Trayvon Martin: The Problem with the ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Black’ Defense


The country remains riveted by the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American high school student who was killed by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood-watch vigilante who invoked Florida’s increasingly controversial “stand your ground” law as a successful defense against arrest. Zimmerman has a black friend named Joe Oliver, who during an interview on Nancy Grace said, “As a black man, if I didn’t know George Zimmerman, I would be outraged too. But I do know him.” Oliver has repeatedly vouched for Zimmerman’s character and, along with Zimmerman’s family, says the fact that Zimmerman has a black friend is proof he was not racially motivated in his actions toward the young black man whom he admitted shooting.

But there’s a problem with this defense: the scholarship on racial perception clearly proves that even the most diverse group of friends doesn’t make one immune to race-based prejudice, whether it is conscious or…

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