When Just Being Black Makes You Suspicious Looking

We’ve all heard of the term driving while black (dwb). Or walking while black (wwb). How about running while black (rwb)?  Well damn just being black period will cause your white neighbors to call the police. I read this article in the Washington Post about the police getting phone calls from neighborhood profilers. You know white folks who see a suspicious looking black person in their neighborhood. When the police get there, the suspicious person turns out to be a neighbor, a worker or just a black person minding their own business. Black folks can’t get a break even if they live in the neighborhood.

“People, please stop making my job so difficult.”

That’s the opening of a discussion in “ProtectAndServe,” reddit’s community of law enforcement officers. The poster, who goes by the handle “sf7” and has been verified as a law enforcement officer by the forum’s moderators, goes on:

So I’m working last week and get dispatched to a call of ‘Suspicious Activity.’ Ya’ll wanna know what the suspicious activity was? Someone walking around in the dark with a flashlight and crow bar? Nope. Someone walking into a bank with a full face mask on? Nope.

It was two black males who were jump starting a car at 930 in the morning. That was it. Nothing else. Someone called it in.

People. People. People. If you’re going to be a racist, stereotypical jerk…keep it to yourself.

Don’t be a middle age black man fishing in your own community. You might scare your white neighbor to the point where they have to call the police.

Other forum users sympathize. One tells a story about someone asking the cops to investigate a middle-aged black man fishing in his own community.

Let’s talk about gentrified neighborhoods. We’ve seen plenty of predominantly black neighborhoods in large cities become gentrified all over the country. So what happens when a white person who has never lived in an urban community sees what he feels is a suspicious looking black person walking through an alley? And the so called suspicious black person has walked through this alley numerous times without any problems. Said white person calls the police.

This issue can be particularly acute in gentrifying communities. According to local D.C. news site HillNow.com, in the H Street region of Washington D.C. last year, police held a community forum to discuss concerns about racial profiling. “You have a lot of people here who haven’t lived in an urban neighborhood who are calling police for a lot of new things,” police chief Cathy Lanier said.

One of the community residents agreed. “A couple of guys walk through an alley like they’ve done their whole lives, and the newly arrived neighbors think something untoward is happening,” he said.

Why would a white person move into a predominantly black neighborhood and yet be suspicious of his black neighbors?

I remember the recent case of the grandfather from India, Sureshbhai Patel, visiting his son in Alabama. He was staying with his son’s family to help with his grandson who was born prematurely.  Mr. Patel was walking around the neighborhood when a neighbor called the police about a suspicious looking person peering into garages.

At about 9 a.m. on Friday in Madison, Ala., just days into his visit, Patel was strolling through his family’s neighborhood when he was approached by police. A neighbor had called authorities and told them a man who looked “suspicious” was peering into garages, according to the Huntsville Times. That man, police determined, was Patel.

Within minutes, the 57-year-old grandfather was face down on the ground with a severe neck injury that left him partially paralyzed.

You can see the video of the interaction at the Washington Post.

Mr. Patel may not be able to walk again.  Since that February 2015 encounter the Alabama policeman has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

A federal grand jury indicted the Alabama police officer who slammed a 57-year-old man from India to the ground, leaving him partially paralyzed, the Justice Department announced Friday.

Footage of the Feb. 6 encounter, captured on two dashboard cameras, sparked widespread outrage and condemnation from Indian government officials. It also led to a slew of donations for 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel, who had just arrived in the United States to help care for his prematurely born grandson.

So it’s not just black people who get profiled.  But it’s black people who are considered the most suspicious.

You know I laughed when news analysts were saying that we are living in a post racial society after President Barack Obama was first elected in 2008.  The majority of voters elected a black president twice.  But this country still has a long way to go when it comes to race relations and looking at others with suspicion based on skin color.

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