Race-motivated shooting of teen rekindles racism debate

Columnist and Columnist

We live in an insular place, both physically and mentally. Such is the life of a college student.

We get caught up in studying, assignments and social life. This is especially true of the younger, traditional students.

As an older, non-traditional student, I am impressed by the level of consciousness about the “real world” from my younger classmates.

It is both affirming and refreshing to see the political consciousness that can be displayed at times.

This leads me to something I sincerely hope all young people are thinking about; especially university students who will lead this nation one day: the Trayvon Martin case.

As a middle-aged man, I am very saddened by this case; after all, Trayvon was young enough to be my son. Worse than being saddened though is the fact that the Trayvon Martin case does not shock me in the least. Racism is alive in America. It is underground to a certain extent, but it is alive.

In case you are one of the (unfortunately) many who do not know who Trayvon was, here is a quick synopsis.

Trayvon Martin was a good kid, never one to court trouble. He was from Miami and was visiting his father and his girlfriend in Sanford, Florida earlier this month.

Walking in a gated community where his dad’s girlfriend lived, Trayvon was holding a bottle of iced tea and some Skittles when a neighborhood watchman decided he was trouble. George Zimmerman, a man known to hold a racist attitude, stalked Trayvon, called 911, ignored the 911 operator’s order to stop following Trayvon and eventually shot and killed the 17 year old.

The 911 tapes are out there. They are beyond chilling. It is pretty clear that Trayvon was a victim of racist paranoia. The sheriff did nothing about this case.

Zimmerman has never been arrested. If not for African-American media such as Al Sharpton, Michael Baisden and Tom Joyner, this case would have never gotten national attention.

Due to light being shined on this miscarriage of justice (and that phrase is really too weak), finally some action has occurred to bring justice to Trayvon and his family.

The Trayvon Martin case has now restarted a discussion on the Great American Problem: race. All too many in this nation believe that racism is dead and buried; the Civil Rights Act is almost 50 years old. On a college campus especially, one can give into this falsehood. The events since Trayvon Martin’s killing have illustrated all too well that racism lives not just in backwoods America, it lives at the highest levels.

This past week, President Obama commented on the Trayvon case, and stated that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon.” Regardless of politics, that was a moving moment.

That kind of statement we supposedly want out of our President. The Right though was not as classy. It has taken forever for Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, to say anything regarding the case. Newt Gingrich, that stalwart champion of Civil Rights (sarcasm definitely intended), called President Obama’s remark “disgraceful.”

This from a man who served his first wife with divorce papers while she recovered from surgery in a hospital bed.

Make no mistake, this is not an oversight on the Republican Party’s part.

They are the enemy of Civil Rights. In my 41 years, the GOP has done nothing but oppose any Civil Rights legislation.

One of their highest profile leaders, Ron Paul, believes that the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy.

These are the kinds of thoughts that make up the Republican Party. Wealthy, white, straight, and male—these are the people the GOP works for.

When one half of the electorate in this nation (and more than one half in the South) feels this way about race in America, we live in a dangerous society.

This isn’t a bunch of hayseeds or Klansmen either.

Reagan, Bush I and Bush II opposed any strengthening of Civil Rights for African-Americans or any other minority. Remember on Election Day many of you are Trayvon Martin. Vote accordingly.

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