Racial Profiling

Walking home from the bus in high school, I saw police cars and officers in front of my house. Their presence made me extremely apprehensive. The only little assurance was my father talking to the officers. Someone broke into the house and stole some of our stuff.

We felt violated. Our own home was unsafe.

At the time however, the people with guns with a tendency to keep their hands near them were much more threatening than some anonymous teen who wanted some quick cash.

Police officers are the good guys.

Take this scenario:

  1. You’ve spent almost a full day on a plane or in airports flying from Shanghai to Boston so you are extremely jet-lagged.
  2. (SUGGESTED ADDITION) You picked up the flu while in China (remember Avian Bird Flu?).
  3. Your front door won’t open when you get home, so you end up gaining access to the house from the back door. Eventually with help you do get it opened.
  4. While calling someone to come fix the door, a police officer shows up to question you about being the owner of the house. (Let’s ignore that Harvard owns it. You just reside there.)

This is like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: “Nothing at all was right.” Except… This state of mind was interpreted by the police officer this way:

“From the time he opened the door it seemed that he was very upset, very put off that I was there in the first place,” Sergeant Crowley told the station, WEEI. “Not just what he said, but the tone in which he said it, just seemed very peculiar — even more so now that I know how educated he is.” NYT

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask questions about Dr. Gates’ day to establish something of a rapport to ascertain why he might be so upset. It’s not so peculiar when the context is known. I bet if all this had been placed in context at the time, then this would not be front page news.

Has Anything Changed?

The previous post regarding the FBI checking on whether a photographer was Middle Eastern reminded me….

The Civil Rights Movement occurred before I was born. However, my parents were afflicted by blatantly racist laws which continued for decades. State anti-miscegenation law [1] at the time prohibited White females from marrying outside of their race. Since my mother qualified as a White female and my father did not qualify as a White male, they could not get married in the state. They had to get married in another state.

Jim Crow laws were designed to discriminate against anyone not of Caucasian descent and make them uncomfortable enough to go live elsewhere. Since these laws have mostly been purged, some say discrimination is done. Others say the discrimination is just less blatant. For brevity, I won’t go into all the examples.

Store employees who follow me around the store. Sixty year old men who pretend to read SAT prep books while peeking around the corner.

Getting placed in all “average” classes despite scoring in the 97th to 99th percentile on all but a single sub-test.

Being told, “No offense, but it is morally wrong for Whites and Blacks to have children together.”

Lately, though, except going through airport security, I don’t feel oppressed. In looking for why, I wonder: Is Bill Cosby right? Does behaving less Black mean more acceptance?

TSA seems to think I look more like a potential threat than African American so I get extra screening. So my new conflict is, I need to look Black to TSA and act White for everyone else. It would be easier to just be me. Ya’ know?

Not Black Enough

Because of racial profiling, I get false positive screened for extra security screening in airports. So, I need to look more African American. Some suggestions so far:

  • Grow out my hair and wear it in an afro / dreadlocks / cornrows.
  • Clothing improvements: baggy jeans, Jordans, tall teeshirt or sports jersey, one stud earing, chain, gold watch, diamond cut grill.

Any other suggestions?

When my ticket is purchased by my employer, I don’t have any problems. So, I only need to worry about this for personal trips. 🙂

MLK Plan

Mom had not planned on having an operation. So she drove to the Atlanta airport last Monday. Her car is in long term parking up there.

Plan for getting Mom home from the plane tomorrow…

7:45am Arrive @ William’s house.

8:00am Leave for Atlanta.

11:00am Arrive @ Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

11:10am Park in Short Term parking.

12:25pm Mom’s plane arrives.

1:00pm Mom arrives in baggage claim in wheel chair.

1:15pm Eat lunch.

2:30pm Leave for cars.

3:00pm Depart airport.

4:30pm I arrive home in Athens.

7:00pm William and Mom arrive in Valdosta.

In the mean time, grandma is staying home. A friend of Mom’s will make sure grandma gets meds.

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MLK Plan

Mom had not planned on having an operation. So she drove to the Atlanta airport last Monday. Her car is in long term parking up there.

Plan for getting Mom home from the plane tomorrow…

7:45am Arrive @ William’s house.

8:00am Leave for Atlanta.

11:00am Arrive @ Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

11:10am Park in Short Term parking.

12:25pm Mom’s plane arrives.

1:00pm Mom arrives in baggage claim in wheel chair.

1:15pm Eat lunch.

2:30pm Leave for cars.

3:00pm Depart airport.

4:30pm I arrive home in Athens.

7:00pm William and Mom arrive in Valdosta.

In the mean time, grandma is staying home. A friend of Mom’s will make sure grandma gets meds.