Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tom Bradley in 1992 vs. Barack Obama in 2013: how can one react to injustice when an African-American authority leader?

"In the aftermath of the riots, critics suggested that the usually mild-mannered Mayor Tom Bradley had actually made the already tense situation that much worse soon after the verdict came down when he declared, "Today that jury asked us to accept the senseless and brutal beating of a helpless man." It was a statement many said fanned the flames of the L.A. riots, but Bradley never apologized to his critics."
From a 2007 Jesse Singal article in TIME.

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama called on Sunday for "calm reflection" following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The president, in a statement, acknowledged an emotionally charged climate but concluded that "we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken."
Obama called Martin's death a tragedy for America.
"I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher," he said.
"I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities.
"We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis," Obama said.
A Florida jury on Saturday night found Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in a shooting that grew from a confrontation as Martin, 17, walked home from a convenience store in February 2012.
The verdict closed a case that gained national attention and sparked public outcry, much of which focused on race. Reaction generated protests across the United States, including outside the White House.
Obama said in closing his statement that Americans asking "ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this" is one way "to honor Trayvon Martin."

It's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.  If Obama had dared to give a Bradley response, then he'd be blamed by white racists for inciting violence.
I remember seeing the ugly spectacle of affluent white people booing Tom Bradley when he made a ceremonial appearance at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1992.
We should be past the 1940s when Jackie Robinson had to display no reaction to prejudice.
If Barack Obama continues to dispense symbolism, then he should be willing to make the bigoted a bit more uncomfortable with their bigotry--and, like Bradley, not back down and "make nice" to those with malice in words, minds and actions.

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