President Obama addressed the Trayvon Martin trial outcome directly at a news conference today. He specifically articulated the experiences of black American men and boys from a personal point of view, as a black man.
He made statements like.
- “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago”.
- “There are very few African-American men who haven’t been followed in a department store. This has happened to me.”
- “If a white male teen would have been involved in this scenario … both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”
- “If Trayvon Martin was of age and was armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we think he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened. And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems we need to rethink [Stand Your Ground] laws.”
- The President said that black boys need to know their country cares for them. He acknowledged the problems with black on black crime and urged America to understand that historical realities are responsible for how the black community reacted to the Trayvon Martin trial verdict.
- The president ended on a positive note, a note many Americans know. “We’re becoming a more perfect union. Not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”