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Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:37 PM

If you're honest, you'd realize that Trayvon Martin was an "All-Amercan Boy".

You usually don't see that phrase applied to young black males in this country unless, of course, it's as an athletic title. And I don't need to sit here and defend that particular classification of that slain young man, because no matter what, it's a well established fact that he was an All-American Boy and there is nothing in this world that can prove otherwise.

But instead of perceiving that a young man like Trayvon was part of "The Norm" on that rainy night… Instead of looking at him and having a visceral reaction that it was perfectly ordinary for him to be seen walking down a sidewalk, that there was a person who made a very concerted effort to target him for being out of place.

And that, my friends, is what it means to be a black male in America.

The truth is that notion of a young black male being out of place in America can happen anywhere here in this country, even (and especially) in an area predominately populated by other young black males. The NYPD's Stop and Frisk program in Brooklyn and The Bronx is a good example of this.

To be a black male is to constantly think of ones very presence, body movement, language and dress in relationship to the immediate environment. The possible presence of other people who would viscerally perceive you as "out of place" and to know that you can never change the very thing that sets you apart from "The Norm", which is your very skin. I should point out that setting you apart as a young, black male doesn't require the person setting you apart to actually require that the person doing the setting apart to declare themselves as a bigot. Bigots have lots of plausible deniability in America, because they represent "The Norm", right? They are "The Norm" and you are not… That's all that's needed.

It is to know that you could, at any time, represent even an unspoken ideal of the existential threat of young black males, as long as you walk the streets in America. That you have to go out your way to prove that you are not a predator. You have to try to get a cab that you hail to stop for you, or to avoid giving someone else that extra special concern for their own purses or wallets. Will a smile do it? Perhaps. Take the risk anyway.

There are times when you ask yourself, "Why I do have to make this special effort? I didn't do or say anything." But, there it is.

But, it's not like you haven't noticed these things, in spite of the fact that you haven't said or done anything at all to elicit such reactions except for being in someone else's line of sight. Not if you were anyone, of course, other than a young, black male.

It is to know that, as an individual young, black male, it is YOU who's actually the vulnerable person here. You could be out of place anywhere. It's like walking around with a target on your back. Most other people never have to consider this, but you can NEVER, EVER forget that for you it's really there. That you know that it is the ideal of you as a person which makes up the reason why "good, law-abiding people" buy and carry handguns to ostensibly protect themselves.

It is to know that you are to be set apart… No matter who you are and no matter what you do, or say, our even how you say it.

I'll tell you a secret: Whenever young black males seem to behave and dress in ways that could be construed as "Ghetto", what they're actually doing is sending a message of defiance to the greater society in which they live. They're saying that, it really doesn't matter how they talk, walk, dress, act, or even breathe within that society… In America, their otherness will never be in question.

Well, since that's going to be the case anyway, they think, let's run with that and be that "other". They're expecting someone to come up to them and demand that they conform to the well established parameters of the greater majority. They are daring you to tell them this. They are trying to force you to realize that, in spite of whatever conformance which may be demanded of them, this society will take pains to not classify young, black males as "The Norm".

There are other counter-culture groups, both white and non-white do the same, of course. Willingly make it plain that they are rebelling against restrictive conformism… But if you're white in America, you can simply cut your hair, cover up your tats and wear respectable clothes and no-one will make an effort to classify you as anything else other than "The Norm". You can blend in with the best of them.

But not if you're a young, black male. That that target will never leave your back. Ever.

To be black in America is also to know that, no matter what you do or say or dress or achieve, there is someone who is willing to tell you that you're not good enough. To know that you have to be twice as good as your counterpart in the majority to even be considered half as good. That to know that someone is always looking at you and thinking that you could be a "problem". That equality is something that can easily defeated in the eyes of another.

That to know that you can never make the mistake of NOT remembering that the police is not your friend and protector.

Or, that even the lack of black presence in any American environment can speak volumes about what kind of place it really is.

Or, that you are a game-changer, even if you're trying not to be.

When you first hear a description of someone being the generic "All-American" or someone who's from "A Good Neighborhood", what does this person look like when they pop into your head?

Now this not to say that just because that the person initially visualized may not be anything other than a clean cut white male, it does speak to the way that we've all been conditioned in this country to think about matters of race and identity. If you do not question at all the classification of young Trayvon as "All-American", then you are evolved.

An evolved person does not need to be reminded of the basic humanity of others. An evolved person does not describe another human being as "an animal", no matter what the person being described may or may not have done. Evolved people know the difference between right and wrong.

During my time in the military I've had the opportunity to travel outside of the country. I have to say that it was indeed refreshing to be perceived as merely an "American" first and foremost aside from any other description. I've even found this to be the case for me in Canada.

