Monday, July 22, 2013

Under The Microscope

Nuggets For The Noggin
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, July 23, 2013

“Not bad for a Jewish boy from New York, uh?”  That is what my customer said to me over lunch.  I was his real estate agent on a rather large commercial transaction.

His comment caught me off guard which is not an easy thing to do.  I sat back and asked him why he said that.  His response was just as confusing as he said, “Said what?”  He was not even aware of what he had said. 

We talked about his comment for a long time.  I wanted to know where it came from and why he said it and why he said it to me.  At first I thought he might have been harboring a suspicion that I was in some way anti-Semitic which I certainly was not.  If that was the case, I wanted to clear the air.

It turned out that he used that phrase as a lot of people use phrases such as, “you know.”  He just threw it into the conversation without even knowing he was doing it, you know?

I asked him if he had encountered people who where anti-Semitic towards him in his life and he said he had.  I also asked him if he was aware that there are a lot of people in the world who are anti-Semitic and may even want to see him dead.  Again he said he was aware of it. 

The REALLY BIG question.  I asked: “If you knew that there were anti-Semitic people in the world, a lot of whom would prefer to see you dead since you were Jewish, why would you go out of your way to announce to the world that you were Jewish?  In my case I had no need to know.  Nothing we did in regards to our relationship or our business transaction had anything to do with being Jewish.  I really had no need to know and frankly could care less.

This happened over 15 years ago and surfaced in light of the recent demonstrations regarding the Martin/Zimmerman case.  The same conversation could have been had with Trayvon Martin who on the evening he was killed was wearing a “hoodie.”   A hoodie by itself is not that big of an issue.  But, and this is a huge BUT, let me describe what I saw this past week.  As I was driving on the main thoroughfare of my hometown, I saw a youngster walking down the street.  He too was wearing a hoodie.  He also had his pants far below his waistline.  Did I automatically profile him?  Let me add that I was returning from playing golf.  It was one of the hottest days of the year and this young fellow was wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up over his head.  Only a fool would fail to notice this young man walking down the sidewalk dressed as he was in 90 plus degree weather, basically minding his own business.  It was almost impossible NOT to profile him in one way or another.
So why do I describe this to you?  For the same reason I questioned my customer regarding what he said.  If you know for certain that there are people who do not like you or hold a grudge against you, your religion, your race, your skin color, etc, why would you do anything to attract attention to yourself and subsequently suggest that you represent something that you might not want others to take notice of?

I am not suggesting that you have to forfeit your heritage; not at all.  I AM suggesting that you might want to reconsider how you dress, talk and act to avoid drawing attention to you that would ultimately enable someone to “profile” you against your will.

Teenagers and people in their early twenties have for as long as I can remember, did things that would enrage their parents whether it was the way they dressed, the way they talked, the music they listened to or the way they modified their cars to reflect that what people of their age thought was cool.   This also applies to the onslaught of the tattoo craze in the world today.  If you look back to recent history, people who obtained tattoos were primarily gang members and prisoners.  Then it expanded to athletes and now to just about everyone.  So if it was your intention to get a tattoo to stand out from the crowd, you are now just another member of the crowd and one that is being profiled by a great many people in law enforcement and the general public.  Is that your intention?  Somehow I doubt it.

Therefore, BEFORE you…..

  • Get that tattoo
  • Smoke that cigarette
  • Take those illegal drugs
  • Wear clothes that might encourage profiling
  • Talk as if you are uneducated
  • Disregard the rights of others

You may want to think twice about how others WILL perceive (profile) you and if that is the perception you want to project.  Instead, try to be profiled as someone who…

  • Can be trusted
  • Is honest
  • Places the best interests of others over self-interests
  • Looks like someone you would want to be friends with, hire, or play sports with.  

Profiling can be good; it can be bad.  How YOU are PROFILED is ENTIRELY up to YOU!  Choose wisely my friend!