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Racial Profiling????

When the DC shooter/Beltway sniper was wreaking havoc on the DC metropolitan area, I was convinced these insane criminals could NOT BE BLACK.  I just knew it!  I was so convinced that we don’t do these types of crimes….Imagine my shock and dismay.  No one wants to see someone that looks like them plastered all over the news for committing some hideous crime.  I think if we are really honest with ourselves (and for those that don’t know, Epiphany Blog is a place where honesty is welcome and encouraged J), most of us will admit that when we hear about any highly publicized crime, we hold our breath until we find out the race of the accused.  If he/she is not black, we do a sigh of relief.  If the criminal is in fact one of us we are usually disappointed.  Question:  Are you more disappointed that the crime was committed by a person of color, or just by the fact that a crime was committed at all…tell the truth!

We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard. Most of us are the definite minority in our respective workplaces.  Because there are more of them than there are of us we are forced to “represent” for the entire race.  I know if I cut up at work, it will reflect poorly on every black person in the office.   While it might be unfair, most of us are okay to have the weight of the entire race on our shoulders from 9-5!  You can watch your non black co-worker come to work day after day looking like she just climbed off the pole and left her clear heels in the car.  You might shake your head and maybe email your home-girl in accounting about today’s Brittany Spears special.  At the end of the day you could really care less, but God forbid you see one of us in inappropriate work attire.  Your attitude is changed.  You are mad because she should know better than to come to work looking like that.  In your mind her fashion faux pas will have a negative impact on the rest of us.  We live under a magnifying glass, and it bothers us when other people of color don’t recognize this fact.

Last week we had another scandal break in professional sports.  For those that may not have heard a referee in the NBA is under investigation for allegedly betting on games over the past two years (including ones he officiated).  I read about it last week, but at the time, the league had not released a name or a picture of the accused.  The first thing I said when I read the article on ESPN.com was “please don’t let him be black”. Monday morning, I got on line and there was a name: “Tim Donaghy”.  My first thought: “doesn’t sound like a black name, but let me find a picture.”   I Googled him, and sure enough this guy is not black.  I did a sigh of relief.  Then I did a double take.  From day one, when we have a black athlete accused of any crime, we know his name, team, hometown, high school coach, jersey number, and last season stats.  We get inundated with information, and it’s water cooler talk for days (if you don’t believe me, ask your coworkers who is the NFL player recently indicted for dog fighting.  I guarantee 95% will say Michael Vick.  Ask those same people about the NBA referee that is under investigation for fixing games and I bet 95% will have no idea).  I hate the way Michael Vick is being plastered all over the news (guilty or innocent), and I am disgusted by the way the “dirty” NBA Referee is not being equally decimated by the media?  Is it racial profiling because I want the brothers scandal to fade, while putting the other guy on full blast?

The fact is we are all guilty of racial profiling on some level.  We do it in an effort to support one another which ultimately is a good thing, right?  We always want the brother to win the Superbowl (Tony Dungy, Jerome Bettis, Doug Williams).  A lot of us preferred Magic over Bird.  If you’re a woman, you always cheer for the black athlete/performer who has a black wife!  

When I choose to wait for a person of color to assist me when I’m shopping, is it wrong?  If I walk past two smiling sales associates that don’t look like me to find the one lonely black associate in the building, are my actions considered racial profiling?  In reality, anyone can help me ring up a black halter top, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell me which jeans run long.  Race should have nothing to do with it, but I find myself always making friends with the sales associate that looks like me.  I’ll chat her up.  I’ll smile more, and I will search her out to handle my purchase.  Am I the only person that does that, or do we all participate in a little racial profiling in the mall?

Normally when we hear the term “racial profiling”, our minds go to how a particular group is unfairly targeted with relation to crime. If a cop pulls over a black man in a nice car for no other reason than he thinks a black man driving through Vailsburg in a Bentley is obviously up to no good, we agree it’s racial profiling.  Officer Friendly has let race influence his decision to investigate a potential crime.  Is it still racial profiling when I allow race to influence how I react to people inside and outside of my own race?  



July 26, 2007 - Posted by | Race, Society


  1. I guess the examples given are a form of racial profiling but of another nature. I always look for my Nubian brothers and sisters anytime that I walk into a public service establishment. I feel as though I am spending my hard earn cash therefore; I have the right to seek out whom I wish to wait on me. Nine times out of ten the “other” persuasion act as if you are invisible and will not part their lips to ask if you need help. I have gone as far as politely telling one salesperson that “ I am just looking” to seek out my brother/sister and tell them exactly the product I’m looking for.

    The same goes for seating at a restaurant. I will look and see what tables “my people” are waiting and have the host seat me in that location. My thinking is if I have to leave a tip, why not leave it for my people. Having said that, nothing pisses me off more than for me to go through a lot of trouble to be seated in a specific area and my “ people” treat me like sh*t. This treatment justifies why we sometimes avoid dealing with my “people” at certain times.

    Comment by Urban Royalty | July 26, 2007

  2. I am 100% with you clover and royalty! Customer Service is not what it used to be, and from the time I sit in my seat I am watch’ Miss Ann. She can roll her eys or be slow with the service all she wants, but the tip continues to dwindle. I start at 20% but by the time it’s all said and done often ole girl may walk away with 15% and a note telling her how her slow walking and mean talking cost her the rest of the tip!!!!!!! Sadly though…the white gay waiter usualy gives such good service I want to leave him 25% (but I never do….)

    Comment by classylady | July 27, 2007

  3. I am one of those people who hopes and prays that a person in the limelight who does something that is not the norm is not Black. I was upset about Michael Vick being all in the media for a negative action because he is Black and one of my favorite quarterbacks; however, I am not one of those people hoping that he gets off because I do not agree with dog fighting at all. I think it is inhumane because one dog will be injured really bad or dead. It is not like a boxing match when somone is just beat up. They could be injured really bad, but no-one really dies at that instance.

    Comment by Nichelle | July 27, 2007

  4. Jerzeechic….You and KP hit home week after week. I look forward to your blogs and you haven’t failed me yet.
    I completely agree with you this week. I too hold my breath until I see the face of the accused. I sigh when he is black, and count my blessing when he is not.
    As for racial profiling while shopping….I’m not sure that is what it is, but I don’t apologize for it. I think that it is common practice to be more comfortable with those that look like you, therefore, I gladly seek out my sista and to give her the added commission bonus. If I don’t….who will?

    Comment by Andrea | July 30, 2007

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