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I was recently on the phone catching up with a relative of mine when the conversation took an abrupt turn. “Uh oh,” she said. I asked her what was wrong. “These young boys with their pants hanging down are walking past my car,” she said. “I need to get my gun.”

She went on to explain her concern that as the summertime approached and school ended, young black boys like the ones who had walked past her car—although she had not specifically identified them as black when she first expressed alarm—would be roaming the streets looking for trouble.

I was so taken aback by her reaction that I did not respond, but in light of the ongoing Trayvon Martin case, her response made me think about the many ways in which people of color negatively profile the members of our own communities.

Yes, many parents and politicians alike acknowledge the need for youth, especially youth of color and those in more underserved communities, to have constructive and affordable summer opportunities to keep them safe and occupied, but since when does having a group of young black boys walk past your car merit needing to reach for a weapon? Granted, this relative and I do not live in the same region of the country, so I cannot comment on the specific issues and circumstances of where she lives, but even so, I could not help but notice the Zimmerman-esque nature of her response.

Apparently, a group of young black boys who walk by wearing sagging pants are equally as “suspicious” as a black teenage boy wearing a hoodie–and not just to an overzealous neighborhood watchman, but to a black woman, and a mother to a son, someone who has expressed outrage about the circumstances surrounding the Trayvon Martin case and the plight of young black men. Ironically, she didn’t even seem to grasp the problem with her own behavior.

This observation is not to say that the actions of Zimmerman or anyone else who engages in racial profiling are somehow merited or justifiable. In fact, it basically demonstrates that people of color can indeed harbor prejudice and engage in racial and other sorts of profiling, even against one another. It also forced me to think about the ways in which many people of color aid in the process of stereotyping and criminalizing our own–especially our men–even as we shake our heads and fists at society for doing so.

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  1. B. Payne

    Hey, I’m the same way…

    Just the other day in the BedStuy, BK, my homegirl and I was sitting in her Impala talking and I notice that two boys with hoods on and sagging pants walked by our car more than once….and walking a bit too close to the car.

    Now they could’ve gone to the store and back but I’m sorry…if it walks like a duck, quack like a duck then I don’t know…it might just be a duck.

    Will I shoot them? Well….only if they ACTUALLY attack me, hands first.

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  2. apple

    I’m guilty of this only because I have actually been made to after being harrassed,cursed out, cornered,chased, gropped and grab at , what else am I suppose to think? I don’t think ill be shooting anyone but I do fear black men sorry. I fear white men too but not as much because they usually leave me alone (like I’m invisible which I’m grateful for). Either way my guard is always up against men and intimidating looking women

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  3. Great thoughtful read. I salute Clutch for attempting to expand these important conversations.The same woman and chivalrous fellows that would complain about a man coming to a conclusion about a woman based off her clothing can often be the same woman that engages in the above behavior and support legislation that makes this cowardly behavior possible.

    Be the change you seek….for everyone….everyone…..or the thing you covet will indeed avoid you as well.

    And any “lady” that feels compelled to respond with anti-black male babel, I am not mad at you. What ever floats your “lady” boat. Just think about this: If they somehow get rid of all of us what makes you think they will not come for you after? What makes you worth keeping around?

    #blackfemaleincarceration; #moynihanreport; #thenewjimcrow.

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    • I got sense!

      The same woman and chivalrous fellows that would complain about a man coming to a conclusion about a woman based off her clothing can often be the same woman that engages in the above behavior and support legislation that makes this cowardly behavior possible.
      Yes.

      Be the change you seek….for everyone….everyone…..or the thing you covet will indeed avoid you as well.
      Yes.

      Just think about this: If they somehow get rid of all of us what makes you think they will not come for you after? What makes you worth keeping around?

      Yes.

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  4. A Latino family just moved in next door to me. Though they are English-speaking, the antagonist (young male) loves to use the “N” word as well as many others.

    Now, I don’t know if they’re Dominican or PR where they may have a Black ancestor but I’m more mad at the fact that we (roommate and I) have no real recourse because he loves to blast rap records that use the word over and over. And he, of course, sees no problem with someone that looks Mexican (like Zimmerman) using this word.

    He also has no problem with Flava Flav but that’s another story.

    Though my plans are to finish classes and get the heck out, I’m concerned that a man who’s shown violent tendencies in less than 2 mos is in such to close range to me.

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  5. jsajsa28

    @ Toppin you have said such an ignorant statement, wo I should profile white men, I should hide grab my child because they might molest or kidnap them or I should be afraid because they might be a serial killer! Gtfoh with the ignorance that you have embedded in your mind!

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    • Cloudy Summer Day/Teiko

      To be ignorant about something is to not have knowledge or lack awareness, so how is it that you deem what she said to be ‘ignorant’?

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