JHK on Trayvon Martin:
“In the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, the excellent Bill Moyers hosted political activist Angela Glover Blackwell on his weekly interview show, Moyers & Company (April 13; “AN ACTIVIST FOR OUR TIMES”) and in the course of things (12:18 in the program) Ms. Blackwell said, “America does not want to talk about race.” In point of fact, we’ll talk about it all the live-long day, just not very honestly.
The Trayvon Martin incident certainly provoked a broad media conversation about race all over the cable TV networks and the Internet. It’s been an inconclusive discussion because the facts of the case are so muddled and the truth may never be known, or may not satisfy anyone if it becomes known. Mostly, the talk followed predictable patterns of grievance, accusation, and especially hand-wringing – the latter well represented by Bill Moyers, the embodiment of 1960s-vintage idealist Democratic liberalism, who came on the scene as a close aide to President Lyndon Johnson at the height of the civil rights struggle.
The reason the race conversation remains so constricted in America is because the central question makes everyone so uncomfortable. That question is: what accounts for the failure to thrive of such a large percentage of black America? It is uncomfortable for whites (especially Progressives) because it implies a failure of the social justice movement itself, and in particular the watershed civil rights struggles of the 1960s. It’s uncomfortable for blacks because it stirs up immense anxiety over the stigma of racial inferiority…”