How Romany Malco And Don Lemon Got Trayvon Martin Wrong

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As the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchmen who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, settles into the American conscience, everyone – and I mean everyone – seems to have an opinion on the case and its surrounding issues.

Two voices, however, have jumped out from the crowd and declared themselves louder than most others. Romany Malco (the token black guy from a host of semi-funny movies you’ve probably seen), and Don Lemon, the award winning, CNN television anchor.

Romany wrote a blog that went super-viral for The Huffington Post – titled, A Message To Trayvon Martin Sympathizersand Don Lemon, in a segment of his weekend show called No Talking Pointsoutlined 5 things he thought Black America could do to ‘fix its issues’.

Both black men were dead wrong, and I’m going to outline – point by point – why. Let’s jump right in.

Romany’s first point was:

To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is, the Trayvon Martin story was brought into the American conscious, primarily by three men. The Huffington Post’s Traymaine Lee, The New York Times’ Charles M. Blow, and The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. Only the former, Lee, is an actual reporter. The other two can be described as columnists/bloggers. None of the three are “news directors” anywhere. Trayvon Martin’s shooting was largely ignored by the kind of news directors Malco references. It was only because of men like Lee, Coates and Blow, a groundswell of much smaller blogs (like this one you’re reading right now) and activism on social media sites like Twitter, that Trayvon Martin became a national story. The mainstream media, in large part, didn’t respond until the story was already a story.

Romany’s second point:

Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago…

Everybody. Please stop comparing the coverage of Trayvon Martin to the coverage of the murders in Chicago. It’s a false equivalency. Not only is it a false equivalency, but it also plays to the highly problematic stereotype of the young, hyper-violent black men hell-bent on killing each other. In most of America, the reality is, violent crime is down… dramatically. And yes, a black man who gets killed is most likely to have been killed by a black man. But you know what else… a white man who gets killed is most likely to have been killed by a white man. It has nothing to do with one race being more violent than the other, and everything to do with the fact that people who end up killing people, usually end up killing people they know.

The other reason why it’s important to look at Trayvon and Chicago separately, is because to not do so is to shortchange the analysis of what’s happening in that city. For those of you not from Chicago, or not familiar with the gentrification, land grabbing, and mass displacement of poor people happening there, just think of it like this: Imagine if, in whatever city you’re from, they tore down the projects on one side of town, and then forced all the people who lived there to move to the projects on the other side of town. What would that look like? Can you see how neighborhood rivalries and turf battles might take on an entire new shape? That’s the kind of stuff that’s happened, in mass, in Chicago over the last decade. And that’s not even half of the problem. The point is, it’s bigger than just “black on black” crime.

Romany’s third point:

In this country, if it isn’t streamlined through mainstream media and pop culture, it doesn’t seem to warrant national debate. Our “government” continues to wreak havoc on our civil liberties and there is little to no protest from the black community because of media diversion tactics that keep such pertinent issues out of mainstream media.

Wait what? Which rights or civil liberties did we have at the end of George W. Bush’s two terms that have since been stripped away by Obama? Did I miss the repeal of a constitutional amendment or something?

Romany’s on a roll now:

Addressing Trayvon without first addressing the absence of critical thinking in our schools, the lack of introspection, the reasons for our low tolerance and our country’s skewed value system does nothing more than create a sounding board for the ignorant.

I don’t even know what this means. It’s just a bunch of words haplessly strewn together, that when read quickly, sound profound. The hell is a “lack of introspection” and what does it have to do with the price of tea in China?

Malco’s next point:

I believe we lost that trial for Trayvon long before he was killed. Trayvon was doomed the moment ignorance became synonymous with young black America . We lost that case by using media outlets (music, movies, social media, etc.) as vehicles to perpetuate the same negative images and social issues that destroyed the black community in the first place. When we went on record glorifying violent crime and when we voted for a president we never thought to hold accountable. When we signed on to do reality shows that fed into the media’s stereotypes of black men, we ingrained an image of Trayvon Martin so overwhelming that who he actually may have been didn’t matter anymore.

False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.False.

The biggest problem with the whole “Trayvon was doomed because black people are ignorant” line of thinking is that it shifts the blame for his killing off of the single individual who is, admittedly responsible for it – George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman left the house locked and loaded that night. George Zimmerman called the cops and then proceeded to pursue Trayvon. George Zimmerman got into an altercation with Trayvon. George Zimmerman shot Trayvon. Black America was not present on February 26, 2012. There were only two people there and one of them killed the other.

