Being recognized by someone is often an enjoyable experience if it’s an old high school friend, or someone that thinks they’ve seen you on TV. It is less enjoyable when it is the Oak Bay Police accusing you of committing a crime.
This was the scenario I found myself in on a Saturday morning while waiting to enter a retail establishment in Oak Bay. I was asked for my ID because I fit the description of someone that committed a crime. The officer described the person as wearing jeans (I was wearing track pants) and red shoes (I was also not wearing red shoes) but he deemed me as a person of interest that required further questioning.
I refused to furnish any ID or provide my name and address because I had not been detained nor committed any crime. I was waiting in line, socially distanced, for a retail establishment and was not fleeing a scene. As I looked around the busy parking lot at the number of people that fit the criminal’s description it was obvious that I fit the officer’s predisposition because of the colour of my skin.
I entered the store and minutes later the officer came in and said upon further information I no longer met the criteria for their search. It seemed to satisfy him that we were all good. We are not good. If you read this and think that “he was just doing his job” you are part of the problem. You have never experienced being followed around a store. Or had a person cross the street when they see you walking towards them.
I continued my day and watched my son’s soccer practice at Oak Bay High turf. I wondered if my children would grow up with the same social biases that I and other people of colour have faced throughout our lives. Unfortunately, racial profiling will continue to be prevalent in our society as long as community leaders such as the Oak Bay police officer I encountered are allowed to continue their discriminatory practices.