By Contributor on April 12, 2012

By Akilah Bolden-Monifa

The Trayvon Martin case is revealing troubling divisions in America.

There is both a racial and partisan divide, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. It shows that 43 percent of whites, as compared to 16 percent of blacks, feel there’s too much coverage of Martin’s death. And 56 percent of Republicans, as compared with 37 percent of independents and 25 percent of Democrats, feel the same way.

The killing of unarmed Martin, and the failure of the district attorney to even press charges against George Zimmerman, is a huge story. And it has hardly been overplayed, for it raises fundamental issues.

One issue is the use of deadly force: the so-called stand your ground or castle doctrine laws. These essentially legalize vigilantes, and they make America a much more dangerous place to live.

Another issue we must confront squarely is racism. But this is not simply a black and white issue because Zimmerman is Latino, according to his father.

We need a real dialogue between blacks and whites, and between blacks and Latinos. We need a real dialogue among all Americans, for that matter.

We can’t wish away racism. We can’t turn our heads and say we’ve heard enough about it already.

We need to confront it, not deny it.

And we need to talk, and listen, and try to understand people who are different from us.

Until we do that, there may be more tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s.

Akilah Bolden-Monifa is a freelance writer based in Oakland, Calif. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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