This is why it is so damned important to not just have white males in positions of power making all the decisions about everyone else’s life.
Just watching United States Attorney General Eric Holder during his press conference on Tuesday remembering what it was like for him as a young black man in America whose father had to give him ‘the talk’ about how he should behave if ever he was stopped by the police was, I’m quite sure, a revelation to a large segment of the nation. And not the darker segment, because we already know. And as I watched him describe how he felt certain that his father didn’t think his son’s generation would likely have to give that same wise but fearful advice, and then how he wove that into the tragic verdict excusing George Zimmerman for murdering an unarmed black teenager, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that only a black man could offer that perspective on the verdict. No matter how sympathetic many of our white fellow citizens may be, only a black man can talk with authority about what this really means for young black men.
But more importantly, this wasn’t coming from some anonymous black man interviewed on the street. This opinion was coming from the nation’s top lawyer, the man who is in charge of the United States Justice Department. And this man talked about one night not all that long ago when he was stopped by the police in Georgetown as he was running to get to a movie – simply because he was running while black at night in Georgetown. He was a federal prosecutor at the time.
So this is a man who definitely ‘gets it’ when he hears the outraged pleas of ‘Justice for Trayvon!’. He gets it because he inhabits the same skin and feels the weight of all that comes with it, which would very possibly explain why he announced that the Justice Department plans to further investigate the case, and possibly bring further charges. Holder doesn’t just know on an intellectual or empathetic level how wrong it is that George Zimmerman has been allowed to walk free, he can feel it burning inside of him as can every other black man in America.
Zimmerman has as much as said that he now feels like he has to look over his shoulder wherever he goes. Perhaps. But it won’t be an angry mob with a rope coming for him. Justice for Trayvon will be coming from the Justice Department.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.