The Trayvon Martin case has revealed as fallacies the memes of a “postracial” America and “post-black” identity. But that doesn’t excuse the ridiculous amount of puffery and ego-tripping, as well as harmful stereotyping and merciless marketing, done in the name of justice for Trayvon — and done in defense of the man who killed him and of the law that so far has left Trayvon’s death unprosecuted.
As the Trayvon Martin case has become the Trayvon media circus, the signal-to-noise ratio in our national conversation has degraded. But we can turn things around, in large part by managing our own fears and expectations.
Let me take you back a couple of decades. I was new to New York, and a friend and I were sitting in an outdoor cafÃ© in a rapidly gentrifying but still edgy neighborhood. A black (to my eyes) waiter was wearing one of those shirts that read: