by Cheyenne Brown
Profiling is everywhere.
Imagine going through life knowing that everywhere you go and everything you do will be judged in some shape or form. Imagine being judged for the type of clothes you wear, but others don’t know you can’t afford anything else. Imagine being profiled as a terrorist or a gang-banger when walking into public facilities. Imagine being judged based on the pigment of your skin or the texture of your hair, when in reality these are things you can’t change.
We often like to believe that such things no longer exists because laws have been set in place and revolutionary movements have occurred, but racial profiling is still thriving throughout our society just quietly.
Silent prejudices sometimes speak the loudest. Everybody has been profiled or has judged another individual at some point and we can’t help it. Profiling is the combination of society’s safety net and the foundation by which prejudiced walls are built. Preconceived notions are developed at a very young age whether by personal experience, culture, or the media.
For example, Disney, the network little kids thrive on growing up, is very guilty of creating racial and cultural stereotypes.
In Tarzan, you have a movie based in an African jungle setting, yet there were no colored people in the whole film. In the little Mermaid, Ariel lost her voice to Ursula and had to use her body to gain the attention of the prince. Not to say Disney is not a great company, there are just some underlying issues that they are creating in the production of their films.
Stereotypes have become definitions that brand an entire race, gender, or certain groups of individuals all at once. Regardless if people want to agree or disagree with profiling, it exists. Profiling has been a well-known topic in the U.S for a long time, but is often ignored until a major issue occurs.
A couple of summers ago, the Trayvon Martin controversy sparked, which seemed to be the beginning of many racial profiling issues. Trayvon’s case may not have necessarily been the beginning, but his case put a spotlight on all racial injustices. (Mike Brown, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, etc.)
“…these sudden, raw moments, in these riots and demonstrations and travesties of justice, White America is forced to gaze upon the emotional roil of oppression, the anger and fear and deep grief endemic to the Black American experience. Black America holds up a mirror for us. And white America is terrified to look,” a snippet from an article, A Mother’s White Privilege.
More than likely, in these situations whites, or those with white skin come out of these situations on top.
We have become so immune to profiling, we don’t even bother to address the issues these oppressed individuals face every day. Everywhere you go, everywhere you turn, what do you see?
You see diversity. You see individuals who do not look like you. We as people have become too stuck on those differences that we completely disregard those similarities we may have.
Stereotypes have been so deeply rooted into present generations that it has become almost natural for someone to judge another based off certain qualities and physical features. The background, the story, nor the fundamental characteristics that makes that individual who they are do not even need to be known.
This is a big problem in our multicultural society. In the danger of a single story discussion, published in TED.com, Chimamanda Adichie argues that knowing a single story of a person or a country can cause misunderstanding and create stereotypes.
Stereotypes have created a distortion upon how individuals should be. We strip down an individual before even seeing what they have to bring to the table. One is expected to meet a certain standard or act a certain way because of their gender, nationality, or personality. Everyone has judged another individual at one point, and it isn’t their fault.
It is possible to escape the repetitive cycle of racial profiling, it requires someone willing to make a change. It is our job as the new generation to stop this problem. We can change these perceptions of stereotypes.
It starts with the individual. The change stems from the individual, then to the family, then to the community, and ultimately there is progress and you see the overall impact.