It may be shocking for someone who's not "the other" to consider the fact that I had to actually leave America to even be considered ordinary. And yes, it's true that I have an extended family who are citizens of another country… But my normality was never questioned there. It was a burden that was lifted from my shoulders. Unfortunately, it didn't last… I had to come back.

Only in this country have I've been made to feel out of place and it is in the country of my birth that I know that know I can be perceived as being out of place at any given time. It doesn't matter where you are in America, it could even be in your own home. You can ask Skip Gates about how that works.

As Barack Obama is perceived to be "out of place" by almost half the country.

As Trayvon Martin was made to feel while he was walking down a sidewalk.

Lastly, I am not trying to diminish the extent to which anyone is depicted as being "out of place" in America. That sort of thing is our national past time.

Our friends on the right have this notion that we, as liberals and progressives, are going out of our way to homogenize America. We're the ones, they think, who wants everyone to be the same. That there is no room for "socialism", because that's the antithesis of "freedom" and "individuality". Well, we know what they're actually saying, right?

That white, Christian maleness is the default position in America. We are all equal, of course, but some are more equal than others.

And yet they demand that their ideal American fit a restrictive conformist mold of non-urban, Christian, white, heterosexual, maleness, who is perfectly willing to swear unwavering faith to an authoritarian ideal. That no matter what, if you step outside of this preconceived notion of what it means to be "All-American", you will be forever classified as something other than "The Norm".

If you're gay and you want to marry the one you love, then you're trying to have a "gay marriage". If you have a Spanish surname, if spite the fact that you are and ALL of your ancestors have been native born Americans, you are an "Hispanic American". That you as a woman has to work diligently to establish that same level of achievement as any man.

This is a way that many of us can empathize with being something other than "The Norm". However, for others of us, we can't easily project that image of normality at first glance.

We take our skin with us no matter where we go.

41 replies, 5719 views

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Arrow 41 replies Author Time Post
Reply If you're honest, you'd realize that Trayvon Martin was an "All-Amercan Boy". (Original post)
MrScorpio Mar 2012 OP
HipChick Mar 2012 #1
arthritisR_US Mar 2012 #5
one_voice Mar 2012 #2
The Velveteen Ocelot Mar 2012 #3
Vanje Mar 2012 #4
csziggy Mar 2012 #6
Honeycombe8 Mar 2012 #7
ProgressiveProfessor Mar 2012 #29
Honeycombe8 Mar 2012 #40
ProgressiveProfessor Mar 2012 #41
Cali_Democrat Mar 2012 #8
rustydog Mar 2012 #9
MellowDem Mar 2012 #10
wiggs Mar 2012 #11
MrScorpio Mar 2012 #12
freshwest Mar 2012 #13
goclark Mar 2012 #14
Skittles Mar 2012 #15
noiretextatique Mar 2012 #16
trayvontruth Mar 2012 #17
MrScorpio Mar 2012 #19
Major Nikon Mar 2012 #20
ellisonz Mar 2012 #18
Kalidurga Mar 2012 #21
Major Nikon Mar 2012 #22
MrScorpio Mar 2012 #24
Major Nikon Mar 2012 #34
SemperEadem Mar 2012 #32
Major Hogwash Mar 2012 #23
lunatica Mar 2012 #25
Liberal_Stalwart71 Mar 2012 #26
NNN0LHI Mar 2012 #27
wildeyed Mar 2012 #28
livetohike Mar 2012 #30
LynneSin Mar 2012 #31
Bluerthanblue Mar 2012 #33
Little Star Mar 2012 #35
hifiguy Mar 2012 #36
Uncle Joe Mar 2012 #37
Lifelong Protester Mar 2012 #38
goclark Mar 2012 #39

Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:39 PM

1. K&R!

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Response to HipChick (Reply #1)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:45 PM

5. 2nd that in spades!

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:43 PM

2. K&R

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:43 PM

3. Bravo. Bravissimo.

One of the best things I've ever read on DU. Please send it to a newspaper - it deserves wider circulation.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:44 PM

4. Well said. nt

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:46 PM

6. Oh, so true, so sadly true

Thank you, MrScorpio.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 10:54 PM

7. As for the "hispanic" identification, that's because hispanics WANT to be identified by their

culture and ethnicity. They are granted civil rights under the Civil Rights Act because of that ethnicity.

Ordinary people with Spanish surnames aren't identified as hispanic, unless they want to be, or unless they want to claim some minority right. Even on govt forms, where they ask you for race or ethnicity, you don't have to answer.

Hispanics/latinos are proud of their culture. It's a good thing.

