The wholesale criminalizing of the black male has been much in the news, put there by the Trayvon Martin case and the Florida verdict. (Incidentally, even though we don’t often think of it, Florida was where the first African slaves were installed in America, back in the 1500s in the city of St. Augustine.) As an academic, which, loosely translated means that I often bury my head between the covers of a book trying to figure out one thing or another, I am thought of as someone who is cautious and circumspect in what I think and write, but I cannot be at this time. When I heard the news late on a Saturday night that the jury deliberations in Florida ended with exoneration, I was speechless. I simply could not believe that a young man going to his father’s house after buying Skittles and a soft drink could be killed, shot in the street, and no one would be accountable and, on the contrary, he would be the one who was suspect. So the label of criminal, ever at the ready, was put to work, and the person who pulled the trigger that blasted a teen off the planet was acting in self defense.


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