A: “That is the most sickening, bigoted nonsense I have ever heard. A young man lost his life for no good reason. A family is grieving. The killer doesn’t even have to serve a month in prison, even though he instigated the whole thing, even though he was the one carrying a gun, even though he failed to listen to the 911 operators. And you dare make this into a political issue? Trayvon Martin was racially profiled, and that’s why he was dead. You can live in denial, but that doesn’t take away the pain.”
B. “Denial? Me living in denial? Do you know what it’s like to work hard to earn your money only to have some outlaw kids break into your home to feed their drug habit? Do you know what it’s like to be mugged in broad daylight by some thug who thinks he deserves what you have? And do you happen to know that in my neighborhood, 90% of the crimes are committed by African Americans? What you call racial profiling is what I call common sense, and I for one am glad that courageous people like George Zimmerman are out there protecting our neighborhoods. He should be given a medal.”
A. “You’re right! Maybe the KKK can give him a medal. Or maybe they can give him training in lynching so he doesn’t have to claim self-defense. If you had a working brain – or, at least, a beating heart – you would shut your mouth, look at your own people’s history, talk to some African Americans over a cup of coffee – don’t worry, they won’t try to mug you or steal your wallet – and ask them to tell you about their world, about corrupt cops and morally bankrupt judges, about parents being beaten in front of their children’s eyes without consequence, about the seething frustration black Americans have lived with for decades – no, centuries – and then you would understand why we are so outraged today.”
B. “But don’t you see how the pendulum has swung, how the race card is now played constantly, how there is reverse discrimination in our society – from the college campuses to the media – how, in recent elections, white voters were intimidated by Black Panthers without consequence? And if life is so precious – and I agree that Trayvon’s death is a terrible shame – where are men like Jesse Jackson and Ben Jealous speaking out about black on black violence, now at an epidemic level in America? And what are they doing to stop it?”
And on and on it goes. Yet there is some truth to both sides and some wrong thinking on both sides, and until we sit down and listen to each other, not to prove our point but to understand the other side (I’m talking about the rational voices on each side), America’s racial and social divide will only get worse.
Who will take the first step to initiate the conversation?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.