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:12 AM

29. Please note that such disclosures are voluntary and not subject to challenge

Dick Chaney could claim to be a part black/part native American Hispanic and it would have to be accepted and be legal

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #29)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 11:23 PM

40. That's right. Except that he'd probably spell his name correctly, Professor. nt

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Response to Honeycombe8 (Reply #40)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 11:24 PM

41. Or be caught in a spell checker

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:00 PM

8. Thank you for this post

One of the best I've ever read on DU.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:01 PM

9. K&R I like to think I know what it is like to be black in America

and I know I am being naive. I am outraged at the injustice in the Trayvon Martin killing. I cannot fathom how this young man was a threat in any way. Walking home from the store is not a crime.

My black co-workers have had to answer suspicious person calls. What was suspicious? They were BIK.
Black in Kirkland.(Kirkland WA.) A car full of black nursing students driving slowly through the parking structure.
A black male in the hospital cafeteria too long.....

If I am frustrated by the bigotry and ignorance so prevalent in this country in the 21st century.


Thank you for the post MrScorpio. Excellent. Insightful. Educational.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:04 PM

10. The sad part is...

that the perception of young black males as the "other" continues as long as they continue to be locked up and arrested in disproportionate numbers and shown through numerous other mediums to be dangerous. Nevermind the circumstances that cause this to be the present reality is largely beyond their control. It's a vicious cycle.

I think the perception of young black males is slowly changing, very slowly though. Until many of the gaps between young black males and the rest of society are lessened more and eventually eliminated, negative perceptions will remain.

What's sad is that these gaps haven't closed much at all since the Civil Rights Movement, and in some cases have only grown. History, continued segregation, the War on Drugs, concentrated poverty, etc. have all been working against any gaps being closed, and keep the negative perceptions present, and continue the vicious cycle. It angers me that we haven't been able to get the political will together to address these issues, and what scares me about Republicans is that their policies will only exacerbate these issues, as they live in their fantasy land where "everyone has an equal opportunity" and "anyone can make it in America". With that kind of delusional thinking, it's no wonder many Republicans have very low opinions of young black males.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:12 PM

11. Video that captures some of

your point...and is still pertinent. People demanding change, not taking it anymore.

Hoodie as symbol

Eminem's Mosh:

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:12 PM

12. 87% Of People Stopped And Frisked By The NYPD In 2011 Were Black And Hispanic

87% Of People Stopped And Frisked By The NYPD In 2011 Were Black And Hispanic

The Wall Street Journal reports that NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk reached an all time high last year (2011) with just about 684,330 stopped and questioned. What is more alarming is that 87% of those folks happen to be Black and Hispanic Latino. Here are some stats:

And who was it that got stop-and-frisked the most? 92 percent of those stopped were males, and 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic, a glaring disparity considering blacks and Hispanics make up only 59 percent of the city’s population.

Just 12 percent of those stopped were arrested.

“Last year alone, the NYPD stopped enough totally innocent New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden more than 30 times over,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. “It is not a crime to walk down the street in New York City, yet every day innocent black and brown New Yorkers are turned into suspects for doing just that. It is a stunning abuse of power that undermines trust between police and the community.”

http://theblacksophisticate.tumblr.com/post/19057945887
(via kemetically-ankhtified)


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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:19 PM

13. So deep, so true, thanks MrScorpio.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:48 PM

14. K and R

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Mar 25, 2012, 11:51 PM

15. I LOVES ME SOME MRSCORPIO

yes INDEED

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:37 AM

16. "I had to actually leave leave America to even be considered ordinary."

I know the feeling, Mr. Scorpio. I had to live in Italy in order to understand I that I am an American. I had to live in another country to feel normal and ordinary. I am not a black man, but I am a black woman, so I understand some of the issues black men have to deal with, but I cannot ever understand all of them. I had a father, and I have a brother, cousins, nephews and friends who are black men, so your post really touches and breaks my heart. I am crying as I write this, most especially for my father. He was the kind of man who would give the clothes off his back to help a stranger, but he was also 6'4" tall and 200+ lbs, and was deemed "intimidating" in this country. He grew up in Texas, and god only knows what hell he had to deal with as a boy and a young man. I don't know because he rarely talked about his childhood. I just know he was a good, kind person, who also happened to be a black male. And that has never been a good thing to be in America.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)


Response to trayvontruth (Reply #17)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:48 AM

19. I guess I struck a nerve...

Thanks for proving my point.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #19)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:52 AM

20. Just another freeper that thinks "tolerance" requires one to tolerate intolerance

In this case it appears to be a serial troll. Momma's basement must get mighty lonely.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:46 AM

18. Thank you for posting that...

...aloha.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:59 AM

21. Oh looky a new account with one post...

I don't care how many tatoos Trayvon has. I don't care if he smoked weed. I don't even care if at 17 he was a drug addict hard core even. I don't even care if he was dealing drugs. And I don't care if he had a racially charged facebook/twitter account. None of that is why he was killed.

