Black caucus member: Blacks worth less than whites in America

A member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said Monday night that the Trayvon Martin trial is the latest evidence that America does not value the lives of blacks and whites equally.

"The tragic death of our young man, Trayvon Martin, followed by the acquittal of the man who pursued him and killed him, has reminded us that although it may seem as if African-Americans and other minorities have achieved full equality in our civil society, we are still victims of racial profiling in violation of our laws and our morals," Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor Monday night.

"The lives of black men and women are not accorded the same value as the lives of white Americans," she said. "This is a reality for far too many black Americans."

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Clarke was one of many members of the CBC who spoke on the floor in reaction to last week's decision by a jury that George Zimmerman was not guilty of murder or manslaughter after shooting Martin last year.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) acknowledged violence in black neighborhoods but implied that the way to solve this is to ensure equal opportunity for all.

"I don't know why people shoot each other," he said. "But I know one thing — who doesn't shoot each other are young kids that are inspired. They got education; they got families; they got a country that's the wind behind their wings; they want to make a contribution to this great country.

"They can walk anywhere, talk anywhere, and nobody's going to be following them, talking about, 'You look like someone that may hurt somebody.'"

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also acknowledged violence in black neighborhoods and said the CBC would be convening a summit on this problem in Chicago later this week.

"We understand that," Jeffries said of the problem. "It's our children who are dying."

Some members said blacks are far more likely than whites to be facing jail time for the same drug offenses. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said people protesting the outcome of the Trayvon Martin trial are justifiably upset at the verdict.

"What are we to think when the scales of justice are even equally unbalanced?" she asked.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) said the result of the trial "does not look right."

"And because it doesn't look right, we have to understand that although you can have a fair trial, you may not have justice as the outcome," he said.

"I believe that this trial was fair to Mr. Zimmerman. I don't believe it was fair to Trayvon Martin, and I don't believe that we can say that this was a just decision."

CBC members said Zimmerman was not the only reason for their floor remarks. Many cited the Supreme Court's decision that a portion of the Voting Rights Act needs to be updated as another sign that blacks and other minorities are losing ground in America.

"To the Supreme Court of the United States, this is still a problem," CBC Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said.

"It's not just about race in America. It is about a system that should be just in creating and protecting the conditions for everyone to succeed, but instead it continues to favor some over others."