Editor's note: Van Jones, a CNN contributor, is president and founder of Rebuild the Dream, an online platform focusing on policy, economics and media. He was President Obama's green jobs adviser in 2009. He is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy.
By Van Jones, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - In the wake of Chris Dorner's death, much of the talk has already turned to his political views.
In the wake of a tragedy, it is understandable to ask why this happened. It is appropriate to discuss ways to keep it from happening again.
But we should draw the line at suddenly giving an exalted place in our national discourse to the political rantings of a murderer.
Before he met his end, Dorner took the lives of several human beings and wounded a few more. One of those killed was a father of two. The law enforcement officers killed were simply doing their jobs, trying to keep us safe.
Today, with the families of the dead still grieving, it is very hard for me to shift away to focus on Dorner's political views.
The families of the victims are still in shock and mourning. Think of their friends and relatives, who are still shocked and devastated. How much would it hurt them if they turned on the TV and heard, instead of tributes to those lost, pundits going on about a crazy man's Facebook manifesto?
We should not be "using this occasion" to debate various theories of racial justice - not while the blood of the innocent is still fresh on the ground. Dorner's actions have invalidated his notions of justice; killing innocent people is not the proper method to advance the cause of justice, period.
Furthermore, why should any of us participate in giving Dorner exactly what he wanted? We should not validate his quest for attention by discussing his political thinking, especially not while mourning families are planning funerals.
(CNN) - Tonight, our nation's first black president will deliver the first State of the Union of his historic second term. The time has come for him to say something about the disproportionate pain that his most loyal voting bloc - black Americans - are experiencing today.
Winning two successive elections hasn't just proven that this nation is great enough to rise above the racial discrimination of its very recent past. It's also opened the door to more frank conversations about continuing racial challenges in America.
Just look at the fierce debate over immigration going on in America today. We have progressed to the point where commentators and politicians freely discuss how to court "the Latino vote." They happily and eagerly insist that politicians should court the "Latino vote" and champion so-called "Latino" issues, like immigration reform. Discussing the promise, contributions and the needs of particular, ethnic communities in a big, diverse nation is no longer taboo.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama should acknowledge that while economic pain in today's American is not limited to any one community, some communities are in more trouble than others. Prioritizing broad prosperity for all doesn't mean ignoring the fact that some folks are further behind.
The truth is, the black community finds itself in the worst of all possible situations - both economically and politically. FULL POST
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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