Saturday, 20 July 2013

Speaking with a Clear Conscience

"Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." - President Obama

I must admit I wasn't one of those that was following the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case or reacted when a verdict was reached because all too often the media tends to sensationalize matters.  Having lived in the United States when the O.J. Simpson trial happened in the 1990's, I've seen just the real issues can get missed out and how the media circus takes over.

In the Zimmerman-Martin case though, the media was clearing looking for a reaction from President Obama the moment a verdict was reached because this was probably the first landmark case related to race that has happened while he was President.  We've been used to seeing stalwarts like Rev. Jessie Jackson speak up over the decades but having a sitting President of African-American descent meant the stakes were higher this time.


President Obama though took this case in his own stride and let the hype die down a bit before making his own heartfelt comments on the case.  As we've seen on more than one occasion, President Obama hasn't looked to sensationalize matters when the iron has hot but has always let the dust settle before talking.  His approach has been pragmatic, often frustrating those around him.

I do appreciate the fact that when President Obama has spoken, it's been with a clear conscience.  He spoke yesterday with a handwritten statement where he spoke from his heart.  The impact of this is always greater and instead of politicizing an issue further as many others would, he put things in perspective.  I've not taken sides in the American political arena but appreciate it when a person in a position such as that of President Obama where to draw the line as to what is politics and what isn't.

If you haven't read or heard President Obama's speech, the following paragraph from the New York Times summarizes what he said in a nutshell.

But in the most expansive remarks he has made about race since becoming president, Mr. Obama offered three examples of the humiliations borne by young black men in America: being followed while shopping in a department store, hearing the click of car doors locking as they cross a street, or watching as women clutch their purses nervously when they step onto an elevator. The first two experiences, he said, had happened to him. (source: New York Times).