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What the deuce?
11-21-2009, 03:33 PM
I've got to handle this delicately; I don't want to be accused of being a racist, which (I hope) I am not. However, I'm putting this directly into the BBQ pit, because there's no way people will be able to maintain a calm rational response to this, and they may want the opportunity to vent.

Following the police reports near my university (which are mailed right to us), I've seen again and again that the people who attack people in my neighborhood are of a certain group. Ergo, it would seem that crossing the street to avoid that kind of person is a good way to protect myself against being victimized by crime. Okay, more specifically, men in their twenties of that group.

Minorities, how bad do you feel when someone crosses the street to avoid you? Last summer, I crossed the middle of the street just to get to my apartment, but a man of that group who happened to be in front of me thought I was doing this (http://moronail.net/img/1086_RACISM_Just_In_Case_racism), and the look on his face could best be described as "sad" and "hurt".

I don't like the idea of racism, and I wouldn't want to be a victim of this technique, but when it comes to personal safety, I'm forced to throw political correctness out the window.

Oh, incidentally, I'm a short, skinny, white male, but I've had people (especially women) cross the street to avoid me. It seems I've got the "crazy eyes". It makes me kind of angry, but whenever I see a man significantly bigger and taller than me cross the street to avoid me, I do feel a little safer.

Really Not All That Bright
11-21-2009, 03:49 PM
If you base your decision on who to avoid on the street on newspaper reports, then you may or may not be a racist but you're also not necessarily avoiding the right people.

Newspaper reports are anecdotes, whether or not they're true. You may be exhibiting confirmation bias; the newspaper you read may be less likely to report crimes committed by a certain group (or non-members of a certain group); you may just happen to pick up the newspaper on days immediately after a member of Group X committed a crime.

FWIW, I'm far more likely to cross the street to avoid a panhandler than a person I think might be a mugger. I have a cheap phone, easily replaceable personal jewelry and I don't carry cash.

Squink
11-21-2009, 04:02 PM
Ergo, it would seem that crossing the street to avoid that kind of person is a good way to protect myself against being victimized by crime.Perceptive young men might easily take note of such behavior and decide that such streetcrossing indicates fear and vulnerability.

PlainJain
11-21-2009, 04:13 PM
I don't cross the street exactly because of what Squink wrote.

Sebastienne
11-21-2009, 04:19 PM
While I can see crossing the street being a way to avoid a confrontation with someone who's likely to go off only if directly provoked (such as a bunch of drunks), I can't imagine a mugger, or especially a group of muggers, thinking "Man, that person looks like a plum target-- if only they were on this side of the street!" I don't know how much less conspicuous you really are for being on the opposite side, and crossing seems to be likely to bring more attention (and bad feeling) on yourself.

even sven
11-21-2009, 07:27 PM
I'm a minority where I live (though not a particularly feared one.) People do sometimes cross the street to avoid me. I find it offensive- just like I find it offensive every time it becomes obvious that people are treating me as a skin color, not a person. Would you really expect any different?

Zsofia
11-21-2009, 07:58 PM
Yeah, didn't your mother tell you that Negros can smell fear?

Larry Mudd
11-21-2009, 08:50 PM
I live in Vancouver, and our minorities are generally asian. It's never occurred to me to be fearful of them.

Two Many Cats
11-21-2009, 09:15 PM
This sort of thing can be misconstrued. I remember once I was walking down the street, enjoying the weather as it was a beautiful day. I had a rare good feeling of being quietly at peace with myself.

I heard a loud, but happy commotion behind me, and saw that a bunch of teenagers were laughing it up amongst themselves. I slowed down to let them pass me, as I didn't wish to have my pleasant quiet mood interupted. One of them stared at me as he passed, and yelled back from ahead of me, "You don't have to worry, lady! I don't want your money!"

The teenagers were black. I am white.

Now, up until that moment, I didn't consider them a threat. I recognized they were just having a good time as I did with my friends at their age. I just wanted a nice quiet walk.

It didn't matter though. All my good feelings were out the window, and I was down in the dumps again. The walk, the whole day was ruined. Not my fault. But not really theirs either.

Cat Fight
11-21-2009, 09:43 PM
Oh, incidentally, I'm a short, skinny, white male, but I've had people (especially women) cross the street to avoid me. It seems I've got the "crazy eyes". It makes me kind of angry, but whenever I see a man significantly bigger and taller than me cross the street to avoid me, I do feel a little safer.

This may be your greatest asset. No one of any size, strength or ethnicity wants to cross paths with someone out of their gourd.

