Tag Archives: Trayvon Martin

The Audacity of Hope: Obama’s Impromptu Speech About Trayvon Martin and Race

This afternoon, President Obama surprised everyone by making an appearance in the White House press briefing room. He spoke for approximately 17 minutes about Trayvon Martin, race, the law, and some other things. Part of the specialness of this speech was that it was impromptu (at least it appeared that it was unplanned) and was unscripted. [I couldn’t embed the video, but you can see it here.]

There were a lot of key things that he addressed in his speech, but what I thought to be the most important was the last few minutes. In the last few minutes, President Obama said that the younger generations are doing it much better than previous generations. The implication here is that the younger generations are less racist (or less unapproving) than previous generations. He talked about how he would listen to Malia and Sasha (his kids) speak with their friends and hear how they interacted. As a result, he thinks that the younger generations are doing it better than the older generations.

As I heard him say that, it made me think about how our countries are governed. Right now, the people who run the country (and by extension, the world) are older. I wonder what it’d be like if we had younger people who ruled the world. Maybe younger people would “get us there faster.” As a way to temper the eagerness of young people, maybe it’d be important to have some people from older generations to be advisors.

I wonder… are there any countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, or towns that are run by “younger” people? Are they more successful? Could we map this onto bigger populations with the same success?

~

For the first 14+ minutes, it seemed like there was an almost sombre tone to President Obama’s remarks. However, as he shifted to talking about the younger generations, I got the sense that he had hope for the future. I got the sense that he had hope for the future of the country because of the progress he sees in younger generations. While nothing is certain about the future nor are the implications, I’d like to think that it’s rather poetic that the leader of the United States believes in a brighter tomorrow. That President Obama believes that we are getting better as a society. As a people. That we are beginning to treat each other with more respect. More love. More kindness. And the hope is that this will continue with each succeeding generation. Hope.

Quick Thoughts on the George Zimmerman Trial

Up until now, I’ve done a relatively good job of avoiding any of the coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. There are plenty of uninformed opinions flying around and plenty of partisan positions espoused. I’m not a lawyer nor am I familiar with the self-defense laws of Florida. I couldn’t possibly have an informed opinion.

Nonetheless, I happened to catch some discussion of the trial on NPR, while I was running some errands yesterday. I was a bit shocked to hear how some of the trial has progressed and some of the things that seem to be important (one of the witnesses not speaking the “Queen’s English“). My thoughts about the situation stem from some of the things I heard back when the event first transpired last winter.

I don’t remember where I heard it, (this is *kind of* important), but I remember thinking that it seemed noteworthy. It was one of the 911 tapes that were released. The conversation was between Zimmerman and the 911-operator. Zimmerman was calling in about the person he saw walking in the neighborhood (Trayvon Martin). I don’t remember if he said ‘suspect,’ but the folks on NPR today seemed to think that he did. While that would be important, it’s not the point that I’m going to make, so I’ll move past it.

On this call, after Zimmerman alerted the 911-operator about Trayvon Martin, the 911-operator said that there was someone on the way. I don’t quite remember what was said in the interceding section, but the 911-operator must have gotten the impression that Zimmerman was going to start following Trayvon Martin because she said something to the effect of, “I’m going to need you to not follow him.” Let me say that again. The nine-one-one operator said don’t follow him. Of course, we all know that Zimmerman went on to follow Martin. I haven’t even really brought into the equation that Zimmerman was a “self-appointed” neighborhood watchman.

Bear with me for a second as we just boil down to the fact that Zimmerman didn’t follow the directions of the 911-operator. Would you do that? I most certainly wouldn’t. If I’m calling in because of an emergency of someone I see outside walking down the sidewalk, I’m not going to jump out of my house and try to follow him. I might go upstairs (if I had an upstairs), to watch where he goes. I’m not a trained police officer or security guard. What would possess me to think that I’m smarter than the 911-operator and begin following someone who I’ve just labeled “suspect?”

As I said in the beginning, I am not a lawyer, but this seems like it’s an important part of this case. And not just inside the case, but outside of the case. Do other citizens make a habit of not following the direction of 911-operators?