It Happened Again Today

Yet again I was mistaken for another Black person on campus; thanked for a talk I never gave. This was especially important as the talk I actually did give was on schemas and implicit bias.

Schemas can help us make sense of the world, but their unchecked use can also be problematic.

I’ve written before about how being mistaken for other Black people can be fear inducing for me.

Sure, some of the folks who do it may not intend to be malicious; yet the impact leaves a scar not only because it communicates the message that all Black people look alike, but also because white folks not being able to tell Black people apart can have lethal consequences.

“As a male, I generally don’t think of my safety at night in terms of being fearful that someone would try to rob me or someone would try to harm me in some type of way, but another thing that came as a result of being in intergroup was focusing on intersectionality.

So a male is one piece, but when I add race into it, that makes it even more complicated.

So, while as a male I don’t generally think about my safety in terms of that at night, as an African American male, I am really concerned about being mistaken for a criminal, or being pulled over by police, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For example, where maybe a robbery is being committed and, who knows, maybe the person might have run away but since I’m the nearest person, they’ll say oh it’s that guy! That guy did it and then it’s me getting caught up in something so that’s one of my fears.”

From an interview I completed in 2011 about Intergroup Dialogue: Brief Thoughts on Intergroup


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones, MSW, LLMSW

Relando Thompkins-Jones

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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