South Africa: From Trayvon Martin to Andries Tatane – Cognitive Dissonance and the Black Male Body – By Gillian Schutte

Originally published on 16 July 2013

analysis

George Zimmerman, the Florida neighbourhood watchman who shot dead an unarmed black 17-year-old male last year, has been acquitted of murder.

Lawyers for Mr Zimmerman, 29, argued he acted in self-defence and with justifiable use of deadly force in the death of Trayvon Martin. A jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman voted unanimously in favour of the acquittal.

While Zimmerman’s family and their largely right-wing white supporters celebrated, Martin’s family was devastated.

They described the acquittal as their darkest hour.

It all began with Martin walking to the neighbourhood shop to buy his young sibling a Snickers and Iced Tea. Wannabe cop, Zimmerman who was on neighbourhood watch that evening saw him and after following him for a while alerted the police.

“Fucking punks. These assholes. They always get away,” George Zimmerman, told the police dispatcher as he stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin while he was walking home from the café.

And now Trayvon Martin is dead, killed by the man who moments before, uttered those words.

No matter how many may deny it, he is dead because he was black. He is dead because to someone else he did not look like a teenager in a hoodie with a Snickers and Iced-Tea in his pocket.

He was, in Zimmerman’s mind, a criminal and a threat.

What he was not was a regular boy with a list of great academic and social service credentials and parents who loved and cared for him.

Instead he was a walking symbol of criminality – reduced to an inhumane and dangerous sign that exists in the imaginary of the very society that created this ‘other’ him – a him so removed from who he really was that it got him killed.

Frantz Fanon in his seminal text Black Skin, White Masks wrote about the fixed signifier the black male is in the white colonial imaginary – a signifier that contains no variations or possibilities of a human other.

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

So even while Martin may have told Zimmerman that he lived in the neighbourhood, it fell on deaf ears. Zimmerman had already decided that Martin was a punk, an asshole and a criminal.

While Fanon wrote about colonized blackness in the 20th century – nothing much has changed in the current epoch because if it had, Trayvon Martin would not be dead. Neither would his killer have been acquitted.

But Trayvon Martin is dead and his killer is acquitted.

The shock and horror of this information has resonated through the collective consciousness of black people, and black-positive people, right around the world.

It has proclaimed the untenable truth that the black body is not safe where whiteness exists, whether in a colony, settler territory or a democracy. It demonstrates that no matter how post-race a multicultural discourse tries to convince us we are, this does not accurately reflect the world.

The awful truth is that in a white supremacist society the black body remains a location of violence. The reality is that the black body has an identity that is still confined to and judged upon the colour of the skin. It is this skin, this exterior of the body, which becomes the fundamental focus in a racialised identity.

As Fanon denoted, the white man sees only the black skin. It becomes the foundation for all relations. The black man is reduced to his outer coating and body. There is no depth – only surface.

He is flattened out and stripped of psychology, emotion and intelligence. Thus the black man does not really exist as a fully-fledged human in this imaginary – he is an object. But more so he is an object that presents a danger to whiteness. He becomes nothing more than a signifier in service to white fear.

Here in South Africa we are shocked and angry at Zimmerman’s acquittal. We paste up Facebook memes that express our outrage. We write about the pain Martin’s parents must be enduring. We commiserate about our own black sons and how unsafe they too would be in the States.

And somehow in all of this we fail to make the connection with the continued violence towards the black male body in South Africa.

Only last year we watched black men being killed in full view of the public, caught on camera, recorded on cell phones, broadcast and witnessed by all.

On March 1, we watched in disbelief and horror as a young Mozambican man, Mido Macia, was forcibly handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged behind the vehicle as he cried out for them to stop. When the car eventually arrived at the police station eyewitnesses say he was further beaten by the police officers. A few hours later he was found dead in his cell.

Before that we witnessed, on national television, 34 black men being brutally slaughtered in the space of a few minutes in what has become known as the Marikana massacre.

In April 2011, we watched on public television, an unarmed and defenceless Andries Tatane being beaten by police and shot in the chest at close range with rubber bullets.

And then there was the case of an unarmed teenage boy, Thato Mokoka, from Soweto, who was shot seven times by a policeman in his home in full view of his family.

