You can find the President’s remarks about Trayvon Martin at the bottom of this article.
As you know I recently wrote on the tragedy related to Trayvon Martin and the irrational response from certain Civil Rights leaders in our country. Recently, Barack Obama made some helpful remarks regarding the entire situation as it relates to the outrage in the African-American community as well as the Jury's decision to acquit George Zimmerman.
At first, I was not positive that the President should even weigh in on this type of situation – as it has nothing to do with his role as President. However, giving it more thought I am glad that the President decided to speak on the issue. As a 34 year old White male, I look at Barack Obama as my President. This is contrastingly different from a 34 year old African-American male who looks at Barack Obama as both his President as well as a symbol. A symbol of how far the African-American community has come in the last 200 years of struggling for Civil Rights. Therefore, it makes sense that the President would feel the need to address the issue.
Is there racism in this country? Yes. Will there always be racism in this country? Yes. Does that mean we should tolerate racism in this country? No. I would like to think that the aforementioned statements were axiomatic. However, I know they don't correspond well to some popular cultural theories that exist on the issue of racism. However, I do not want to address those as much as I want to write about racism from a personal perspective.
I would like to think that the issue of racism is improving. I know that my generation is much less racist than my grandfather's generation was. Don't get my wrong – racism exists, just not to the extent that it did 60 years ago. As the children of parents grow up in a more accepting culture, they pass those values on to their children (even though they may not have been raised that way). Eventually, racism becomes something less “normal” within a culture as it gradually cycles out.
The reason I mention this is because I believe Barack Obama's comments towards racism reflect an older worldview on the subject. Yes…the things he mentions still happens, but I also think it happens much less frequent than in the past. Certainly much of the racism today is different than the racism of the past. Racism today seems to be much more subtle (that is, found in the little things we do and say) and less outspoken and part of the norm like it has been in the past.
Racism and George Zimmerman
Is George Zimmerman a racist? I don't know. Only he knows. Can we conclude he is a racist from his actions? NO! I do not know how I would have reacted if I were in the same situation has Mr. Zimmerman. But, what I do know is this. I would be suspicious of anyone dressed like a “hood” (black or white) walking through a gated community late at night. Is my statement discriminatory? Yes! But all beliefs about people are. As one who use to “dress the part” I can attest the fact that I should not have been trusted.
Does this mean that all people who fit this mold are going to participate in criminal activity? No! But, I still have the right (perhaps even the responsibility), to be vigilant, for the safety of me and my family. For Mr. Zimmerman, the question is did he act the way he did because Trayvon was black, or because he “looked like a thug”? The answer to this question determines whether his action was racist, or discriminatory.