“But I think the subtleties are still there.”
Editing by David M. Sula of Adelmar Entertainment.
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Transcript for The Community Has Changed
I have lived in Valparaiso since I left Valparaiso University in 1993. I got married in August of 1995. In the last twenty years you see more people of color, whether that be Hispanic, African American. Now it used to be a casual exchange maybe once a week. Now you go to Target, you go K-Mart, you go to Wal Mart, you actually see African Americans working in those places; you actually see African Americans shopping in those places. And on a rare occasion when you stop at a traffic light, you might see an African American walking from one place to another. Or actually in a car driving. You didn’t use to see that back in 1988 when I came here as a freshmen.
Oh my goodness. Miller’s Mart. The community has really changed because back in the day Miller’s Mart was the only shopping. And I remember first coming on to campus, they would tell me, “You know, if you go to Miller’s Mart, don’t look like you’re going to steal something; you know, because people will watch you when you go in there.” And sure enough you go into Miller’s Mart, people will be watching you, saying you know, “What are you doing here? You coming in here to steal?” People are way too helpful. You go into a store you notice someone saying, “Hi, can I help you.” You say “yes” or “no,” most of the time, they would go away. But in particular Miller’s Mart, you say, “No,” they wouldn’t necessarily go away. They would shuffle here, they would shuffle there, you could see, I mean, you can tell.
The community has changed whether it’s more receptive to people of color, I don’t think so. Some of the problems that we used to have back then exist today. It has changed in that the campus now is more accessible to the community. A lot of times I see what I perceive as students walking, whether it be into Target or walking downtown. The campus, it’s more open to the community now.
It’s growing. It’s developing. I think things are not as bad as they were in 1988. For instance you don’t walk down the street and be called the N word as much as you used to back in the late ‘80s. As least my experience, I haven’t. But I think the subtleties are still there. Not getting on the elevator with someone of color. Clenching your purse as someone walks by you. You know, those are the implicit things that still exist today.
There are a lot of people that think law enforcement stops people of color unnecessarily. There are a lot people that think law enforcement unjustly does searches and seizures, or searches in general when they stop someone for routine traffic stop. There are still no people of color on law enforcement in Porter County that I’m aware of. You don’t see them in Portage, you don’t see them in Valpo, and people ask the question, why is that. For some people the experience is real. You can talk to ten or fifteen different people who say, “Yeah, I was stopped, there was no real reason for me to be stopped.” And there are people that would say, “Well, yeah, I ran a red light. That’s why I got stopped.” It’s never happened to me. I tend to be more of a data driven person so I want to see the facts behind how many stops have been made in the last year, how many of those were African American, how many of those were just routine, were they justified, was there something that they did illegally? So I don’t want to invalidate it but at the same time when I say people think, you know, it’s hard to validate things like that, especially when implicit bias is still prevalent today.