(Robyn Beck/Getty Images)

In the week since the verdict was announced in the Trayvon Martin murder case, many African-Americans have expressed fear, sorrow and anger about the state of racial justice in the U.S. The verdict has focused national attention on issues of race, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. We’ll discuss the state of racial equality and justice in 2013, and what civil rights battles lie ahead.

Guests:
Peniel Joseph, professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University; and author of "Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama"
Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, an Oakland-based non-profit dedicated to advancing economic and social equity; and author of "Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America's Future"
Eva Paterson, president and co-founder of Equal Justice Society; former executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights; and co-founder of the California Coalition for Civil Rights

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    Where are the Al Sharptons and AG Eric Holer’s and the black community at large marching to demand something be done with the black on black killings in black communities?.

    People need to take back their own communities and stop looking outside for someone to blame. None blacks aren’t creating single parent families, out of wedlock births, school drop outs in the black communities.

    If the same folks demanding juctice for Trayvon were to march for better schools in their communities they would get better schools. If they would demand more parental responsibility we would have stronger families.

    • thucy

      Beth,
      I have to be honest – as a former health care worker, I’ve seen the same problems among poor whites. Maybe you need to stop looking at race and start really thinking about economic disenfranchisement, which has been enacted against African-Americans in far greater proportion than against whites.

      • erictremont

        Black-on-black violence in high crime neighborhoods in Oakland, Richmond, etc. has hugely exacerbated the problem of economic disenfranchisement—just ask African-American entreprenurs about the challenges of starting small businesses in such areas. But Eva Patterson and Ms. Blackwell don’t want to talk about this topic.

        • Guest

          Yes I was very very disappointed in their comments to my comments. Ok so Sharpton is going to be at a big rally next month in DC.

          But there are demonstrations going on this week end and during this last week in response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin death.

          Where are ALL these demonstrators here in CA, and in NYC, LA, Chicago etc for ALL the black victims who have been killed by other blacks?

          That was my question. Whoppee so Sharpton will be at a big rally next month. He should be in Oakland, Chicago and other black communities weekly. But that would put the focus on black communities who seem to not care much about tackling their own problems.

    • thucy

      mis-typed, see above

    • thucy

      “None blacks aren’t creating single parent families, out of wedlock births, school drop outs in the black communities.”

      No, Beth, non-blacks are “creating single parent families, out of wedlock births, school drop outs” in their own communities.

      Europe has a very high rate of out of wedlock births. It also has socialized medicine and a social safety net. There’s your differential, right there.

    • TristanShouts

      Are you demanding better schools for ALL communities? We are all in this together and must fight for everyone to have equal opportunities and be equally valued by our society.

      • bear_in_mind

        Of course!

        It was the progressive agenda in response to the Great Depression which helped build-out the majority of our public schools and universities and restructured the tax system to break the back of the Robber Barons. This redistributed income much more fairly and ushered-in the explosive growth and social mobility of the Middle Class.

        Sadly, so many Americans are ignorant of our own recent history. They hear today’s uber-wealthy talk about how horrible taxes are on “small businesses” but what they don’t hear is how starving funding for education is robbing the future from our children and grandchildren.

        It’s no wonder the younger generations are frustrated and angry because they hear Baby Boomers talk about how great it was in the past, all the opportunities they enjoyed, yet what are the Boomers leaving behind for these kids? Digital dongles to distract them from the reality that the best paying jobs are being shipped overseas?

        Or that Boomers have sat on their butts while the ultra-rich earn more money in a month than many of these kids will make in their lifetimes? Or how the infrastructure of our country is literally crumbling, but even with high unemployment and the lowest interest rates of the last century, we won’t dare invest in the future?

    • bear_in_mind

      Liberty and justice for all? That phrase is still as aspirational and elusive as it was when it was written over 200 years ago.

      The “people” you reference are different from you not because they CHOOSE to be poor and impoverished, but they live in a socioeconomic system which doesn’t provide equal opportunities for all.

      They’ve been economically disadvantaged by capitalism, regardless of their race, creed or color, and do not have access to the power to change the conditions in which they live.

      America has been lurching back into an economic apartheid system where the rich become ever-richer, and the poor become ever-poorer.

      It’s simple: money = power. Same as it ever was.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Yes I was very very disappointed in their comments to my comments. Ok so Sharpton is going to be at a big rally next month in DC.

      But there are demonstrations going on this week end and during this last week in response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin death.

      Where are ALL these demonstrators here in CA, and in NYC, LA, Chicago etc for ALL the black victims who have been killed by other blacks?

      That was my question. Whoppee so Sharpton will be at a big rally next month. He should be in Oakland, Chicago and other black communities weekly. But that would put the focus on black communities who seem to not care much about tackling their own problems

  • DISGUSTED

    your rasist guest just called Obama “black”. and went on to talk about
    black and latino young men as victimized by whites……. funny when a
    half-white Obama does something good, she claims him as “black” but when
    Zimmerman a half white-half hispanic (Who self identifies as hispanic) does something bad , she gives
    him to the “Whites”

    • Keeping an open mind

      Are you sure she was referring to Zimmerman? I believe she was talking in generalities, when making that statement.

