By Annie-Rose Strasser
Obama addressed the experiences of racial profiling that are all to common for Black men. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store,” Obama said. “That includes me. And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience 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.”
“The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws,” Obama said, “everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.
There’s no need to examine, anecdote by anecdote, whether Obama is right about this. It doesn’t take a single case, like the case of 17-year-old Martin, to make the President’s point; there is a lot of data already on the books to substantiate his claims. Here are just a few charts that make Obama’s point:
1. Justified killings of Black people under ‘Stand Your Ground.’ PBS’s Frontline made this instructive chart on the way that defendants who invoke ‘Stand Your Ground’ — the policy that allowed George Zimmerman to walk free on the night that he killed Trayvon Martin — fare. PBS explains, “The figures represent the percentage likelihood that the deaths will be found justifiable compared to white-on-white killings.” The result? A huge racial disparity of when the defense works — and when it doesn’t: