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Race and Justice in America II

Aired July 23, 2013 - 22:00   ET



Tonight, the second in a continuing series of 360 town halls on Race and Justice in America. Tonight, we look at hidden biases that exist based on race, biases which studies show even exist among people who don't believe they have any racial biases.

We're also going to look at juries in this country and how the racial makeup of a jury can impact what decisions the jury comes to. Is this a discussion worth having? Well, how you answer that question may depend on your race.

There's new polling out in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial, polling from the Pew Research Center that finds nearly eight in 10 African-Americans say the killing of Trayvon Martin raises important issues about race that need to be discussed. But in that same survey, six in 10 white Americans say the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

This town hall is about challenging assumptions, raising questions, contributing to a discussion we hope in a positive and helpful way. George Zimmerman's attorney stated if his client was black the case would have never gone to trial. Many of the African- American guests we had in our last town hall felt that if George Zimmerman was black, he would have been arrested that very night.

So, before we begin, take a look at a pair of photographs. They're inspired by something similar we saw on Andrew Sullivan's Web site, so we created a version of our own. Think about it. Had George Zimmerman looked like this and Trayvon Martin looked like this, would the case have played out differently? Would you have seen the case in the same way?

So first I want to talk about hidden bias, and researching today's town hall, I came across a University of Chicago study which researchers sent out identical resumes for jobs. The only difference was the names of the applicants. Some were given very white-sounding names like Emily Walsh or an African-American-sounding name, Lakesha Washington, for example.

Turns out Emily Walsh was 50 percent more likely to get a callback than Lakesha Washington, exact same resume, just different names. People make assumptions whether it's about Trayvon Martin, about some of our guests tonight, even a future president of the United States.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

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. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.


COOPER: President Obama joining the conversation asking Americans to ask themselves, am I ringing as much bias out of myself as I can?

Joining us is Andre Perry, founding dean of urban education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, CNN contributor and "New York Times" op-ed columnist for Charles Blow, Michaela Angela Davis, editorial brand manager of the BET network, David Webb, co- founder of TeaParty365 and host of "The David Webb Show" SiriusXM Radio, and multi-Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Nas. Just last week, WEB Du Bois institute and the Hip-Hop Archive announced the establishment of a fellowship in his name.

Welcome to you all. I appreciate you being here.


COOPER: So, Charles, that picture, that mock-up where George Zimmerman is black and Trayvon Martin is white, do you think had those roles been reversed that this case would have played out in the same way?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that that's an important question to ask. It is really hard to know, but what we know from the science, and you know a lot of the science from looking at studies, I know a lot of this science from looking at the studies, is that most Americans have implicit biases along racial lines.

That's just the truth. Project Implicit is the biggest one of these. They have looked at hundreds of thousands of people who have taken this test. It's partially maintained by Harvard, and it shows that when you break it down, whites have an incredibly high implicit racial bias that is pro-white and anti-black.

And they do it by Asians and blacks and whatever. What is interesting, most interesting to me is that when you look at who has the least amount of bias, that group is African-Americans. It's even. It's more even than the rest of them. I think part of that is because like this panel, black people spend a lot of time talking about bias, so their kids grow up with hearing them talk about bias. And that kind of weaves it out of you, to a certain degree.

COOPER: You're shaking -- you're nodding your head.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, EDITORIAL BRAND MANAGER, BET: That's what was so striking looking at that photo, because I identify as an image activist.

And I think a lot this is because of the images that all of us have been consuming and the narratives that we know. Many black people have a plethora of narratives of the white experience that we can draw on and that get triggered when we see these images.

When most people's narratives around black men are either sports- related or criminal -- and that's really 50 percent of the images in mainstream around black people are sports and criminal-related. That's what gets triggered in you. We are our stories, and the balance of the stories that people of color, of immigrants, of gay people, of women are way out of balance with the stories of white male heterosexual Christian people.

So we don't know who we are. I think there's a way to not even love yourself. You know what I mean? Those studies with the black children will have more sympathy with a white child, because we're just learning how to...


COOPER: Right. That's one of the studies we actually did last year or two years ago. We kind of recreated that famous doll study, where even very young African-American kids have a perception of white skin as somehow better.


COOPER: Do you believe this bias is as widespread as Charles?

DAVID WEBB, FOUNDER, TEAPARTY365: I don't believe it's as widespread. But, look, the human condition is that there is bias.

There can be bias in imagery that comes across our lives based on our experiences. You can see a black man getting out of a black car here in New York, and if he looks like he's in hip-hop, you're going to assume hip-hop. You have a black man getting out with a suit and tie and assume it is a millionaire. There are many ways we can go about this. So we can't say that bias and racism doesn't exist in the world, but we also can't pretend that it exists everywhere in everything.

