Teaching Trayvon

The Trayvon Martin syllabus by M. Shadee Malaklou, Assistant Professor of Critical Identity Studies and Mellon Faculty Fellow at Beloit College.

Course description: These reading and viewing assignments are designed to prompt politically vigilant conversations about historical and institutional constructs of black male criminality in the United States. They unpack Trayvon Martin’s gratuitous murder in February 2012 and the response his tragic death elicited from media and legal institutions, especially relevant in the wake of Michael Brown’s August 2014 lynching in Ferguson, Missouri. Written texts consist of insightful and timely essays published on blogs like Colorlines, The Feminist Wire and Black Girl Dangerous, which teach students how to extrapolate anti-black racism from non-black experiences of ethnic difference without overwhelming them with jargon-heavy texts written for a well-versed academic audience.

PART 1: Anti-Black Racism + Trayvon Martin’s murder

Reading Assignments:

  1. “’Neighborhood Watch’ Groups Like Zimmerman’s and in Much of the Deep South Are Hardly Different Than Slave Patrols of Old” by Thom Hartmann for AlterNet; http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/neighborhood-watch-groups-much-deep-south-are-hardly-different-slave-patrols
  2. “Putting Casual Racism on Trial” by Aura Bogado for Colorlines; http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/racist-without-even-knowing-it.html
  3. “Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit” by Ahmir Questlove Thompson for NY Magazine; http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/questlove-trayvon-martin-and-i-aint-shit.html
  4. “The Zimmerman Jury Told Young Black Men What We Already Knew” by Cord Jefferson for Gawker; http://gawker.com/the-zimmerman-jury-told-young-black-men-what-we-already-770650992
  5. “The US v. Trayvon martin: How the System Worked” by Robin D.G. Kelley for Counterpunch; http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/15/the-us-v-trayvon-martin/
  6. “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic; http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/07/trayvon-martin-and-the-irony-of-american-justice/277782/
  7. “No Justice for Trayvon: White Women in the Jury Box” by Monica J. Casper for The Feminist Wire; http://thefeministwire.com/2013/ 07/no-justice-for-trayvon-white-women-in-the-jury-box/
  8. “What Should Trayvon Martin Have Done?” by Amy Davidson for The New Yorker; http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/ 2013/07/what-should-trayvon-martin-have-done.html
  9. “Study: Both Public, Police View Black Kids As Older, Less Innocent Than Whites” by Michael Arceneaux for News One; http://newsone.com/2962437/american-psychological-association-black-boys/
  10. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “America Is Not For Black People” by Greg Howard for The Concourse; http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/america-is-not-for-black-people-1620169913
  11. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Why I fear for my sons” by Kimberly Norwood for CNN; http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/25/opinion/norwood-ferguson-sons-brown-police/
  12. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Things to stop being distracted by when a black person gets murdered by police” by Mia McKenzie for Black Girl Dangerous; http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/08/things-stop-distracted-black-person-gets-murdered-police/
  13. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “The Price of Blackness” by Lanre Akinsiku for Gawker; http://gawker.com/the-price-of-blackness-1622972582/+kieselaymon
  14. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “The ugly history of racist policing in America” by Dara Lind for Vox; http://www.vox.com/michael-brown-shooting-ferguson-mo/2014/8/19/6031759/ferguson-history-riots-police-brutality-civil-rights

Viewing Assignments (documentary + short clips):

  1. “The Murder of Emmet Till” (2003); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-X4is9jMYk
  2. “Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops” by Rafael Casal for Upworthy; http://www.upworthy.com/know-anyone-that-thinks-racial-profiling-is-exaggerated-watch-this-and-tell-me-when-your-jaw-drops-2?g=2
  3. “Meet The 17-Year-Old Who Blew The Lid Off Racial Profiling With His iPod” by Alvin Melathe for Upworthy; http://www.upworthy.com/meet-the-17-year-old-who-blew-the-lid-off-racial-profiling-with-his-ipod
  4. “The news reminds me that bodies like mine are beaten” by national poetry champion, Amber Rose Johnson on the Melissa Harris-Perry show: http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/did-you-see-the-bodies-they-are-everywhere-84493891566
  5. “Defying standards of black respectability” by Melissa Harris-Perry for MSNBC; http://www.msnbc.com/melissa-harris-perry/watch/defying-standards-of-black-respectability-323582531734

