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From the Bottom Up

Saint Trayvon

Why Trayvon Martin’s killer may go free, & why that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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St. Trayvon

St. Trayvon


I started this article over a year ago, when the wounds of Trayvon Martin’s death were still fresh. I never finished it, in part, because the emotions were still so raw. There hadn’t been enough time to process what had happened to that young man who only wanted to get back home with his Skittles & tea and watch basketball, only rage and disgust. Then there was the feeling that nagged me, a sense that Trayvon Martin’s killer might get off. The rage and disgust are gone–not gone, never gone–subsided; but I still can’t shake that feeling.

Keeping up with the case, as presented so far, the prosecution has done a fine job of establishing many of the facts, but a number of the prosecution’s witnesses have played into the hands of the defense. Some of the testimony has bolstered their claims that, at the moment of the shooting, it was the killer who felt his life was in danger, that regardless to what happened prior to the shooting, the killer thought he needed to kill in order to survive.

Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. What matters is what the twelve six jurors believe to be true. And if we’ve learned anything after the Rodney King, OJ Simpson, Casey Anthony, and so many other trials of the recent past, juries are a tricky thing. You can, like me, listen to all of the testimony, but we’re not sitting in that jury box watching through their eyes, thinking with their minds, feeling with their hearts. Their job is not to determine whether the killing of Trayvon Martin was right or wrong, just or unjust. Their job is to determine whether the defendant abided by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Did Trayvon Martin’s killer “reasonably believe… …it [was] necessary to [‘stand his…  …ground and meet force with force, including deadly force’] to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony?” Was he within the law?

I don’t think that question is an easy one to answer for any jury, so much so that I would not be surprised by a hung jury, and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked at an acquittal. Trayvon did put up a fight, the same way I taught my children to if they  were ever accosted by some creep that could have easily been a pedophile. I’d go so far as to say that Trayvon would have whipped his assailant’s ass, were it not for the gun.

So, what would that mean? Would we see rioting in the streets, again, if Trayvon’s killer is found “not guilty”? I hope not. I hope people could look past the apparent miscarriage of justice and understand that a verdict of “not guilty” is the only way to change how things are done in Florida, not to mention other states with similarly barbaric statutes.

Don’t get me wrong. Trayvon Martin deserves justice. His death is nothing less than murder, plain and simple. But too many states have essentially legalized murder with laws that allow anyone to kill anyone else on the pretext that they fear for their life. MMA training or not, there is nothing fiercer than a teenager who’s afraid for his well-being. I would have been afraid. I wouldn’t have been carrying a gun, though. A verdict of “guilty” will put the killer in jail for a bit, but it will also justify the law. Florida can say, “See, the law works.” Nothing changes, until the next poor, unsuspecting victim falls prey to an overzealous vigilante with deluded aspirations of grandeur.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Which outcome would be best for everyone?” Travon Martin is already a martyr. No verdict will bring back all that lost life and potential. Trayvon’s legacy will be measured in how his tragic death affects this country and its laws. While I would love to see Trayvon’s killer locked away for what he did, moving this country in a more humane direction would be the bigger prize.  A verdict of “not guilty” may not accomplish that, but I think it’s the only chance. Brace yourselves.

*UPDATE/CORRECTION: Apparently, I’ve made a fatal mistake by skipping the boring voir dire/jury selection process and being unaware that Florida juries only require twelve people when defendant risks a death penalty. If you want to dismiss my arguments because of that, so be it.

Fernando Quijano III is the former President of the Maryland Writers Association, Baltimore Chapter. His work has been featured in Welter, Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore & the poetry anthology, Life in Me Like Grass on Fire. An excerpt from his unpublished novel, Forever, Lilith was included in the Apprentice House anthology Freshly Squeezed. He has been featured at the Baltimore Book Festival, Stoop Storytelling, & The Signal on WYPR, Baltimore's local NPR station. In his spare time, Fernando volunteers to lead workshops for Writing Outside the Fence, a program for the ex-offender community, as well as at the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility. Fernando was recently awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

From the Bottom Up

What Happened To The Google-Motorola Deal?

Months down the line after the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility and little has been heard on what Google plans to do with its new $12.5 billion toy.

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googlerola

There was a lot of hype when Google announced it was purchasing Motorola Mobility from the parent company and there were all sorts of words flying around including Googlerola and Gorolla (Gorilla?).


