes, there had been a rash of burglaries committed there. The issue comes with drug and gang activity. The addicts need to support their habit and scumbags who belong to gangs don’t like “work”. So when they get a little light in the wallet and the drug business isn’t completely getting it done, they’ll do some burglaries.

          Sanford, Florida has an extremely high crime rate compared to the US generally and even the surrounding areas. So, the potential is there anywhere in Sanford for that to affect any person at any time.

          http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Sanford-Florida.html

        • AKMaineIac

          And I am damning no group or person, so much as I believe we’re responsible for ourselves individually. When I work with people it’s not a matter of what I can do for them regarding their condition. Because quite frankly most of the physical, day to day, “work” that has to be done in order for them to change their situation has to be done by them, at my direction and teaching.

          Do you damn obese people and cigarette smokers, alcoholics and drug addicts, for their problems? Or do you acknowledge their responsibility and strive to help them change their ways?

        • Eric Thompson

          The group is most often the perpetrators. Black men are dying; and black men are doing the killing. Simple – don’t you get it? Ignoring this fact is killing thousands of black men every year, and the black community doesn’t seem to care.

    • PoliticallyIncorrectMD

      Your “statistical analysis” is correct, however I don’t think that anybody here is implying that the majority of African Americans are criminals. In fact, the majority of any population (Black or White) is law abiding citizens. What some of us point out is that the violence against Black teens is not selectively perpetrated by Whites, like the original article makes it sound. Pointing it out is not racist, ignoring it is.

      • buzzkillerjsmith

        I’m glad you agree with me. I’m glad you agree that the likelihood that someone who comes into contact with a YBM will wind up hurt is very, very low.

        I’m also glad you realize that the fact that violence against black teens is not selectively perpetrated by whites has absolutely nothing to do with my original post. Oh, wait a minute….

        In addition, you correctly realize that I never stated that pointing that fact out was racist.

        If you want to make a point, make it. But don’t attack me for saying things I never said. I’ll call you on it, every time.

        • Eric Thompson

          The likelyhood that a person will be hurt by coming in contact with a YWM is significantly lower than with a YBM. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, the answer is still the same. The shame is how the country, including the black community, ignores the problem. And focuses on one case out of thousands.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    We got a live one here, folks…

  • AKMaineIac

    You might tell them what you’ve been telling them, and trust that the law of numbers will continue to apply. Like you do with vaccinations and other medical procedures which sometimes turn out lethal. Though in small numbers compared to the large “N” under the curve.

    Right?

  • EmilyAnon

    This is a sign on my bank. I’m not sure how they would enforce it if challenged.

  • Sarah Rosen

    Dear Kendra, thank you for this thoughtful piece- I, too, am a pediatrician and wondered why the AAP was silent on this issue that’s fundamentally about Black males and how they are uniformly still perceived as a threat in our “post-racial” society.

    I’m compelled to comment more so because I’m disturbed and disgusted by several of the comments below. And I fear for Black patients and other people of color should they require care from physicians who espouse the beliefs in many of these comments. (And undoubtedly, they are often the same docs who vehemently challenge the notion of unconscious bias in the clinical encounter.)

    Many in this thread have brought up “Black-on-Black” crime as more of a threat to Black males, implying that people shouldn’t be upset or question why Black males are routinely profiled by law enforcement (and loser, cop-wannabee vigilantes like Zimmerman) because of that… and that makes perfect sense because…? (I’ll answer that! Because of a phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, whereby in this case, Whites would rather ignore racism and highlight instead how Black males are killing each other, when in fact BOTH are important problems.) That makes as much sense as saying that we should defund research for cystic fibrosis (which disproportionately affects Whites) because accidental injuries kill more White children that CF.

    These comments confirm one thing for me: the same pervasive racism that’s only growing like a cancer in our hopelessly infected society obviously has bled into our so-called “healing” profession. While hoping in my heart of hearts that many of these people commenting are not actually health care professionals attempting to cloak racism in “reasoned” arguments with “facts” and “figures”, I know many of them probably do see patients, and that’s what’s brought them to this blog.

    • buzzkillerjsmith

      While I too am dismayed by many of the comments, I suspect that what you think of as racism is mostly fear and lack of knowledge and that the folks posting these comments are mostly non-physicians.

