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wall of noise
racial tension on the rise could lead to a long, hot summer
by jason gilmore (@JasonGilmore77)

"The thing I hate almost as much as racist images is the current politically correct climate that strangles honest discussion, then calls the resulting silence progress. Meanwhile, people are not allowed to ask questions or express their feelings to those whom might disagree; we fear being called racist more than we fear being racist." - Jason Gilmore, "Racist Images in Film: A Conversation," MovieMorlocks.com, July 2011

There has never been a time in this country's relatively brief existence when some black person's name wasn't being publicly dragged through the mud. When we weren't being vilified, demonized, misunderstood, or marginalized by the vanguards of media. (This is not to discount that we were physically being dragged through the mud alongside it, in some cases.) See, I've lost some of you already. You think this is going to be another diatribe about how hard it is to be black. Well, it is and it isn't, but  part of what makes it hard is that our complaints are not valued. 

I need not rehash the Trayvon Martin story again except to say that anyone who can't understand why there is such anger that George Zimmerman has still yet to be arrested is not as innocent as they are projecting. The "stand your ground" law was controversial even before this, and I'm still unable to understand how following an unarmed stranger leads to a claim of self-defense.

In fairness, I did find it suspicious that the pictures submitted for Trayvon always seem to have been taken when he was 12, and the primary picture we see for Zimmerman features him in an orange jumpsuit. I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure what happened (although I'm pretty sure I know what did) but as the friend of several young men who've been arrested for far less, there is indisputably enough evidence that this guy should be locked up until the due process of our legal system tells us something else. 

But that is all just one piece of the pie: this has been an ugly semester of racial relations, if social media tells the story. Barack Obama's presidency has, apparently, given closet (and not so closet) racists all over the country license to say whatever ludicrously racist statement crosses their mind. What is most amazing isn't so much what they say (Internet gangsters always have a lot to say), but that they are rarely prepared for the avalanche of death threats and hate mail they receive in return. This extends from Rush Limbaugh to the Hunger Games casting uproar to the avalanche of racist taunts directed at my friend Issa Rae, after her groundbreaking webisode, Awkward Black Girl, won a Shorty award.

Not to be outdone, Fox News seems to be working overtime to level claims that top one another in ridiculousness, in the aim to undermine President Obama, and any other person of color they can snag in the meanwhile. Their sheer relentlessness betrays their sincerity; to me, they are the equivalent of a moderately popular fan favorite wrestler who turns heel for the purpose of greater fame through infamy. 

Still, many believe Fox News' myths, that their country has been "taken over," that anything our President proposes is wrong headed and not looking out for our country's best interest. And that this rather rowdy (and flagrantly flawed) batch of GOP candidates are better qualified to run the United States. 

With all the methods of communication available to us, we are more divided than ever. We create alter egos to say things on message boards that we'd never say in person, this instant accessibility suggests a transparency of thought that is not actually there. I am disturbed that distractions are introduced as alternatives to discussion. With the presidential campaign heating up and marches and hate crimes on the rise, this may be a painful, revealing summer.

This is the manifestation of years in that we never really wanted to talk about race, truly, and listen to what we hear, and accept that whatever we believe could be wrong. Until we respect each other as human beings first, we'll continue to hurt each other, stumbling about in the darkness with sharpened knives.


Jason Gilmore is a film director, screenwriter, novelist and unrepentant Detroit Pistons fan. Track him down on Facebook.

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