Incidentally, the other night I was walking down a pretty empty street and I caught up to a guy twice my size, so it was almost like we were walking (awkwardly) side by side. He crossed. I'm pretty sure it was so I wasn't uncomfortable, which, if true, was awfully nice of him.

sinjin
11-21-2009, 10:11 PM
I work in an urban environment. We routinely have thefts on our campus and the streets surrounding our campus. We have recently had a rash of thefts in faculty offices in my building. This is a little creepy, like we have anything to steal but exams and pencils, WTF. I'm a little old lady and try to be aware of the world around me, but for the love of GOD I refuse to be afraid of walking down the street. If you want my money, less than $20, take it. If you want my life, what can I do to stop you? I refuse to live my life afraid.

madmonk28
11-21-2009, 10:17 PM
This may be your greatest asset. No one of any size, strength or ethnicity wants to cross paths with someone out of their gourd.

Incidentally, the other night I was walking down a pretty empty street and I caught up to a guy twice my size, so it was almost like we were walking (awkwardly) side by side. He crossed. I'm pretty sure it was so I wasn't uncomfortable, which, if true, was awfully nice of him. I'll do that sometimes. I'm a big guy and a fast walker. I've been walking on a city street at night and realize I'm catching up to a woman walking ahead of me, sometimes you'll just get this vibe that she's uncomfortable. But if I slow down, then it seems like I'm sneaking up on her. I'll cross the street in that situation.

Bryan Ekers
11-21-2009, 11:07 PM
Crossing the street excessively can increase your risk of being run over by a drunk driver, I should point out.

Spice Weasel
11-21-2009, 11:42 PM
I'll do that sometimes. I'm a big guy and a fast walker. I've been walking on a city street at night and realize I'm catching up to a woman walking ahead of me, sometimes you'll just get this vibe that she's uncomfortable. But if I slow down, then it seems like I'm sneaking up on her. I'll cross the street in that situation.

I just had to lighten this thread up a little. Here is a video (http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/comedy_central_presents/index.jhtml) of the funniest take I've ever heard on this phenomenon.

(link is to Comedy Central, select ''John Mulaney Subway Station Chase'' on the menu)

armedmonkey
11-21-2009, 11:46 PM
Perceptive young men might easily take note of such behavior and decide that such streetcrossing indicates fear and vulnerability.The above may be more to the point than what I am going to attempt to say.

I used to live in some pretty bad parts of Atlanta (Poncey Highlands, Inman Park, Grant Park close to the prison, Midtown was unexpectedly the worse, though) and what you have to do is not be prey. I'm a white boy, so the type of assholes you're alluding to, deuce, peg me as a possible victim at first glance. But I don't act weak.

Think about animal predators. They chase what is obvious, and more importantly ... easy prey. If you don't want them to fuck with you then you have to make them think that you know damn well where you are and what you're doing. That means not crossing the street when you see criminals, pussy.

I don't mean bowing up at them or saying something that's just going to piss them off. Good Lord, starting a confrontaion is even worse than crossing the street. Just show an air of confidence. Think: You go about your business, I'm going to forget about you 30 seconds from now. And this works for all races. I spent some time in London, and it's the same thing. Just a bit.... erm.... paler.

The young pack of assholes eyeing you are looking for easy prey.

Don't look like prey.

sundog66
11-22-2009, 12:10 AM
I live in Vancouver, and our minorities are generally asian. It's never occurred to me to be fearful of them.I'm not sure I understand how this is an analogous situation. Do you, like the OPer, regularly get alerts about members of the relevant group (in your case, Asians) physically assaulting people?

As to the OP: I'm in a very similar living situation, being in a university neighborhood and getting email alerts from the university about crimes committed predominantly by a particular group. Although I always try to be alert, I very rarely ever cross the street to avoid potential danger. The most recent instance was a few weeks ago when I was jogging and approaching a railroad underpass where I saw what looked like one guy beating the shit out of another guy while a third party was holding someone else in restraint. It might have just been kids playing; I couldn't tell for sure. Anyway, if that makes me racist, then either you have a bullshit definition of racism, or the conditions for racism are so loose that I really don't care if I'm racist or not.

armedmonkey
11-22-2009, 12:20 AM
The most recent instance was a few weeks ago when I was jogging and approaching a railroad underpass where I saw what looked like one guy beating the shit out of another guy while a third party was holding someone else in restraint.That ain't racist. That's just prudence.