      It doesn’t make them bad people even though I disagree vigorously with what they have to say.

      • Eric Thompson

        So blacks kill blacks is OK? 10 times more likely but zero discussion and no preventive talks about it? That is racist.

    • Cleo1117

      The stats don’t lie.

    • John Hunt

      The cancer that is growing in our society is not racism–which is far too slowly but at least inexorably being diminished–but rather the cancer is collectivism, which is increasing at a breakneck speed in this nation, and as collectivism grows, people increasingly groupthink. Trayvon becomes a black youth, instead of a Florida youth or just an individual human being. The guy who killed him becomes a “gun-owner” or a Hispanic or whatever, instead of an individual. Murder (unjustifiable homicide) is a hate crime regardless of what group you put the victim in with whatever political groupthinking you want to do.

      It bothers me greatly that Trayvon was killed. It bothers me just as greatly that so many others are killed. It bothers me greatly that this tragedy was used to foment racism. It bothers me greatly that so many victims are ignored because they don’t serve a groupthink purpose, to divide us into groups so that we can more easily be conquered.

      I don’t care what color someone it, or what nationality. What I care about is do they respect the individual over the collective? Do they respect my individual rights, or are they narcissists who think they have the right to tell everyone how they ought to live. The collectivist mentality is more than a cancer, it is an infectious disease spread as an idea. The vaccine against collectivism and its progeny–racism, is a solid knowledge of liberty. The majority of teachers in government schools and the universities no longer provide that vaccine against collectivism, but instead spread the disease of collectivism far and wide, and they feel proud that they are doing it.

      Racism is one form of collective groupthink. It is a horrible dehumanizing thing, because collectivism is a horrible dehumanizing thing. We need to see the collectivism in all its forms: racism, Obamacare, social security, sexism, homophobia, and dispel it all as the crap that it is, and replace it with respect for the individual, and a return to a focus on all our individual rights to life, liberty and to pursue our happiness.

      To do that, we have to flush down the toilet all those political leaders who are collectivists, and there are many many of them from both useless political parties. Flush them down. Find humble respectful leaders to be our politicians, instead of the garbage that is there now.

  • John Henry

    Or if Trayvon had been white.

  • Cleo1117

    The black on black violence is mostly about drugs and who do you think are keeping our young blacks addicted? It is criminal that our own government ignores what the drugs are doing to our youth. It is across races, but in our city it seems to be higher in the black population. Talk about a way to keep a race down, just get as many as possible on drugs. If we could ever solve the drug problem, then we would have a productive society.

    • Eric Thompson

      So black on black violence is then OK?

  • SarahJ89

    Nathan,
    I presume you are aware of Mr. Zimmerman’s post acquittal behavoiur–behaviour of repeated violence that makes it clear the jury made a big, fat mistake.

  • http://onhealthtech.blogspot.com Margalit Gur-Arie

    I had a balanced jury in mind. One that contains men and women, black and white, Hispanic and not. I also had in mind a competent prosecutor.

  • Rob Burnside

    Everyone came back to societal indifference, if not outright hostility,DD, but the black G.I.s also came back to Watts burning. Anybody with PTSD (not even recognized then, let alone treated) or a drug problem was much less likely to re-adjust.

  • Rob Burnside

    Ninguem–I think your memory is a bit fuzzy, with all due respect. And your facts as well. Black Americans were disproportionately swept up in the draft and assigned to the infantry just as disproportionately. Returning combat vets were held in casual companies at Western bases, not routinely screened for psychosis or substance abuse, and then sent directly home without any follow-up. And the black vets had a lot less to fight for than the rest of us. It wasn’t just Watts. There were still “whites only” drinking fountains in the Deep South well into the sixties. Your second-to-last sentence is flat-out insulting. Your last sentence is just flat-out wrong.

    • ninguem

      http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics.html

      http://www.archives.gov/research/military/vietnam-war/casualty-statistics.html#race

      AMERICAN INDIAN/ALASKA NATIVE – 226

      ASIAN – 139

      BLACK OR AFRICAN AMERICAN – 7,243

      HISPANIC ONE RACE – 349

      NATIVE HAWAIIAN OR OTHER PACIFIC ISLANDER – 229

      NON-HISPANIC MORE THAN ONE RACE – 204

      WHITE – 49,830

      Total Records – 58,220

      7,243 / 58,220 = 12.4%

      Blacks who actually served in Vietnam, about 10% of soldiers in-country.

