Profiling, Racism and Reality

I am humbled by the responses to last week’s Musing. I asked for readers to participate in a conversation and you did. I truly appreciate the kind words from many of you and I am grateful for those who affirmed, gently chided, and wrote so passionately and eloquently.  Race is an emotional topic and as a country (and a world) we need to feel comfortable speaking openly. I encourage you all to read the comments; it will be a good use of your time.  (I have a culture gap admission to make here: the first comment which used the letters AA had me scratching my head trying to figure out what Alcoholics Anonymous had to do with the topic.  It took a bit of pondering to realize that it stood for African American.)

Rather than quoting from and responding directly to your comments, I’d like to continue the dialogue. The word ‘profiling’ garners much bad press. Profiling has been used as a synonym for racism. But is it? When I am in a building and about to enter an elevator, I profile. When the doors open I look to see who is already in the elevator.  Is it a woman rocking a baby carriage? I enter and her race doesn’t make a difference. Is it a couple dressed up for a night on the town? I enter, and their race doesn’t make a difference. Is it a young man? My mind races through more questions.  How is he dressed? How do I read his body language? What city and type of building am I in? What time of day is it? And yes, what is his race?  In the final analysis, with a split-second in which to make the decision, I go with my gut. One of the strongest pieces of advice women are given by police departments and self-defense experts is to hone and pay attention to their instincts. Those instincts are certainly shaped by one’s culture and past experiences.  

I grew up in New York City. The local college I attended had signs on the women’s bathroom doors which discouraged going to the bathroom alone. I was taught to carry a purse in a manner that discouraged pickpocketing and to survey the occupants of a train car before entering. We called these tidbits ‘street smarts.’ And my peers and I were very aware that criminal behavior was not evenly distributed among all races, genders and ages. Serial murderers? White males. Muggers? Young black males. Pretending otherwise in the name of utopian daydreaming could cost you a great deal.

If I decide not to enter an elevator because a young, black teen in a hoodie with a scowl on his face would be my sole companion, I think it unfair to call me racist. I most likely would turn the same ride down if a white teen presenting himself in the same unpleasant way was there. But I admit that race is one of the factors involved in my decision. I also understand that rather than protecting myself from a criminal, I just might be causing pain to a young man who has just returned from visiting his mother in the hospital or from an all-night shift at a job. Even if my action is the same, the white teenager would not feel the same level of rejection. This is the real world.

I do not know what took place between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Neither does anyone else. I do know that many in the media misreported, manipulated and slanted coverage to fulfill their own agendas. Every American citizen was harmed by this malfeasance. As more information comes out, after anger was stoked (leading to violent attacks on whites) and few are left paying attention, a different story than originally promoted is coming out. A Reuters piece included information which makes clear that depicting Zimmerman as racist is incendiary rather than factual. It also put the episode in context, quoting a neighborhood resident. “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”

Trayvon’s death and George’s part in it are personal tragedies for their families. The race-hustling, hatred-filled responses expand that heartbreak.  The policies which erode moral clarity and personal responsibility; the liberal attitudes which discourage strong two-parent families; and the failing public schools and programs which keep large groups trapped in the past, are national catastrophes.









12 thoughts on “Profiling, Racism and Reality”

  1. Jue, I’m afraid I don’t remember your comment, but I post almost every comment which comes in, positive or negative. The only ones I don’t post are those which direct people to other websites, because I don’t have time to check those out; those which are rude or use unrefined language; and those which are so rambling or poorly written that I can’t understand them. From my own experience trying to post on friends’ blogs, I do know that my posts sometimes don’t get through to them. I have no way of checking if I saw your post and didn’t post it or if I never saw it, but please feel free to try again.

  2. I was one of the first responders to your request for feedback. But I supposed that since I did not agree with you, (I did not attack you either but simply pointed out that you may not be all-understanding from your point of view) – I see my post did not make the cut. Interesting indeed.

