A male reported that he was racially profiled, harassed by police, and praised by a politician.
A female reported that she was racially profiled, harassed by the male, and condemned through a thinly veiled pseudo name.
One is black; one is white.
Both assert to be racial activists decrying racism.
We have both of their accounts of the fateful night, without commentary.
I. The written statement of
II. The written statement of
III. The Results of Statement Analysis
Who is telling the truth?
One alleges to be a victim of racial profiling, while the other claims to be a victim of a deceptive writing and in doing so, is a victim, herself, of his racial profiling.
In the comment section, put the name of the truth teller first, unless you need to state "neither" ("both" is not an option given the statements), and the main basis points for your conclusion. Please cite the appropriate principle for your conclusion.
Please avoid "intuition", "feeling", "gut reaction", "straight face test", etc. Statement Analysis principles only.
Please be aware of racism in the sense that such racial claims seek to cause an "Us versus Them" backlash and artificial unity. Statement Analysis only seeks truth.
Given the nature of the claims, we seek to learn if the language chosen by both reveal strong commitment to the assertion.
I will not highlight or add emphasis to either in this post.
The postings are in chronological order.
I will post my analysis after commentators weigh in.
I. The written statement of Robert McKnight
Robert McKnight, guest columnist: An effort to help a colleague move in Austin led to a visit from police
My suitcase was packed, and I was prepared to embark upon a life-changing journey from New Orleans to intern at the 84th Texas legislative session in Austin, working for state Sen. Rodney Ellis. The unique internship would not only allow me to receive a stipend but also a full semester of law school credit. However, I was ill-equipped for an experience in my first week in Austin that changed my life: I was racially profiled.
I am an African-American male. That alone is a loaded and difficult calling, an irreversible one. It’s loaded because of the daily heavy lifting required of me so as not to be seen as “intimidating.” This heavy lifting requires me to be aware that my black skin in the eyes of some correlates with a perceived aggression. The load can often times be overbearing because I know I have to fly to opportunities persons from other communities can walk to professionally. It is difficult because, when interacting, I am forced not only to think for myself but also about what the other individual will perceive from my acts or failure to act.
But I fell short of my goal of not being over-generalized, stereotyped and boxed into a corner of racism. Unfortunately, it only took a seven-hour drive for my greatest fear to manifest itself: No matter how hard I worked or what I wear, my black skin can label me as menacing.
A few weeks ago, I parked my car in Austin’s University Village Apartments. I was designated to help a South African Legislative Fellow that evening move into an apartment she shared. To mitigate any mishaps, I thought it would be fitting to go upstairs to the third floor and first introduce myself. When I arrived, I knocked on the door and a blue-eyed, blonde woman appeared.
“How can I help you?” she asked nervously. I replied, “I’m helping someone move in,” and showed her the key to the apartment. I also showed her the leasing agreement and room assignment. I moved the luggage quickly into the room and the intern settled into her apartment safely.
I headed downstairs to my car, but a police officer met me in the stairwell.
“Where are you coming from?” he asked.
“A room, sir,” I sheepishly replied.
“Take a seat,” he uttered as two other cops ascended the stairwell.
Soon it was four cops and only me.
“Why?” I answered. But before I could overreact, the “talk” my mother gave me years ago returned to me at that moment: “Son, don’t make any sudden moves; allow them to see yours hands; and always answer ‘yes’ or ‘no, sir.’ ”
After giving the police my personal information and ID, I was finally released and told this was a “mistake.” The mistake was that the cops were called on me for no other reason than my being a black male, knocking on a door at 8:30 at night, trying to help a colleague move her bags up three flights of stairs. This “mistake” could potentially have been fatal if I had on a hoodie, earrings, tattoos or had spoken or conducted myself a certain way while detained.
I had naively thought I was impervious to any act of racial profiling, such as being accosted by four police officers and having my liberty deprived momentarily for being a black male, knocking on a door in the evening. However, I was wrong. Because of this singular experience, I empathize and stand in solidarity with the countless individuals who have been profiled because of their race, sexual orientation or religion.
Believe it or not, I thank the Caucasian woman who was the impetus for this life-changing event. I thank you because you opened my eyes to an experience I will never forget. I have a newly ignited fire now, to fight for criminal justice reform, to fight for social equality and to fight for a fair, transparent and reliable judicial system. For that, my friend, I thank you.
Robert McKnight, a law student from Louisiana, is a legislative fellow with state Sen. Rodney Ellis.
II. The written statement of Amanda Vining
Amanda Vining, guest columnist: Hostility, rudeness and perhaps even a case of racial profiling in Austin
Recently, Robert McKnight, a legislative fellow for state Sen. Rodney Ellis, wrote a column published in several newspapers in which he very soberly suggested that, as an African-American male, he was unwittingly subjected to racial profiling while attempting to help a South African legislative fellow move into Austin’s University Village Apartments. In the piece, he portrayed himself as an innocent.
The column makes excellent points about racial profiling. It also demonstrates how two people can see one encounter very differently.
