CNN: Is ‘black manhood’ on trial in Zimmerman case?

In an article posted on The Nation’s website last week, Mychal Denzel-Smith suggested that in the George Zimmerman trial underway for the murder of Trayvon Martin, it isn’t Zimmerman who is on trial, but Martin and black manhood.

Denzel-Smith made an appearance on Sunday’s “CNN Newsroom” to back up that claim and accuse Zimmerman of depicting Martin as a “very cartoonish version” of a 17-year-old black boy.

“To believe Zimmerman’s story, I think, because to me it reads like a very cartoonish version of what a 17-year-old black boy would say and do in this situation,” Denzel-Smith said. “I think you know, to believe that Trayvon Martin was to jump out of the bushes and to approach George Zimmerman and to strike him in the face without any type of provocation sounds to me like you have to believe that there is an inherent criminality and inherent violence in 17-year-old black boys that you see.”

Denzel-Smith went on to suggest that Zimmerman thought his neighborhood was threatened by Martin because of Martin’s skin color.

“The operator didn’t explicitly tell him not to follow but said they didn’t need him to,” Denzel-Smith continued. “But I think George Zimmerman — again, this is my opinion — but after identifying Trayvon Martin was a young black man that he felt his neighborhood was in more danger than you know, the police could handle at that specific time and that he needed to assure himself and his neighborhood they would be protected.”

Joining Denzel-Smith for the segment was Rod Vereen, attorney for the prosecution’s witness Rachel Jeantel. Vereen agreed with Denzel-Smith’s suggestion that black manhood was on trial in the case.

“Of course it is,” Vereen said. “People have a tendency to want to believe that young black men are growing up in these urban neighborhoods to be violent. And that is absolutely not the case. They want to make it appear Trayvon Martin comes in a broken home and that he lacks parental guidance and youthful guidance and therefore, was more apt to be the aggressor in the situation with Mr. Zimmerman, without any evidence to support that inference.”