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article imageOp-Ed: Obama focuses on 'black' crime in Zimmerman speech

By Phyllis Smith Asinyanbi     Jul 20, 2013 in Politics
Washington - President Barack Obama spoke in depth on the Zimmerman verdict Friday. There was inordinate silence in the interim, and his speech was not voluntary.
He was pressured by civil rights groups, Trayvon Martin's parents and most African Americans for truth. Therefore, the president had to deliver, but did he?
Under intense scrutiny from his loyal African American base, the president said,:
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago ... there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that—that doesn’t go away.”
He then relayed numerous racial profiling experiences he suffered as a “black” man before his rise to senator. Later, he zoned in on black men's disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system as victims and perpetrators. While the personal and historical explanations were accurate, the focus on African American men as criminals was wrong.
Obama is flawed like all human beings. Taking it a step further, he is a conflicted individual—conflicted on his identity. This has been apparent for some time. Before his ascension to the presidency, there were African Americans who questioned whether he was “black” enough. They were questioning whether he as a “bi-racial” man with a white mother and a Kenyan father could fathom the experience of descendants of slaves and whether he would be empathetic. African American so-called leaders and John/Jane Q. Public wanted to know if they helped elect the first "black" president, would he understand their historical experience in America. They also understood the president would serve all Americans—not solely African Americans.
Our president is in the first year of his second term and essentially has nothing to lose. There will be a mid-term election, and hopefully, he can strengthen his base in Congress and accomplish goals. This does not, however, excuse Obama from speaking truth at this crossroads in American history, without admonishing African Americans for “black-on-black” crime, which is not the issue in the Zimmerman verdict.
Obama pointed out what educated individuals already know: We don't live in a post-racial America, despite his second term as president. It is obvious his focus has shifted, and he has racial profiling amnesia, although he fought against and helped pass anti-racial profiling legislation in Illinois.
In his speech he could have focused on the laws that cause young African American men to be thrown in prison for the same crimes that white young men commit and receive a sentence of community service or probation. He could have talked about inferior schools and teachers who racially profile African American boys from the beginning of their academic careers. He could have talked about the blatant unfairness and injustice of the verdict—not the if Trayvon were white it could “possibly” have turned out differently lie.
Undoubtedly, there would have been no Zimmerman trial, because there would have been no shooting. In a hypothetical white Trayvon situation, the now-bloodstained killer would have approached a white Trayvon with caution and respect instead of racially profiling him. Obama could have emphasized that when Zimmerman stalked, attacked, and shot Trayvon through the heart, there was only one "black" person present—a 17-year-old. His mention of “black-on-black” crime only affirms those who choose a focus other than the crime and the unjust verdict.
Despite the massive pain African Americans are experiencing, Obama chose to admonish them once again, so he can appear a calm, balanced voice, considering the feelings of and empathizing with every “racial” group in America other than his own. Unfortunately, Trayvon's grieving parents had to be among those who forced him to open his mouth, for truth's sake, and speak. Yet, Obama chose to discipline African Americans, as though they were errant children with wayward ways, as if he were their father—not their president.
In this, the first “black” president has failed the African American community once again. African Americans should not give Obama a pass; in these "United" States, African Americans should never believe they are disloyal, because they disagree with him. Most have been immeasurably loyal.
Obama has forsaken his duties as a watchman on the wall, and much harm has been done to “black America," setting it back to the pre-voting rights era.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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