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"If You Haven't Been Racially Profiled, You Don't Really Understand How it Changes the Way You See the World."

Columnist David Ben Moshe on the enduring impact of racial profiling.

According to a 2020 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly three in four Black Americans (71%) say they’ve experienced “some form of racial discrimination or mistreatment during their lifetimes.” Of this number, nearly half report that “at one point that they felt their life was in danger because of their race.”

Many of these situations occur in the context of police encounters, a subject that in recent years has resulted in nationwide protests and organizing efforts.


As Newsweek columnist David Ben Moshe explained to Roundtable’s Rob Nelson, such encounters have profound effects on the way Black Americans view the world—effects that can be difficult to understand second-hand. Moshe said when he first learned to drive at age 16, his dad ordered him to follow a strict protocol if he was ever pulled over by the police: immediately stop the car, roll down the window, take the key out of the ignition, and put your hands on the dashboard.

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“Because if you don't do that, they might just shoot you dead,” Moshe said. “That's how you need to think about your interactions with the police.”

Moshe said he has never forgotten the protocol, and is always respectful to officers when pulled over. However, that respect is not always returned. Moshe recounted a recent trip to Washington D.C. in which the local police pulled him out of his vehicle, searched his car—ripping apart a sandwich Moshe was eating—only to leave the mess behind when they failed to find anything.

"If you haven't had experiences like that, you don't really understand what it's like to be racially profiled, and how that affects the way you look at the world. I don't know black men who haven't grown up with these experiences,” Moshe said.

Watch the full interview: