Seek mutual empathy, not hatred

July 23, 2013 

At Friday's news conference, President Barack Obama clarified the black perspective for the George Zimmerman case. He tried to provide a context for the conclusions of many in the African-American community. He explained why many blacks, as a result of their experiences, cannot believe Zimmerman was not racially profiling Trayvon Martin.

Probably all black males have felt fear and suspicion from whites in some social context, especially during their youth. As a result of those experiences, they conclude that if Trayvon had been white, Zimmerman would not have followed or confronted him and, therefore, Trayvon would not have attacked Zimmerman, leading to his death.

If only this tragedy could help blacks and whites in our nation achieve some understanding. Whites could learn to rethink how they respond to black males in social situations, such as elevators, streets and stores. They could avoid stereotypes that misjudge and prejudge many black men.

Blacks could work with their youth to plant attitudes that show respect for all people and cleanse out attitudes of defeatism and self-pity. They could use our president as an example of how to achieve success through hard work and education.

Possible solution: Adopt the emotion of mutual empathy, not hatred.

LINDA HERMANN

Modesto

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