      • DISGUSTED

        generality = stereotyping = profiling = racist
        I stand by my original comment

        • Keeping an open mind

          Nice formula, that makes it seem so easy. It’s not so black or white, however.

  • TristanShouts

    As a white woman in my forties, the death of Trayvon Martin and the verdict have also broken my heart and made me very angry. And I am so sad to say that the outcome was not a surprise to me, having read up on Florida laws and understanding how little our society as a whole values young black men. I imagine how terrified and alone that boy felt in his last moments. I imagine the pain and deep sorrow of his parents having to carry on knowing that our society assumes that black equals “up to no good.” This case is clearly about race but it is also about gun rights, and how when a person is carrying a concealed weapon, I believe that person is more likely to behave in a foolishly bold way that, as with this case, may result in an unnecessary, terribly tragic death. So I think that while this conversation rightly focuses on race, I think it also ought to expand to include the role of the NRA and gun “rights.”

    • thucy

      As a biracial woman who is perceived as white by this society, I couldn’t agree more.
      The murder of Trayvon Martin is about race, but it is more importantly about white paranoia and an inept police investigation based on the crapulous “stand your ground” law.
      If white people think Zimmerman’s state-sanctioned paranoid style of murder will only and ever be enacted against blacks, they are mistaken.
      But seriously, I know few white people who weren’t as horrified as I was by the murder of an unarmed black teen by an overzealous wannabe cop with obvious psych issues. (Nothing against people with psych issues, the majority of whom are non-violent.)

      • TristanShouts

        Thanks, thucy. I am horrified to report that I have heard the most racist things out of the mouths of (white) men who of course won’t admit to being racist, including that Trayvon “was a thug who died a thug’s death” and “my (white) son would have more sense than to do what Trayvon was doing” (which is what, exactly? He’d have “sense enough” not to walk home from the store?) to a version of whoa-is-me-I-wasn’t-handed-anything-on-a-silver-platter-so-why-do-black-people-expect-that claptrap. An interesting and repugnant view into the racist mind.

        • thucy

          My boss is white and male – he was so angry that Zimmerman wasn’t even judged guilty of manslaughter that he said “I’m seriously thinkng about moving to Canada.”
          The murder of Trayvon Martin is as much a wake-up call for whites as it is for blacks. We are all reeling from the idiotic comments of Juror B37.
          WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show did a great segment on the B37 Juror with (I think) Emily Bazelon of Slate. I’ll paste a link in a sec, it’s essential listening.

        • thucy

          Thanks, Tristan. Here’s the link to Brian’s segment with Emily Bazelon about Juror B37:

          http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/2013/jul/17/what-we-know-zimmerman-juror-b37/

    • Niketana

      I agree about the gun rights issue. I’m not blaming guns instead of blaming Zimmerman. But I am suggesting that the stand-your-ground law played a key role in the confrontation and Trayvon’s death. In part, the event is a referendum on such laws.

    • utera

      Hundreds of “trayvons” have died by the hands of other black boys hands since the incident, I’m sure you were happy to not know about those…..as with the rest of the media.

  • Chemist150

    Zimmerman was not a policeman, uniformed and did not identify himself. There are 4 key events that happened to give Trayvon reasonable cause for fear of his own safety and he did not necessarily have time to call 911.

  • Aaron

    I think there are common lines of reasoning among white people that go something like, “Well black people are racist too…” or “Black people treat white people with suspicion,” or “Black people don’t value personal responsibility,” and therefore black people are somehow obstructing racial progress.

    I’m a 40 year-old white man. It’s maddening to me that we insist on believing that the deck isn’t stacked against black children, black families and black communities. I’m talking big picture. Not anecdotes of successful individuals like Barack Obama or pro athletes or rich CEOs. I’m talking about Sly Stone’s “Everyday People.” Those people, the real people who make a society, are systemically under foot.

    If you’re white and feel no connection to how bad it is for vast swaths of our country, I have a quick suggestion. Take one hour and listen to 10 Public Enemy songs. Try to keep an open mind. Try to imagine that’s you or your kids or your neighborhood. And see if what they’re talking about makes any sense to you.

    • ftex

      The deck was stacked against many chinese laborers, which were little more than indentured slaves, when imported to work on western railroads. The deck was stacked against my family when we immigrated to the USA in the mid-seventies and settled in Newark NJ no less. The deck is stacked against many people. Blacks have unprecedented access to services and education. Destruction of the black family due to fatherhood attitudes, lack of valuing education, “snitching” attitudes have all played a role in destroying the black community.