You brought up a very good point about how we see ourselves, whether you see a sports figure or a rap star or whatever the case may be. What about what you do to create your own stories? I come from a multiethnic family, so I have seen this, I have traveled the world, I have family all over the world.

When I look at this, I see what my environment was like, what I was taught and how I was taught to act. So to the people who deal with bias, you're never going to remove it from society. It's going to exist, bias against women, short, tall, fat, old, young. There's some bias somewhere there in the world. What you do with it is what matters.

So we have to start doing what we should do and what we can do, rather than constantly looking for someone to blame.


ANDRE PERRY, DEAN OF URBAN EDUCATION, DAVENPORT UNIVERSITY: This is a question about institutionalizing our biases.

One in seven black men in New Orleans are either in prison or parole. And it's not because they're born prisoners. It's because we assume that they are criminal. The statistics are overwhelming, and it's not just around criminal justice, because we have been talking about it because of Trayvon. But when you look at the number of teachers hired, new teachers hired in our grand education reform, guess who we're hiring? Young, smart people, but largely white.

And so when you look at the statistics about how we want to change in this country, it always negatively impacts African-American and Latino people. I point to the data in terms of incarceration, length of time served, who gets hired.


COOPER: Charles, you were mentioning the study. You talked about doctors prescribing -- doctors are more likely to prescribe invasive surgery for African-Americans than they are for whites. And it cuts across all socioeconomic lines.

BLOW: Right. And in addition to that, it's all kinds of doctors.

And the study I mentioned last time was about pediatricians and how cruel it was, that how bias shows up in these very cruel ways, that the pediatricians were less likely to prescribe pain management for young black kids than they were for white kids. How cruel is that?


COOPER: And I was looking into the study. My understanding is when they were informed about that bias, they were able to correct it.


WEBB: ... insurance industry and in your own life. And I have looked at that particular field from an insurance point of view, one, access and ability and what your plans carry, two, education, which is a key part of that.

If you don't understand what you need to do for yourself, what your role as a patient or with a patient advocate, or whatever the case is, then your decision may not be the same as someone who has a better level of education.


COOPER: I don't challenge my doctor. I don't educate myself on being a patient.

WEBB: But you should.

COOPER: Why should an African-American person have to do that?


COOPER: I can kick back and my doctor, believe me, he goes out of his way to be nice to me.

BLOW: Because you're you.



WEBB: But it is your responsibility as a patient.

BLOW: You cannot separate, which I think you're getting at, is kind of personal responsibility from historical traumas. There is this much African-American history in American life. There's this much free African-American history in American life. And you can -- there's very few periods in American life where you can look at black people and say you have had a chance to catch your breath and catch up.

From slavery, to systematic widespread social and cultural violence, to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration, war on drugs, which is basically just a war on black and brown people, you just go down the line all the way until you march up until now, and you say, black people, we just want you to turn on a dime or turn on a decade and we want you to fix it all and pull it together an get over it. Cultural memories don't work that.


COOPER: Let me bring in Nas here, because, Nas, I know because I get a lot of tweets when these town halls, when they air and I read them all.

And there are a lot of people who are no doubt listening to Charles and rolling their eyes, saying, why is this guy talking about slavery and stuff that happened so long ago? You know, this is 2013. There's an African-American president. It's time to move on. There are going to be some viewers who say that. To them, you say what?

NAS, MUSICIAN: It's guilt. It's guilt. It's ignorance.

People, we tend to judge each other. If we don't know -- if I don't know something about you, Anderson, I'm going to judge you based on a bad experience I had with another white person. If you don't know me and you walk down the street and you see me, my pants are hanging, you're going to assume the worst.

We need to learn now to deal with each other basically, because at this point America is looking like barbarians. I go all the way to Belgium and to Romania and I hear how -- on musical tours, I go to these places and I hear how some of these people look at Americans. Not just black Americans, but Americans. They see the gun poacher is out of control. They look at us like Afghanistan, Afghanistan. And some people in Europe, I was just there, are even scared to come to America. Not because of blacks, but because of guns.



WEBB: Anderson, there's a point that he brings up that's very important here. And Nas goes to it.

He said you will judge it based on a negative experience. You also have the option intellectually to judge it based on a positive or a neutral experience. So making an assumption is not always the way to go.


COOPER: But assumptions aren't about intellect. It's about an emotion and instinct, isn't it?


WEBB: But you have to balance that, and that's something you do as you evolve as a person and as you grow and as you learn.

COOPER: Aren't we talking about like gut-level, instant, inherent reactions?


WEBB: Which we often have, you're right.

COOPER: Right. But you can intellectually think I know we're all equal and we're all the same, but in your gut, without even realizing it, don't you have -- studies show you have...


DAVIS: And also it's not just historic. I feel like there's been several administrations whose position it was that if we don't talk about race, then somewhat systemic racism was going to be over. So to say we do have biases, but this one around race is killing our sons, so to put it in the same space as having biases because someone is tall is an insult.

WEBB: But who is killing our sons? Let's go to that issue when we talk about what happens in the community.

You have this problem, and Charles and I have discussed it, and we need to have an honest discussion about what you do when black-on- black crime is at that level. Don't blame someone else. Fix it within your community.


PERRY: But these are not separate dynamics.


WEBB: They're all part of it.


PERRY: It is part of it, no question.

But how we respond to a criminal justice system has a direct impact on how we respond to each other. The number of people who are in prison currently are not getting an adequate education while they're there, are currently being released into communities without an opportunity to get a job, without an opportunity to get a great school. So all these things are connected.


WEBB: One of the reasons they're there, not all the reasons, but you said education. It's a proven track, especially in the black community, which by the way pre-civil rights, this was a factor. You look at the marriage rate in the black community in the '60s vs. now, it's completely flipped.

And you look at fact that when you have a stronger family structure, you have a better educational foundation, you have a lower rate of going to jail. And if I were to ask America, are there more black men in jail or in college, most would say jail, and they would be absolutely wrong.

COOPER: Incarceration rates for African-Americans have gone down.


WEBB: The point is that perception is being sold or being consumed, maybe not being sold, consumed, that there are more in jail. So what does that tell you? That there are other factors to this, education being a key one.

BLOW: Right. But all of those things are linked. Right? If you have more aggressive policing in one community rather than another, you have greater rate of arrest, greater prosecutions, longer sentences, all of that impacts whether or not a man is marriageable.


WEBB: So what do you do? You work to reduce the rate.

(CROSSTALK) BLOW: One second, one second. All of those things are working in concert. And when you lock somebody up, you do have impacts on their educational opportunities, their housing opportunities, employment opportunities. All those things start to come into play.

And then all of a sudden that person is not necessarily married -- able to be married. Maybe they don't get a great job. And then all of a sudden the only options that they see, because they're not being creative about it, is to go to more crime. It creates a real...


COOPER: I want to bring in Nas in again.

But it seems like these are conversations which are happening among African-Americans, but not so much in other communities in this country. It does seem more of the expectation is that this is something that black folks should be talking about, but you don't really hear a lot of white folk talking about this. And even that Pew Center study, most white people believe that too much is being made about race in relation the Zimmerman trial, whereas among African- Americans, it's overwhelmingly not enough is being made about it.

NAS: It's a scary topic. Race is something lots of whites don't want to deal with. It's hard enough just getting through the day, so to put race on top of things really scares people who know nothing about it.

DAVIS: In that study that you were saying where white people don't feel that race is involved, they have not been oppressed by race. Of course. It's a luxury that they get to have. And it doesn't affect them and that we're talking about it too much.


COOPER: Because I do think there is this white privilege that when you are white, and heterosexual and you are in the dominant culture, you just assume -- it's like what we talked about last time.

I grew up assuming the police were there to help me.

DAVIS: Officer Friendly, yes.

COOPER: Like Ponch and Jon and CHiPs were going to come in and everything was going to be great, whereas a lot of the African- Americans we had on the panel laughed and were like the idea that they were there to help you is just not a notion that is intrinsic to the experience.

DAVIS: Right. But Nas made a really good point.

It is incredibly uncomfortable, even for good, good people, to talk about race. But we must, we must talk about it to move it forward, and particularly, you know, our white friends. I have several friends that are white, and obviously some people in my family. (LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: But we have to. We have to share the burden, because it has been a black burden and it has been -- and there's fatigue.


COOPER: The idea that it's a black burden is absurd. We are all in this together.

Nas, you would agree with it, that this is something -- this is a discussion that is a good discussion to have and needs to be had by everybody, not just the black community?

NAS: Yes. We are Americans. This is the greatest country in the world. But from what I have seen going overseas is that we abuse it. And we don't really appreciate each other like the way we should. And we are in this together, and that's what we have to realize.

COOPER: And we have to take a break on this.

We are going to continue the conversation when we come back. We will be right back.




COOPER: We're back now with Andre Perry, Charles Blow, Michaela Angela Davis, David Webb, and Nas as well.

I also want to bring in Cornell Belcher, a pollster for Obama 2012, a regular on CNN.

Good to have you here.

Cornell, you have been listening. What do you make of this conversation?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A couple of things. When you look at all this, this burden, we can quantify the burden that minorities have to carry.

Should we ask for a political redress to this? If we understand that bias is actually manifesting itself into African-Americans being arrested more, spending more time in jail, African-Americans being -- having to pay higher mortgages, for example, if in fact there is what my parents always called the black tax, shouldn't in fact ask for a redress of this?

