On Friday, President Obama weighed in on the Trayvon Martin tragedy by reminding the press that he does not forget that as the first African-American president, he can discuss America’s racial history in a way no president has before. He acknowledged that, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
President Obama’s remarks are far more politically astute than his remarks in the Skip Gates – James Crowley incident, which led to the “Beer Summit” in 2009. In that case, he deemed that the officer had acted “stupidly” in arresting Mr. Gates. Many people agreed with Mr. Obama at the time, but the President opened up a space for conservative media outlets to critique him.
Some commentators believed that Mr. Obama’s statement was indicative of the President being ‘out of touch’ with the difficulties of police work. That comment eventually forced the President to backtrack and hastily organize the politically theatrical aforementioned “summit.”
The President’s statement regarding the murder of Trayvon Martin did not embody any of the charged language that can so easily derail political discussion. His soul clearly weighed down by the tragedy of Martin’s death, the President reflected on the overwhelming heartbreak of the situation.
In doing so, he refused to play into the politicization of Trayvon’s murder, and chose to humanize it.