Now that all the hype has died down and all the regulatory permissions have been appropriated, some tough questions still linger much as no one is talking about them. Many said Google was buying Motorola Mobility for its patent stash and this was fairly accurate as the company had some 17,000 patents on the purchasing block.

This was seen as a strategic move by Google to protect its Android operating system from being cannibalized by patent trolls the moment it hit critical mas. This is all great but there still remains one tiny little detail that most seem to have overlooked. Motorola is a fully functional multinational company with over 25,000 employees working in 92 factories across over 90 countries.

Now, Google did not just buy the patents, it bought everything that comes with the company, including these employees. So what happens to these employees now that Google has its patents and Android is safe? Unlike the case of Nortel where the company was dismantled and the properties auctioned, MM is a different case altogether and the lack of focus and commitment on Google’s part is rather shocking.

Google is now stuck with a $12.5 billion toy that it does not quite know what to do with. Remember Google is an Internet company, it knows nothing about running factories and manufacturing so this leaves MM in a precarious position. In addition, with all the emphasis Google is laying on chasing down Facebook to the death, how can anyone realistically expect the company to concentrate on this huge responsibility it took on on a whim?

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From the Bottom Up

Jim Crow 2.0

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JimCrow2.0


Affirmative action has been part of our social and political landscape for over fifty years now, ever since JFK signed an executive order in 1961 that called for  “affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Four years later, President Johnson took it even further when he stated:

Nothing is more freighted with meaning for our own destiny than the revolution of the Negro American…In far too many ways American Negroes have been another nation: deprived of freedom, crippled by hatred, the doors of opportunity closed to hope…But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please. You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair…This is the next and the more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity. We seek not just legal equity but human ability, not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result…To this end equal opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough.

So here we are, trudging through another presidential election cycle, and as always, Republicans have begun to talk about the inequality of affirmative action. They call it “preferential treatment.” They inspire students to sue colleges over it. They claim that it’s no longer necessary in an America willing to elect a black president. They say that the United States can never be a country based on equality as long as we continue to offer a leg up to a part of our population. They’re right!

At least they’re right about one thing. Our country will never be looked at as a land of equal opportunity as long as we need to level the playing field for those of us who have been historically disenfranchised. However, that is not the same thing as no longer needing affirmative action.

Go into any major U.S. city with a large minority population, then find and walk through the worse neighborhoods in that city, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Just because we have a black president does not mean all things are now equal.

On the contrary, a recent report by the hate watchdog group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows that the number of hate groups in the U.S. is still growing, and have been since 2000. We are still incarcerating more and more people, except in states stretched thin by overcrowding, and 70% of inmates are nonwhite. And while whites make up the total majority of welfare recipients, minorities, especially blacks, receive benefits disproportional to their total percentage of population. If you believe the bullshit coming from the mouths of GOP presidential wannabes like Gingrich and Santorum, blacks are the only ones on welfare.

Anyway, it’s been fifty years. Everything’s cool now, right? And if all things aren’t equal, yet, than that just goes to show that affirmative action is a failed experiment that needs to end. Maybe niggers & spics just can never measure up to whites, and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

That may very well have been true if the haters hadn’t been fighting against it so hard for all that time. For every step we’ve taken up the ladder, opponents have tried to hold us back, if not tried to knock the ladder over, altogether. And proponents haven’t helped much. For decades, their solution was to just throw money at us. My mother, perhaps the last of Welfare Queens, learned how to work the system so well that she didn’t need to try to get a legitimate job until Clinton was forced to fix it. For all their help, they made us dependent on government handouts and mandates. Worse, they made it easy for working class whites, the malleable minds that the right wing loves to turn against us, hate us even more.

So, when will it be safe to do away with affirmative action? When will the playing field actually be equal? We have a long way to go, people. We still have to switch the focus of our drug policy to treatment, as opposed to punishment. Just legalizing marijuana will go a long way to keeping many of us out of jail. We have to have programs that keep our children in school, voluntarily. Forcing children to go to school does nothing but reinforce their hatred of it. Even if we did all that tomorrow little would change, right away. Remember all those brothers and sisters in jail? How can we make sure that when they finally get out, they stay out?

And let’s not forget that there are plenty of people out there who don’t ever want things to be equal. For them, this country should be run exclusively by white conservative Christian men. Jails are good because they keep niggers & spics from voting, sometimes even for years after being released. And the trend of privatizing prisons is still growing, with one company, Corrections Corporation of America forcing governors to sign agreements to keep prison at least 90% full. Laws passed recently in many states requiring voters to show ID are done with the knowledge that those laws will disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Even those tough immigration laws are designed to make sure that white conservative Christian males can remain in power.

