Keli’s Comment: Racial Profiling in America

Keli Goff (@KeliGoff) contributed this daily rant on Trayvon Martin and racial profiling in America on Monday’s show. Take a look if you missed it.

“Besides offering the family of Trayvon Martin – the unarmed black teen shot to death by a rogue neighborhood watch volunteer – my sincerest condolences, I want to offer them something else: the knowledge that regardless of what happens to the case involving their son, his death was not in vain and will ultimately save countless lives.

Because it will force our country to finally confront a growing national crisis it has ignored for far too long: racial profiling.

Months ago I wrote a piece asking, “is racism worse in the age of Obama?” a topic I then discussed on this very show. I touched upon the psychological impact of subtle racism, something I, and most black people I know, have experienced. In most cases today, subtle racism takes the form of racial profiling.

There are no longer stores that post signs that say “No Coloreds Allowed” but I have been followed around stores and was even once followed out of a store and accused of not paying.
For the record, I had not paid because I had not purchased, nor stolen, anything.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are also not immune, with both sharing anecdotes of being denied entry to stores because of their skin color or being asked if they could afford the merchandise.

Apparently walking into the wrong store while being the wrong color is to black women what walking down the street wearing a hoodie is to black men. For those of you who have not heard, there are those who have blamed Trayvon’s tragic death on his choice of attire, a silly accusation I choose not to waste words on but to simply respond with my own choice of attire on this show today.

My larger point though is that when I wrote about subtle racism, there were many who accused me of whining. After all, we have a black President. “So you and your friends have to suffer a few indignities at a store here and there. Cry me a river.”

Well, the tragedy of Trayvon Martin is a painful reminder of how quickly racial profiling can escalate from indignity to death. Which brings me back to his legacy, and the lives he will ultimately save.

Keli Goff, TheLoop21.com

Much like 14 year old Emmitt Till’s racially charged murder in 1955 forced our country to confront the brutality of Jim Crow as more than a “southern problem” but a national shame, my hope is that Trayvon’s death will spark long overdue outrage and ultimately, a movement against the subtle racism known as profiling that has risen in Jim Crow’s wake.

The fact that so many people of diverse political persuasions have condemned his killing, gives me hope that this will happen. I pray that this, and the lives he may ultimately help save, give his family peace.

It is cliché to say in times of tragedy, “Ii know some good will come from this,” but in this case I believe it to be true. I have to. We all do.”

- Keli Goff is a Currently a Contributing Editor and weekly columnist for TheLoop21.com.