Are we all gang members?

According to www.sohh.com, on Oct. 7, the rapper Jay-Z had been targeted by the Miami Police Department in an online gang activity poster. He was depicted as a stereotypical illustration of a gang member. The poster was posted on the department’s website. It consisted of five gang members, two of which were images of Jay-Z. Although the Miami Police Department has taken down the image since then, it makes a person wonder what a gang member looks like. Every gang dresses differently. For example, at one point the members of the Italian Mafia could not wear mustaches nor dress in red. Members of the Triad, the Chinese Mafia, may commonly dress in Pierre Cardin shirts and drive expensive cars. Why weren’t these gang members depicted in Miami PD’s poster?

Although these images might be of their district’s demographic, why should only the images of people who dress like Jay-Z just be presented when there are other gangs out there that dress completely different? This seems like evidence of racial profiling and stereotyping.

Racial profiling and stereotyping are major issues that do not seem to be near resolution, especially with the new Arizona immigration law now in effect. Since it seems like there is not a solution to this problem, should people of different ethnicities and cultures dress differently, or should the world finally embrace the notion of not judging a book by its cover?

It would be nice for the world to embrace everything and everyone. Unfortunately, the world as a whole may never welcome every culture and ethnicity. Everyday someone is judged based on clothing and race. For example, an African American male could be perceived as a gang member because he wears a throw-back jersey with baggy jeans off his behind and Timberland boots. Although he should pull up his pants, he might just like the style. A Mexican-American could be perceived as an illegal immigrant just because he or she looks Mexican.

Although people cannot change their nationality, people can change the way they perceive each other or themselves. If a person does not want to be seen as a gang member, thug or any type of negative stereotype, they should not appeal to others that way. However, other people should try to take the time out to get to know others beyond just their outward appearance.

This point-of-view may seem recycled and cliche, but everyone should take the time out to think about how they would feel if they were the victim of racial profiling, or stereotyping. We should also remember a time when we have been racially profiled and stereotyped. Was it enjoyable? Was it something that should have been advertised for the world to see in the way Miami PD depicted Jay-Z?

Just in case people have forgotten, Jay-Z is a bestselling rapper, has 10 Grammys, co-owns The 40/40 Club, is part owner of the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, created the Rocawear clothing line, is the former CEO of Def Jam Records, is one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records and is Forbes magazine’s annual hip hop cash king, with a gross of $63 million last year. However, he is not in a gang. If he can be racially profiled despite what he has accomplished thus far, what makes anyone else think that they cannot be targeted as well?

It seems to me that the ultimate solution to this ongoing problem is to change ourselves as individuals. If everyone took the time out every day to defend someone who is being stereotyped or spoke out against racial profiling, maybe this problem would cease to exist. The world does not have to accept that racial profiling and stereotyping will always be around. Individuals can change that way of thinking. All it takes is one person to spark a change, and everything else will fall into place.