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Trayvon verdict: 'America must hang its head in shame'

JUSTICE CALL: A boy in Houston, America, demonstrates against the George Zimmerman verdict (PA)

THE SADNESS of having another young black man gunned down in cold blood by an apparent vigilante would be not be news at all in the Florida of the 1930's or 1940 's when black men were still being lynched in significant numbers all over the deep south.

This is the same Florida where in the 1930's a whole black town called Rosewood was burnt to the ground and the inhabitants killed, brutalised and driven off on the back of some long forgotten affront to white power structures in Florida.

Some regarded its whole existence as being unacceptable to the political structures in place at the time.

The lynching these days is often carried out by armed officers in a vicious combination of American gun culture and pure racism where the colour of a man's skin still determines their life and destiny.

The fact that Florida's laws are still distorted to reflect ownership of "property" and the "stand your ground law" a misinterpretation of the universal concept of "self-defence".

In the UK it is quite possible that this man would have been convicted but even here in the land where some of Stephen Lawrence's killers still go free we cannot be sure of saying our justice system would have done any better.

The reality is that black men are far more likely to be convicted than their white counterparts in the southern states where the victim is white, and white defendants are far more likely to the acquitted when the victim is black.

The tragedy for most African Americans, despite the visible signs of middle class achievement for the few, racial profiling of the whole community still means they are at greatest danger of being killed by persons in authority or purporting to act under a lawful authority.

The fact that a majority white jury has a stereotype of the "dangerous young black man" wearing a hoody means the defendant automatically commences with one foot out of the dock.

The willingness of the system to grant bail despite the lies of George Zimmerman was an indication of the two tier mechanism of justice in the US.

Racialised justice operates in many parts where the African is in the minority whether in the flavellas of Brazil, the ghettoes of James and Finch in Toronto, or marked by the Aboriginal rates of deaths in custody and the treatment of the native communities in many parts of the world.

Despite president Obama's election, the unbelievable truth is that racism is still alive and well and living in all parts of American society. The success of the likes of Oprah Winfrey is no panacea for the fact that most African Americans are poorer, less well educated and more likely to be in prison as a community than they were when the March on Washington took place.

Direct action is still necessary to place on the main stream agenda for all Americans to ensure that it is no purpose in dreaming of correcting human rights injustices in Iraq and Afghanistan whilst pretending the home grown racism and injustice in the Deep South and many northern cities is still a cancer that eats away at the heart of America.

The American justice system is littered with examples of the second class nature of American citizenship so the families of Emmett Till, the parents of the three girls who died in the bombings of the civil rights attacks in Montgomery Alabama, the brutality and dehumanising beatings given to Rodney King, and the many other reminders that black life in America is thought of as cheap still haunt us.

America, not just black America must hang its head in shame that the high hopes and dreams that typified the Gettysberg address and the speeches of Dr Martin Luther King shows that the arc of the universe is long, but for African in America it bends far too slowly towards justice.

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