To read this 3-part series on midterm elections and Stand Your Ground laws from the beginning please see the links at the end. Part 3 begins now:
When a law is designed to accommodate fear rather than to establish truth, empower compassion, or reinforce social harmony, chances are it will fail to serve the purposes of any intended justice. Professor John Powell cites within the American Bar Association’s preliminary report the following disturbing observation:
“A study showed that white America has a growing anxiety about race and Stand Your Ground laws are an example of institutionalizing the fear of white Americans.” (Please see link below to download ABA report)
If individuals in general are often cautioned not to make decisions based on fear because such decisions are likely to prove severely disappointing, why should anyone expect legislation based on fear to do any better? Likely packaged inside the fear based on different-colored skin is a complex of phobias that have more to do with the historic demographic shifts currently in progress than with the many alluring shades of black and brown skin per se.
There are those organizations and marketing strategists who view the changes-in-progress as beneficial because they, quite frankly, are in a position to do so. Those who are positioned differently––as in economically, socially, politically, emotionally––often view these changes differently.
With the anticipated relinquishment of forms of power, privilege, and status previously sustained by racial dominance, many Americans may be experiencing a backlash in the forms of increasing apartheid-like attitudes, actions, and possibly the most dangerous of all: legislation. A nation is, after all, not a corporation in which such powerful transformations may be managed with very much hands-on control.
Whether caused by the unceasing forward movements of history defined by cross-cultural interactions or the chaotic fury of mass murder known as war, the backlash is particularly lethal when it comes to black men. In the words of U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Michael Yaki, the “combination of permissive gun laws and laws of the Stand Your Ground are just a deadly cocktail throughout this country, and especially for young African-American males.”
7 Ways to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion
1. Download a copy of the ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws Preliminary Report and Recommendations
2. Support programs that teach nonviolent conflict resolution.
3. Host online and offline forums that address the documented biases inherent in Stand Your Ground laws.
4. Participate in dialogues about the implications of increasing diversity and multiculturalism, including how these might create in some people a sense of vulnerability and need for compassion.
5. If you live in a state that has Stand Your Ground laws, communicate with local and state representatives about where they stand on the issues pertaining to those laws. Ask what they are doing to address those issues and express what you would like to see done.
6. Cultivate an informed awareness of racial dynamics with the intention of eradicating racism-inducing xenophobia and encouraging greater compassion for one’s fellow human beings.
7. Recognize the cultural complexity of the current era in America, acknowledge how it impacts the lives of all involved, and commit to making when possible positive life-enhancing contributions to the ongoing irreversible demographic evolution of the country.
Despite these well-intended suggestions, the scope of this issue is much greater than a single blog or article could begin to address with any kind of conclusiveness. What that means more than anything else is that additional future installments from this author on the subject are very likely to turn up in this space and elsewhere.
co-author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
author of Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry
More on Race, Justice, and Gun Safety in America
- 7 Ways to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion part 1
- 7 Ways to Help Replace Legislated Fear with Informed Compassion part 2
- States that Have Stand Your Ground Laws
- UN Condemns Police Brutality and Calls for Stand Your Ground Review
- American Bar Association Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice
- NAACP Wants Hammond Officers Fired or Retrained over Stun Gun Incident
- Trayvon Martin, Robert Lee, and Millions of Tears Fallen Part 1
- Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois Part 1
- Trayvon’s Mom Writes Letter to Parents of Slain Ferguson Teen
- Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?
- Justice remains elusive in case of newly-freed Louis C. Taylor Part 1
- 4th of July 2013 and Notes on Race and Racism in Savannah Georgia Part 1