Having grown up with many black friends in London, I remember noticing at a certain age that they were treated differently by authority figures. At 13 or 14, my black friends were always disproportionately targeted by teachers for causing trouble, eyed suspiciously whenever we went into stores, and punished for bad behavior worse than I was.
As a teenager, I was once stopped by the police with a black friend in a wealthy part of London early in the morning for no particular reason. I was asked questions about what we were doing while my friend was put up against a wall and searched. I was so incensed that I swore at the police officer involved (which promptly got us both arrested). The feeling of outrage has never left me, knowing the psychological impact this type of unconscious racism has on a human being. My friend told me at the time that he was simply used to it. I could not imagine having to live in a society that treated me this way.
For black Americans, the reality of this subconscious racism is not just psychological, but lethal. In America, a black person can be shot for going into their own home, shot for walking in their own neighborhood wearing a hoodie, or shot by the police for playing with a toy gun at the age of 12. A black person can also have the police called on them for eating lunch in public, or be arrested in Starbucks for sitting with a friend. You can also be prevented from entering your own apartment building because you "don't look familiar".
In the latest episode of "White America's Irrational Fear of Black People", D’Arreion Toles, a 24 year old black man from Missouri, was blocked from entering his own apartment building by a white woman, Hilary Brooke Mueller. Toles, who owns and runs a marketing company, recorded the interaction with Mueller, who refused to move when he tried to get past her.
“Please move, ma’am,” said Toles.
"I can. Do you live here?" replied Mueller, physically blocking the entrance.
“I’ve already answered that question,” said Toles.
"I'm sorry. The keypad is right there," said Mueller.
"I understand that, but you are blocking me...", replied Toles.
"Into my building," interjected Mueller.
"It's my building as well," replied Toles. "I need you to get out of my way."
Mueller continued to insist she had the right to stop Toles from coming into his own apartment building, demanding to know what unit he lived in. "You don't have a key fob, you are, no. If you have that, then OK," she said.
"Ma'am you are not security, you are not the property manager, you are not Mike Hermit," said Toles.
"I live here," she replied.
"I live here too. You are not Rick," said Toles.
“If you want to come into my building...” Mueller began to say.
“It’s not your building, you’re not the owner,” replied Toles, who then warned her that he was going to go in. “Excuse me.”
Mueller then attempted to claim that she had been assaulted.
"No! No!" said Mueller as Toles brushed past her. "Are you hitting me?"
"Call the police, whatever you want to do," replied Toles.
Mueller then followed Toles into the elevator to his apartment and watched him open his front door. In another video recorded by Toles, Mueller appears to try and reconcile with him and introduce herself as a neighbor.
"As a record I just want to say, ‘Hi, what is your name?’” she said.
“Ma’am — you just — no. Have a good night, ma’am,” Toles replied. “Don’t ever do that again.”
You can watch the whole thing below:
Thankfully for Toles, he recorded the whole sordid incident and has irrefutable proof that he was being discriminated against. Imagine for a moment however, that this was not recorded, that it was Toles's word against Brooke's. If a white woman accuses a black man of hitting her in America, the chances of the man being believed are close to zero. How do we know this? Because of how many dead black men there are at the hands of trigger happy police officers.
Historically, black men (and women) in America are presumed guilty and executed before trial. The only difference in 2018 is that we have video evidence proving what black people have been saying is the case for centuries.
The racism black people experience is not made up. It is not exaggerated, and it is not acceptable. D’Arreion Toles was blocked from trying to enter his own apartment by a white woman who presumed he shouldn't be there because he was black. Mueller may claim otherwise, but the video evidence is clear. Had Toles been white, there can be no doubt Mueller would have treated him differently.
Toles has spoken out after the incident and urged people not to attack Mueller.
“Some people think I should have went after her more,” he said. “I’m not going to go after her. My whole purpose is to turn this negative into a positive.”
Toles is a better man than I am, because if I were black, I would not be so charitable. And in America, that sadly means I would probably be in jail or dead.