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For the area in which I tread is that of demographics which is open game. Advertising does it regularly. Kids' shows are littered with cereal commercials and play-doh. Football games feature beer commercials and trucks. My beloved Price Is Right runs non-stop Scooter Store and life insurance ads. While advertisers realize not everyone who is watching football drives trucks or that I as a healthy, two-legged, twenty-five year old needs a motorized vehicle (though it would be fun), they know that the groups of people who watch these particular shows are the ones most likely to need/want/be interested in these products. It's a stereotype, and I think it's safe to say no one has any issue with this.
But the topic of conversation concerned shoplifting at my store. My Walgreens is located directly adjacent to a seven story retirement home/assisted living complex. Without question, everyone wins. They keep us in business, and we provide them their daily reason to get out an exercise. That said, the primary demographic for my store is 150 years old and using some contraption (walker, cane, wheelchair) to get around.
Our area is also predominantly caucasian. This is not to say that all our customers are white, simply the majority of them are. However, the majority of shoplifters have been black. It doesn't mean that all black people steal from my store, or that white people do not, but rather the majority of the incidents have been with young, black males.
And so, the question that was posed, and that I now pose to the viewers of this board, is it wrong to keep an extra eye out if a suspicious, young, black male is walking the aisles?
I realize that trouble here is the word "suspicious" as if it implies all young, black males are suspicious. Indeed, this is not the case but I can tell you from experience that shoplifters tend to stand out like sore thumbs - shifty eyes, no contact with anyone, move quickly, talk too much when talked to, and show signs of being nervous. I can also speak from experience when I say the majority of people who shoplift and show these signs happen to be black. Would it then make me prejudiced and create racial disharmony for extra observation of a black man?
I was mixed on the issue myself. On the one hand, having heard the police pull over someone for "driving while black," I naturally repulse this negative connotation. On the other hand, if a black man punches me in the face nine times, is it wrong to duck on the tenth? I don't know. I simply found it an interesting topic, which hopefully creates some conversation here.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Photo from Wikimedia