My friend Vern Glenn went on a mini Facebook Page rant a couple of days ago, and it had to do with a random trip to the laundry mat that night in Mill Valley, California.
Now, for those of you who don’t know, Mill Valley is a suburb of San Francisco and located in the famous Marin County. Marin is noted for being laid-back, liberal, rich, and white. It was featured in the television series “Serial” with Martin Mull in the late 70s – sort of the 20th Century “Portlandia.” It is the home of Skywalker Ranch, where the Star Wars movies were developed, and where George Lucas lives.
Anyway, Vern, who’s African American, and a famous local sports anchor first on KRON TV, and then on KPIX TV currently, was going about the task of folding clothes, when, all of a sudden, an older white man walked up and asked him if he had the clothes he was suppose to pick up!
The man didn’t stop, or stare, just went about the action. And Vern was pretty shook up by that. Glenn told him he wasn’t a worker there at all, and what’s more incredible, Vern wasn’t standing in an area where anyone would think he worked there – well, should think, because that guy did.
What bothered Vern was that such an occurrence was happening way too much – to him and to me and to a number of black men. Why? In search of the answer, I made this video-blog:
Well, I think, upon reflection, it has to do with two things: first a lot of people just don’t pay attention to images in detail. They see patterns, and the one constant is that of the black guy as a security guard.
Working security, for some wild reason that’s a child of discrimination poor economic development, and a myopic view of life’s opportunities on the part of many black men, has become the fall back job for a lot of brothers, and especially bald ones. And while I realize that could be a joke, it happens to be true. I’ve noticed it.
It seems like security guard has been the position for black men who just needed a job, whereas police officer has become the fall-back occupation for white guys who needed work. 30 years ago, both would have been working in a steel mill, making enough to feed a family of four.
Thus, the problem we see today.
There are so many black men in that position it’s crazy. In fact, it’s a problem. It’s so bad, I can’t even where my trademark black suit without some idiot thinking I’m a security guard. But I wear it anyway.
That does not mean racism is on the rise. There are far too many interracial relationships, and mixed families, not to mention a black president, for that to be the case. The problem is one of race and class and job selection and pattern, and racism. It’s far more complex today.
The best solution is first, for black men to stop taking jobs as security guards and bouncers, and second, for society to stop pattern matching and start actually looking.
And third, for others to stop being racist.
When I get on BART, and am behind an Asian woman, 100 percent of the time that woman will walk by a seat next to a black man. I’m very serious. For whatever reason, the last vestiges of overt institutional anti-black racism are practiced by Asian women in America, and that’s by my observation.
IF we can change those factors, the profiling problem will become an advantage. Think about it.
Why not profile a black man as a business owner?