"Brute fact is though, Mr. Jones, about 150 black men are killed every week and 94 per cent by other black men."
These words were spoken by George F. Will, a Washington Post columnist and political commentator, on the April 1 episode of ABC's This Week, hosted by George Stephanopoulos. It was during the show's weekly political roundtable discussion. His statement was in reference to the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old black boy shot by the so-called neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman because he feared for his life. The other guests at the roundtable included Ann Coulter, Matt Bai, Terry Moran, and Van Jones, to whom Mr. Will's comments were directed.
*Here is a clip of the roundtable discussion on the "This Week" discussion. Mr. Will's statement begins at the 15:18 mark.
Variations of these comments have been spewed out by so-called far right media members and bloggers since this incident hit the news. To me, they seemed far beneath Mr. Will. He's a man with whom I don't always agree, but I consider him a person who puts thought into what he says before he says it. For that reason, I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn't want to think he believes the same as Fox News' Gregg Jarrett when he questioned why black leaders focus on something that is statistically rare, largely ignoring that which is quite common in America, which is black on black crime.
I'm not sure about the actual crime numbers, but I do know that black on black violence is a serious problem.
I also understand having Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson involved drives many people absolutely nuts. But here's an idea: The next time an unarmed 17-year-old black boy is shot with nothing more than a can of iced tea, a pack of Skittles, and a cell phone, make sure the system does its job from the beginning and the Sharptons and Jacksons of this world won't be relevant.
Okay, Mr. Will, I really don't know what you meant with your point. As I said, I'm assuming there's a side you just can't see, so let me help you out.
There are two sets of parents: one black and one white. They each have a son. They love their sons very much. They want the best for them. They've raised their sons to be honest, courteous, law-abiding and moral. They encourage them to get the best education possible, whether through college or trade school. They also counsel their sons to stay out of danger zones, avoid using drugs, and not to associate with any members of the criminal element.
Of course, no matter what these parents do to protect their sons, bad things can still happen. But let's say these parents are successful and their sons grow up to be upstanding men. Their journey on the road of life will be the same, right? Well, maybe...
If the black boy is like most black males, he'll have to endure a few inconveniences.
Perhaps without thinking, he'll run out of a store and be stopped by police, the suspect of a crime which has never been committed. And as we know, a black male running out of a store is always considered guilty until proven innocent.
Or maybe he becomes a real estate agent. As he's showing a home to clients, the burglar alarm goes off because the sellers forgot to deactivate it before leaving. The police respond and he has to take special care they know who he is.
But what if that black boy lived in Florida? Perhaps as he's walking through a gated community and his very presence evokes so much fear that a citizen with a gun shoots him and his story ends there.
Of course, none of this might ever happen.
Most African-Americans know we go through life having to allay the fears of others. Fortunately, most of us don't get killed over that fear. But it bothers us because it feels like a no-win situation, even when we're doing what we're supposed to do to win. It's unfair, but it's a fact of life. That's what makes the family of Trayvon Martin feel so angry and hurt. And because of these inconveniences, that's why most black people are outraged.
Can't you understand that, Mr. Will?