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More than half
June 22, 2001 7:06 AM   Subscribe

More than half of all black men report that they have been the victims of racial profiling by police, according to a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.

Overwhelming majorities of blacks, Latinos and Asians also report they occasionally experience at least one of the following expressions of prejudice: poor service in stores or restaurants, disparaging comments, and encounters with people who clearly are frightened or suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity. This is 2001?
posted by owillis (62 comments total)

 
What percentage of the general population can complain about "poor service in stores or restaurants, disparaging comments, and encounters with people who clearly are frightened or suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity"?
posted by websavvy at 7:10 AM on June 22, 2001


The fact that any percentage of the population is discriminated against in this manner (black or white) is revolting.
posted by owillis at 7:13 AM on June 22, 2001


"poor service in stores or restaurants, disparaging comments, and encounters with people who clearly are frightened or suspicious of them" is pretty much what everyone gets these days.

(Dennis Miller voice) "People! Whatever happened to competency?"
posted by tiaka at 7:16 AM on June 22, 2001


Folks, it's a fine line but there's a difference with the surly teenager at MickeyDees and the racist sonofabitch who will do anything in his power to be rude to you because of the color of your skin.
posted by owillis at 7:19 AM on June 22, 2001


In my area, the white suburbanite kids are the shoplifters, so when I go shopping it is interesting to see them profiled, followed, and kept on camera by the security forces of the Evil Texas Shopping Empire. Profiling is done because it works, not because of racism; if it isn't useful it gets tossed. For what it is worth -- the local Target store doesn't seem to care if you are hispanic, but if you come in with a bunch of your teenaged friends, they will follow you.
posted by dwivian at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2001


"poor service in stores or restaurants"

everyone gets this. around here, waitstaff and counter clerks are equal opportunity lazy incompetents.

"disparaging comments, and encounters with people who clearly are frightened or suspicious of them"

hell, i get treatment like this from my family, and i give the same to everyone i ever have an encounter with. people are nuts. i'm the only sane one, and i know that each of you is planning some awful demise for me.
posted by tolkhan at 7:29 AM on June 22, 2001


It should be noted that all Americans, black, white, Hispanic, Asian are suspicious of anyone even with a minor accent and discriminate without a thought, more so with police authorities or even govn't workers. Chances are if you ask a cop for help and are bleeding to death, he'll ask for your greencard, be you not able to provide one they'll put you in jail.
posted by tiaka at 7:30 AM on June 22, 2001


responding to dwivian's comment:
"Profiling is done because it works, not because of racism; if it isn't useful it gets tossed."
Just because a crime prevention technique "works" does not make it ethical, or even tolerable. Putting everybody under 24 hour surveillance would certainly "work" to cut down on crime, and Death Camps "worked" just fine for thje Nazi's...
maybe I'm getting a little over-excited here, but I think the issue here is not whether or not racism is still alive and well in America, but rather to what extent state-endorsed racism is being promoted, as evidenced by disproportionate police profiling of non-caucasion Americans. The idea that it is "okay" to target groups on the basis of race because higher crime rates exist in those minorities is just a set up for endorsing (even promoting) racism in general.
As far as the statement "if it isn't useful. it gets tossed," please look closely and ask yourself, "useful to whom?"
posted by black8 at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2001


More than half of all black men report that they have been the victims of racial profiling by police

wait, how'd they poll all black men? could they have missed a few?
posted by chrisege at 8:10 AM on June 22, 2001


I'm a white male american, so this isn't exactly my strong point, but I wonder sometimes what's real and what's imagined.

I think it's obvious that racial profiling exists and that it's a problem that needs to be addressed. That's easy enough. The true issue is what's assumed and what's actually there.

When I walk towards a group of friends/coworkers and they all see me coming and bust out laughing, my first impulse is to think that they're laughing at me. I think everyone feels like this sometimes, and maybe sometimes it's warrented. I'm guessing (hoping!) that I'm usually wrong.

