I remember having a conversation with a Black male coworker last year in which he explained why he tries to avoid running — even for a bus — while on the streets of New York. Basically, he said that he doesn’t want the police thinking he just robbed someone or is running from other police officers. It was, then, that I realized how much racial profiling can affect the simplest tasks we may try to complete. I, for one, become hyper aware of avoiding putting my hands or phone in my pockets while shopping — lest a store employee think I’m stealing. It’s depressing, but not surprising that we all, including LeVar Burton of “Reading Rainbow,” have to think like this.
Burton recently explained to CNN how he avoids being shot by the police when confronted. His procedure is to remove his hat and sunglasses, roll down his window, and put out his hands to show that he is unarmed. Burton said he does this so the officer will be relaxed as he approaches the vehicle.