In all cases these were black men standing their ground. Whether they were demanding better wages, marching for service delivery or simply refusing to be manhandled or profiled, this is what got them killed.

The system, it seems, does not tolerate a black man who is not passive, not paid off and in the pocket of white business pushing a white supremacist agenda or being the black fall-guy for capitalist destruction wreaked by colonisation and neo-colonialism.

And it is not always white men that directly perpetrate the violence against the black body. Many times it is black men themselves who work for corporate owned states as army, police or security men.

In a frenzy of shattered male identity, black policemen will willingly open fire on their own in service to the state, but also in blind servitude to a 350 year old order in which manhood in South Africa and the USA was defined by the ability of one race of men to oppress and brutalise another.

Perhaps history explains why black policemen will kill their own or why Zimmerman, a man of colour, will racially profile Martin and finally shoot him. They still abide by the logic of white supremacy that some black men must be killed with impunity to keep society-at-large safe.

And President Barack Obama’s restrained reaction in response to the verdict also seemingly plays by the white supremacy rules of engagement. Instead of expressing outrage at and repudiation of the injustice and racism contained within the verdict, he had this to say:

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

This is colossally inadequate when one considers that the jury was made up of five white women and one Latino woman and with the knowledge that an unarmed black teenager was shot dead for defending himself.

It is indicative of a man who has given up on his promise to serve his people and who now serves white supremacy instead – just as our leaders have sold out the people of South Africa to serve white corporates. And, it seems, white supremacy demands proof of loyalty in bloody sacrifices of those who supposedly pose a threat to their status quo.

This manifests in the high statistics of black men killed in honour of white anxiety. In the States a black man is killed every twenty-eight hours by a cop or vigilante while here in South Africa, the statistics are just as high – and we have indefensible situations such as the Marikana massacre where 34 miners were mowed down in some sort of bizarre sacrifice to the alter of white fear. In all cases justice is either not met or it takes forever to come to fruition.

It is now no longer about “who” did the killing but about “how much value is placed on the killed”. It is all about how much of a potential threat the person killed is to the white status quo. Based on this heinous logic the system continues to perpetrate violence against the black body and devastate justice and human rights for black people.

It also relentlessly pushes the message that a white system does not embrace the humanity of the black human – thus the black person remains stuck in the untenable space between being both savage and invisible in the white supremacist imaginary.

When is this going to change? How longer must we witness the killing of young black men such as Trayvon Martin and Andries Tatane who are in the end, the sacrificial lambs to this untenable and enduring racism?

Schutte is an award winning independent filmmaker, writer and social justice activist. She is a founding member of Media for Justice and co-producer at Handheld Films.

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Talk to people you have never talked to before, and
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The war in Mali for uranium, gold and oil – by Filistina (gr)

Regardless of what is said in the media, the aim of this new war is none other than to strip another country of its natural resources by ensuring access for international companies to do so. What is now happening in Mali with bombs and bullets, is the same thing that is happening in Ireland, Greece, Portugal
and Spain through debt bondage.
The French government has stated that: —- “it would send 2,500 soldiers to support Malian government soldiers in the conflict against Islamist rebels.
France has already deployed around 750 troops to Mali (…) We will continue the deployment of forces on the ground and in the air (…) We have one goal.
To ensure that when we leave, when we end our intervention, Mali is safe, has legitimate authorities, an electoral process and there are no more terrorists
threatening its territory”. [1]

So this is the official position of France and those who support it. And, of course, it is spread widely by the media.

France is supported by other members of NATO. The US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta confirmed that the US is providing intelligence to French forces
in Mali [2]. Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Germany have also publicly supported the French invasion, promising logistical support in order to suppress the
rebels [3].

But if we believe this, we will never know the truth. A look at natural resources [4] in Mali reveals what it is really about.