Listen to the GOP presidential wannabes for a bit, and a few even want to get rid of public schools. Why? So that all our children have to either settle for a subpar education or be forced to go to religious schools where they can be better indoctrinated. You can either do things their way if you want to succeed, or you can look forward to working for them at minimal wages. Or waste your life away behind bars. Either way, it’s about control. That’s what Jim Crow was about: control. The only thing that’s changed are the strategies to keep us down. Oh, and we can still shit in their toilets.

Welcome to the new Jim Crow.

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From the Bottom Up

Haters Hate: The Ron Paul Phenomenon

Will the people annoint Ron Paul as their favorite Republican in 2012?

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Ron Paul Hater

ron paul2012 is almost here, and with it, the real start of the Presidential Election campaign. In less than a week a few voters in Iowa will brave freezing temperatures and pick their favorite Republican to go up against Obama in November. As I write this, most polls indicate that one Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul is poised to capture the hearts and minds of die-hard Iowans.


I can see his appeal. Ron Paul is no dyed-in-the-wool Republican. Although he served in Congress as a Republican during the mid to late 70s and early 80s, Ronnie rose to political prominence as a Libertarian when he ran for President in 1988 and got over 400,000 votes, third most that election. After that loss, Ronnie took some time off from politics and went back to medicine, his first love.

Throughout this time, though, Ronnie continued to push his political agenda, most notably through Ron Paul & Associates, a company that he established in 1984 that produce various newsletters, including The Ron Paul Investment Letter, The Ron Paul Survival Report, and Ron Paul Political Report. He gained tens of thousands of subscribers and earned millions of dollars with these newsletters promoting his Libertarian ideas.

Flash forward twenty years: Ronnie’s back in Congress and running for president, again, this time as a Republican. We’re talking 2008, now. Much fuss is made at his ability to raise grassroots support and raise more funds than his Republican competitors, but also of his inability to get much attention from the mainstream media.

Now here we are after another four years, and there is no escaping the Ron Paul phenomenon. Unlike the last go round, Ronnie is invited to all the debates. However, with increased popularity comes increased scrutiny. Journalists’ interest in Ronnie’s old newsletters was piqued because, well, because Libertarians can believe some crazy shit. They came across some doozies.

An issue of The Ron Paul Report released as “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” after the L.A. riots claimed that “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. … What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided.”

Another issue stated: “Indeed, it is shocking to consider the uniformity of opinion among blacks in this country. Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action…. Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the “criminal justice system,” I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

Yet another issue said: “We don’t think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That’s true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such.”

This doesn’t even cover the vile things written about Martin Luther King and other black leaders, not to mention several anti-gay, homophobic rants.

How does Ronnie defend himself? He didn’t do it. He claims that he wasn’t the author of any of the articles in question, that he was too busy to read them and that he disavows what they said while accepting moral responsibility, as publisher, for their content. Or at least  that’s what he’s saying now. Back in 1996 when he decided to end his political hiatus and return to politics as a Republican in Texas he told a reporter that he opposes racism and that his written commentaries about blacks came in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.”

So Ronnie defended what he wrote until he decided he didn’t even write it.

I’m no fan of Libertarianism. While I’m with them, to some degree, on some issues like drug policy, they are way off base when it comes to business regulation, taxes, affirmative action and education. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. What’s at issue is whether someone like Ron Paul deserves to even be considered for the office of the President of the United States.

Fuck no! Seriously, either this guy’s a closet racist (you know, the kind that LOVES the black folk he knows personally, but harbors a deep hatred for their kind as a whole) or a horrible manager. Let’s give Ronnie the benefit of the doubt and assume that others wrote the articles in his name, most written in first person as if he wrote them, himself. If this man can’t be trusted to oversee what’s written in his own newsletter, how can he be trusted to oversee the most powerful nation in the world? He can’t.

I would rather he was a racist. At least then I could have respect for him being honest about his views, or perhaps overcoming them to see the light. With his inconsistent denials and excuses, the only thing Ronnie has shown America is that he has tons of crazy ideas and rabid followers who will defend him regardless to what evidence is presented. This country needs a proven leader, not a cult figure who appears, by many counts, to be, if not terribly inept, then little more than just another hater. Isn’t there enough ineptitude and hate in government, already?

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