I’ve been profiled on several occasions. One day in Austintown, Ohio someone told me to go back to the “Southside” where I “belong.” I was like, “Dude, I’m from Tampa, Florida. What’s the Southside?” A couple of years ago I had a local pastor confront me at a gas station and accuse me of not preaching the gospel because I enjoy mixed martial arts and preaching in jeans. True story.
About 8 years ago I was profiled because of what I was wearing.
A long time ago in a galaxy far away I worked at a church where I had to wear a tie…everyday. Anyway, one morning I was sent on a mission to downtown Clarksville to drop off some advertising at the local newspaper. The newspaper had a very small parking lot across the street from the courthouse. I parked where I usually parked when I was sent on missions like this and started walking toward the entrance of the newspaper building. Out of nowhere, some dude started yelling at me saying, “Hey man! You can’t park there!” I turned around and stared at him yelled back, “What?” He replied, “You can’t park there if you are going to the court-house. That lot is for newspaper customers only!”
Thank God for his grace and peace. I did not lose my mind and escalate the confrontation. I simply went about my business because I knew the truth. I was a customer and I was well within my rights to park in that lot.
However, as soon as I got back in my car I was shocked at how this guy ASSumed that just because I was downtown in a suit I must be going to court. I thought to myself, “Dang, a brother can’t dress nice downtown unless he is about to stand before a judge?”
Now, I am not advocating wearing ties. I hate them like a Hellfire missile hates a T-72 tank. If I wanted to be choked all day I’d wear a Gi top and pick fights with black belts. However, just because a person of color is dressed up does not automatically mean they are going to court…or church…or a funeral ; )
I’m honestly not trying to jump into the fray of the national debate. All of the hype simply made me remember one of the many times I was profiled.
God help us ALL to move beyond our limiting labels.