Shouldn't we be asking our legislators to redress this if it's impacting us in such a negative way? Because, right now, there is no redress for it. We can spend more on mortgages, we can be red-lined, we can get pulled over more, we can get more tickets. And this really does have not only a burden on your soul, but it actually has a financial burden to your whole life.

COOPER: So, what would a redress look like? What are you talking about?

BELCHER: Well, for one, wouldn't a redress look like not attacking affirmative action?

If you look at what's startling to me is, if you look at it from a political context, almost everything that we have worked very hard for and our grandparents marched for, if you look at even including civil rights legislation, to voting rights, to all these things that we have put in place, we say, OK, there is bias. So what are we going to put in place to address these biases and these inequalities?

If you look at what's happening in this country right now from a political standpoint, most of those things, from the Voting Rights Act to affirmative action, all these things are being attacked and they're being rolled back. And my point is this, simply this. We can have all these conversations in the world and we can have all the marches in the word. But, Anderson, if we're not holding people politically accountable, if we're not registering and we're not voting, I think it's all for naught.


COOPER: Michaela?

DAVIS: I was just also wanting us to look at we do have a rich history of creating new laws based on horrors like Matthew Shepard, that there are things that if we put enough pressure on, maybe it's not the laws that we currently have, but having new laws. There was a law where I couldn't marry you, Anderson, if we were going that way.

COOPER: Honey, it wouldn't have worked out anyway.



COOPER: I love you, but not in that way.


DAVIS: So, I'm just saying we...

COOPER: My mother would have been very happy. I can guarantee you that.



DAVIS: I would love to get in her closet. We could have worked something out. But...

COOPER: I never spent any time in her closet. (LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: That's where you would find me is right in her closet.

But we have a rich history of creating new laws based on there is an inherent need for equality. There's a drive for equality. Maybe you can't institutionalize it, but you can't stop it. You can't stop the need for marriage equality. You can't stop our desire to move as a human race for equality. This is it.

COOPER: I want to bring in William and Valerie Bell.

Nearly seven years ago, a New York City police officer shot and killed their son, Sean Bell. Undercover officers who were Investigating the club said they identified themselves as police. Witnesses and the wounded men say they did not. Police said they believed at least one of the men had a gun. No gun was found. The officers fired 50 shots in just a few seconds. The three officers were tried. They were acquitted. Later, they lost their jobs, though.

They are no longer police officers. Since then, the city has paid out more than $7 million in civil damages. I also want to bring in Christy Oglesby, who works for CNN in Atlanta. She wrote a very powerful blog post for about her teenage son, a son she says who knows that he could be Trayvon Martin.

I appreciate all of you being with us.


COOPER: This conversation about biases and the way African- Americans are perceived by some, do you think that played a role in what happened to your son?


He was at a club, having fun, as anyone would do, at a bachelor party. And the officers that were there heard that somebody had a gat. But my husband was there and he said our son said he was going inside to get his hat.


V. BELL: And there was -- in front of the place, they had an altercation with that young man who had his hand on his hip. Why did they not investigate him? Instead, this one officer chose to follow my son and -- my son and the group.

For what reason? And I said one time, if he would have stopped and frisked him, he would have been alive.

W. BELL: But the whole thing, like she was saying, you look at it this way. Now, you think about five young men, four young men -- it actually was three, three black young men going to their car. They say they have a weapon. If you're a police officer, wouldn't you think you would stop them before they get there or call backup or have somebody stop that vehicle before he gets in and starts his car?

It only took a couple seconds for it to murder him, because by the time I got home, I got the call that he was in the hospital. What I say, I was there. He didn't have no confrontation inside the place, which they claim he did. He didn't have no problem whatsoever, because I made sure of that. I was his best man, as people say.

COOPER: Was that a conversation you had? Because that's one of the things that really stood out from me the last time we did a town hall, is that just about every African-American parent I know has had that conversation with their child about, do not run.


W. BELL: Of course.

COOPER: And Charles now, he was saying, well, now it's, what, don't walk too slow.


W. BELL: We don't know what to do.


COOPER: Charles famously asked this question, what is the pace at which a African-American child should walk? Is that a conversation you had with your son?

W. BELL: Yes, of course. Be very respectful. If they stop you, make sure you say yes, sir. And he had got stopped before he went to the club.


COOPER: Because I don't know any certainly white friend of mine or myself whose parents had -- felt like the need to sit them down and have that conversation with their child.

W. BELL: Right, I know.


PERRY: But there is a pace. There is a pace. And, unfortunately, it is to ingratiate yourself.

BLOW: Yes. It's inside your house.

PERRY: That's right.

No, but I think what people -- when you have unwarranted authorities asking for you to pull over, they want to hear, I was in your way, sir. Can -- how can I help you, sir? And -- but I just don't think an upright black man in America will teach their son that, because I have to go.

