Georgia On My Mind

As Ray Charles croons in his beautiful, emotional paean to his home state, Georgia has been on my mind. And not for any good reason. Georgia, it seems, is fighting mightily to win the dubious accolade of the ‘worst state in the union’. The state General Assembly is in session. The state capitol in Atlanta has been buzzing with several rather disturbing new bills on the slate. If three of them pass, we will indeed be the worst state in the United States of America.

If things go according to the majority party’s plan, and there’s no reason to doubt it will, we will have what has been dubbed ‘the worst gun legislation in the country’ by Americans for Responsible Solutions. This organization, you may remember, was founded by Gabrielle Giffords, the US Congresswoman who was shot in the head at point blank range. Ms. Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, started the organization after her slow and painful recovery, from what was an act of such ferocious, bestial brutality, it should have ended her life.

The Georgia ‘Safe Carry Protection Act (House Bill 875) will allow Georgians to carry concealed guns practically everywhere – in schools, college campuses, bars, churches, government buildings and airports. Feel safer already, don’t you? I shudder to think of an unbalanced parent/teacher/lunch lady walking around the corridors of my child’s school, packing heat. Bars, what perfectly sensible places to carry a loaded gun! Don’t see any fallout there do you Senators? Someone explain to me what a devout churchgoer imagines he needs to protect against in a place of worship. Is God carrying a gun perhaps? The whole idea of guns anywhere and everywhere is monstrous and preposterous. The same bill, if turned into law, will expand Georgia’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute. This means you can protect yourself with deadly force if you feel threatened with physical harm, anytime, anywhere. This law in Florida, took young Trayvon Martin’s life and allowed his killer to walk free. It will also remove fingerprinting requirements for gun license renewals and disallow the state to maintain a gun ownership database. Way to make it easier for police forces across the state, dear legislators.

Not being satisfied with threatening our security by allowing guns anywhere and everywhere, Georgia legislators are busy on another bill which will punish Georgia’s children and consign them to the dustbins of university admissions offices. Senate Bill 167 wants to dismiss the Common Core Standard that Georgia adheres to, that keeps Georgia students on par with the rest of the country. This one action will isolate Georgia students from the rest of the country while negating the gains made by Georgia school systems over the last eight years. Or, as one headline put it “Georgia Senate throws students under bus. House gets ready to run them over again”. It forbids the state school systems from adopting any practice that even smacks of national standards. They see the Common Core Standard as a federal intrusion into states’ rights. Never mind that it was the governors of several states that came up with the idea several years ago to standardize education across the country, so that students from some states, like Georgia in particular, did not suffer too much in the college admission race. Maureen Downey writes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “imagine telling Georgia doctors they couldn’t use any cancer treatments developed by medical teams or labs outside the state. Patients would riot in the streets. So should parents over this piece of legislation.”

And so we come to the third piece of potential legislation that makes us seem cruel. This legislation is also the one that will raise the least resistance from most citizens. House Bill 772 wants to enact law that would make it necessary to pass a self-paid drug test to qualify for the food stamp program. There is no direct correlation between the two. It is not as if a person who receives food stamps can exchange them to get drugs. Then why make it a correlation? Let junkies die of starvation in their squalid holes, seems to be the unspoken thought behind it. While the country has spent millions on the drug war, border interdictions and mandatory jail sentences, little has been done in a sustained, organized way to handle the drug problem at the real source, the addict himself. Why tack on mandatory drug testing to food stamps, a program to help the poorest among us? And to make the applicant pay for the drug himself/herself. That is punishing the poor indeed. Fortunately,the sheer unconstitutionality of this bill seems to doom it from the get go.

What if all these bills go into effect as laws? Georgia would the worse for it. One would expect Georgia to be marching into the future as a technology paradise. Some of these move seem to be drawing Georgia back toward its secessionist past.


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Heaven’s Beach

“I’m not staying here. I’m going back to Zanzibar” I said in horrified tones to Catherine, my traveling companion. ‘Here’ was a 3 walled hut containing 4 army cots with rough blankets. “Sit on the bed and look at the view” Catherine said in measured tones.  “Don’t panic. I know it isn’t the Four Seasons, but if you stay it’ll be the best 5 days of your life. Trust me.” I looked at her. She seemed so calm. A room without a door didn’t seem to faze her one bit. I went over to the beds and sat on one. It was lumpy. I leaned against the wall and looked out. It was fantastic. I was looking out on the most astoundingly beautiful view. Golden sandy beach stretched out endlessly in a vast crescent. Palm trees dotted the beach. The crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean twinkled under the bright sunlight. “It’s fabulous” I cried. Catherine was smiling. “Shall I ask the driver to go back to Zanzibar then?” she asked. “Yes, yes, yes” I said, jumping up and down on the uncomfortable bed.

