the rain wasn’t coming down hard but it was persistent. i draped my letter jacket, leather side down, on the soaking parking lot and squinted in the waning light looking for the locked lugnut so i could remove the flat tire.

my sister had hit a curb and didn’t seem to readily recall how to change the tire. she watched me intermittently pulling my maroon skirt back to my knees as i struggled with leverage, moisture, and darkness. an overweight security guard watched me struggle from the semi-dry of his golf cart.

a young man sporting tear tattoos often associated with murderers approached to see if he could help. feeling rather proud i thanked him but smugly declared i was finished. he offered to tighten the bolts and bent over in the rain to do so.

my bolts weren’t tight at all.

after lending a hand he motioned to the tire and my need to add air. he followed us to the gas station across the street and made sure we got off ok.

now i could have looked at his tattoos and dismissed his humanity…or i could have respected the uniform of the security guard and not realized his indifference.

how a person looks is only how a person looks.

and so i read this mornign with disgust about the muslim family denied their flight to florida after a misunderstood comment and the fbi clearing them to fly.

“it is saftest to sit over the wing. or, failing that, at the back of the plane.”

someon in their party said something to that effect and overreaction reigned down.

i think i said something similar to the pleasnt older woman who was my 13 hour companion on the cairo nyc leg of my trip recently. i’ve had variations of that conversation with my father (who used to fly in the air force) and subsequently, whoever seems interested.

my conversation never caused a panic or emptied the plane or deprived me of my flight to wherever i was going. but then i don’t wear a hijab or look like i come from one of “those” countries. my appearnce assures me amnesty in talking about flight saftey (although not petty theft or permiscous sex assumptions).

such is danger of racial profling.

i’ve been flabergasted for years now that so few brown people have been outraged by the acceptance and even praise for racial profiling for all things “arab”. i quote that because folks here aren’t even sure what they are looking for. we’ve honed in on muslims but in the scurry to scream terrorists we’ve thrown in anyone with cafe au lait skin and no kinks in their hair.

and it isn’t ok.

post 9/11 everyone was edgy and vulnerable. we got a field trip of the daily lives of palestinians or iraquis and countless other people the world over and we didn’t like it. and the best way to feel clothed when you are really naked is to point and jeer at someone else. someone “other”. and so we have picked our “other” for hte moment and now, seven years after the fact we calm ourselves by believing  the worst in anyone who fits that profile without even thinking…or feeling anything. empathy is scarce these days.

i do not belive in racial profiling. i do not believe in racial profling. i do not believe in racial profiling.

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1 Comment on profiling

  1. DL says:

    I would be okay with profiling if we were consistent. But after Timothy McVeigh set of a bomb in Oklahoma, we didn’t start singling out everybody with pale skin and a crew cut.

    I usually grant people their right to prejudices and preconceptions b/c we all have some. What I don’t support is inconsistency and hypocrisy.

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