Folks of a certain age (and it ain’t a young one) still remember the classic 1953 biker movie, “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando. Take a gander at the trailer of this Stanley Kramer pic featuring two hard-bitten motorcycle gangs who didn’t like each other much and took it out on an innocent town. Brando’s leather motorcycle jacket became the iconic garb of countless thousands of smitten 50′s teenagers.
If George Zimmerman had understood the band-wagon, sheep, groupie need to be accepted dynamic of joining the movement du jour, he might have been less inclined to profile Trayvon Martin as a “typical” young black thug and more inclined to see him as a just turned 17-year-old African American youngster making his way through his turbulent teens.
Modern history is rife with the latest social craze. The Brando Bikers, Elvis and duck-tails, hippie anarchists, the 60′s Haight-Asbury drug scene and “Summer of Love”, punk, heavy metal, skin heads and other basically white fad pursuits that in many cases emulated some truly bad nutzoids, but for the most part were fanciful attempts to jump on board the latest social hoola hoop train. Don a leather jacket, tie-die that t-shirt, smoke a doobie, make love in an alley, wear the punk hairstyle, shave your head and act loopy and dangerous, but not THAT loopy and dangerous. BELONG!
And if you’re black, again depending on your age, you’ve gone Black Panther, Stokely Carmichael’s SNCC and Black Power (the Smith and Carlos ‘salute’ at the ’68 Olympics). You’ve scared white folks with your giant afro, worn your pants half-way down your ass-crack, composed some truly nasty anti-cop hip hop music and rap. Anything to come off as cool and threatening to the perceptions of a “Crazy ass cracker” as Trayvon Martin indelicately described his pursuer on that February night of last year.
Rap is especially tasty to rebellious black teens. It’s highly sexual; well, downright filthy in spots (for whites it was National Geographic, Playboy or porn sites). Ironically, some of the practitioners of this steamy rap art are pure mainstream. Ice T’s, “The Iceberg” features a flashlight doing things they don’t tell you about at the hardware store. And yet Ice T is a dozen-year acting veteran of the long-running Law and Order SVU series.
I doubt “the Donald” would have invited hip hop and rap artist, Lil Jon back for two different seasons of Celebrity Apprentice if he had listened to certain 10 second segments of “Get Low.” And on the distaff side, the beauteous Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” is so sexually charged that I’m not even going to tell you where to find it. Adding to the rap mystique are the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls roughly six months apart in late ’96, early ’97.
The world’s goofiest teenager, Justin Bieber is deep into the black culture, wearing those giant hilarious caps and a reported 15 tattoos that include an owl, a cartoonish tiger and an angel with big bazooms. So he’s a good example for both sides of the B/W societal fence. He dresses black and hangs with what he must perceive as cool young African Americans. I’m not sure I agree with him on the coolness meter, but 20-year-old rapper Lil Twist (Christopher Lynn Moore) and the Biebs’ seem to be tight. For Twist, it’s an easy call. Justin repeatedly throws him the keys to his Ferrari or Fisker. In exchange, when he’s not throwing pseudo gang signs, Twist manages to speed or DUI himself into any number of sticky situations. Cool! A photog, while covering one of Twists’ police stops, was killed when hit by a car. Another member of Justin’s posse is Tyler, the Creator, a 22-year-old rapper and producer who covered for Bieber in claiming to be the driver of Bieber’s Ferrari seen speeding down the 25 mph streets of Biebers fancy gated community at waaay more than 25 mph.
So we have the same dynamic for a goodly number of both black and white teens. A lot of black youngsters favor the “gangsta” theme, while white kids throughout recent social history have made their way through a tangle of nutty personas. If you followed and shot every young white male walking at night through a townhouse community with long hair, aimless eyes looking around, smelling of weed in bad boy attire and a certain affected tough guy “swagger” you’d lose a goodly number of the white teenage young guy population.
A characteristic of the young black male culture is the matter of respect or lack thereof. Being disrespected is at the top of the list of affronts for young, macho, black males. And any hint of same will set off the kid in a hurry. Did a following Zimmerman disrespect Trayvon Martin? By every definition extant. Zimmerman also profiled the kid in every disrespectful way possible. You can follow along with the call here.
He profiled Trayvon Martin as suspicious. Suspicious is another word for “up to no good.” He opined to 911 that Martin appeared to be on drugs or something. That’s high so Martin would have the false courage to burgle a residence. Some other Zimmerman observations: In response to questions, “he looks black. he’s wearing a dark hoodie.” Then he tells the operator, “He’s just staring at all the houses. Now he’s staring at me. He’s coming towards me. He’s got his hand in his waistband. He’s a black male. Something’s wrong with him!” His reference to ‘effing’ punks was deleted; “These assholes always get away” was not.
I’ll close with this Zimmerman observation; “Shit, he’s running.” When Zimmerman followed, the night’s tragic die was cast. The Zimmerman cell phone number is not taken out of the recording. I called it. I was told “The number you have dialed is not in service.”
Neither is our American legal system.