LOVE SEES NO COLOR: My View On Interracial Relationships

My feelings exactly. Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

 

I reckon that the title of this post has given away my feelings on people of different races and cultures dating and having romantic relationships.

A few years ago on the website HubPages.com I wrote about seeing a young teenage couple at a bus stop one day, doing the typical teenage couple thing; kissing, cuddling, etc.

The thing that appealed to me about that twosome was that she was Latina and he was an African-American, giving me a good feeling that relationships in which the people involved are a different race/ethnic group/culture are more accepted in the present day then when that Loving vs Virginia case was going down in 1967.

Unfortunately – and especially in the current cultural atmosphere triggered by the election of this country’s President-Who-I-Refuse-To-Name – there are plenty of folks who are completely against Miscegenation; folks who have the view that different races and ethnicities should never mix romantically, which includes Asians, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and Jewish people as well as blacks and whites.

I remember back in high school having a crush on a Persian girl; to make a long story short, when I tried to call her, her mother angrily rebuffed me, me not knowing that a big part of Persian culture is for them and their children to only be “with their own”.

Of course I saw – and still see – that as plain old bigotry.

 

Florida, USA — Young interracial bride and groom on wedding day — Image by © Kai Chiang/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis I love this wedding pic – that groom is SO lucky to be marrying such a beautiful bride! Photo courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

In fact, I’ll be perfectly honest…

While as a black man, I want to emphasize that this is no way whatsoever implying that I have anything against African-American females as I have a list of black women and girls that I had a crush on over the years, including Clueless’ Stacey Dash (her politics notwithstanding), The Facts of Life‘s Kim Fields, and especially Michelle Thomas, who played Urkel’s obsessive girlfriend on the TV show Family Matters and who tragically didn’t make it to the age of 30, dying of cancer before reaching that age,

I have always been attracted to females of all races and ethnic groups as their personality and integrity has far more importance in my book than the color of their skin and how they worship God.

Basing my romantic interest choices by initial physical attraction (unfortunately, that’s a natural reality) and  – more importantly – “the content of their character”, to quote Martin Luther King, is something that I have always emphasized.

In fact, I’ve always felt that to limit my dating/relationship options to strictly “my own kind”, as too many people, particularly social conservatives and right-wing types, would prefer to do, would not only be akin submitting myself to a voluntary Jim Crow-segregation,

I would feel straitjacketed, limited, and bored.

BOTTOM LINE:

When it comes to love, a mate should be chosen based on one’s heart and soul rather than skin pigmentation and cultural/ethnic sameness.

They say that “The heart wants what the heart wants” , and I’ll always strongly believe that anything between two individuals that is loving and affectionate should be appreciated and celebrated.

Which was why it gives me a feeling of gladness whenever I see interracial couples out there; it’s real good to see that race, ethnicity and culture in dating is far less of an issue for millennials than for previous generations.

My suggestion to all those couples out there who are given dirty looks or nasty comments because their skin color or ethnicity is different:

Just say this to those folks:

“Love sees no color, because there is only one race – the human race.”

Or tell them,

“You have a right to feel that way, but you know what? It’s SO none of your business!”

Which it isn’t!

Or better yet,  just ignore them.

 

Now this is a great picture of a truly gorgeous family. Photo courtesy of triadmomsonmain.com

 

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2017: Just A Few Thoughts

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A great shot of some extremely well known people; I had the pleasure of meeting the guy with the boxing gloves in the upper left hand corner. Photo courtesy of 1966mag.com

 

MUSINGS FROM A MIDDLE AGED AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE

 

It’s my regret that I’m giving homage to Black History Month on this blog with just a few days to go in the month.

But as they say, no use crying over spilled milk.

Or better late than never; take your pick.

 

Having said that…

In light of our new President-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s regime, who’s celebrating one month in office and – as we all know – has attacked every group of people not white, male, Christian, conservative, gay, wealthy, or a combination of those six attributes,

It seems like we need events such as Black History Month more than ever.

