MY PERSONAL RACIAL PROFILING STORY

Thousands of people march around the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2007, during the "March Against Hate Crimes" to protest hate crime issues. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Thousands of people march around the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Nov. 16, 2007, during the “March Against Hate Crimes” to protest hate crime issues. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Photo from bailoutpeople.org

 

SINCE THIS RACIST PHENOMENON HAS BEEN PREVALENT IN THE NEWS IN RECENT TIMES, I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY OWN ENCOUNTER WITH NOT BEING TREATED WELL BY LAW ENFORCEMENT SOLELY DUE TO THE COLOR OF MY SKIN

 

Sometime during mid-July, 1997. Santa Monica, CA.

I had just celebrated a milestone birthday –  my 30th – just a few weeks before, as I stepped out of my duplex house in Santa Monica’s Pico Neighborhood, the part of town where African-Americans, Latinos, and the low-income population  of that seaside town have historically resided and continue to do so.

I was on my way to buy a newspaper that late Saturday morning, and had just crossed the street when all of a sudden I heard behind me,

“FREEZE! PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD!”

I turned around and saw a guy in a plain clothes suit, his badge hooked on his belt, his gun pointing straight at me as he asked if I was a stalker named Tony Phillips.

The fact that I had said no didn’t deter him any, as the next thing I knew my hands were cuffed behind my back.

The plain clothes cop then asked me if I had my identification, which I admittedly didn’t have. “If you let me go inside my house, I’ll show you my ID”, I said.

He then led me across the street to my door, then at my request took the handcuffs off of me so I can let myself in to get my wallet from my bedroom.

When I did so and showed the guy what he wanted to see, to what I am forced to admit was his credit he said to me upon realizing that I was not the man he was looking for, he then said to me before he and his partner left,

“OK, we’re sorry.”

That apology, however, did not change the feelings that countless other young black men feel in encounters such as this; like they are seen by policemen, particularly white policemen – of course the guys who handcuffed my and believed I “fit the description” of a stalker were Caucasians of European descent – as nothing but sub-human degenerates and criminals who needed to be controlled by any means.

It wasn’t the first time I was profiled like this as roughly five years before, I was getting some food at my favorite Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks from my home – those from Santa Monica would know the name of the place – a cop in uniform entered the restaurant, stopped me as I was heading out the door with my arms full of tacos, nachos and burritos, and would have arrested me right then and there for “fitting the description” of some criminal if not for another guy across the street shouting, “That’s not him!”, essentially vouching for me.

Being that I had lived in Santa Monica for over twenty years at that point (17 years in one house), and being that I was known as someone who stayed out of trouble, not joining gangs or doing any other degenerate things, I was obviously quite irked over how I was treated in that community due to what I looked like and where I lived, as the Pico Neighborhood is, for all intents and purposes, the “inner city” of Santa Monica.

In fact, in a play on Los Angeles’ more well-known counterpart I have referred to the area as “South Central Santa Monica”; while the gang, crime and poverty issues were and are not as prevalent in the “Pico” as in what’s now referred to as “South L.A.”,  without going into any details such issues were certainly there.

Putting it another way, I was not as sad or nostalgic as I may have been otherwise when my family and I moved away a year and a half later.

While it’s not my intent to badmouth Santa Monica or the Pico Neighborhood, for the reasons I just described and others which I don’t really want to discuss, I just didn’t fit in there.

It was time to go.

As for the racist profiling I endured, I can certainly understand what young African-American men and boys go through across America because of what had happened to me.

Granted, I was never arrested, and mug shots of me do not exist.

And I’m obviously here to write about all of this, unlike so many others who are no longer with us due to police bullets being shot into them.

But I more than sympathize – I want to make that crystal clear.

Sometimes I wonder if encounters and incidents like what happened to Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and so many other young black males in so many other places, will ever stop.

My honest answer to that, if some one asked me, is…

“I truly don’t know.”

