On March 29th, Brother Aliwas one of 5,000+ supporters at the One Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin at The University Of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.
Reed Fischer of City Pages caught up with Ali to discuss the event and the movement, check out an excerpt below and head to The City Pages to read the rest of the interview.
Brother Ali: The Trayvon Martin case is part of a legacy in our country that goes back to the very beginning. We created a racialized, second-class citizenship for black people. We had something back then called the refugee slave act, which basically meant that anybody black in America -- even in the North -- could be brought in under suspicion that they might be a runaway slave. We've always had this thing. Throughout time, after slavery, we had Jim Crow. We have a long legacy of the police killing unarmed black people that's still going on. We see about four or five of them every year.
As part of that legacy, vigilantes in the name of "protecting us" go out and hunt and target and kill black people. We saw this with the Klu Klux Klan, then lynch mobs, and we're seeing it with these vigilantes, like the Zimmerman guy. Every single one of these cases, all the way back to the beginning, we find a way to blame the victim. We find a way to let the killers off the hook.
The conversation that's coming out of this is showing that we've become very polite, and we've become deafeningly silent about institutional racism in our society. For a long time, we've given ourselves credit for work that we haven't completed. We've begrudgingly, at a snail's pace, doled out these concessions to our black citizens, but we've never really fixed the institutional problem.
There's this really damaging, hurtful idea that stifles progress, that we're post-racial. A lot of people think that racism isn't a factor in people's lives anymore, and that Obama is the final symbol that we're past racism. The reality is that whether or not we're bigots individually, hate black people, or say the n-word, we're taught to look at it on a really individual basis. We can say, "I as an individual, I'm not racist." But the reality is that racism has become an institution of its own, and it's also a part of every single institution in American life.
Racial lines, class lines, gender lines, sexuality lines, religious lines, nationality, all of these things. We as the people in the dominant group have an unfair advantage. I think that's why we don't talk about this. When we let George Zimmerman off the hook, we're really letting ourselves off the hook. We really are negating our responsibility in this thing. Whether or not we as individuals are bigots, we are benefiting from a system that holds some people back for the benefit of other...
Read More: CityPages.com
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