This is my third attempt at a post about the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
Everything I write seems presumptuous. There are already too many voices raised, too many fleeting shards of news and rumor and innuendo flying around the Internet. At the center of all this is something horrible beyond words: the death of a young man—quite possibly for walking while black. No wonder the proper words won’t come.
My instinct, right now, is simply to write down a few thoughts and get out. So let’s keep it simple:
Being black in America is still fraught with risk. People make assumptions about you that have no basis in fact. We can do better. We have to do better.
One can realize this state of affairs, express outrage at it, and still want to wait for more evidence before deciding that the Martin case is an example of this.
It is possible to express outrage about the police response and want to demand justice.
It may be possible to express outrage about the police response, want to demand justice, and still not be sure whether George Zimmerman should be convicted, or of what.
Bottom line: it is possible to hold different, even paradoxical, beliefs in one’s head and heart at the same time. It is even OK to do so.
This, by the way, is a useful skill for dialogue. When we hold paradoxical beliefs, we can see the value of each. That makes it easier to see the value of others’ perspectives as well—and want to engage them in dialogue.
Your comments, as always, are welcome here. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of the more thoughtful articles I’ve read on this topic: a New York Times opinion piece by journalist and op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow. I hope you get as much from it as I did.