“If I had a son,” the President said today, “he’d look like Trayvon,” the boy whose shooting by a Florida neighborhood watchman has become the subject of obsessive national discussion.
“All of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” he added. “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids.”
Suddenly, race has broken through the surface of an election year that has pushed the subject into the darkest corners of Obama hatred--in the senseless death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on his way home.
Four years ago, the presidential candidate dealt with the subject openly in the wake of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright uproar, and more personally when he spoke at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Martin Luther King's birthday.
In discussing why they were there, a young white woman, Ashley Baia, told volunteers that when she was nine years old, her mother was stricken with cancer, lost her health care and had to file for bankruptcy. Obama said she "convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
"She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone...the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too."
When it was the turn of an elderly black man to explain why he was there, he answered, "I'm here because of Ashley."
That experience typified his campaign, Obama said: “'I’m here because of Ashley.' By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough...But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger."
President Barack Obama knows that our union has, in the four years since, weathered hard economic times and grown visibly weaker. His hope back then is a haunting reminder of what he—-and we—-face now in the ongoing story of dead black boy.