I have to -- most people, lots of poor people do every day, because they have got to flip beds, they have got to do this, and at any moment they can be fired, so they have to swallow their pride.

But it is very hard for anyone who considers themselves upright to tell their son when a police officer or a security guard of any such -- with unwarranted authority -- I'm not talking about police -- someone who doesn't have the right, walks up to you, and you have to go, yes, sir, yes, boss...


COOPER: Yes, yes, Mr. Bell.

W. BELL: May I say something?

COOPER: Yes, yes, yes.

W. BELL: I taught my son to respect all elders. It's not about that. I'm saying what I taught my kids. I want to get that straight. I'm talking about I'm not that poor I didn't teach my kids. So let's get that straight, too. Because a lot of us out there work, and we work hard. And we work hard to make sure our kids do the right thing.

Sometimes out-of-control things happen. We can't do nothing about it. You know? And you talk about 50 shots. You think, come on. You put a man against the wall, you shoot him in the back.

BLOW: Which is for a lot of black men, it is the moderation of masculinity. That -- that you...

COOPER: The moderation of masculinity.

BLOW: That you have to put a dial on your masculinity that nobody else has to have, and you have to crank it up when you want it to be at your regular pace and crank it down when you are in the presence of authority.

COOPER: That's exhausting.

BLOW: And that is an exhausting exercise. It's a horrible idea.

DAVIS: It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking. It's not just -- it's not just exhausting; it's heartbreaking. How can you build self-esteem?

But you know, what I was saying when they were saying that they didn't see race, it was infuriating to me. I was raised on "say it loud, I'm black and proud," and my parents worked really hard for me to love my race. And then you say you don't see it. And it's not the truth. So you think you've been trying to build this self-esteem, parse out all this stuff, and then -- then how do you -- how do you build self-esteem when part of your survival is to make someone else feel comfortable in a moment?

COOPER: I want to bring -- I want to bring Christy in. Christy, you are raising a young black son. How old is your son?

CHRISTY OGLESBY, QUALITY ASSURANCE MANAGER FOR CNN: He will be 14 in September. And it's a tough balance.

COOPER: How tall is he?

OGLESBY: He's 5'10".

COOPER: That's one of the things you're worried about.

OGLESBY: ... to me. He hasn't grown yet. So...

COOPER: And that worries you?

OGLESBY: That does worry me, because I've certainly done my best sacrificially to give him the education he needs, to give him the world exposure that he needs. And it is heartbreaking.

And what you said on Saturday night, I made sure that I was at home when the verdict came in. I had been at work, and I made sure I was at home. And what he said to me, is "So for the rest of my life, mom, I'm a suspect?" And how does that make a mother feel?

And it's something that -- you know, and what I have to explain to him is that, "Drew, it is not your burden. This is someone's perception of you. And what someone thinks of you is not what you have to think of yourself."

And it's very difficult. When he was -- when he was really young, he was in third grade. And I said, "You need a scripture for your life. And what is that scripture?"

And he told me it was Joshua 1:9, so that "I will be brave and courageous, for the Lord, thy God, is with me." And that's what he goes into the world with, knowing that at some point, I have to calibrate how much of a young man he is. I have to calibrate that boldness if I'm coming home at the day -- at the end of the day.

So it is a rough road, because I didn't want to fall out in tears when he says, "So for the rest of my life, I'm a suspect?" So I waited until he went to bed before I wept.

COOPER: But I've read -- in the article I read that you wrote, you were talking about, and worrying about this weeks after he was born.


COOPER: I mean, this is a life-long concern that you have had, and I'm sure a lot of -- a lot of people have had.

OGLESBY: This isn't a conversation that we started having in 2012. It's a conversation my grandparents had with my uncle. It's a conversation my great-grandparents had with my grandfather. So Drew has always understood this. I've known from the very beginning that he would be tall. His father is tall. I knew that.

So from the very beginning, he calls it my Proverbs. How is it you respond to authority? And he knows the rules of my house. You walk out of my house looking like a prospect, and not a suspect.

COOPER: You actually say that to him?

OGLESBY: I say that to him. So when he came to me one day and he said, you know, he wanted to -- I think he wanted to wear his -- he did want to wear his baseball cap. And I asked him, I said, "Sweetie, do gentleman wear their hats that way?" Some do, but the assumption is that how you wear your hat determines who you are. And it doesn't. If my son wants to wear his hat backwards, he should be able to. But I want him home at the end of the day, so he will turn it around.

COOPER: President Obama said he believes things are getting better.

DAVIS: I do, because...

COOPER: That the next generation, that his children, that his kids, that their friends, that he believes things are getting better.

DAVIS: Yes. I said I believe we're getting better, because my daughter is proof of it. She's better. I think -- it breaks my heart that she has a Trayvon Martin as an icon like my mom had an Emmett Till. Both kids going out for candy. But that is still heartbreaking that she now has that as a -- as a distinction.