      • rhesa j

        convenient mistruths don’t change the reality of impact of race on opportunity and, in this casedisparate scrutiny. the idea of a model minority being the mistruth in your comment. an excellent source of plain truth with respect to pervasive structural inequality, impact and cause covered here:

        http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/02/who_you_calling_a_model_minority_new_report_dispels_myths_about_asian_americans.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

        • ftex

          Interesting that the article you reference lumps “asian” americans all together. Nice. No mention that Loatian, Cambodian, etc immigrants may disproportionately be poorer and less educated than whites, and therefore living at a lower standard of living. Oh the travesty that these immigrates are not at the at the same social-economic level of whites and others who have been in this country for generations. How dare we do this to these poor immigrants? It must be racism. I urge you to compare against the ethnic chinese population in the USA that has lived, worked and died here in the USA for generations.

          • thucy

            When I do look at the history of the Chinese in the US., and particularly in California, I see enormous oppression and discrimination. But it is nothing compared to the ongoing discrimination against black Americans. I also note that there remain serious issues of poverty in the Chinese community, which you seem to be selectively ignoring.

          • utera

            Yea I don’t think people understand the extent of discrimination against Asians in America. Quite literally Asians were denied both the ability to own land and become a citizen. The Alien Land Laws were invalidated in only 1952 ….. this isn’t ancient history, but I bet most people on the left complaining about this case know almost nothing about this.

            Until 1965, when the Magnuson Act was repealed, Asians were not only barred from immigration, but Asian Americans in all 50 states, including US citizens, were legally disfranchised and subjected to high rents and punitive taxes.

            In 1982, a Chinese American was bludgeoned to death in a racially motivated attack in Detroit. His killers walked free with a mere $3,000 fine, with the judge ruling that they were “not a threat to society” by virtue of their being gainfully employed citizens at the time of the murder.

            Until 2001, US laws against ethnic-Chinese immigration and property ownership (Alien Land Acts) remained intact in states such as Wyoming.

            “http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/anti-Chinese-persecution-in-the-USA-history-timeline.htm

            You can bet none of those African commentators know the name Vincent Chin

          • utera

            And of course its not honest anyways because even these “poor” Asian groups climb up the socio economic ladder within a generation or two.

      • bear_in_mind

        Listing stereotype after another is a form of bias – which is the crux of the problem.

      • utera

        Don’t forget the jews. Talk about having the deck stacked, not just racial, but religious hatred, to the point of genocide at the hands of some. Yet they succeed. Same with the Asians. Because they know hard work, education and family are the foundation for getting ahead, not campaigning on racial grievance as the African American “leadership” have done.
        The entire reason you see flare ups like trayvon is exactly because the current realities like Obama being president is undermining their old playbook of racial grievance.

    • utera

      That’s not the line of reasoning. Its just a failed line of reasoning which fails to address any problems in the African American community, and has long been a dodge for dealing with the root of the problem. Like it or not young trayvon was going down the wrong path, as with many others like him, but instead of dealing with that, the commentators and outrage mob decide to make it about race.
      Stereotypes do matter. Does a woman walk faster in a dark parking lot if you dress like a slob as a man? Of course. Do you walk faster down a dark street if an old woman is behind you or a young black man dressed like a thug like trayvon. Lets be honest, its just people running the numbers in their head, its not racism, and the failure to acknowledge this is a huge problem. All the crying over supposed racism is missing the point, and based on really false concern, hundreds of “trayvons” have died at the hands of other black youth since the incident, yet no one cares, that’s the truth of the matter. Unless your death is useful for certain peoples agendas, it doesn’t matter. That’s the ugly issue people are failing to deal with.

  • Selostaja

    Are we the only multi-racial family, asian, hispanic, & white, who have no illusion that we are 2nd class citizens to most white people? I love Forum and enjoy its discussions but often feel it is often conversations between upper income, predominately white listeners who have no idea how alien their attitudes seem to me. My partner is often looked upon suspiciously by police because of his skin color,

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Forum has programs that their listeners want to hear. It’s not their fault more upper income, whites listen to the show. How many of your friends have you told to listen to Forum?

  • worthyadvisor

    I understand that we need to be uncomfortable. I’ve been in race conversations in seminary, but how do we talk about race without demonizing each other? There’s a tendency to generalize about people in some until no conversation happens at all. And how do you not demonize those who are trying to be allies, but are human and don’t always get it right?

  • Janya Wongsopa

    Racism is not the cause of fear. It’s the other way around. Fear causes people to own guns. Fear caused George Zimmerman to grab his gun and follow Trayvon Martin. The people who fear the most cause the most destruction. No fear means no racism, sexism or any ism.

  • Selostaja

    Education, education, education. That is the ultimate answer. In an educated society cultural differences can be brought into the light and will lose their strangeness (i.e. threat). Unfortunately schools are very low on the budget list in this country as education is more and more privatized and only affordable for the rich.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Then explain why many folks like Asians who are new to this country will live in a small apartment, but insist their children study study studdy because they know going to school then college is the only way out of poverty and into success?

