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Consequences of Racial Stereotyping

Consequences of Racial Stereotyping

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Published by Uday Dandavate
A commentary on the Florida Verdict. There is a dire need to develop sophisticated approaches to sensing danger beyond common stereotypes.
A commentary on the Florida Verdict. There is a dire need to develop sophisticated approaches to sensing danger beyond common stereotypes.

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Published by: Uday Dandavate on Jul 23, 2013
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07/25/2013

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Consequences of RacialStereotyping
 
Consequences of Racial Stereotyping
-Uday DandavateThe killing of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida has brought into focus theracial tensions in American society. Chris Serino, lead investigator in the case, told
FBI agents that he believed Zimmerman’s action in shooting down a black young boy
were not based on Trayvon Martin's race, but instead on his attire. Serino impliedthat the fear of being attacked by a hoodie-borne thug prompted Zimmerman toshoot and kill Trayvon Martin.
Justifying George Zimmerman’s use of brutal force by citing perceptions tied to the
hoodie Trayvon was wearing calls for a serious consideration to subconscious racialprofiling and stereotyping. This case has brought the issue of racial profiling into thepublic domain
especially in the background of the
“ 
Stand your G
round” 
law inFlorida that allows an individual the right to use reasonable force (meaning the right to shoot another person) to defend himself/herself without any requirement toevade or retreat from a dangerous situation.President Barak Obama delivered a very poignant speech after the Zimmermanverdict. In expressing the reality of an average African-American child born to anAfrican-American family, Obama lamented,
“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35  years ago.” 
He added,
“There are very few African
-American men in this country who haven't had theexperience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.That includes me. There are very few African-American men who haven't had theexperience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me
at least before I was a senator. There are very few  African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had achance to get off. That happens often.
 
Obama further explained,
 
“Now, this isn't to say that the African
-American community is naïve about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the
criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and 
 perpetrators of violence. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. Is there more that we can do to give themthe sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing toinvest in them? 
It’s not to make excuses for that fact –
although black folks dointerpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that someof the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.
” 
 
(Extracts from the President’s comments.)
 The Zimmerman verdict has opened fresh wounds for those who face discriminationon a daily basis. It has also challenged the idea that by electing a black president fortwo terms, the American society has managed a fundamental shift in race relations.
Mass protests are already taking place against Florida’s
Stand your Ground 
law that allows a citizen to kill in self-defense. On the other hand, the Zimmerman verdict provides a perfect opportunity to understand the plight of the youth trapped inperceptions. It is important to understand that the American judicial process givesrights to a panel of jury members drawn from the local community to address the
evidence and determine if the accused is guilty or not. In Zimmerman’s case, though,
his lawyers did not evoke the
Stand your Ground 
law in his defense; the influence of 
this law on the jury’s decision
-making process was hard to deny. In fact, in aninterview on
CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
Monday night, an anonymous juror said
the panel that found George Zimmerman not guilty considered Florida’s
Stand Your Ground 
law in its deliberations.
"Stand your Ground" 
governs U.S. federal case law in which the right of self-defenseis asserted against a charge of criminal homicide. The Supreme Court of the United

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