Monday, August 1, 2016

Checkpoint Equality

I don’t think I really started paying attention to racial profiling until I met my husband. Maybe because I’m the kind of Asian that doesn’t stand out. Or maybe because I’m so used to being treated a certain way that I don’t even stop to think about it.

Right after we got married, hubby and I moved to a big city with a lot of different kinds of people. I grew up in a town where most everyone looked the same. Once I moved there, I really learned that not everyone is treated the same.

Hubby got pulled over a lot. Not for speeding, but just for acting suspiciously. Or just randomly. In the half mile between our apartment complex and my work, they would randomly have check points on major holidays and over weekends, just to check and make sure people weren’t driving while drunk or high. There was one night that hubby had to pick me up, and he was randomly stopped on the way to pick me up, and then again randomly stopped on the way back home once he had me. Fortunately, he hasn’t ever done anything illegal, so he’s let off without an issue.

But it does beg the question. People hear his accent and they see his skin color and they’re put on guard. Even when in his own neighborhood, he’s treated with more scrutiny than most everyone else. Even me.

He's not the only one.

Several years ago, I got stranded in the Newark airport. There had been a bad blizzard, and all flights had been canceled for 24 hours. Since I spent most of the two days in line, I got to know the few people who were trying to make the same flight as me. One was a very sweet woman from Scotland, and we ended up spending the day together. Ironically, every single time we went through a check point, she was randomly selected to be searched. Three times it happened, while I was never chosen. She had become very flustered by the end, feeling like she’d been singled out for a reason.

I never noticed it before, because I don’t think it happens as much to me. But when I’m with others, I realize that equality is still a dream, and we’ve still got a ways to go.