      • thucy

        Beth,
        It appears that you’re profoundly confused about the disparity of historical oppression between what you loosely term “Asians” in this country and African-Americans. It also appears that you don’t understand how many “Asians” live in poverty in the US.

        You apparently think all “Asians” follow a “model minority” structure. I understand you live in a rather isolated and fantastically non-diverse community in the Sierras, but seriously? Please do not presume to speak for Asians; based on their voting habits, most Asians would want nothing to do with you.

  • Eleanor Ellis-Lee

    Being tired means: ok, there’s racism. What’s the solution? Otherwise the guests are just harping on the fact that racism happens and we need to do something about it without concrete steps to make changes.
    All their suggestions have been vague so far: we need to educate, we need to talk about it, we have to see that we are in it together. Well, duh, but how? We can talk circles about needing to do something. What’s an actual concrete thing that has actual results we can do?

  • MIke

    How about the senseless killing of two asian jewelry store owners in San Francisco? I guess they don’t deserve your precious air time.

    • thucy

      What’s interesting is that Asian gangs have often mirrored Italian, Latino and black gangs in targeting their own coommunities. Model minority? Sure, if you sweep a lot of other things under the rug….

    • rhesa j

      yes, and you should tell us why and ask, hope, that we listen with empathy. which is all that’s asked for here as well.

      is that alright?

    • bear_in_mind

      Assuming the perpetrators are abducted, I doubt they’re going to be able to use “Stand Your Ground” as a defense for their actions. That’s a nuance worth considering, no?

    • utera

      Exactly.

      Remember all the fuss about “tookie Williams”? The black guy many of the usual suspects are trying to get off death row?
      Guess why his crimes do not matter or are even discussed.
      He murdered an Asian family, no big deal..just Asians.

  • Niketana

    I do wish black Americans assumed some responsibility for their low graduation rate from high school and didn’t blame “institutional racism.” Yes, the public schools in urban areas are often underfunded or of inferior quality, but it also seems that higher education is undervalued within certain communities and families, and that value as to be instilled when kids are young. It’s a complex issue; parents who haven’t had the chance to pursue higher ed. are going to have less interest in instilling that value–or modeling it–for their children. But I’ve seen kids from poor families of color–Asian, Hispanic–excel in higher ed., whereas black males are conspicuous by their absence. It’s not a question of native ability, obviously. It is a cultural-economic issue, and it’s too bad that being authentically “black” sometimes means not valuing ed., not respecting teachers, and not taking it all seriously until several years after dropping out of high school, when the will is there but the skills aren’t. Is “institutional racism” another term for this trend?

    • Jme

      “Institutional racism” is neither a trend nor is it a newly conceived term. You will find the discussion of “institutional racism” arise in a wide range of literature — from housing to public health, education, and beyond.

      A quick way to learn more is by looking up the terms “restrictive covenants” and “redlining,” and thinking about the long-term consequences of laws like these on how and where people (entire communities) have ended up locating. There was a clear and intentional race component to these policies, and their effects are prevalent today. Then, consider the links between communities and wealth concentration, and how and where stores and businesses “choose” to locate. Then take a moment to consider the connections between local opportunities (for jobs, education, and so on) and community composition. There is a clear and proven relationship between areas where opportunities are concentrated and the broader social/demographic make-up of those areas.

      One of the most difficult aspects of discussing “race” is stepping back from the individual level and recognizing that we live within a very broad context of social, economic, political, and environmental factors. This requires making the time to delve deeper than surface level notions of what race is and what race means. Our environments are governed by laws… and our laws are drafted by individuals. These individuals have values, yes, and then those values shape how entire societies act, and what opportunities are available to them.

      If we’re discussing values, then we should be discussing the values our policies reflect, the values of how we as a nation, a state, a community choose to govern ourselves. What is the value that drives “Stand your Ground” in Florida? Whose values does that law reflect? Wildwood, New Jersey passed a law recently to outlaw low-hanging pants. What value is driving that? What values drive our immigration laws? Our laws around criminal justice? Our investments in education and civil rights? Our policies around marriage and corporate responsibilitiy, corporate personhood?

      We need to take the time to reflect and to discuss, and I doubt that many of those who are “tired” of this discussion have actually taken that time to think before talking.

      • Niketana

        This particular conversation seems to have ended, but I did want to say that you’ve made an excellent point about how laws both reflect and enact or engender certain “values.” Legal, economic, and social structures create behavior and, as you say, can limit the opportunities of specific groups, whether they be poor inner-city blacks or poor Appalachian whites or poor migrant farm worker Hispanic (not to mention the advantages conferred on “white” people who grow up in well-to-do families that value higher education, can afford it, and can move their kids through opportunities and benefits that result).

