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  The Opportunity Agenda Addresses Racial Bias Exemplified in Trayvon Martin Case, Zimmerman Trial

The following is a statement from Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda, a national organization that conducts research on media and public opinion in order to understand how to build public support for policies that improve people's lives. Their programs focus on racial equity and African-American men and boys, as well as immigration, economic opportunity, and reproductive health and rights.


"Whatever the jury's verdict, two things are clear: First, George Zimmerman acted on pernicious racial stereotypes when he suspected, followed, and killed an unarmed seventeen-year-old boy, Trayvon Martin.  Second, the same stereotypes underlie too many decisions by police, employers, and others in our society, denying African-American young people and others the promise of equal opportunity for all.

"We all carry around stereotypes and we have a shared responsibility to overcome them, by committing to equal opportunity, by acting on evidence instead of bias, and by requiring training, guidelines, and accountability for people in power.  If George Zimmerman, as a neighborhood watch member, had had that commitment, training, and guidance, this tragedy might never have happened.

"Our research also makes clear that a pattern of distorted media depictions of African-American men and boys contributes to stereotypes and discrimination.  Media outlets have a responsibility to ensure fair, accurate, and varied coverage of all communities that helps us to understand instead of fear each other.  This is an important time for media leaders to make a public commitment to fulfilling that responsibility."

About Alan Jenkins:

Alan Jenkins is Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda, a communications, research, and policy organization dedicated to building the national will to expand opportunity in America. Before joining The Opportunity Agenda, Alan was Director of Human Rights at the Ford Foundation, managing grantmaking in the United States and eleven overseas regions. Previously, he served as Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he represented the United States government in constitutional and other litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he was Associate Counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where he defended the rights of low-income communities facing exploitation and discrimination.




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