THE BLOG
07/14/2013 01:01 am ET Updated Sep 12, 2013

Dear Rich Lowry: No Shame, Trayvon Martin Is Emmett Till

Dear Rich,

More than riots, and an increase in vigilante George Zimmerman copycats, I'm afraid of people like you. White people with money, power, and influence, who live in coastal cities and are completely ignorant of their privilege.

I was incited to voice this sentiment while listening to Left, Right & Center's most recent episode.

During the "Famed End of Show Rant," where each guest is able to voice their undiluted opinion for several seconds, you stated that after seeing the Trayvon Martin court case play out people should feel ashamed for their attempt to compare Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till.

I was immediately taken aback that such an educated and seemingly insightful person could spout such a thoughtless comment. Your statement is so problematic not just because of the way you uttered it with a casual disregard for a young boy's death. But moreover because it revealed something that is shared by many white people across the ideological spectrum: a complete obliviousness to their white privilege that you and many others have had the benefit of and continue to benefit from. It's something in this "post-racial world" that isn't discussed enough. To be fair you were under a 20 or so second time constraint but I think that makes your comment all the more genuine... and unsettling.

To answer your question I think very few feel ashamed for comparing Trayvon Martin to Emmett Till, especially after today. While the times and circumstances of their deaths are different. The inciting incident remains the same. A young black youth acted outside of the societal norms for someone of his race and he was killed for this act. I don't think Trayvon Martin was some angelic youth, nor do I think he was perfect. What 17 year old boy is? I know from first hand experience teenage boys can be a loud, unruly bunch that gets into fights, make mistakes and do stupid things which hopefully they'll be able to live to regret.

Whether or not Trayvon was justified in his actions, the core issue in this sad tale is that he lost his life over behavior someone else deemed inappropriate for how he looked. I don't think that is really so different from another young boy in Mississippi, circa 1955, flirting with a pretty girl who happened to be married. Behavior, once again, any teenage boy might do but for reasons apparent to me (and not you) these two boys in question are both dead. The only shame I feel is that your privilege blinds you to the fact that had they been white that likely would not have been the case.

-Sincerely,
Malek Mouzon