Today I was driving home from work, listening to the Hannity show. As he often does, he had a couple of non celebrity guests on his show, pitted against each other. One of the was Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers. By his own statements he is mixed race with a Hispanic mother and a black father. I only bring this up because it is relevant to the story.
He was quoted as saying “I don’t care about racial profiling. You know sometimes it‘s good that we are racially profiled because the God’s-honest truth is that 99 percent of the people that are robbing, stealing, killing these drivers are blacks and Hispanics. So if you see suspicious activity, you know what, don’t pick the person up.” This had come about after a driver had been shot seven times in a robbery that netted the shooter about 12 bucks. After listening to what he had to say, I don’t think he truly meant racial profiling, but rather character profiling within certain races. He was basically saying that if a driver doesn’t like the way someone is dressed or is acting, such as gang colors or face covered up with hoodies and glasses, then bypass them and look for someone else. He acknowledged that a large percentage of their customers are black and Hispanic, but that the drivers should use their judgment on who to pickup or not pickup.
Now of course Al Sharpton and others have jumped all over this because Mr. Mateo used the word racial profiling, but if we are to be honest, many if not all of us has done similar things. When I say this I am referring to blacks and whites, because that is where my associated experiences come from, but I am sure it applies to most, if not all groups.
Have you ever avoided a certain section of town because you assumed, probably correctly, that you weren’t welcome there? That’s profiling. Have you changed the sides of a street you were walking on because a group of youth, acting rowdy, looking you way, were between you and where you had to go? I have and that is profiling. Prejudice is simply pre judging and many times we do that based on experience and knowledge. Is it always right? Probably not. Has it saved people from harm or danger? No doubt it has!
I will be the first to admit at times I use forms of prejudice and profiling and I will continue to do so in the future. Do you?