        The point I was hoping to make in my first post is that some impetus has to come from WITHIN communities. If, as Jon McWhorter, an African-American scholar from a two-income, middle class, Philadelphia family, argues, black people as a whole have experienced a substantial improvement in their socio-economic status in the past fifty years, then we can assume that the “institutions” have changed for the better. Both Obama and Cosby have also called for people WITHIN their own communities and cultures to take some responsibility for low educational performance, single black motherhood (fatherhood seen as a rite of passage but not as a responsibility), etc.

        It’s not an either-or argument; the improvements have to be structural AND familial, for lack of a better way to put it. To say that detrimental “values” are solely the result of historical and legal structures is to deny cultural values and community values. How many fellow educators have I known who lament how young black kids excited about learning go astray when they hit their teens. Yes, we can draw a vector between that phenomenon and, say, Kaiser steel bringing black people to Oakland from the South in the 1940’s to build ships. Follow the labor.

        We can also, anecdotally if not scientifically, point to poor immigrant kids with unskilled parents and language barriers and PTSD from early years spent in revolutionary situations and find success stories that include a valuing of education and a willingness to sacrifice. But I think many of these students come from cultures that value higher ed. Their parents didn’t go to Yale.

        As for the Stand-Your-Ground law and New Jersey’s Pull-Up-Them-Pants law, I think the former is a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, the disaster just happened. As to the low-pants showing butt crack phenomenon, I look forward to the day this fad passes. I think it’s stupid to see a young male of any race walk down the street with a goofy look on his face as he slides along like a gangsta wannabee while one hand holds his junk. At least the hippies were making a statement about love and peace in their hair and beads.

        If I connect with black men and women who are like me in their values and educational background but feel uncomfortable when a black male in a hoodie sits behind me on the bus and chants misogynistic rap lyrics, I can reflect and thus understand the forces that brought him there. But it doesn’t mean I’m racist if I say I don’t like the music or its sensibility. It’s disingenuous to suggest that he’s just listening to his music and minding his own business. Maybe New Jersey is following NYC’s example, explained by Gladwell in Blink, that small changes in environment and local culture can result in real improvements in safety, crime prevention, etc. Everyone benefits for the price of a belt.

    • rhesa j

      actually stats show Asian and Latin/Hispanic communities ahave comparable rates of poverty and inequality as black vs. whites when you correct for household size.

      Great work on this from http://www.changelabinfo.com/2013/05/24/an-asian-americans-perspective-on-obama-the-morehouse-speech-and-personal-responsibility/

      And also here: Report: Asian-American Subgroups Among Nation’s Poorest – Higher Education http://diverseeducation.com/article/53790/ via @twitterapi

      • Niketana

        Thanks for these links. If the rates of poverty are comparable, how do we account for the differences in performance?

  • Judith Tannenbaum

    Carrie Leilam Love (WritersCorps teaching artist) wondered what she could possibly offer her students in the Bayview this past Monday after the verdict. She and the young people created this wonderful “My Life is Precious” project. https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/blacklifeisprecious

  • Anh Crutcher Oppenheimer

    Fantastic show! Thank you. I am inspired to follow your wise guests. I am a 50 year old white woman, and I’m NOT too tired

  • trite

    Host, you read only part of Beth’s comment (see below) on the air, and deliberately left out the question of why black leaders are not talking about black on black violence and the decimation of black youth by people in their own communities. You should not editorialize like that. On July 4th weekend in Chicago 60 people were shot and 10 killed in community violence.

  • ftex

    All evidence points to Trayvon attacking Zimmerman. Why does no one bring this up? The facts don’t fit the argument, so disregard? Disgusting. Was Zimmerman an idiot? Yes. Did he deserve to get his face and head bashed. No. Did Zimmerman have a right to defend himself. Yes.

    Absolutely unbelievable that the talking fools are comparing this to Medgar Evers. Really?

    • bear_in_mind

      In your mind, Trayvon Martin didn’t deserve to act in self-defense against an unidentified male (Zimmerman) who had clearly taken the initiative to stalk him, if not outright hunt him. However, Zimmerman DID deserve to act in self defense, with a concealed firearm, once he realized he was going to lose the very conflict he precipitated?

      Did it occur to you that because Zimmerman, in his mind, was fearful of a young African American male in the first place, that the very presence of Martin was Zimmerman’s “justification” for the aggressive pursuit? That this conflict would have *never happened* if Zimmerman wasn’t afraid of an African American merely walking back from a convenience store with candy, a soda and cell phone?

      So, it seems you think Zimmerman was justified to be afraid of all African Americans; and the actions mobilized by this fear is a legitimate reason to routinely stalk people, with concealed firearms, just in case a target fights for THEIR safety.

    • thucy

      I agree that there’s no comparison to Medgar Evers. This is more along the lines of Emmett Till.

      The rest of what you wrote about Trayvon attacking Zimmerman is unsubstantiated by available evidence.