We were on Bwejuu Beach in Zanzibar’s remote east coast. Today a few resorts and hotels dot the beautiful but sometimes treacherous beaches of Zanzibar’s gorgeous east coast. Then, in 1989, no such thing existed, or if it did it was too expensive for the ordinary traveller. This beach we were on was neither resort nor guesthouse. It was a collection of 3 small huts and an outhouse. One three walled hut was the boarding area with 4 beds. One hut was a communal living area with a few chairs, a table and a killer view. The smaller hut contained a small cement tank, which served to hold the water we would use for bathing. The outhouse was simply a hole in the ground covered by a wooden lid enclosed by corrugated sheets and a flimsy door. Local women from an unseen village nearby brought us simple meals and fruit 3 times a day. They also filled our cement bathing tank with water they drew from a nearby well. They smiled and gestured at the food, but we had no language in common.

My misgivings came roaring back as we checked the facilities (or lack thereof). But there was no turning back. The jeep that had driven us out here over several hours of bumpy roads, had gone back to the city far away. We were essentially marooned here until the driver came back 5 days from now. Catherine looked remarkably chirpy considering how dire our conditions looked. She was humming as we made our way to the golden sands just in front of us. “This is heaven” she said in her beautifully accented English. “She must be mad” I thought. We walked on to the water’s edge and got our feet wet. That first sensation of the waves around your feet and the sand in your toes can never fail to excite. Catherine was making bird noises, her arms outstretched, twirling about in the shallows. I smiled looking at the sheer joy of her reaction. “Do those facilities back there really not bother you?” I asked her. She stopped her bird impression and smiled. “Come on, let’s sit a while on the beach and I’ll tell you my life story” she said. We headed back to the beach.

I hardly knew this woman, my traveling companion in a foreign country. We had bumped into her at a cafe in Zanzibar only 2 days ago. I knew she was French and a nurse with the Red Cross. She had told me she was taking a break from her job in Sudan. “I grew up solidly middle class in Nice. France is a great place to be middle class in”, she said, smiling at her memories. She said her father was a doctor back in France. “I always knew I wanted to be a medical professional like him, I simply didn’t have the grades to make it into medical school. So I decided to be a nurse.” She’d worked in Nice for a few years before the wanderlust had hit. She decided to join the Red Cross,a chance to work and travel she thought. Soon after she joined up, she was deputed to go Sudan, where a bitter and brutal conflict had been raging for years. It was like being thrown in the deep end before learning to swim, she said. The sink or swim reflex kicked in. She worked long hours mired in mud and blood and gore. It had been 8 months of this since she started she said, without a break. “It’s a long away from the plages of Nice” she said, with a wry twist of her mouth.

“I am sick and tired of the blood and the mayhem. The wounded are pitiful, many of them have lost limbs in the fighting. So many of them die before we can help them. The contagions spread so quickly and sepsis kills the rest. The Red Cross is trying to plug a leaking dam with a finger. The sheer pointlessness of the activity makes me tired. I’m exhausted. I have seen rivers of blood in the Sudan and I am so tired. So yes, this lovely, peaceful place is Heaven’s Beach. And you my friend are my heavenly friend.” Catherine sat back against the palm tree that swayed gently in the breeze. She did look exhausted.

I was appalled at her story and even more appalled by my own superficial concerns. I leaned forward and took my new friend’s hand in my own. “Let’s go have fun in the water Catherine. You can forget about everything else” I said. We romped around for hours, taking short naps in the shade of the palm trees. Eventually as the sun slipped low on the horizon, we watched a fiery sunset and made our way back to our humble lodgings. The lovely ladies of the village had brought us bread made of fried dough and crabmeat cooked with coconut. Never had I had a more delicious meal. We retired to our lumpy beds serenaded by the cool ocean breezes that came in through our nonexistent fourth wall. We slept the dreamless sleep of babies and woke up invigorated and ready to go diving among the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean.

