Description: Black, Black, And More Black
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Politics and Activism

Description: Black, Black, And More Black

A story of racial profiling.

Description: Black, Black, And More Black

Before I begin, I’ll give you some background on myself. I’m a creative writing major from New York. Now before you heap any sort of praise on me, I’m not from the city. I hail from the suburbs of Long Island. This being said, I had little idea about the social climate down south when I decided to attend Oxford College at Emory University.

The memories flit back to my head. The incident in question was during the first few weeks of school, before any Black Student Alliance meetings had taken place. I remember feeling an existential dread. I would tell anyone that passed by about my experience being racially profiled. So now I’ll tell you about the time I was mistaken for a book robber.

My friend and I walked to the Candler student center, under the ripe Georgia sun. He needed to buy a book for his Intro to Religion course. First, we window shopped, rummaging through every book, absorbing the classics. There was quite the variety from a Microeconomics textbook and Socrates's "Apology" to Fanon’s "Black Skin, White Mask." The line wrapped around the entire store so I waited for him in the Akin room. It was a beautifully designed, minimalist room which could be transformed for any purpose. I surveyed the room for a wall port and sat accordingly.

I saw an officer talk to the lady at the front desk between the bookstore and akin room. She was a nice woman with curly blonde hair, tan skin and an infectious smile. She quietly assured him that I had nothing to do with the book robbing at Emory’s Atlanta campus. I had no idea what was about to happen. The officer addressed me. He asked “Do you attend this school?” in a gentle tone. He was an older man, balding with a large ruddy face. I nicely said yes, to which he replied, “Can I see your ID?” I pulled it out of my pocket and gave it to him. He immediately wrote down all my information.

Then the charges were levied onto me,“There was a lifting involving textbooks at the bookstore and you fit the description” the officer said without an ounce of malice. His demeanor was very professional and routine but it invoked a strong emotional response within me. “I’m going to need to ask you some questions,” he said. My stomach tingled and my whole consciousness went frantic. Could this be the end? Could I go down for a crime I didn’t commit? He asked me if I’d bought my textbooks, yet, and I responded no -- fumbling for thoughts.

The officer asked if he could search my bag. I quickly accepted his request and emptied its contents. There were some folders, an Emory pocket organizer and some black notebooks. I said: “I bought these back home in New York from Staples.” He said: “There’s no way you bought these here.” I was in the clear. It was then that the anger set in.

I asked what the description was. He carefully replied “gray shirt, blue shorts, African American male.” I was visibly upset by the incident. I could go to a university ranked 21st in the nation. I could be as polite as possible. I could dress in a suit and tie. It didn’t matter what I did. All he would see was the wretched son of Ham, my blackness colored by stereotypes and propagandistic lies.

I walked out into the lobby. The front desk lady asked me if I was OK. I tried to lie at first but admitted that I was shaken up. She took me to the back and offered me some sweet tea and ice, a customary drink of the South. I obliged.

As we spoke I asked her what the description had been. She replied “six feet, one inch, African American male, denim shorts, gray shirt, and buzz cut.” I was appalled. I didn’t even remotely resemble this description. I had an afro and barely stood five feet, eleven inches. But I guess the only description he heard was Black.

Later, the officer asked me to get over it, essentially. He wanted to make sure that this incident wouldn’t shape my feelings towards Emory police. I shook his hand and assured him that all was well. But I won’t ever forget my first experience with racial profiling.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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