The president sidesteps the role of race in the Michael Brown killing and aftermath.
Last July President Obama addressed the nation about the shameful George Zimmerman verdict delivered in Sanford, Florida. He famously claimed that Trayvon Martin could have been his son and went into detail about how “very few African-American men” could say that they haven’t been racially profiled:
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.”
A little over a year later the president addressed the nation about the Ferguson, Missouri, police killing of 18-year-old, unarmed Michael Brown. The remarks stands out for what the second-term president left out. He didn’t once mention race.
This strategy defies logic. Ferguson is not one of those instances where racism exists only in the eyes of the oppressed. Mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post have reported that racism and segregation play a role in Ferguson policing. Race informs the posts of thousands of social media users—including those using the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag. If that’s not enough, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced on Wednesday that “race relations” are now a “top priority” for the department. This year alone we’ve seen the police-involved deaths or attacks on unarmed black people including Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Marlene Pinnock, Ursula Ore and Ezell French. Even the jackasses who accuse people of “playing the race card” would agree that race is a factor in the Brown shooting and its aftermath. And yet we have the First Black President of the United States avoiding even the slightest mention of race and racism when discussing Michael Brown.