Particularly since it seems to be a bad time to be black – or any person of color who’s not named Clarence Thomas,  Ben Carson, Omarosa Manigault, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz – right now, what with the increased racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic attacks across America.

Living in California, the deepest of blue states, I’m honestly a tiny bit scared to go east of the Colorado River as while I refuse to say that every white person, or white Republican for that matter, is a bigot who feels that people who look like me are naturally inferior and  need to stay “in their place”,  it seems that too many whites have that mentality in the red states.

The comments I read from every article that talks about racial issues are an illustration of this thought, as you would think some of those folks writing such comments are carrying their Ku Klux Klan cards in their back pockets with white sheets hanging in their closets.

I feel thankful that I live in a relatively liberal area and subsequently have not seen or experienced any real, hardcore ideological or racial animosity.

At least not so far, thank God and knock wood.

 

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A really good message that needs to always be remembered. Image courtesy of wesleyunited.org

 

Personally, I feel Black History Month is sorely needed to remind Americans of how without Black people of African descent, there wouldn’t be an America.

And not just due to the 246 years of chattel slavery as so many things that we use and take for granted, from peanut butter to potato chips to the stoplight to open heart surgery, was invented by an African-American.

Imagine if blacks – as well as women, gays, and other people of color – were celebrated every month of the year rather than merely the one designated for them (the shortest month in the case of African-Americans).

Then perhaps a guy like our new Commander-In-Chief (my personal refusal to mention his name on this blog remains in effect) would never have been elected.

And there wouldn’t be a need for groups such as Black Lives Matter.

 

The irony of all of this, from a personal standpoint:

I won’t go into any details now, but in my book describing my experiences with having Asperger’s Syndrome, “WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”, which I’m in the final stages of editing and will begin the self-publishing process soon, there’s a chapter detailing my experiences of being black on the Autism Spectrum.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been the most fun experience, but that’s all I’m going to say at this time; you’ll just have to read chapter four of the book.

All right, I said I had just a few thoughts about this year’s Black History Month.

And I’m going to stick to that as I don’t want to ramble or go on and on save for this…

All I can do is as far as the extremely fragmented situation that this country is in is two things:

1. Hold good, optimistic thoughts,

and…

2. Be the best person I can be.

Which I reckon is all anyone could or should do.

 

 

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Being the longtime baseball and softball guy that I am, this is perhaps the part of the African-American experience that I’m most proud of: The (so-called) Negro Leagues, with its two greatest stars, Satchel Paige (left) and Josh Gibson (right) featured here. I’ll be writing an article about these and the great black players from that era soon on this blog. Photo courtesy of pechakucha.org

 

Are We Now Fighting A Second Civil War? (Albeit A Cold War)

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This says it all – I only wish all Americans felt like this. Photo courtesy of rawstory.com

 

A FEW BELATED THOUGHTS FROM ME CONCERNING DONALD TRUMP’S ELECTION AND THIS COUNTRY’S DEEP DIVISIONS

 

The last time these United States of America was divided like this, 600,000 men and boys died.

Killed in a brutal fashion over deeply divided ideologies and how they saw this country.

Now that it has been two weeks since Donald Trump shocked this planet by being elected leader of the free world  – I won’t go into how Trump not so much won the election as Hillary Clinton lost it; that has already been well documented – it has amazed me that the racial, political, and ideological divisions that America has been experiencing for the past few years has perhaps grown to the point of no return.

The many anti-Trump protests (I saw one in downtown Los Angeles in which a HUGE sea of folks made themselves heard) and the 400 racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-Muslim incidents in the week following Election Day certainly illustrate this.

So much so that although…

* Despite recent actions, the realistic likelihood of California seceding from the union ala “Calexit” is highly unlikely,

* Despite the various riots and skirmishes, there are no all out battles with armies carrying Confederate and American flags with Robert E. Lee and U.S. Grant-like generals leading them, and…

* There are no plans for the red states to separate from the blue states and form two separate countries, as what happened in 1947 when after independence from Great Britain, Muslims separated from Hindu-dominated India and formed Pakistan, with the two countries subsequently experiencing wars and significant tensions ever since,

I’m going to go ahead and call this period we are going through a name…

 

The Cold Civil War.