  • Walter Thompson III

    I guess what is most disturbing to me at this point in American history is the blatant ignorance and audacity some white Americans have in trying to convince themselves and others that racism is somehow over and therefore folks are making everything about race and racial political concerns in the United States. Of course the truth is the criminal justice system is not racially or socially economically blind. And the recent gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the United States Supreme Court is most disturbing, as fair and just voting is a pillar of our democracy. Disenfranchising voters is anti American pure and simple! Also not surprisingly after the 2010 Census was printed, showing indeed that Latino Americans and Asian Americans will increasingly be the new face of America and perhaps stronger and more politically powerful as groups, we see all this concern about immigration and immigration control of certain groups of folks. In general some factions of America are gripped in fear, much of it in response to losing power. Both the gun issue and gerrymandering all over the country are responses to this feeling of losing power and perhaps control, coupled with the fact that we have a sitting African American president. We as a society are, in my view, not at a good place in 2013 and I believe president Obama, like presidents before him (Kennedy and Johnson) must address this head on or it will be even more of a travesty if this present state of the union is ignored. The Trayvon Martin case is important because it touched the third rail of reality for many folks and provided a needed wake up call that we as a society needed to have in asking what type of civilization we are and what do we hope to be in the future.

  • Adam

    I am disappointed to see some of the comments that are disparaging the conversation about racial equity and how it focused on black Americans. Certainly, every race in this country suffers discrimination and horrific oppression. However, the blueprint for that oppression is the relationship between black and white as it was established through the slave trade that was the economic foundation of this nation. The institutionalized suspicions and biases and even laws that work against black people, do, in fact, work against, Asian, Latino, poor, female, LGBTQ and anyone else who doesn’t fit in the white male hetero-normative model. Listen to some of what Angela Glover Blackwell was saying about how this truly belongs to all of us and keeps us all down. If we can fix this for black/white relations, we may have a chance at fixing it for everyone.

  • Paul Blankenship

    I’m a little tired of the race card being played. It really isn’t about race, it’s about stereotypes. Most people don’t see color any more. When I look at another human being I see what they are projecting. For example, how they dress, how they carry themselves, how they speak and how they treat those around them. For example, the people on the program sounded like the “I’m entitled because of what my forefathers went through” type crowd.

    I’m a 40 year old balding white male motorcyclist. Do you think I don’t get lumped in with the “biker” crowd? When I was young I had long hair and was automatically assumed to be a druggie. There are stereotypes for a reason. People live up to them.

    If you want to change people’s perception about you or a group you belong to, don’t be stereotypical. If you want people to not think in terms of race, stop talking about race! The ONLY people I ever really view from a “racial” perspective are “people of color” and that’s because they won’t drop the subject and let me view them as the individual they are. Ultimately we are ALL ambassadors for ourselves and those “like us” regardless of race, religion, country or creed.

    • bear_in_mind

      If you’re as open-minded as you profess, have a listen to this report today on NPR examining bias:

      How To Fight Racial Bias When It’s Silent And Subtle

      http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/07/19/203306999/How-To-Fight-Racial-Bias-When-Its-Silent-And-Subtle

      • Paul Blankenship

        I didn’t say I didn’t have prejudices. I have plenty. I’m only human after all. All I’m saying is that at the core, most people have issues with the stereotypes that they see from particular people. The same could be said for ex-convicts, senior citizens, overweight people or someone working the cash register at Wal-Mart.

        I feel it is stereotypes that guide more than race and if we would stop pointing to race then maybe it wouldn’t be what everyone would be crying about. Instead of it being the limited exposure we have to “someone different” it would just be “that jerk next door”.

        It stays an issue because we keep making it an issue. Sure it is a catch 22 but if you had to guess which has more mind share with you? The shiny new car you see a commercial for every 20 minutes or the guy that was shot and killed in an armed robbery at a convenient store 10 miles away that got a couple of paragraphs on page 20 of the paper?

    • thucy

      “Most people don’t see color any more.”

      With all due respect to your self-professed “40-year-old white balding male”-ness, that is pure horse manure.

      • Paul Blankenship

        The point of me saying that was to illustrate the fact that if you saw me carrying a helmet I would be willing to bet your first thought would be along the lines of that guy’s a biker and wonder if I was a member of a biker club/gang and that would be the thought of most people. REGARDLESS of if they were white, black, brown, yellow or polka dotted.

        I think if you listen to what people are actually saying rather than just the words they spout off you may find that it isn’t a race itself they have the problem with it’s the behavior of the majority of the members of that race which is what I mean by the stereotypes being the actual issue.

        I’m not saying there aren’t racists out there. What I am saying is that while I don’t care about someone’s skin color I do care about how they behave and how they treat those around them. Believe me, there are plenty of white people that I dislike far more than “people of color” because of how they act towards their fellow man.

  • austin

    This wasn’t a discussion of racial equality in America. It was a discussion about Black disadvantage from the perspective of older African-Americans. Yawn. Been there, done that. What is this, 1970?
    Can we add the voices of Millenial Blacks? Conservative Blacks? Asians? Latinos? Centrist or even right-wing whites?