The slope of respectability politics is super slippery. It presupposes the idea that there’s something we can do, as black people, to be more acceptable and therefore less threatening to racist people. History, however, has shown us that the racist heart is an evil one and it is not altered by simply, ‘acting right’.

And lastly from Romany:

Education, introspection, self-love and excellence are the only ways to overcome the wrath of ignorance. So before going back to popping molly and getting Turnt Up, I urge you to consider the implications of your actions. Your child’s life may depend on it.

More arbitrary references here. This time, he doubles down, adding a random “excellence” to “introspection.” I really can’t with this guy.

Then there’s Don Lemon and his 5 point plan for saving Black America:

#5 – Here’s number five. Pull up your pants.

Trayvon had on some skinny jeans. And from the pictures, he clearly wasn’t “sagging” them. That didn’t stop George Zimmerman. How you’re dressed also doesn’t stop the NYPD in their over-aggressive, inherent profiling of black and latino youth through Stop and Frisk. Besides that, if you can’t see my humanity because of how I happened to be dressed – that’s a problem the world should be helping you to solve, not me. Telling black kids to change because of someone else’s inability to see beyond a stereotype only serves to reinforce the stereotype. This is precisely why, all throughout his written statement taken after he shot Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman refers to Martin as “the suspect.”

#4 – Number four now is the n-word.

There is intelligent debate to be had around why black folks should, or shouldn’t use the n-word. That debate however, has no bearing on any of these larger issues we’re discussing in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict. It is, completely irrelevant.

#3 – Respect where you live. Start small by not dropping trash, littering in your own communities. I’ve lived in several predominantly white neighborhoods in my life, I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now, it’s an historically black neighborhood, every single day I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when a garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here. 

So – we’re going to base the NUMBER THREE RESOLUTION FOR THE SALVATION OF OUR RACE, on your casual observance of the littering habits of the white people you used to live around, and the black people you currently live around? I just want to be clear that that’s the suggestion here. #CoolStoryBro

#2 — Finish school. You want to break the cycle of poverty? Stop telling kids they’re acting white because they go to school or they speak proper English. A high school dropout makes on average $19,000 a year, a high school graduate makes $28,000 a year, a college graduate makes $51,000 a year. Over the course of a career, a college grad will make nearly $1 million more than a high school graduate. That’s a lot of money. 

All of the numbers referenced above are dated. And while I don’t challenge their accuracy, I do think we’ll start to see these numbers shift as the millennial generation begins pushing baby boomers out of the workforce to carve out their own space. Plus, the increasing cost of education, the debt graduates are then saddled with, combined with the extraordinary unemployment rates are making college an investment with seriously diminishing returns for many Americans.

Serious question: knowing everything you know now, would you rather be a 25 year old college graduate making $51,000 a year with $60,000-$100,000 in student loans, or a25 year old who only graduated high school and is making $28,000 with no real debt. Ten years ago you wouldn’t dare ask that question. You would obviously rather be the college grad. In 2013 though – it’s a very valid question. How many of us actually use our college degree? How many of us would be further along in life if we pursued whatever it is is that we love directly out of high school, instead of taking a detour through college? These are the questions this next generation will ask.

The recession and the continuing commoditization of personal debt have turned the American Dream – and how one goes about attaining it, on its head. Blanket statements like “get your degree” are no longer as applicable as they once were. It’s a new day.

 #1 – And number one, and probably the most important, just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially without planning for one or getting married first. More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock. That means absent fathers. And the studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and the cycle continues.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Slow down playboy. I was with you until you said that having children out of wedlock creates absentee fathers. This.Is.Not.True. There is absolutely no data one can point to that says that fathers who are not married to the mother of their children are more likely to not be involved in their kids lives. The absence of marriage does not create absentee fathers. To put it more plainly – The fact that 72% of African American children are born out of wedlock does not mean that 72% of African American children grow up without their fathers. The number of absentee fathers in the black community is definitely higher than it should be, but there’s no real way to measure it. Juking the stats like this just makes you look and sound like a hack… just saying stuff to prove a point.

What did you all think of the commentary from Romany Malco and Don Lemon. Do you think these guys are onto something, or were they way off base as I’m suggesting. What do you think are the solutions to some of the questions they’ve posed. Lastly, y’all gotta forgive me for addressing these so late … last few weeks have been crazy. Oh… by the way, did y’all see Zimmerman got pulled over for speeding in Texas. This guy also had a gun in the glove compartment of his car. Be careful out there. They shooting, and you know what to do in shootouts:

stay low, and keep firing.