Epimetheus
11-22-2009, 12:40 AM
I'm curious as to how taller and bigger built guys cross the street because of your "crazy eyes." I've walked through some bad neighborhoods, but never have been like "OMG, that guy 300 feet away, heading towards me, has the craziest eyes I've ever seen, I'd better cross the street." Ignoring the fact that at 300 feet it would be hard to get any kind of detail about a person's eyes. I mean, how crazy? Buggy, Steve Buschemi crazy? Is one eye like the guy from the Goonies? What?!

I've been worried about guys in the past. Thug looking guys that are obviously packing, homless guys that talk to themselves and look agitated, even old ladies in large vehicles. I've never even once have heard of anybody actually being intimidated by somebody's eyes. Typically if I'm passing a guy that has some tough guy demeanour with a fake crosseyes wanna be crazy look, I'm laughing inwardly that they are trying to hard, or are mentally challenged. Not intimidated at all. After all, the real tough guys don't need to fake it.

tr0psn4j
11-22-2009, 01:07 AM
Crossing the street excessively can increase your risk of being run over by a drunk driver, I should point out.

Increases the risk of being run over by a sober driver as well.

zweisamkeit
11-22-2009, 09:46 AM
The young pack of assholes eyeing you are looking for easy prey.

Don't look like prey.

Yep. This goes for women, too. I see far too many women who shuffle down the street, eyes downward, looking like helpless little kittens. Ever since I figured out that walking like that makes me look vulnerable, I stopped it. I walk briskly (even in heels ;)) and confidently. My head is up, I look around and make eye contact and make sure I project an attitude that says, "I'm not a shrinking violet and I won't take shit."

I still get an occasional "hey, baby!" but it's literally about 1/10th what I used to get. I'm sure it's because I look like a strong bitch, but whatever!

Attack from the 3rd dimension
11-22-2009, 09:56 AM
I live in Vancouver, and our minorities are generally asian. It's never occurred to me to be fearful of them.

I also live in Vancouver (hey neighbor!) and I'd be zigzaging down the centreline if I started crossing the streets because of asians. I'd also need a census map to figure out which of us is the minority threat on any given block.

ivan astikov
11-22-2009, 01:54 PM
A Monkey With A Gun has it right. You need to walk as though you have every right to be there to avoid being seen as 'prey'.

Saying that, you could still cross the road, as long as you did it before the 'rowdy looking gang' had noticed you. You still have to walk tall; you just get to do it further away, which will buy you a little bit of time if it suddenly goes 'pear-shaped'.

Shakes
11-23-2009, 01:52 AM
One thing to remember: If you're a guy, not wearing any bling, not wearing any flashy or nice clothes, not wearing any gang colors; you're not likely to make a ping on anybody's radar.

elmwood
11-23-2009, 07:44 AM
I've seen this on other message boards: it's wrong for a anyone to cross the street to avoid a black person, but it's acceptable for a woman to cross the street to avoid a man. Why? I'm not some angry man's advocate, but I find it quite insulting to be walking down the street, and have a woman cross over as I approach, and cross back after I've passed.

So, is it politically correct for a woman to cross the street for a white man, since he may be a potential rapist, but it's wrong to cross the street if a black man approaches, since it's an implied racist act?

Clothahump
11-23-2009, 08:31 AM
I've got to handle this delicately; I don't want to be accused of being a racist, which (I hope) I am not. However, I'm putting this directly into the BBQ pit, because there's no way people will be able to maintain a calm rational response to this, and they may want the opportunity to vent.

Following the police reports near my university (which are mailed right to us), I've seen again and again that the people who attack people in my neighborhood are of a certain group. Ergo, it would seem that crossing the street to avoid that kind of person is a good way to protect myself against being victimized by crime. Okay, more specifically, men in their twenties of that group.
...snip...
I don't like the idea of racism, and I wouldn't want to be a victim of this technique, but when it comes to personal safety, I'm forced to throw political correctness out the window.



Political correctness be damned.

Trust your instincts. If you think you should cross the street, do so. There is a reason the little hairs on the back of your neck are twitching, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the skin color of whomever you are looking at.

enomaj
11-23-2009, 08:32 AM
So, is it politically correct for a woman to cross the street for a white man, since he may be a potential rapist, but it's wrong to cross the street if a black man approaches, since it's an implied racist act?

I read about a woman who would cross the street when approaching a man except if he was black because she didn't want to appear racist. Forgot where.


Some comedian on the OP: Cross the street and feel guilty when you get home safe.


How to scare the shit out of a white couple:

Step 1: Be black.

