Obama opens up to racism, says Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 yrs ago

US President Barack Obama today spoke about his rare personal experience on a recent verdict in a black teen case and said that "Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago".

"You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago," Obama told reporters as he made an unannounced entry into the White House press room.

The 17-year-old unarmed black teen was shot and killed in Florida in February 2012. George Zimmerman, 29, said he opened fire on the teenager in self-defence and was acquitted of murder by a Florida court last week.

In his first public remarks after Zimmerman was acquitted, Obama shared his personal experience and said very few black men in the US had not experienced racial profiling. "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," Obama said.

"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," he said."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," the President said.

"I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear," he said.

Obama said the African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of drug laws.

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