How Do We Address Racial Profiling?

There should be a law against campaign literature, especially being mailed to your home. It rarely does much more than attack and degrade one's opponent. Equally as disturbing is that it takes up unnecessary space ...

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There should be a law against campaign literature, especially being mailed to your home. It rarely does much more than attack and degrade one's opponent. Equally as disturbing is that it takes up unnecessary space in one's trashcan. This year everyone is so concerned about the environment. What happened to "save the trees?"

The ad hominum attacks, both in print, on the radio and on television, bordered on slander. Few campaign pieces really addressed issues.

Parents are consistently complaining about bullying and negativity, and they have every right. The landscape is infected with an abundance of garbage that is blemishing our quality of life. The other issue to be raised is what kind of example are we setting?

If we want teenagers to be respectful and not digress into gossip and character assassinations, we adults have to lead by example.

We need to work harder at teaching tolerance. We are a nation founded on diversity and difference. Our children are not born to hate and discriminate. They learn it from adults.

A person should not be judged by the color of his skin, his economics, his language or his neighborhood, but rather a person should be judged by the content of his character and his integrity.

A middle-aged woman in my sociology class shared a disturbing experience she had in a large, well-respected department store. After she paid for her purchase, she headed for the doors that led to the parking lot. Each door had a security guard who was checking receipts and packages. My student was on line. There was a Latin couple ahead of her and an African American couple behind her. The security guard was waving her through without any scrutiny of her purchases, while carefully checking the packages of the other two couples.

She became furious when she realized what was happening. She complained to the guard. His indifferent response further infuriated her. She demanded to see a manager, who was equally indifferent. According to the student, the manager tried to turn things around and blame her for causing a disturbance. He literally refused to address what seemed to be a form of racial profiling.

How often do we judge by externals? Whether it is the way a teenager dresses, if a person has tattoos or body piercings, or the color and length of one's hair, the list we create is oftentimes endless.

Some of us live by that list which really cheats us from so many possible life-giving relationships that never get the chance to be born.

Since 9/11, it has gotten so much worse. People have become so suspicious and judgmental of people from the Middle East and people who are of the Muslim faith. This hostility is even directed at people who are legitimately American citizens.

That kind of prejudice is as wrong and as lethal as the prejudice that was afoot during World War II when all people of Japanese descent were corralled into "camps" until the war was over.

We continue to discriminate against people based on race, religion and ethnicity. Today we are more subtle. It is not politically correct to be blunt and "in your face." We hide behind humor, fear and status.

KT is a successful young professional. A few years ago, he got married. He and his wife are very generous with their time and their talent. They constantly give without expecting anything in return.

When KT was seven years old a loving Jewish family adopted him from an orphanage in Korea. He spent the first four years of his life tied to a pole in a basement tenement in Seoul. He still has the rope burns around his wrists. At age four, this poor, abused orphan was discovered by a social worker and brought to a local child care agency.

From there, KT was nurtured physically and emotionally back to health. At the age of seven, an American Jewish family adopted him. They gave him a warm, loving home, rich with Jewish tradition and culture, but at the same time, respected his cultural roots.

Shortly after coming to this country, KT found his niche. He was bright, fun loving and outgoing. He never allowed the abuse of his early childhood to cloud his outlook on life or his hope for a happy future.

He became so integrated into his adopted family that he saw the world through their eyes. He never saw color or difference. He is probably among the most tolerant and non-judgmental people I know.

As a high school student, KT excelled. He was involved in everything. His hard work paid off. He went to a very prestigious college in western New York. In college, he also excelled academically and socially.

However, college life was a rude awakening. KT started to see firsthand a side of life he had never witnessed before. He encountered prejudice due to his Jewishness and due to the fact that he was Asian. He was devastated. He could not fathom how people could be so shallow and superficial.

The most devastating experience came during his senior year. When KT was a freshman, he met a wonderful young woman during orientation weekend. They hit it off immediately and became fast friends. That friendship grew during their four years in college.

By senior year, their dynamic had become more than friendship. KT was falling in love with the woman of his dreams. They spent a better part of senior year together as an inseparable couple.

The night of the senior banquet KT's world fell apart. He and his beloved had the most intense conversation of their relationship. He told her straight out that he was in love with her. There was an extended pause. She said nothing in response. He pressed her.

Finally, with tears in her eyes, she said, "KT, this can never work. My parents would never accept you into the family." Fighting back the tears, he said, "why?" "Because you are Korean and Jewish."

She walked out of his life that night. They never spoke or saw one another again. He cried for hours. He never saw himself as Korean and Jewish, but rather as a man who deeply loved a wonderful woman.

It took KT almost a year to recover. He did, and a few years later he met and fell in love with a wonderful European Christian girl who thinks he is the greatest. They have built a wonderful life together. When their children come, they are adamant that they will be raised to be color blind, tolerant and respectful of everyone, no matter what their circumstance.