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Friday, September 11, 2009
Skin game: The reality of racial profiling

RACIAL PROFIING EXISTS.  Those who say it doesn't haven't been paying attention.  I know it exists because I have been racially profiled many times.

When I was in high school, my friend Maynard Reynolds and I used to play basketball on the playgrounds of Danville, Virginia.  When we first got to the courts often there was little obvious enthusiasm for our arrival -- unless they were really short of players.

Now, we weren't looked upon dismissively because of anything we had done or said or even anything that anyone of them had heard about us.  We were unknown commodities.  We were profiled because of how we looked -- extremely white.

Don't get me wrong, I understood.  We always went to play at the courts in the black neighborhoods, because, in some profiling of our own, we had decided that's where the good players were.

We did not decide this out of pure prejudice.  My older brother played for George Washington High School when they went to the state championship finals in 1965. GW had a good team – for a white school.  This was, as you might surmise, before the Danville school system was desegregated.

But I had been to a game at Langston High School, Danville's black high school as well.  For anything I could tell, Langston's team, a school with one third as many students, would have run GW out of the gym.

Here's the backstory.  The guys on the playground courts profiled us.  We were white, so, they thought that we couldn't play at their level.  You know what, they were half right.  Half of the two of us couldn't.

It didn't take long before they figured out the real story.  Maynard did have game.  He was a mini-Maravich.  Like Pistol Pete he could dribble effortlessly behind his back or between his legs, go to his right and to his left with ease.  He could shoot and he could score -- and he would pass to the open man.  He was a player.

It wasn't long before teams would grab him up before we got all the way to the court – despite his ghostly color.

Now, if my friend Maynard felt slighted that first time when he was picked next to last, I don't remember him showing it.  He just played and proved them wrong.  But, if he was miffed, who should he have blamed?  The guys at the courts who assumed we couldn't play?  Or the person who created the stereotype he had to break – me?  The guys at the courts were just trying to win, which is the point of the game, isn't it?


Carrboro goes dry as "Buy Local" hits stride

CARRBORO -- In the wake of its new "Buy Local" ordinance, Carrboro has become the first North Carolina town to go dry since Yadkinville voted in local prohibition in 1935.  The "Buy Local" ordinance requires that all Carrboro businesses buy and sell only products manufactured, produced or grown within the Carrboro planning jurisdiction.

"We had not realized that there were no breweries, distilleries or wineries in the greater Carrboro municipality," said Alderperson Burke O'Bailey-Smithwick, noting that she could now see how this could have an impact on alcohol sales within the town limits.

"The obvious answer is for Carrboro to legalize the sale and consumption of locally grown marijuana, which will boost the local farm economy as well as giving a kick start to the burgeoning hookah bar trade,” said Alderperson Albert Bosworth.

The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce was ecstatic at the news that Carrboro was going dry.  "This is the first time that we can remember a local government regulation of any sort actually helping business in Chapel Hill,” said Chamber spokesperson Milford Bunche, as he stood in line outside the Carolina Brewery.


Gary D. Gaddy played basketball for 40 years.  Most of time the players were divided by one clear and obviously superficial distinction: shirts or skins.

A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday September 11, 2009.

Copyright 2009  Gary D. Gaddy 

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 8:03 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, June 6, 2010 6:03 AM EDT
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