Friday, July 19, 2013

better angels

This afternoon my husband called me to say that President Obama gave a speech today on the Trayvon Martin verdict... and I should watch it. 

Admittedly, I've been angry at the President. I've written many letters to him in my head this week... none of them as thoughtful as I would have liked.  I wanted him to say something, something about the injustice of 'stand your ground' in Florida, something about our right to protest unjust laws, something about treating a fellow citizen as 'less than'... something.

And now he has... check it out Here.

"Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?"

"And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.
On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy."

What can we learn? In our families, can we wring as much bias out as possible? And if I must judge people, can it be only by the content of their character?  

Let us draw on the 'better angels' of our nature.

If you're interested in what we can learn, and where we can take this... here are some cool resources to help you and your family start a more honest conversation:

The Learning Network, New York Times Education article.

A post on the African American History Blog entitled: Teaching about the Trayvon Martin case.

A post on the Teaching Tolerance Blog: Will we learn from Trayvon Martin's death?

An article by Tim Wise which was relevant to my family since we had just been talking about the Dred Scott Decision as well as reading about Emmitt Till in The Lions of Little Rock.

From TIME Magazine, a slide show as well as a photo essay.

And on NPR: After Trayvon Martin's Death, We're All Having 'The Talk'.

Finally, from The Hairpin, Teaching Trayvon.

Trayvon Martin’s death was a tragedy. 

Let us avoid further tragedy by engaging our kids in a discussion about the world in which they are growing up. As the President said, "...they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues." 

Perhaps these discussions can motivate some of us to contribute to building a better vision of our society, one in which a young life is not so sadly wasted.


  1. He's so smart and so kind. I think it is wonderful that he had this speech, and he did it off the cuff:-)