Wednesday evening the wife wanted to run by the mall to do whatever she does at the mall. It was a warm and gorgeous night. As we walked up to the main entrance there was a group of six or seven teens talking near the entrance to one of the “outside” stores. They were not blocking the store, nor the sidewalk. They were not loud nor boisterous. It was just a group of teen boys who happened to be black. I thought nothing of it at all.
Just as we got past the group a security guard came out of the mall and started telling the kids to leave. A second guard came hurrying out the mall doors as we went in; backup to a non-situation.
All I could think was those kids were being harassed for being black.
Now I don’t know what went before. Had the boys been up to no good a few minutes before and asked to vacate? Were they the remnants of a fight still discussing the affair? Had one or more opted for a five finger discount in the nearby store? I don’t know and none of it was my business.
This mall has had some issues: shootings, fights, mini riots, mass theft. The owners have every right to make the property safe and attractive to shoppers. It is a retail space, not a rec center for bored teens.
Still, if I came in from the cold with a hood on my head would a security guard tell me it is mall policy that all hoods have to be lowered? I suspect fifty-something white me would get a hoodie pass where 18 year-old African Americans don’t.
I’m disturbed by that. I do not accept that I have been given any “privilege” or special advantages based on my skin color, but I’m not so stupid to believe there is no discrimination faced by others.