racism \ a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce and inherent superiority of a particular race (Webster’s New collegiate Dictionary 150th Anniversary Edition)
The Trayvon Martin case has once again prompted a call for a dialog about racial profiling. Usually this means that the black community wants the white community to understand that they find profiling to be demeaning and sometimes potentially dangerous. That is understandable. Profiling in its most basic form is a kind of stereotyping. Many cultures and subcultures are stereotyped in derogatory ways and when a person of a certain culture, especially one who is aware of the stereotype and works hard to overcome it is, however judged in that way, it is insulting and demeaning.
Any truly productive examination of profiling however has to look beyond the rhetoric, to seek the real reasons why certain groups of people are profiled. More often than not, it has nothing to do with skin color; rather it is a reaction to the behaviors of a large portion of people within a particular group. We all profile to some degree. Anytime we approach a person we don’t know, we subconsciously size them up to determine whether or not they are a threat to our safety. If that person appears by his looks or actions to be a threat we will behave in a defensive manner.
That is not racism. It is human nature. Black people are not the only ones who deal with this, Many Muslims who choose to dress in the traditional Muslim fashion are also profiled because of the terrorism committed by Islamic extremists. The main reason why black people, particularly young black males, are often looked upon with suspicion is not because they are black, but because young black males commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes. These young men usually dress and behave in a way that is meant to be provocative, (baggy pants with underwear showing, hoodies and jackets during the summer). When young black males who are not out looking for trouble choose for whatever reason (usually because they think it looks cool) to imitate the troublemakers they will be perceived as being part of that group. After all, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. In fact, young white males who choose to dress and behave in this manner are also looked upon with suspicion.
Most white people want unity with black people and are able to look beyond skin color to see what’s inside. We are bewildered, saddened and insulted when we are accused of racism when it is so obviously not the issue. The black community needs to realize that more often than not, they are being judged by the content of their character and that character, for some in the black community is being found wanting. The people to blame for the mistrust between the black and white communities and the tragedies that result are not the so-called profilers, but the black hoodlums who terrorize not only whites, but their own neighborhoods as well. Beguiling their little brothers into a life of easy money, and wasted lives. Those law-abiding black people who have worked hard, educated themselves, and have become productive members of society who are tired of having to live with the taint of the hoodlums, need to understand that these problems will not be resolved until they look to the inside, of their community. Work with law enforcement and openly condemn the gang culture, and the entitlement culture and come to accept that maybe it isn’t about race after all.
Great post. A black man in a business suit is not going to be viewed as a threat the way a white kid in full gangster get-up is. There are very good reasons for profiling. If a group doesn’t like the stereotypes they are saddled with, they ought to try to change the public’s perception of their group, not just cry racism all the time.
HWDU Thanks for the comment. I’ve never owned any slaves nor did my parents or grand parents.I don’t know any black people who have ever been a slave, nor do I know any black people under the age of forty who have suffered the indignities of separate bathrooms,or lunch counters, though their grand parents did. It is time to put the past to rest and quit blaming racism when the real issue is behavior.
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