Chances are … you are too.
In a recent conversation with my peers, I was called out as a profiler and racist. Wow!
Here’s what happened.
A few weeks ago, a girlfriend and I were coming out of a restaurant late at night in what can be called a sketchy part of town (isn’t that where all the great hole in the wall restaurants are?).
As we walked the 2 blocks to our cars, we see 4 men walking directly toward us. All we could see from the street lights above was that they wore jeans, hoodies and one had long dreadlocks.
Do you think that I assumed they were good, law abiding citizens? No, I did not.
We made an assumption based on our obvious vulnerability that these men could possibly pose a threat to us. A big one. As we crossed the street I secured my hand around the mace I keep in my purse. For homegrown L.A. girls, this is a natural reaction.
I’m aware that if the intentions of these men were less than honorable, crossing the street would not have deterred them. But, instinct calls for you to do whatever it is you can at the time to avoid trouble.
I did not assume that the men coming our way were Black or Hispanic. I certainly didn’t rule it out. It wouldn’t have mattered what color they were. The last time I checked, ill intent has no color or creed. We were 2 women, they were 4 men. And not another soul in site. I didn’t care for the odds that the men heading our way were Boy Scouts.
The truth is, I profile people all the time. It’s a survival thing when you live in the big city. I hope for the best but keep a sharp eye open for the worst. I call that smart, not racist. Nor do I give a damn if people profile me. Go for it.
So the question is: Is profiling equivalent to racism?
The Oxford Dictionary defines racism as: “the belief that all members of each race possesses characteristics or abilities, specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” Not a belief I hold in any bone in my body.
Racism smacks of hatred and intolerance. I bare neither of these towards any race. Nor does the child I raised.
But I’m no fool. Violence happens in all ethnicities, and is often perpetuated on women more so than men. Often all that is needed is opportunity. We have but to look at the looting of Ferguson to see the truth in this.
I would just as easily mace a Caucasian man as I would a Hispanic, Black, Asian, Muslim, Skinhead, etc. man. If I am feeling threatened, I will do what I need to do to protect myself and that which is mine.
And that, my friends, includes profiling.
So, to my friends who called me a racist because I profile people, I say … bite me! The last time I checked, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.
A personal note on what is happening in Ferguson; I supported and stood by Dr. Martin Luther King and his philosophies that changed a nation. I cannot and do not stand by the looters and criminals that crawl out into the night under the cloak of injustice to bring destruction down on their neighbors.
You can bet there is a lot of profiling going on right now in the city of Ferguson. On both sides of the street. It’s called survival.
People think it is hate. But it’s fear.
I’m no racist. Just a fearful American living in precarious times. Maybe one day profiling will be a thing of the past.
Wouldn’t that be nice?