I find Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ writings about racism to be thoughtful and a useful perspective. I was surprised to read how sanguine he is about the Trayvon Martin verdict. I don’t know what we can do about racism and racial profiling in society, but stand-your-ground laws only encourage shootings like this and because there are more whites than blacks in America, they result in more white males being killed than black males according to economists from the NBER and Georgia State University. Stand-your-ground laws make it legal to shoot anybody if there are no witnesses. The shooter must be sure he actually kills his victim so the shooter can tell a story about feeling threatened without contradictory testimony.
Almost everyone agrees that the Trayvon case demonstrates that racism is still a significant problem. Some people in my family have emailed me about how it shows that whites are discriminated against and others feel that it shows that blacks are discriminated against, but I haven’t seen anyone claim that the case shows that racism is a thing of the past in America.
Racism is part of the civic engagement theme at Bluffton University for the upcoming year and that helped inspire my earlier post about affirmative action. The Trayvon case confirms that racism is still a serious problem in America, but I don’t see how race-based affirmative action could possibly redress the sorts of problems that have been exposed by the Trayvon case. Race-based affirmative action is intended to redress economic discrimination by giving disadvantaged groups some help to counter it. But affirmative action has no bearing upon how the Trayvon story played out. If anything, affirmative action might make racists even more bitter. So, as I posted earlier, class-based affirmative action might be a better way to go and perhaps it will even help us work on racism more than race-based affirmative action.