Many people find it difficult to believe that black people are truly treated differently by police; they are left wondering whether the boys who are pulled over or approached by police have made choices of dress, appearance, or behavior that arouse suspicion. “My son, who is a college student, who is big, who has many more muscles than I do, can get pulled over simply […] because his skin is black—something he cannot change, something he’s proud of,” says Leroy Barber, Author and Global Executive Director of Word Made Flesh.
Unfortunately, unlike tattoos, shaved heads, and other choices that can make any person appear subversive or counter-cultural, skin color is not a choice. And the disparity in treatment is real, as Leroy’s story about an experience at an airline illustrates. “Having black skin makes you stick out of the ‘norm,’” which can be enough to arouse an officer’s suspicion or be passed over by a clerk who has made an assumption.