Mali’s natural resources

Gold: Mali is the third-largest gold producing country in Africa and largescale exploration continues. Mali was famous for its gold since the times of
the great empire of Mali and the pilgrimage to Mecca by Emperor Kankou Moussa in 1324, who moved by caravan more than 8 tons of gold. Therefore, Mali has
traditionally been a mining country for over half a millennium.
Mali currently has seven gold mines in operation, such as those at Kalana and Morila in the south, Yatela, Sadiola and Loulo in the west, and mines that
have recently resumed production, in particular Syama and Tabakoto. Gold exploration projects are currently under way in Kofi, Kodieran, Gounkoto, Koman,
Banankoro, Kobada and Nampala.

Uranium: There are encouraging signs for the existence of uranium and exploration is in full swing. Exploration is currently being conducted by various
companies, with clear indications of uranium deposits in Mali. Potential for uranium exists in Falea, covering 150 km² of the Falea-North Guinea basin,
a sedimentary basin characterized by significant radiometric anomalies. The potential for uranium in Falea is believed to be of about 5,000 tonnes. The
Kidal project in northeastern Mali, with an area of 19.930 km², covers a large crystalline geological province known as L’Adrar Des Iforas. The uranium
potential in Gao alone is estimated to be around 200 tons.

Diamonds: Mali has the potential to develop exploration for diamonds: the administrative region of Kayes (Mining Area 1), thirty kimberlitic pipes have
been discovered, of which eight have traces of diamonds. Around eight small diamonds have been collected in the administrative region of Sikasso (southern
Mali).

Gems can be found on various sites: the Circle of Nioro and Bafoulabe (garnets and rare magnetic minerals), the Circle of Bougouni and Faleme Basin (pegmatite
minerals), Le Gourma (garnets and corundums), L’Adrar des Ilforas (pegmatite and metamorphic rocks), Hombori Douentza Zone (quartz and carbonates).

Mali also has significant resources in iron ore, bauxite and manganese, but they are still untapped. According to estimates, Mali has more than 2 million
tonnes of potential iron ore reserves, located in the Djidian-Kenieba, Diamou and Bale areas.

Bauxite reserves are believed to be in the region of 1.2 million tons, located on sites at Kita, Kenieba and Bafing-Makana. Traces of manganese have been
found on sites in Bafing-Makana, Tondibi and Tassiga.

Other mineral resources and potential in Mali

Limestone: 10 million tons (Gangotery), 30 million tons (Astro) and Bah El Heri (Nord de Goundam) 2,2 million tonnes.
Copper: potential in Bafing Makan (Western Region) and Ouatagouna (Northern Region).

Marble: estimated reserves of 10,6 mt in Selinkegny (Bafoulabe) with traces in Madibaya.

Gypsum: at the Taoudenit (est. 35 mt) and Indice Kereit (0,37 mt) sites.

Kaolin: potential reserves (1 mt) in Gao (northern region).

Phosphates: there is a reserve in Tamaguilelt producing 18,000 tons per year with an estimated potential of 12 million tonnes. There are four other potential
reserves of 10 million tonnes in the north.

Lead and zinc: in Tessalit (estimated reserves 1.7 mt), with traces in Bafing Makana (western region) and Fafa (northern Mali).

Lithium: signs of deposits in Kayes (western region) with an estimated capacity of 4 million tonnes in Bougouni (southern region).

Bituminous shale: an estimated 870 million tonnes of resources and evidence found in Agamor Almoustrat in the northern part of the country.

Lignite: an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of capacity, with traces found in Bourem (northern region).

Rock salt: estimated potential of 53 million tons in Taoudenni (northern region).

Diatomite: estimated potential of 65 million tons in Douna Behri (northern region).

The potential for oil in Mali is already attracting the interest of investors. This potential has been documented since the 1970s, where seismic events
and occasional boreholes revealed possible signs of oil. With the increase in the world price of oil and gas, Mali has intensified its efforts to promote
oil exploration, for production and export opportunities. Mali could also provide a strategic transport route for the export of oil and natural gas to
the West and there is the possibility of connecting the Taoudeni basin to the European market through Algeria.

Work has already begun to interpret previously collected geophysical and geological data, focusing on five sedimentary basins in the northern part of the
country including Taoudeni, Tamesna, Ilumenden, Ditch Nara and Gao.