 

Much like the Cold War in the late 1940s through the 1980s, even though the United States and the then-Soviet Union never fired any nuclear missiles, the tension was so pronounced between those two superpowers that there were wars (namely in Korea and Vietnam) fought over those democracy/communist ideological differences and the fact that those communists’ ultimate goal was to make the world like them.

Not to mention the fact that the world came pretty close to ending during that 1962 missile crisis in Cuba.

 

 

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This is what I’m fervently praying for in light of this recent election as far as people of color, women, LGBTQs, and all other non-Christians as well as Muslims. Photo courtesy of slate.com

 

There’s no doubt in my mind and heart –  We are now in a Second Civil War.

It is a Cold War, at least for now.

But it is a Civil War.

I don’t how else I can describe it.

And sadly, I honestly don’t know how it can be stopped.

As long as there are millions of people – liberals, conservatives, “Alt-Rights”, or what have you –  who feel the way they do on both sides and who are so unwilling to compromise,

Then this Second (Cold) Civil War will be ongoing.

And the way things are, if in about fifty years (or even twenty) the United States does what India and Pakistan did nearly 70 years before and dissolves, with liberals forming one country and conservatives – those who voted for Trump in particular – forming another,

Like it tried to do in the 1860s and very nearly succeeded,

It would not surprise me at all.

 

One last thought…

About five years ago I wrote on the website Hubpages.com an article called “If The Far Right Ruled America”.

The article offered my view of what this country would be like under far right Republican rule.

For those who are interested in reading it, here’s the link to that piece:  http://www.hubpages.com/politics/If-The-Far-Right-Ruled-America

In light of what has happened this month, I believe we are about to find out what this U S of A will be like now that the far right has taken power.

Or officially will on January 20th.

 

 

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An anti-Trump protest in downtown Los Angeles, which I saw when passing through there. Photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

THE CURRENT RACIAL CRISIS IN AMERICA: Some Random Thoughts

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I love this picture, for obvious reasons. Photo courtesy of abc3340.com

 

Musings, based what has been happening in this country, on what seems to be a nadir on relations between races, cultures, and ethnic groups in this country with no end in sight.

 

Like seemingly every other black male of African descent in these United States, I have been the target of negativity solely based on my skin color.

I have been called the “N” word, particularly as a young boy in Riverside, CA, where the then-rural community I lived in (Woodcrest) featured numerous Caucasian folks of European descent from places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

I have been denied jobs solely because of my skin color, notably when I was in my early 20s and a lady, upon laying her eyes upon me and giving a less-than enthusiastic reaction after such an enjoyable conversation on the phone, told me that the job I was seeking had already been filled.

I have felt ostracized in various places throughout my adult years.

And I have been the target of racial profiling as I was stopped by the police in Santa Monica, CA, where I lived for over twenty years, on at least four occasions, being handcuffed during one of them in front of my house due to me fitting the description of a stalker;  if I didn’t show them my ID, I probably would have spent a few years in jail for something I did not do.

So when I heard about the latest killings of unarmed black men by police in Minnesota and Louisiana and what was apparently a retaliatory strike in Dallas with the lives of those five cops being snuffed out by Micah Xavier Johnson during a Black Lives Matter protest, my thoughts were varied…

 

 

Something that will hopefully induce hope: Cat Stevens’s (now Yusuf Islam’s) classic song “Peace Train”

 

 

First:  None of this was anything new as African-American men have been unnecessarily killed by authority figures for as long as African-Americans have existed in America.

Second:  Those cops who murdered Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in the Minneapolis area, like pretty much every other cop who has committed similar acts before, will not be charged with any crime and will essentially get off free and clear.

Third:  It seems like race relations have plummeted and are at their lowest point in decades during Barack Obama’s presidency, as statements and efforts from conservative whites, in politics and elsewhere, to discredit our 43rd Commander-In-Chief have abounded.

Not to mention the rise in racist incidents at colleges like the universities of Oklahoma and Missouri.

