Archive for March, 2012


If you’ve turned on the TV at all today, or the last week, chances are you’ve heard plenty about the Trayvon Martin case. On Tuesday, we were introduced to Joe Oliver, a black man who claims to be a friend of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Oliver has been on all the major news shows defending Zimmerman, who he claims is not a racist and feels horrible about Martin’s death.

Among the most controversial claims Oliver has made have been regarding Zimmerman’s reported usage of the phrase “Fucking coon.” Oliver claims that Zimmerman called Martin a “fucking goon,” which he claims his 17 year-old daughter told him is a term of endearment. Most commentators, including Michael Baisden have balked at the suggestion that friends would refer to each other as such a derogatory term.

The dictionary defines a goon as a stupid, foolish or awkward. Not exactly the friendliest of terms, right? So to your average 40 something, this is what goon means. Go to and you’ll get a much different definitions, including a low-level gang member. This is what Oliver is alluding to and trying to use to combat the racial element of this story.

If you’re under the age of 30 and listen to rap, you’ve probably heard of Plies, a rapper who coincidentally hails from Florida. Since his debut album dropped in 2007 he has repeatedly referred to his friends and even himself as “goons.” He even named his fourth album Goon Affiliated and turned out tracks like “Me And My Goons.” Like the word “nigga,” this term has been commercialized and transformed into an acceptable phrase by young African- Americans.

As sad as this is, it’s even sadder that any parent, much less a Black man, would go on national television and defend a man who hunted and gunned down a child. And then to play our intelligence into thinking that Zimmerman didn’t use a racial slur and was simply using some generic term for Martin.

He also defended Zimmerman by saying that no one he knows under the age of 40 uses the term “coon.” I’m 26 years old. I can plainly remember being in high school and hearing that term mumbled under the breath of some of my classmates in racially contentious moments. Nice try, but we’re not buying it.

Luckily, Oliver’s time as a credible source on George Zimmerman is coming to an end, if it hasn’t already. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell well prepped interview revealed that other than working with Zimmerman previously, Oliver doesn’t know much more about him than most of America. It was also revealed that Oliver has quit his job to defend Zimmerman to the public. Now we all have friends that we care dearly for and would do anything to help them in a time of need, but how many folks would actually quit their job to defend someone they barely know for free? It’s obvious that Oliver is being paid to do public relations for Zimmerman. It’s a damn shame that some folks will do any thing for money. As I said last week in a column for, any Black man who doesn’t hear the blood cry from Martin’s body is out of touch with reality. Oliver is a shining example of that.


The Miami Heat show support for Treyvon Martin in a rare political statement for professional athletes.

Over the past week, no story in the country has been discussed, dissected and analyzed like the Trayvon Martin case. Dozens of rallies and vigils where held over the past week in memory of the 17 year-old who was gunned down by neighborhood watchman-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman. Other than a few crass comments from right-wingers like Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity, most folks have expressed their outrage over his death and support for the young man’s family.

Thousands gathered in New York on Wednesday for a Million Hoodie March in honor of the Florida teen who was wearing a hoodie at the time of his death. The past few days millions have donned hooded sweatshirts in their Facebook Profile Photos and Twitter Avatars as a sign of support.

Despite the national outcry over the case, the sports world and the athletes that inhabit it, went on with business as usual. Games were played. Interviews were conducted. Checks were cashed. And no one was surprised. Why? Because that’s just what athletes, especially African-Americans, are expected to do. Play the game, smile for the camera and keep your opinion to yourself. That’s been the status quo ever since Michael Jordan’s “Republicans buy sneakers too,” comment.

But Friday we were all surprised when two-time NBA MVP LeBron James Twitpic’d a photo of he and his Miami teammates wearing black hoodies. During their game against the Pistons that night, James scribbled “RIP Trayvon” on his sneakers. After Teammate DeWayne Wade told reporters “I think the only thing we want is we just want to make sure that we shed some light on the situation and let (people) know this is not just something happening in the community where it happened. “This is worldwide. We want to be a part of it until justice is served.”

In a world where silence is expected and speaking out is risky, those small statements said a lot. The fame and money of superstar athletes like James and Wade sometimes insulate them from the outside world. Most things that affect the average person like high gas prices or unemployment just don’t factor very much into their daily consciousness. Earlier this week, in column for What Black Men Want, I said that any Black man who looks at Martin’s face and ignores the cries of his blood is out of touch with reality.

It’s good to know that, at least this time, the athletes are with us.