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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trayvon Martin Only Crime Was Being Black

A huge part of the Trayvon Martin story is of course about race. The killing of the unarmed, black teenager has led to conversations about biases against black men. In a lot of ways it fits the stories that we've heard so many times before: A black man was profiled by a white man and the authorities won't step in to and provide justice for a black victim.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., focused on that narrative today on Tell Me More. This, she said, "was really a hate crime."

But there is one element of this story that complicates that narrative: While, George Zimmerman, the alleged gunman, has been identified by most media as white, his father told the Orlando Sentinel that he is a "Spanish-speaking minority," from a multiracial family. Zimmerman could be Latino. For all we know, he could be of Afro-Caribbean descent.

We wondered, if that turned out to be the case, how would the framing of this story change? Would it still be considered a "hate crime" by some? Would it have boiled up to the national level at all?
So we spoke to Joshua Correll, a University of Chicago psychology professor who has for years studied bias against black men. His line of study specifically looks at bias when people are making decisions whether to pull a trigger on a bad guy.

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