These are all true statements if we identify ourselves and each other only by the color of our skin, which increasingly seems to be the case – including our own president.
Barack Obama helped lead the way when he identified himself with Trayvon Martin, shot by George Zimmerman in the neighborhood-watch catastrophe with which all are familiar. Stepping out from his usual duties of drawing meaningless red lines in the Syrian sand, the president splashed red paint across the American landscape:
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
In so saying, he essentially gave permission for all to identify themselves by race with the victim or the accused. How sad as we approach the 50th anniversary of the march Martin Luther King Jr. led on Washington that even the president resorts to judging not by the content of one’s character but by the color of his skin – the antithesis of the great dream King articulated with those words.
Obama went even further after the Zimmerman verdict, expressing his self-identification not as leader of a racially diverse nation – or as the son of a white mother – but as a black man who remembers women clutching their purses tighter when he entered an elevator and being followed in department stores. All because he was black?
What Ms. Parker doesn't understand is that President Obama wasn't giving permission for people to identify themselves by race. He was describing what it's like to be black in America, explained even better by LeVar Burton when he appeared on CNN. It's something I've not only witnessed my entire life but shamefully contributed to in my younger years.
Ms Parker's op-ed is appropriately entitled "Sad When Color Outweighs Character". But she gets it all wrong because she's looking at it from a white privileged perspective where her character is never automatically, unfairly, and disparagingly determined by her skin color.