Human Rights Lesson from the Murder of Trayvon Martin.
While there may be much debate around the circumstances involved in the murder of Trayvon Martin, one thing is now for certain: Racism is still alive and well in the United States. One has to look no further than comments on news articles relating to the murder or online forums to find such fabulous tidbits as this:
But really, who is surprised? Go ahead and pick an article or forum for yourself and I’m sure you will find similar commentary.
The right-wing majority in this county has been waging war against any non-white, non-christian, non-heterosexual, non-cisgendermale person since the birth of the United States. Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender People, Women and more have been wrongfully imprisoned, brutalized and made to fear what will happen if they rock the boat. In spite of this commonality, those oppressed by the system are entirely failing to unite.
I originally believed this was the result of having been ostracized into our own communities for so long, that joining forces was something else to fear. Will the Latinos push forward without me? Will the “LGB” sell out the “T” again? Will Black men stand-up for the ERA?
One anti-human rights organization recognizes that uniting our voices would put a crushing end to their ability to continue to degrade, belittle and intimidate our communities. Recently released Court Documents illustrate that the National Organization for Marriage [NOM] (a voice in opposition to marriage equality), has a TWENTY MILLION DOLLAR plan to make sure the “gays and blacks” remain divided. According to NOM’s $20 Million Strategy for Victory:
The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party.
Sadly, even before NOM’s $20 million budget, the plan has been successful. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s youngest daughter lit a torch at her father’s tomb to kick off an anti-human rights campaign to prevent marriage equality for LGBT people in 2005. The purpose was to dehumanize LGBT people so that “human rights” and “civil rights” would not be associated with the apparently “inhuman” gays. Sound familiar?
Of course, Coretta Scott King and many of Dr. King’s children disagree, invoking the teachings of Dr. King to show the need for equality and “tolerance” of LGBT people.
But a similar battle plays out between women, Latino groups and labor unions. Perhaps the most glaringly obvious division is marked annually with the Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice. Cesar Chavez was a labor leader and civil rights activist who fought for better working conditions for farm workers. He, along with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association. After his death, he became an icon for the Latino community. While city streets and statewide holidays rightfully celebrate Chavez’s work, Dolores Huerta is all but ignored in spite of her significant contribution.
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. — Cesar Chavez
Currently, a similar wedge exists between Latino Community leaders and the LGBT community. In fact, the founder of the San Antonio Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice, Jaime P. Martinez, is alleged to have provided no assistance in fighting for hate crimes charges against the murderer of his son, Troy Martinez Clattenburg , in spite of his position as a civil rights leader in the Latino Community.
It is not enough for us to claim to support human rights when the rights we purport to support are not across the board. Gay rights, Transgender Rights, Immigrant Rights, Worker’s Rights, Women’s Rights, etc., should be based solely on our status as human beings. As Hillary Clinton said in recognition of Human Rights Day:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them.