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  • mstoogood4yall

    they all speak gibberish, the best way to honor trayvon and help ourselves is to support black businesses and boycott florida, http://diaryofanegress.com/2013/07/01/boycott-whi

    These clowns only speak to keep us quiet and get a pat on the back from white America. They are sold out, white ppl wouldn't put black ppl who know whats up on the dam air its why we don't see the umar johnsons and such in these debates. Dang George in tx, sheit why he gotta be in the state I live and this is a stand ur ground state too, I guess I better tell every young black male in my family to beware. smh.

  • cathy

    your an idiot….both those guys are 100% correct…..

    • Slanderson Cooper

      It appears your insight is as sharp as your grammar.

    • G…

      Well that's a well crafted response. I would suggest you pose a legitimate argument rather than merely insulting the writer.

      • oneinsixbillion

        Slanderson Cooper appears to be a "moran," but it is kind of rich to hear someone ask for a "legitimate argument" instead of insulting the writer when the writer provided little legitimate argument and chose instead to insult Lemon and Malco

    • cam

      *you’re

  • mstoogood4yall

    These fools are basically blaming black America for all this. gtfoh, first of all who owns those dam companies that sell that mess, not us, who buys most of that rap crap, not us. SO its ok to stereotype black ppl and blame it on reality shows, music, and tv, wow. So its ok to have all these shows and movies glorifying white crime like mobs and having books and reality shows made about it, yet I don't hear them blame that when whites go on shooting sprees or do some other violent stuff. Matter of fact they glorify that sh!t too, we se how they gave that terrorist a rolling stone cover. But a black person gets killed and its because of what some black ppl choose to allow in their homes wtf. Naw its because America always has double standards and change the rules when white ppl start getting caught. when a white teen steals a car they call it joy riding when a black teen steals a car they call it grand theft auto. Lastly these stereotypes were going on long before there was tv, matter of fact they used blackface to push this bs its just now they use black faces to push these stereotypes.

    • oneinsixbillion

      Let's make our neighborhoods BETTER PLACES TO LIVE without blaming or waiting for SOMEONE ELSE to do it. When did self-empowerment become controversial? Malcolm X is spinning in his grave

  • Paul B.

    I think in some ways they were right, but their points were irrelevant to THIS CASE though. Can we as a whole do better? Sure, they were right on that note. Was there anything we could have on that night in February 2012 that wouldn’t have cost Trayvon his life? Not likely unless we could’ve made Zimmerman stay in his vehicle which wasn’t happening. What Malco said did sound good, but what did it have to do with this case? Not a damn thing.

    • cynicaloptimist81

      I'll just plant my co-sign >>here<<…

    • Uncle Hugh, BP

      Paul B.: "I think in some ways they were right, but their points were irrelevant to THIS CASE though."

      This. It's a bait and switch.

      Conversation: "Why did Zimmerman stereotype Martin? Could blacks defend themselves under Stand Your Ground? If Martin was white, would they have taken 45 days before arresting Zimmerman?"

      Reponse: WHAT ABOUT CHICAGO? BLACK ON BLACK CRIME? HIP HOP MUSIC?

      Why did Will Smith's movie with his son tank? Why did Yeezus not have any cover art? Are Little Debbie's profits going to drop now that Hostess is back? These questions are about as relevant to the topic as trying to switch the subject and talk about illegitimacy rates and using the N-word.

    • Larry

      What either of them said had nothing to do with the Martin situation specifically. That much, in my opinion, is obvious. Also, I don't think it was their intention to make it have anything to do with the Martin situation, either. The awareness that what happened with Trayvon Martin may have inspired them to address other issues within the African-American culture they felt were problematic and used it as a point of reference to springboard their opinions, but are they specifically talking to what happened on Feb 26, 2012? No.

  • Slanderson Cooper

    "The biggest problem with the whole 'Trayvon was doomed because black people are ignorant' line of thinking is that it shifts the blame for his killing off of the single individual who is, admittedly responsible for it – George Zimmerman."

    Straight gospel right there.

    Comments from Don Lemon and Romany Malco represent victim blaming at it's finest. As a culture we always analyze what was done/could have been done/should have been done by the victim to prevent the acts of offender. "Oh, she was raped? What was she wearing? Where was she going?" "Oh, that dude beat his girl up? What did she do to provoke him?" "Word, Trayvon was murdered? Why didn't he just identify himself? Why did he run? Why was he out walking around the neighborhood so late?"

    Like… what? All these calls for "introspection" are counterproductive to resolving this particular issue. The real question is what made Trayvon suspicious? How did George Zimmerman even identify that Trayvon didn't belong in that neighborhood? Zimmerman profiled this young man and murdered him in cold blood. Shaming and blaming the black community won't change those Coors Light "Cold Hard Facts."

