Re: “Know anyone that thinks racial profiling is exaggerated…?”

Inside: That video; Being profiled sucks (even though it may not be a binary situation); The baggage; Good luck, Paula Deen; Race-mixin’

This has happened to me. No surprise there.

My first response to this is…

I should get a young pretty white girl to steal bikes for me. We’d make a killing.

Kidding, of course. I suppose I shouldn’t be so flippant.

Although … when you see that, it makes you think about the business world. Let’s say I’m an entrepreneur. How is my product perceived when it’s represented by an attractive “All American” guy or woman as opposed to … me.

Anyway, it does raise a lot of questions/issues so I’ve been thinking about this a bit. Some thoughts.

0. It’s great that people would stop someone from stealing. That’s how society should work. You see someone doing something wrong, you confront them, you call the police and you get help. Kudos.

It is totally f’ed up, of course, that it only looks like stealing when it’s a black guy or non-caucasian. That speaks volumes about America, our society, human nature, territorialism, xenophobia, racism, classism.

1. It would have been more interesting to me but less interesting overall if the actors pretending to “liberate” the bike said that the bike was theirs. If they attempted to de-escalate the situation after the initial contact/confrontation.

2. Like I said, this has happened to me and — let me tell you — it’s freaking infuriating. Often, the situation is iffy and sometimes understandable. But man, it hurts the soul. I don’t even know how to explain to you how it causes a spike of stress levels that lasts for days and is seared into your memory.

Here’s one instance that sticks with me.

I was visiting the Bay Area and a friend’s parents let me stay at their place as a home base while I sold or threw out items that had been in a storage space for years. I was finally cleaning up my California life. I was also visiting with friends, hitting my favorite restaurants that hadn’t shut down and so on. (I miss you Ti Couz. Hope you’re still around Primo Patio. Rock on, Armadillo Willy’s.)

One day I drove five hours up to Humboldt State University to see a Pat Metheny concert. Great show but I missed a connection with a friend so after the show ended — being low on funds and thinking I didn’t want to spend some of what I had on a hotel room — I decided to drive back. Five more hours of driving.

I got back to the bucolic Peninsula town pretty late. Some time in the early AM. I was extremely tired, as you can imagine.

I parked the rental car across the street from the house where I was staying and sat there for a few minutes gathering up my things, drinking some water, finding the right key to the back door, and getting myself oriented.

Well, my parking job was poor and I was a wee bit infringing on someone’s driveway. You know how it is when you’re not used to the dimensions of a car you’re unfamiliar with. So in the house across the street from where I was staying, a woman — I guess they had friends over and were wrapping up — came out of the house and saw my parking job.

I may have had musically playing loudly in the car to help keep me alert-ish so they probably heard me pull up.

I stepped out of the car, ready to shut the door.

So she called to me that I was impeding the entrance of her driveway. She was right. I apologized and got back in the car, reversed a little bit, and then stepped out again.

Now. Obviously, she had never seen me before and if she had she didn’t remember me. I used to hang out at my friend’s, playing music in the garage a lot. But whatever the case, she didn’t know me and I didn’t know her.

Next thing I know the woman came back out with her husband, another guy, another woman, and someone in the house next door turned on their porch light and stepped out on to the porch.

One of the guys walks toward me with a, “Can I help you?”

“No. I’m good. Have a good night.”

Then I walked to my friend’s parents’ house into the back trying not to trip over anything or make a racket. Eyes on me the whole time, of course.

So. It’s one of those things, right? Strange person at night in your neighborhood. What do you think? Strange black guy at night in your neighborhood.  What would have happened if I had escalated the situation by getting angry?  Y’know?  Gotta keep your cool.

Everyone else in the neighborhood is white — it’s a very white area — so it’s probably not a neighbor’s relative. What else would a black guy be doing here at this time? Is he lost? Should we call someone? I don’t want to make assumptions but … you can never be too safe.

It’s a historically white township, by the way. Historically in that a few decades earlier it was illegal to sell property to a black or hispanic person there. That wasn’t uncommon at all in the US so I’m not singling the place out. Them’s the facts, though. So that legacy and the Bay Area money and economic forces lead to a well to do, lily white neighborhood.

