There’s A Reason Women Clutch Their Purses, Mr. President

It was a fascinating thing to behold when on Saturday President Obama spoke somberly before the press (full transcript here) on the George Zimmerman ruling–what he called the Trayvon Martin ruling, but I’ll forgive him. The highlights:

“[W]hen you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, 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.”

I wonder why it doesn’t go away. Today, sixty years after the Cambodian Communists, the Khmer Rouge, executed everybody with glasses, there are no glasses-rights public figures in Cambodia stoking the embers of this tragedy among the bespectacled in an effort to keep the troubles. Today, Cambodians with glasses aren’t resentful because they don’t have “leaders” like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Barack Obama to tell them that they’re still in danger.

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.”


“And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.”


“There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.”

I must contest this one. I doubt very much that most blacks have experienced this. Most blacks, let alone people in general, waiting for a slow-moving elevator are not looking to commit a crime while in said elevator. In addition, you will find more black people in suit and tie in environs where there are elevators, such as office buildings, than you will just walking around the city. Nobody is afraid of a seriously dressed black person. But if the black person in the elevator is dressed like, oh, a Trayvon Martin-type figure, what would be the problem with holding tight to one’s valuables? Are women supposed to live in fear of being another statistic–or, more exactly, the victim of a statistic? Are women supposed to take the risk of being robbed in order that a pants-sagging black kid doesn’t get his feelings hurt? As President Obama himself acknowledged on Saturday with uncharacteristic candor:

“. . . African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system [and] are disproportionately . . .perpetrators of violence. . . . [T]here are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent . . . .”

Well then which is the bigger problem: white people cautious of a well-established pattern, or black people being offended that whites have the temerity to notice it?

We can expand the view of crimes, though, and, ignoring race, find that most criminals, particularly muggers, are male, and that most of their victims are female. Given this, should any man be offended if a woman is extra cautious around him? My mother locks the doors in her car when a man of any race walks by as she’s sitting in it, and I’m glad because I’d rather he be offended than she be dead.

Even if that means having to hear the President mope about it on national television.