Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Question about profiling

If you have been following Good Men Project lately then you saw the latest throw down over comments between Tom Matlack, Hugo Schwyzer, feminists, non-feminist, MRAs, and all in between. Well one of the points of contention was on some race. Tom Matlack made a comment about how it is wrong to make presumptions about "all men" just as it wrong to make presumptions about "all black men". (This is not the exact comment but rather him summarizing it later. This fire fight has gone on for so many posts that I simply can't find the original comment. If you do don't be scared to share.)
And, when I say that I believe treating every black man as a criminal just because there are one million of them behind bars is just as abhorrent as treating all men as rapists – it brings strangers to my door to call me not only a sexist but racist and deeply offensive.
Now I think most people can agree with these two sentiments.

Judging any entire group based on the actions of a subset of the group is wrong. Yet there are people who will in one breath denounce one form of such profiling while defending another. Well I want to get at something that seems to get lost in all this race and gender talk about profiling.

Race and gender intersect when it comes to profiling. I want you to consider the RACIAL aspect of these three scenarios for a bit and answer in the comment section if you have anything to share.

1. You park your car and get out to go inside a mall. As you look up from locking and closing your door you see an Native American man walk by who makes direct eye contact with you. You double check to make sure your car door is locked.

2. Walking down the street one night you see a Jewish man coming from the opposite direction. Just before making contact you suddenly cross the street.

3. Waiting for an elevator you see that no one else is around...except for the Mexican man that comes from around the corner. You hope that he is not also looking to take the elevator.

Now like I said I just want you to consider the racial implications here. I'll be getting to the gender part in a few days after you've had some time to think. Don't forget to comment!

5 comments:

Clarissa said...

As long as the three behaviors you listed are matters of personal choice and do not move to the realm of social policy, I see no problem with them. If I have, say, a completely irrational dislike of people in red hats and don't want to take the elevator with them, that's my right. Now, if I became governor and started legislating on the basis of my personal irrational fears, that would be wrong. But my right to suspect anybody of anything on any basis and not get into elevators with absolutely anybody I choose is inalienable.

Danny said...

Now that I've had time to get past the confusion of how I have one comment here but you have over 20 at your place Clarissa I can comment.

As long as the three behaviors you listed are matters of personal choice and do not move to the realm of social policy, I see no problem with them.
I can agree with that but there is one other problem that I have with this that I'll be getting to soon.

Báyron said...

I think in those situations you listed, the behavior is racialized because you mentioned someone's ethnicity or race. How do I know that Jewish man was wielding a large machete in your scenario? Or that the Mexican man approaching the elevator didn't have a menacing look on his face? I think a better question to ask is what *would* make it acceptable to avoid someone you pass on the street or in the elevator or what makes it okay to suspect someone of thievery.

Anyway, the real silliness [and I'm not referring to you, Danny] is believing that you can tell such minute differences as a Mexican from an Honduran, or Japanese from Chinese, and run with it. I can hardly tell Mexican from mixed, and nowadays, men from women.

desipis said...

I have trouble seeing myself responding in such a manner purely because of race. I'm much more likely to make judgements based on dress style or posture/mannerisms which, to me, are more indicative of the potential for dangerous behaviour. There's obviously a potential for those things to be correlated to race, but I don't they are prima facie racial.

The actions described do seem fairly minor, however I can see how they could have a psychological effect if someone where to encounter such reactions en mass. If the actions were purely because of race then it would seem that the reactions could be seen as inappropriate, however I would be hesitant to be overly critical of someone for simply responding to their intuitive anxieties or fears for the reasons Clarissa mentions even if they were irrationally formed.

Danny said...

Bayron:
I think a better question to ask is what *would* make it acceptable to avoid someone you pass on the street or in the elevator or what makes it okay to suspect someone of thievery.
Well actually that is somewhat related to my main point that I'll get too later.

Desipis:
The actions described do seem fairly minor, however I can see how they could have a psychological effect if someone where to encounter such reactions en mass. If the actions were purely because of race then it would seem that the reactions could be seen as inappropriate, however I would be hesitant to be overly critical of someone for simply responding to their intuitive anxieties or fears for the reasons Clarissa mentions even if they were irrationally formed.
Yes Clarissa made an good point about how there are cases in which taking those actions make sense.

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