    As a community we can certainly make strides at being better- but guess what, every community has issues as well. Why the constant spotlight on black issues? I'm all for taking responsibility- but using a tragedy such as this to step on your soap box about 'what is wrong with black culture' is just in poor taste.

    • Anonymous

      And this is where I add my co-sign.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    They are both trying to make sense of the senseless, we are not viewed as equals by some (hell, most) and that is the issue. Trayvon could’ve been an actual thug, thats not the issue the fact that Zimmerman who bleeds the same blood felt he had dominion over him, thats not because of rap videos or sagging jeans. I spoke on Lemon a few days ago but i will reiterate that laying out 5 point plans to make white people accept us is as silly as giving kids 5 point plans for making their father’s stick around. As long as im a law abiding citizen i shouldnt have to earn your respect, we are the same im not a martian. Thats the issue with society.

    As for Malco’s fake deep reflection, Also last i checked New Orleans and Memphis were amongst the deadliest cities, yet people keep crying Chicago why? because they heard it from someone else in the media….oh the irony. Going on a media outlet basically calling Trayon Martin a distraction by the media is a distraction itself…once again, the irony. His last parting shots on black America in general, some fair but way outta context were we on tv looking ignorant in the 50s and 60s, when white people didnt even want to be in the same areas as us? did we ever have the respect to even lose in the first place? Oh.

    My recent post <a href= "http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/todays-word-is-marriage/&quot; target="_blank" Today's Word is… MARRIAGE

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    w.e you say Kelly Troll-and

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    its beyond silly, honey boo boo doesnt make me look down on white people. Lemon and Malco achieved some success and now command respect due their celebrity so its easy for them to say, look this is why white people dont respect us, no. Applying that same dumb ssa logic, white people should look at them and respect us, right? Its just noise that takes away from the real conversation we ought to be having.

  • Qher

    http://www.thenakedconvos.com is going bigger and better!! Don't miss the launch of TNC 3.0! it's all about expressing YOU! Join the revolution 08|05|13 follow @thenakedconvos on twitter, instagram and facebook for updates!
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  • Uncle Hugh, BP

    5. Trayvon was not sagging at the time.
    4. He was not speaking, and using the N-word doesn't mean you should be gunned down in the streets.
    3. Trayvon was not littering.
    2. Trayvon was in school and had applications sent to different colleges.
    1. Trayvon did not have any out-of-wedlock children.

    So…why are Lemon's points relevant to the Martin incident? Lemon apparently doesn't realize if he made a quick run to the store and put a hood on because it was raining, Zimmerman would have done the same thing to him.

    • Larry

      I don't think Lemon was directly equating his 5 points to the Martin incident, imo. He explicitly said comparing black on black violence/crime is a false equivalent and shouldn't be associated with the Martin incident in the very least.

      • Uncle Hugh, BP

        I equated it to the Martin incident because it Bill O'Reilly's comments were the catalyst for making them, and he equated it to the Martin incident.

  • Larry

    I believe perspective is everything is some cases. And it's becoming more and more clear to me that I just come with a different perspective than the majority who have left comments on this topic on this site. A few points and I'll *try to be brief:

    - Not sure why we're equating Lemon's "5 points" to the Trayvon Martin ordeal when it seemed clear to me he wanted to separate what happened with Martin with everything else going on which is why he waited until the trial was over to speak on more general solution/topics, etc.

    "The absence of marriage does not create absentee fathers. " – uhh…it doesn't? I don't believe he is saying ALL absentee fathers are created because of the absence of marriage, but if a father is absent from their child's life (like physically not there, never around) then odds are that man isn't married to the child's mother. It's a chicken/egg argument really and no one is necessarily wrong/right or what have you.

    • Larry

      -"Black people, if you really want to fix the problem here's just 5 things you should think about doing"….for some reason a lot people took Lemon saying this as a defnitive list and the entire solution to solve everything. The man lists 5 ideas…no way is that suggesting these are the only ideas/things people can do, lol (to me at least). If the man could list 100 ideas without losing attention spans he probably would. He consolidated what he felt was somethings people could directly control that were important to him. Now whether one agrees or not with his suggestions and what kind of impact they could have is a whole nother thing. I'll say that not littering and finishing school doesn't normally hinder anyone lol.

    • Jennifer

      I hear what you are saying but the problem is that Don Lemon DID in fact connect it to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I don't know if you watched the video but Bill O'reily's 'rant' was inspired by the results of a poll that stated most Blacks and Latino's believed that race should be a topic of discussion following the Zimmerman verdict. Bill O'reily then went on to say "oh you want a discussion on race ?How about we talk about how bad black people are" (That is me paraphrasing). Don Lemon followed up on Bill O'reily's rant.

