Dear Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus:
I am writing to demand that you withhold support from any Republican presidential candidate who uses the murder of Trayvon Martin to distort and silence critical conversations about race.
Last week, President Obama simply and honestly stated, “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” In response, Rick Santorum accused the President of trying to “drive a wedge in America.” Newt Gingrich lashed out with: “What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful. It’s not a question of who that young man looked like.”
There is no doubt that Trayvon Martin — a 17-year-old boy armed only with Skittles and iced tea — was considered “suspicious” and targeted because of the color of his skin. But Santorum and Gingrich don’t want to acknowledge the clear role that race and stereotypes played in this case. Americans deserve better from men who claim to be able to represent all of us as president.
As head of the RNC, you set expectations around what’s acceptable to the party. I am calling on you to rein in candidates’ cynical efforts to sweep the race-related realities of Trayvon’s murder under the rug.