I have a feeling that if I had an obvious accent or darker skin, I'd probably take that same insecurity and think it's racially motivated. But that's my problem, not anyone else's.
posted by jragon at 8:11 AM on June 22, 2001


this thread needs a kick in the ass, come on people, YOU CAN DO BETTER THEN THIS. When I was in retail, I put more blacks in jail then whites, am i racist, no,(though I took a diversity class at university which said i was prejudiced NO MATTER my views. because im white i have inherent privileges over a minority, BECAUSE OF MY SKIN COLOR) i believe white people thieve more then any other people, because there are more whites then anyone(except californ-i-a). Once we address that issue(white majority) we can have a real debate, if not, ill let you know. (4 hours sleep, cold coffee, and a broken ford will do this, AND WHAT ARE THESE POP-UPS THROUGH THE SPELL CHECKER)
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 AM on June 22, 2001


I'm a white male American and my wife is Asian. I can speak from experience that more often than not my wife confuses bad service or rude people for racial discrimination. I feel I'm constantly explaining to her that were she not there, the person would still have been bad. In the eight years we've been together I can't think of one occasion where I felt we were treated differently because of race.

But on the flip side of that, I have an African American friend with whom I work, who *has* been pulled over by police simply because of his color. By African American police officers, no less.

So there's no doubt that discrimination is present, but I do have to wonder how much is imagined versus how much is real. There should be a poll of who has purposefully discriminated against another (like that will generate accurate results).
posted by jdiaz at 8:28 AM on June 22, 2001


jdiaz, i like what you say. A poll? Good working term but...perhaps we take our own private poll, with our examples from experience. It is about perception but I see the blatant racism expanding, making misconception the easy road to reinforced racism.
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 AM on June 22, 2001


How does one determine that they were stopped by police as a result of racial profiling? Most people claim innocence or ameliorating circumstance even when they are guilty. I'm interested in knowing the criteria that are used to determine that a stop is strictly a result of racial profiling.
posted by Dreama at 9:04 AM on June 22, 2001


i'm sure the criteria for those who report being stopped for racial profiling is that it felt like a case of racial profiling. curiousity b gone.
posted by moz at 9:10 AM on June 22, 2001


The main problem is that people simply don't believe there is racism in this country because it is not enshrined in law the way it was 50 years ago.

It's perfectly obvious to anyone who is not white that racism still exists, and although it is not expressed in law, it is expressed by those who carry out the law.

It's my opinion that focusing on people directly involved in the government, including the police, is the best way to go. Store employees and management are another matter and there is no good institutional way (that I know of) to deal with their behaviour.
posted by FPN at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2001


Dreama, when you hear the phrase "sorry, you matched the description of someone we are looking for" twice a month as happened to a friend of mine while in college in Rhode Island, you start losing confidence in the police force.
posted by machaus at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2001


I'm sure, but that doesn't answer my question at all, machaus.
posted by Dreama at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2001


There's a lot of prejudice any way you look at it. There are lots of reasons other than skin color for which people are profiled. I've been hassled by police before just because I had brightly dyed hair in a fairly conservative community.
A lot of it is a matter of perception. Xenophobia.
posted by eoligarry at 9:25 AM on June 22, 2001


The main problem is that people simply don't believe there is racism in this country because it is not enshrined in law the way it was 50 years ago.

I totally disagree, FPN. I've never heard anyone, white or otherwise, tell me they thought that racism didn't exist.
posted by eoligarry at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2001


I've never heard anyone, white or otherwise, tell me they thought that racism didn't exist.

Have you read this thread? I'm seeing the usual things here.
posted by owillis at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2001


Were you expecting a surprise?
posted by websavvy at 9:44 AM on June 22, 2001


one thing that profiling Does do is increase arrest rates of those groups 'profiled'...so if you are more likely to be pulled over, or have a flashlight shined in your eyes while walking down the street, or followed in a store until you actually do get in line to purchase something...

lets call that the More-Likely-To factor. A couple of years ago i was working with a contractor, a web designer, professional looking guy, athlete also who was training for the olympics. One day while on his lunch break--oh, and he is black--a white police officer turns his patrol car into a parking lot to block his path as he was walking, gets out of his car and says, "heh, i'm suprised you didn't Run." So, he was More-Likely-To have that happen than I.

if you are white you usually don't experience it, and therefore find it hard to believe. I have only experienced it by observing what happens to friends.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:57 AM on June 22, 2001


Were you expecting a surprise?