Those five days slipped through my fingers like fine, golden sand. We had spent our time diving off a narrow boat, swimming in the crystal clear waters, looking through the colorful collection of local fabric and cooing over the gorgeous babies of the village women who took care of us. Too soon our idyll was disturbed by the sound of a car engine. Our ride had arrived to take us back to Zanzibar airport and on to Mombasa in Kenya.

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33 words for the Holy Trinity

Non violent struggle was Gandhi’s gift to the world.

Dr.King took non violence to the mountaintop.

Nelson Mandela made non violence the policy of a divided nation.

Ideas can change the world.



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Life Lessons In A Tough Year

Sometimes in life, a few short weeks can be transformative. This year, 2013, started on a rather low note for me. Very early in January a routine annual test threw up a huge problem. “You’ll need to come in for an ultrasound follow-up immediately” the radiologist’s nurse announced on the phone. My knees felt like jelly as she went on to tell me the doctor had noticed a large, dense mass in my mammogram. Suddenly I was no longer the confident 47 year old woman I was yesterday. Now I was just another woman peering into the murky darkness of a frighteningly uncertain future. A phone call that lasts a few minutes can shake your life to its very foundations.

I pulled up a chair as a wave of fear passed over me. No one is ever prepared to hear bad news. But life goes on right? So you get up off your chair and continue to do the things that need doing. Groceries to be bought, cars to be serviced, clothes to be laundered. The weeks passed, as they tend to, in a blur of inconclusive ultrasounds and scans. Finally I was told I had to have a core biopsy to ascertain whether the mass was malignant or benign. Those are two words I hope you never have to hear in your life. They simply take control of your mind and let nothing else intrude. My mind was a blank mess of swirling thoughts, none complete, mostly meaningless.

Through all of it I kept thinking “I need my mum”. Nothing like a bit of bad news to bring out the baby in you. My mum was in Singapore having a well deserved vacation. I could not bring myself to call her and tell her anything because I didn’t know for sure myself. My sister, my brother, my husband and my friends literally held my hands through the interim. The biopsy itself was simple yet complex for the non-medical mind to process. The wait for the results describe three of the darkest days of my life. When the call came through that the mass was benign, I sank to my knees in gratitude.

I know millions around the world go through this ordeal each year. Some like me, are lucky to escape the bullet but many thousands are not. The one thing, I am sure, we all have in common, is the opening up of our inner eye.  Suddenly there is a clarity that had been lacking prior to this. The audit of our lives is clear in the blink of an eye. The balance sheet of life doesn’t lie. Life has been so good to me so far, I thought.

So what did I learn from this experience? Life is beautiful. I have learned to enjoy each day as it comes, smell the flowers that perfume the air in spring, find hope in the laughter of children at play, sing the songs that resonate in the heart (albeit very badly). A positive attitude is not something you will learn from a self help book. A positive attitude is guaranteed when you acknowledge that there is beauty all around us, if only we could stop and look, smell, touch.

Some things that we might always have known, by instinct perhaps, take on the clarity of crystal in a shaft of sunlight. Your mother’s love for instance, you always knew you had it but suddenly it has the resonance of a country church bell on a quiet Sunday morning. The true meaning of family and why we love our siblings even when we have tried our best to drive each other batty for years. The value of your friends, that family you choose, becomes sharply defined. Friends are of particular importance when you live far away from home and family. My friends held me upright when I might have sunk into misery. And most of all I learned that my husband of twenty three years deserves credit for sticking by me these last twenty three years.

I made some promises to myself then. I will reach out to old friends whom I’ve lost touch with. If we don’t tell people how we feel, soon it might be too late.  And I will write again. For years friends and family have been urging me to write. Like most people, there is at least one book in me. It is time to get cracking on it. Fear of failure cannot stop the stories inside. When I do publish, it might get read or it might not. At least I will have tried. Can any of us expect anything more?

One of the most important life lessons I have learned is to be positive and supportive in all my dealings with children. They are fragile creatures and negative reinforcement (such an attractive transaction to adults) achieves nothing. Children constantly put themselves out there in a strange, hostile environment. If we can’t give them encouragement we should keep out of the way of their ascent.

Of all the things that have become clear to me none is clearer than this:  if you have nothing good to say about someone or something, don’t say anything. Restraint is better than seemingly cathartic verbal diarrhea. Each time I bite my tongue on a scathing remark an angel gets its wings. Believe me, many an angel has learned to fly thanks to me. And I feel better for holding my tongue.

