Posts Tagged ‘The Warmth of Other Suns’

I wish I had some insight, some wisdom to share, but I don’t.  Too much has been said already by too many who know no more about Trayvon Martin’s killing than I do, which is to say, not much.  We’ve heard a lot, much of it speculation and assumption, and we can speculate and assume on our own, but we don’t know much more than that a young man is dead for no good reason.

Yesterday Isabel Wilkerson was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to discuss Martin’s death in the context of Florida’s history of racial violence.  Wilkerson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Warmth of Other Suns, about the great migration of African Americans from the South to the North, asks the valid question of whether or not central Florida is still part of the South, culturally, and notes how much the region has changed in the last few decades.  In both the interview and her column for CNN.com, she then goes on to describe just a few of the most horrid episodes from Florida’s past, establishing that – whether or not Florida below Gainesville is still Southern – the state was as fervently and violently racist as the rest of the Jim Crow South.

Central Florida’s Southland status is up for debate and entirely beside the point.  Southerners should never forget, deny, or excuse the sins of slavery and Jim Crow – or pretend that racism is a thing of the past – but, today of all days, we should face up to the fact that racial violence is, as Wilkerson says, “a moral challenge not for just one state but for America.”

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