Blacks, Nonblacks Hold Sharply Different Views of Martin Case
Blacks more likely to believe race is a major factor
Black Americans’ views differ dramatically from those of nonblacks regarding the circumstances involved in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Blacks are paying much closer attention to the news of the incident; overwhelmingly believe that George Zimmerman, the individual who shot Martin, is guilty of a crime; believe that racial bias was a major factor in the events leading up to the shooting; and believe that Zimmerman would already have been arrested had the victim been white, not black.
Blacks are much more likely than nonblacks to have an opinion about Zimmerman’s guilt. Overall, 72% of blacks say Zimmerman is definitely or probably guilty of a crime; 1% say he is not. Nonblacks also say Zimmerman is guilty, by 32% to 7%, but well over half of nonblacks say Zimmerman’s guilt is unclear from the available information.
Blacks are more certain about their opinions than are nonblacks. Blacks who say Zimmerman is guilty of a crime are significantly more likely to say he is definitely guilty than probably guilty, while nonblacks tilt more toward the “probably guilty” choice.
Additionally, 72% of blacks say racial bias was a major factor in the events that led up to the shooting death of Martin, with another 13% saying it was a minor factor. Nonblacks, on the other hand, are significantly less certain, with 31% saying racial bias was a major factor, 26% saying it was a minor factor, and 25% saying it was not a factor at all.
So why so much divergence? Is America still a nation where racism is commonplace? If so, are whites in denial or just dishonest? Or is it possible that racism is not as commonplace as black people think it is?
Take Tyler Perry for instance. He is a well-known black comedian. Recently he was stopped by the Atlanta PD:
Tyler Perry Pulled Over, Accuses White Cops of Racial Profiling via Facebook
Tyler Perry’s April 1 Facebook post about police pulling him over was no April Fool’s joke: The highest-paid man in entertainment is accusing a pair of white Atlanta police officers of racial profiling.
Perry’s predicament began when he admittedly made a left turn from a far-right lane — a trick his security detail taught him, to make sure he wasn’t being followed, Perry explained on Facebook.
Two white Atlanta police officers pulled him over, but apparently did not realize they’d just stopped Tyler Perry.
When Perry explained his illegal turn was to make sure no one was tailing him, one officer allegedly asked, “Why do you think someone would be following you?” Perry said in his post.
Before Perry could answer, the second white officer started “banging” on his passenger’s side window — apparently taking issue with the window’s tint, Perry told his fans.
As both officers “badgered” Perry about why he thought someone may be following him, Perry said he recalled his mother’s advice:
“My mother would always say to me, ‘if you get stopped by the police, especially if they are white policemen, you say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’, and if they want to take you in, you go with them. Don’t resist, you hear me? Don’t make any quick moves, don’t run, you just go.’”
But then a second police cruiser pulled up, and a black Atlanta policeman emerged. “He took one look at me and had that ‘Oh No’ look on his face,” Perry recounted.
The black officer spoke “in a hushed tone” to the two white officers, Perry said. “After that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back, very apologetic.”
Perry was released, but news reports do not indicate whether he was cited for his illegal left turn or tinted windows. Georgia law requires drivers to approach a left turn from “the extreme left-hand lane” of a multi-lane road, Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.
Georgia law also makes it a misdemeanor to tint driver’s or passenger’s side windows under certain conditions, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety.
So the cops see someone make a left turn from the right lane. That’s probable cause to pull someone over, even if they are famous. Since the windows of the vehicle were tinted it’s unclear if they could determine the driver’s race or not. (Cops hate tinted windows because they can’t see what the people in the car are doing.) The cops didn’t recognize Perry as a celebrity and treated him like they treat the rest of us.
So where exactly was the racism?
The Trayvon Martin case is one where some people (including most blacks) see racism as obvious and most non-blacks aren’t so certain. But to be uncertain about the role racism played in this specific case is not to say with certainty that racism played no role or that racism no longer exists.
Sooner or later the Trayvon Martin case will fade from the news. But for all the heat the case has generated there has been very little light.
Filed under: Racism | Tagged: Racism | 11 Comments »