He explained, “And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of 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 an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.”
While being candid about how Whites generally treat Blacks, President Obama was equally frank when he said a Black person faces a greater likelihood of being killed by another African-African than by a White person.
“I think the African-American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African-American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s 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, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
The president demonstrated real courage by addressing race in America without being forced to as was the case with Rev. Wright. Moreover, he challenged us not to let the last chapter of Tayvon’s life be marked a misguided not guilty verdict.
“And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed—I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.”
(George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the NNPA. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, ww.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.)
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