 

 

racial-profiling

An all too common site, tragically speaking, in certain neighborhoods. Photo courtesy of atlantablackstar.com

 

 

Advertisements

A Pet Peeve of Mine: In-Person Telemarketers

 

stater-bros

FOR THE RECORD: No, this is not the supermarket across the street from my home.

 

SOMETHING THAT, EVEN THOUGH IT REALLY SHOULDN’T, BOTHERS ME

 

I’ll get right to the point regarding this topic…

You know how oftentimes in front of stores and supermarkets, people stand (or sit at tables) outside the doors with collection boxes and ask for money to help whatever cause they are touting, whether it is helping the down-and-out or raising funds to get inner city kids to go on some trip.

Well, the supermarket right across the street from where I live has had people like that for the past few weeks, and the way that they ask for money as you enter or leave the store has bugged me to no end.

I know what some folks may be thinking right about now:

 

“He (meaning me) ought to be ashamed of himself, badmouthing such worthy causes!”

“What a jerk this guy is; how dare him saying how he dislikes these people who are only trying to make the world better!”

“Shame on him! BOOOOO!!”

 

Before I get crucified in the court of public opinion, let me make something clear:

It is NOT the causes that these solicitors are touting that bother me, as they are all quite worthy and good.

It is their METHODS, which is of the “pushy salesman” type – that I absolutely hate.

In fact, I call these people “In Person Telemarketers” because like them they are pushy, making it difficult to ignore them in trying to get you to part with your money.

In my mind, heart, and humble opinion, PUSHY IS BAD.

Which is why I do my giving – and I have given quite a bit of money to various causes over the years – through other means.

This was particularly the case one recent day as I was walking across the parking lot to my local across-the-street supermarket – you’d know the name –  a young man was walking around holding a box of candy, which I knew right away he was trying to sell.

Which was why as he started to approach me I told him, “No thanks, I don’t buy candy.”

Which led his buddy, who was standing in front of the store, to give me a guilt trip as to why I didn’t care about “the cause”.

This buddy was apparently successful, as my conscience led me, when I finished my business at the supermarket, to approach the buddy and ask just what this cause of theirs was, which was something about selling candy to send him and the kids in his program to a trip to Six Flags.

I then asked him for the link to his program’s website, saying that if I liked what I saw, then I’d probably give.

To which he had a reaction that, while not exactly hostile, I didn’t care for too much as he continued to use the “pushy salesman” approach.

You may be asking, why do I so dislike such “pushy salesman” approaches?

Let me make my reason plain:

If I give my money to any cause, it is for one reason: because I want to do it.

NOT because somebody approaches me and acts like an in person telemarketer.

 

Having said all of this, there are two exceptions to this conviction of  mine:

1. The Salvation Army’s bell ringers that are everywhere during the Christmas holiday season, and…

2. The Girl Scouts’ cookie selling season every February and March.

I’m always glad to give money to those organizations and (in the Girl Scouts’ case) buy their cookies; the Tagalongs – the chocolate covered ones with the peanut butter inside – are my favorites.

Those two groups have one thing in common, which is a prominent factor in my always giving to them:

 

They have both been around for more than 100 years. 

And they are not pushy as the young girls are good at taking “no” for an answer whenever they ask you to buy their Thin Mints or Do-Si-Dos.

As for those Salvation Army bell ringers, they keep their mouths shut; you never hear them asking you to drop money into their coffer.

Plus I feel that any organization that has existed for at least a century has more than proved their legitimacy.

I just don’t get that same feeling from those other groups.

As such, I’ve given loose change to those people outside the supermarket.

But it’s my strong conviction that they need to find another way to raise money for their cause, rather that bother folks who only want to go into the store, do their business, and get out without being approached.

This is my opinion, which I fully have a right to.

And I’m sticking to it.

 

50c8d19c783a9.image

An organization which I always give to every holiday season.