Meet the Press   |  July 21, 2013

Examining the racial implications of Trayvon debate

A Meet the Press roundtable reviews statistics on race and violence and how these assumptions impact the public's perception.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> understand about the stand your ground laws. but there are some things we can do. we as a congressional black caucus have put in place, at least drafted over the last couple weeks racial profiling . that's what this was. i don't care what they say it was. that is what it was. if we start to do things from the congressional level, maybe that can help. let me just say this. i don't care how many laws you put in place. you cannot legislate against prejudice or bias or racism. you cannot do it. and so all we can do is the best we can.

>> but that goes toward the morality of the question.

>> can i put something else on the table that goes to the racial profiling debate that is provocative. it was from bill cohen in "the washington post ," his column on monday. i'll put it up and get your reaction to it. richard cohen , excuse me. "where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problem and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males ? this znlt mean that raw racism has disappeared and some products are the product of stereotyping. it does know that the public knows young black males commit a disproportionate amount of crime. in new york city blacks make up a quarter of the population, yet they represent 78% of all shooting suspects, almost all of them young men. and tavis, the president made a point of acknowledging that.

>> he acknowledged that, number one. number two, most blacks are killed by other blacks and most whites are killed by other whites. i'm sick of having this debate. that's how it works, number one. all i'm saying is this. this is not a kronos moment. the president, again, is the president is at the right place and the right time to do more. i am not a part of that anything is enough generation. i want the president to step in this moment, as coleman just pointed out, and lead us in a complex conversation about these very difficult issues. i don't want him to shrink from the calling of this moment historically. and we are going to regret this later on.

>> tavis, we found something we agree on.

>> one of the reasons that african-american men tend to make up a disproportionate number is because of profiling. you've got two kids on a street in new york, in particular, with their stop and frisk policy, they're going to pick up the black kid. not to say that the white kid wasn't committing a crime, but that kid gets in the system and never gets out. or they decide, he's from a good family. let's put him in the diversion program. but the black kid gets a record. profiling has a lot to do with those numbers as well, and they are skewed based upon the perception that black kids --

>> but one thing that's going to have to be on the table is the economic opportunity.

>> absolutely.

>> for there to be jobs and the obstructionism about summer jobs, jobs plans, jobs training that's taking place in this nation, after the recession when this unemployment rate is so high, it can't be done with a law enforcement approach alone. it has to be done with an economic opportunity. so i hope that this conversation is going to confront the very challenging issue of economic opportunity.

>> i'm struck, going back to the president's notable 2008 speech as a candidate, the extent to which he was saying in advance, i, as a black man, even if i become president, can only do so much. because he talked about the country being stuck on race. this is what else he said back in 2008 .

>> contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white , i have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle. or with a single candidate, particularly -- particularly as a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

>> i want to wind this up, professor ogletree, by asking you, was that self-imposed sense of limitation appropriate, and did he go beyond it on friday?

>> it was appropriate and i think he's gone beyond it. trayvon martin will be with us in eternity. that's what he's done. the president has moved trayvon martin up to be a symbol of racial profiling in america. and i think whether he's here or not, we're going to be die baiting that and discussing that. and i think we're going to have a real conversation about race moving forward.

>> as long as he stands his ground and leads us into a moral conversation about this moment.

>> is this the wrong issue? is it wrong to inject race into the martin case , michael steele , as some conservatives and others have argued, that this is the wrong moment?

>> i think it's not the wrong moment to inject it. race is a part of it. there's an underlying theme or feeling that particularly the african-american community takes away from that, and it has to be addressed. you just can't leave it on the table because you don't believe it's there.

>> i realize this scratches the surface, but it was still a good conversation. i appreciate you all being here very