Many Americans take pride in the progress made since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A national day of recognition in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work toward racial equality is celebrated every January. But has the U.S. really made as much progress as some think?
“Living While Black” is a term being used across social media to highlight the ongoing effects of racism that continue to afflict African Americans. Through videos and news headlines, the movement has brought renewed attention to the sensitive subject that white people continue to reflect racial profiling in their interactions with people of color, often unconsciously.
Those promoting the Living While Black campaign did not have to look hard for concrete examples that supported their platform. The most prominent case in 2018 occurred when a white manager at a Philadelphia Starbucks called police because he was suspicious of two black men who were sitting at a table but had not made a purchase.
Police arrived, handcuffed the two men, and arrested them. Video taken with a cell phone at the scene soon went viral on social media platforms, causing outrage across the country. The men were soon released from custody, but the avalanche of anger had already flooded the Internet. Calls for justice and an end to racial profiling ensued.
Starbucks apologized for the actions of its employee, and even closed stores during the business day to train its staff properly. That did little to address the systemic bias that caused the incident in the first place.
Several more racially motivated calls were made to 911 throughout 2018. A white manager became suspicious of a group of black high-school-aged girls trying on prom dresses at a Nordstrom Rack store and called police for suspected shoplifting.
Police were also called by a white woman manning the front desk of an apartment building because a black female tenant refused to show her identity proving that she lived in the predominantly white apartment building.
In yet another incident, a white person called 911 to report that a black youth was cutting a lawn he was not hired to mow.
These incidents share a common denominator – white people questioning the intentions of black people interacting in a predominantly white area. Living While Black’s social media campaign aims to share these types of situations with the public to increase awareness that racial profiling still exists.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal to discriminate against any individual based on race, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, ethnicity, age, or disability. Racial profiling can lead to unlawful racial discrimination. Employers, landlords, bankers, retail establishments, restaurants, and other public entities aware of the problem may be less apt to violate antidiscrimination laws. Those who fail to scrutinize racial biases may end up violating the law, and causing harm to innocent citizens.
If you believe your civil rights have been violated, contact the Pennsylvania civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar today. Complete our online contact form or call us at our Philadelphia office at 215-557-0099 or our Haddonfield, New Jersey office at 856-470-9777. We represent clients in Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, South Jersey, and nationwide.