15 comments on “Profiling the Profilers

  1. I’ve live in “urban” areas my entire life, so I’m no stranger to getting the eye when I drfited over toward the suburbs. Everywhere I’ve lived has had some level of segregation, where white people have openly indicated that black people don’t belong in “their” part of the city and black people have said the same regarding whites. The separation of races and classes was thick!

    I can’t excuse the people in this video. But black people are the same way with white people in “their” area.

  2. It’s amazing to me that EVERYTHING out there tries to attribute racism squarely to white people without focusing on anyone else. They make it seem like blacks, asians, hispanics, arabs, etc. can’t also be racists and play out some of the very same situations in this so-called “journalism.”

    The bottom line is: EVERYONE stop placing the blame on white people and take responsiblity for your own actions!!!

  3. Josh, I have to ask: have you actually WATCHED the videos? If you watch them, you’ll see that I’m not making anything up or that I’m tossing in some unfounded, unproved claims about race and crime. These are uncontroverted instances of how black kids were reporting to police for doing the SAME offense for which many white kids were overlooked. All I’m saying it that it’s important to look beyond the veil when you read things like crime statistics.

    But in spirit I actually agree with a lot of what you said. When thinking about the schism between white and black people, white people as the “majority” group bear the grunt of the racial dynamic. And no, that’s not fair. But I would also argue that white people as a race have the HARDEST TIME seeing the privilege that comes with being white in America and – as such – have a hard time looking at themselves critically. While both blacks and whites tend to look at things from a myopic lens, whites still dominate in this culture. So it makes sense why minority groups are so protected. Sometimes it’s that protection that keeps us (minorities) as a permanent underclass, true. But don’t deny the existence of power.

    • Andre, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying about whites and our majority status – though I AM sick of the white people being made to be the bad guy. BUt I also think it takes a real progressive minded minorities to see things from a neutral perspective also. I am not sure which would be harder, for whites to do it or minorites, but I think it matters just as much.

      If this was in an all-black neighborhood, what would have happened to a group of white teenage vandals versus a group of black teenage vandals? I highly doubt the white kids would be ignored, while I’m almost SURE the black kids would be ignored. This is hard sell, since I don’t think most white kids would be brave enough to do some crap like that in a black community (come on! That was a joke. Even conservatives can have a sense of humor!). But the issue still remains: if white people have to look within, black people should too.

      • Ya know, while I think the intended meaning behind his statement is a bit different than what I took from it, Josh touched on something pertaining to white/black interaction that I never see being discussed, reported on, or otherwise addressed.
        I don’t think most white kids would be brave enough to do some crap like that in a black community.
        Through countless observations, & passing comments I’ve noticed over the years I’m pretty confident in stating that for the most part white Americans are very much intimidated by black Americans, if not down right fearful (I think the linked videos are a great example of this fear). Whether this is a result of some substantial difference in personality traits between cultures, or a reflection of how many white Americans view black American culture through the eyes of BET & gangsta rap, I’m clueless. However I’ve noticed the trends enough to the extent where I am certain it’s not just in my crazy-head, & would love to see this addressed in some capacity, if not here than in some form, somewhere.

        -n

    • Josh,

      THIS is why having discussions about race is so important. So I give you credit for at least being willing to contribute to the dialogue. Lots of people stay mute on these things, and we get nowhere. We’ve had our differences in the past, but I appreciate this.

      To address your comments:

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. It’s just that I don’t entirely agree. It’s true that we ALL must make effort to be progressive thinkers (I’d even argue that should extend to politics too…but I won’t go there today). We should ALL turn our attention toward finding solutions and reconciliation instead of living in the past and pointing fingers. However, when you say “I am not sure which would be harder, for whites to do it or minorites, but I think it matters just as much”, that’s where I think you’re wrong. It DOES matter.

      Allow me to clarify:

      I have NEVER believed that only white people can be racists. Blacks can be racist, Asians, Arabs…anybody! Some people will say that only people in the majority can be racist and I argue against that notion until I’m blue in the face. But when you throw in the element of systemic oppression, we have a different ballgame. In the face of THAT reality, the onus of being more forward thinkers falls on the group who stands to benefit more from racial inequities. I don’t care how you slice it: it’s MUCH better to be white in American than anything else.