So now I wake up each day full of zest and joie de vivre. Each sunrise holds a promise and each sunset wraps up contentment in its darkening visage. Life is an uncertain ride but it is always exhilarating. I hope your life may be as good as mine and I wish my happiness on all of you.



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An Ode to my Parents

In three days time, on May 10th 2013, if my father was alive, my parents would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It would have been a great celebration, my father didn’t know the meaning of small. Sadly, my father is no longer with us. My mom will spend the big day alone in her compact apartment, like she spends so many of her days now. She no longer lives in the house where she lived for 45 years since she came there as a young bride. I feel a sinking sensation in my heart today, knowing it cannot be what it could have been.

My father was a larger than life, dominating personality. He lived life big. His appetites and his laughter were big. He dominated the room if he was in it. Tall for an Indian man of his time, he was a full foot taller than my petite mother. My mother is and was always a quieter personality. She blends in with people and listens more than she talks. They made an odd couple in many ways. Complete opposites who somehow completed each other.

Growing up, I remember my dad’s booming voice ringing out instructions and directions. My mom kept herself busy with her home and children. When I was really little the sound of daddy’s voice if it was talking to me angrily was a scary thing. Then I turned about ten and realized he was just a big softie at heart and I could play him very easily by turning on the waterworks. Of the three of us kids, I was the one who got into trouble the most and therefore got a lion’s share of their attention. My sister and brother were lambs by comparison. And yet, even at that young age I knew I could make this man melt if I cried a few tears. I got out of so many scrapes by this simple expedient.

My dad always thought he was a great feudal lord and could make all of us do exactly what he wished. It didn’t usually work out that way but he was always such a doll about it. He always said ‘no’ to anything we suggested and then let us do it our way. I realize what a gift that was to us, particularly us girls, for not many girls in our generation were treated so evenhandedly. Of course it took me half a lifetime to work that one out.

My mom with her quiet voice and a few well chosen words had us doing things her way. She inculcated a deep love of books and knowledge in us simply by her example. This is a woman who has read most of the great works of English literature in Kannada translations. She has no college education like many women of her generation. Yet the thirst for knowledge within her glowed brightly enough to light the way for my sister and me to reach for higher knowledge. I believe she has one of the most literate minds I have across in my life, much more so than many very highly educated women I have met.

And so these two lived together for 42 years and brought us up in a household filled with love, laughter and books. There were plenty of tears too, most of them mine, many of them crocodile tears. The greatest gift my parents gave us was the right to question everything. It has made for a lifelong quest for answers, even to the imponderables.

My father liked to think he made every decision concerning our family on his own. But I have seen that on each fork in the road of our lives, he would reach out to my mother for guidance and help. She was the flaming torch that lit his way and she was his sounding board. I only wish he could be around to celebrate this 50th year of their life together. I wish we could have the chance to talk to him one more time, so we could tell him how much his love and guidance has meant to us. In his last days as he lingered in a coma, my sister, my brother and I told him everything we felt in our hearts. We can only hope he heard us.


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A Dargah Story

We stared in dismay as we saw the scene in front of us. A river of humanity flowed towards the dargah front door. We had hoped to have a leisurely walk through Ajmer Sharif, the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the 13th century Sufi saint. We could barely see the dargah for the people flooding in. Desperately looking for a parking spot, three of us adults left the car while my brother-in-law, Kishore stayed behind the wheel. As we stood there, outside a mechanic’s shop, a young man materialised beside us wearing what looked like a pillbox hat. In spite of the heat of the day he looked cool in his white kurta-pajamas. He reached over to a passing handkerchief seller and snagged a few white kerchiefs which he thrust towards us. In beautifully pure Hindi he asked us to take them and tie them about our heads. I looked at him with my city person’s wide-eyed distrust of strangers. Step back he told us and amazingly, we did. We were now at the entrance to the mechanic’s shop. “I’ll take you inside the dargah” he said. I looked at Naresh, wildly shaking my head to tell him to ask the man to go away. “Park your car there” he said pointing to an empty space in the auto shop’s rear.

By this time, we seemed to have collectively taken leave of our senses because Naresh went off to tell Kishore where to park. I couldn’t believe he had found us a spot to park in. As my sister and I busied ourselves with the kerchiefs and our children, our husbands joined and did the same. “Come with me” the man said and led us a short distance away down a side street. He summoned two auto rickshaws and asked us to pile in. He gave the auto drivers some concise instructions and they jumped to do his bidding. Was he someone these locals recognised as important or were they all three in on some scam to cheat some obviously bewildered out-of-towners? “I’ll meet you there” he said as he waved us off and turned away on foot. Where was ‘there’?