PART 2:  The failure of racial colorblindness + George Zimmerman’s trial

Reading Assignments:

  1. “The Good, Racist People” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/opinion/coates-the-good-racist-people.html
  2. “Poll: Majority of Whites See America as Colorblind, Nearly 80% of African-Americans do not” by Noah Rothman for Mediaite; http://www.mediaite.com/online/poll-majority-of-whites-see-america-as-colorblind-nearly-80-of-african-americans-do-not
  3. “White Supremacy Acquits George Zimmerman” by Aura Bogado for The Nation; http://www.thenation.com/blog/175260/white-supremacy-acquits-george-zimmerman#
  4. “The Curious Case of George Zimmerman’s Race” by Julianne Hing for Colorlines; http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/The-Curious-Case-of-George-Zimmermans-Race.html
  5. “We are NOT all Trayvon: Challenging Anti-Black Racism in POC Communities” by Asam Ahmad for Black Girl Dangerous; http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2013/07/2013716we-are-not-all-trayvon-challenging-anti-black-racism-in-poc-communities/
  6. “Racism is to white people as wind is to the sky” by Sunny Drake; http://sunnydrake.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/racism-is-to-white-people-as-wind-is-to-the-sky/
  7. “White supremacy, meet black rage” by Brittney Cooper for Salon; http://www.salon.com/2013/07/14/white_supremacy_meet_black_rage/
  8. “What is ‘Black Privilege’?” by Omar Ricks and Gregory Caldwell; http://cosmichoboes.blogspot.com/2013/12/what-is-black-privilege.html
  9. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops” by Erwin Chemerinksy for The New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/how-the-supreme-court-protects-bad-cops.html
  10. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “I’m black, my brother’s white…and he’s a cop who shot a black man on duty” by Zach Stafford for The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/25/white-brother-police-shot-black-man
  11. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Two Americas: Ferguson, Missouri Versus the Bundy Ranch, Nevada” by Bob Cesca for The Daily Banter; http://thedailybanter.com/2014/08/two-americas-ferguson-missouri-versus-bundy-ranch-nevada/#qQBJ1wkwhpRiUGPB.99
  12. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “White supremacy is the real culprit in Ferguson. The excuses just prove it” by Nyle Fort for The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/20/white-supremacy-ferguson-black-excuses
  13. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Telling white people the criminal justice system is racist makes them like it more” by Dara Lind for Vox; http://www.vox.com/2014/8/7/5978551/study-racism-criminal-justice-stop-and-frisk-reform-support

Viewing Assignments (short clip):

  1. “A Perspective On George Zimmerman That Every Person Should Hear” by Deepa Kunapuli for Upworthy; http://www.upworthy.com/a-perspective-on-george-zimmerman-that-every-person-should-hear?c=cur1

PART 3:  Spectacle of the Other + Scenes of Subjection

Reading Assignments:

  1. “Rachel Jeantel: Black Girl Misunderstood” by Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq. for Afro State of Mind; http://www.afrostateofmind.com/rachel-jeantel-black-girl-misunderstood/
  2. “Playing Dead: The Trayvoning Meme and the Mocking of Black Death” by Lisa Guerrero and David J. Leonard for New Black Man; http://newblackman.blogspot.com/2012/05/playing-dead-trayvoning-meme-mocking-of.html
  3. “Google Play’s ‘Angry Trayvon’ Game Ignites Fury on Twitter” by Jamilah King for Colorlines; http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/07/google_plays_angry_trayvon_game_ignites_fury_on_twitter.html
  4. “‘Sharkeisha’ Video: The Real Tragedy Is How Many Enjoyed Watching” by Demetria L. Lucas for The Root; http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2013/12/sharkeisha_video_the_real_tragedy_is_how_many_enjoyed_watching.html
  5. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Police let their dog urinate on Michael Brown memorial, then drove over it” by Hunter for Daily Kos; http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/27/1325000/-Police-let-their-dog-pee-on-Brown-memorial-then-drove-over-it
  6. [FERGUSON UPDATE:]  “Mike Brown’s shooting and Jim Crow lynchings have too much in common. It’s time for America to own up” by Isabel Wilkerson for The Guardian; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/25/mike-brown-shooting-jim-crow-lynchings-in-common

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