      Racism toward one another – while evil – doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things. If I don’t like a person or make presumptions about a person based on their race, it sort of boils down to whether or not that lower level of racism matters as much in the social circle. But when that same racism causes me to systematically deny human rights, oppress/exploit others, or wage any kind of direct (or indirect) aggression towards that person/those people, then we have a problem. If I’m considered unqualified for job before I even have a chance to open my mouth, or if I always seem to “fit the description”, or if I’m immediately thought to have been given special perks for being at a certain school, then racism goes further than simply not liking somebody. It goes into a much deeper, more impactful situation. So of the basic things I just mentioned are often things whites take for granted. You never have to enter a store on your best behavior, thinking that you’re not above suspicion. You could probably haul an ATM off of a college campus in broad daylight and not assumed to be up to no good (sorry Hippie, I couldn’t resist tossing that one in). My point is essentially the same point I’ve been making for years: Carry that white card of yours has privileges. My black card has to be paid back on every day…WITH a high ass interest rate, no less.

      As long as you are a member of the majority (even if you’re not a direct beneficiary of the privileges therein), there will always be a certain kind of onus on you to be the forward thinker.

  4. Wow! Very interesting videos Andre. It doesn’t discuss anything the average black person doesn’t already know. But seeing it on screen is still alarming. I also agree with your comment…

    Andre :When thinking about the schism between white and black people, white people as the “majority” group bear the grunt of the racial dynamic. And no, that’s not fair. But I would also argue that white people as a race have the HARDEST TIME seeing the privilege that comes with being white in America and – as such – have a hard time looking at themselves critically.

    Race is very difficult discussion to have. And it takes people with a truly progressive mindset to offer up honest perspective on this issue and to see it neutrally. One the main reasons I think we haven’t been able to have this kind of discussion is because the loudest people on both sides (people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the white side, and people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson on the black side) lead people into only seeing the problems on THE OTHER SIDE. It’s not profitable for them – or beneficial for us – to turn the mirror on ourselves.

    I remember when I first moved to Georgia and I worked with a white guy who was about as redneck as they come. But in our day to day interactions, we talked to each other extensively and learned from one another. One of the most productive things we did together is discuss current events and try to talk about them from the other person’s perspective. We were able to share the perceptions we THOUGHT the other person would have and why we thought that way. It was very helpful in seeing how the other person ticked.

  5. Hey Dre,
    I have a couple of questions concerning your premise (?) that profiling contributes to the high rate of criminality of African Americans.

    1) As I pointed out before, 46 out of 54 murders in Flint were in an area smaller than 10% of the total city. It happens to be the area most dominated by African Americans. Of those that were solved, all were committed by African Americans (who were also the victims BTW.) How could facts like these be skewed by profiling?

    2) Have you also considered the crimes that WEREN’T reported because of white people’s concern of being seen as racist? (the opposite of your profiling premise)On our campus I’ve seen several examples. Once, two Black males cut the wires to an ATM machine in plain view. Safety dismissed the alarm, as well as the video surveillance, and didn’t even report it. They wheeled it out in front of everyone. Then two student from my own department (one who was studing to be an FBI agent) helped them load it into a beat-up Buick. When I asked if they were suspicious, everyone involved gave me the same answer, “Yes, but I didn’t want to seem prejudice.” Wouldn’t that mitigate some of the assumptions in your premise?

    3) In your vids, why would 20/20 be inclined to come to any other conclusion? Afterall, no racism-is no story. How do I know these weren’t selectively chosen or edited?

    I’m not saying your assumptions are inaccurate. I’m just wondering if we should be considering more than just one side. This piece left me with a lot of questions.

    • (1) With your line of reasoning, you’re making it sound like all the crime statistics in this country are tabulated in Flint and Flint only. For one, it makes sense that the black crime rate in Flint is high BECAUSE of the high black population. It’s not like black people collectively decide to make an exodus to Grand Blanc to go on crime sprees (for you non-Michiganders, Grand Blanc is an affluent, mostly white area bordering Flint).

      (2) “Have you also considered the crimes that WEREN’T reported because of white people’s concern of being seen as racist?”

      Crime is crime. If people can’t see that and they allow their fear of being perceived as a racist to take precendence, that tells a much different story. To me, the only way doing something morally and civicly appropriate could ever be considered racist is if there were standards applied to one kind of criminal that were NOT applied to another type. That sentiment was clearly pointed out in these videos. So using the ATM example (and I remember that story. I still laugh at that today), I’m curious to know if that student of yours would’ve had the same prejudicial attitude if it was a couple of white people loading an ATM onto a vehicle.

