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Should the POTUS be leading discussion on race?

  1. Mighty Mom profile image90
    Mighty Momposted 3 years ago

    I'm having trouble posting links so copied the whole article.
    President Obama has really put himself out there identifying with Trayvon Martin and talking
    a lot about the ubiquitous nature of racial profiling.
    Do you feel Obama should or should not be speaking out on this issue?
    Personally, I agree 100% with Mr. Robinson.

    Obama is the wrong person to lead discussion about race

    By Eugene Robinson, Published: July 18E-mail the writer

    We should talk honestly about unresolved racial issues, such as those exposed by the Trayvon Martin case, but President Obama is not the best person to lead the discussion. Through no fault of his own, he might be the worst.

    The need for what diplomats call a “full and frank exchange of views” is obvious. Many Americans don’t even agree that there are unresolved racial issues, much less that such issues played a role in George Zimmerman’s acquittal. It’s as if some of us live on different planets.

    Eugene Robinson

    Writes about politics and culture in twice-a-week columns and on the PostPartisan blog.

    I find it impossible to imagine the outcome would have been the same if the protagonists’ roles were reversed — if Zimmerman had been the victim and Martin the defendant. I know, however, that many people believe the hoodie-wearing African American teenager would have been accorded the same benefit of the doubt his killer was given. I also know that one’s beliefs about race and racism tend to be highly correlated with one’s experience of race and racism.

    What we’re doing now, in an awkward and uncomfortable way, is talking about those beliefs and experiences — shouting about them, actually. For better or for worse, this seems to be the way we conduct the “national conversation about race” that thoughtful people are always recommending.

    Here’s how it works: Something happens that makes the subject of race all but unavoidable. We stake out our positions. We get all worked up. We start to get frustrated. Gradually we lose focus, and the dialogue, such as it was, peters out. No one thinks we’ve made any headway. Often we have, though the progress may not be evident for some time.

    Maybe it would be better if we all gathered at public libraries on some appointed day and worked our way through an agenda: “Legacy of Slavery,” check. “Jim Crow Segregation,” check. “Affirmative Action,” check.

    Sounds awfully boring to me, to tell the truth. And in any event, it’s never going to happen. For people who want to talk about race, there are plenty of outlets, venues and forums — more than ever, in fact, with the rise of social media. But those who prefer to avoid the subject are not likely to be enticed by earnestness.

    Nor do they respond well, evidence suggests, to the observations and oratory of the first African American president when he talks about race. It’s not the way things ought to be or the way I’d like them to be, but it’s the way things are.

    The record indicates that honest talk from Obama about race is seen by many people as threatening. A classic example came just months into his first term, when a white police officer in Cambridge, Mass., had an unpleasant encounter with Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is black, and ended up arresting the famous scholar on his own front porch.

    Speaking off the cuff at a news conference, Obama said the officer had “acted stupidly.” The remark seemed innocuous to me, a mere statement of fact. It might have been the departure point for a nuanced examination of what happens when race intersects class. Instead, Obama unintentionally provoked such outrage and counter-outrage that he invited the two men to the White House for a photo-op “beer summit” as a way of chilling everyone out.

    Similarly, Obama’s factual statement that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” drew shrieks of accusation that the president was unfairly taking sides in a criminal case. His statement following Saturday’s verdict was anodyne and forgettable. Perhaps that’s for the best.

    The designation “first black (fill in the blank)” always brings with it unfair burdens, and one of Obama’s — he bears many — is that almost anything he says about race will be seen by some as favoring the interests of black Americans over white Americans.

    At this point in his presidency, Obama could ignore this absurd reality and say whatever he wants. He must be sorely tempted. But the unfortunate fact is that if his aim is to promote dialogue about race, speaking his mind is demonstrably counterproductive.

    Obama does more to change racial attitudes and challenge prejudices simply by performing his functions as head of state and commander in chief. A dozen speeches about the long struggle for racial equality and justice would not have the impact of one picture of the first family — the proud, African American first family — walking across the White House lawn. No caption necessary.

    Read more from Eugene Robinson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.

    1. Seth Winter profile image85
      Seth Winterposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      No, I think it's perfectly fine that a President of the United States ignores the justice system and throws his support to a man (minor) who failed in a murder attempt and received a bullet for his efforts.

      1. Uninvited Writer profile image82
        Uninvited Writerposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        I guess you missed the part when he said the jury has spoken and we have to honor that.

        1. Seth Winter profile image85
          Seth Winterposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          Yeah I kind of only focused on where the President saw a racial opportunity and took it.

