Let’s examine some recent discussions about race.
The Smithsonian, according to an ABCNews article published in August, was hoping to acquire Trayvon Martin’s hoodie for a race-related exhibit. Martin was the black Florida teen shot to death by a homeowner in 2012. It later said they were not seeking to add Martin’s hoodie to their collection due to the trickiness involved in obtaining it. However, the Smithsonian recognized its real value – not the value as stirred by media coverage of the event and subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman, but the hoodie’s undeniable ability to now, and in the future, spur even more talk about race.
“We recognize that certain items related to the Trayvon Martin trial could one day have historical value and provide a way to study and discuss race in America,” a spokeswoman for The Smithsonian told Orlando Sentinel reporters.
That an article of clothing from a recent event is already considered to have “historical value” is new to me.
Locally, in late September, the Northwest African American Museum provided a space for people to gather to discuss the case. According to The Stranger’s “Slog”, a mixed group of all ages attended the event. Two individuals were in charge of moderating the discussion, but the open dialogue and public discussion concerning racism in my city was effective and considered a success.
People want to talk. Whether it’s due to the widespread reach of the chattering media, or the transparent nature of the still-relatively-new Internet, there are conversations happening like never before. Trayvon Martin’s case provides only one example.
Conversations are a powerful tool to aid in the changing of mindsets. Our generation will be known for its ability to shape the opinions of a nation not by force, but by words.