Dorothy Bland (no relation to Sandra Bland) was taking her morning jog in the affluent neighborhood of Corinth, Texas. On this particular day it was raining so she had on a hoodie as well as black leggings, white socks and black and white Nike running shoes.
She’s filmed on a police dash cam doing arm exercises while walking down the street. A police car begins to tail her and eventually stops. Two officers get out of the vehicle and one begins to lecture Dorothy on the importance of walking against traffic to avoid being hit.
Then the police officer proceeds to ask Dorothy for her I.D. so he could “add it to the call”. Though it’s not confirmed, one would assume someone reported a mysterious African American person lurking around the neighborhood. Dorothy wrote about her experience being racially profiled for The Dallas Morning Times.
“This is my neighborhood, and I’m a taxpayer who pays a lot of taxes” she said to the officer who questioned where she live.
“As for the I.D. question, how many Americans typically carry I.D. with them on their morning walk? Do you realize I bought the hoodie I was wearing after completing the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education in 2014?”
Dorothy, a dean of journalism at the University of North Texas also shared that though she was outraged by the blatant racist undertones within her interaction with the police, she was all too aware that the situation could have ended much differently than her eventually being able to go about her day.
“Although I am not related to Sandra Bland, I thought about her, Freddie Gray and the dozens of others who have died while in police custody. For safety’s sake, I posted the photo of the officers on Facebook, and within hours, more than 100 Facebook friends spread the news from New York to California…”
“…’You are now in the company of Henry Louis Gates and others with the same experience’, wrote one of my former students from Florida. We must stop racial profiling” she said in her editorial.
While Dorothy believes she was unjustifiably stopped because of race, Corinth Police Chief Debra Walthall provided a rebuttal and insisted that a pickup truck had to swerve to avoid hitting Dorothy who had on earphones and wasn’t cognizant of the approaching vehicle.
“Impeding traffic is a Class C misdemeanor, and it is our policy to ask for identification from people we encounter for this type violation. I am surprised by her comments as this was not a confrontational encounter but a display of professionalism and genuine concern for her safety” said Chief Debra.
She also through subtle shade at the Harvard educated dean by adding, “The citizens of Corinth as a whole are a highly educated population, and it is disappointing that one of our residents would attempt to make this a racial issue when clearly it is not.”
While these particular officers may have had Dorothy’s safety in mind when they initiated contact, we can understand why she would have presumptively believed raced was involved while being stopped by the police.
Do you think Dorothy overreacted? Let us know how you would have responded.