Today, President Obama gave a very emotional (and racially charged) speech. It was his personal perspective of the shooting of black teen Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
Obama said, “When Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said this could’ve been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
“When you think about why in the African-American community, at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here,” he continued. “It’s important to recognize the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and history that doesn’t go away.”
During the speech, Obama said he understood why blacks in America feel society is unequal. He said that many black boys have similar negative experiences, which are what has caused the outrage over the Zimmerman verdict. The president claims he too has had such experiences.
“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping at a department store, and that includes me,” he said. He spoke about car doors locking when black men walk by, or women getting a tighter grip on their purses while in an elevator with a black man. “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. It’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear,” he said.
Obama said he thinks law enforcement should create programs to teach racial sensitivity. When he was a senator, he worked to pass laws that forced officers to go through training on racial bias issues.
He then said, “I think it’d be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kind of altercations and tragedies.”
It’s no secret that Obama was referring to the Florida “stand your ground” rules in that statement.
He said, “If we’re sending a message in our societies … that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there is a way for them to exit from the situation, is that really going to be contributing to the peace and order?”
Good grief. This whole thing is getting completely out-of-hand. Obama never should have injected himself into the Zimmerman case in the first place when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Taryvon Martin.”
When will this all end? Whatever you think about that ruling, Zimmerman was given a fair trial and acquitted by a jury of his peers. The court system has spoken and deserves everyone’s respect.