Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fear Factors

The homicide rate for black men between the ages of 18 and 24 is well over ten times that of whites. . . . In New York City . . . 83 percent of all gun assailants were black during the first six months of 2008, according to victims and witnesses, though blacks make up only 24 percent of the city’s population. . . . That explains why someone might feel a sense of trepidation when approached by a group of black youths. That’s not racism, it’s the reality of crime. ~Heather Mac Donald (quoted by Pat Buchanan, Suicide of A Superpower, p. 243) 

A District taxicab commissioner, Sandra Seegers, who is black, issued a safety-advice statement urging D.C’s 6,800 cabbies to refuse to pick up “dangerous looking” passengers. She described “dangerous looking” as a young black guy . . . with shirttail hanging down longer than his coat, baggy pants, unlaced tennis shoes. (Walter Williams, “Is Racial Profiling Racist?”) 

I’d like to offer a hypothetical which illustrates the thesis of my previous article (viz. that cautious behavior is based upon more than mere skin color and is therefore rational).  


A white female is alone in an elevator, rather late at night.  

Suddenly, a very rough-looking white male, with shaved head, prison tats and a wife-beater, swaggers into the elevator. 

The woman is seized by fear and apprehension and subconsciously her body language conveys her dismay. 

Two floors up…two black males—looking to be in their forties—enter the elevator. One is dressed in a business suit with loosened tie and the other wears khakis and a buttoned down collar. 

The presence of these black gentlemen calms the white lady’s anxiety and she—almost visibly—relaxes as the tension leaves her body.  

Fully aware…the black men purposefully remain on the elevator until she disembarks. They want her to be and feel safe. 


The above true-to-life scenario demonstrates that the factors which act upon our instincts and emotions involve much, much more than pigmentation.  

Was the white lady—who distrusted the rather edgy, mean looking white man—thinking and behaving irrationally? And the black men who purposefully remained in the elevator for her benefit…were they thinking and behaving irrationally? 

I maintain that neither the white lady nor the black men were irrational in their thoughts and actions. In other words, there was reasonable justification for their concerns.  

Even so, was this white lady ever truly endangered by this brutal looking white man? 

Well, we don’t know do we. Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn’t. Either way, her alarm had a rational basis; the same rational basis for these black men’s chivalry.  

In the final analysis, fear factors aren’t color-blind; but neither are they racist.

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