You don’t have to be black to be profiled

Gibson Thunderbird
Limited edition Gibson Thunderbird Bass

Since the George Zimmerman verdict, there has been a lot of discussion about racism and racial profiling. I know profiling exists, but I also feel that many cases of racial profiling aren’t racial at all. In many circles, saying such a thing would get you shouted down as being racially insensitive, so I’d like to share a personal story.

Before I begin, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself. I’m 6’3″, 300 pounds, have a few earrings, and I usually have a goatee that hangs two or three inches below my jawline (which has a big 4 inch scar from surgery). On a typical day, I’m wearing black boots, jeans. And a black t-shirt that has some band’s name emblazoned on the front. Do you have a mental picture yet?

Well, one day I was walking into work, which is in a large state office building. I had plans after work, so I brought my limited edition Gibson Thunderbird Bass with me, since I didn’t feel safe leaving it in the car. As I was walking in, a man was just ahead of me. He held the door for me, gave me a funny look, and we both went on our way without a word said to each other.

About 15 minutes after this meeting, I found out I had been reported to Capitol Police. The man said I “looked like I didn’t belong here,” and I was carrying a “suspicious black box.”

The Capitol Police didn’t say or do anything because they very likely knew who he was referring to. At that point, I had been employed in that building for 10 years.

As you can see, I was profiled. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last (even though I’m 37). If you’re a white person who doesn’t believe this, throw on a Ramones shirt, worn jeans, comfy Chuck Taylor’s, and some piercings. Extra credit for those of you with facial scars, spiked hair, or copious amounts of facial hair.

The story I shared was one example of many. I could put on a suit to avoid these reactions, but why should I? I’m a funny, friendly, polite, educated guy. If someone is going to have a negative reaction to my appearance, I probably wouldn’t want to know them.

In conclusion, I hope this isn’t interpreted as complaining, because that’s not the point of the article. The point is that your physical appearance is the first clue to who you are. Personally, I get a kick out of throwing people off and seeing the look of shock when they see that the reality doesn’t match the stereotype. For those of you who don’t like being prejudged in a negative light, then wear professional attire.