I have been reading a couple of books by Malcolm Gladwell, top-selling pop-sociologist and savvy author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, and a popular writer for The New Yorker. He has written of the routine racism successful middle-class African Americans (Afro-Canadian) like himself face in everyday life. (Photo: Wikipedia)
In Black Issues Book Review a few years back, Angela Ards has written about his experiences this way:
Race in America often comes down to the politics of hair. . . . A few years back, literary phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell discovered this absurd truism when he let his close-cut, blondish locks bolt into an Afro. The son of an English father and a Jamaican mother, Gladwell doesn’t “look particularly black, especially to white people,” he says. . . . Once he grew out that hair, his Jamaican heritage stood out, quite literally, and police officers began giving him undue special attention: more speeding tickets, more street stops, even once accosting him as a suspected rapist on the loose.
Gladwell, raised in Canada and biracial . . . had no points of reference for this particular black American experience. The two seconds it took those officers to link his Afro with criminality “radicalized and racialized” him, he says, more than any experience of his life–and informs the questions shaping his current nonfiction best-seller Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.
Gladwell is by no means alone. A recent Gallup poll found that a fifth of black respondents reported suffering discrimination by police officers, a proportion that has increased over recent years. Another recent Gallup poll found that 83 percent of black respondents indicated they had experienced some racial profiling by authorities in the last year.
As I have pointed out before, a recent ACLU report has summarized racial profiling studies involving numerous police departments as showing “large differences in the rate of stops and searches for African Americans and Latinos, and often, Indians (Native Americans) and Asians, even though these groups are less likely to have contraband.”
The data clearly suggest no one can escape this racist reality of a “post-racial America.”