Reflections on Trayvon Martin

From Graig Meyer.

I would like to believe that Trayvon Martin would not have been killed had he lived in Chapel Hill. I would like to believe that we are a safer, more peaceful, more tolerant community. And maybe we are.

But Chapel Hill has not been immune to the impact of Martin’s killing and Zimmerman’s acquittal. My students are talking about it… a lot. They’re writing about it in the Blue Ribbon Summer Writing Institute. They are confused. They want to believe in a world that is fair, just, safe. But as black and brown children, they are scared, angry, and their trust has been violated.

My friends, adults, certainly aren’t suffering from a loss of naivete as the kids are. Their sadness is more about having such a public reminder that our nation remains so far from our ideals.

The media has overfocused on the response of the black community, but I’ve shared feelings with just as many white friends as black. We all have some common questions… How do we talk with our children about this complex issue? How do we respond to the injustice in today’s social and political climate? Most importantly, how do we keep our young men of color safe?

I am at a loss. There are lots of answers to these questions, but they all seem so imperfect, inadequate. And I’m afraid that today’s emotional urgency will dissipate before the summer is over.

This commentary is no opinion piece. This is an emotion piece. I am sad. I am angry. I am confused. I feel vulnerable. I feel helpless. I feel very, very appreciative to know so many people, young and old, who share this experience with me. This is a fantastic community.

As recorded for WCHL 97.9FM. Listen here.

Put Women In Charge

The results of our 2012 elections were decidedly mixed for Democrats and progressives in North Carolina. It was hard to watch as our state really did swing back to red. The whole country seemed to be headed in the other direction, especially when marriage equality measures fared better elsewhere than Amendment One did here just months ago. 

It’s going to be a new era in Raleigh. But if we want to see North Carolina avoid becoming entrenched in red America, we have to do more than play defense. We need a pro-people, pro-equality agenda that we can push as an alternative to the conservative legislative onslaught we’re sure to face. New leadership in the Democratic Party must create a coherent, positive vision for where we could take our state. 
It will take time for that type of coalition to develop, but while it does I have one strong recommendation to the Democratic Party. Put women in charge. Democratic women currently offer the best, strongest leadership for our issues. And Democratic women are electable. Although Linda Coleman didn’t win the race for Lieutenant Governor, she came a heck of a lot closer than our gubernatorial candidate did. 
I’m proud that Orange County has sent an entirely female delegation to represent us in Raleigh. Let’s support these intelligent leaders as they help develop a strategy to move our state both leftward and forward. 

Listen to Graig’s piece as he read it on 97.9 FM:

Call the blowhards' bluff

I really don’t understand anyone — Carolina fan or otherwise — who acts surprised by any of the things we’ve learned over the last two years regarding academics and athletics at UNC.

Now that Holden Thorp is stepping down, I think he should call the bluff of the blowhards. I want to see him get in front of the media, aiming squarely at the News & Observer, and tell everyone, “Hell yeah, athletes have it easier.” 

I mean, we’re talking about big-time sports here. We loved watching Julius Peppers on the field and the court, but no one ever wondered why he wasn’t featured with paragraph-long quotes in game summaries in the paper. Holden needs to remind everyone that we want players who thrill and teams that win, and there is not a single thing that sports fans do to demand academic excellence besides talk about it.
Therein lies the rub, and therein lies why State fans are having so much fun rubbing Carolina noses in it. Now that we can look in the mirror, we have to admit that the belief that Carolina was somehow different from other schools is a conceit. Carolina fans want to believe that their team is somehow superior in every conceivable way. I guess it was never good enough to be athletic-superior when we could also win the war for the moral high ground. 
But we’re far, far from alone in that. And that’s why I’d like an unburdened Chancellor to call it out. Tell the people every major athletic program makes special accommodations to help students academically, but we don’t do it for the players; we do it for the fans, for the consumers. It’s a business. 
And every Carolina-hater throwing stones…lives in a glass house. 


Listen to Graig’s commentary as it aired on 97.9 FM WCHL: