The State of America’s Election System

CHARLOTTE, NC — The United States of confusion – at least that’s one way to describe the way we run our elections, with each state responsible for its own elections system. That doesn’t cause much controversy when the margin of victory or defeat is wide enough, so a few thousand votes one way or another won’t affect the outcome. But when elections are close – as many are in these divided times – it’s an invitation to lawsuits, chaos and doubts from voters on whether and if their ballots count, or are counted. The 2018 midterm elections show just how this formula does and does not work.

No justice for Jordan Davis, more worry for parents of black children

Lucia McBath said she would pray for Michael Dunn and continue to wait for justice. She stood at the microphone, reacting to the news that a jury had deadlocked on the charge of first degree murder of her son, Jordan Davis, who would have celebrated his 19th birthday on Sunday. She was distraught and destroyed, but more composed than I could ever be.

When it was his turn, Jordan’s father, Ronald Davis, said it wasn’t in his nature to be stoic, but that his calmness through anger and grief honored the memory of his son. Then he reminded everyone that the son who was killed when Dunn shot into a car full of teenagers returning from the mall was a good kid. That he had to say out loud that Jordan Davis’s life mattered to a country that seems as undecided of that fact as the jury was also a crime.

Zimmerman juror says he ‘got away with murder’ in case that continues to divide

Juror B29 is the anti-Juror B37. The only minority among the six women who found George Zimmerman not guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin said Zimmerman “got away with murder.” She said on Thursday that she feels she owes an apology to Martin’s parents. “You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty.”

Her sentiments contradict Juror B37, who in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper expressed empathy with “Georgie,” and the armed neighborhood watchman’s frustration with crimes committed by “these people.” And while the words of Juror B29, a 36-year-old nursing assistant and mother of eight, won’t bring Trayvon Martin back, they publicly help to restore individuality and humanity to the unarmed 17-year-old and to his grieving parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

In the midst of politicians and pundits standing their ground, sometimes with seemingly little regard that a child was lost, Juror B29 talks about how she feels. “It’s hard for me to sleep, it’s hard for me to eat because I feel I was forcefully included in Trayvon Martin’s death. And as I carry him on my back, I’m hurting as much [as] Trayvon’s Martin’s mother because there’s no way that any mother should feel that pain,” she said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, to be broadcast on “World News” and “Nightline” on Thursday  and “GMA” on Friday.

In conversations on race, everyone has to listen

CHARLOTTE — If President Obama’s personal and heartfelt speech on race reached only the ears of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, it would have been enough. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” the president said, leaving unsaid a parent’s dream for a child, the unspoken other side of the equation, that Trayvon Martin could have become him in 35 years – an educated man, a husband and father and, perhaps, president of the United States.

“We are thankful for President Obama’s and Michelle’s prayers, and we ask for your prayers as well as we continue to move forward,” the parents responded. “President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy.” They will never have their son back but it must have been sweet relief to hear kind words from the president in a week when so many were trying to turn a 17-year-old into someone the people closest to him did not recognize.

The trial in Sanford, Fla., that ended with the acquittal of George Zimmerman for all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin quickly turned into a debate on gun restrictions, Stand Your Ground laws, racial profiling and the justice system. Even for those who agree with the trial’s conclusion, Trayvon Martin’s life should matter.

That’s why it’s a good thing that the president’s Friday message was intended for more than an audience of two. “I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” he said to everyone. As people listened, they heard what they wanted to hear.

The Supreme Court’s post-racial fantasy

That was then, this is now. The reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s ruling this week striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act uses considerably more words, but that simple phrase pretty much says it all. To accept that conclusion, though, one has to accept that America is as post-racial as some have insisted since the election of President Obama.