    2. pagesvoice profile image87
      pagesvoiceposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      President Obama can speak in the first person when addressing race and racial profiling. This is a discussion that has zero credibility if it was started by a Caucasian simply because they haven't walked in the shoes of an African American. If you believe for a moment everything is equal between the races all you need do is ask yourself one question, "If given a choice, would you come back as a black man?" Exactly how many white people do you think would say "yes?"

      1. Zelkiiro profile image83
        Zelkiiroposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        What red-blooded man who likes the ladies would say "no"?!

      2. 0
        Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        That's a silly question,  totally irrelevant.
        Except maybe to you.
        You could ask yourself whether you'd choose to come back as a Jew, or a Chinese person, or a person of ANY race that's ever been abused.    Which would be ALL races, of course!

        1. Tom Koecke profile image61
          Tom Koeckeposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          As much as I believe that racism still exists as I exemplified with the young black man aspiring to be a cop believing there is more to fear from blacks than whites, Mitch is correct that the systemic racism has been resolved.

          I also agree with Mitch about Sharpton and Jackson keeping it going, but I think Obama did address black violence. He urged those who were protesting to keep those protests non-violent as violence would be a disservice to the cause.

          Obama had a tightrope to walk on this matter. I think he did a good job addressing the feelings of much of the public without compromising the integrity of the verdict.

          1. 0
            Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            As he began his speech, I had high hopes that he would (finally, on some subject, ANY subject!) do a good job.
            But alas!   he did not.
            He might as well have said well the American justice system has spoken,  but I still think Zimmerman is a racist and let's do whatever we can to virtually lynch him.
            Did you not listen to his words?   I could tell that's what he meant.    His words led there exactly.

            And he said if he heard about violence from the protesters, he "would remind them" that it doesn't do Trayvon's case any good.    Well,  why in the world didn't he mention the News reports where blacks ALREADY DID commit acts of violence upon white people and said it was "for Trayvon"??     One can only assume that his oversight was deliberate and that he believes those victims deserved what they got, either personally, or as some sort of chickens-coming-home-to-roost vendetta upon the "white people" in America like his mentor the hateful "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright taught him.

            He sooooo conveniently skipped over those cases!   And skipped over the fact that Zimmerman, like himself, is bi-racial.  He only looks at the color of his own skin.    I wonder what he would do if he were to have a kid who turned out to have very light skin?   Bet he would freak out. 

            The fact is that, in Obama's mind, just like any racist's mind,  it's all about whichever person HE decides is worthy of defense, and a main criteria for that is the color of the person's skin.   He picked Trayvon to defend, and he picked George Zimmerman to target even after a Court of law said he wasn't guilty.   It's that simple.

            Obama is a pretender and a narcissist.   He picks out his own reality and expects everyone else to believe in it.   No, he shouldn't be leading a discussion on race.   Nor on a myriad of subjects!   He has too many emotional issues, including paranoia, misplaced vengeance,  and his focus is entirely biased.

            1. Tom Koecke profile image61
              Tom Koeckeposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              I just watched his news conference again. He mentioned the violence that young black males get involved in. He also mentioned that statistically, it was much more likely that Trayvon would have been shot "by a peer."

              I also heard him say "the jury has spoken," and that is how "justice works in this country."

              Hearing what you want to hear to make erroneous conclusions based on what he meant rather than what he said is your problem.

              1. 0
                Brenda Durhamposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                Indeed it is your problem.
                And excuse me if I didn't make it clear that it's based on his actual words as well as the undertone and thinly-veiled clues he provided.

                Did you not hear him condone the picketing against Zimmerman?
                If he really believes the U.S. justice system worked,  then it would actually be harrassment to keep on targeting Zimmerman and not let him get past the trial.    How would you feel if you'd been acquitted, and then people started picketing against you?    AND putting a literal bounty on your head like some groups and individuals did outright or else hinted at.
                As much as I hate it that a young man died (that's a loss no matter what kind of altercation took place or even whether Trayvon started the fight!)..............it's not right to keep on condemning the person who survived when he's been duly tried in a Court of law and investigated even before that.     And I'm appalled that the President of these United States would instigate and condone such nonsense.

                1. Tom Koecke profile image61
                  Tom Koeckeposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  I heard him acknowledge the protests, but I did not hear him encourage them. I heard him discourage any violence during the protests.
                  I don't know if you are aware of it, but in 1791 an amendment was added to the Constitution that gives people the right to assemble. He can't unilaterally stop the people from exercising their rights. He would be subject to legitimate ridicule if he tried.
                  You have not pointed out any statement in which he instigated, condoned, or encouraged any of this.

                  1. Seth Winter profile image85
                    Seth Winterposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                    Tom, you mean to tell me you don't think Obama was adding fuel to the fire when he claimed that Trayvon could have been him 35 years ago, and thus added his opinion that this was about race a few days before scheduled marches for Trayvon? Are you that thick?

