White people often think Black people are lying or grossly exaggerating when we tell them that even the simplest things make us look suspicious to police officers (and white people in general, for that matter). Go ahead and try to tell your un-woke white friend about all the times you’ve been racially profiled and watch them respond with an anecdote (that’s probably fake AF) about that one time they got singled out by police because they have long hair or tattoos or something like that. They’ll ignore the fact that a Black person can be rocking a fresh fade and not have a visible tattoo on their bodies and still be profiled regularly—all it takes is our Blackness.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted a video Wednesday that shows a Black man being approached by a white police officer who tells him flat out that he finds him suspicious because he has on an expensive watch. The video isn’t shared with any added context. We don’t know where this happened or the identities of either the officer or the man. The officer—who has what sounds like a French accent and is carrying a ginormous gun as he approaches—can be heard telling the Black man that because his nice watch doesn’t look right with the Crocs he’s wearing, he felt the need to question him.
The clip starts shortly after the man was approached by an armed officer while sat inside a transport hub.
“What is the problem? Why am I being approached?” the man is heard saying.
An officer says the man looks “suspicious,” before explaining that it’s because the man has a “really nice watch... but you’re wearing Crocs.”
The video shows the man was wearing gray sweatpants, black Crocs with pink socks and a gold watch on his wrist.
The man appears stunned at the officer’s reasoning, saying to the officer: “Are you... You’re deada**... because I’m wearing Crocs and I have on a Michael Kors watch, that’s suspicious?”
“For me it is,” the officer replies.
When the officer adds that he’s just doing his job, the man tells him: “How though? I’m literally just sitting here, I’m not doing nothing. I’m not doing nothing wrong. I’m literally just sitting here...and it’s suspicious because I have on Crocs, and I have a watch?”
The officer continues, telling the man that the “stuff you’re wearing doesn’t fit with one another.”
“How does it not fit?” The man then asks the officer. “That’s like me saying because you have on a uniform. You got a watch. That watch doesn’t fit your uniform. So you look suspicious. I mean think about it.”
The officer appears unmoved, saying: “So is it a problem for you to just show us...”
“It is a problem and I definitely feel like I’m being profiled right now,” the man replies. “I’m definitely being profiled.”
“You’re not,” the officer replies.
“I’m definitely being... did you hear a word that just came out your mouth? You literally just said that I look suspicious, because I have on my watch and a pair of Crocs. I’m definitely being profiled... and I’m literally not, I’m not bothering anybody.”
Since the video ends there, we can only hope that the Black man walked away from this encounter unarrested and unscathed.
The fact that an officer of the law—who is heavily armed and dressed like he’s on his way to re-kill Osama bin Laden—is unabashedly telling anyone that his suspicion of him is based on superficial appearances and not actions might surprise some. But for many Black people in America and across the diaspora, it isn’t shocking—it’s frustratingly familiar. Imagine having to make sure that the device you use to tell time isn’t too nice and pricy looking before you leave your home lest you attract unwanted attention from law enforcement.
We can now add wearing a nice watch with not-so-nice shoes while minding our own business to the ever-growing list of things you can’t do while Black.