True Story: ‘EarthJeff’ Gets Newfound Empathy for Racial Profiling

You know our friend, ‘EarthJeff.’ He’s been an awesome addition to the BB&W Crew, and he just shared this story with me last night. I figured a lot of you all can relate.


Racial Profiling?  Please……  Hey, I understand.


I am a white man.  I have never been pulled over and had my plates or ID run because of the color of my skin.  I have never been stared at or given a double-take in a store because of the color of my skin.  I have never had anyone call 911 or had the Neighborhood Watch guy chase me down because I am suspicious walking around in a hoodie.  I have talked to all my students (I teach in an urban high school) about these things and they have had some of these experiences.  OK, I am an educated man so I understand, really, I do.  Sucks to be you but I know what you must be feeling…. dont get upset… just go with it.  It is NOT that big of a deal.  You are just being overly sensitive.  I THOUGHT I understood.

Until….. recently…..
We had a professional development event at a venue with really tight parking so we met at a local mall parking lot to leave a couple of cars and share rides.  Typical suburban mall parking lot.  We got back and a colleague and I wanted to finish a discussion so we sat in the car for a short bit to talk.  Dressed professionally, minding our own business, a white male and a black female… both educators.

Suddenly a local police car pulls in front of me and an officer gets out and comes over to my window (Interestingly, a short white female cop) and she none-too-politely  “requests” our ID.  My colleague nonchalantly hands hers over as I am getting mine and say something stereotypical like “what is the problem, officer”?  I get a snarly “we have had some trouble around here lately. Do either of you have any warrants?” she asks.

I assume she means trouble much worse than DWB (Driving while black).  I am sure that she means something really heinous like PWWWBWIC (Parked while white with black woman in car).  And, wow, I am GUILTY of that.  So we get our ID back and the cop walks away.  I am pissed and my colleague is calm like she has been through all of it before.  She says “Welcome to my world”.  The whole experience was one of the most profound I have ever had.  Oh, yes, I THOUGHT I understood.  Educated man.

I get it.  People were just being overly sensitive.  And yet…. until I was the one handing over my ID for pretty much no reason at all other than either the color of my skin or that of my colleague….. I guess I did NOT understand.  I do now.  Parked while white with black woman in car.  If I am alone in that car or sitting with a white colleague, does that cop come ask for our ID?