Young, black, and endangered: Examining the deaths of trayvon martin, michael brown, and tamir rice through a psychological lens


Book Section

© 2016 Nova Science Publishers, Inc. The deaths of unarmed racial minorities across the United States have garnered widespread attention and speculation, yet the discussions surrounding why these events keep occurring remain limited. In this chapter, we apply a psychological lens to three notable cases. The shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice sparked a national debate surrounding race relations and racially biased shootings of unarmed minorities. Using psychological theory and findings, we identify and analyze factors that may have contributed to these deaths. Specifically we consider the roles that physical appearance and shooter bias may have played in all three cases. We also examine the biased media depictions that negatively portrayed Martin and Brown and influenced reactions to their deaths. Taken together, we contend that this evidence provides a probable narrative for the decisions to shoot Martin, Brown, and Rice while also starting a crucial discussion surrounding racial stereotyping, biased media representations, Stand Your Ground statutes, and needed police training paradigms. We conclude with recommendations for reform in each of these domains as a way to mitigate both future wrongful shootings and to reduce the overall bias experienced by racial minorities.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gaither, SE; Dukes, KN

Published Date

  • January 1, 2016

Book Title

  • Stereotypes and Stereotyping: Misperceptions, Perspectives and Role of Social Media

Start / End Page

  • 83 - 98

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781634845106

Citation Source

  • Scopus