But she and her friends, they don't have the same burden that we do. And I'm seeing that some of the young people in this audience that are feeling this differently, so yes, I'm extraordinarily optimistic.

PERRY: There is a difference. When you look at -- when you look at race and class, I don't know if we're getting better and the significance study that it just came out today, talking about the significance of place. We know about the significance of place, the significance of education. When all these things come together, it is very difficult to elevate yourself socially.

COOPER: We've got to -- we've got to take a break. A lot more to talk about. I want to dig deeper into the criminal justice system, the Zimmerman trial in particular, jurors, juries, how does that affect -- how is that affected by race? We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back. We're talking about race and justice in America, and the notion that the vast majority of Americans, as many as 85 percent, say they are not prejudiced, even though study after study shows otherwise. Not that people are good or bad, just that whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we admit to ourselves or not, whether we even sense it or not, race registers. We make assumptions based on it, whether we know it or not.

Now on top of that, many court watchers have argued, in the wake of the Zimmerman trial, that race and assumptions about race are simply baked into the criminal justice system.

Listen to what Zimmerman juror B-37 told me during our 360 exclusive interview recently.


COOPER: Do you feel that George Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon Martin? Do you think race played a role in his decision, his view of Trayvon Martin as suspicious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think he did. I think just circumstances caused George to think that he might be a robber or trying to do something bad in the neighborhood, because of all that had gone on previously. There were -- there were an unbelievable number of robberies in the neighborhood.

COOPER: So you don't believe race played a role in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it did. I think if there was another person, Spanish, white, Asian, if they came in the same situation where Trayvon was, I think George would have reacted the exact same way.


COOPER: She clearly identified with George Zimmerman. She could relate to his experience and largely saw the confrontation through his eyes and through the way the defense portrayed it. She couldn't, however, seem to identify with Trayvon Martin's female friend, who was Haitian-American. Listen.


COOPER: So that term, "creepy-ass cracker," that Rachel Jeantel said Trayvon had used, you're saying that's simply how Trayvon and Rachel talked to each other?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. That's the way they talk.

COOPER: And did you see that as a negative statement or a racial statement as the defense suggested?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it's really racial. I think it's just everyday life, the type of life that they live and how they're living and the environment that they're living in.

COOPER: So you didn't find her credible as a witness?



COOPER: So juror B-37 was part of a six-member panel, as you know, all female, none African-American.

One of our guests tonight famously said the trial was over when the jury was seated. Do you think that's a fair statement? And more broadly, is racial bias built into the system, as a number of studies suggest?

Let's talk about it with our legal analysts and former federal prosecutors Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin; also criminal defense attorney Jose Baez; Julie Blackman, who's a jury consultant, who was a jury consultant in the Martha Stewart case; Robert Hirschhorn, a jury consultant to the Zimmerman defense team; and defense attorney Mark Geragos, who said the trial was over in jury selection.

Sunny, I want to start with you. You were there in the courtroom pretty much every day. You're a former federal prosecutor. And when this trial started, you -- you said race had nothing to do with this. You did not see it through a prism of race at all, and yet after the verdict you seemed to change your mind. Where are you now?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I have changed my mind. And you're right, because I was seated in the courtroom and I listened to all the evidence come in as a former prosecutor, I didn't see this racial angle. Because clearly, the government was precluded from arguing race, and they claimed that it was a profiling case. But a criminal profiling case. So race wasn't an element of the crime; it just wasn't an issue at trial.

But I think where I missed it, where I missed that -- that piece was that I think that the jurors, especially when you listen to B-37, sort of had that -- these racial biases, these notions sort of running in the backdrop of their mind. It was clear when your interviewed juror B-37, it was sort of an "us and them" type of reaction. She didn't find Rachael relatable. She did relate to George Zimmerman. So I think it was -- race was sort of that elephant in the room that made its way into the jury room.

COOPER: Mark, you said, I mean, after jury selection when there was no African-American on the juror -- jury, you said this trial is over.

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And we saw that it was. I mean, we -- there is no way that you can divorce race from the criminal justice system in America. I don't care where you are, where you're trying a case; race is absolutely the central feature of the criminal justice system. It has been for over 100 years. It is as much today as it ever has been.

I mean, we may not overtly talk about it. We may not overtly have the same kinds of discussions that we had 20 or 30 years ago, but for anybody -- and I -- and I love Sunny.

COOPER: How can you say that, though? I mean...

GERAGOS: I say that -- I say that, that she was just naive. The idea that somehow this case wasn't going to be played against a racial backdrop to me was just...

COOPER: Mark, just to play devil's advocate, how can you say that, that race is at the core of everything in the criminal justice system? Where do you see that day-to-day?