I wonder how many of them have never had a black person in their home in a role that didn’t involve manual labor.

Also, whenever I would go somewhere to donate things, while I was waiting to get a receipt I’d get a few people asking me to move their stuff out of their car for them. They assumed I worked there because that’s the only interaction they’re used to having with people of color. I felt bad because I kind of laughed in an old man’s face, “Ha ha! I don’t work here, sir.”

That’s a piss poor attitude on my part.  I should have helped him anyway but I was generally frazzled that trip and not in my zone. Maybe I was a little angrier back then, too, seven or eight years ago.  I was still wound up about that parking incident.  That’s how it goes.

“He who angers you controls you.”


I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll do it again.

In Dundalk, where I grew up I lived in Turners Station, the black neighborhood on a Peninsula. A little less than 20 years after mandatory desegregation so the neighborhoods and community were still pretty intensely socially and culturally segregated. Racism was as common as screen doors.

Along Dundalk Avenue between Logan Village and Sollers Pt. Rd. You look to the right where the black people live and you see an alley and the back of brick rowhomes. You look to your left where the white people live and you see six foot wooden fences all the way down.


In’s “The Big Picture” photo blog they had a subject of “Walls”. Here’s the caption for one of them:

A section of a half-mile long concrete wall, six feet tall and a foot or so thick, now covered with murals, built in the 1940s divides yards in Detroit on March 28, 2013. The wall was built with a simple aim: separate homes planned for middle-class whites from blacks who had already built small houses or owned land with plans to build in the neighborhood. It couldn’t separate people on its own, people and policies would see to that, but it was enough to satisfy the Federal Housing Administration to approve and back loans. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

So whenever I see these things about racial profiling and what not it brings back memories. Especially of the racism I encountered regularly in Dundalk as I rode my bike around Old Dundalk, Watersedge, Holabird, Berkshire, Eastpoint, St. Helena, Logan, etc.

Being shooed off like a pest. Being accused of dealing drugs. Being called nigger. Hearing things like “What’s this nigger want?” Being threatened with death for being in the “wrong neighborhood”. Being threatened with “I’m calling the police!” because I was in someone’s line of sight. Being threatened with violence and called jigaboo, coon, nigger for being black in the hallway of a mostly white middle school. Trying to explain to some white friends how I was offended by someone acting like I didn’t belong there. Being told that maybe I don’t. Friends becoming skinheads. Being told that black people are athletically gifted but intellectually inferior. Being told ‘no girls here for you’ if there were no black girls in sight.  Listening to racist jokes and being expected to laugh or have some white people jokes in return. Listening to the parents at soccer games make racist jokes about the black team we were playing against. Having friends whose family named their black dog Nigger. “Come here, Nigger. Here, Nigger. Come on, boy.” Being followed. Being chased. Sitting with my mother in the car while we both ignored a man yelling “fucking nigger” at her and the awkward, full silence the rest of the way home.

Being ostracized in the black community for being “too white” or talking “too white”.

Truthfully, that’s actually pretty benign until it sums up, y’know. Water off a duck’s back at first. Then it gets in your head and then in your blood and bones. And this was AFTER racism wasn’t really socially acceptable. My god. What did my parents and grandparents deal with?

In case you wondering.  When some black folk seem hyper-aware of and sensitive about racial things?  That kind of stuff is why.  I didn’t even get into the blatant stuff that the family before me dealt with.  Trying to keep it up to date and not project, y’know.  Just my own baggage here.


Hm. This is probably why — along with my personality and disposition — why I kind of float on the periphery of things. Socially outside with an ambivalent and dichotomous view of the world. The truth often lies between the extremes and all that.

And that’s some of the bad stuff, of course. That is NOT most of my experience. That’s the bad stuff that sticks with you, though. Many great times were had but there is something lost there in my past.

Truncated and stunted friendships and unrequited-ness because of social alienation, social pressures, isolation and not having an element or niche.

