Profiling still happens

Cynthia McKinney may not be the best poster child for racial profiling. But in her anger at being accosted by a Capitol cop who did not recognize her as a member of the august House of Representatives, she is a black Everywoman.

Before her begrudging apology last week, McKinney, a Georgia Democrat, said she was a victim of bias. A cop didn’t think that a black woman lacking her special lapel pin and ignoring entreaties to show ID had business walking around the metal detector and into the Capitol.

So she let loose. Now she’s facing the possibility of a criminal prosecution.

The silence of McKinney’s congressional colleagues says something. As one Washington source said, “She is no Rosa Parks.” She hasn’t been good at setting aside her ego.

But in the end, McKinney’s temperament is beside the point. Whether or not she overreacted, we must remember that profiling does still happen far more than most admit.

Not being recognized by people with whom one works closely isn’t much fun. Believe me, I’ve been there.

A friend told me how, the other night, he was stopped by cops. Carl was approached in Penn Station by men in plainclothes who said they were looking for a robbery suspect and he fit the description.

I hardly think that a tall, thin black man who is older than my 50 years and who was carrying a multicolored umbrella and a little valise looked like anyone other than who he was.

Some months ago, at the Lincoln Center subway stop, and carrying that same valise, he was the only one of more than a dozen people to be asked to show the contents of his bag.

And so, Carl, good Episcopalian that he is, is now an angry black man. If she were less self-centered, McKinney would focus attention on actual racial profiling rather than her hairdo and her 15 minutes of infamy.

E.R. Shipp

New York Daily News