I didn't expect so much of the Mefi crowd to be the type saying "those silly blacks are imagining everything", but obviously I was incorrect.

For those of you who don't believe, wake up. Sure - there's more than the fair share of paranoia and stupid speculation, and I hate that crap as much as you should. But the real acts of discrimination, of people hassled and harassed for no other reason than the color of their skin or their racial makeup should not be discounted or brushed off. I don't believe in a culture of victimization, but when there's injustice or evil around, I like to shed light on it.
posted by owillis at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2001


I don't think anyone has said that racism didn't exist... I think the issue is how much of the animosity and "bad service" is actually race related. Hell, I used to wait tables, and I didn't discriminate.... when I was in a bad mood I was rude to people of every color!

I think we as a world (this definitely isn't confined to the U.S.) have a huge problem with racism and many problems need to be addressed. I also believe that ONE of those problems is realizing the real incidents of racism and not using it as a blanket term for negative feedback. Only then will we make any more progress.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:07 AM on June 22, 2001


African-Americans discriminate against their own, often as much as Whites (I guess for consistency's sake, I should say "European-Americans.")

I lived in a predominantly Black area for seven years, and have seen this first hand many, many times.....for example, I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood, my car broke down, I spotted a cab. Two Black men were already talking to the driver (also Black), wanting a ride. The driver kept demanding to see their money first. After a few minutes, he looked past them to me and said, "Need a ride, miss?" I responded in the affirmative, and he gestured me into the car, not asking for any proof that I'd be able to pay.

At the movie theatre near our house, standard procedure was for the security guards(Black) to stop and check everyone's ticket stub before allowing them to enter. But in all the times I went there, the guards would just smile and let our group (White folks) pass without asking for a ticket.

I remember one Friday when I was at Comerica bank to cash my paycheck, and was the only White person in line. I noticed that the tellers were taking not only ID from the guy next to me, but also a thumbprint. I don't know what kind of check he was cashing, maybe it was out of state or something. But when I realized I'd left my driver's license at home, they still cashed my check for me, letting me use my Blue Cross card for ID. Reminded me of that Eddie Murphy skit where he disguised himself as White to see if he got treated differently.

There's some sort of twisted racism going on when Black people distrust other Blacks, but think White skin automatically makes a person trustworthy.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:24 AM on June 22, 2001


Our culture has done its best to teach us Blacks are inferior to Whites. That they have nothing to complain about. And if they do complain, they had BETTER do it like MLK, nice and peaceful like, OR ELSE. That fact that African-Americans are susceptible to those "lessons" doesn't make them right.
posted by victors at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2001


I, for one, believe this poll is dead on in it's results and the assumptions that can be made (as a consequence of the results.)
Racism DOES exist in American society. Racism IS ingrained in our institutions and in our psyches.
Racism is a political construct that has existed for eternity (that tribe eats monkey meat and are thus less than human, unlike us.)
Denying the existence of racism is a form of racist evasion and promotes racism.
The proud Southern Dixiecrats (now called Repugs) would love to repeal US law to a period of time when "racism" was a "ridiculous notion."
posted by nofundy at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2001


I can't believe you guys! C'mon!!!

I'm reading this thread, and about 80% of the comments are nodding heads: "I get bad service at restaurants too!" And I can't figure out if it's readers trying to have empathy, trying to trick themselves into thinking that Racist America no longer exists, or if it's just a matter of focusing on a sound bite.

I think every single minority in this country has encountered the ugly face of racism at least once in their lives. I am light skinned and middle-class, yet because of my ethnicity, I experience a "go back to where you came from!" about once a year. Just last month, I had a mob of men chasing me, trying to grab me, asking me if I spoke English. People who are darker, or more ethnic looking, probably have such experiences more often than I do.

Sure, when someone says something nasty, makes a lewd comment, does something rude -- we wonder. But then we forget and get on with our lives. I don't think most people want to attribute such behaviour to racism unless it's obvious; I want to believe that racism has disappeared too. (Please ignore the example you all have in your minds; the person who accuses everyone at the drop of a hat of being a racist. I've met this person too, and s/he was sometimes white and sometimes a person of color.)

