We Shouldn’t Talk About This (Part 3)

Profiling is something that is getting so much attention in our world today that people who have never experienced it, feel knowledgeable on the subject. The problem is we use such a broad term like profiling and stamp BAD on it. When you need it though, it can be helpful. Even when you’re not looking for it, sometimes good things happen. It can also be annoying, and obviously, hurtful.

When I walk down a street and I see a group of people dressed all in the same color, I tend to stay away from that group. Granted, I have no idea what is going on or why they are dressed like that, but sometimes it’s necessary. I don’t even like to dress to monochromatic. Not because I have a sense of style, but I have to ask myself, “Who do I look like I belong with right now?” I’ve seen my friends dress in a red shirt, hat and shoes and think nothing of it. They don’t have to. However, if I am going to certain areas, my green shirt with a rainbow on it doesn’t seem like the worst idea. I’ve recently started wearing red more because people have said I look good in that color. It’s so foreign to me. I take off my shirt before getting in the car to go to different neighborhoods because I don’t want people to make the wrong association.

I am sometimes profiled in my favor. I’ve been asked to help translate, even before anyone has heard me speak Spanish. I’ve done this for some important people in my professional life. My opinion on things like spicy food or how authentic a restaurant is has been based solely on the fact that I look like I know what I am talking about. The funnier times to me, are when people make friends with me because we both look like we belong to the same group. “You’re brown! It must be safe to talk to you, and you will understand what I am saying and feeling!” I’ve had people’s opinion of me change because of where my parents are from.

Honestly, that last one was good for me, but irritating. I had a girl who became friends with me because her parents and my parents were from the same city in Mexico. YAY!!!…I guess. What that had to do with either of us, I don’t know. However, this was someone who, before she knew about my acenstry, hated me! It was partially my fault for insulting her and being an all around asshole AKA teenager. Still, for her to pull a 180 because all 4 parents left the same state, was stupid. It also gets annoying when assumptions are made because of the way I look. People who barely speak Spanish start talking to me in broken English. Instead of asking in the easiest way for themselves and seeing if I understood, I get, “Donde…the…para…batchroom.” Alternately, I get the English speaking person who has to ask me. “Hi! Do you have….banjo?” I frustratingly answer these people in their native tongue. Rarely, but often enough to drive me bat shit crazy, I get the response in the language they didn’t speak the first go round.

If they’re doing it to try and practice, great! More power to you! However, if you’re doing it because you think I’ve used up the part of your language I know, you’re a dick! I get that occasional racist, classist, whatever-ist labeling and it bothers me to my core. When people think it’s OK to make racist jokes that aren’t funny about Hispanics because I’m brown, even if they aren’t. When people follow me in a store because I shouldn’t be there. When people assume I don’t know about something because of how I grew up. Or if they assume they know HOW I grew up for that matter.

This profiling thing is a double edged sword at least. There is no way we are getting rid of it entirely. You’re not gonna see some rough looking dude who offers to take care of your kids and think, “Not able to make a judgement call.” You also have to be able to see someone and think, “Yeah, I’d like to get to know them.” There are some judgement calls you need to make for yourself, but the overall prejudice is what should go the way of the dodo. No matter how much we try and perfect our reactions in society, there will be a gut level warning or green light. So far, that seems to be the best option for…most of us.

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