      Blacks of military age in Vietnam years, about 13% of US population.

      http://history-world.org/vietnam_war_statistics.htm

      I stand by every single fact I posted. I also stand by the dates of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and the dates of the Watts riots.

      • Rob Burnside

        Interesting stats Ninguem but you’re talking apples to my oranges. First of all, these are apparently casualty figures. To refute my argument, please research the number of black soldiers drafted and assigned to the infantry. Then, compare these numbers to white/other groups and you’ll get my drift. And please don’t fixate on Watts. It was one of many riots and other issues returning black combat vets faced, above and beyond those endured by other vets. My theory is –and it’s only a theory–that the war had a profound effect on what we see happening today in one segment of the black community. Apart from that, I believe the war was necessary. As always, feel free to disagree. The war kept in check a totalitarian ideology that would have eliminated your ability to do so.

    • Eric Thompson

      Actually his last sentence was spot on.
      And though black men may have ‘disproportionatley’ service in the infantry, their numbers were still a fraction of the whites. In which case there should have been a lot more violence by whites after the war.

      • Rob Burnside

        LBJ pursued the Great Society programs the way he prosecuted the war, Eric–massive amounts of capital–human and otherwise–shoveled into the furnace as if willpower alone would be sufficient to solve our seemingly intractable inequality issues overnight. His intent was good and his methodology was not, but he didn’t create the problems he was trying to solve as he is often accused of doing.

        As far as the rest goes, try to imagine what it’s like returning from thirteen months of combat to an urban ghetto, with all the difficulties ghetto life normally presents. Stir in the racial issues that came to a head in the 1960s, and you’ll have a better idea of the way it was. For the most part, white vets returned to something better.

  • JD

    Personally, I would have a hard time telling the parent of a black child killed by another black person that his/her death was less outrageous or less tragic than a black child killed by a hispanic. Yet, when we focus our outrage on the Trayvon Martin case, this is exactly what we are doing.

  • JD

    My question for Dr. McDow is: Suppose two gunshot victims, one black and one white, came to the ER. The black victim was shot by a white assailant and the white victim was shot by a black assailant. Who would receive more attention from you?

    • Eric Thompson

      The black victim would make national news, the white victim would probably be on the back page of the local newspaper; if at all.

  • SarahJ89

    You and Mr. Henry both missed my point, which was juries make mistakes. And in the Zimmerman case they made a whopper.

  • Eric Thompson

    Easy answer is that if you cared about the others, you would have been bringing up the hundreds of dead black males that have been killed by other blacks since then. My thought is that you just don’t care unless the killer is white. Sad and racist.

  • Eric Thompson

    Your great support for wearing what you want is admirable. But what if people wanted to wear white sheets? Would that be OK. Personally I would be against it, but your indication is that it would be OK.

    • Martha55

      My daughter wore a white sheet to school on senior toga day…

      Someone should be able to wear a white sheet…I assume you mean KKK style…and not get shot and killed.

  • Eric Thompson

    There were pictures taken the night of the death of the injuries, prior to any thought that Zimmerman would be arrested. They thought he was off scott free. The injuries were completely consistent with having his head banged against the sidewalk. Stupid as Zimmerman was, he was assualted.

  • Rob Burnside

    And getting less fuzzy by the post, Ninguem, now that we understand each other better. I’ve known of Moynihan and admired his work for years, but thanks for the fine link. I think he’d be among the first to remind us that one effect can have many causes. If there had been no war, the inequality issues would have come to a head anyway. The war, in my opinion, made most things worse and the overall failure of LBJ’s Great Society initiative more likely. If he had been able to focus on one or the other (rather than both simultaneously) either outcome could have been very different, but that’s only speculation on my part. We live with the consequences, and now we need to avoid war at least long enough to heal and rebuild. We’ll need money, time, informed sensibility, the will to work together, and good luck. And the greatest of these needs may be good luck.