And is it just me, or does it seem warped and rather conceited that so many people are citing these singular examples of a third-party misinterpreting a situation as racist in order to dispute a poll conducted by a respected media source, foundation, and university?
posted by jennak at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2001


This is 2001?

accept the fact that just because we have a lot of numbers in our counting system doesn't mean much as far as intelligence goes.

let's be frank with ourselves here folks, we're not getting any better at treating our fellow man with respect. the difference is, now we have the opportunity to make choices. perhaps that's why it's so frustrating when we make the wrong ones.
posted by will at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2001


Not all examples are necessarily singular. But I don't think anyone is really disputing the fact that racism exists. But the question I and others had is how often are actions misinterpreted as racist? I'm sure the original poll is correct, I would expect much more than half to have been discriminated against. But discrimination is also a one to many relationship. One waiter in a restaurant can perform a lot of racially motivated actions, that doesn't mean everyone that works there is racist. So what percentage of the population is truly racist? That's what I want to know.
posted by jdiaz at 12:05 PM on June 22, 2001


This is 2001?

Year 4699 according to the Chinese calendar. People have been around quite a while, the idea is to keep getting better. Are we?
posted by jdiaz at 12:08 PM on June 22, 2001


Were you expecting a surprise?

I didn't expect so much of the Mefi crowd to be the type saying "those silly blacks are imagining everything", but obviously I was incorrect.


i thought the discussion was about the poll, not whether or not racism exists.

trying to trick themselves into thinking that Racist America no longer exists

i don't think anyone here is doing that. you're drawing conclusions from these posts that aren't supported by the content of these posts.

it is possible to be too sensitive to an issue.
posted by tolkhan at 12:14 PM on June 22, 2001


I didn't expect so much of the Mefi crowd to be the type saying "those silly blacks are imagining everything", but obviously I was incorrect.

Oliver, you're taking it to extremes. Racism exists in America. Misattribution of racism to acts of others also exists. What percentages fall into each category is anyone's guess, but I can tell you that having a shaved head and goatee, I get treated differently than people who look "normal" (although I think that I'm unfortunately starting to look normal these days)

Let's stop taking things to extremes here. No one is saying "those silly blacks are imagining everthing" and I would imagine that no one is saying that every case is a case of racism.

At least I've seen no evidence to make me believe that either side is saying those things...
posted by fooljay at 12:23 PM on June 22, 2001


[I'm reading this thread, and about 80% of the comments are nodding heads: "I get bad service at restaurants too!" ]

Is it maybe possible that the reason the opinion is going that way is because this is WHINING not Racism. Racism is ugly and dispicable. Perhaps we should focus on what we all agree is racism rather than that which can be argued either way.

I've been stopped by cops because they said I matched a description. I'm a white guy with a shaved head and a 2ft ponytail. I've NEVER seen anyone with my haircut in almost 10 years of living here. What description were they going off of? Long hair, late 20's cracker?
posted by revbrian at 12:27 PM on June 22, 2001


jdiaz-If the KR where running cambodia, it would year 26. good point about progress, the first outside Issue I dealt with in History survey. Have we ...progressed?. Defining progress as social equality, I feel we have, if not by indiviudual example, by the institutions created to combat inequality(Sounthern law-thingy, naacp,civil liberties, ya know, everything my ancestors despised and called communist)((my grandma called the IWW, the 'I wont work', she was raised in Ford Country BUT, at 96, she believes in Gay rights, social equality, religious freedom) shes an old time GOP'er(when it stood for fiscal conservitism AND social progress) We need to unlearn our taught hatreds, that is the only way.
posted by clavdivs at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2001


and a learnin is purty painful, yessir.
posted by clavdivs at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2001


As I said, profiling is a useful tool. It is inherently discriminatory (selecting between choices), and based on crime statistics (inherently flawed), but it is useful.

But, I agree. It's not *RIGHT*. It would be nice to believe that people will treat you right every time, instead of assuming people are jerks. The problem is...

