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Letter: We're not even close to a post-racial society

In the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin, many commentators have claimed that race had nothing to do with it. They claim that because we have had a black president and black secretary of state we live in a post-racial society and clearly this young man was killed because of his aggressive actions. These commentators are living in a fantasy world of their own self-righteous delusions.

A video that is currently circulating is very instructive. Three actors, a young white man, a young black man and a pretty blond woman, are all on hidden camera, trying to saw through the lock on a bike in a park. All three make it clear if asked that the bike is not theirs. The woman gets offers of assistance, the white man gets laughs or shrugs, the black man is challenged and draws an angry crowd. Even if we make the outrageous assumption that 20 percent of black youths are bike thieves and only 5 percent of white youth are bike thieves, you are still more likely to see a white guy stealing a bike than a black guy, yet the black kid is the only one that is obviously a thief in the eyes of the general public. If we ignore the illegal actions of white kids and jump on black kids whether they are doing anything wrong or not, is it any wonder that the crime statistics are skewed? Or that black people are angry?

We may have a black president, but we still live in a culture where whites have are assumed to be good unless they prove otherwise, and blacks (and other racial and ethnic groups) are assumed to be troublemakers and have to prove their worthiness again and again. Until we all acknowledge that basic fact and work -- hard -- to make sure we judge all people based on their deeds and not their appearance, we will never get to the post-racial society some people think we have already achieved.

Paul Conklin