Fourth:   As I have written in an article on Hubpages.com, despite the efforts and labors of icons like Martin Luther King and the advances that the Civil Rights Movement produced, there remains a certain amount of self-separation between races and ethnic groups due to cultural differences, a natural desire for people to interact based on what they have in common, and a notion that differences often breed discomfort, which breeds distrust.

I remember writing that no matter how many “I Have A Dream” speeches are made or how many times “We Shall Overcome” is sung, you can’t force a racist – in any color – to not be one.

You can’t force someone who thinks folks of different races are inferior, created to be subservient and who need to be “in their place”, to feel differently.

And you can’t force someone – black, white, Latino, or Asian – who vehemently frowns over racially mixed couples to suddenly embrace them.

 

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Why can’t we all get along like these two sweet little girls? Photo courtesy of blackyouthproject.com

 

Fifth:   This is something that has been in my mind for a while.

Based on all the current protest marches and confrontations between (mostly) white police and (mostly black and Latino) demonstrators, not to mention the riots that have resulted after incidents like this in the past,

I cannot help wondering if we are on the brink of a second Civil War.

A war not between the states, but a war between the races.

Judging from the comments I have read in articles regarding race that I have read online and the various statements from conservative whites (and African-Americans like Stacey Dash), one may well think such as I can’t help feeling that all it would take is one riot,

One skirmish between blacks and police that gets out of control,

One instance of some conservative white person who may be among some anti-Black Lives Matter counter demonstrators, who says the wrong thing and is attacked and (probably) killed by folks who are fed up, triggering an all-out brawl,

And you may well have the first battle of a race war, a Fort Sumter in a sense.

I also can’t help wondering if a hundred years from now, the dreams of racists will come true and America will be separated on the basis of color due to an impasse, the leaders conceding that the longtime racial animosities will never be solved and – like a divorcing couple or the Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 (much to Mahatma Gandhi’s dismay) – the best solution being a formation of separate countries.

Of course it’s my sincere hope that this scenario will never come to pass, but…

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to be completely hopeful based on these recent and ongoing racial incidents and unrest.

However, I do know this:

Killing police officers will not do anything to stop racial profiling and murder of blacks by law enforcement.

Neither will rioting as if that were the case, attacks on people of color would have ended nearly 100 years ago.

I’m honestly not sure what the answer is – besides love and loving one another according to what Jesus Christ commands – but…

As Marvin Gaye once sang, war is NOT it.

I suppose that’s all I have to say about all of this, at least for now.

 

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot.

Group of diverse teenagers standing together and smiling for the camera. Horizontal shot. Love this shot, too! Photo courtesy of ojaialano.wordpress.com

 

 

 

The State of Race in America (From The Point Of View of Little Old Me)

Martin Luther King jr. Quotes 2

Image courtesy of martinlutherkingday2014.blogspot.com

 

 

Not that my view is all that important as I’m not Henry Louis Gates or Cornel West, and am definitely not any kind of sociologist or expert,

But being that today IS the day we celebrate the legacy of the most famous Black American of African descent in history, a man whose name, along with Mahatma Gandhi, is synonymous with the terms “Peace”, “Unity”, and “Racial Harmony”, I thought it would be a good idea to give my one cent as to how things are between Caucasians of European descent and people of color in these United States.

So here goes…

 

Unlike what I suppose so many others will do today when writing about this topic and the man who we are celebrating today, I’m not going to state any  “I Have a Dream” quotes.

Or any quotes for that matter save for the three I’ve posted in this article’s pictures; there are a zillion other sites, TV shows, and the like where one can get that.

Or visit any elementary school around this time of year, as even the most conservative schools in the reddest of states put together a Martin Luther King, Jr.  assembly or something of that nature, mentioning how the black folks in Montgomery, AL wouldn’t use public transportation for a year in the mid-1950s because a seamstress refused to be moved to the back of a bus one evening.

Along with playing that “Dream” speech in their classrooms.

I’m also not going to say what so many people say around this time, how “We have come so far, but we have a long way to go.”

