People often don’t even realize that they’re profiling.
Don’t see that they’re engaging in stereotyping behavior because, in their minds, it is their thought processes alone that have brought them to the decision to say or do something concerning me or something I am or am not doing.
They do not realize that it is the thought process itself that is at issue and the particular thought that caused them to interact that displays subtle or overt racist qualities. That they share that thought process and the propensity to draw certain conclusions or see things in certain ways with others like them.
I learned many years ago that I could not do the same things that my white friends could do. My daddy, a country boy from West Texas, hammered that into my head for years. It took hard life experience for me to realize he was right. One of the difficult but unavoidable lessons of growing up black in predominantly white environs. One that many experience, but not all do until later in life.
Bosses crack down on rules they generally ignore when I’m involved. People always pay close attention to what I’m doing. I have to be better to be equal. I can’t afford to make mistakes others make. I can’t get away with being lesser than absolutely and fully conscious of my environment and those I interact with. Who they are. What their deepest understandings of humanity might consist of. It is mandatory for my peace of mind and success.
On the daily, women move purses to their other side, cross streets. I get followed in stores. Men bristle, glare or pay closer attention to their nearby women and children. As if I am a danger.
That this is ubiquitous, happens all over the country and has for years, refutes all individual attempts at whitesplaining my life experience away. Which is another sign of racism. The automatic refutation of Other experience.
Being a 6’4 black man in this nation – with its varied negative externalities and internalities – has caused me to integrate various deescalation and appeasing strategies that are nigh unconscious at this stage in order to help skittish whites to feel at ease in my presence. It is necessary sometimes to make people feel comfortable in your presence. And sometimes it is not.
My nature is soulful, relatively open and loving. I am generally friendly but true to that nature. I present myself consistently and openly.
Because I interact with white people easily, it is sometimes assumed by those who do not know me that I dislike myself. Prefer majority population company and culture. It is not so. I am in no way, shape or form ashamed to be a black man. I do not hate myself or my skin color.
Because of my multicultural upbringing, I accept people as they are and, despite the prejudices formed against me, do not judge or condemn. I have been bullied, taunted and outcast by people and groups of both the black and white persuasion. Being educated at home by conscious parents was a blessing. Still, there was a time – when I was much younger – when I railed against the strictures that systemic racism seemed to place on my potentialities. That is natural and I was a child.
I am grown now and have put away childish things. Those strictures have not loosened or lessened in the least. But I see them and accept them for what they are – respecting their historical and societal origins and fear-based propagation – even as I fight against them. I am proud to be a part of a people’s who have withstood continuing attempts at genocide, who continue to rise and achieve despite the many attempts to hold us down, keep us back and push us out. It feels good, to be who I am in a way that defies an easy explanation.
Because there is indeed a feeling, a vibration, that comes with this experience. Being the eternal outsider affords you a certain perceptive experience that allows you to achieve insights difficult for others to approximate. I speak here of all groups. For me, this has always been an intensely personal and spiritual experience. I use these insights to see deeper into myself, as well as to inform family, friends and acquaintances about the nature of the world.
It is so difficult to see clearly. Written and spoken words barely assist in this process. It has to be a choice. Always and in each instance. Each person comes to knowledge willfully. Each maintains their own ignorance willfully as well.
After many years of engaging in the process of consciousness-raising I can tell when people prefer to remain asleep. When they don’t want to know the truth of things. When they prefer their illusions.
And that is fair.
For many, it is painful to see things as they truly are. To see the structure that has upheld their worldview crumble into nothingness. Reality bites. But is also exhilarating. Births hope and despair in equal proportions. Promises destruction and recreation simultaneously. Prejudices and profiling are a necessary part of life for all living creatures. Knowing when rangers are present has been integral in the survival of the species.
But when applied artificially and coupled with an inordinate propensity toward illusory interpretations of reality profiling reinforces individual and societal dysfunction. Propagates living systems doomed to infernal ends.
Self-knowledge and understanding should be mandatory goals for all attempting to reconcile their genetic cellular databases and becoming citizens of the world being born now. Even in the midst of seeming catastrophe, lights shine in the depths of darkness. Strong and getting stronger by the day. It has been coming.
Energetic cycling along the spiral of time-space evolution is expressed in mundane ways. Individual choices. In each instance. The choice not to pick a person out of a crowd to enforce arbitrary rules. To purposefully choose not to say that stereotypical thing. To quell those thoughts and choose higher forms of being.
To choose to evolve. Beyond all you’ve ever known. And represent the highest moral and ethical ways of being you can conceive of. For the betterment of all humanity.
We are not these bodies, in the end. So it makes sense if the major lesson of life is to learn to look beyond them to the true essence of a person.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” ~ 1st Corinthians 13:12