People are jerks.
posted by dwivian at 12:44 PM on June 22, 2001


jenna, you had a mob of men chasing you???
posted by moz at 1:11 PM on June 22, 2001


as i (didnot) said, profiling is the inherent basis of racism, a visual pre-dtermintation that someone has committed an offense to be wartranted for said interrupitions of ones CIVIL RIGHTS>>>>>a visual aide to determine arrest is not a tool...its a |PRE|CEP||||||TI|O|N hence your profiling is a useless semantic trickshot to blur truth just...a little farther out west.
posted by clavdivs at 1:14 PM on June 22, 2001


dont fuck with a man with a broken ford.
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2001


sorry
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2001


this is WHINING not Racism

Is it whining when my mother and I are followed aisle to aisle in a store, when other families are left alone?

Is it whining when a cop pulls up in front of my home, and asks me for ID?

I don't think so. And I haven't experienced things like this nearly as much as others that I know, nor as severe. Or does it have to make the evening news to transcend whining?

it is possible to be too sensitive to an issue

So we should just let it slide, right?
posted by owillis at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2001


Is it maybe possible that the reason the opinion is going that way is because this is WHINING not Racism.

I don't recall the Harvard/WP/Kaiser Poll whining. I would classify people focusing on a sound bite ("bad treatment in restaurants") rather than the issue at hand as whining. What really should be focused on is that many people in the United States experience racism on a regular basis.

As I said, profiling is a useful tool.

There is a way to ensure safety without being racist (or prejudiced against low socio-economic status). In a store for example, security should monitor via security cameras, have more employees on the merchandise floor, making eye contact with customers. A store (or law enforcement) that badgers minorities in the name of safety proves they don't know about crime prevention or public relations.

jenna, you had a mob of men chasing you???

Yes, and when they asked me if I spoke English, I replied, "How about 'Fuck You'?"
posted by jennak at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2001


I'm white, drive a fairly new car, and am not the most imposing guy you've ever met. I've also been pulled over a number of times, sometimes for things I did, sometimes for things that the police officer suspected that I did. In all but one of those times, the officer in question behaved in a professional manner.

The one time that they didn't was when I was in a "bad" neighborhood. They had guns drawn, "keep your hands where I can see them", etc. Seems there were people that went to that area to buy drugs, so they pulled people over who looked like they didn't "belong" there. And they wanted proof that I had a legitimate reason to be there.

The situation would have been considerably uglier if I'd been on my way to the bbq restaurant rather than away from it. I had proof in my front seat that the officer could smell.

I strongly suspect that the experiences that most white people have being pulled over are considerably different from those of black people.
posted by swell at 2:04 PM on June 22, 2001


"I strongly suspect that the experiences that most white people have being pulled over are considerably different from those of black people"

Oh swell.
posted by clavdivs at 2:08 PM on June 22, 2001


me: it is possible to be too sensitive to an issue

you:So we should just let it slide, right?

take my statement for what it means, not for what you read into it.

any type of oppression or prejudicial discrimination is a serious issue that must be dealt with. it is pervasive in our society and culture, but it isn't everywhere. i see how poor service at a restaurant could indicate that the server holds the foulest of racist attitudes, but poor service does not necessarily mean the server is a racist. it may mean nothing more than you have a server who sucks at his or her job.
posted by tolkhan at 2:11 PM on June 22, 2001


it may mean nothing more than you have a server who sucks at his or her job.

I don't recall anyone backing up the survey by saying, "Man! The waitress at lunch really sucked, and I'm sure it's because she's racist." No, the people who keep bringing up the restaurants are doing so in a lame attempt to label people's common confrontations with racism as exaggerated.

The poll asked if the respondent "receive[d] poorer service than other people at restaurants or stores" -- not just poor service in general.

Give us some credit; we have enough self-respect and intelligence to know when they're dealing with a rude person versus a racist.
posted by jennak at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2001


My simple perspective: Some folks see a racial incident as an isolated case; others see it as the tip of the iceberg. It will never be sorted out.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:34 PM on June 22, 2001


So what percentage of the population is truly racist?

