Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Sin of Racial Profiling
by David Gilfix

I have spent way too much time corresponding with people about the Gate’s/Crowley episode. But since I got the ball rolling with my recent article, I wanted to present the side my article didn’t address.

In his freshman year in college in Ohio, a Puerto Rican friend was stopped by police outside a small-town bar, put in the local jail, and not bailed out until the next morning by the college Dean (who happened to be too busy to go to the police station that evening). No charges were filed and no apology was given. An Asian friend was stopped and hassled by police outside a subway station in New York where he was waiting to pick-up his daughter. A Moslem friend was questioned so suspiciously at Logan Airport that he now avoids air travel. An African-American friend was stopped numerous times; in fact, it seems like every African-American that I know has a story about being stopped and treated like a criminal by police.

Which brings us back to the Gates/Crowley episode. What really happened in that episode really does matter, and a fair review of the facts shows no evidence of racism - which is why I wrote the previous article. I enjoy provoking people to view subjects outside of their particular ideological lenses. But perhaps the most important lens we (including yours truly) should be looking through is the one worn by people who fear racial profiling.

Even if the Gates arrest wasn’t associated with racial profiling, there is potential now – perhaps like no time I can remember - to develop more sensitivity to the sin of profiling. This is a major problem that contradicts the highest ideals of our country and demeans the daily experiences of far too many people.

I hope that the upcoming beer between Obama, Crowley, and Gates will bring about reconciliation and even three-way apologies. My only criticism about the beer-together is their choices of brands: Why no Sam Adams?

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