Step 2: Be the first thing they see after they were intensely studying a wanted poster of a black man.

Step 3: Take your pick: Profit! or Hi, Opal!


I've had this happen in broad daylight and it always makes me wonder did she need to cross right then. In the absence of further evidence, benefit of the doubt and shit.

Really Not All That Bright
11-23-2009, 08:40 AM
Crossing the street excessively can increase your risk of being run over by a drunk driver, I should point out.
Yes, but at least it will be a white person. :D
Political correctness be damned.

Trust your instincts. If you think you should cross the street, do so. There is a reason the little hairs on the back of your neck are twitching, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the skin color of whomever you are looking at.
Oh, I don't know. Could have something to do with skin color. You know, since the OP said he was crossing the street to avoid people of a particular ethnic group.

But hey, what does he know? They're only his own words.

Czarcasm
11-23-2009, 08:46 AM
I don't like the idea of racism, and I wouldn't want to be a victim of this technique, but when it comes to personal safety, I'm forced to throw political correctness out the window.I'm sorry, but what has this to do with politics?

Enderw24
11-23-2009, 09:18 AM
Perceptive young men might easily take note of such behavior and decide that such streetcrossing indicates fear and vulnerability.

Yeah, if you cross the street you could be showing yourself to be vulnerable. But if you stay on the same side you're putting yourself in harm's way. There's got to be a compromise.
Me? I'm a middle of the road kind of guy.

MeanOldLady
11-23-2009, 09:27 AM
While I can see crossing the street being a way to avoid a confrontation with someone who's likely to go off only if directly provoked (such as a bunch of drunks), I can't imagine a mugger, or especially a group of muggers, thinking "Man, that person looks like a plum target-- if only they were on this side of the street!" I don't know how much less conspicuous you really are for being on the opposite side, and crossing seems to be likely to bring more attention (and bad feeling) on yourself.Seriously. "Oh nos! He moved across the street. Drat, I suppose I'll just have to mug the next white person I see. Hopefully the tricky bastard doesn't cross the street, too." Well, blacks are lazy.

Now, up until that moment, I didn't consider them a threat. I recognized they were just having a good time as I did with my friends at their age."Up until that moment?" So this means you began perceiving them as a threat after they informed you they didn't want your money?

Don't look like prey.Pretty much. Perhaps the OP thinks all skinny white guys look like prey to black guys?

How to scare the shit out of a white couple:

Step 1: Be black.

Step 2: Be the first thing they see after they were intensely studying a wanted poster of a black man.

Step 3: Take your pick: Profit! or Hi, Opal!Hmm, profit seems appealing. Beats working!

Cat Fight
11-23-2009, 09:45 AM
I guess the question the OP has to ask himself is – is it about race or demeanor? Would he be warier of a black man or woman? Would he be warier of a huge white guy with facial tattoos and bling or a svelte black metrosexual in a Paul Smith suit?

I agree, though, that obviously crossing the street may give you a false sense of security. You might be better off having a fake conversation on your cell phone.

Shodan
11-23-2009, 10:30 AM
Seriously. "Oh nos! He moved across the street. Drat, I suppose I'll just have to mug the next white person I see. Hopefully the tricky bastard doesn't cross the street, too." Well, blacks are lazy.Well, I don't know about blacks, but the University of Minnesota (I believe - I cannot find a cite) did a study of incarcerated rapists, and they found that if they (the rapists) accosted a woman, and she ran away, they wouldn't even bother to chase her. Their belief was that there was always another woman who would make it easier.

When I taught women's self-defense, this was one of the hardest notions to get across to my students - that they were better at reading body language than they believed. There is usually-but-not-always a reason, as Clothahump mentions, that you get a bad vibe from someone.

The other hard idea to get across was that you don't inflict injury on people by not giving them a chance to mug you, even if that was not their intent.

I was heading to my car late one night at work. A woman was parked next to me (it turned out) and was coming to the parking lot from another building next to mine. She was a little ahead of me, and it appeared to her as we approached the parking ramp that I was following her. She looked back at me and was obviously frightened.

I stopped, took off my hat, and waited for her to reach her car and get in.

How did she damage me? Would it have been worse if she had gone back into her building and waited for me to leave?

Regards,
Shodan

Attack from the 3rd dimension
11-23-2009, 11:56 AM
I guess the question the OP has to ask himself is is it about race or demeanor? Would he be warier of a black man or woman? Would he be warier of a huge white guy with facial tattoos and bling or a svelte black metrosexual in a Paul Smith suit?

Help! Prince is after me!

Cat Fight
11-23-2009, 12:14 PM
Help! Prince is after me!

:D

Bridget Burke
11-23-2009, 12:18 PM
Yeah, if you cross the street you could be showing yourself to be vulnerable. But if you stay on the same side you're putting yourself in harm's way. There's got to be a compromise.
Me? I'm a middle of the road kind of guy.

Watch out for that car!

ivan astikov
11-23-2009, 01:43 PM
Yeah, if you cross the street you could be showing yourself to be vulnerable. But if you stay on the same side you're putting yourself in harm's way. There's got to be a compromise.
Me? I'm a middle of the road kind of guy.

Walking in the middle of the road with crazy eyes, sounds about the best bet to me!

Lynn Bodoni
11-23-2009, 04:18 PM
Help! Prince is after me! Look out! He has a microphone and he's going to use it!

Jackmannii
11-23-2009, 05:53 PM
I was heading to my car late one night at work. A woman was parked next to me (it turned out) and was coming to the parking lot from another building next to mine. She was a little ahead of me, and it appeared to her as we approached the parking ramp that I was following her. She looked back at me and was obviously frightened.

I stopped, took off my hat, and waited for her to reach her car and get in.

How did she damage me?How is taking off your hat reassuring? You could have meant to fling it at her like Oddjob in Goldfinger. You could have scary hair, or a glaringly offensive bald pate. Or she could think you're about to take off other clothing items and run screaming for help.

Simply stopping and leering reassuringly is always best.

Really Not All That Bright
11-23-2009, 11:33 PM
There was a rabbit under it. Chicks dig magicians.

independentminded
11-23-2009, 11:59 PM
One thing to remember: If you're a guy, not wearing any bling, not wearing any flashy or nice clothes, not wearing any gang colors; you're not likely to make a ping on anybody's radar.

Even if you're a female and you wear flashy clothes, jewelry, or any colors that could be construed as belonging to a rival gang, you're still somewhat vulnerable to being attacked or whatever.

Shodan
11-24-2009, 07:48 AM
How is taking off your hat reassuring? One removes one's hat when speaking to a lady. Until one is formally introduced. Mugging does not constitute a formal introduction.

I may be a pervert and a rapist, but I am a polite pervert and rapist.

Simply stopping and leering reassuringly is always best.Or cowering in fear and whimpering, "Don't hurt me!"

Regards,
Shodan

StoutHearted
11-24-2009, 08:48 AM
Tip from a city gal: If you're feeling nervous walking down the street, fake confidence. Walk fast, no eye contact, stay on your guard. Don't assume everyone's a mugger, but don't assume everyone's friendly, either.

Really Not All That Bright
11-24-2009, 09:06 AM
I'm going to start keeping a stack of leaflets in my back pocket so I can start witnessing to anyone who looks like they might mug me. That ought to drive them off.

Or get me killed. I forget which.

BlinkingDuck
11-24-2009, 10:33 AM
I've seen this on other message boards: it's wrong for a anyone to cross the street to avoid a black person, but it's acceptable for a woman to cross the street to avoid a man. Why? I'm not some angry man's advocate, but I find it quite insulting to be walking down the street, and have a woman cross over as I approach, and cross back after I've passed.

So, is it politically correct for a woman to cross the street for a white man, since he may be a potential rapist, but it's wrong to cross the street if a black man approaches, since it's an implied racist act?

When my wife and I were recently married, I had a situation happen with a friend of hers that cost me any possible friendship with that friend.

I have a daughter (and a son) and she hit it off with the friends daughter and became fast friends. My daughter invited her over and I would drive them to the mall, take them to a movie and have supper with them (at the mall). The friend refused saying that she couldn't trust her daughter with me because she didn't know me that well yet.

At first, I was ok with it...but I became angrier as time went on. A couple months later, she invited my daughter and my son to her daughters birthday party. My son said he didn't want to go but didn't want her to know he didn't...so I let my daughter go but not my son telling my wife's friend that I didn't know her that well yet so I was uncomfortable with her being around my son if I wasn't around.

She was FURIOUS! Livid and raving to my wife about my rudeness and how insulting I was.

Interesting that she could be so hypocritical even when my wife pointed out she had done the exact same thing to me. Her only defense was 'that's not the same'.

To this day she will have nothing to do with me.

Plynck
11-24-2009, 10:41 AM
I live in Vancouver, and our minorities are generally asian. It's never occurred to me to be fearful of them.Clearly you've never had someone push you down and do your math homework.

