RABBIT RAMBLINGS: A call to protest the ‘gross miscarriages of justice’

Today (July 13), soon after the not guilty verdict on the George Zimmerman case was announced, I am feeling ashamed of being an American. This is obviously not the greatest country in the world if a 17-year-old boy can be killed on a sidewalk while walking home from a 7-Eleven store. This young person was black and male. Zimmerman was armed, and stalking him. He confronted the teenager, Treyvon Martin, on this sidewalk and Martin ended up dead.

I am ashamed to live in a society that says that this is OK, that you can carry a gun almost anywhere, and that you can kill a person in this way and not be punished for causing his death. Moreover, Zimmerman did not seem to show the least sign of remorse or sorrow over the fact that he was responsible for this death. He is now free to go about his life with a gun on him, looking for another “suspicious” person and feel free to exercise his vigilante sense of justice.

I had just recently seen the movie, “Fruitvale Station,” which is about another killing of an unarmed young black man, Oscar Grant, in an Oakland BART station. These two cases have been nationally prominent, but I would guess that there are hundreds of other similar cases of shootings of young black men that happen on a daily basis and are not given much press, so we the public never know about them. Far from being a great country, the USA is really a violent, scary place for many, blacks, browns and women who are assaulted. In spite of our prosperity and our richness, a large portion of our population, predominantly black and brown, live in perpetual insecurity about jobs, homes and safety. The fear that they live with is what has been called racial profiling.

And as Asian Americans, we are not totally free from this fear, even though we are not profiled quite as openly as the others. But in our history, there have been many instances of our being singled out as a racial group. As a 12-year-old, I was profiled as a suspicious possible spy and terrorist and put into a concentration camp for three and-a-half years. Read the literature of that time and understand that many wanted to get rid of all of us Japanese Americans, and it didn’t matter how it was done. And remember the Vincent Chin case? If you don’t remember this case or don’t know about it, I suggest you find out. Vincent Chin was killed by a couple of white Detroit autoworkers who blamed him for the dismal state of the U.S. car industry because of competition from Japanese car manufacturers, the Toyotas and Hondas. This didn’t happen too long ago, and this was a case of all Asian Americans being lumped together and attacked in a violent way.

I am ashamed of living in a country where sensible controls on guns are considered by many to be unpatriotic and un-American. No matter how many deaths are caused by guns, we can’t summon the will to do the common sense thing, to help protect the public from so much killing.

Our country is still evolving, so to speak, and most of us have an ideal of a country where we all get along. And I would say that most of us manage to get along on a daily basis without huge conflicts because we are practical and want to live peacefully, and we choose to ignore and deny the dark underbelly of our society that is the racist content of so much of our interactions. But I think that we are also obligated to work toward this ideal, to get involved in actively supporting justice and equality. I don’t mean just in lip service and in the abstract. We should be out there protesting gross miscarriages of justice like the George Zimmerman case and examine our own biases. This is an opportunity for a national discussion of problems that have continued to fester in our society.

Chizu Omori, of Oakland, is co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” She can be reached at chizuomori@gmail.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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