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The Role of Race in the Rodney King Case

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As much as the American public wishes to deny it, the sad truth is that race always plays a role in the American judicial system.

     In the case of Rodney King, Americans in general stated that they were shocked by the outcome of the trial because the evidence of the police beatings were on video tape displayed for the world to see.  However, the Black community was not shocked.  In their experience, this type of injustice happens to Black Americans all the time.   Although the evidence was caught on videotape, the truth did not make a difference, at least not for Rodney King.

     People often wonder if the outcome of the trial would have been different if the majority of the jury members had not been white.  According to “social scientists, more diverse juries – specifically ones that include black and white members – are more likely to share information, make fewer errors in evaluating the facts and perhaps reach fairer verdicts than all-white juries,” (MacGregor, 2006).   Sometimes there may be unconscious discrimination based on racial stereotypes. “Ordinary racism is very hard to see if you are white,” (Blee, 2003).

     Thus, the judicial system needs to take a closer look at trials that involve members of minority groups, and predominately all-white juries.  The racial biases may not be intentional, but never the less, they exist.  Imagine that Rodney King was white, and everything else regarding this case was the same.  Do you really believe the police officers would have been found not guilty?  Do you think Rodney King deserved to be beat with such severity?  What if he was your husband, brother or son?

     In order to uphold the American belief in liberty and justice for all, society must ensure that diversity is present in the courtrooms.  People of all ethnic backgrounds must serve on the juries; otherwise, we will continue to witness unfairness in the judicial system.  Race always plays a role in the courtroom and life.


Blee, K. (2003).  In C. Gill Created Equal.  Retrieve April

   7, from


MacGregor, H. (2006).  When Diversity Adds Fairness.  Retrieved April 7, 2007, from


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