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Trayvon Martin's Death Sheds Light On Two Sides Of Racism

By April 9, 2012

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There is a lot of talk lately about Trayvon Martin's death and whether or not it stemmed from racism. Martin was a 17-year-old black male who was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is both Hispanic and Caucasian and claims he was acting in self-defense.

Debate over the subject stems from two schools of thought, according to Anastasia Prokos, associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University. One side emphasizes the individual aspect of racism in which people see the world as individual people acting alone. The other side emphasizes the institutional aspect of racism in which racism is seen as a system of oppression, not only individual attitudes and actions.

The concept of racism is extremely complex, as many sociological studies have discovered, and very difficult to find solutions for. Prokos points out that "no single step will solve the whole problem because it involves both individual change and institutional change."


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