Friday, July 19, 2013

Barack Obama Steps Up

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Although I certainly don't agree with our President's views on every issue, basically I like and respect Barack Obama.  That is something that I could never have said about either Bush, and only occasionally with regard to Bill Clinton.

Today Mr. Obama walked into the White House press room and addressed the issue of race in America head on.  He told a group of surprised White House reporters that he could have been Trayvon Martin thirty-five years ago.   He suggested that if Martin, a black youth, had been of age and armed and stood his ground, the jury might might not have been as receptive to a "stand your ground" defense.  He also said that things might have been viewed differently by a jury if the victim had been a white youth.  Just yesterday I saw research referenced on the Internet that said "stand your ground" defenses were over four hundred percent more likely to work for white defendants than they were for persons of color.

(The Internet was soon ablaze with comments from angry crackers saying that Barack Obama had just proven himself to be racist.  He isn't, and what a shame it would have been if America's first black President had been too cowered by these redneck loonies to have not used this opportunity to comment on the state of race relations in America.  He stepped up and did it - eloquently!)

The President spoke from the heart and said things that needed to be said - particularly by the leader of the country.    He talked about examples of racism that he has faced in the past, before he was a nationally known figure.  He mentioned walking across the street and hearing the locks on car doors clicking.  He spoke of white women in elevators clutching their purses tighter and holding their breath when a black person entered the enclosed space with them.  And he talked about what it was like to be followed around in a department store because of race.

I have a good friend who is a well educated, financially secure, conservative Republican.   He is also black.  My friend told me a story once about going into a very nice department store in downtown Phoenix.  He said there were only two black people in the store - himself and the security officer who followed him the entire time that he was there.

The President said there were things that we could be doing in America to lessen racism and particularly our attitudes toward, and treatment of, young black males.  He said that the Justice Department needs to work on offering training to local police agencies, stating that he felt many would be receptive to the training.  He suggested that some state and local laws need to be reviewed to see if they make things better or worse.  He stated a strong desire to bolster and reinforce African American boys, and to provide them with some avenues to success.  And finally, the President suggested that it was time for all of us to do some soul-searching with regard to racism in America as well as to our own attitudes on the subject.

President Obama did note that things are improving in America and said that his daughters' generation is proving to be better than his own when it comes to getting along across racial lines.  Attitudes are changing, but as the murder of Trayvon Martin shows, we still have not completely overcome the social and economic barrier of race.

Today's impromptu address to the White House Press Corps was Barack Obama's finest hour.  It was his Gettysburg Address, his Day of Infamy Speech.    The President stood tall and his voice rang clear.  I could not have been prouder.

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