In a surprise speech during the daily White House briefing, President Barack Obama spoke further in depth about Trayvon Martin and the verdict that freed George Zimmerman last week. He started the speech, “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.”
He went on to list the ways in which people tend to stereotype black people in this country, how women clutch their purses when a black man steps on the elevator and how employees follow black people around in a department store. He even said that before he was elected to public office he recalls people locking their car doors when he walked past. In response to those stereotypes and assumptions President Obama discussed the pain many in the African American community feel because of the discrimination we have and continue to experience in this country. President Obama said this history does not go away.
He didn’t outright speak about his thoughts on whether the verdict was right or wrong, but he did say that Florida should look at state and local laws like “stand your ground” to determine if they will “encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.”
This was the speech I was waiting for. Throughout President Obama’s first term I understood that he was trying to get reelected and couldn’t afford to alienate the general population. So I got why he couldn’t necessarily speak out on “black” issues. But now that he’s comfortably settled into his second term, I’ve been waiting for him to speak out on causes that concern the African American community, beyond absentee fathers. And thankfully today was that day. President Obama’s remarks were thoughtful, enlightening for those outside of the community and gospel for those within it. It was nothing short of beautiful and while I’m always proud of our president, today I was especially thrilled.
If you missed his remarks, you can watch the video on the next page.