The Trayvon Martin case has gained world wide attention as did the verdict of the George Zimmerman’s acquital in this case last week. The blame game has begun and “RACISM” is at the forefront yet again. For many people both black and white the obvious question has yet to be answered or addressed: “If Trayvon Martin was a white teen and would have stood his ground law for being followed and feeling threatened would the outcome of the verdict been the same of Zimmerman?“. The “Not Guilty” verdict in this case was yet another reminder how divided we still are as nation and people and how “RACISM” is still ALIVE and PRESENT in our New World.
Given the popularity of this case and the constant protests and discussion on social media outlets, President Barack Obama took time to address the American People about his opinion on the verdict and what we as a nation must do “going forward” to change the statistical perception of African American boys in this country.
Here’s a partial except of his address:
When Trayvon Martin was first shot I said “this could have been my son”, Another way of saying that is that Trayvon Martin could have been ME thirty-five years ago. And when you think about WHY in the African American community at least; there is ALOT of pain in what happened here. I think its important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.
There are very few African American in this country that haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store [that includes me]. There are very few African American men that haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on doors of cars [that happened to me at least before I was a Senator] . There are very few African American’s who haven’t had the experience of getting into a elevator and notice a women clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had the chance to get off – that happens OFTEN. Now, I don’t want to exaggerate this but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interpret what happened one night in Florida. And it inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgable that there is a history in the racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws. Everything from the death penalty, to enforcement of our drug laws, and that ends up having impact in terms of how people interpret the case.
This isn’t to say that African American community is naive about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system. Their disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact. Although black folks interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. We understand that violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past of this country. The poverty, the dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history. And so the fact that sometimes that is unacknowledged – adds to the frustration. And the fact that African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuses that are given are “well the statistics show that African American boys are more violent” and using that as an excuse to the see sons treated differently causes pain.
So folks understand. I think the African American community is not naive enough to understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin statistically to be shot by someone of his peer rather than he was by somebody else.
So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys but they get frustrated when there is no context for it and that context is being denied, and that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario from top to bottom; both the outcome and the aftermath – it might have been different. Now the question for me at least is where do we take this? And how do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction. I think its understandable that there have been demonstrations, vigils and protests,and some of that stuff have to work itself through.
…But beyond protest and vigils there are some concrete things that we need to do.
The president went on to say that Attorney General Eric Holder is still looking at the case and noted that there has to be a re-modification of the criminal code system at the state and local level with regards to the law [as it was intended to be] and NOT dictated at the Federal level alone. He also talked about the reducing the mistrust of our system, soul searching, and restoring hope in our African American boys and more.
Sidebar: Sorry Mr. president. the trust must be sustained by all parties, and that change MUST start from the top political ladder downward to the people. Great speech though.
Our continued prayers for Trayvon Martin’s family.