Just how relevant is Trayvon Martin’s character?

"It turns out that Martin had smoked pot, and was fond of profanity. Predictably, and sickeningly, the right is exploiting the less-than-sterling aspects of his life to suggest they should have some bearing on how we judge George Zimmerman’s having shot him dead. In point of fact, all they prove is that he was an ordinary American teenager. The weed and the salty language are par for the course among more than a few of my favorite undergrads I teach at Columbia. Yes, Martin jauntily labeled himself with the N-word, but as endless threnodies over the past 20 years have stressed, absolutely nothing could be more typical of someone of his age and demographic."

- John McWhorter, The Haunting Ordinariness of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Photo courtesy of BET

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What a Florida Teenager’s Death Tells Us About Being Black in America

"Trayvon Martin was 17, visiting his father in Sanford, Florida. He was also black. George Zimmerman is 28, and had been a self-appointed neighborhood watchman in the area. He called in to the police that Martin was “suspicious,” upon which the police directed him to leave the rest to them. Zimmerman did not, feeling that Martin was “up to no good” or “on drugs or something.” Zimmerman was packing a handgun, and before long, Martin was dead from a gunshot wound in the chest"

-John McWhorter, What a Florida Teenagers Death Tells Us About Being Black in America

As our primary concerns about inequality shift from being about race to being about class how can we better address discrepancies in opportunity?

"Then last week came news about the achievement gap. The use of that term always used to signal a conversation about race, but the news this time was about class. The achievement gap between the poor and the wealthy has become much greater than that between blacks and whites over the past several decades. Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon has shown that from 1960 to 2007, the gap between rich and poor in standardized test scores grew by 40 percent, while the one between black and white narrowed. A study by University of Michigan researchers has shown that the rich-poor gap in college completion has grown by 50 percent just since the 1980s."

-John McWhorter, “Will This Be the First Election Where Class Trumps Race?

Photo courtesy of Mediaite

Assuming Mitt Romney will be the GOP nominee, who will he choose as his running mate?

The most striking thing that emerged from these conversations was that some Republicans are a lot more excited about the vice presidential choices than about the presidential ones. “We have more instantly credible vice presidents than we do people running for president,” said Ed Rogers, co-founder with Haley Barbour of the public relations group BGR and a veteran of the Bush-Quayle campaign.

Read more in Eliza Gray’s “Veep Squad.”

The Supreme Court halted the execution of Texas prisoner, Duane Buck, on Thursday. While his lawyers are not disputing Buck’s guilt, they argue that the 1997 testimony by a psychologist claiming that blacks are more likely to pose threats to the public in the future unfairly influenced the jury.

Kate Black, one of Buck’s defense attorneys:

"No one should be put to death based on the the color of his or her skin. We are confident that the court will agree that our client is entitled to a fair sentencing hearing that is untainted by considerations of his race".

As evidenced by last Wednesday’s Republic Presidential Debate, Rick Perry’s celebration of capital punishment is echoed by much of this country. What’s more, TNR editors say that most liberals have long since abandoned their fight to abolish the death penalty in light of more polarizing domestic issues. Given the Supreme Court’s swift response, should Rick Perry be worried about how this affects his campaign and his longstanding belief in the “ultimate justice”?

Courtesy of Salon.com

From the ACLU: 

The war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world’s largest incarcerator.

America’s criminal justice system should keep communities safe, treat people fairly, and use fiscal resources wisely. But more Americans are deprived of their liberty than ever before - unfairly and unnecessarily, with no benefit to public safety. Especially in the face of economic crisis, our government should invest in alternatives to incarceration and make prisons options of last – not first – resort.