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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
July 15, 2013 5:10 p.m.



As I argue in an editorial Tuesday, the death of Trayvon Martin resonated for reasons that go far beyond the particulars of the Zimmerman case.  It was especially hard for minority youth, who can relate to the feeling of having to constantly prove your innocence to adults who see you only as a suspect in the crime of “walking while black.”  I’ve been touched by the comments of parents of minority teens, an empathy that led to Barack Obama’s much-criticized comments, no doubt because I’ve seen my own children pulled over for the crime of being young.

Here’s an example:



Hours before the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict was announced, my partner and I were discussing ways to prevent our 16-year-old son from getting shot while jogging in the upper-middle-class, predominantly white neighborhood we had recently moved into.

I promise you, it was a very real conversation.

“Maybe we should get T-shirts and sweatshirts with the school’s name on it,” my partner said.

After the verdict — it came as a punch to the stomach — we thought maybe it was best if he only ran inside at the nearby gym.

This is what it means to be a parent of a young black man in America today: sleepless nights, courtesy of a cocktail of institutional racism, self-inflicted wounds and statistics. Lots and lots of statistics.


Forget the trial, really. Convicting Zimmerman wouldn’t solve the problems of black teens and another trial, on trumped-up federal charges, would just bring another circus, with any verdict being cheered by one side of the peanut gallery, booed by the other side.

As I suggest in the editorial, there are better, more productive, things for the Department of Justice, the Obama administration and the chattering class to focus on, including:  More effective gang intervention programs, since gang members kill many more black teens than “crime watch” volunteers; DOJ legal challenges to “stop and frisk” policies that disproportionately arrest minority kids for simple pot charges; end the “schools-to-prisons” pipeline that converts school discipline problems to criminal records; the mass incarceration strategy embedded in the war on drugs.

Like all our “conversations on race,” I don’t expect this one will get too far before another circus comes along (Cambridge PD vs. Skip Gates?) comes around.

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