This is the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his infamous “I have a dream speech” he would have been proud with how much has been accomplished since then. Dr. King was a perfectionist, so he would have said “we still have some unfinished business to take care of.”
We still have a communication problem because we are still talking past each other. The nation anticipated riots and violence of a large scale to break out the day Dr. King was supposed to give his speech. If you have seen some of the old films, you have seen the huge crowd that surrounded the Lincoln Memorial and beyond, so if a riot was to break out, it would have been a big one. It turned out to be a peaceful march and the rest is a memorable time in history.
Fifty years later, we expected large scale riots after the Trayvon Martin verdict but only a few skirmishes were reported. A lot of people stereotyped African-Americans as being unreasonable militants; without knowing the reason for their frustrations. Those same people want President Obama to condemn the recent despicable killing of Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane, not as an act of sympathy but to even the score. They really want him to remain silent ,so they can continue to highlight a black killing a white narrative.
There is a world of difference in the two horrific events and it only takes the art of listening and reasoning to come to that conclusion. First and foremost, Christopher Lanes’ killers were immediately arrested and charged. The initial reports said that three African-Americans killed Christopher Lane which instantly sent off a firestorm. I don’t know if those stories were intentionally printed to fuel the fire of racism or just a premature mistake that is much too common these days.
The president commented on the Trayvon Martin incident several days later because of the national interest but he cannot be expected to come each and every time a merciless killing happens; even if it is a black on white crime.
I saw the hateful rhetoric on Fox News during the George Zimmerman trial and the other day, I saw more of the same because President Obama did not make a public statement concerning the killing of Christopher Lane. I wish a person would have explained what angered the African-Americans of Sanford, Florida in the first place. It wasn’t Al Sharpton of Jessie Jackson; in fact they were late coming to the forefront. There was already racial tension in Sanford before Trayvon was killed and the fact that Zimmerman was not charged and held for trial was the tipping point. The incident was barely reported in the newspapers, so after a few days, the residents reached out to Al Sharpton to see if he could let American know that an unarmed black teenager was killed and the man who did the killing was running around without being charged. Al Sharpton used his MSNBC show to prioritize the incident and it took off from there. All they wanted was justice and they got it, despite the verdict.
A lot could be done to ease the tensions if a good faith effort is shown. One could be for Congress to take up Voting Rights Act, and modifying it to today’s standards to let the states know that voter suppression will not be tolerated. It can be done because voting is a right not a privilege.