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The Color of Suspicion


Is it appropriate to pay extra attention to young black males for fear that they may commit a crime? Should people avoid young black males, particularly groups of young black males, for their own safety? If you lower your guard around young black males and give them the benefit of the doubt, will that make you more likely to be a victim of a crime?

“There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.” – Jesse Jackson, at a conference for the Rainbow/PUSH coalition Chicago 1993.

Photo:  Black mobs, angry over a refusal to play rap music, began violently attacking random white people at the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gra festival. Several white males and females were badly injured. Kris Kime, a white male, was savagely beaten to death. The few perpetrators who were arrested were slapped on the wrist. Would a greater fear of black males by festival planners, police, and the general public have prevented this mayhem, violence, and murder? (By fear I mean a healthy fear instinct that prompts a person to take appropriate precautions or avoid a dangerous situation.)

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