Obama: "If I Had a Son, He'd Look Like Trayvon"
In remarks regarding the appointment of Dr. Jim Kim as head of the World Bank this morning, President Obama was asked for his views on the slaying of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla:
Question: Mr. President, may I ask you about this current case in Florida, very controversial, allegations of lingering racism within our society: the so-called do not—I'm sorry—Stand Your Ground law and the justice in that? Can you comment on the Trayvon Martin case, sir?
The President: Well, I’m the head of the executive branch, and the Attorney General reports to me so I’ve got to be careful about my statements to make sure that we’re not impairing any investigation that’s taking place right now.
But obviously, this is a tragedy. I can only imagine what these parents are going through. And when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids. And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this, and that everybody pulls together—federal, state and local—to figure out exactly how this tragedy happened.
So I'm glad that not only is the Justice Department looking into it, I understand now that the governor of the state of Florida has formed a task force to investigate what's taking place. I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.
But my main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
All Americans most assuredly should do some soul-searching about this. While it's important to get to the bottom of the killing of Trayvon Martin, the slaying offers us the opportunity as a society—a society that definitely is not "post-racial"—to examine both the bigotry and racism that still plague us.
In the past couple of weeks, we've been fortunate here at Daily Kos to have a number of diarists providing some needed context in that examination. That conversation by its very nature will make many of us very uncomfortable, will make many want to stop up our ears, turn away and take on something easier, like, say, possible war with Iran.
But past stopping up of ears and turning away are very much part of the reason Trayvon Martin is dead. Americans made uncomfortable by discussions of how racism contributed to that killing and a million other interactions a day with less finality attached to them should think about how their comfort level measures up against the comfort level of parents of children of color who, like the president, know that what happened to Trayvon could have happened to one of them. We owe it to those parents, those children, to ourselves not to stop up our ears.