Like the Rodney King trial, many of us will be able to remember where we were and what we were doing the day that the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin. This case signifies a critical moment in history and has generated many responses from our Department and the UC community.

By Ameer Hasan Loggins

On July 19th 2013, I witnessed a Presidential speech that was foreign to my ears and eyes. I witnessed a President of the United States personally identify with the wrongful death of a Black male murdered in America, when President Barack Obama said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” In that moment he informed the world of his personal pain and connection to Trayvon- he publically stood his ground on a highly controversial, racialized hot button issue. But there was another moment of identification that was put on the table served as an alien acknowledgment; President Barack Obama made the idea/reality of, “Black pain,” a topic to be openly discussed. In that moment, Obama moved beyond his personal pain associated with the isolated killing of an unarmed teenage Black male, and spoke...

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by Charisse Burden

Ph.D. candidate, African American Studies, UC Berkeley

I'm sure hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs will weigh in on the Trayvon Martin case. There are many ways to approach, discuss, and analyze it, most of which are probably relevant and interesting. I want to think about Trayvon Martin in relationship to Jean Baudrillard's theory of hyperreality. Essentially, he posits that in a highly mediated society (specifically with television as the medium) what is represented--the image--becomes more "real" than reality itself because it dictates how we understand the world. This simulated reality, or fiction, becomes blended with physical reality so that it becomes indistinguishable in our consciousness.

So how does this relate to the Trayvon Martin case, a ...

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The recent Zimmerman verdict has led to righteous rage across America.  In cities across the nation including Oakland and Los Angeles, Black sisters and brothers have taken to the streets to reclaim their voice.  Black students throughout the state of California have responded to the Zimmerman trial by both questioning how America values Black life and by taking direct action to empower ourselves and our community.  This comes at a pivotal moment in American his(her)tory where Blacks have realized that in order to truly liberate ourselves from the shackles of racism and white supremacy we must not depend upon hope inspired by talented oratory and misleading rhetoric but by seizing the reins of our own destiny.

The Afrikan/Black Coalition (ABC), a coalition of Black students throughout the UC system, recognizes that the not guilty verdict of the George Zimm...

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Na’ilah Suad Nasir

July 2013

George Zimmerman is not guilty? As a scholar who studies identity, race, and African American youth I see this moment as continuous with the moments that African American youth report everyday. Moments where black young people are racialized in problematic ways by adults in schools, by police officers in their neighborhoods, by people on the street; I am reminded in particular of a 9th grader who got suspended for smiling in class—his smile was viewed by the teacher as insubordination, or of another young African American man commenting on how he is feared by others as he walks down the street. These contemporary moments experienced by youth harken back to a long historical record and a system, really multiple interlocking systems—the criminal justice system, the educational sys...

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By Aya deLeon, Director of Poetry for the People, Department of African American Studies, UC Berkeley

Growing up in the 70s, most adults I knew remembered exactly where they were when they heard that JFK or MLK were shot.  In my life, I’ve never had one of those stories until now.  I didn’t post on my usual Friday, because I was at a healing workshop for people of African heritage called “Black Liberation and Community Development.”  I will always remember this as my location when I heard the verdict in the trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. 

The experience is memorable, not so much because the verdict was so different from Rodney King or Oscar Grant or Amadou Diallo or any of the other young African heritage men shot during my lifetime.  But rather, the difference was the context of receiving yet another pai...

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