Black Man Conducts Dress-Up Experiment to Prove ‘Racism.’ It Backfires…

Black Man Conducts Dress-Up Experiment to Prove ‘Racism.’ It Backfires…

For so many, the premise of social justice rests upon the belief that one should be allowed to do whatever they like whenever they like and any consequences that arise from these endeavors are examples of bigotry. In the real world, however, people judge based on how you behave, how you look, how you talk. One man ran an experiment and inadvertently disproved his own theory (but he didn’t seem to understand that).

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If you believe that today’s incessant claims of racism are blown out of proportion by the media, by #BlackLivesMatter and our dear leader Barack Obama, you’re a racist. Check your white privilege. But only if you’re white. If you’re black and you believe there’s racism everywhere, you might be this guy. He’s Pedro Fequiere, a junior staff writer at BuzzFeed. That’s your first hint. Your second hint is the title of his piece at BuzzFeed: “A Black Man Wore Different Kinds of Clothing to See if People Treated Him Differently.” If you’re not clued in yet, try this line:

Many black men dress up to avoid being seen negatively. Every day, we are dressing for survival.

Here’s the problem, Pedro. Yes, now I’m addressing you directly. Everyone dresses up to represent themselves in a certain way. Why? Because we’re all judged based on our appearances. Ask anyone who’s ever been on a promising first date. Or a job interview. Whichever you’ve had more of, think back to how you’ve dressed. Did you go wearing saggy pants? Or did you go in a suit? Point made, but I’m not stopping…

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced a collection of microaggressions — from employees following me in stores to women gripping their purses at the sight of me. At 13 years old, I was detained by the cops on suspicion of something I didn’t do.

Just the other day, a woman grabbed her child and hurried into a store to get away from me when I was walking around the block. I don’t want to be another statistic and have my appearance be the blame for it. But I won’t conform and change my appearance just to make people feel more comfortable around me. I dress myself exclusively to fit my mood, which is often “laid-back/something I can skate in” chic, or whatever. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m curious to see how much of an effect my wardrobe choices have on my life as a young black man in Los Angeles.

Seriously, Pedro, have you ever seen The People of Walmart? Those are people who don’t want to “conform and change” their appearance to make people feel more comfortable. Obviously. The disgusting (yet hilarious) results have resulted in grand mockery, to the point that I personally joke about what I wear when going to Walmart to “blend in.” It’s less couture and more hobo-chic. Or how I’d dress if I quit my job to panhandle. In other words…

Now, the experiment. Pedro dressed down and he dressed up. Guess what he found?

Thoughts while dressing up: I’ve been getting compliments from my co-workers, so I was looking forward to getting snazzy and completing my outfit with a tie. I’ve also gotten accustomed to waking up earlier and ironing my shirt and slacks.

Experiences: A neighbor, who has literally never made eye contact with me before today, smiled and said, “Good morning.” I went to Lulu’s for lunch and the owner welcomed me with a smile and led me to my usual seat. My order got messed up and I was given fruit instead of fries, but the woman waiting my table quickly fixed that.

So surprise, a 24 year old man found out that if he presented himself well, he’s treated well. Even if he’s black. Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I thought racism was just about hating someone based on their race? If the world was so racist, wouldn’t Pedro be mistreated even if he was dressed up? I’m so confused…

Look, this post could get super long, so allow me to jump to the head of the line as my white, cis-gendered privilege allows: the reason we have the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” is because people judge based on appearances, specifically, how you choose to represent yourself.

Pedro, you missed the giant conclusion of your own experiment. If you dressed well, people treated you well…even as a black man in a supposedly racist world. Bonus point? You also treated yourself better. Imagine that. By dressing up well, and recieving compliments for it, you found yourself getting up earlier to prep. Not only did your style change, so did your demeanor. Since we’re on a common expressions kick, here’s another one to try on: 90 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Our tone, our body language say more about who we are than the words coming out of our mouths. By dressing to impress, Pedro, you also changed the way you comported yourself. Think that made a difference as well? And again I say, it would’ve changed a white man, woman, gay, straight, Asian, Hispanic or purple person’s demeanor as well.

Growing up in a small town, there was little else to do on a Saturday night but cruise around town with my buddies. Most weekends, however, I was stopped by police. “Swerving,” “failure to signal” “didn’t come to a complete stop at the stop sign”- take your pick. I was stopped, given a weak excuse for them stopping me and the officer would shine a light around the cab of my truck, looking for beer cans or weed. I was always “let go with a warning” and back on my way. Half the time they didn’t even run my license and registration.

Why was I stopped? Because I was some hoodie-wearing kid with loud music cruising around on a Saturday night with my friends. They wanted to see if I was drinking, if I was high, etc.

No, I didn’t like it, but I understood the position. People will treat you differently based on your circumstances. When I drove my mom’s car, I never got stopped.

The moral of this story and Pedro’s story is exactly the same: dress however you want; just be prepared for people to treat you accordingly (regardless of your race).

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