That number is as fluid as your definition of racism. What percentage of the population benefits from systematic racism, and what percentage suffers? The info is available from the US Census.
posted by sudama at 3:41 PM on June 22, 2001


Friend of mine, network manager, was on a date. Things were going quite well, in a Norman Rockwell kind of way. He was dropping her off at home, pulled into a parking spot, and they talked for about an hour. He didn't notice at first, but a police car was circling the block, and passed him several times. All of a sudden, there were three cars flashing their lights, whooping their sirens, pulling up and surrounding his car. With guns drawn, they demanded he get out of the car and spread, and then his date. The two of them were patted for weapons, had their ID inspected, had the registration on his car checked, and when this all checked out, he was given the "option" of coming voluntarily to the station or being arrested. A good citizen, my friend went voluntarily. His date wasn't required to come, but her purse was confiscated as evidence, so she came along anyway. They were both handcuffed and placed separately in back seats of police cars for the trip there. At the police station, they were fingerprinted, and again his date's identity was confirmed and she was told she was free to go. She waited. He was a contractor from out of state, so they were waiting for "his priors" to come through from New Jersey. At this point he didn't know it but the robbery suspect they were looking for had already been picked up (how does a starter jacket, in the witness description, translate into a suit jacket and tie?), so they knew they had made a mistake, but they were hoping to justify what they'd done *somehow*. After two and a half hours, they were unable to find that he'd ever done anything other than speed. He and his date were released at 1:30 am. Their personal items were returned. They had to call a cab to take them home. They got no apology.

My friend is black. His date is white, and he was in a white, upscale neighborhood. He lived in a mostly white, upscale neighborhood. And you know what? He was furious, but he didn't think it was all that unusual.

I sure as hell thought it was unusual.

For blacks, I can certainly see how living in America feels like living in a police state.

I've received unwanted police attention myself. I am absolutely certain that attention was due to profiling. But you know what? They were profiling me based on driving a crappy car. (Cops know stopping someone with a broken tail-light has a pretty good chance of turning up someone with other registration issues, perhaps even a criminal record and open warrants.) I don't mind being stopped because I'm driving a crappy car -- well, I do, but I don't feel discriminated against for it. I can change the car I drive.
posted by dhartung at 4:42 PM on June 22, 2001


If only these people would stop looking for racism everywhere.
posted by sudama at 4:46 PM on June 22, 2001


Finally, sudama and I agree on an issue of race. Unlock the seventh seal.
posted by owillis at 8:07 PM on June 22, 2001


(sigh) I think everyone here agrees that racism exists and that it's a problem. Some people here are also pointing out that it's possible to invent things. No, not every time, but sometimes nonetheless.

A comment like I didn't expect so much of the Mefi crowd to be the type saying "those silly blacks are imagining everything", but obviously I was incorrect. doesn't open the door for intellegent conversation/debate. It's just childish.

Owillis : I can appreciate how much of a problem this is, but there comes a time when it's hard to hear any more from someone who's speaking the way you are.

Save your breath -- this doesn't mean it's a non issue or that we should just ignore it, it simply means your berating us makes it harder to want to engage you any further on this.
posted by jragon at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2001


(and then you go and post a funny comment, making it look like *I* was the one flying off the handle. great. ;)
posted by jragon at 8:14 PM on June 22, 2001


I can change the car I drive.

Be glad. An article about profiling I read within the last week or so (it's in the Post-Dispatch's for-pay archives, or I'd link it) was talking about how legitimate traffic stops and arrests disproportionately affect the poor (and therefore disproportionately affect blacks in this country). The poor have less money to spend on auto maintenance, and therefore are more likely to be pulled over for equipment violations (tail lights, etc.). In addition, the poor are less likely to have insurance, and can be arrested for not having it, IIRC.

I'm sure there's racial discrimination above and beyond such issues, but it's going to be difficult deciding where to draw the line.
posted by harmful at 8:22 PM on June 22, 2001


jragon: Coming from my POV, the overall tone was "these people were just treated rudely, this wasn't racism. why are these people always crying "racism" about everything?" I've heard that argument again and again, usually said by me - as I tend not to blame racism on things (it's usually at the bottom of my list, I prefer to believe people are colorless, sexless asses).

But I also know very subtle racism does exist, and it felt as if this was being brushed off. So if you feel it was childish, you've got a right to your own opinion.

In other words: when somebody is continually clubbing me in the head, and people pass by and say "you're not being clubbed in the head", I think I'm well likely to say: "I AM BEING CLUBBED IN THE HEAD!!" If you get my drift...

I'm trying to say: "Don't you get it?".

