Re "Trayvon Martin, an American son," July 21
Bravo to Erin Aubry Kaplan for linking the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Moynihan Report on the state of black families in America with the Trayvon Martin case. Readers may recall that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan advocated a policy of temporary "benign neglect" for urban (in other words, black) neighborhoods. Conservatives liked his emphasis on the black community's responsibility for its own problems.
Individual responsibility matters, but there are significant social factors as well. For example, in the war on drugs, blacks are highly over-represented in rates of incarceration compared to equivalent white offenders.
I worked with homeless veterans on skid row and saw the heroic efforts of some black fathers who left programs for part of the month so they could afford to pay child support or other family expenses. Such positive aspects of their struggles and sacrifice are rarely reported, which also feeds into negative stereotypes.
Nowhere in Kaplan's analysis does she admit the media's irresponsible, divisive role in fanning the flames of racial division in a murder case that was not governed by race.
This late-night tragedy occurred between two racial minorities: a Latino neighborhood watch patrolman and an African American teenager. The media branded Zimmerman a "white Latino."
To be consistent, pundits and journalists should refer to our president not as "our first black president," as Kaplan does in her piece, but as our first "white-black president," as many other observers of this controversial trial have duly noted.
As I scan all the headlines and articles about this tragedy, one obvious fact seems to be missing: This was a scuffle between two males. Most of the gun violence in America, from Chicago to L.A., is perpetrated by men. Males, young and old, are in a very real sense the "gunmen."
Yes, women do commit serious crimes, including murder. But allowing confrontations to escalate into tragedies seems largely to be the domain of men.
Perhaps we men one day will learn from our sisters and mothers the fine art of arguing without killing or fighting.
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