I was hoping to do this blogpost before the Zimmerman-Martin verdict was in. But my personal life has been hectic.
Yesterday, while waiting at the barber shop, I breezed through the LATimes, and saw this article on actor Michael B. Jordan as it relates to his new movie coming out, Fruitvale Station. I didn’t read the whole article then, and I actually haven’t read the entire article now. I’m not that interested in the movie itself. What caught my attention was this:
One of his few extravagances was a BMW 330, which he used to jet from acting jobs in New York City and his home in Newark, N.J.
“That car gave me a lot of headaches,” he recalled, sitting in an empty Los Angeles gastropub midafternoon. Because he was an African American teenager driving a nice car, Jordan said, he was pulled over and questioned by the police dozens of times. “They’d say, ‘Is it stolen?’ I’d tell them to check the locks. ‘Please step out of the car.’ [What] do I need to step out of the car for? ‘Step out of the car.’”
I have no doubt that many blacks have had the experience of being unfairly scrutinized or stereotyped. However, it may be the case that at times, there are other factors at play, other than flat out overt “racism”; or subtle, subconscious, institutionalized racism.
I wish I had time right now to really think this through and do a more thoughtful, well-researched post; but sometimes you go to post with the material you have, not the one you wish you had.
I have an event to prepare for tomorrow and I still need to find a way to squeeze in the time for gathering up Sunday Funnies!
Anyway, I wanted to give this personal story of mine wider attention. It’s a cut-and-paste from a comment I made in 2008; and I apologize for not making it more “blogpost worthy”, elaborating on my thoughts and feelings and adding further commentary. But I still hope it conveys another side to the issue of race, profiling, and stereotypes:
When I was still in college, I had part-time work as security in a retail store. At first I was uniformed, as a visible deterrent to shoplifters. I took my job seriously, and was good at preventing and catching shoplifters and would-be shoplifters. Because I paid attention to customers. ALL customers. Every single customer who walked into the store, I made a friendly greeting to, and would spend a moment observing their behavior. After a while, I’d only occasionally “check up” on customers who I determined gave me no cause for further scrutiny, initially. It was simple: act normal, and chances are I’d think you were there to shop. Pay more attention to me or the sales staff, roll merchandise up, check through a stack of clothing and pull out the one that doesn’t have a sensor tag, look around a lot, act nervous…..all these behavioral signs is what made me pay more attention to certain people.
On a couple of instances, I had customers who came into a store and IMMEDIATELY, paid attention to me. And they were black. I am sure that they have probably been unfairly followed around in stores, before. But the problem is, their experience has “contaminated” their shopping behavior, to where they are looking to be followed around. So they are looking for it. And if you’re looking shifty-eyed, angry, or paying attention to sales help and to security….that’s not normal behavior.
The two customers assumed I was watching them because they were black. I watched them because it was my job, and they drew my attention, because of how they acted. One of them, when I figured out why he was watching me, I had a chance to explain it to him. Shoplifters spend a lot of time watching what security and sales staff are doing. Whether or not they are paying attention. Normal shoppers spend time looking at merchandise, and only look at sales helpers when they have a question and need help. That seemed to clear the air. He realized that he was suspicious of me right away, because I was security. And was staring at me right away. The other person, I did not get that chance of explanation. I am sure, after the fact, that he was a normal shopper as well. But he left in a huff, and unfortunately, he probably had his own preconceived notions reinforced by his misperceived experience with me; and he probably went on to tell others, “yes, America’s a racist country! Why, I’ve been followed around and watched unfairly in stores….” without ever considering maybe it’s his own behavior…maybe a chip he carries on his shoulder, that makes him find validation and confirmation of racism where none is present.
I have not been following the Zimmerman trial much at all. I only catch snippets here and there; nor have I followed all of the debate and discussions going on right here at FA.
Having admitted my ignorance to many of the details of this case, I don’t get the impression that this is a story that ever should have been about racism. Please fill me in as to why I am wrong, if I’ve missed something that points to Zimmerman as having had his actions and behavior influenced by racial stereotyping and prejudice.
So much of this seems to have been a media-driven story. People have worked themselves up over it, making the media frenzy even more; which of course results in people wanting to talk about it even more.
From my limited observations, what has been truly disheartening, is how both sides (Zimmerman supporters and Martin supporters) seem to have entrenched their opinions based upon emotions, personal biases, selective media stories (which often has perpetuated so many false narratives and distortions on the details), rather than just allowing the actual evidence brought to trial, play itself out in court.
Zimmerman is not a hero. And Martin might not have been a teenage boy with a halo hanging over his head.
And now we have true racists fanning the flames of racial hatred in the era of Obama: “This Time We’re Going Out To Whitey’s Suburbs and Burning Down HIS Community”
In preparation for the possibility of an acquittal of George Zimmerman, The New Black Panther Party has reportedly begun a mobilization campaign to target white communities.
According to a recent post on Sodahead, leader Samir Shabazz and the New Black Panthers are preparing to take the fight directly to those guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin – white people living in suburbs all over America.
“This time we’re doing it right… This time we’re not burning down our communities. This time we’re going out to Whitey’s suburbs and burning down HIS community. We’re going to make Whitey feel the pain.”
The Zimmerman-Martin shooting is indeed all about race, race relations, and racism. But it’s not George Zimmerman nor Trayvon Martin who are responsible for this; for turning this into a race issue.
In my opinion.
There’s more than one tragedy involved, here.