    I am tired of defending NPR to my conservative friends, just to hear this kind of echo chamber lecture on my radio. Disappointing.

    • bear_in_mind

      Hmmm… and public schools are better than in 1970? How about the price of higher education? Healthcare? Transportation? How about unemployment? What about median incomes?

      All these factors effect people of all ethnicities, BUT they do have a disproportionate effect on some groups who’ve been traditionally been disadvantaged.

      You cannot honestly believe that a family whose parent attended Yale does not have a distinct advantage over a family where neither parent had access to decent schools or could afford to attend college.

      • austin

        My observation was that KQED dropped the ball. This discussion had THREE guests giving one narrow perspective when it purported to address a much larger topic. Imagine Hannity having the same topic with Victor Davis Hansen, Cal Thomas, and Ann Coulter.

        How did we get to parents going to Yale vs people with no college?

        In any event, your comment highlights some of the problem of old thinking. Education and information are more accessible than EVER. With a $55 dollar laptop from ebay, you can learn to code, open a business, research anything. FOR FREE.

        And if your local school sucks, you can…move. There is nothing more American than moving for a better opportunity. Certainly nothing more common in the Bay Area. Like many here, I moved thousands of miles for the chance at a better life here.

        • ftex

          Earlier, I sent an email during to the forum show that basically summarized what austin said. Disgraceful to have three guests will only one point of view, right/wrong or otherwise. I thought I was going to listen to a thoughtful discussion on the topic and instead I got what compares to the garage on tv “news” shows. Very poor, KQED. I know there is a liberal lean, but please have some counter-argument folks on the show.

          • austin

            I’ll go even further than ftex — it wasn’t just poor journalism, it was BORING. Nothing we haven’t heard 100 times before, and nothing that these same guests wouldn’t have said BEFORE the Zimmerman-Martin case.

            I get it — it’s gray-haired liberal red meat. But please, we can do better. And I say that from the left-of-center and more than a few gray hairs…

          • bear_in_mind

            It’s apparent Austin and ftex have made up their minds. Let’s not look at Zimmerman hunting down this young man in the first place. Let’s look past the fact that Zimmerman’s father is a retired judge. Let’s conveniently forget Zimmerman was carrying a concealed firearm without permit or justification. Let’s gloss-over that he chose to seek out, then pursue this conflict even after being instructed to wait for the police. Nope, it was a “justifiable homicide” so let’s all move along. No wonder you both find KQED frustrating.

          • ftex

            Both parties made poor decisions that fateful night. Both are to blame for their actions that led to the confrontation. However, during the confrontation, one was getting his head bashed in, and one could have left and gone home a mere 70 yds away. Was Zimmerman a fool for his actions? I say yes. But he did nothing that justified getting attacked and beaten. And that, is the crux of it. What would you like to have happened? Let Zimmerman’s brains decorate the sidewalk for his insensitivity to the plight of the black youth? I am sure you feel he deserved it. I find KQED frustrating for not taking a small step to add a counter-view to the discussion. Would you not agree that would add to the discussion? Instead of having 3 guests argue from one view point?

          • bear_in_mind

            I honestly hear what you’re saying, but Zimmerman prevailed in court. We heard his side of the story. His civil liberties are restored.

            However, Martin could not give his side of the story. He is dead. He paid the ultimate price for Zimmerman’s actions.

            I am curious to hear on what are you basing the allegation that supports that “…Zimmerman’s brains (would) decorate the sidewalk…”?

            Was Martin determined to be a murderer in his past? No. Had he used lethal force before? No. Was he found to have brandished a gun or knife? No. Did Zimmerman suffer any broken bones? No. Any life threatening injuries? No.

            Sorry, Zimmerman got an altercation that he precipitated. That used to be called an a**-whooping. There’s nothing to suggest Martin was going to kill Zimmerman, other than the mental state of Zimmerman himself.

            The bottom line is, Martin is dead because of Zimmerman’s mental state. And it’s that mental state that places many, many, many other lives at-risk.

            The implication of Zimmerman’s decisions, followed by the court’s decision (which is it’s own can-of-worms) is that if you live in Florida, you’re in fear and you allege your life was in danger, you can kill another human without fearing losing your liberty.

            Even more worrisome was that the police dragged their feet in investigating this case because they were convinced the “Stand Your Ground” premise applied from the outset.

            I can’t believe I’m thinking this, but the truth is, I sure wouldn’t want to be a young African American male living in Florida about now. And if I were the father of one, I’d racking my brain to figure out what to tell them if another Zimmerman wanna-be-cop began pursuing them.

          • austin

            Since my comments have been confined to KQED’s editorial decision-making and the inspiring fact that education & information is being made available to more people than it’s ever been…

            …it’s strange you seem to infer so much about me.

