Friday, 20 April 2012 00:00
To begin with, I’m white. Not really. Fresh-fallen snow is white and I don’t resemble fresh-fallen snow. Ethnically and/or racially speaking, I’m Norman/Saxon/Celt/Teuton but the U.S. Census worker who arrived at my home in 2010 said there wasn’t enough room on the form for the tribes and peoples with whom I identify myself so she checked-off “white.” Being white, however, doesn’t predispose me towards any favoritism with respect to other people so designated. Quite frankly, there are white people amongst whom I am uncomfortable and, in a few cases, might be tempted to take advantage of Florida’s self-defense laws.
Walking alone in the proverbial unlighted alleyway, I would certainly feel a twinge of anxiety if I were to encounter a white man - even a Norman/Saxon/Celt/ Teuton one - with shaved head, scraggly beard, bandana, multiple piercings and tattoos, and spike-studded leather attire. Assuming another installment of Mad Max was not being filmed in the alleyway, I could reasonably infer something about this fellow. I can assume he’s not an Amish wheelwright, professor of Elizabethan drama, or corporate CEO. Fact is, he looks too much like some of those violent street people we see in police mug shots and on the news being taken into custody for some horrid crime. (Gone are the days when criminals were nattily appointed and Al Capone set a standard for men’s fashions.) It’s common sense that I should experience great apprehension and exercise caution when encountering somebody that looks like him given that so many others that look like him have been guilty of nefarious deeds.
This isn’t prejudice. He and I, after all, are of the same skin color and might even have the same ethnic or religious backgrounds. It’s an acknowledgement that cultural affectations come with connotations wrought of past experience. The woman by the lamppost at 3 a.m. attired in fishnet stockings, stiletto-healed pumps, miniskirt, and sports bra is probably not a Catholic nun awaiting a taxi. The person in hospital scrubs and a white lab coat standing outside a medical center is probably not a truck driver. People who look a certain way are generally assumed to be a certain thing only because so many other people who look that certain way are frequently that certain thing. Not always, but frequently. That’s why harmless king snakes look like poisonous coral snakes and deter would-be predators; why the edible black-and-orange viceroy butterfly looks so much like the foul-tasting black-and-orange monarch butterfly. Predators engage in profiling and people do fit profiles in part because our culture tends to produce cohorts who dress alike, talk alike, and think alike whist expressing their individuality. Too, similar psychosocial influences manifest themselves upon demographic categories in similar ways. (Hence every neighborhood seems to have the “cat lady” - a stereotype found on The Simpsons but also in 19th century literature.)
What is profiling anyway? It is the correlation between demographic characteristics and particular behaviors. It’s an inexact science but a valuable tool nevertheless. Asking law enforcement to stop using profiling - to stop assuming that a rape suspect is more likely to be a young man than an elderly woman - is like asking physicians to ignore symptoms and case histories whilst diagnosing a patient. All my life I have been told “don’t judge a book by its cover.” True, the cover does not give insight into the literary worth of the book. But a tome entitled “Noblemen of the Italian Renaissance” is probably not about a young girl growing up on a farm in Utica, NY in the 1930s. Do we really have to be so open-minded that our brains have fallen out?
Thursday, 16 May 2013 00:00
Island Trees Union Free School District faces a few hurdles in its upcoming 2013-14 budget. The loss of the BOCES Geneva N. Gallow building lease and the increasing mandated retirement system (TRS/ERS) adds up to $2 million in lost revenue. The TRS/ERS contributions increased by almost $1.4 million, and the Gallow lease loss totals approximately $500,000, including the utility costs.
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00
What motivates a collector to dedicate a portion of his or her life to searching for the most rare and beautiful forms of a certain item? Is it their love of stamps from all over the world or is it their desire to find the most complex and unique model of a car? From jewelry and dolls to sports memorabilia and computers, a collector’s interests can range from the most bizarre items to the most common. Michael Katz, longtime collector of vintage radios from the 1920s to ’50s, said that the two kinds of things collectors go for are “stuff that’s really unusual and really decorative or the rare and expensive sets.”
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Don’t miss out on the chance to partake in an 8-week spring flying trapeze workshop! There is one space left in the Tuesday class for adults from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., and four spaces left in the Thursday class from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., which is open to all ages.
The workshops will take place at the Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York.
Sign up online at iflytrapeze.com or call 516.640.6995 for more information.
Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
The Lady Generals lacrosse team at MacArthur High School earned the #1 spot and the title of 2013 conference champions, an accomplishment that last occurred in 2006. The team finished with a conference record of 9-1, succumbing in their only game to Oyster Bay by a one-goal deficit.