eloquence in the name of civil rights : President Obama —- —- —- —-
Sometimes people misjudge the state of things, then take their misjudgement for brilliant insight. We’re seeing this sort of mind event right now, a classic example of it.
A narrative has arisen, of late, that relations between dark complected people and those of light complexion have worsened since President Obama took office and that it’s his fault. Why we in the year 2015 are still classifying people by the complexion of their skin, I find inexplicable. What the blazes has a person’s skin shade got to do with his or her talents, imagination, good citizenship, moral worth ? Yet we see that for some people, skin shade is it. And when skin shade is The It, you can be sure that a value judgment follows immediately : in most cases, it’s light skin, good; darker skin, bad.
Police are no different from anyone else except that they are called upon to patrol neighborhoods and, therefore, people of dark skin. And if dark skin equals bad, and you are patrolling dark skinned people, it is not unlikely that you will act out your opinion. So we have recently seen in the most graphic manner available acts of injustice almost inexplicable. Some of, these acts may be explained away, but not all; clearly for many police, dark skinned people are a threat no matter what they are doing or not doing, and when said dark skin people do do something — anything — it equals danger. Dark skin people have died thereby.
We cannot forget these deaths, we must not forget them, we can never excuse them or accept them. The President has been absolutely right to speak out about it. We applaud his speaking.
When the President recalled that he, too, as a young man experienced skin color prejudice — the sound of car doors being locked as he, walked across the street — he was right to say so, to unsettle us, to make us uneasy. We applaud his having done so.
When the President said about Trayvon Martin, shot dead while walking home to his Dad’s condo with skittles and a soft drink, that had he a son he would look a lot like Martin, he was right to say so, to make us feel very uneasy, even ashamed. we applaud his candor.
The President has ordered the Department of Justice to investigate police departments in which incidents of skin color prejudice have been shown systemic and current, and to order them reformed if need be. We applaud his efforts.
What he has done and continues to do assuages skin color conflict directly; heals the wound; moves us to a higher plane. The President has called for soul searching by all of us. Is there ever a time when to soul search is anything but remedial, a thing morally beneficial to the nation ?
Those who feel that the President’s intervention on behalf of Americans whose civil rights are compromised, even to the point of being killed, have worsened race relations need to recalibrate. No just society can tolerate the deaths of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Sam Dubose, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Jerome Ferrell — and there are countless more whose names have not yet become social media hashtags. Nor is there the slightest legitimacy in pointing out, as those who blame Obama do, that dark-skin people kill each other many more times than the police kill them. Crime in and among dark skinned people is a national scandal, but as the cliche has it, two wrongs do not make it right.
That dark skin on dark skin crime exists is no justification for random police killings of dark skin people. And how can we not respond as the President has to the killing of nine church worshipers in Charleston, South Carolina ? How was their killing by a deluded young white supremacist Obama’s fault ?
What sort of a mind would even think such a thing ? The blame for such killings goes to those who do the killing. End of story !
The President spoke snd sang the anguish if tgst crime. We applaud his passion.
Lastly : it is no argument against the President that many Black Lives Matter activists express virulent racism themselves and act criminally. It is all too easy for those who endure skin color prejudice to respond in kind, to elevate their own skin color above the color of prejudices, and to sling slogans to that false elevation.It feels good to lord it over those who you think are lording it over you.
This response is wrong, and we are right to object to it. But to blame anti-racism racism on the President is to misplace. The conversation that he has initiated is even handed, is just, is deeply moral in the most honorable American tradition.
If many of us fall short thereof, or blame him for our failings, these are not his faults but ours.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere