Monday, August 10, 2009

Racial profiling: Phoenix police, it was all about race
Never use the word nefarious with cops

My neighbor has a dog that weighs 200+, is 8 feet tall when he puts his paws on my shoulders. Literally, this is a horse.

He has a great sense of character, too. We had some neighbors who would be most at home in a trailer park – matter of fact, they finally moved – to a trailer park.

This dog would try to jump over or go through the fence when these neighbors were outside. He literally wanted to destroy them. Good dog!

Early Saturday morning this dog, who was inside my neighbor’s home, was barking its head off. There’s only one reason he would do this, bad people outside.

Called the police – what you should do. Don’t confront bad people.

I told the police it would be an unusual call, explained how the dog was barking its head off and that there were probably “nefarious” people in the neighborhood. The emergency phone operator had no clue what nefarious meant.

Immediately I had a Henry Louis Gates Jr. racial profiling moment.

“What race is she,” the cops wanted to know.

Who, was my response. “Your neighbor.”

What difference does that make? She’s not home and the dog is barking.

“Is she Hispanic, black, white or Indian.”

Let’s look at this racist statement from police.

First, people of Spanish descent are Caucasian, or as this police official would call it, white. What country is Hispania? I’ve always wondered about the term Hispanic. Whenever anyone uses it, they all pronounce it HISS. If it is to denote people from Latin America, or of Spanish descent, the H is silent in Spanish. So are they saying Xispanic of Jispanic? Even Microsoft Word capitalizes it automatically.


I resisted the urge to say, the dog is black.


Honestly, I was asked if they were Indian. I should have said, she’s not from Delhi, Jaipur or Calcutta. Guess this racist police official had never heard the term Native American. Surprised she didn’t ask if my illegal neighbors are “Mexican” (yes, plus 8 illegal families in the neighborhood are from former Soviet Union states. Why didn’t she ask for former Communists?).


In response to the racist question, “What race is she,” I said, what does it matter? That's a racist question.

“We have to know. It’s like asking her age.” Why didn’t you ask her age? “Okay, what is her age?” In her 20s.

They could have asked her hair color, but the point is, they didn’t.

They could have asked if she was fat or thin, they didn’t.

They could have said, “Does she have big boobies or nibblers?” They didn’t. Oh, you find that offensive, same as I did being asked what race she was.

It was all about race.

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