MsWhatsit
11-24-2009, 10:42 AM
When I taught women's self-defense, this was one of the hardest notions to get across to my students - that they were better at reading body language than they believed. There is usually-but-not-always a reason, as Clothahump mentions, that you get a bad vibe from someone.

The other hard idea to get across was that you don't inflict injury on people by not giving them a chance to mug you, even if that was not their intent.



Yeah, this is my philosophy as well. If something about a strange guy (or a woman, for that matter) is skeeving me out, I don't feel guilty about crossing the street to avoid him, or not getting on an elevator with him, or whatever. Sure, he most likely meant no harm and possibly is now feeling irritated and offended at me. But why should I care? If he didn't mean harm, well, I offended a stranger. Kind of a bummer. If he did mean harm, I left myself in harm's way out of politeness. Larger bummer.

Besides which, most strange guys do not give me the creeps, so when one does, I tend to trust my instincts and avoid him.

Marley23
11-24-2009, 10:50 AM
Trust your instincts. If you think you should cross the street, do so. There is a reason the little hairs on the back of your neck are twitching, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the skin color of whomever you are looking at.
Normally I'm loathe to tell someone to ignore their instincts. But when your instincts only tell you to avoid people of a certain skin color, your reaction is probably not reliable.

You can add all the 'I don't want to be rude or racist' disclaimers in the world, What the deuce? - if you're going out of your way to avoid black people, what do you want us to call it? The "certain people" alone thing is kind of a giveaway that you know this. You're judging them based on race, so what's the counter-argument? 'It doesn't count because I'm afraid of them?' 'I'm too nervous to be more discerning about who I might need to avoid?'

If you want the answer to the question in the thread title, I suspect it's "No." If your first reaction is "avoid black people!" rather than doing something sensible, like projecting some confidence and being careful where you go, and when, then I don't think you are making yourself safer. You're probably lulling yourself into a false sense of security.

enomaj
11-24-2009, 11:58 AM
I'm reminded of Michael Moore's old TV show TV Nation. He set up an experiment in which a black man in business attire and a white man in casual clothing both hailed cabs. The cabs would pass the black man and pick up the white man. Then MM would swoop in with the cameras and reveal that the white man was a convicted felon.

SanVito
11-24-2009, 11:59 AM
On 7/7, the day of the London bombings, I spent two hours walking home from work as all transport had been stopped. About 4 miles from home, the buses had just started up so I managed to jump on one. As the bus made its way up Edgware Road (known in London as 'Little Beirut' for the large Lebanese population), a south asian young man wearing long white robes, little beard and white cap got on, carrying a rucksack.

If you remember, one of the bombs was on a bus.

He sat next to me. Most people near me got off the bus. I sat there sweating, wandering what to do as it really did pain me to avoid him just because he was a young muslim. I stayed put, deciding that he would have adopted a more mainstream disguise if he'd been intent on blowing me up. I wonder what most people here would've done?

Another story...last week I was walking to the station, under a dark railway arch and thought I was being followed. I speeded up, as did the footsteps behind me. Crossed the road, as did the footsteps behind me. In the end I virtually broke into a run before I glanced over and saw that the young man behind me was blind, white stick and all, and was trying to follow the sound of my footsteps to the station. Eeek!

Shodan
11-24-2009, 12:33 PM
Normally I'm loathe to tell someone to ignore their instincts. But when your instincts only tell you to avoid people of a certain skin color, your reaction is probably not reliable.I repeat - this is one (in my experience) of the hardest attitudes to overcome.

Because women especially are so damn reluctant to admit that they might be at risk. They will think up all kinds of excuses to ignore their instincts, and one of those excuses is "maybe I'm being racist because that group of three black twentysomethings hanging around with no apparent business scares me."

They don't have that available if the twentysomethings are white - but they think up something else.

You can add all the 'I don't want to be rude or racist' disclaimers in the world, What the deuce? - if you're going out of your way to avoid black people, what do you want us to call it? The "certain people" alone thing is kind of a giveaway that you know this. You're judging them based on race, so what's the counter-argument? 'It doesn't count because I'm afraid of them?' 'I'm too nervous to be more discerning about who I might need to avoid?'This is really, really stupid.

Those two teenagers coming towards me while I am waiting for the bus - they scare me. If they are white, I can avoid them. If they are black, I need to go thru all kinds of introspection to be sure I am not being a racist.

That's silly.

Suppose they're white, and totally innocent of bad intent. Have I done them some injury by avoiding them? Suppose they are black, and equally innocent. This makes it worse - how?