Thus began a journey that was less than a mile in physical distance but it transported us to a strange plane where four of us disbelievers achieved a faith of a sort, at least in miracles. With our kids tucked in between us, the two families set off, we weren’t sure where to. We fell about in nervous giggles as the auto rickshaws drove through narrow tracks that barely had enough room for the three wheeler. We drove between the homes of Ajmer, with open drains running lustily by the side. The houses rose like cliffs around us as the autos careered crazily, threatening to spill us into those drains any minute. In a few minutes, the autos came to an abrupt, jittering halt. We stepped out groggily to see we were at the dargah’s back gates and there he stood, our unnamed and unasked for saviour. We had put our lives and our faith in him the moment we got into those auto rickshaws without a clue to where we were going.

Smiling hospitably he ushered us along a dirt path and into the dargah. He told the auto drivers to wait for us where they were. We hadn’t even paid them. My faith inched up a notch. He didn’t say much, this man who had brought us into Ajmer Sharif when we ‘d thought we’d have to turn around and return to Delhi. As we came around the inner walls of the dargah, the noise hit us first. There were thousands of people thronging the outer courtyard and the din was unimaginable. But we were in and we hadn’t had to subject ourselves or our young children to the sweaty, smelly crush. He walked a step ahead of us, the man in white, as I had mentally named him.  We followed like a herd of sheep, keeping our eyes straight ahead as the crowd parted for him. We walked in his wake and lo! before we could fully comprehend it we were in the enclosure around the saint’s tomb. How had we gotten here? I still don’t know. We just walked behind him and the sea parted for us. We had briefly stopped just once, so we could buy a ‘chadar‘, a sort of green blanket that the devotees draped over the tomb before they made their ‘mannat’, a plea or a prayer particular to each devotee. As we stood there, the crowd surging around us, looking at the saint’s tomb being covered with our chadar, we saw him on the inside of the velvet rope that separated the tomb from the devotees. Inside, with the committee that ran the dargah. He brought the Chishthi dispensing blessings towards us and we were duly blessed.

Immediately after this, our man in white led us back out into the seething outer courtyard. Away to one side, a Qawwal and his troupe were performing in the usual mystic ecstasy of the sufi style. The music rose above the noise like a bird soaring into the sky.  All around us people knelt or sat, praying aloud or under their breath. While the noise level was deafening there was an underlying sense of peace, many centuries old. Our kind friend led us around the main dargah, showing us everything of note. The most notable thing was that there were people of every faith there, muslims in their lace skullcaps, Sikhs in their turbans and many Hindus like us, wearing kerchiefs and shawls to cover their heads in respect. This dargah has always been a beacon for Indians of every religion. People in prayer here showcase the best in Indian culture, reflecting the depth of our syncretism. One walks into Ajmer as a human being, not a hindu, a muslim, a christian or a sikh. For a person of decidedly agnostic tendencies, it was a moment of pure spirituality. It is the purity of the experience that stays etched clearly in my mind.

With our tour done, our guide led us back the way we had come, and there they were our old friends, the auto drivers. With an admonition to them to not overcharge us, the man in white sketched us a farewell with his hand and turned to stride away. Kishore called out to him to stop. “We would really like to give you something for all your help” Kishore said. The man in white stopped him with a gesture and smiled. “I am a Chishti and I’ve only done my duty as a Chishti” he said. “Go back to your towns and spread the word that in Ajmer you don’t need  to spend money to receive the Khwaja’s blessings, it’s always free”. With that, he waved at us once more and disappeared inside the walls of the dargah. Leaving four speechless adults who could once more believe in the genuine good in people.

We made the journey back to our car in a strangely quiet mood, each of us lost in our own thoughts. We paid the drivers and thanked them still lost in thought. We got in the car and drove towards Pushkar still in awe of how events had unfolded. A Chisthi of Khwaja Moinuddin’s own order had almost magically appeared by our side and taken us under his wing when things had looked so uncertain. We had heard magical music that had somehow transcended the sound of a thousand pleas being spoken. Who knew who would hear those pleas or if they’d ever be answered. But for one moment in time, I had been part of something monumental and yet I had been separate and at complete peace with myself and the world. What more can one ask for? I did not go to Ajmer for a religous experience but I came away with a deep spiritual experience. And all of this was made possible by meeting a man who lifted us out of the dusty street into a transformative experience.