So…

Regardless of what is said in the media, the aim of this new war is none other than to strip another country of its natural resources by ensuring access
for international companies to do so. What is now happening in Mali with bombs and bullets, is the same thing that is happening in Ireland, Greece, Portugal
and Spain through debt bondage.
And people are suffering and dying.

2 days ago “The Guardian” reported [5] that “The human toll has not yet been calculated, but a communique read on state television late Saturday said that
at least 11 Malians were killed in Konna.

Sory Diakite, the mayor of Konna, says the dead included children who drowned after they threw themselves into a river in an effort to escape the bombs.
‘Others were killed inside their courtyards, or outside their homes. People were trying to flee to find refuge. Some drowned in the river. At least three
children threw themselves in the river. They were trying to swim to the other side. And there has been significant infrastructure damage,’ said the mayor,
who fled the town with his family and is now in Bamako.”

Who knows now what how many are dead… And who knows what can help any country and its people, when there are resources that “should” be used.

Filistina

Translation by FdCA – International Relations Office.

Notes:

1.
http://rt.com/news/france-mali-french-troops-006/
2.
http://rt.com/news/france-mali-french-troops-006/
3.
http://rt.com/news/france-mali-french-troops-006/
4. All information from “Les Journées Minières et Pétrolières du Mali” (government information) –
http://www.jmpmali.com/html/miningandpetroleum.html
5.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/13/mali-neighbours-troops-french-intervention

Related Link:
http://filistina.wordpress.com

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Major First Amendment Lawsuit Challenges Censorship of Dietary Advice

WEB RELEASE: May 30, 2012
CONTACT:

Bob Ewing
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Arlington, Va USA.—Can the government throw you in jail for offering advice on the Internet about what people should buy at the grocery store?

That is exactly the claim made by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. And that is why today diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey of Stanley, N.C. has teamed up with the Institute for Justice (IJ) to file a major First Amendment lawsuit against the State Board in federal court.

In December 2011, Steve Cooksey started a Dear Abby-style advice column on his blog to answer reader questions. In January 2012, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition informed Steve that he could not give readers personal advice on diet, whether for free or for compensation, because doing so constituted the unlicensed, and thus criminal, practice of dietetics.

The State Board also told Steve that his private emails and telephone calls with friends and readers were illegal. The Board also ordered him to shut down his life-coaching service. Violating the North Carolina licensing law can lead to fines, court orders to be silent and even jail.

“You don’t need the government’s permission to give someone ordinary advice,” said IJ Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes. “North Carolina cannot require Steve to be a state-licensed dietitian any more than it can require Dear Abbey to be a state-licensed psychologist.”

This lawsuit seeks to answer one of the most important unresolved questions in First Amendment law: When does the government’s power to license occupations trump free speech?

“Advice is protected speech,” said IJ attorney Paul Sherman. “Just because the government can license certain types of expert professional advice doesn’t mean the government can license every type of advice.”

Steve Cooksey began offering dietary advice because he is concerned about America’s diabetes epidemic. Over 25 million Americans have diabetes, including approximately 800,000 in North Carolina. The human and financial toll is staggering. Diabetes is now a leading cause of stroke, blindness, kidney failure requiring transplantation, and amputation. Because diabetes is a condition of elevated blood sugar, Steve advocates eating foods that keep blood sugar low.

After being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, Steve did research and learned that the high-carb/low-fat diet his doctors recommended to him may not be best for diabetics because carbohydrates raise blood sugar. He adopted the low-carb “Paleolithic” diet of our Stone Age ancestors: fresh veggies, meats, eggs and fish, but no sugars, processed foods or agricultural starches.

Steve lost 78 pounds, freed himself of drugs and doctors, normalized his blood sugar and feels healthier than ever. He believes a low-carb diet is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to treat diabetes. This goes against the conventional wisdom promoted by licensed dietitians, which advocate a high-carb diet and drugs to lower blood sugar.

“Diabetics need access to information from all points of view, including those that challenge the conventional wisdom,” said IJ client Steve Cooksey. “We cannot let government licensing boards censor the Internet and chill our speech.”

For more on today’s lawsuit, visit www.ij.org/PaleoSpeech. Founded in 1991, the Virginia-based Institute for Justice is a national public interest law firm that fights for free speech and economic liberty nationwide.