This is coming from someone who has lived a life more or less racism free (in comparison) based on my surroundings. And when I feel racism, I know that others have seen it ten times worse (see dhartung's story). Then someone effectively says "well, it's not that big a deal" it pisses me off.

It's not just black/white. My closest friend in the world, the person I would trust my life with, is Vietnamese. You know how many times people say "you speak English well", or "Bruce Lee" to him? This is a guy who had perfect grades in high school and finished college/med school in 6 years.

So when someone says "you're imagining things" it gets my goat.

(I just joined the Zachsmind clique of long posts :)
posted by owillis at 8:30 PM on June 22, 2001


See, I can respect that, and maybe I haven't made a strong enough effort to acknowledge that there are cases when it truly is racism.

I guess my point is on a completely new topic, although similar. I have known many many people who pretend something isn't racist even when it obviously is. They don't want it to be an issue, they don't want to bring it up, and they want to believe that the racism really is there.

But, also, I wonder sometimes if it goes the other way. That's not meant to be a counter-argument to everyone's completely valid points. All I know is that I'm overly sensitive after being made fun of throughout my life, and sometimes I'm paranoid enough that I take a completely mundane situation and take offense to it.

So all I'm saying is, if I were in the minority (like, say, if I went almost anywhere in the world) I think my already sensitive nature would probably pick up a lot of things that weren't there.

So, like jdiaz said : I wonder what the true numbers are, considering that A) racism is everywhere B) human nature is fairly selfish, and it's possible to invent the attitudes you see in others.

(and no, having someone stop at your front door, climb the front steps, and ask for id is definitely not imagined. That's just messed up)
posted by jragon at 8:41 PM on June 22, 2001


here's an article , in today's albuquerque journal, about the police force in the town where i grew up. i don't know if any specific "racial profiling" system was used, but i do know that the town was small enough that racial profiling wasn't needed -- once the police knew who you were, they would *literally* follow you around, and pull you over for nothing. i know the family that spearheaded this court case; in fact, i lived down the street from them for a few years. their only "crime" was being black and too mouthy in a small, conservative town. i'm glad they won this settlement.

ps, the cops treated white people in a similar manner, but it was much more extreme when it came to black and hispanic people -- i know that much from just *witnessing* many incidents. i'm so glad i got out of that place.
posted by sugarfish at 9:40 PM on June 22, 2001


What color are your eyes?

There was a time when talking about this in public forums was a good thing. Got it out in the open. It became acknowledged on all sides of the bench. It was a good thing.

At least a decade ago, there was a documentary about racism in north Texas. It was shown at the Dallas Museum of Art. Afterwards there was a panel of representatives from different parts of the community. Of course, every crayon in the box was represented. I went there that night, because I thought surely these people would see the issue, address it, and we'd come to some solution for our community. In the end, it was like watching the premiere episode of Jerry Springer. Everybody was talking. No one was listening.

I don't think it's a good idea to talk about this anymore, cuz we're not going anywhere. We whine about it, or dispute just how much racism there is, or argue who's being more rude to whom. I've had black people look at me. Judge me. Treat me like shit. Do I bitch about it? No. Even if I did, who'd listen? Talking about it was a good idea, but everybody talks and no one listens. No one's found a solution. No one's even looking for a solution. Theyr'e just pointing fingers. THERE's racism! LOOK over there! We're a bunch of puppy dog's chasing our own tails. It's pathetic.

Stop giving skin color significance. It's not their culture just cuz they have more or less pigmentation in their epidermis than you. It's OUR culture. All of it. As long as you people speak in terms of difference, there will be hate. What's more important: The color of your eyes, that your eyes can detect racism, Or that your eyes can see at all?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:55 AM on June 23, 2001


Whooo. . .

The color of your eyes, that your eyes can detect racism, Or that your eyes can see at all?

Take my motherfuckin' breath away! Up for the Nobel Prize in literature.
posted by crasspastor at 3:39 AM on June 23, 2001


Sorry!!! Missed the WHOLE cut and paste deal there. Should read and bears repeating:

What's more important: The color of your eyes, that your eyes can detect racism, Or that your eyes can see at all?
posted by crasspastor at 3:42 AM on June 23, 2001


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