When Barack Obama addressed the “Trayvon Martin ruling” Friday, he did more than offer his “thought and prayers” to the family of Martin, applaud them for their “incredible grace and dignity,” and narrate a history of racial surveillance that often leaves African Americans frustrated and even afraid. The president did more than acknowledge that the democratic judicial system had done its work, urge demonstrations to be peaceful, and call for close evaluations of “stand your ground” laws. Obama took a moment where the nation was viciously debating its most cherished values through the death of a child and cast a vision for a better future through other children.
On Sunday I visited a church that's majority white but not overwhelmingly so. After worship, I stuck around for a planned conversation about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Here the demographics were flipped: a slight majority of African Americans. But the white folks did their share of the talking.
The verdict in the Trayvon Martin case shows that a trial can be fair as far as the law goes, while the nation falls far short of offering justice to all.
Stand-your-ground laws reflect our culture's belief that violence is not a last resort--it’s a way to proactively promote security.