I am the blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian woman who answered the door of our apartment to Mc-Knight the evening of Jan. 13. From my perspective, the situation played out as such:
I had returned home from work about 7:30, changed into my pajamas and was preparing a quick dinner in the kitchen so I could go to bed early. About 20 minutes after I returned home, there was a very forceful knock on the door.
I opened the door to a man in a trench coat — McKnight — who promptly demanded, “Who lives here?!’ ” He was holding a set of keys to our apartment but no lease or room assignment sheet, despite what he stated in his column.
Before I could answer, he said, just as forcefully, “Does anyone live in Bedroom C?”
My other two female roommates and I had not been informed that anyone was moving into our empty bedroom, so I told him no.
McKnight said: “Good! I’m moving my intern in.” He spun around and started walking away.
I asked him who the intern was and who he was, but he responded with: “Is everything OK here? Is there a problem?”
I told him that everything was OK but that I was shaken by the forceful way he knocked on our door and that I didn’t know who either he or his intern were. The last thing McKnight said to me before walking down the stairs was, “Everything better be fine because she’ll be here for six months!”
I was pretty scared by this abrupt encounter. I went into my bedroom, locked the door and texted my other two roommates that there was a man at the apartment who had keys and said he was moving someone in, but that I didn’t know who he was or who he was moving in. I never mentioned his race. One of my roommates told me to call the police, but I didn’t.
A few minutes later, she texted me to let me know she had called the police. Given the racial context of all this, I suppose I should note that she is African-American. She did not know the man at our apartment was African-American at the time of her call to police.
McKnight returned to the apartment and began screaming about everything in the unit. Apparently, the toilet in his intern’s bathroom was running and I heard him yelling: “Who the f--- rents an apartment like this? Don’t they know who I am? He (meaning the leasing manager) is going to have to respond to me! This is unacceptable! Don’t they know who I am and who I work for? I’m a lawyer, not a plumber!”
Police arrived a few minutes later and asked McKnight to wait at the bottom of the stairs until they figured out what was going on. A police officer came and pulled me from my room. I went outside with him to tell him that I didn’t know what was going on or who was in my apartment. He told me that I had a new roommate, then made a joke about how this probably wasn’t the best way to meet the new roommate. I agreed.
I thanked the police officer and told him that if McKnight was supposed to be there, then that was OK. I didn’t know who he was and hadn’t seen any new roommate with him, so it was terrifying to see a strange man come to my apartment after dark with a set of keys to get in.
When the police let McKnight go back upstairs, he re-entered the apartment obviously very angry and started yelling: “Who the f--- does that? Who the f--- calls the police? Don’t they know who I am?” The police officer heard McKnight yelling so loudly from the parking lot that he came back into the apartment building, knocked on my bedroom door and asked if I would like for him to escort me to my car so that I could go somewhere else for the night.
When the police officer walked me to my car, another police officer approached me and said that he was glad the police were called because McKnight was inappropriately belligerent. He said that he and the other police officer (I saw two officers, not the four Mc-Knight described) told McKnight that he wasn’t in trouble, that they weren’t detaining him, that all they asked of him was to stay out of the apartment, which was not leased to him, until they figured out what the situation was.
I went to my best friend’s house for the evening (who, as long as we’re name-dropping, is senior staff at the state Capitol for another lawmaker). On my way to her house from my apartment, I ended up being a witness to a fatal car-motorcycle accident. I was the one who called 911, so I had to stay on the scene. I met the very police officers who had been at my apartment 30 minutes earlier.
McKnight says at the end of his column, “For that, my friend, I thank you.” Had McKnight not forced me away from my apartment that evening, I would have just gone to bed and not come across this accident and not been there to call emergency responders to help the victim. For that, my friend, I thank you.
Since that night, my roommates and I have agreed McKnight is more than welcome to come over as long as he is respectful, calm, polite and makes us feel safe in our own home. Race was never an issue in this situation. The police were not called because of Robert’s race; they were called because an unidentified man approached our all-female apartment after dark with a set of keys to our apartment in hand, with no one else present, and addressed us with belligerence and aggression.
Questions remain: Why didn’t Robert approach the apartment with the new roommate? Where was the roommate? Why didn’t the roommate come up to meet us first? Why didn’t Robert introduce himself first? I didn’t learn his name till much later.
Was I the unwitting victim of racial profiling that evening, easy prey to pointed assumptions and hostility? McKnight assumed that, because I am Caucasian and have blond hair and blue eyes, I automatically called police, but that wasn’t what happened.
Incidentally, McKnight came back to our apartment a few weeks later at 9:30 p.m. looking for the new roommate (with whom he works at the Capitol) and was equally belligerent with one of my other roommates who opened the door. His rude and inappropriate behavior has been a pattern, not just an isolated incident.
One of my roommates and I have lived together for three years. We once had an African-American man as a roommate. Our apartment does not exclude people based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability. All we ask is that anyone who comes to our home is respectful, polite and makes us feel secure.
Amanda Vining is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked at The White House, the Texas Legislative Council and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
III. Statement Analysis: To be added