When will it End?
As African Americans, many of our parents and mentors told us we had to be twice as good to be considered equal. As a result, many of us worked extra hard to be accomplished in whatever our chosen profession was. Like many people, we wanted to enjoy the fruits of our labor by having a home in the nicest neighborhoods and by driving the nicest car we could afford.
After the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, many doubters of racial profiling pointed to Martin’s attire and his behavioral issues at school as the reason people like George Zimmerman looked at him suspiciously, believing racial proofing had nothing to do with his untimely demise?
However, how do doubters of racial profiling reconcile what happened to actress Cherie Johnson (“Family Matters” and “Punky Brewster”) and her boyfriend, actor Dennis White (“Notorious”) on Sept. 22 in South Carolina? After hosting an acting workshop in North Carolina, the two veteran actors were handcuffed and harassed while their vehicle was searched for non-existent drugs and weapons, all because Johnson wanted to stop and take pictures of a nearby cotton field.
“On September 22nd, 2013 at approximately 3:40 pm, I was reminded that at the end of the day I can be harassed by police at their will,” White told CNN. “Regardless of how many movies or TV shows I have been in. Regardless of my education at WSSU. Regardless of how much money or accolades I have garnered. Regardless of my journeys across the globe. I will forever be at the White officer’s mercy.”
Within 20 minutes, the couple was pulled over by two police cars upon entering South Carolina.
While taking pictures of the Myrtle Beach, S.C. cotton field, an officer drew his weapon and ordered the couple to sit in their car. Johnson was erroneously told by an officer that there was a warrant out for her arrest, who later admitted that there was no warrant.
When White refused to let the officer search his vehicle, he was placed in handcuffs despite not being under arrest. Johnson was handcuffed as well.
The officer began asking the couple where their drugs were and questioned whether or not they had a dead body in the trunk. When officers thought they found marijuana (after White finally allowed them to search his rented Ford Fusion), the actor informed them that it was just a tea bag.
When the officer could not find any drugs or illegal substances, he let the couple go with no apology or remorse.
What makes this incident so flabbergasting is that it happens all of the time and when African Americans speak out against such instances we are accused of playing the race card.
Although racial profiling, and racism as a whole, will always be present in American culture, many often wonder what can be done to decrease instances like this from happening.
First and foremost, victims of racial profiling (especially high profile victims) have to speak out and inform apathetic Americans of how dangerous it is to be driving while Black.
During the Civil Rights Movement, segregation did not die until normal Americans saw the brutality that African Americans endured at the hand of evil Jim Crow laws.
When people began to see how inhumane the treatment of Blacks was, popular opinion began changing and Jim Crow laws eventually fell.
The same thing needs to happen today. We need to speak out regardless if many Americans do not want to hear our stories.
For generations before the Civil Rights Movement, our people suffered in silence because they were too afraid to speak out. When they did speak out, things began to slowly change.
It is time for us to speak out anytime we are subjected to inhumane treatment because of the color of our skin. When people see how pervasive racial profiling is, they may be motivated to demand change.
As children, we were told we had to be better. It is time for people of other races to realize they have to be better too.