President Obama Sparks a National Conversation on Race After Trayvon Martin Verdict - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

President Obama Sparks a National Conversation on Race After Trayvon Martin Verdict

Email


by

I have always called President Barack Obama the race avoider.

Sure, he’ll shoot hoops and coo Al Green to Michelle, but the man insists on staying above it all. He’s in control, taking the high road and avoiding what he sees as the obvious. Because as we all know, life should be all about the “content of our character,” right?

Like many successful people of color, Obama believes one can overcome race by driving ahead, ignoring it and concentrating on what truly matters.

In the past, he’s only addressed the subject of race when it is forced and cannot be ignored. We saw this when Rev. Jeremiah Wright became an issue in the first Obama campaign in 2008. Then, Obama addressed his connection to the reverend with his own searing speech in Philadelphia that seemed to satisfy, at least for the moment, any need to tackle race any further.

That’s because the goal was always about moving ahead, leaving race behind. We were entering the post-racial America. That’s where everyone wants to be because the truth is no one really wants to deal with race. Not liberals, conservatives, Black, White, Asian or Latino. No one.

It’s just easier to say, “See, a Black man is president. Equality? Done.”

But then came Obama’s blunt admission last week at that news conference.

I tweeted his quote, because to me it was such a crystal clear admission.

Emil Guillermo@emilamok

Obama: “Living in a post-racial society doesn’t mean racism is eliminated.”Has confidence that kids today help us be a “more perfect union.”

And all it took was the Zimmerman verdict in the Trayvon Martin trial to make the most powerful man in the world admit there is much work to be done.

  CUNY Graduate Center Launches Social Justice Initiative

It was more of a stunner to me than the more oft-quoted remark from the president that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

Maybe that’s because I know of the early stories of young Barry Obama being profiled in Hawaii. And I know it could have been him.

But that was in the past.

His admission that racism is not eliminated in such blunt terms is about the present.

The image of a Black man in the White House making that kind of admission should be considered an invitation for everyone to join in that elusive “national conversation” on race. We’ve been waiting a long time. What better moment to have it than now since the Zimmerman verdict has opened up a scabbed wound?

The higher ed community should no doubt have a role. Where else can communities have the kind of formal and informal forums that might give people a safe place to talk, relate and learn?

But we shouldn’t make the mistake of talking about policy solutions too quickly.

It’s too soon for that. We need to talk and understand one another, first. We should all wonder where we fit into the Trayvon Martin equation. Could it have been you? Or are you Zimmerman? It should be a conversation without judgment or argument. That will come in time when politics get involved. For the moment, we just need to hear each other.

And then maybe, once we do, we can find solutions together.

Emil Guillermo writes on race and other issues for the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

  WSU President: Professor Who Used Racial Term to Face Reprimand
RELATED ARTICLES >>
Black Students Voice Concerns After Kansas State Racist Incidents MANHATTAN, Kan. — Black students at Kansas State University voiced concerns about recent racist incidents at a meeting with top school officials on Wednesday night after a car was found near campus earlier in the day scrawled with racial slurs and th...
University of Hartford Student Faces Bias Charge for Endangering Roommate Shortly after moving into her dorm, Jazzy Rowe, a freshman at the University of Hartford, began experiencing severe throat pain. She had trouble eating and sleeping, and none of her doctors were able to identify the cause. “I would try to whisper,...
Studies Show Minimal Socialization Boost for Interracial Dorm Roommates When Dr. Russell H. Fazio, a psychology professor at The Ohio State University, examined interracial relationships between Black and White dormitory roommates a while back, he found that the relationships were more likely to dissolve if the White stu...
Pro Athletes Have a Unique Platform and They’re Using It If you want a hot topic to debate, why not talk about the flag controversy that has been brewing since last year? Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the playing of the national anthem to protest social inequality in the U.S. and it has created a firesto...
Semantic Tags:

One Response to President Obama Sparks a National Conversation on Race After Trayvon Martin Verdict

  1. Emil says, “We need to talk and understand one another, first.”

    It is exceedingly hard to get to know anyone who is so paranoid as to actually believe that car doors are ONLY locked because of their own PRESENCE on the scene.

    The people who lock car doors lock them 99 and 44/100s per cent of the time regardless of who happens to be walking past them.

    I expected better than that from the President of the United States.

    wigglwagon
    July 24, 2013 at 4:02 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *