It’s been six weeks, give or take, since 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot to death by George Zimmerman, and it seems everyone has an opinion about the racial politics surrounding the situation- and the most recent and controversial weigh-in comes from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land.
If the tragic death of Trayvon Martin illustrates anything in the US about race, it’s that wherever we seemed to think we are, we’re not there yet. To be clear, it’s not the horrific situation that is allowing Zimmerman to remain free after gunning down a child in the street that is even the surprise- it’s the outpouring of reaction from people like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land.
About a week ago, I had occasion to attend a casual dinner with a larger, mixed group of friends, and even there I was surprised at how many people seemed to believe that Martin’s death was somehow an occasion of joy for “race hustlers” or people who otherwise saw the incident as more an opportunity to complain about racism than the galling death of a kid who should still be alive.
When I was visibly surprised by this, many of my companions complained of “reverse racism,” something I expressed skepticism could possibly be as bad as the racism against which people like Rev. Al Sharpton rail. When I asked for examples of “reverse racism,” I was told that sometimes white people sometimes get “dirty looks” in black neighborhoods. Which is totally the same as getting shot in the chest in black neighborhoods! I get it now!
No, actually I don’t. But people like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land are thankfully here to explain it, letting us know racism is not a problem but people who inconveniently and very subtly point out racism are totally the problem. Land said:
“This will be vetted in court, not in a mob mentality that’s been juiced up by Al Sharpton, who is a provocateur and a racial ambulance chaser of the first order, and aided and abetted by Jesse Jackson… The president’s aides claim [Mr. Obama] was showing compassion for the victim’s family. In reality, he poured gasoline on the racialist fires.”
If you recall, what the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land is referring to is President Obama’s clearly race baiting statement that if he had a son, that boy would look like Trayvon Martin. Gasoline on a fire, people. He might as well join the Black Panther Party.
What’s sad is that the people who make such statements actually believe these things. To them, there’s no reason for black people to find the notion their child could be shot right in the chest for walking in the wrong (except totally relevant) neighborhood troubling, and the true victims here are white people who have been wrongly maligned by “race hustlers” and the media.
Rev. Maxie Miller of Florida commented on Land’s remarks, saying:
“At no time have I been embarrassed of being a Southern Baptist or a black Southern Baptist. But I’m embarrassed because of the words that man has stated. I think the convention is doing a great job with diversity … but Land’s comments definitely make my work harder.”
Miller added that comments like Land’s inhibit “encouraging African-Americans to be a part of Southern Baptist Convention life.”