Published on February 20, 2018 in Pacer Times, University of South Carolina Aiken’s college paper
In light of recent events, an Applebee’s restaurant shut down, calling into question an act of racial profiling.
In Independence, two African-American women were enjoying a meal together but were disrupted with accusations of dining and dashing the day before. It was their first time at the Applebee’s restaurant and both were being confused with other suspects, if anyone at all.
Three Applebee’s employees saw the exit after being fired for their mindless behavior. Racial profiling happens in obvious ways but most time casual, without thought or effort.
Alexis Bison, one of the accused, uploaded video footage of the incident in which a police officer is seen ridiculing both women, one who was crying uncontrollably. The video went viral. In her post she wrote, “Especially in black history month black people cannot continue to be treated this way.”
And she is right but African-Americans should not be treated this way during any month of the year.
“Confusing two people of the same race isn’t usually out of malice but it’s lazy,” said USC Aiken student Alexis Moore, Racial profiling tends to happen because there is not regular interaction amongst races, according to Moore.
“People are afraid of integrating or are not willing to,” said senior communication major Charlie Abney.
While working as a bookkeeper at Bi-lo, Abney observed the checkout lines. Black people would go to the Black cashiers and White people would go to the White cashiers.
“Older (White) people didn’t put as much stock into what I would tell them. I would have to get the manager and the manager would tell the customer the same thing,” Abney said. “They also put more stock into the White bookkeepers.”
Not only is there a lack of integration but there is a lack of empathy, which could be a cause and its effect.
Philosophy professor Thomas Burrus is teaching Philosophy of Race this semester.
“The whole conception of empathy or compassion is annihilated in this construal [referring to ‘ascriptionism’ or in other words, ‘applied stereotyping’] because when we impose our scripts on others, we reinforce the very notions of their ‘otherness’,” Burrus said,
It isn’t easy to feel for another human being who is viewed as separate and furthermore, indistinguishable because of skin color, as if African-Americans are another animal altogether.
“They (the authorities) could have been understanding and talked to them in a more respectful manner,” said sophomore psychology major Kristina Donaldson.
The women at Applebee’s were innocent and it was because of their “otherness” that provoked employees into falsely accusing the two. The Applebee’s employees did not understand or could not respect the individuality of the African-American women that day due to apathy and did not realize the consequence of their allegations, which was pain and humiliation.
Take a closer look. Integrate. Understand. Ask questions but to blatantly stereotype and assume the guilty is unacceptable. Although Applebee’s made apologies, saying sorry for its racialism does not reverse the harm done.