      (3) 20/20 came up with the conclusion derived from the videos. As much as I think media has tons of footage that never makes it off the cutting room floor, I sincerely think if their investigation uncovered different results, THOSE results would have been featured. If the majority of the white passerbys ignored the black vandals in higher numbers or reported the white vandals in higher numbers, that would’ve been the focus of the story. “Is racism REALLY prevalent anymore? We think not.” would’ve been the theme for that segment.

      • Hey Dre,
        1) No, you misunderstand me. I was suggesting that there are possible reasons that you weren’t addressing for the high rate of crime among A-A’s. I was only suggesting that profiling may not be the only one. There is poverty, broken homes, drugs, and yes, even culture. Which often gets left out of the equation.

        2) Crime is crime. I report it based on what I see, not the color of who’s doing it. I also cross the street if ANY crazy looking people are coming my way. I’m just saying that among white people, there’s a strange mix of people who either; a) Cross the street anytime a black person is approaching. (wrong and racist) or b) Won’t cross the street if the black guy is naked and yelling at the sky. (because they don’t want to seem racist.) To assume everyone is profiling negatively is erroneous IMO.

        “I’m curious to know if that student of yours would’ve had the same prejudicial attitude if it was a couple of white people loading an ATM onto a vehicle.”

        I can only tell you what he told me. That he would have called Safety if they had been white, and that he questioned himself over whether he was being suspicious BECAUSE they were black.

        3) Like I said, this left me with a lot of questions;
        a) Was the neighborhood racially mixed? Or was a black person unusual in that neighborhood. (Think of how white people are pulled over in black neighborhoods because cops figure they are there to by drugs.)
        b) Would they have run that vid if the results were the same? I really doubt it, as much as I doubt it would be all over the web.
        c) What would have been the results of another test. Say, in a black neighborhood? Would black people be more inclined to report white people? We don’t know because obviously they were looking for a specific result. Even if it is an accurate representation, I question their motive. Whatever you look for, you will most likely find.

    • So, I’ve got a silly question: in that ATM example, what makes a group of people from one race look more suspicious than people of another race?

      • Hi Tera,
        Nothing that I’m aware of. Did I leave that impression? What IS suspicious is 1) Cutting the wires (which is what set off the alarm) 2) They weren’t wearing any uniforms and 3)They loaded it into a beat up Buick (wouldn’t a company supply a truck or something suitable for transporting it?) BTW, the story made national headlines as a riduculous theft that SHOULD have been easily stopped.

  6. “But I would also argue that white people as a race have the HARDEST TIME seeing the privilege that comes with being white in America and – as such – have a hard time looking at themselves critically.”

    We don’t have to look at ourselves critically. All we have to do is turn on a T.V., go on the web, read a newspaper, open a history book, attend a public school, college or university, turn on public radio, listen to a comedian, etc. etc. and we’ll hear every horrible thing that we have ever done. If we hide from it, it’s because we’ve had to listen to it our whole lives. We are blamed for every problem on the face of the Earth. Criticizing white males is a national pastime that every minority group seems to enjoy at great lengths. I’m sorry, but that’s a truth that any minority group can never understand. Just look at our suicide rates.

    • I’m not sure what you want in response to your comment. A pity party, maybe? I just don’t know why white people complain about why they are vilified sometimes. Just look at the history of this country and you should know why. It called karma and there is a saying in the bible about reaping what we sow. Lots of people wish things could change. I say invent a time machine and change what happened in the past but since we can’t do that, we have to deal with it. Everyone has to deal with the hand their dealt. Impossible for humans to do, I know.

  7. On one hand, I doubt 20/20’s intentions. They’re in the business of entertainment, not news or science. On the other hand, even w/out 20/20’s “experiment”, I don’t doubt their conclusions or statistics (presented ~4min on the 2nd video) for a minute. However, I’m betting whomever produced this particular episode already had the conclusion in mind prior to filming/editing. KC made an excellent point in:
    “I can’t excuse the people in this video. But black people are the same way with white people in “their” area.”
    Wanna see what happens when my white ass gets out of the car @ the liquor store north of the Flint river? Bring along a video camera, ’cause I’m sure it’d make great television.

    -n

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