Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013: What Must Happen Now in Florida

"In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed."
-Barack Obama, March 18, 2008
By Sylvia Gurinsky
There was no question that the acquittal of George Zimmerman was going to open a can of worms on race. It was a can that needed to be opened.
The issue that didn't get addressed within the legal confines of the trial and needs to be dealt with is the "less overt" discrimination that Obama referred to five years ago.
It's that "less overt," coded discrimination resulting in the Stand Your Ground Law that compelled Zimmerman to believe he could shoot an unarmed, 17-year-old, African-American male, Trayvon Martin.
It's that "less overt" discrimination that resulted in other laws made by Governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, in full harmony with a GOP-controlled Florida Legislature, which have restricted everything from voter rights to the ability of minority students to go to a Florida university.
Singer Stevie Wonder has already announced he will not perform in Florida unless and until Stand Your Ground is repealed. Others are considering boycotts.
The targeted - and successful - boycott that followed Miami and Dade County's refusal to welcome Nelson Mandela in 1990 should be the model for any such protest. That boycott included specific lists of demands for the tourism and hospitality industries.
The repeal of Stand Your Ground would be on the list of demands. Given that the current Florida Legislature and Scott likely won't do it, a petition drive to put the repeal question on the 2014 or 2016 Florida ballot should begin immediately.
There are two other areas in which potential boycotters can make demands from Florida government - voter rights and college access for African-Americans. Both have been seriously affected during the last 15 years of GOP government in the state.
Then there's the 2014 election. Scott and plenty of lawmakers who support Stand Your Ground are up for re-election. That should be an incentive for anyone who disagrees with them to vote, and to register if they haven't already done so.

Most Floridians are fair-minded; they showed it at the polls last year by rejecting ideology-based candidates and amendments. The ballot box is this state's chance to strive toward that "more perfect union."

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