George Zimmerman was not the one to be the judge, jury, prosecutor, and executioner. This is a bunch of BS. When someone is murdered their lifestyle is trotted out after the fact to show that they weren't all that innocent. Utter and complete BS. Many people do drugs, they are not executed for doing so, for good reason. Drug use is a non-violent crime. I have never seen nor heard of a violent pot smoker. The worst I know is a cranky pot smoker, but the pot probably makes his disposition better rather than worse. Putting Trayvon on trial is the same as putting everyone on trial that happens to be black and might smoke pot and curse. If Trayvon was white, his allegeded pot use would likely never come up. And tattoos really, you want to execute someone for body art. What a twisted mess this world would be if we executed everyone that smoked pot, had tats, and cursed or any combination of that.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 05:08 AM

22. Zimmerman was a cop wannabe

http://www.smh.com.au/world/who-is-george-zimmerman-20120325-1vs1a.html

Zimmerman wanted to be a cop, but apparently was too stupid to either pass their tests or perhaps even to apply in the first place. This is pretty pathetic if you think about it as the police give intelligence tests and you fail if you score too high (and no, I'm not kidding).

So basically what you have is a cop wannabe who is too stupid to be a cop, yet has more rights to use deadly force than the cops themselves, thanks to the state of Florida allowing fringe nut NRA/LaPierre to write their gun laws.

Who would have ever thought that one would turn out badly?

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #22)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 07:51 AM

24. Where did he get the idea that being a cop meant that he was obligated to police young black males?

It's a rhetorical question, of course. I'm not asking that you answer it.

But, he was clearly demonstrating what he thought his duty would be in his adoption of wannabe copness.

He felt that his wannabe copness allowed him the authority to question anyone he deemed suspicion, even in the absence of probable cause.

He understood as little as possible about the proper role of law enforcement as a wannabe and even less about the rights of others.

His own fear was his badge, his gun was his clout and that made him a very dangerous predator on that rainy night when he shot and killed an innocent young man.

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Response to MrScorpio (Reply #24)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:25 PM

34. Perhaps he was just trying to emulate real cops

Or at least what he thinks real cops do.

The scary part is the law fully enables anencephalic losers like this with both the threat and application of efficient means of deadly force.

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Response to Kalidurga (Reply #21)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:08 PM

32. thank you

God didn't die in that moment and appoint zimmerman to be his successor.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 07:47 AM

23. Excellent commentary.

This is outstanding.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:04 AM

25. Thank you. It's time for that dialogue we all must have

But white teen boys are generally perceived as potentially violent by a lot of people no matter what their skin color. But then they grow up and that perception is dropped.

When I was raising two boys and occasionally went to the Mall with them to shop for their shoes and clothes on every occasion groups of whites, especially older groups of retirees who also frequented the Mall in groups would actually look at them with fear. And more than once they would whisper to each other while looking at the boys. Yet that stopped as the boys became men. I hear you when you say it never stops for black men. It's a terrible thing to live with and I understand why many young men would react by deliberately trying to instill fear.

I think the best thing to do, and where to start is by questioning what exactly 'The Norm' is. And who says it's anything but a thin veneer of pretense. Nothing more than a costume we put on to pretend to be part of the accepted crowd.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:09 AM

26. Bookmarked and kicked! You are amazing!!

Thank you for this cogent and very insightful writing.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:09 AM

27. Recommended for truth

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 08:12 AM

28. Outstanding post.

Thank you.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:21 AM

30. Thank you Mr. Scorpio.....great post

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 11:50 AM

31. He represents anyone who has ever been considered 'suspect' by another person

Especially when that 'suspect' isn't really a valid excuse.

For me, I'm 'suspect' because I'm a woman with functioning ovaries and the GOP/Right-wing zealots are the 'George Zimmermans' out there who do not trust that I can make smart responsible choices for my body.

For someone who is GLBT they too are 'suspect' and once again the 'George Zimmermans' out there do not trust that they can make the right choice on who to marry and feel that these 'Trayvon Martins' are out to cause havoc.

The world is filled with Travyon Martins/George Zimmermans.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:18 PM

33. so very well said

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:34 PM

35. Beautifully written. Thank you. k&r

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 12:52 PM

36. Kick and Rec

Brilliant post, Mr S.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:18 PM

37. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, MrScorpio.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:26 PM

38. Wow! Very powerful

thank you for a great piece of writing.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 10:03 PM

39. K and R

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