Have You Ever Been Racially Profiled?

United States
April 21, 2008 6:43pm CST
This is more so for the ethnic members from the United States and Canada, but any opinion is welcomed. Have you ever been racially profiled? Either by the police or a citizen that just knew you were up to no good just by looking at you? This discussion just came to me as I was answering another, that led me to thinking about an old job I had where this happened. It really shows that people are ignorant and set in their ways, here is what happened. I worked for an organization called Working America. This organization supported the efforts of the AFL-CIO to get legislatures that would help working Americans get passed in Washington, by gathering support from people in different communities. What we would do is go to communities all over Ohio, and get them to join our cause by signing up to be a member. One night I was canvassing a community in Dayton, Ohio. I had finished my territory a little early, so I sat down at the end of a yard (one of those yards that had a house on top of a steep grass hill, you know?) near where the pick up spot for the van that brought us out there was. I was dressed regular for me. Jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket. That day I was kinda being lazy with my hair, so it was combed down with a money print bandanna around it. I also had a shoulder bag with my supply of materials in it. Like I said, I was sitting at the end of the yard, next to the sidewalk, when the neighbors looked out of their door. I looked up and saw them staring. All of a sudden when they noticed me looking, they shot back in the house. I shrugged and continued waiting. A few minutes later, another one in the house looked out the door. This time I looked back and waved, they shot back into the house again. Weird. A third time they came to the door, this time with a phone in hand. "Oh, lawd they are calling the police," I thought to myself. All they had to do was come and ask what I was doing there, and I would have told them. Still, I wasn't going to move. This was the drop off spot I was to wait at, and I don't know thing one about the streets of Dayton. Finally the police came, and asked me what I was doing there. I told them who I worked for, and that I was waiting for my supervisor to pick me up after the day was done. They told me that the people next door thought I was going to rob the house I was sitting in front of. These people had to be slow. One, why would I be sitting all the way at the end of the yard if I was going to rob the house? Second, why would I let you see my face, and wave at you no less? The police checked my identification, and saw that everything was alright. They told me that I couldn't sit there, because I was making the residents nervous. C'mon, little ol' me??? But I moved to the corner just the same. So MyLot, what's your experience? Were you racially profiled? Have you suspected a person of wrongdoing just because of the way they dressed or their skin color, only to find out you were wrong? Tell me something!!!
6 people like this
17 responses
@slickcut (8141)
• United States
22 Apr 08
Well i think those people would have called the police to anyone regardless of color,they are older people ,maybe a little paranoid or they would have just come out and ask you....I really don;t think it had anything to do with your color,it might have been the way you were dressed but i think they would have done the same thing if you were a white man or woman...It tends to bother people ,some more than others if you just sit in front of their house...even if you are on the curb.they feel threatened....People now days are scared of their own shadow....I know that there are still alot of racial people in the world but they are that way about blacks,mexicans,but most intellegent people are not like this....Hopefully one day all this will die out if we live long enough....
2 people like this
• United States
22 Apr 08
These weren't older people, well not elderly anyway. They looked to be in their forties. And it wasn't their yard, it was the next door neighbors. And I wasn't really dressed like a thug either. Just regular casual clothes, except for the bandanna, but what gang do you know wears a money print? The thing that really got to me is that they told the police specifically that I was casing the house getting ready to rob it. Even though they didn't ask me any questions, it was obvious that I wasn't if they would have paid attention. I was sitting there for twenty minutes when all this occurred, with my back to the house. How can I case a joint without even looking at it? Second, seeing as how I was there for so long, wouldn't it make sense that if I was casing the house, I wouldn't have let them see me, let alone waved at them? Finally the bag I had was little. A small, over the shoulder bookbag, how much could I really put in there. I still believe it was racial profiling, the way the neighborhood was, there were no black people living there. A lot of the doors I knocked on had very surprised people when they opened the door.
@slickcut (8141)
• United States
22 Apr 08
Well maybe you are right and i think what they did was just silly...It is true that some people are scared of their own shadow...Maybe they were racial ,there is a lot of people who still are...It would not have bothered me but you know how some people are...Maybe they thought you were the front man scoping out the place ,waiting for night fall for the rest of your gang to meet there..Hee hee...Sorry i am just joking but you will find people act all kinds of ways,and i have learned to ignore a lot of crap...
