Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Consider this before crying "racial profiling"

by Boyce Watkins

Consider this before crying

I am not Al Sharpton. In fact, I never could be and I don't want to try. I am also not Henry Louis Gates, a man with an undeniable contribution to the legacy of Black Scholarship in America. I am simply Boyce Watkins, the son of a 17-year old mother and a father who happened to be a high-ranking police official for the past 28 years. I've argued with my father for decades, as his Bill Cosby-like views of the world have often made my face twist with confusion. But I listen to my father, because there is value in seeing other points of view.

When I hear about a Black man being mistreated by police, I take a moment of pause. I think about the horrific statistics on Black males in the criminal justice system, in which we are more likely to be arrested for the same crimes, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be incarcerated and expected to get more prison time than our White counterparts.

I think about my uncle, an older brother figure who was pressured into pleading guilty to a case that he wanted to fight, and who is psychologically damaged to this day from the trauma of going to prison as a 17-year old kid. I also think about my own graduate school experience in Kentucky, when I was rudely questioned by an officer after falling asleep in my office the night before a final exam.

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