Tavis Smiley: Bitter, party of one.
What else can you say about an accomplished but jaded black scholar who continues to behave like a Twitter troll when it comes to President Obama? Why does he unfairly criticize Obama? Could it be because of a bruised ego?
It may have started back in February 2008.
Smiley, an author, media personality and leading voice in the black community, invited then-Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his "State of the Black Union" forum in New Orleans. Obama declined, opting instead to campaign because he was locked in a tough primary with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who did attend the forum.
Six days after a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, President Obama gave his first public remarks on the matter. He also gave his most in-depth remarks on race since his famed ""ace speech," "A More Perfect Union," in 2008.
The president surprised reporters by appearing before them unannounced. Unprompted, he began by reiterating his sympathy for the parents of Trayvon Martin, before doing something extraordinary. The president acknowledged his own experiences with racial profiling and how that experience and similar ones that disproportionately affect black Americans have shaped our community's reaction to the Zimmerman verdict. He said in part:
"You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that – that doesn't go away.
While most Americans were picking up the Zimmerman trial in clips and highlights on the news or the radio after work, I was immersed in the entire trial all day. Working as an analyst for several media outlets meant that I was watching every bit of eight-plus hours a day of testimony, evidence and cross-examination during the trial. The process was exhausting, and a wonderful reminder of why I decided not to pursue law in college.
When you are forced to watch a process from beginning to end you have a pretty good idea of where it's going, so you aren't surprised or even impressed by the conclusion. I knew after a botched investigation, bitter and reluctant cops, questionable jury selection and an incredibly uneven state prosecution that George Zimmerman was going to be found not guilty. So it wasn't the events that actually affected me, because I knew they were coming.
The history of America is still being written and the acquittal of George Zimmerman of second degree murder by a Florida jury of five White women and one Hispanic female in the mindless shooting death of 17-year-old African American teenager Trayvon Martin is now an important chapter in that history that gave birth to centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.
A key principle of the American Criminal Justice System is that a verdict of not guilty doesn’t mean that a defendant is innocent. It simply means that the prosecution could not meet their burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This principle was never more evident than in the trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman.
Unlike many lay persons, I was not surprised by the verdict. Non lawyer friends of mine expressed the gamut of emotions; sadness, anger, but most of all, they were confused as to how Trayvon’s killer could walk free. In the spirit of helping my friends understand the legal ramifications of the acquittal of Zimmerman, I’ve decided to write this letter.
Change can be difficult when it comes to health. Why is this so?
Well, let's start with some observations. There seems to be a preoccupation with living our lives wishing for time to accomplish more of the tasks we have undertaken. This has caused many of us to lose focus and – in some cases – not pay attention to our health.
We're placing more and more trust in gadgets, medical shots, pills, liquid shakes, body wraps and fads thinking they can help us stay healthy. In search of quick-and-simple fixes we run the risk of incurring severe healthcare problems.
(The Root) – Though it's compellingly argued and passionately felt, I disagree with the assessment of my colleague at The Root, Keli Goff, that President Barack Obama's statement about (the) George Zimmerman verdict was disappointing or somehow offensive. After all, everyone has a part to play in this tragedy, and Obama's is unlike anyone else's.
While he's the most visible – and powerful – black man in the world, he's also head of government and head of state. And in those dual capacities, he ought to – and has – spoken out in support of Trayvon Martin's family. But it's also his job to represent the American system, with all its attendant flaws.
That's the difference between being a black politician and a president who's also black.