GERAGOS: Day to day you see it in the dispositions that you get, meaning when prosecutors offer you deals. That the deals you'll get with a young, black male markedly different than you'll get from a young, white male or a young, white female.

So it's totally naive. And the only people who will take that position, I always hear people who are not in the trenches every day in the criminal justice system.

COOPER: Let me bring in Robert. Robert, you were the jury consultant for the defense in the George Zimmerman trial. You have a different view of juries. I mean, do you believe along with Mark that race is at the core of the criminal justice system?

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, JURY CONSULTANT TO ZIMMERMAN DEFENSE TEAM: Everybody, every single juror brings into the jury room their life experience and their value system. And that's what you have to ferret out as a jury consultant and as a lawyer, is to find out what is that value system the juror brings in? What is that life system they bring in, and how will it affect your case?

What I can tell you, having worked countless hours on this trial, I can tell you that race was not a factor in George Zimmerman's mind. I believe that I'm pretty good at sizing people up and reading body language and analyzing folks. And I'm here to tell you and Sunny and everybody watching this show that, in terms of George Zimmerman, race was not a factor in what happened out on that tragic night.

HOSTIN: What about the jurors?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, what about the jurors?

HIRSCHHORN: So the kind of jurors that I wanted to take off of that jury had absolutely nothing to do with their race. It had to do with their views on guns. It had to do with how open their mind was and whether or not they were willing to withhold judgment until all the evidence was in.

COOPER: I mean, you look at juries all the time. How does race play in that jury room?

JULIE BLACKMAN, JURY CONSULTANT IN MARTHA STEWART TRIAL: I think it's a factor. I think it's hard to say, as Robert just did, that he could look at Zimmerman and know that race was not a factor for him. I think it's hard to put yourself in anyone else's mind and have a sense of it, whether you're talking about in this case the defendant or the jurors. It's a part of what we know about... COOPER: I've never met -- and we talked about this in the last segment -- I've never met anybody who admits that they do have racial bias. I've never met any -- I've interviewed neo-Nazis who have said to me that they aren't racist, which -- you know, that they just really love white people. And that's kind of amazing to me.

I'm not making a value judgment against George Zimmerman. I just think everybody -- I mean, studies show people have hidden subconscious racial biases they don't even know about. So you think -- how do you...

BLACKMAN: Yes, but there's -- there's classic research in psychology that shows that if you show somebody standing in a subway car and the person is either black or white and you asked who has a knife in his hands, and neither of them did, people will place it in the hands of the black man more often than the hands of the white man. It's a matter of perceptual difference. And it's anything that anyone who picks a jury is thinking about, how each one of us sees the others. What do we take into account and what do we consider?

COOPER: It interests me, though, that the presence of one African-American juror on a -- on a jury can make the difference in how a sentence is cast.

TOOBIN: It certainly does. You know, one of the phrases that we hear all the time that I think people sometimes have a misunderstanding of is "jury of your peers." You're entitled to a jury of your peers.

That does not mean if you are a 35-year-old white male Christian of Irish ancestry, you get 12 people like that. All you get are a random sampling of the community where the trial went on.

Here we have an unusual situation: it was a six-person jury. Florida is unusual to try serious felonies with just six people. So the odds of an overwhelmingly white jury in a community with 78 percent whites were pretty good. So this was, I think, a relatively random cross-section.

COOPER: I have read studies on the Supreme Court, because of the Supreme Court ruling, you're not allowed to strike somebody off a jury because of their race. But -- but I've also read studies and I've heard from defense attorneys they say sometimes prosecutors try to kind of game the system, striking people, taking African-American potential jurors off, but using other reasons for doing it.

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In Florida, it's just give me a race neutral reason why you're striking this person. And if you question a juror long enough, you're going to find a reason you don't like them other than the color of their shoes. So a lot of times I'll ask them a question and I'll take them down a certain road, and they know when you're striking -- both sides are trying to get the perfect juror for their case. They're both advocates. And to say a prosecutor is up there saying, "Well, I'm going to be the minister of justice and -- and take race and put it aside" is really unrealistic.

COOPER: Mark, studies have shown that empathy is critical for a jury, correct? In terms of...

GERAGOS: That's correct. And what you do as a trial lawyer, all you're trying to do is you're trying to get your jurors to want to have empathy as you say, and I always say to want to walk in the shoes or want to help my client. That's why the defense completely outfoxed, if you will, the prosecution in this case.

When they put on that woman who talked about the black males at the door, trying to break into the house while she was holding her child, you could not have tapped into a more vibrant, if you will, stereotype for that jury and for that case.

The defense told the narrative that was perfectly timed and perfectly calibrated to this particular jury. And you could not have found a worse narrative by the prosecution if they had scripted it from the beginning.

