Committing a Crime or Just Black?


Aaliyah Coe and Anaya Chambers

Imagine walking into your local convenience store on a quick run to get a few snacks. You’re walking idly through the aisles searching for your favorite snack until all of a sudden you see a man in a red shirt and khakis with an equally red face walking towards you and all you hear is “Excuse me, can I please check your bag?” Baffled, you probably comply. You are confused when the employee who has asked to check your bag sheepishly hands the bag back to you, staring you down as he heads back to the front counter. You question why you, the only African American, out of a crowd of waiting customers were chosen for an unprompted bag check. You never experienced anything like this in your life, but you remember your mom telling you not to walk into a store with a big purse because you may be accused of stealing… not only because you have a purse but also because you are black.

Racial profiling is an everyday occurrence. The fear of being pulled over by a cop, walking down a street, or even going to the convenience store becomes a racial statement. Do you want to have a barbeque at the local park? Even if you are following all the rules and minding your own business, someone may question your presence and try to get you arrested because your skin frightens them. It’s sad when you actually think about it.

Racial profiling is not just being watched in a corner store; it’s also being punished more than the others who committed the same crime as you. Black people statistically receive harsher jail terms than their white counterparts. For example, a black person may go to jail for years while others may just get probation. This actually even begins in school where black students may receive a more severe punishment for the same infractions as a white student. This isn’t just a perception; this disparity can be measured with numbers.

Racial profiling isn’t always clearly recognizable to others, but the judging stares and hushed comments still affect the innocent black men and women who simply are living their lives. Sometimes it’s out loud and in your face. A student from our school, Gabrielle Morgan, gave us her personal experience after a traffic accident: “When my dad and I got in a car accident recently. This woman slammed into us. We were literally just driving, and she came up to my dad just yelling at him and then she attacked me and used racial slurs and tried to convince the cops that we assaulted her and that the whole thing was our fault.”

It’s been 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement. Why does that not sound like long ago? My great grandfather who is still living can remember drinking out of the colored water fountains anytime he went anywhere. When watching the news, he says it reminds him of when he was younger. Why hasn’t anything changed? I don’t have the answers, but we have to keep searching for them.