Or suppose they do have bad intentions. If they are white, I can avoid them without feeling guilty about it. But suppose the worst case scenario, those black teenagers really want to rob me, or worse. And I let my middle-class white guilt lead me to overlook my instincts.

This helps how?

Regards,
Shodan

Shodan
11-24-2009, 12:39 PM
The Reverend Jesse Jackson was walking alone at night in Washington DC. He heard footsteps behind him and was afraid he was about to be mugged—which is a common occurrence in Washington, especially at night, and especially when you are alone on a street. The Reverend turned around and saw a white man. Immediately he felt relief that he was not going to be assaulted. Then he felt shame because he had just stereotyped kindred black men. He understood during that split second of observation, that he had assumed the worst of his own race; he assumed he would be mugged if the man was black, but that he would be safe if the man was white. Reverend Jackson felt shame because he was not thinking in the recommended politically-correct approach. The truth is, he could just as easily been mugged by a white man (after all, there are white muggers). If he had seen a black man, he most likely would have been safe (after all, most black men are not muggers). So, why did Jesse Jackson, a very intelligent gentleman, make the assumption he was safe if the person following him was white, and that he might be mugged if the person had been black? The answer will not please the politically-correct person.
Because stereotypes are based upon sound statistics, the serious harm is in not paying heed to stereotypes when danger is present, and in paying attention to stereotypes when no danger is involved. - Duke, Lynn, “Confronting Violence: African American Conferees Look Inward,” Washington Post, January 8, 1994. Cite. (http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:Pou60hwr5lcJ:aofe.org/Downloads/AofECh7.pdf+Jesse+Jackson+afraid+of+mugging&cd=5&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us)

Regards,
Shodan

Really Not All That Bright
11-24-2009, 12:51 PM
I'm afraid I'm going to need a second cite for the idea that Jesse Jackson is a very intelligent gentleman.

Marley23
11-24-2009, 12:52 PM
Those two teenagers coming towards me while I am waiting for the bus - they scare me. If they are white, I can avoid them. If they are black, I need to go thru all kinds of introspection to be sure I am not being a racist.
I didn't say a bunch of introspection is required here. But What the deuce? seems to be taking some pains to avoid the idea that he really is just judging people based on their skin color, or that it doesn't really count if safety is his only concern, and yada yada yada. The fact remains that he's doing exactly that.

Suppose they're white, and totally innocent of bad intent. Have I done them some injury by avoiding them? Suppose they are black, and equally innocent. This makes it worse - how?
That speaks more to the question in the OP: he wanted to know if minorities find that hurtful. I've never had the experience, so I can't answer. But I stand by what I said before: if his 'avoiding trouble' instinct doesn't tell him anything except 'avoid young black men,' his instincts are probably no good. That's not a politeness or a political correctness issue: it shows he's lumping all young black people together as a threat and apparently assuming everyone else is fine. Further, he's not really talking about avoiding people who look like trouble. He's talking about crossing the street whenever he sees young black men because he can't think of a better way to avoid getting robbed. It's a stupid solution to a nonexistent problem.

Shodan
11-24-2009, 01:27 PM
I didn't say a bunch of introspection is required here. But What the deuce? seems to be taking some pains to avoid the idea that he really is just judging people based on their skin color, or that it doesn't really count if safety is his only concern, and yada yada yada. The fact remains that he's doing exactly that.IME that whole effort is a waste of time. It makes no difference if the reality is in accordance with our notions of political correctness or not. Reality is what it is. If the OP is correct - Following the police reports near my university (which are mailed right to us), I've seen again and again that the people who attack people in my neighborhood are of a certain group. Ergo, it would seem that crossing the street to avoid that kind of person is a good way to protect myself against being victimized by crime. Okay, more specifically, men in their twenties of that group. and male teenagers of group X are the ones committing the street crime he wants to avoid, then avoiding male teenagers of group X is a low-investment, high-return strategy for avoiding street crime - disproportionately higher-return than avoiding male teenagers of group Y who aren't committing the crimes.
. It's a stupid solution to a nonexistent problem.According to the police reports, it is not a non-existent problem. And the solution is not stupid - as the Jesse Jackson anecdote shows, even black people recognize the differing risks that different groups present.

The question asked was, is this racist? In other words, is it a worthwhile strategy given the chance that it might hurt the feelings of some random strangers who you will never see again?

The bottom line is that "looking like trouble" includes recognizing factors that most people would like to ignore - that some ethnic groups are disproportionately responsible for the kinds of street crimes that scare people. Therefore, that is one of the factors to consider when estimating how likely a stranger might be to attack me.