1 person likes this
@overhere (516)
• United States
22 Apr 08
Oh my having gone through the immigration process into the USA I have been background checked, fingerprinted numerous times, photographed, medically examined and interviewed twice! But having read your tale although you may be right I also wonder if it was just that if as the previous poster stated regardless of skin colour the occupants were just nervous/worried. If someone was loitering at the end of our yard I am not sure what I would do. Unfortunately we all almost subconsciously make judgments the moment we lay eyes on someone. They may not be right but based on our upbringing we judge people and the colour of a persons skin is only oine factor - dress style, age, religion, accent, language skills whatever they all lead us to form an instantaneous impression that may later be changed or compounded. In some ways you have done the same thing for all we know the occupants of the house could have had a previous experience that gave them cause to be nervous regardless of the racial profile of the person on their property. It would be lovely to live in a perfect world, judge for who we are not what we are but unfortunately for now we dont
2 people like this
• Philippines
22 Apr 08
I don't have a firsthand experience but I know someone who does. Her husband was a native American but she wasn't. They were traveling but their broke down. Fortunately, it seemed to be a nice neighborhood. While her husband left to ask for some help, she waited outside the car. Suddenly, a white man approached her and asked her what she was doing there. Apparently, the people of the neighborhood suspected her of wrongdoing. The neighborhood wasn't so nice after all. The people calmed down after her husband arrived and explained their situation. I think such cases just show how narrow-minded people can be. They are still stuck with obsolete ideas. I don't like it at all.
@theprogamer (10539)
• United States
22 Apr 08
Been profiled enough times. I've had a couple of security run ins and a couple of moments with the police. However, those happened when out of business or business casual... ("what a surprise?" /sarcasm -_-)...rather sad. I think the worse part though is that everyday people profile me too and rather often. Its done with some of their reactions, their stares, some people with their muttering. Now this I'm still debating on. Could be due to shall I say "lack of appealing physical traits..." but some other instances could be due to ethnicity...
2 people like this
@skinnychick (6907)
• United States
22 Apr 08
Ok I'm a white girl so I have never been profiled. I know that it exists, it has happened to some friends of mine who were anything but thugs, they were/are professional dancers. We had a dance concert and they had decided to go out after that and were dressed a little thuggish I guess but we went to a club and they said they couldn't come in because they looked like they had gang affiliation. But I was ok- dressed a little thuggish myself in a hip hop get up. We all are trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and hip hop is the fun stuff and we were just going to tear up a dance floor. I guess the problem was that it was the suburbs and not Chicago itself. People can be close minded and judge you on however you look which is so wrong. I always like to talk to someone before I judge them, I hate when people judge me on my appearance why would I do it to anyone else? And you...from your picture you look like a petite thing and very cute. Those people need to get over themselves a little bit and learn how to overcome their bigotry. It's sad that it still exists today.
2 people like this
@lucy02 (5017)
• United States
22 Apr 08
I'm white so I don't think I've been racially profiled. I am married to an Asian man though and we were flying to California to see his mom. It was funny that almost every security check I got pulled and searched. It was not long after 9/11 and they were doing the random searches.
1 person likes this
@lucy02 (5017)
• United States
22 Apr 08
By the way I would have to say you were nicer than I would have been. I probably would have moved but I would have reported the incident to someone. It might not have done any good but I would have kicked up a bit of a stink about it anyway.
1 person likes this
• India
22 Apr 08
Hi there, Sorry to hear about your incident and something like this doesn’t happen in India coz we are all coloured. But racial profiling is something very basic, very narrow yet very broad in its application world over. It happens in every country and even in India. Race as we know denotes a group of people having certain similarities, which bonds them together. In that respect, each country has different races within its population. A person from a particular village can be looked upon with mistrust if he wanders into another village. Similarly, we tend to have misgivings about people coming from a different state, a different region, speaking different language, practicing different religion …even different food habits. Since USA has a sizeable population of coloured people, there is racial discrimination based on colour of the skin. As I said, in other places where the colour of skin does not matter, something else does, but it does for sure. As human beings, we are yet to overcome our insularity and look beyond the various demarcations that we have ourselves erected over the centuries. And yes, I have faced racial discrimination in my own country and have meted out the same to any ‘outsider’ whose something (anything) I did not like. Its there everywhere, only thing is that discrimination based on colour has just had more than its share of limelight.
1 person likes this
• India
23 Apr 08
well! a bit overwhelmed for words right now but thnx all the same.
1 person likes this
@julyteen (13259)
• Davao, Philippines
24 Apr 08
i never experience yet but i racially profiled a person who happen my co-passenger inside a van. I taught he is a crazy man riding beside me because of his looks very untidy and prone to talk even i don't talk to him. i wonder why the driver allow him to ride the van, time comes for them to leave and he give his fare to the driver. he is not a crazy man.
1 person likes this
@lilybug (21148)
• United States
22 Apr 08
I have not been racially profiled personally, but I have been pulled over because of who I had in the car with me. A little over 2 years ago while heading back from hanging out and bowling with some friends of mine from work and my boyfriend at the time I got pulled over in a nice white neighborhood. My boyfriend at the time was black. The cop never made him get out of the car, but he gave me lots of crap. He even made me take a breathalizer test. I blew a 0.0 by the way. Later my boyfriend was telling his brother I got pulled over for a DWBD. Driving with black dude.
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Apr 08
Someone once told me I had a really deep voice for a white guy.
