Driving While Black: Celebrities Share Their Accounts Of Being Racially Profiled

July 30, 2015  |  
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Snoop Dogg said that after his recent racial profiling incident with police in Sweden, he’s never going back to the country. And he’s not the only celebrity fed up. These stars’ shocking stories of unfair treatment suggest that they were victims of racial profiling too, and they’ve had enough.

Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle was almost thrown off of a plane when he tried to sit in his first class seat. When the flight attendant realized she was mistaken, she sent him the actor a bottle of Courvoisier as an apology saying, “I’m sorry, this is my way of apologizing. I was told there was a black guy with a hat on sneaking into first class and I thought that was you.” What made the situation even worse was that the flight attendant mistook him for actor Tim Meadows…

Taraji P. Henson

Empire star Taraji P. Henson said she was going to transfer her son to the University of Southern California, but changed her mind after police stopped him for having his hands in his pockets. “So guess where he’s going? Howard University,” Henson said. “I’m not paying $50K so I can’t sleep at night wondering is this the night my son is getting racially profiled on campus.”

Chris Johnson

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson was visited by Orlando PD because there were television cameras at his house. They said it made them suspicious of “drug activity.” Johnson later Tweeted, “Y did the police just walk in my condo saying they think it’s drug activity because it’s alot of traffic but it was the MTV camera crew. … Hard being young, black, and rich”

Chris Rock

Chris Rock revealed his frequent battles with racial profiling by taking and tweeting a selfie each time he was pulled over by the cops: three times in less than two months.

Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx once said, “[I] still get nervous when the cops pull me over.” And for good reason. He was recently pulled over while driving in his own neighborhood, in his Rolls Royce with his friend. He recalls, “When [the cop] yelled at me, he yelled like I was crazy. He talked to me like I wasn’t human.”

Isaiah Washington

Actor Isaiah Washington said he sold his luxury car just to avoid the kind of harassment Chris Rock went through, being consistently stopped by police:

But several of Washington’s fans wondered, why should those victimized be the ones to change?

The Game

Rolls Royces certainly seem to be a common denominator in stories about Black celebrities being pulled over by police. Game said he’d only had his Rolls Royce for  a few days before he was ordered out of it while the cops searched it without permission (as in a warrant).

Rob Brown

The Treme star recently settled with Macy’s for an undisclosed amount over his degrading “shop-and-frisk” experience. The actor was falsely accused of credit card fraud in the flagship location in New York City last year while buying a watch for his mother.

Ashanti

The singer said she’s sick of having to dress the part to avoid racial profiling in NYC by store employees:

“You know what’s the worst thing? If I have a hat on and sweats or glasses and I’m chillin and I go into a store, you may get someone who follows and says, ‘oh may I help you?’ When they find out [who I am], they say, ‘oh that’s Ashanti, that’s Ashanti, oh my gosh how are you? Would you like some champagne? How may we help you?’”

George Lopez

Comedian and sitcom star George Lopez called for a boycott of the Dream Hotel in Manhattan when he was mistaken for a housekeeper by an employee there.

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley said that as Black people, we have a lot to do with why we’re racially profiled:

“We as black people, we have a lot of crooks. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. There is a reason that they racially profile us in the way they do. Sometimes it is wrong, and sometimes it is right.”

Do you agree?

President Barack Obama

The POTUS said he was racially profiled before running for Senate in Illinois:

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are probably very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.”

Tyler Perry

Director Tyler Perry said he was afraid he was going to get shot by the “hostile” cops who pulled him over for driving while Black — until a Black officer showed up on the scene to provide assistance and recognized him. The aggressive officers had a change of heart and let Perry go.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey’s infamous racial profiling incident happened while she was doing handbag shopping in Switzerland. A clerk wouldn’t show her an expensive bag, despite Winfrey’s repeated requests to see it. The clerk told her it was “too expensive,” so Winfrey simply walked out of the store. The boutique later apologized when they realized they messed with the wrong woman.

Daniele Watts

Last year, the Django star was put in handcuffs when officers thought that she must have been a prostitute because the man she was engaging in sexual acts with — her husband — was White. But after an audio recording of Watts’ arrest was made public, her story was questioned and was called on — and ordered — to apologize.

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