President Barack Obama said on Friday that the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot dead in Florida last year, has raised questions about why young African-Americans experience racial profiling.
"You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago," Obama told reporters at the White House, in his first public remarks after the acquittal by a Florida court of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman.
Making a surprise appearance in White House briefing room, Obama reflected on his own experience with bias and racial profiling, and sought to explain why the African American community was outraged over the case.
"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. That includes me," Obama said. "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."
African Americans see the country’s history of violence and discrimination against blacks as being ignored, he said, "and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."