  3. Susan, I’ve read all of your recent posts and the comments that followed trying to understand why anyone would demand such an extraordinary amount of time on one subject. I agree that some subjects are just so heartfelt and filled with pain that there really could never be enough offers of comfort to the victims and they can never understand why more people are not continuously focused on the subject of their eternal discomfort. IMHO, all we can hope for, as imperfect humans, is to be of help in some small way to ease the pain of humanity, one person at a time, even if a lasting joy cannot be achieved. Bless you in your attempts to help heal. Maybe it’s been enough to lift someone..just for today.

  4. Peter B. , Charlotte N.C.

    What terrific and thought provoking musings as well as comments to your recent posts!
    Rabbi Lapin and you stand for the Truth, and thank goodness for you both. Others may have another agenda, and let’s go ahead and say it – they will and they do. I’m glad that you’ve used the elevator metaphor to convey the truth that we all naturally profile, and with good reason. After all, if the FDA announces through the media one single e. coli contaminated truckload of spinach having been shipped out of the Central Valley of California, grocery shoppers west of the Mississippi may avoid picking up spinach in the produce sections of 30,000 supermarkets for the next month. Is this prejudice against spinach? I suppose one might be able to make that argument, but it certainly wouldn’t make it the truth. We don’t hate all spinach (well, some may) but those of us who like spinach don’t need a Ph.D in statistics to recognize that it may temporarily pose a risk to ourselves and our families. Thankfully, these spinach e. coli outbreaks are rare. Other threats to ourselves and our families are, unfortunately, not rare at all but are quite frequent, even daily occurances. For these, we rightly and naturally should be able NOT ONLY to avoid that variety of vegetable, but have every right to warn others to beware.
    Americans enjoy two things that the rest of the world does not. We are envied by many for having them, we are even hated by many for having them, and therefore these two things are constantly under relentless attack. We refer to these as our First Amendment, and our Second Amendment “rights”. I would suggest that they are as much duties as they are rights, but the concept of rights and responsibilities vis-a-vis these two Amendments seems to have been lost on recent generations of Americans.
    The most effective attack on the 1st Amendment is Political Correctness which is nothing other than thought control. You can’t say something if you don’t first think it. So if you can’t say it, then why even think it? In fact, if you may get in trouble if the words happen to tumble out or your mouth (heaven forbid!), then best not to think those thoughts in the first place. This is how Political Correctness effectively censors cetain thoughts from the marketplace ideas. It effectively washes these ideas out of the collective psyche of a nation. I suppose another way to say that last sentence is to brainwash a nation. Sound extreme? Josef Stalin said “We don’t allow our enemies to have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”.
    Speaking of guns, our Constitution’s Second Amendment is a metaphor for liberty. We aren’t free if we can’t defend ourselves. The Second Amendment allows us to defend ours’ and others’ lives and private property. The left doesn’t recognize private property. Neither do they recognize individual rights such as the right to free speech. They certainly don’t recognize the individual right to defend ourselves with firearms. Therefore, your recent blog post provided an astute no-doubt self deputized Thought Police officer to pick up on one single emotionally charged word in your blog post that allowed them to rattle their PC nightstick in our collective direction in an effort to further intimidate your readership into further surrenduring their God given, unalienable right to free speech. You’ve stood our ground. I find that encouraging and it makes me proud.

