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Members of the African American community live with race profiling

WBFO News file photo

Many African Americans continue to feel a racial imbalance in our community.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley reports black males experience a great deal of profiling.

"I get profiled all the time," said David Russell of Buffalo.  WBFO News asked him what it is like to be profiled. "It's not a good feeling. It's not a good feeling.  I get pointed out a lot of times, just for no reason," said Russell. 

Russell is a local freelance photo journalist and editor.  Russell tells WBFO News he has been profiled since he was a young teen, growing up on a middle class street in north Buffalo.  He recalled police asking him where he got his bicycle. Russell said he responded by telling the officer  'I think my parents bought it at Sears.'  

"I get profiled all the time," said David Russell of Buffalo. WBFO News asked him what it is like to be profiled. "It's not a good feeling. It's not a good feeling. I get pointed out a lot of times, just for no reason," said Russell.

"You have a large majority of people, some people do good, some people bad. Sometimes you see more bad than you see good. The majority of people who see that, focus on the bad," noted Russell.

And Russell places some blame on the music industry.

"Years ago, I grew up listening to old school. It was always a positive message, like with hip hop -- it was always a positive message, now it's just garbage," stated Russell. "I know people who produce that kind of music now, they can't get a deal, but if you talk about rims or drugs or strip clubs, stuff like that, those are the people who are getting the record deals."

Russell fears the negative content in some the music is brainwashing young minds to act in a fashion that only precipitates more racial profiling.

"Every day I worry about my husband. Everyday," said Buffalo native and attorney Nicole Lee. She was recently helped to coordinate legal protection during recent police protests in Ferguson, New York and Florida Lee said she believes people of color are marginalized in every class and every sector.

"My husband is a scholar. He went to ivy league schools. He's brilliant and soft spoken, and yet when vigilantes are murdering people, when the police are killing our young men, they're not asking for degrees, they're not asking for your resume," said Lee.  "They are unfortunately profiling people just merely based on the color of their skin and they're making mistakes that are costing lives and really destroying communities."

"The disproportionate number of African Americans being jailed for identically the same reason that white males are not jailed," said  Frank Mesiah, President of the Buffalo chapter of the NAACP.  Messiah agrees with the marginalization. "What's going on in education, things have changed, more people going to college -- but there is still more people -- African Americans -- being denied an education. So what we see are changes, but we also see things the same"

Mesiah said people talk about diversity in communities during Black History Month, but other times of the year this conversation disappears.

"And nobody really wants to sit down and discuss the relationships we have with each other. Male, female, black, white -- whatever it is -- nobody wants to sit down and talk about this and see how we address these issues," said Mesiah.  

WBFO asked Messiah, as local leader of the NAACP, if he could promote those conversations. 

"All we can do is to support what is being done and to put forth our own program, but I think we need all of the agencies, not only the religious agencies, but the political agencies, coming together to really address these issues, and we don't see that happening," stated Mesiah.       

Russell agrees, a conversation and much work is needed to make defined changes.

"We need work," noted Russell. We are under construction and I think the construction is going to be going on for a long time."

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