Saturday, May 3, 2014

Profiling


A couple of my friends posted a thing of Facebook saying that a good person might be covered by tattoos, and a bad person could go to church every week.  You can't judge a book by its cover.
It reminded me of an experience I had in Hillsdale, a small city in western Michigan.  I conducted hearings on prisoners on home confinement in that area.  The hearings took place in the parole office, located on the second floor a a building which housed district court on the lower floor.  One day I approached the building where a young guy was standing, along with two older people who seemed to be his parents.  He had long hair and wore a concert t-shirt for a heavy metal band, Metallica or some group like that. The dad had long graying hair he wore in a braid or a pony tail, and a black leather jacket, sort of biker types.  I confess I harbored negative thoughts like, "this kids a thug and his parents are anti-social".  So imagine my surprise when I got to the door and the young man pulled the door open for me, and his mom reached out to help hold the door.  I thanked them and they responded,"You're welcome".  I realized I had stereotyped  them based on their wardrobe and hair.  I thought about it all morning, and finally went back and talked to my friend Inspector D. about it.  She's the one who pointed out that I had been profiling.  Lesson learned, don't judge just by what is on the outside.