1 person likes this
@Esoteric1 (866)
• Canada
22 Apr 08
That's awful I'm sorry that happened to you, even tho I know you have seen and probably been through worse.I know what it is like to have police stop me and friends just based on color alone, I know what it is like to have police follow you in squad cars, driving really slow behind me... I normally turn and smile at them and perhaps wave, they tend to leave then probably feeling guilty or ashamed. One time I went to a big chain department store to buy my son a Christmas gift. I had to ask someone to get it out of the glass case, they then said they had to take it to the desk for me, they were not allowed apparently to let me do it. I got to the counter and started to pay for it, I asked to see it, he would not let me see it even tho he already had my money in his hand. After receiving my change he started to tie my bag closed, I asked him not to, he told me it was store policy to do that with electronics... might sound reasonable at first thought? Well 1: There were other people buying electronics and were not having there bags tied. 2: I paid for it, it is mine now and is subject to my own policies. And 3: I had the bill of sale to prove that in my hand. So I made a little scene about it, and I opened my bag up in front of him and took out my property. No sooner had I done that and started to walk away a little more contented, I saw security ... nope not for me I did nothing wrong, they had two suspects with them ... both white and young no doubt suspected of shop lifting. At the very least I can say I was not impressed with that stores choice in employees, I have to admit I have gone back once since. I think it is awful that people do these things but I also have to admit I have made snap judgments of people before sometimes right sometimes wrong, but it's never about color. I know however that it is still at the very least a bias and I try to not make these snap judgments anymore.
1 person likes this
@Ravenladyj (22937)
• United States
22 Apr 08
LOL you smiled and waved...thats so what i would ahve done but in a very exaggerated, cheesie way just to entertain myself.....that being said though, yes I have had ppl give me a hard time due to my colour but it was very very rare when I was living in Canada...In fact in the nearly 5 yrs I've been living here my colour has been more of an issue than in the 32 yrs I lived in Canada ...
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Apr 08
hiya~ what an experiance, here's mine, although i think urs was worse... i work at a local youth center, a while back, at least 6 months now i would say, we had this lady working there. and well yea, she turned out to be a rasicst. at first she was okay with me, for the most part. although we could all tell she had her reservations abou tme i thought it was all good. then i started to notice a pattern.... she didn't like ANY of the minority youth in the center. so to test this, i thoguht i would set up a situation, involving me, where she could find out for sure my ethnicity (hispanic, from south america, so i'm fair skined) and sure enough, that did it.....at that point she decided i wasn't fit to be in the position over her....this was right about the time i was made director....i took it to my superiors and they, without letting her know what i had told them (about the rasicm) quizzed her about me....turns out she did decided i wasn't fit, only after she ofund out i was hispanic (although she didn't tell them that...she said no reason, but said she decided for sure on such and such date....the day she found out) before that she just didn't like me, after she discovered my heritage i all the sudden wasn't fit....go figure oh btw: she's no long working there ~j
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Apr 08
Sure. After I was accepted to my local California State College, I applied for FAFSA college money. I was denied three times, kinda of like Jesus being denied three times. My thoughts were I was denied because A) I am White B)I was working and making $29,500 and C) I just got married in 1998 when I was accepted in to college and applying for money. Because I was denied money, I had no choice but to work full time and attend college part time in the evenings. It took me four(4) years to complete my Junior and Senior years of college. You gotta love the State of California. We used to be the Golden State. Now, I call my homestate, The Tarnished State.
@alamode (3073)
• United States
22 Apr 08
I have been profiled... not racially, cuz I'm so white I glow in the dark for miles. But for my AGE!! Just because my hair is grey and I have grandchildren, people think I should be old... and many get upset when they find out that I'm not, and that I never have any intention of being 'old'. 'Old' to me means angry, intolerant people sitting around giving other people a hard time. I refuse to act the part just because its expected. I'm gonna stay sassy and love as many people as I can for as long as I can. Sorry if that threatens anyone!
• Australia
22 Apr 08
My story isn't to do with racial profiling. Obviously from my photo you can see that I'm caucasian and therefore viewed as 'safe' in any english speaking community. However, I have been unfairly labelled as a troublemaker due to my relationship with my brother. We grew up in a very traumatic household with an abusive father and my brother Gary lashed out by rebelling against all authority figures, committing crimes etc. At one point in my young life the police were watching me very closely. They even went so far as to accuse me of a couple of things. After all, my brother was a ratbag so I had to be too... right? It was a case of 'guilt by association'. Thankfully, they eventually realised I was not at all like him and left me alone. So no, after experiencing that I never make judgements on people. I don't see people in Muslim style dress and suspect them of carrying explosive devices under their clothing or anything like that... the way some others would. I take people as I experience them.
@Deea48 (1168)
• United States
22 Apr 08
I have seen racial profiling at its extreme, all you have to do is walk into almost any big city court room. I had a boy friend several years back, he had to go to court. When we went their, I saw around 3 folks who were white, about ten who were latino, american indian, east indian, or asian. Then I also saw about 15 who were black. I remember thinking here it is all over the place. Racial profiling. Sometimes we think we have come far, but really go to court in a big city and you will see the truth. Those who work in the system I know are well aware. We still have a very long way to go. It is sad really