      If you check Don Lemon's twitter page then maybe you can understand why a lot of black people are giving him the well deserved *side-eye*.

      I do agree that people are wrongly assuming that Don Lemon meant the 5 things on his list were the only problems in the black community.

      • Larry

        Sure, he may have connected it in a way that he used the incident as a springboard for a more global discussion, but he wasn't specifically tying together Trayvon's clothing that night to his sagging pants diatribe is all I'm saying. I saw the video more than a few times, actually, because I really reaaaally wanted to see what it seemed many others saw, lol.

      • Almondy

        Yes he did. And those who refuse to see it are as ignorant as Don says black America is.

    • http://Nomoreadvice.com Beautifulsagsister

      Well said Larry

  • Larry

    As far as Romany:

    His 1st point he isn't necessarily wrong. Martin did become a household case because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture….and it became a topic within mainstream news because of The Huffington Post’s Traymaine Lee, The New York Times’ Charles M. Blow, and The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates bringing it to national attention because of they're exemplary work. So to me y'all are basicallly saying the same thing. I don't think Romany would disagree with your assertion there.

    " Our “government” continues to wreak havoc on our civil liberties…"

    Admittedly I don't know specifically what he is referring to here, but I'll go out on a limb and say that gay marriage and woman's abortion rights are included quite possibly, but it's only a guess.

    • Larry

      Overall this was a good write up with great counterpoints. Honestly, if I saw it from your exact perspective I would agree 100% with everything you're saying with relation to the opinions that were given by those two men. At the end of the day it sparks good conversation which hopefully can lead to positive action with great solutions.

  • Smielz_920

    Don and Romany are just talking to talk at this point. I’m not saying our community is perfect. But to use some of our weakness / imperfections as a block or distraction or excuse as to why white people or anyone should be able to stereo type us, treat us as less than human or take the life of one of our children “just because” is ridiculous.

    "To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story."

    One minute people are mad when the only news ppl care about is “celebrity gossip” now we want to focus on other news and it’s still an issue. And I wish people would stop saying “well what about the ppl in your neighborhood, your not tweeting or talking about that”. Just because you don’t hear ppl talking about it doesn’t mean it’s not being talked about. Every injustice won’t make the national news; it doesn’t mean we aren’t talking about it in our homes, or between friends.

  • Steven Sykes

    These were my comments and video before CNN Don Lemon's 5 talking points. My video will cover it all.
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=101515793969

  • Lyric

    well don lemon is very patronizing for a homosexual

  • MaggK

    - The list was kind of an easy take. Since it can basically be used by any community black, latino, white… Am i the only one seeing white kids snagging their pants? -_-'!… We sure have our specificities, but those points are stereotypes!!!
    - It has nothing to do with Trayvon!!!
    - We black people know that we have a lot of issues we have to deal with. However it would be cool for you black people who are seen on TV by white people not to put us down, saying stuffs like: Harlem is dirty, because it's a black neighborhood and black people drop their trash on the ground… LOL… REALLY?! I can't believe he said that…

  • langwichartz

    "You cannot lose, if you do not play."

    ~Marla Daniels

  • http://Nomoreadvice.com Beautifulsagsister

    Don Lemon response was in regard to Bill oreilly. I have my own sons so I sympathize with the mother but seems folks have so many opinions but does anyone know the real TM. His parents continue to show a picture of him as a child. Why haven’t we heard who he really was. So many folk are saying such negative things about TM who is defending him really. Don said something that is just minute their is no real resolution to black issues because we seem to be so divided. We have those that believe slavery will forever mark us, those who say opportunity Is there why are you being lazy and those who believe the laws and everything else will continue to be against us. How can you help them. Those letters come from all the excuses they hear from some blacks not the TM case. This case has just opened up forums for people to really discuss things they been waiting and wanting to say.

  • Low

    Sigh… I'm about to piss a few people off. Niggas die everyday! Nobody cared when 3 black kids jumped a white kid because he refused to buy drugs from them. No one cared when a black guy broke into an Arizona woman's house robbed her on video and then came back and raped her. What Zimmerman did was wrong was when he followed him, but this shows 2 wrongs definitely don't make a right. Was what he did wrong? Hell yes. Was it Illegal? No. And should the "stand your ground" be repealed? Hell no! Nobody said anything about it when Obama was supporting the law as a Illinois senator, why are we up in arms now?