Do They Lace Sandwiches in Diamonds or Is Racial Profiling Still Alive and Well?
Friday when Forest Whitaker went to the market he got a bit more than some roast beef.
He got falsely accused, publicly frisked, and sent on his way by Milano Market on Third Avenue in New York City.
The Academy Award winner and all-around good guy was stopped on his way out of the store by an employee who, according to TMZ, patted him down and found nothing.
Whitaker, gallantly choosing to take the high road, decided neither to call the police nor press charges. Instead of fanning the flame, his representative told E! that “Forest asked that, in the future, the store change their behavior and treat the public in a fair and just manner.”
But why on earth would the store clerk stop Whitaker on the way out of the door with no evidence?
I mean, Whitaker may be a physically intimidating figure, but do all intimidating men deserve “shoplifter” on their list of character qualifications, or was there some racial profiling going on here?
We have no way of knowing exactly why the clerk chose to stop and search Whitaker but, seriously, if you didn’t know who he was and caught a glimpse of him down the aisle standing a little too close to the Twinkies (if we still had those), would you wonder, too?
We’ve all heard the term ‘driving while black,’ but now is it ‘shopping while black’, too? Some would say it always has been.
Racism.org’s article on racial profiling seems to agree. According to the site, African-American males are not only singled out while driving, but also while schooling, eating, running for political office, walking, banking, serving as a juror, getting a taxi, shopping, and just being black and a male. The article goes on to say that “the mere fact of being black and male in America is sufficient cause for governmental and private law enforcement officials to abridge the rights of African-American males.” I guess this now includes over-zealous checkout counter cashiers.
Originally, despite witnesses to the incident, E! News reports that a manager at the deli denies anything occurred saying, “Nothing ever happened at this location yesterday involving Whitaker.” Today, however, TMZ reported receiving a call from the shop owner in which he issued “a formal apology for the incident. He also said he fired the guy who frisked Forest.”
When all is said and done, Whitaker handled the situation with class. But, dang…it’s 2013…can’t a brotha get a sandwich without getting hassled? Guess not.