Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Racial Profiling–Revisited

By Thomas Kochman - 12.02.2011

We’re all familiar with stories of black motorists being targeted for special attention by law enforcement agencies, airlines and government agencies.

Stories of racial profiling of whites by blacks, however, also occur, especially in sports –the truism or stereotype being that black athletes are superior to white athletes.

This was made much of in “White Men Can’t Jump” and was the basis of a “con”, or “hustle”, perpetrated by the characters played by Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson in the movie.

Green Bay quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, brought this matter up on his talk show recently as a possible reason why wide receiver Jordy Nelson –who is white—continues to get one-on-one coverage compared to Packer black wide receivers.

As is customary when the topic of “race” is offered as a theory or explanation of why something happens, it immediately and automatically gets downplayed, as either being false –it’s dismissively called “playing the race card” by whites at work when blacks bring it up—or, as shown in subsequent media coverage on Rodger’s comment, too provocative to discuss, reflecting the U.S. mainstream cultural orientation that puts “peace before truth”.

This, in contrast to the more forthright African American cultural orientation that puts “truth before peace”, to which our black colleague often adds, “Without truth there can be no peace.”

One could also add, that without “truth” there can also be no further discussion of the topic –a form of putting one’s head in the sand– a rule of  public social etiquette that disallows, by fiat, any opportunity to explore further  what’s “out there,” and “really going on”.

For example, we might begin to deal with the black view of white and black athletic ability as a source of pride for blacks. I remember, years ago, when a black commentator grudgingly had to admit (for Blacks, culturally, “truth” above all, even if it hurts) that the best guard in the NBA at the time (before Michael, Kobe, was Jerry West.

We might also learn that whites who live and work in contexts (athletics, jazz) that are heavily influenced by black cultural norms learn and adopt the  prevailing cultural style that gets you “over” (like African Americans and other ethnics have done in the U.S. mainstream workplace).

Thus, it is not surprising to see Aaron Rodgers  expressing a standard black held view, anymore than it is surprising to learn that Larry Bird was one of the best “trash” talkers on the basketball court.

As blacks often say, “What goes around, comes around.”

The question is, can we deal with it when it does?

10 Responses so far

This is a very interesting article on black and white racial profiling. I came across a website ( that offers a lot of good information on cultural diversity in general if anyone is interested.

Just imagine what it’s like for a transgender African-American who transitions from female to male…

I think that the saying “What goes around, comes around” is not something that blacks often say, but that everyone in general has come to learn, and can be a fact of life. I think that it is unfortunate that it always has to be brought back to a comparison of the skills of different races. Why can’t it ever just be a comparison of skill between different players? If a player is great, it shouldn’t matter what race he/she is, and that player shouldn’t be limited in the media exposure they are allowed to get because it would bother another race. It also shouldn’t come down to gifting a players skill to their race, rather than their own God given talent.

I agree with you that matters of skill and accomplishment are owing to individual talent and hard work above all. What’s also interesting to consider, however, that, based on Jordy Nelson’s individual talent and skill, he should be getting double coverage, rather than single coverage. The question is, then, how come? If Nelson’s race is a factor in that decision, then racial thinking, despite being stereotypical, becomes real, and at the very least, should be addressed and talked about. Don’t you think?

I think [the blog] makes some interesting points. In sports, people make it a point that Black people are excellent athletes, but really I believe it does not matter the color of their skin. For example one of the best point guards in the NBA is Steve Nash a white player. He puts in the time to be the best. Even at the age of 37 he is consider one of the premier players. It mostly depends if a player puts in the time and has had success doing it.

I hadn’t heard of Rodger’s comments…interesting that it happened around the time that the Packers fell from grace, and lost their first game and the change of a perfect season…

“Without truth there can be no peace, and therefore truth before peace.” That might be an effective way to sum it up.

Rich Alpert, diversity calendar publisher

Very interesting and I see this kind of racial profiling going on more and more around me. What goes around does come around but wrong is wrong. Any race that is racially profiled in such a way is wrong regardless. There shouldn’t be a “tit for tat” kind of thinking or there will never be any kind of decrease to such issues.

I have to agree that there is a lot of racial profiling that goes on but i also see a lot of age discrimination as well. I live in a college town where I see the police target them on a daily basis. I am a non traditional college student so I think I notice it more because I interact with many of these people daily. I have children college age myself so it saddens me to see this behavior. I believe there is too much profiling in this country whether it be racial, age or gender based.

This is a very interesting look at racial profiling in athletics. I really like the statement “truth before peace. Without truth there can be no peace”. At some point we have to start talking about the racism and racial profiling that goes on because if we leave it the way it is nothing will change. I think in order to see really change we need to start pointing it out and begin to change it so we can see individuals instead of just race.

I found this article about racial profiling to be quite interesting. So many people think that blacks are the only people being stereotyped. Too many people lack the proper knowledge to understand that being racist doesn’t only mean towards African Americans and other minorities but caucausians are racially profiled and disgriminated against as well. I am a young white woman who was born an raised on a small island where I was a minority because it is 70-80% black. Almost on a weekly basis I experience “reverse racism.” No matter my social class there are too many Bermudians that are less friendly, and sometimes straight up disrespectful simply because of the color of my skin. Walking down the street I would never in a million years throw a racial slur at someone of another race and if I did it would be considered wrong (and I agree that it is wrong). However I have been walking down the main street in Bermuda numerous times, dressed appropriately, not drawing any attention to myself when an African American woman will yell things such as “I hate white who*res” at me. Why am I treated this way? I have not done anything to these women and I am attacked based on something I cannot help (being white)?. Now dont get me wrong not all Bermudians are like that, in fact the majority aren’t but the few more “ignorant” ones ruin it for everyone and have no idea that they are fuiling stereotypes of all African Americans.

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