So the president has told us that we need to have a "conversation about race" in America because of the outrage (and lack of universal outrage) regarding the outcome of the Zimmerman trial. Predictably, that conversation - just like all of the other conversations on difficult topics - will be dominated by the powerful extremes, leaving us only two wrong positions to support. The typical, easy, polarizing narrative laid before us is that "white" people want "black" people to "respect the process" and basically "get over it," and "black" people want "white" people to stop "profiling" black people as dangerous and threatening.
Let's start out with the most extreme view of the Extreme Center. Like most, this view is factually correct but rejected by just about everyone because it is inconsistent with the false narrative dominated by extremists who depend on it to retain their power, authority, or sense of self-worth. To wit, there is only one "human race," and anyone that believes that the world is populated with different races is, in fact, a "racist." The notion that some human beings are not of the "human race" has always been the refuge of the powerful who need a philosophical, religious, and political basis for denying that they are doing inhuman things to other humans. The most recent and cogent example for the US is the colonial slave trade and the incorporation of slavery in the US Constitution (remember the "3/5ths Compromise"?).
All humans were, in fact, created equal.
So the Voice of the Extreme Center does not recognize the existence of different "races" of humans, and will not use that term to divide people of different ethnicity with variations in skin color into nice neat little boxes to justify a stereotype to suit the extremist narrative.
Now on to the topic of the day. From the beginning, "race" was put at the center of the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin. The contortions that became necessary to squeeze the facts into the false narrative proved the falseness, requiring very fine distinctions to be made between "white" and "non-white" latinos. When it became obvious that George Zimmerman's race could not easily be extended to people with lighter skin to support the narrative, the "conversation" moved beyond the specific case to the larger problem of "racial profiling" that occurs on a regular basis. And since neither the killer nor the victim were perfect examples of innocence, the particulars of the case don't really help the "law and order" types or those who benefit from a culture of "victimization."
Let's use two situations at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum to demonstrate how "racial profiling" works. First, at the opera, a man with very dark skin, dressed in a suit that clearly communicates wealth, walks up to you and asks for the time. Second, on the street, at night, in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, a man with very dark skin, dressed in a hoody and pants well below his waist, walks up to you and asks for the time. No matter your skin color or ethnicity, your visceral, emotional reaction is going to be different in those two situations. It's not about whether the person being approached has lighter or darker skin, its about context and culture - knowing your surroundings and acting like a reasonable human being.
The "conversation" has to be about culture, not skin color. Because there are communities of people who happen to have light or dark skin that share similar cultures once you disregard skin color and whether they live in urban or rural areas. So the question is: Is a culture of drugs and violence, lack of respect for women, no sense of personal responsibility to one's children, devaluing education, and dependence on government acceptable? If it is, then the result is that anyone interacting with that culture has every reason to fear it, avoid it, and protect oneself when unable to avoid it. If it is not, then anyone - including those who have been supporting it, and especially those damaged by it on a daily basis - has every reason to change it.
So the Extreme Center's challenge to the president is to engage in an honest conversation about culture, not skin color, not "race," and to have the intelligence to understand the difference and the integrity to guide the conversation accordingly, regardless of the political pressure on him to accept things as they are.