I write in response to the recent front-page article, “Sheriff blasts councilman on radio show.” County Council member Kai Hagen had stopped to check on the well-being of a Black driver who had been pulled over by police even though Hagen had not witnessed inappropriate driving. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins lambasted Hagen for interfering with the deputy’s duties and for jeopardizing officer and traffic safety. I see the issue here as racial profiling.
More than a year ago, the nation along with Frederick County, was moved in a major way by the visible and callous murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by Derek Chauvin, a white cop. It brought to national consciousness the issue of racial profiling, of disproportionate treatment of Blacks and other people of color across many dimensions of American life. There have been strong voices from the Black community that white silence over the years to oppressive practices against Blacks has allowed systems of inequity to perpetuate.
As I’ve tried to listen to the voices of people of color, I’ve become keenly aware of numerous instances of racial profiling in our own community as well as elsewhere in our nation — too extensive to properly relate in a single letter to the editor. But I think of the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” In the article, Hagen did not assume he saw racial profiling; rather he stopped to check if all was OK and left peacefully when he received that assurance from the driver.
I remember once having a flat tire on I-70 and the panic I felt about my situation. I was extremely grateful when a car pulled up, a man got out to check, and changed my tire for me despite the dangers of the many cars whizzing by.
I think Kai Hagen should be commended and not condemned for his act of caring for what might have been an instance of racial profiling. White silence does not stop racial injustice.