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Post Racial America

What drives a man to kill? What might does a man feel when he holds a gun in his hand and points it at another human being? In recent weeks I’ve been reading about all the horrible killings going on around us, all of them a pointless waste of life. The US soldier who went berserk with his automatic in Afghanistan, the French killer who went on a rampage taking 3 innocent children among his seven victims, the self appointed neighbourhood watch volunteer who gunned down a 17 year old in cold blood. Guns and the NRA have a lot to answer for. But that is not quite the point here. The point is the visceral hatred that men hold in their hearts that makes them pick up that gun and point it at a helpless other. How hard must a man’s heart be if he can point a gun at a young innocent and blow him away, as if his life meant nothing at all? And all because of the victim’s otherness.

The case of the killing of young Trayvon Martin echoes most deeply with me because of the proximity. It happened in Sanford, Florida a mere few hours away from where I live. The talking heads on TV have been hard at it in the past few weeks laying blame everywhere they can. The blame can only lie with the man who pulled the trigger. And yet he walks free, keeping his weapons with him. George Zimmerman, who with one sharp bullet to the chest, cut off 17 year Trayvon Martin’s life is a free man, claiming self defense under a controversial Florida law. It begs the question how a civilised society can condone this.

We are now inured to violence, desensitised by the 24/7  internet news sites and always – on TV news channels. And yet, this has roused a dormant ire among the young, helped by social networking sites. Many Miami area high schools have held formal protests on school grounds. The groundswell of support for the family and the calls for Zimmerman’s arrest have spilled over from cyberspace into the real world of our cities, flowing in all directions. Florida finds itself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The questions need to be asked. Fox News would have us believe that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would like to make political hay of this. But that is not the important point. The point is that a young man was killed for being black in a tony neighbourhood. This is our Post-Racial America. And a killer walks free.

Geraldo Rivera mouths off on Fox about hoodies and gangsta looks bringing on this killing. Quite right Geraldo. Blame the victim. The boy had his hood up to shield from the rain. It seems to worry Rivera and his ilk not a jot that a man can walk around a respectable neighbourhood carrying a concealed weapon. It seems to give them no sleepless nights to think a white man (yes the police confirm that he is white) can look at a black youth in his gated community in 2012 America and assume he is a thief/mugger/rapist or all of the above. Above all, he assumes the young black man has no right to be where he is, on the streets inside a gated community. And so, a young man who went out for Skittles and an iced tea lies cold and dead, while the man who mistook him for a suspicious character and had access to a concealed weapon cut him down on the streets. Yet he walks free.

George Zimmerman is free because Florida passsed a law in 2005 that states that if you have a right to be where you are, you can walk free if you kill a man in self defense.  A Maimi Herald investigation a while ago said that ‘justifiable homicide’ cases have tripled since the 2005 law went into effect.  And that is Zimmerman’s story, self defense. The police obviously bought Zimmerman’s story, perhaps it was easiest to do that.  The dead don’t speak. Poor Trayvon  Martin will never tell his side of the story. There are many doubts cast on the story. There are witness accounts and Martin’s girlfriend’s account of what she heard on the open phone line. Most damning of all is the actual 911 call Zimmerman himself made, on which he is clearly advised by the police to desist from following the ‘suspicious character’ or tangle with him. He is clearly heard uttering a disgusting racial slur as he continues to follow the young victim and shoot him dead. And yet, because of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, Zimmerman walks free.

What is shocking is that the police neither gave Zimmerman a breathalyzer test nor a drug test when they took his statement. He had just killed a man! That would seem like the minimum requirement. They took Trayvon Martin’s body away from the crime scene as a John Doe, though his cellphone was on his body and his identity could so easily have been verified. Surely the question must be asked…is every young black man (yes in a hoodie, Geraldo) to be viewed as a potential gangster/thief/murderer/mugger/rapist? Why, why, why were the Sanford police so lax in their handling of this case?

It all comes down to this. To George Zimmerman the young black boy was the ‘other’, he was where he didn’t belong. Trayvon Martin was actually a guest in one of the homes in the gated estate. He was out to buy himself a snack. And he died because he was the ‘other’ in that neighbourhood.  Trayvon Martin is dead. And George Zimmerman walks free.  Nothing else matters.  Welcome to post racial America.

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