First of all, considering all the crap that’s been going down lately, that needs to go without saying.

And second of all, people have been saying that for fifty years, yet…

In quite a few ways, I’m convinced that it’s safe to say things have not only have a long way to go, they’ve gotten worse.

Just ask the families of those poor young African-American kids who were murdered by the police.

Or those actors and directors who were snubbed by the Academy Award nominations for the second consecutive year.

Or the students at the University of Missouri and many other colleges who were not only called “Diggers” with a capital “N”, but who have endured “microagressions” – merely a fancy word for “slights” – ever since those institutions of higher learning allowed blacks and other people of color into their halls.

Or the Today show’s Al Roker, who was not only recently passed over in getting a taxi, but that taxi’s driver admitting that he passed Roker over for a white man because of his skin color.

 

 

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All of the world’s as well as America’s racial/cultural issues would be solved if this statement was universally embraced. Image courtesy of eslkevin.wordpress.com

 

I’ll even dare say that I reckon there are plenty of folks who, given the attitude of certain whites – you should read the comments from various online articles focusing on racial issues that I have checked out; they sound as if they were written by members of the Ku Klux Klan, or at least people who sympathize with them – see these times as not unlike the America of the 1950s and previous decades as far as how whites regard blacks are concerned.

Why, one commenter of an article I read today mentioned how he was for segregation, and that he didn’t want to do business with blacks and felt he shouldn’t be forced to, calling it a matter of freedom.

That seems to be the mentality of far too many people, though it’s tragically true that a racist can’t be forced to not be one or to accept someone else whose skin color or culture is different from his as an equal.

Which in my view was the one flaw of the Civil Rights Movement; that it seemed to be the opinion that whites would learn to wholeheartedly love people of color if enough marches, protests, and speeches were done and enough laws were passed.

That if African-Americans were allowed to use the same bathrooms, go to the same schools, eat in the same restaurants – and all the rest – as whites, then those Caucasians would naturally see the error of their racist ways and happily accept all blacks as complete equals.

It’s true that plenty of whites have done exactly that.

But it’s also true that more than plenty of whites have not.

Which is why I state that the Civil Rights Movement had a flaw.

It’s easy for me to say that all of this has left me with a sense of defeat in that true racial harmony will never be a reality not only in America, but throughout the world; check out what’s be going on not only with the current anti-immigration sentiments in Europe but, as the ultimate example, the Apartheid era in South Africa, which was more blatant in its bigotry in that for 46 years, that “separation” policy was in that country’s constitution while American segregation was never federal law, but confined to state and local laws.

But that is a bit too simplistic for me to rest my complete convictions on.

As for the future of race relations and the chances of true racial love and harmony in this country, which Dr. King based his life’s work on, I have just five words in regards to that:

 

I HONESTLY DO NOT KNOW.

 

I don’t know what else to say, except to trust God that it will all turn out well.

As Malcolm X once said, “..It takes God himself to solve this racial problem.”

 

 

Martin Luther King jr. Quotes 1

Image courtesy of adanyd.hostoi.com

 

 

My Worst Encounter With Racism

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Photo courtesy of suenammirichardsromance.blogspot.com

 

Despite being born after most of the big Civil Rights events – the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the various sit-ins, the March on Washington, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts – like pretty much every other African-American I have encountered negative and stereotypical behavior directed towards me because of how my skin pigmentation looked.

This includes being called a word that rhymes with “bigger” and starts with an “N”.

However, the encounter that I consider the worst in my life with regards to this did not involve that epithet…

It was sometime during March, 1991.

I was in the midst of my last year as a student at UCLA at that time, but this personal encounter with racism had nothing to do with that either as it happened off campus.

You see, I had been a youth baseball coach for the past several seasons, working with young people in the Santa Monica Little League and Bobby Sox Softball League. It was my way of staying involved with the game that I consider my favorite, and a way to do something that I enjoyed: interact with kids who liked baseball and softball as much as I did.

