I have known Andre since he moved into our neighborhood 7 years ago. Andre is the most welcoming person I know. He invites people with his smile and energy into his circle no matter what. Andre runs the We Got This garden and you will find him in the garden most days helping people. Yesterday, he was telling me about a gas station he went to in Kenosha. He was with a friend who was buying an expensive security system and the woman working there had to go into the back of the office for something. She looked at Andre and his friend and asked for them to please not steal the security system. The way he told me the story, I could tell that it hurt him that someone would think down on him. It was because of the color of his skin that the woman was judging him. I have never been racial profiled negatively but hearing Andre’s story, made me mad. If this woman knew Andre, she would know that he helps dozens of people in my neighborhood make better decisions and people are better off because of him. My entire neighborhood is a safer and a better place because of the hundreds of people Andre has talked with and encouraged to make good life choices. This woman had no idea who Andre is and judged him anyway.
It made me think of the times that Andre has been negatively profiled and how it probably feels like a sucker punch to the gut every time. It made me think about the times I have racially profiled people. The times I thought someone was bad or unsafe because of the color of their skin. The times I told myself, I was just trying to be safe but really, I was racially profiling someone because of the color of their skin. As a white woman, I have tendencies to racially profile Black men. It is in my upbringing but that doesn’t mean it has to continue. I need to take bigger steps to examine my thoughts and recognize when my mind flows into thinking that a person is unsafe or bad. We can continue to say Black Lives Matter or we can take a step back and notice these times then relearn how to see people the right way. If we want to stand up for Black lives, we need to first make sure we aren’t the ones thinking racist thoughts. Only after that, can we stand up for our friends and neighbors to make sure those around them treat them correct.