  2. rebekahELLE profile image92
    rebekahELLEposted 3 years ago

    I see nothing wrong at all with the POTUS speaking about race when the country is involved in this conversation.  He is not leading the conversation, he is adding his own personal feelings and experiences.
    He was not discussing the verdict. He was talking about the pain and the history that fuels what people are feeling.

    What is wrong is that people are afraid to be honest about their feelings.  Our society sadly has an ingrained bias toward young brown/black skinned men.  We've most likely all locked our doors while at a stop sign. I can't imagine how hard it must be to have to have that conversation with your young son, how fast or how slow you can walk not to raise suspicion.  That's wrong, but reality in 2013 USA.

    The comments in this NYT article are worth reading.

  3. Tom Koecke profile image61
    Tom Koeckeposted 3 years ago

    As Uninvited Writer said, he premised his remarks on honoring the decision. He also said that resorting to violence in the demonstrations that were planned would be counter productive to the purpose for the demonstrations. He is a wise man who seems to understand that he represents the people, and not just black people.

    I was training a young man once who ultimately wanted to be a cop. I asked him if he would be more afraid of pulling over a car with four young white men in it, or one with four young black men in it. I purposely posed the question with insufficient information. He said he would fear the situation in which four black men were in the car. He, himself, is black.

    Here are some telling stats regarding race and death. For all men ages 15 to 24, homicide is the second leading cause of death. It is fourth for males aged 10-14, and third for males aged 25 to 34. Among white males, it never rises above the third leading cause of death, and is as low as fifth for white men aged 25 to 34.

    For black males, however, it is the leading cause of death for ages between 15 and 34, and is the second leading cause of death for black males aged 10 to 14. Homicide accounts for 10% of deaths for white males between the ages of 15 and 19. That is the highest percentage for any age group of white males. It is the cause of death for 12.4% of black males between the ages of 10 and 14. That is the lowest percentage for any of the age groups for black males. It is the cause of death for more than half of black males aged 15 to 19, and accounts for 49.2% of deaths of black males between 20 and 24.

    Undoubtedly, some of this is life style and economics. However, to look at these statistics and conclude that black men are not the subject of racism is to draw blind eyes and deaf ears to facts.

    Obama is, indeed, the right person to lead the discussion. He is a tremendous role model for all young people, and probably can be the most influential role model for young black people.

  4. Mitch Alan profile image86
    Mitch Alanposted 3 years ago

    The real question is why, other than the sensationalism drummed up by the race baiters like Jackson and Sharpton, is this even a a national news story...twice as many black on white crimes involving firearms occur than white on black AND multiple times more black on black crime than either of those two scenarios. This should not even be race issue at all. So, for that, among other reasons, the President should not lead this discussion.

  5. 86
    Education Answerposted 3 years ago

    Yes, the president should be leading a discussion on race, not just one race.  There lies one problem.  The other is the fact that he shouldn't have inserted his opinions on a case that was active.   The president is our leader, and as such, he should be involved in making sure there is equality.  His approach, however, has been one-sided and potentially biased.  Isn't that, in itself, part of what he/we should be trying to combat?

  6. SpanStar profile image60
    SpanStarposted 3 years ago

    In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas
    To allow Black children to attend public high school

    Violence breaks out over the enrollment of a black man in a university.

    These presidents were forced to deal with race because so many others wanted to pretend as though nothing was wrong. In order for Black American citizens to go to public schools and not have their lives threatened the United States military had to be called out and not for a temporary stay of duty.

    We talk about equality but only this president shouldn't be allowed to address race.

    1. Mitch Alan profile image86
      Mitch Alanposted 3 years ago in reply to this

      Those cases were with a systemic and government enforced racism that needed to be addressed, as there were specific policies instituted. Public schools (if they should exist) should allow anyone from the area they serve to attend. A private university should be able to decide who attends, whether it be all women, all black, all midgets etc. The Zimmerman/Martin case, by any real analysis of the facts, was not racist in nature. If the President is weighing in on this case, why is he not also commenting on the black on white crimes committed during the same time?

      1. SpanStar profile image60
        SpanStarposted 3 years ago in reply to this

        Perhaps the president isn't weighing in on White issues may be because Black issues of racism have never been resolved in America.

        This fanciful idea of all races being equal in America is just that fanciful.

        White Americans aren't threatened if white people walked down the street with hoodies on.

        White men in America generally aren't looked upon as a threat because of their skin,.

        Should that day ever arrive where equitable parity does become paramount in America's society I have no doubt that all aspects of racial disparity will be addressed.

