by Chris Haire
Lately, I've been driving through the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood quite a bit. Not the side streets, mind you. But straight up Spruill.
But after reading a comment from the Rev. Joe Darby in a Post and Courier report over the weekend on racial profiling, I'm wondering if maybe all that dryer lint smoking I've been doing lately has done way more damage to my brain than I previously thought. Because apparently, what I see when I drive through Chicora-Cherokee ain't what the good reverend sees. Read on.
The Rev. Joe Darby, vice president of the Charleston NAACP, said statistics prove there is racial profiling in North Charleston, which long has caused many blacks to steer clear of the area.
"I've got a son who goes to Trident Tech and he will be late to class rather than take a route that goes anywhere near Chicora-Cherokee or Dorchester Road," he said. "He understands if you are over there, you are going to be pulled over if you are black, whether you have done anything or not."
Wait. Wait. If you are black and you drive through Chicora-Cherokee "you are going to be pulled over"? That's horrible. In fact, that's racial profiling.
Fortunately, according to Rev. Darby, black drivers have learned, rightly or wrongly, to stay away from Chicora-Cherokee. And Dorchester Road too.
Of course, that's not what I see, though. I see lots and lots of black folks. And a whole helluva lot of them are in cars. Oddly enough, I was always of the opinion that Chicora-Cherokee was a, um, black community. But I guess I was wrong.
And it gets worse: According to NAACP head Dot Scott, if you're black and in Chicora-Cherokee or on Dorchester Road or anywhere else in North Charleston for that matter, I reckon, and riding a bike or walking, you're just as apt to get thrown in the pokey as if you were driving a car.
Scott said she also has received numerous complaints about police hassling black people on foot or on bicycles and tossing them in jail for nuisance violations such as disorderly conduct.
Geez. Maybe I really am seeing things. Because I could swear that aside from the blacks folks driving to and from work or the store or ball practice or church or the movies or dinner, I have seen quite a number of African Americans walking the sidewalks or riding bikes without being stopped by the cops and thrown into the pen.
Man, I've got to lay off the lint. My eyes just ain't what they used to be.