Today was different. Barack Hussein Obama was talking as a black man to white America in an attempt to help us understand the pain the African American community is dealing with in the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict. And in doing so, he made it personal.
But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn’t go away.He then went on to provide that context that comes from both the history of African Americans in this country and the present experiences of black men just like himself. President Obama knows the pain the African American community is feeling over this incident - because he feels it himself. He wanted us to have the chance to hear why.
After talking about some things we need to do to improve things, he ended with a challenge to us.
...at least ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.I know that a lot of white people won't be able to hear what he said or take up that challenge. But I sure hope that some of us will. Regardless, this country has now experienced its first racial crisis with an African American in the White House. He spoke to us as as that man today. I am SO grateful to be living in this moment and so amazingly proud of our President!