        1. Mitch Alan profile image86
          Mitch Alanposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          "Black issues of racism have never been resolved in America." Really? What SYSTEMIC, Government sanctioned racism is still intact? Right to vote? NO... Right to own property? No...
          Now if you are saying that some individuals are racist, then i would concede. BUT, that goes both ways. The black on white violent crime is higher than the white on black violent crime.
          Furthermore, there is racism, sexism, ethnic base bias etc and there always will be.

          1. SpanStar profile image60
            SpanStarposted 3 years ago in reply to this

            For those who are not Black but think they understand the lifestyle, how about the systematic profiling of African-Americans every day of their life. What about the ability of a Black person to walk down the street without the presumption of being guilty of whatever has been or is going on in the area.

            How about the persistent assumption that if you are Black then you must be violent as your own words present that assumption.

            What about being a Black president and is hampered in consoling one's own race because there are those Whites who have you under a magnifying glass for every little thing you do.

            1. Mitch Alan profile image86
              Mitch Alanposted 3 years ago in reply to this

              You did not answer my question about systemic government sanctioned racism...
              My statement about the difference between the statistics of black on white vs. white on black violent crime is based on actual facts, not a racist remark. I did not state, or even insinuate, that blacks, as a group, are more violent than whites. I stated facts that beg the question as to why would the President speak out on a "perceived"  case of white on black  violence without commenting on the black on white violence which is more prevalent. If white on black violence is to be considered racially motivated, then why is black on white not also considered racially motivated?
              The question is why is this ONE case at the forefront of the national news when other acts of violence are not. Where is the discussion, in the mainstream media, by Sharpton and Jackson about the multiple acts of violence in Chicago every week? Why is the black on black violence not covered to the extent that this case was? Because, race baiters, like Sharpton and Jackson, make their livings off of keeping race up and running.
              We need to focus problems of violence REGARDLESS of race. The more we focus on race, the more division we will have.

              1. SpanStar profile image60
                SpanStarposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                First of all if what I presented you cannot see a systematic impact on Black people then you're not looking.

                Part of what you say is true:

                "We need to focus problems of violence "

                This however is wrong: "REGARDLESS of race." The BIGGEST problem in this country has always been race and until such time as race is dealt with there will be no forward steps in moving ahead in this country.

                Is no denying that there are problems within the inner cities but to make the presumption that just because they're Black that in and of itself promotes violence. Let's think a little broader and understand that there maybe drugs in that community, how do drugs get into this country generally is not the Black people who have the kind of funding to fly in these drugs. Perhaps there are companies that live outside the Black community that are profiting off of gangsta rap music and videos do these people really want the atmosphere to change in inner cities? Your statistics tell a story they just don't tell the whole story.

                As far as the president go's he is an American just like any other American why is it that he is not allowed to have his own opinion?

                When it comes to racial issues there have been some wonderful Caucasian people who have stepped forward and sacrificed the same as many African-Americans. Through all my years though when the issue of racism arises I almost never see the White race initiating protests such as marches. Let me repeat I didn't say they weren't a part of marches or protests it just seems to me like they need someone like an Al Sharpton or a Jesse Jackson to make America aware that all of its citizens aren't being treated fair if there were where are your criticisms of those White people?

                1. Mitch Alan profile image86
                  Mitch Alanposted 3 years ago in reply to this

                  I asked about systemic government sanctioned racism...you presented nothing to support that.
                  You stated, "This however is wrong: 'REGARDLESS of race.' " So, you think that addressing white on black violence is needed, but not black on white violence? I believe in addressing crime regardless of race, as I believe we are all American citizens. I feel you like to separate people into ethnic groups instead of treating all people equal.
                  The drugs that are used, by ANY ethnicity, are used by those individuals by CHOICE.  People make bad choices and try to blame others for their bad choices. There would be no "gangsa rap" if there was no market for it. Companies do not produce products that people don't purchase. And, if the artists were concerned about those who are listening, they would not make music that promotes violence, drugs, sex etc.
                  My question remains that, if like you stated, "As far as the president go's he is an American just like any other American", then why is he not speaking out on other actions of violence that involve black on black crime, black on white crime etc...Why are Sharpton and Jackson not marching in protest of the black on black crimes that are committed with much more regularity than white on black crime? It is because they have an agenda. Dr. Martin Luther King called for people to be judged by the content of their character and NOT the color of their skin, and yet these two only focus on skin color. They should not even be placed in  the same sentence as King. You stated that we "need someone like an Al Sharpton or a Jesse Jackson to make America aware that all of its citizens aren't being treated fair". Why then don't they speak out for ALL Americans?