I was managing a baseball team in Santa Monica Little League’s Intermediate division – a level geared toward seven-to-nine year olds where the coach pitches, which my brother happened to be on – that season, but for some reason I wanted to coach softball as well.

One day I was reading UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, as I had done every day, when I came across an ad in the classifieds calling for someone to be an assistant coach for a girls’ softball team in a league located near the campus in Westwood.

I remember thinking, “This is perfect for me!” as I called the number listed in the ad.

I won’t mention the name of the lady who answered my call, if I am going to talk about what ultimately happened.

We had quite the conversation, this lady, who was the manager of the Major division (10-to-12-year olds) softball team (whose name will not be mentioned, either) and I. Especially after I told her my experience and qualifications, which at nearly 24 years old were already formidable as I had started on youth baseball coaching staffs while still in high school and had managed a team at not-yet twenty.

She was very friendly to me on the phone, giving me an impression of being very impressed with what I had to say, and she invited me to her team’s next game that following Sunday (I believe) so we could formally meet and – as I had every reason to think – make my joining that squad a formality.

It was what ensued at that field that Sunday that induces bad memories for me…

I had arrived at the diamond about a half-hour or so before the game was to start, feeling very enthusiastic.

When I met this manager face-to-face in the bleachers behind her team’s dugout, however, her expression a bit strange as her in-person demeanor was as unfriendly as it was friendly on the phone. She, in a bit of a gruff manner, asked me to have a seat in the stands and she would talk to me after the game.

Looking back on it now, it was apparent that she was not only surprised to find that I wasn’t a European of Caucasian descent, she was also rather reluctant to interact with someone from a race/ethnic group/culture like mine. Nor did she have any desire to have her little girls interact with any scary-looking black male, either.

I say this because of what she said to me after the game, which her team won and which completely caught me by surprise – and obviously not in a good way:

“We’re going to have another person with us to help the team because he asked first, but I’m going to put your name with the board in case there are any other openings.”

I know this is not exactly what she said – there’s no way I can remember that two and a half decades after the fact – but as far as my memory is concerned, that’s about as close to her exact words as I can remember, especially the four words, “…because he asked first.”

Which to this day I am convinced is a lie, because of this:

How can someone be so friendly to and enthusiastic about someone on the phone, then have their attitude about that someone change 180 degrees the moment they saw them in person for the first time?

I can’t honestly think of any other reason in this case except that she was judging me for the color of my skin rather than, in Martin Luther King’s words, “The content of their (my) character.”

Of course I grew at least a little bitter upon realizing such a couple of days after that encounter, but strangely enough not as bitter as I could have been; I wish I could tell you why that was so, but I can’t as I really don’t know.

I DO know that if time machines existed, I would go back to that episode, go to the league’s board, and charge that lady of racism, telling them about how she was so nice to me on the phone but was virtually the opposite upon setting her eyes on me, giving me the impression that in her opinion, blacks and whites should “stick with their own kind” – how could there be any other explanation?

Could have there been someone who truly asked to assist that team first? Sure. I fully understand that I have no hard evidence of any racist intent by this softball team manager.

But why did she not mention such over the telephone, say something like “We have other candidates to consider; I’ll get back to you with my decision.”

It would have saved me from spending a Sunday making a trip to that field when I could have been doing other things.

I reckon one can see that though I’m not nearly as affected by all of this as I was, being in my late forties, 24 years later the memory remains a bad one, as it would for roughly 95% of the African-Americans out there.

I never saw that lady again, though I do forgive her for what happened in those Persian Gulf war, George Bush Sr. days.

It’s not my intent to grind any axes or hold any real grudges; she may even be dead by now, and it’s just not worth it to me to hold any bad anger over what happened.

But it did teach me a real-world lesson, that there are those who will never see African-Americans person as equal to them – intellectually and otherwise – will always consider them as somehow inferior, and a group that they would just rather not interact with.

It’s not a pleasant lesson to learn, but it’s an important one not just for blacks, but also for Latinos and other ethnic groups of color.

 

 

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Certainly illustrates my experience here. Cartoon courtesy of huckleberryfinnsatiremap.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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