Some criticized me, tried to make me see the errors of my approach, arguing that US President Barack Obama was doing his best under trying circumstances, etc. Others came at me from an oblique angle. They boldly accused me of not supporting the first black American president and of being ignorant of America’s race situation.
Yesterday, Mr. Obama called an impromptu press conference. He addressed every point I made in my comment on July 16. It seems I was right in my approach!
While I congratulate Mr. Obama for this remarkable speech on Trayvon Martin and race in America, it is important that he actually follow through with delivering something tangible. His five-point plan is an excellent idea but he has to deliver on promises to deliver some of the actions on that list.
Trayvon ‘Obama’ Martin
Saying that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago” was a good media-friendly pacifier. It was good to show that many African-American young men get their own security detail that follows them around in department stores. As was highlighting how people lock their cars as African-Americans appoach them in the streets. And he did not forget that perennial favourite of women clutching their handbags during an elevator ride with African-Americans as passengers.
These were cute, cultural empathy observations that no other American president has ever made before. However, he must deliver something that will cement this aspect of his presidency. Something the people will be able to refer to and say, “President Obama’s defining moment was how he helped to tackle America’s Trayvon Martin situation.”
Even as Obama made his speech people, some openly displaying assault rifles, were protesting outside. Today there are more protest rallies, some reacting to Obama’s speech. We know these are difficult issues. America has never come to terms with this issue of race. It is your move, Mr. Obama. History and your part in its delivery, waits.
Are you up for this challenge?