You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Pain and rage over racism didn’t start with Trayvon

FROM THE LEFT: ZIMMERMAN VERDICT


“In the jewelry store, they lock the case when I walk in,” the young African-American man wrote. “In the shoe store, they help the white man who walks in after me. In the shopping mall they follow me. … Black male: Guilty until proven innocent.”

“I have lost control of my emotions,” he declared. “Rage, Frustration, Anguish, Despondency, Fatigue, Bitterness, Animosity, Exasperation, Sadness. Emotions once suppressed, emotions once channeled, now are let loose. Why?”

The words came not in response to the George Zimmerman verdict in the Trayvon Martin killing but to the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King case. The author of the May 6, 1992, column in the Stanford University student newspaper: Cory Booker, now the nationally celebrated mayor of Newark and the front-runner to be the next U.S. senator from New Jersey.

He spoke the day before President Obama went to the White House briefing room to issue his powerful reminder to Americans that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

In words that resonated with what Booker had said, the president noted that “the African-American community is looking at this issue though a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”

For his part, Booker didn’t start with the Zimmerman trial but instead spoke enthusiastically about a program he had established in cooperation with the libertarian-conservative Manhattan Institute to help men released from prison become better fathers. “The right intervention,” he said, “can create radically different outcomes.”

Booker knows about crime. He described his experience of holding a young man who had just been shot, trying and failing to keep him from dying in his arms. He returned home disconsolate and washed off the young man’s blood.

His account, and Obama’s later words, put the lie to outrageous claims by right-wing talk jocks that those upset over the outcome in the Zimmerman trial have no concern for what the conservative provocateurs, in one of their newly favored sound bites, are calling “black-on-black” crime. African-American leaders, particularly mayors such as Booker, were struggling to stem violence in their own communities long before it became a convenient topic for those trying to sweep aside the profound problems raised by the Martin case.

Why, Booker wonders, do we only have our famous conversations about race and fear “when things go terribly wrong”? Why, he wants to know, was it impossible for Zimmerman to look upon Martin “as someone he could have a conversation with”?

Talking to Booker was a reminder of the bundle of contradictions that is the story of race in America, precisely what Obama was underscoring when he spoke of our progress as well as our difficulties.

The young man who protested against the need to prove his innocence had earned a Rhodes scholarship and went on to become one of the country’s most prominent politicians. One of the central problems of our time, he said, is “the decoupling between wage growth and economic growth,” a development that feeds so many other social challenges.

We cannot give up on trying to solve these problems any more than we can blind ourselves both to the persistence of racism and our triumphs in pushing it back.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Elephant ranch lets visitors bathe, feed, ride elephants
Elephant ranch lets visitors bathe, feed, ride elephants

A private central Florida elephant preserve offers a unique, hands-on experience to visitors. The Elephant Ranch allows tourists to get up close and personal with the majestic animals. >> Read more trending news The Two Tails Ranch located near Gainesville lets people feed, bathe and even ride the eight elephants living at the ranch. The nonprofit...
International applicants dramatically down at area universities
International applicants dramatically down at area universities

U.S. college applications from international students are dramatically down, including requests received by area universities that rely on the tuition revenue generated by the foreign applicants. Around 39 percent of U.S. universities are reporting a decline in international applications for the fall semester while 26 percent saw no change and 35 percent...
Idaho woman blames car crash on deer-chasing Bigfoot
Idaho woman blames car crash on deer-chasing Bigfoot

A northern Idaho woman blamed a car crash with a deer on a Sasquatch sighting last week. >> Read more trending news The woman told police she collided with the deer after spotting a Bigfoot on a highway near Potlatch near the Washington border, according to NBC Montana. The woman said the Sasquatch was chasing the deer Wednesday night along the...
World War 1 exhibit opening at Clark County Heritage Center
World War 1 exhibit opening at Clark County Heritage Center

A local historical Society next month will be hosting a World War 1 themed exhibit featuring artifacts from Springfield residents. The Clark County Historical Society will be debuting their two-year exhibit Global Conflict, Local Experience: Clark County Joins the Great War at their museum at the Heritage Center, 117 S. Fountain Ave, on April 6th....
Trump now blames conservative Republicans for healthcare failure
Trump now blames conservative Republicans for healthcare failure

  President Donald Trump is now pointing the finger at an ultra-conservative Republican faction in the House for the GOP failure to rally a vote on House speaker Paul Ryan’s American Healthcare Act, scuttling the bill on Friday. >> Read more trending news But on Friday, it wasn’t the far-right Freedom Caucus, but the Democrats...
More Stories