TOOBIN: I'd just like to say, I think the evidence matters, too. That the -- you know, defense had real evidence in this case on their side. This jury was not acting in a completely irrational manner. I don't know if they're right or they're wrong, but there was plenty of evidence to conclude that George Zimmerman was not guilty.


HOSTING: In order for this jury to have found George Zimmerman not guilty, they had to believe that Trayvon Martin was an aggressive boy. He was an aggressive person, that he attacked first. And part of, I think, the reasoning behind why they would believe that narrative is because they were afraid of and they feared that young black boy. And they saw him as an attacker.

COOPER: I want to bring in Raymond Santana. He's one of the New York so-called Central Park Five who was 14 years old when he began serving time, one of five young men wrongfully convicted in the brutal attack on a white jogger in the park in 1989.

I grew up in the city. I remember the case. The public outcry at the time was enormous. I mean, the media, you know, they used that term "wilding." They called it a wolf pack of young men in the park. There was tremendous pressure to catch whoever did it. Raymond Santana did not do it, but he served 13 years?


COOPER: Seven years in jail. He still has a case against the city, a civil case.

Juror Ronald Gold held out for a while but ultimately voted to convict. He is here, as well. Thank you very much for being here.

COOPER: Ronald, can you take me into that jury room? What was it like? Did you feel the pressure at the time?

RONALD GOLD, SERVED ON JURY IN TRIAL CONVICTING SANTANA: For most of the time, there were 11 of them against me. So I had a lot of pressure. My total impression was, there is something wrong with these confessions. The facts -- the three kids are telling three different stories. None of them are the stories that we know actually happened to the jogger. So what's happening here? How did this happen?

And I thought all the rest of the jury was going to have the same kind of doubts that I had. None of them did.

COOPER: I understand you've actually never met Raymond?

GOLD: We met just in the green room there.

COOPER: What did you say to him?

GOLD: Hello.

COOPER: That's a good start.

Raymond, take us back to that time. Because there were all these confessions. And what was it like to be at the center of this media firestorm? You had politicians calling you and the other young people all sorts of names. And yet there was no DNA evidence.

SANTANA: I mean, at that point, we felt like the whole world was against us. We felt like we was going up in an uphill battle. We felt like we lost a lot of hope, and you know, the prosecutor, they was against us. We felt we didn't get good representation. And our families -- some of our family turned against us, and we felt like at the end of the day, that last line of defense was the jury. You know, we felt that they would see -- that these are a jury of our peers. So we felt that they would see the discrepancies in the statements.

COOPER: So how -- how do things improve?

BAEZ: A step in the right direction. And that is you have to start giving criminal defendants the same type of resources that law enforcement has and the state has. To be able to fight for their life, they're going to have to have the resources. And many people just simply do not. A vast majority of them can't even afford a lawyer. And the ones that get appointed to represent them are overworked and underpaid.

Nowadays in Florida, even for a conflict counsel, when the public defender has a conflict, they will pay -- for George Zimmerman's defense, they would have made approximately $5,000, the lawyer, to handle a second-degree murder case. That's insane.

GERAGOS: The biggest problem with the criminal justice system is that, over the last 30 years, we have let the prosecutors run wild in the system.

Prosecutors overcharge. Prosecutors, you know, have a duty, an ethical duty where they're supposed to seek justice. The only problem is, you can rarely hold them accountable, because prosecutors are immune. With one slight exception, a prosecutor can put away somebody who they know is not guilty, and there's nothing you can do about it. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently, famously said that that's it.

If you stripped prosecutors of their immunity and allowed people to sue prosecutors, just like they could see me or Jose if we screw up, why shouldn't somebody be able to sue a prosecutor when they screw up? Strip them of their immunity.

COOPER: I notice we -- I notice we put Jeffrey -- Jeffrey and Sunny are in the hot seat now. Burn the prosecutors!

HOSTIN: I think being a prosecutor is also a job. You don't make a lot of money and you are also overworked.

And I think most prosecutors, if not -- at least most prosecutors are trying to do the right thing. They're seeking the truth; they're seeking justice. So I think it's unfair for Mark to blame the failures of the system on...


GERAGOS: Let me tell you one thing.

TOOBIN: I think that there are a lot of prosecutors out there, or even a substantial number...


COOPER: Let Jeff go.

GERAGOS: Being a prosecutor means never saying you're sorry.

TOOBIN: You know, that's our love story, Mark.

The problem is not intentional misconduct. The problem is people seeing through the, perhaps, a prism of seeing nothing but guilty defendants day after day. They think everybody is guilty, and they make misjudgments. But the idea that there are a lot of prosecutors out there who are intentionally prosecuting innocent people is just absurd.

COOPER: I just want to thank all our guests and all members of our audience for joining us tonight for part two of this 360 town hall, "Race and Justice in America." Thanks for watching. Have a good night.