Race card drivers
A recent complaint of racial profiling by director Tyler Perry is evident of a culture too willing to invoke race in inappropriate circumstances
This past Wednesday, the 12th, saw two white police officers cleared of racial profiling. The internal investigation was conducted in response to claims of racial profiling made by famous director, actor, screenwriter and author Tyler Perry. Perry, who has a pretty recognizable name, especially considering it is featured in the title of most of his work, was pulled over on February 24th in southwest Atlanta after he made an illegal left turn from a right lane. The two officers, both white, questioned Perry, who explained he made the turn in order to ensure he was not being followed. The officers, neither of whom recognized Perry, asked why he would he think he was being followed, then asked him to step out of the car. A black officer arrived shortly thereafter and informed the white officers about Perry’s celebrity status.
Perry, who is black, was released without receiving a ticket. He then made some lengthy Facebook comments about the incident, describing it as “so hostile” and saying “although we have made significant strides with racial profiling in this country, the world needs to know that we are still being racially profiled.”
I have grown increasingly weary of these almost-obligatory claims of racial profiling. Racism, real and not just perceived, still exists. But it is hard to recognize when the liberal media lends its ear to stories like Perry’s, attracted like flies to the mere possibility of racism.
As a point of comparison, we can look back to the racial tensions ignited by the Duke Lacrosse Case, where Crystal Mangum, who is black, falsely accused three white lacrosse players of rape. I am not saying this incident came about as a result of race, but race was certainly a factor.
We can also see the race card at play in Arizona, where a group of Latinos is suing Sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling as a result of his implementation of the “show me your papers” provision of Arizona’s hotly-contested immigration laws.
In some cases, the media slant is visible in the simple wording of an article. George Zimmerman, the man on trial for the shooting of Trayvon Martin, was described in a New York Times article as a “white Hispanic.” In the case of Zimmerman, it was convenient for the media to portray him as “white,” so as to further the story that this was an aggressive, racist man with a bone to pick against a helpless black youth. But, in contrast, the media did not portray Barack Obama as the first multi-racial president, despite the fact that he spent his early life being raised and cared for by his white mother. Here it was more politically expedient to hail him as the first black president.
There are numerous examples of the liberal media using race to further rather than challenge allegations. Given the frequency of these claims, I was suitably disappointed to discover the media lending credence to Perry’s allegations of racial profiling. When presented with a possible case of racial profiling, especially when that profiling is focused on an actor and director famous for his films and TV shows about blacks, the media simply could not resist jumping into the fray.
Not surprisingly, in Perry’s case the officers’ conduct was found by an internal affairs officer to be “justified, lawful and proper.” Perry was driving an expensive car with tinted windows, and he made an illegal left turn from a right lane, claiming he was trying to avoid being followed. I would have been suspicious as well. I do not see where the officers did anything wrong or racially motivated – I see them instead as the victims of a media, and a culture, that is all too ready to leap to the defense of the party playing the race card.
As I have said, genuine racism still exists and is abhorrent. We as a civilized people should have left that far behind long ago. But echoes of those past wrongs still manifest themselves today, though they often come in the form of an incident like Perry’s — an overly race-conscious person perceiving a wrong where there is none. And such incidents, at least in my book, remove the credibility of stories where actual racism is at play. People like Tyler Perry are doing minorities no favors; rather, they are perpetuating the existence of a culture that is always aware, and always fearful, of how race is being used. Until people — those playing the race card, the media that lends their stories such credence and those who consume such stories — leave this mindset behind, and we stop wasting our time on those suffering perceived wrongs, incidents of real racism will be hard to address and nearly impossible to recognize.
Sam Novack’s columns appear Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.