NAACP Should Support Sharpton’s Call For Economic Sanctions In Sanford

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NAACP, Al Sharpton, Trayvon MartinThe local NAACP has decided to step out and condemn the call by Rev. Al Sharpton for economic sanctions and civil disobedience if the local government does not arrest George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

SEE ALSO: Florida’s History Of Failed Justice

Turner Clayton, the Seminole County chapter president of the NAACP, said, “We hope that the citizens of Sanford will govern themselves accordingly. We are not calling for any sanctions, against any business or anyone else. And, of course, what Rev. Sharpton does, that’s strictly the [National] Action Network.  We can’t condone that part of the conversation, if that’s what he said.”

My first thought after hearing about the NAACP’s response to Sharpton was, I wonder what Ben Jealous (the national NAACP President) thinks about this?”  I haven’t talked to Ben in a year, but I am curious if he is in agreement with the statements being made by one of his local chapters.

While preparing for a speech in Florida earlier this year, I recall getting a phone call from one of the event organizers.   In a highly unusual act, the event organizers were actually calling to find out what I would be discussing during my speech.  The representative said that there was a “bit of concern” from higher-ups that I would come and say something controversial.

I immediately translated what the man was saying to mean, “We don’t want to make the White folks mad by talking about ‘Black people stuff.’”

This kind of catering and sucking up to southern racist traditions honestly makes me sick.  Even when the situation calls for us to do the right thing, we bend over backward to make sure that our oppressors don’t suddenly decide to take away our “good negro” status.

The Sanford NAACP standing against Sharpton’s call for peaceful civil disobedience is a perfect case-in-point.

I’ve disagreed vehemently with Sharpton on particular issues in the past, but on this one, he is right on point: There are times when you must raise the stakes to force your adversary to do what they need to do.  Politely asking, hoping and praying for progress has almost never worked.

Even if Trayvon had been killed in Sharpton’s home city of Brooklyn, he’d be fine with economic sanctions and peaceful civil disobedience.  The reality is that nearly all of us fully understand that George Zimmerman should certainly be arrested for what he did to Trayvon Martin that night.

The idea that a chapter of the NAACP would allow money to stand in the way of doing the right thing is cowardly, sad, and misguided.

So, I’d like to personally second Sharpton’s call for peaceful civil disobedience, economic sanctions and anything else it takes to sweat the rats out of the sewer in the Trayvon Martin case.   Even if we are labeled “bad Negroes” for taking a stand, the truth is that social justice is rarely obtained without a struggle.  You cannot fight for your rights and simultaneously seek approval from the descendants of your historical oppressors.   In fact, I would define such behavior to characterize a severe psychological illness.

The bottom line is that we must forget about our wallets and do the right thing for Trayvon.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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