Obama Speech a Stark Reminder to Americans

In a piece for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen says that President Obama's comments on the not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial on Friday were an effective reminder for America of the disparities minorities face in our country's criminal-justice system.

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Barack Obama (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

In a piece for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen says that President Obama's comments on the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial reminded America of the disparities that minorities face in our country's criminal-justice system.

"It is a real calamity, in this country, for any man, guilty or not guilty, to be accused of crime, but it is an incomparably greater calamity for any colored man to be so accused. Justice is often painted with bandaged eyes. She is described in forensic eloquence, as utterly blind to wealth or poverty, high or low, white or black, but a mask of iron, however thick, could never blind American justice, when a black man happens to be on trial."

-Frederick Douglass, Washington D.C., April 16, 1883, on the Twenty-first anniversary of the Emancipation in the District of Columbia.

The President's remarks on race Friday were remarkable for many reasons. Let me focus upon the one (and the only one) I feel qualified to discuss: Barack Obama was spot-on in his blunt and gloomy assessment of the racial disparities (still) inherent in the nation's criminal justice systems. He was even more insightful in reminding the rest of us about some of the ways in which those disparities contribute to the skepticism and frustration many minority citizens feel about the nation's unfulfilled dream of equal justice.

Read Andrew Cohen's entire piece at The Atlantic.

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