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Racial Bias And Institutional Racism Essay

2049 words - 9 pages

Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year old African American boy who was murdered in Money, Mississippi after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Since he was from the north, he did not know that he was not allowed to talk to a white woman in the south. Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till's great uncle’s house. They took the boy away to a barn, where they beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and ...view middle of the document...

Martin & Thompson (2002) argued, “The decision effectively renewed prosecutorial license to use peremptory challenges to keep persons of color off of juries” (para. 3). Both are professors at the Hamline University School of Law.
In Batson v. Kentucky (1986), the Supreme Court modified its holding in Swain v. Alabama and established that jurors could not be purposely excluded based on race. If the prosecutor failed to give a legitimate reason in the use of peremptory strikes to exclude people of color, the trial court can conclude that the prosecutor acted on the basis of race and put the struck jurors back on the jury venire. However, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, some district attorney’s offices explicitly train prosecutors to exclude racial minorities from jury service and teach them how to mask racial bias. If prosecutors can exclude minorities from jury duties, then they can manipulate the composition of the jury to their favor, resulting in racial bias. According to Stevenson (2010), “African Americans have been excluded because they appeared to have low intelligence, wore eyeglasses, were single, married, or separated, or were too old for jury service at age forty-three or too young at twenty-eight” (p.7). For instance, a South Carolina prosecutor said that he struck a black potential juror because he “shucked and jived” as he walked. Apparently, these are “race-neutral” explanations that the court rubber-stamps it as not racism. In addition, Stevenson (2010) quoted Justice Thurgood Marshall saying, “any prosecutor can easily assert facially neutral reasons for striking a juror, and trial courts are ill equipped to second-guess those reasons” (p.7). Bryant Stevenson is the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law organization with headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, and is on the law faculty at New York University School of Law. However, there are arguments on the other side defending the integrity of peremptory strike. Arielle Siebert, an active California lawyer is one of many that defend the integrity of peremptory strike. According to Siebert (1999), peremptory strikes are not exercised without reasons and this system encourages the acceptance of jury verdict as impartial and the final decision because this system gives the defendant and prosecutor significant discretion in choosing the triers of the case.
With institutional racism, there are organizations to combat it, such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). This organization’s primary goal is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. This civilian non-profit organization acts like the fourth branch of the government that keeps the government in check, so they do not step over their boundaries. They do that by calling attention to potential civil rights violations committed by the government and fighting it out in...

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