I heard that President Obama commented about the Zimmerman Case last week. My wife urged me to listen to it, but I have been in a contentious trial these last two weeks. It ended yesterday. So last night I listened to the speech and it was indeed worth hearing. During the speech, the President candidly discusses race in a rare attempt to interpret for a largely white audience the different responses that black people might have to the verdict. Black men feel grossly misunderstood, hated and feared. It was interesting hearing that the perspective is shared by the most powerful man in the world.
This speech, as well as the Martin case, affords America an opportunity for a frank dialogue on the issue of race. Some people think we are past the "racial divide" in America and they point to the election of President Obama as evidence in support of their contentions. Others think that the ill treatment and disrespect that President Obama has received is evidence that the "racial divide" remains. I understand that discussions regarding race are uncomfortable and painful for many. But unaddressed racial wounds become infected with hatred and more misunderstanding.
In Texas, given the ultraconservative climate, it is even harder to discuss. The ultraconservative political machine has done a good job of characterizing all discussions of race as "playing the race card." People are fearful of engaging in such discussions even when it is obviously necessary. Rarely do I see lawyers discussing race in jury selection; even in cross-racial crimes. And some Texas defense lawyers refuse to even see the issue. And unsurprisingly, black men are convicted on thin evidence by all white juries in those cases. Many of the DNA exoneration cases in Texas involved cross racial crimes and all white juries. So, we have to learn how to discuss race without seeming like we are "playing the race card." If we don't, justice will continue to be trampled by the elephant in the room.