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Trayvon Martin's death raises questions about the risks of being young and black in America

Protestors make a call for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
Protestors make a call for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.
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Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in New York’s Union Square Wednesday, to remember the life and protest the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed, black teen who was killed three weeks ago by a white neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida. Supporters at the rally, dubbed the “Million Hoodie March” by organizers, chanted “we want arrests!” and “we are all Trayvon,” as they marched.

Martin’s parents addressed the crowd and called for the arrest of George Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, who has been bitterly criticized because officers didn’t arrest Zimmerman, announced yesterday that he’s temporarily stepping down, while the shooting is investigated. “This is not a black and white thing,” Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton told the crowd, “This is a right and wrong thing.”

But Martin’s death raises an uneasy question: would he have been killed had he not been young, black and wearing a hoodie? In an article titled “Trayvon: Murdered for walking while black,” Marian Wright Edelman writes “Every parent raising black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk” about how to walk, what to say and how to act in public, to avoid suspicion. But ask any black man in America and chances are he has a “Walking or Driving While Black” story to tell.

Today, Nick Roman talks with black reporters in KPCC’s newsroom about their personal experiences along those lines, how they’ve dealt with overt or covert racism and the advice their parents gave them.


Do you have your own stories about racial profiling to share? How have you dealt with it? Are black teens wearing hoodies more likely to be perceived as dangerous?


Corey Moore, KPCC Reporter

Stephen Hoffman, KPCC Producer

Brian Watt, KPCC Reporter