For Tyler Perry, the killing of Trayvon Martin brought to mind the advice his mother once gave him about dealing with law enforcement.
“My mother would always say to me, if you get stopped by the police, especially if they are white policemen, you say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’, and if they want to take you in, you go with them. Don’t resist, you hear me? Don’t make any quick moves, don’t run, you just go,” Tyler recalled in an essay he posted on his Facebook page.
Like Trayvon and hundreds of other minority men in the nation, Tyler admitted that he’s been a target of racial profiling, too, and not just when he was a struggling, unknown playwright.
Tyler shared an incident that took place on his way to meet President Barack Obama.
“As I got to an intersection, I made a left turn from the right lane… and was pulled over by two police officers,” wrote Tyler, explaining that his security guards trained him how to drive strategically to prevent being followed by fans.
“I pulled the car over and put it in park. Then, I let the window down and sat in the car waiting for the officer. The officer came up to the driver’s door and said that I made an illegal turn. I said, ‘I signaled to get into the turning lane, then made the turn because I have to be sure I’m not being followed.’ He said, ‘why do you think someone would be following you?’” Tyler wrote.
After a “hostile” exchange and the appearance of an African-American officer, Tyler was eventually sent on his way with apologies.
However, the filmmaker acknowledged that the incident could have ended differently if he were not famous.
“Do you see how quickly this could have turned for the worse?” Tyler asked.
Although he gave props to the “great officers, patrolmen and security guys out there,” Tyler called for racial profiling to be deemed a federal offense, just like hate crimes.
“RACIAL PROFILING SHOULD BE A HATE CRIME INVESTIGATED BY THE FBI!!!,” he wrote. “That way local government can’t make the decision on whether or not these people get punished.”
—Tracy L. Scott
Do you agree with Tyler that racial profiling cases should be handled by the federal courts? Do you have a story of racial profiling? Share it below.