Beyond Trayvon: When the personal ain’t political

Column written on July 21st.

The Trayvon Martin case is rightly the straw that broke the camel’s back, for it shows, with unusual clarity, how Black life is so easily trivialized.

But it is not alone in this endeavor.

How the corporate media have responded to this tragedy is its own form of trivialization: a feeding frenzy of sheer spectacle, the exploitation of emotion and endless, directionless discussion, leading less to light than to commercials.

For the media explore the episodic, while they ignore the systematic.

Thus, Trayvon’s case attracts the lights and videos, but the many, many others who fall, especially to police violence, draw little interest.

Absent from most discussions is the targeting of a system that cages more people than any in history. Lost from the orgy of spectacle are the hidden faces of mass incarceration that impact millions.

For attention to the episodic elicits tears while contemplation on the systematic brings the challenge of change.

If “Stand Your Ground” gets repealed, it does not change the system that treats many, many youths as expendable.

Several months ago, by just one vote the Supreme Court condemned the practice of sending juveniles to life terms in prison without possibility of parole.

Of all the jurisdictions in America — indeed in the whole, wide world — Pennsylvania ranked first in juvenile life incarcerations. First.

But juveniles aren’t only the targets of the prison industry, they face shuttered schools, rampant joblessness and the fear and loathing of their elders.

They face tomorrows of emptiness.

They face the faceless fury of a system that damns them to half-lives at their birth.

Trayvon is one; they are many.