To the editor:
To my friends, especially my white friends, re: Trayvon Martin.
There is something missing here. A large majority of my black friends suspect, to a greater or lesser degree, that Zimmerman is a murderer who got off because the only reliable justice in our country is white justice.
Two potential responses come to my mind.
First, my black friends could all be wrong. Maybe it’s like most conservative commentators say, that these attitudes are leftovers from an era that has ended, and black America just didn’t notice.
The problem is, almost every black person I know sees the trial from a similar perspective, from the laborer to the college professor to the business owner, from the young to the old.
People from otherwise very different backgrounds and education are all but unified about this. The only common factor among them all is that they are black Americans. They sense injustice here, and for the most part, they are angry about it.
This does not have the “look and feel” of a mass delusion. I’m familiar with racial delusions, having grown up in the South in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Delusions do not unite people this uniformly. Lies get recognized by a significant portion of any free society. I just don’t think it is reasonable to conclude that my black friends are all out of touch, and that there is no basis for their opinions.
This leaves choice two: There is something I don’t know. There are facts I haven’t seen, experiences I haven’t had, and emotions I haven’t felt, precisely because I am not black.
These deficits keep me from understanding another American’s point of view. There could well be things that a black American doesn’t see also, but today, my subject is me.
If I am right about this, then I need to show humility when expressing my opinions (which I am choosing not to do in this case). At least some of what I think is likely to be based on wrong or incomplete information. I must respect the unknown, and (as Jesus taught) search for blindnesses within myself before pointing out the blindness in someone else. Otherwise, I may come to discover later that I’ve made a fool of myself.
If you want to do your part to heal the racial divide in our country, then start with yourself. Whatever your race, ask a friend of another race what he thinks you don’t see. (If you don’t have a friend of another race, then you may have bigger problems than this.) Keep asking until you persuade him that you really want to know. Then, listen. You don’t have to adopt his point of view. But you do need to hear it.