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Barack Obama, Black President, Has Finally Entered the Room: What if Trayvon Martin Had a Gun and Stood His Ground?

President Obama has spoken less about race than any other President in recent memory. Today's surprise speech on the Trayvon Martin case is a payment on that gross neglect against the debit on his account as the country's first black president.

Perhaps, President Obama just saw a private screening of the new Wolverine movie and felt especially heroic. Or maybe he simply woke up and realized that yes, he is President of the United States of America and has an obligation to speak on the national injustice that was George Zimmerman's acquittal. Obama is also a very smart man, one who is mindful of his historic legacy; history would not judge him kindly if he stood mute on the post civil rights equivalent of the Emmett Till case.

The divided response to Obama's speech will reveal what we already know. Black folks and others will be happy that for a few moments their shining black prince and superhero had arrived. The change we voted for was speaking to the White House press corps and the nation at large. Conservatives and the White Right will respond to Obama as though a leprechaun showed up at their private dinner party, took a crap on the floor, smiled at them, and then promptly exited the room without comment. Disbelief and rage.

For the Tea Party GOP, the very fact that a black man and his family are in the White House as something other than janitors or maids is unacceptable. Conservatives will rage against Obama's suggestion that he could have been Trayvon Martin and that the dead teenager could have also stood his ground against a stalking, vigilante, wannabe cop named George Zimmerman, the man who killed him in cold blood that rainy evening in Florida. The Obama derangement syndrome and mania of racism that has possessed the country's de facto White Political Party are a tired script which the White Right cannot escape.

Will Obama's speech on the Trayvon Martin verdict be all sound and fury signifying nothing? One more moment in the symbolic politics of the country's first black president which will ultimately not result in any structural or institutional challenge to white supremacy? The answer will most certainly be "yes". But, that does not mean that a little warmth, and a smile from the glow of the fantasy of what a Black President could have been--the brother who just spoke to the nation a few moments ago--is not appropriate and welcome.