Trayvon Martin Case: ABC News Radio Conversation on Race and Justice


Actor and activist Hill Harper said, "We've all been talking about justice, but there's a word that goes with justice that's inextricably linked to it, and that's truth."

"You can't have justice unless you have truth," Harper told Roberts. "And the problem with this case is that it's actually emblematic of the general racial discussion that we really don't talk about the truth of what's happening."

Referring to the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law at the center of the case, Harper said, "When I was in law school, we had this idea of fruits of a poisonous tree. This law is basically -- poisonous trees can still bear fruit. You think about the N.R.A. lobby and you think about where these types of laws grow up from. They're very politicized laws. They're not necessarily laws that are for the community and for folks to live better. They're actually politic-driven. So, it's the fruit of the poisonous tree. ... That's the truth that we have to talk about."

"[W]e're talking about what young black men have to do," he added. "We know if you grew up in a black family, there's that internal dialog which happens within our community, within the family. You know, when I get stopped by the police, I keep my hands on the wheel. I'm not going to move."

"But the bigger conversation," Harper said, "the best way to protect young black, brown, men of color, women of color, is to actually stop profiling, stop the prejudice and stop the judgment first. And that requires a truthful dialog, like what we're having now."

Harper urged the nation's educators "to be truthful about the issue," and suggested it will be then when "we actually move the discussion forward."

Madeleine Tibaldi, 17, agreed that more needs to be done in schools.

"I honestly think that there is not enough dialog going on about these issues," she told Roberts. "People shy away from them when you bring up things like this. People don't want to talk about it. They're worried they're going to sound racist. They're worried they're going to offend people.

"But I honestly think that the way that -- the only way that we're going to really figure out what the root of this problem is kind of by talking about it, and by really figuring out what we can do as young people to prevent this in the future," she said. "And I honestly think that this needs to start in high schools. ... We should just be really speaking about this more, and figuring out what we can do."

Pastor A.R. Bernard said that "no matter how educated and upwardly mobile a young black male becomes, he still lives haunted by the reality that he's suspect because of the color of his skin."

"What do we do, Reverend?" Roberts asked.

"It begins here with conversation," Bernard said. "It begins holding not just the black community, but the white community responsible for being naive in thinking that they can be at ease, because everything is resolved because there's a black president. And everything's changed."

Harper praised the pastor's suggestions.

"I think he's absolutely right about the conversation," Harper said. "But we can also look to examples of individuals and groups that have sought to deal with prejudice in different ways -- for instance, the gay community around HIV and AIDS issue.

"They sought to end the stigma around that and they were very effective," Harper said, "'cause they're in your face about it."

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