All you need is a shorthand. A mother with small children is not likely to mug you, regardless of her race - although she could. The black guy in the suit reading the Wall Street Journal is also probably not a street criminal - although he could be. The tired-looking black teenager in the blue uniform who smells like french fries might be a mugger, too - or he could be on the way home from his shift at McDonald's.

And the mean-looking wigger who stinks of wine and tries to stare down everyone in eyeshot might be on his way to a masquerade party. Or he might not. Same if he happens to be black.

Simply saying "he's black so he must be a mugger" is wrong. So is "I better not cross the street to get away from the five kids with the sleeve tattoos drinking at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, because that might seem racist".

Regards,
Shodan

Marley23
11-24-2009, 02:23 PM
The question asked was, is this racist?
And I answered 'yes,' because it is: he's saying he'll be crossing the street to avoid all young black men because some of them might be muggers. His excuse was 'it doesn't count because the newspaper's police blotter supports my decision.' You might find that compelling, but I don't. I think it's a lame excuse.

In other words, is it a worthwhile strategy given the chance that it might hurt the feelings of some random strangers who you will never see again?
A separate question. And one I haven't answered, actually. I think the problem with What the deuce?'s plan is the flawed reasoning, and to a lesser extend the false sense of security, not the possibility that he will hurt someone's feelings.

Simply saying "he's black so he must be a mugger" is wrong.
And that's what the OP said. He said he's going to "avoid certain people" (young black men). Not 'anybody who looks like trouble, including young black men when the situation dictates,' which would make sense. Just young black men.

What the deuce?
11-25-2009, 11:38 PM
Okay, catching up on some questions now.

My basic premise is that the police reports are overwhelmingly crimes committed by people of {group}. Some of the attacks are pretty brutal (at least one student ended up in the hospital). Basically, very few {group} are criminals, but, at least in this neighborhood, almost all criminals are {group}. However, becoming apprehensive of someone on the street is a multifactor process of which race is (guiltily) a factor.

This thread actually brought back a memory. Ironically, the one time I was assaulted by a stranger was not by a member of {group}. Actually, come to think of it, that man was not a young teenager either; I'd guess about 40 or 50, though it's been a long time, so my memory is hazy. Make of that what you will.

By the way, how come no one is offended that "youth" is a factor?

Czarcasm: "Political correctness" is an idiom whose meaning is not immediately discernible from its constituent words. Look at wikipedia's article.

BlinkingDuck: There was a thread I read somewhere on the SDMB where old people were lamenting how things have changed. One of them said "I remember when you used to be able to smile at a little kid without setting off an amber alert."

Anyway, the verdict on "cross or don't" seems to be mixed. I guess I'll just start weightlifting and learn Judo.

Really Not All That Bright
11-26-2009, 12:18 AM
By the way, how come no one is offended that "youth" is a factor?
Because on a long enough timeline, every career or habitual criminal goes to jail. You hardly ever see an old mugger 'cause they're all in the slammer.

Ergo, it makes sense that us youngins are more likely to beat you and take your cash and Rolex.

cherry
11-26-2009, 06:27 AM
My husband got beaten up and mugged by a bunch of black teens in Berkeley as he was walking home from the grocery store. I don't think it changed his habit of walking to the grocery store but it makes me more aware of who I am walking past when I visit that town. Racist or not I don't want to be a victim espicially now that I have a baby to bring along.

What the deuce?
11-27-2009, 10:52 AM
Because on a long enough timeline, every career or habitual criminal goes to jail. You hardly ever see an old mugger 'cause they're all in the slammer.

Ergo, it makes sense that us youngins are more likely to beat you and take your cash and Rolex.

Funnily enough, you're older than me.

Attack from the 3rd dimension
11-27-2009, 11:12 AM
Oooh, ooh, Mistah Kottah!

I was walking the dog at 0630 yesterday. The dog is red, and comes up to my thigh. I'm bald, male and Euro-Canadian, wearing jeans and a dark jacket. A small woman in a jacket with a hood and gloves was crossing to our side of the street as we approached the corner. In mid-street she altered her course and went of diagonally through the intersection, so that, as we turned the corner, she was parallel to us, on the other side of the street.

Woot! I'm the guy that people are crossing the street to avoid!. Incidentally, I was not offended, I figured she was tottery, and didn't want to negotiate the dog, who might be jumpy - he's not, he's very civilized - or interact with the scary white man.