            Not that making large, unfounded (and incorrect) assumptions about a complete stranger could ever lead to any trouble, or anything…

          • bear_in_mind

            Just to be clear, your comments were not just confined to KQED’s editorial decisions.

            You were offering an opinion that this morning’s guests were focused exclusively on, “…Black disadvantage from the perspective of older African-Americans. Yawn. Been there, done that. What is this, 1970?”

            You didn’t support this opinion with any factual information, but I guess that’s the nature of opinion.

            Your dismissive commentary stated you are, “…tired of defending NPR to my conservative friends…” and dealing wit the “…echo chamber…” which are pretty clear indicators that you’re not really listening to others’ thoughts, only for those that match and reinforce your own.

          • austin

            Sure thing, boss.

    • Kevin Douglas

      Above, I posted an email I sent to the Forum show echoing your sentiments. Hopefully, many more people will do the same.

      They don’t need to have all view points on one show, but they should at least acknowledge that other view points exist and schedule a time to have those points of view aired if they are going to call what they presented a “discussion” as opposed to a “lecture.”

  • MattCA12

    Same old tired rhetoric. Yes, by all means “confront in an open and honest way”….but anything concrete or helpful? We’ve heard all of this before. And KQED could have had differing viewpoints. Black scholars like John McWhorter make a compelling case that African Americans have made tremendous progress, and that sad cases like Trayvon Martin are a tragic exception and not the rule. This is not 1960. I’m not going back.

  • Kevin Douglas

    I sent the following in an email to Forum last Friday morning. I hope they follow up on my suggestions.

    “I am writing to express my intense disappointment at the one sided nature of the discussion on race and racism which was held on Forum this morning (7/19/2013) at 9 AM. I appreciate NPR because the discussions are usually more intelligent and thorough than the discussions found on other radio stations, but this morning that standard was not upheld. I think any thorough discussion of race and racism in the US has to address at least two issues that were not raised by the speakers on the show: (1) that evidence of inequality is not always evidence of injustice, and (2) there is serious disagreement in this country about the nature of racism–is it a disembodied phenomenon that can be intuitively found in “institutions,” or is it a way some specific person might think that must be found based on observable evidence?

    If you want to make this discussion complete I recommend that you invite speakers like Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Roger Clegg to share their perspectives. Sowell and Steele are both fellows at the Hoover Institute, and Clegg is president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.”

  • utera

    I’m really tired of this stuff. Its become clear with time that people who had a preexisting axe to grind jumped on this case.

    Just the opening statement of the woman was wrong, when she brought up the case of the black woman in florida getting jail time for firing her gun, she failed to mention the details of the situation.

    “[Gray] moved to the living room where his children were. Subsequently, [Alexander] emerged from the master bedroom and went into the garage where her car was parked. [Alexander] testified she was trying to leave the residence but could not get the garage door to open. (The Court notes that despite [Alexander’s] claim she was in fear for her life at that point and trying to get away from [Gray], she did not leave the house through the back or front doors which were unobstructed. Additionally, the garage door had worked previously and there was no evidence to support her claim.) [Alexander] then retrieved her firearm from the glove box of the vehicle. [Alexander] returned to the kitchen with the firearm in her hand and pointed it in the direction of all three victims. [Gray] put his hands in the air. [Alexander] shot at [Gray], barely missing his head. The bullet traveled through the kitchen wall and into the ceiling in the living room. The victims fled the residence and immediately called 911. [Alexander] stayed in the marital home and at no point called 911.”
    Yes she went back after getting her gun and fired into a room with children in it.
    But well we’ve learned long ago on this case and such cases that facts stop mattering. And so when the woman speaker decided to bring up “ignorance”, she should have considered looking in the mirror.
    Its very strange to watch such cases and the hysteria…this is mass irrationality on the left. Normally the left condemns the right/fox news for ignoring facts long after they come to light, but in these cases, the left is every bit as guilty as the right usually is. Its like the people who side with trayvon wed themselves to a narrative, and won’t let go, regardless of what comes to light. You see people like the woman speaker bring up things that are clearly factually wrong and have been for months now, as if this incident were new and she had no time to research at all, but its just obvious people are just willfully blinding themselves so they can feed their outrage and work their preexisting agendas.
    As its been brought up many times now, the number of black boys killed by other black boys since this incident is numbered in the hundreds by now, yet you don’t hear about that, only this. So is it really about race, or is it about certain peoples agendas. It seems to be coming up a bit more now after Obama became president, I think the usual suspects who were used to using the race card were just itching for a reason.
    Adam carollas brought it up a few times, but remember that incident in LA when that rogue cop started spree killing creating panic and a massive man hunt? During that tragedy two Hispanic women in a truck were shot at a hundred times by cops, wrong race, wrong gender, even wrong truck make, but no one remembers. Now imagine if those were two black women…there would be riots. And that’s the real issue isn’t it, and sadly the one the media is ducking. There are groups out there who want to make certain incidents about race for their own ends.

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