When I was 13 or 14 I had an operation and I was in the hospital room recovering.  A white kid who was staying in the room next door, Bernie(?), came in my room in a wheelchair and introduced himself.  I offered him some pistachios an aunt had given me but he couldn’t have them because he had just had an operation for kidney issues and couldn’t eat salt.  He showed me the stitches.

We would talk and he would show off doing wheelies in his wheelchair.  Like, we were becoming friends.  What else are you going to do while recovering in a hospital, right?

One day his grandmother came looking for him.  Probably in her 70s or 80s so … old school.  Still some German or Eastern European accent old school.  She looked at me with something like disgust and then called him out of the room.  Never saw him again after that.

That’s the only aspect that I really regret.

My family and my experiences taught me how to appreciate people for who they are, though. Not what they are or what they look like or what they have.

Not that I’m enlightened and free of prejudice. I got ’em. I have those internal conversations, too, like everyone else. Jumping to conclusions and being on guard. Sometimes I’m right, too. Most of the time I’m not.

But in the end we’re all trying to figure out who and what we are.  With all that racism, once people got to know each other people were just people.  I mean, I knew some racist mofos and all of a sudden they’re a racist mofo with black friends.  Then a guy who says racist stuff every now and then. Then a guy who’s just cool with people.

Well, until the immigrants started moving in.  Next!


Don’t care. I don’t think she should have lost her show over using the n-word in the past. She said nigger. I like the way she didn’t deny it and said in so many words, “Of course I’ve used it. I’m a white person from the south. We grew up on ‘nigger’.”

She should have lost her show if the allegations about being abusive to her staff are true.

But then again, that’s such societal hypocrisy. You can turn the channel and watch that chode, Gordon Ramsey, abuse young aspiring chefs. And he gets richer and gets more shows. That a-hole should get sued. But nope.

Too much language policing.  For the wrong reasons at least. This could be a teachable moment instead of a buttery, deep fried witch hunt.


I mean … I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I had a realization that black people in America act as America’s id.

I was looking for new music on Spotifiy the other day and came across a hip hop playlist. I started listening and it was basically … porn. Money, having fancy things, guns and being willing to shoot somebody, and then p—-. Pardon me. Oh, and weed. And going to jail and maybe getting shot.

We, as a society, have come to accept and to reward it! Because we’re really okay with it. We say we’re not. But we are.

Vile, immature, materialistic hedonism that doesn’t respect self or sometimes life in general. And yes, maybe I should lighten up because it’s just entertainment and it’s just music. It’s just entertainment and people like it and it doesn’t make anyone act a fool.

But I don’t want my nephews to think like that.  And you certainly do not want boys out there in the same world where your little boys and girls are thinking like that.

By the way, there’s a lot of politically and socially conscious hip hop happening out there but it doesn’t get radio play for obvious reasons.

Black guys rapping about behaving and living like animals? All reptilian brain and limbic system. Platinum. Black guys rapping about changing the system and revolution and self-reliance? Neocortex and intellect. Internet mixtape.


Oh wow. Time flies when you’re writing. Have training in a bit and told myself I’m riding my bike there today.

One last thing. Something I read in Walter Mosley’s “Blonde Faith” novel. Expanded on.

It’s crazy how so many people are still hung up on interracial relationships. Stoopid. Despite the fact that a LOT of people have multiracial and multiethnic heritage already. It’s ignorant.

If you don’t have an attraction, that’s one thing. That’s your thing. Whatever. I’m not saying that people should aim one way or another or feel bad.

It makes me happy to see interracial kids and I’ll tell you why because you asked so nicely.

Because our separate histories become one history. All that is bad and all that is good about it. There are no illusions at that point that our history is one and the same. Connected.

What a rich world for that child to explore. Continents, cultures, food, music, art, poetry, dance, ancestry, history.  And there are ups and downs and maybe some identity confusion and social pressure.  No doubt.  Welcome to life.  Welcome to humanity.  But still.

Tangibly, irrevocably connected and made real in the flesh.

Alright.  Just wanted to respond to a friend’s post in a non-flip way.  Now it’s time to go and get my ass kicked.

Finish strong!

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