  5. Hello Susan, I want to thank you for providing us all the chance to read and respond to your post last week. It’s good for us to sit down and discuss these issues together. I think Blacks and Jews have a lot in common, more than they think. However, the Jewish people seem to have a successful resilience overall that, unfortunately, many Blacks do not have or do not have in the same extreme. For instance, our worship. You went into [a prophesied] slavery in a nation you chose to go to and had the keeping and knowledge of your God. Slavery, although inherently evil in nature, was the mode which introduced many Africans to the true and living God.
    Another difference is that the Jews’ mentality was not broken through slavery. You left weighed down with the riches of your captors and eventually returned to and conquered the Promised Land. Blacks did not leave–and, in fact, could not leave–and still had to struggle in a society not terribly far removed from that of our slavery. Generational curses were bestowed in the form of mentalities and even today, are played out. The continuance of these curses is why many of my Black brothers and sisters are in the unfortunate situations they are in; they do not know that they can or do not believe they need to be free.
    As a result, even those of us who do not struggle under those curses tend to be sensitive when certain situations arise because the situations, words, etc. remind us of our past and or water down what we have been through as a people and this should not be. I could and will never downplay or ignore the obvious suffering and prejudice against my Jewish brothers and sisters. It would be a slap in the face. God commands me to bless you and I do so gladly, but downplaying your historical suffering is not part of that blessing.
    Therefore, the people who downplay or ignore the suffering–historical or present–of Black Americans are very wrong. Yes racial profiling does exist. Yes we use wisdom in all situations. However, we do not target people. (I am not at all saying you’ve done this, just “soapboxing”.)
    There are honestly people out there who see nothing but colour. It does not matter how the person is dressed, their place of employment, or their demeanor; they just see a black [man] and hate or fear him. It’s sad, but true. I know of a prestigious private banker who’s had potential clients refuse to work with him because he’s black. I’ve been pulled over before under false accusations because I was a black woman in a nice car. I don’t look for racism. I don’t expect it, but it does happen. America as a whole needs to do far better for all of our peoples: White, Black, Jewish, Hispanic–whomever. We need to do better.
    That said, God Bless!

  6. Your observation is dead on! We make generalizations about hundreds of things every day, and doing so is a necessary survival skill. As you said, this is a REAL world, NOT some idealogue’s daydream that we live in, and only a fool would step into that hypothetical elevator with the person you described. I say that, and I am a large, strong man, not someone who constantly scurries about in fear. The larger issue is that we are being brainwashed into believing that this ideological fantasyland being purveyed by the left is somehow “normal”, and that anyone who disagrees is “sick”, racist, backward or just plain stupid. It is an adult variant of the old name-calling tactic used by children. God bless you, and keep spreading the truth!

  7. Gerry Vander-Lyn

    I appreciate so much your eloquent and articulate prose on such a difficult topic. The use of your writing skills is a service to those of us who support the truth you are describing and explaining, but do not have your skills or the appropriate platform (or both). I also want to thank you for the correct use of the word hone. Even good writers these days are misusing that word. Thank you for your ministry!
    Gerry Vander-Lyn

  8. Deborah Seneca

    Your last paragraph could not be more true and important. It’s astounding that individuals will actually argue against the virtue of keeping families intact and placing the raising of children above one’s own search for “happiness” in order to validate their own life choices. Our schools are doing a huge disservice to our children and our country by encouraging separation through multiculturalism, and perpetuating a sense of oppression where none exists. Our schools are one of several contributing factors in the maintenance of the usable underclass.

  9. Thank you again for saying the things so many are afraid to say. Let us not forget that we are all human and subject to folly and misguided ways when we are not facing our God! At least that is what I am learning about 100 times a day, 365 days of the year including leap year!!

  10. Laurence Zimmerman

    Wall Street Journal Article (quote) 3-27-12 by By JUAN WILLIAMS
    The Trayvon Martin Tragedies
    Recall what Jesse Jackson once said: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. . . . After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”
    Cover of video box Mission Impossible III has Tom Cruise in a hoody. Even hollywood knows this to be a menacing look. Political correctness in our country has turned into the “party line” that was aspoused by Communist party members.

  11. Susan, this is just foolery! Period! Just an inept attempt by our enemy trouble cause a radical mob situation! Isn’t that his job to create “RA”? Your comments were taken in context and anyone that knows you and the integrity you and Rabbi Lapin have wouldn’t even have had a second thought! But with the “Spirit of Confusion” raining down in these latter days just pray for them and you did the right thing. But all your fellow supporters knew and felt your intentions and probably would have worded or expressed it the same way. Hats off to you dear lady! Love the show and the emails. Sincerely Yours, in the awesome power and grace, love, and what you and Daniel’s calling is “truth”,
    Chad Lewis Husch

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