Stop making people your suspects

Being suspicious is an example of prejudice

Sam McKenzie Jr.
5 min readAug 4, 2018


As I watched the documentary, “Rest in Power,” the story of Trayvon Martin, you already know I got hot again.

I heard a replay of George Zimmerman’s 911 calls and the first keyword that rolled out his mouth got under my skin.

It was “suspicious.”

George Zimmerman committed a hate crime. When he said the word suspicious on his 911 call, the n-word is what I heard. And our legal system should’ve treated his racist talk like he said the n-word.

Because, when people use the word suspicious against Black people, it is often a euphemism for the n-word and its connotations. We must hear the s-word, that’s wielded like a sword, for what it is and sever the word.

And you know the stories.

Did you hear about the man in San Francisco who was opening his lemonade store to start the day?

Some suspicious person called the police on that Black business owner and said he was burglarizing the place. So, the cops wasted the man’s time by asking for identification.

Or, did you read about the local representative canvassing her own district? The police stopped her because an ignorant resident called the police.

Now, can I say — no one wants to live their lives in a freaking TSA line. I’ve seen people throw fits over the TSA. So, when this happens daily, people should expect a certain response.

While the encounters I mentioned ended without jail or death, they assault and insult our minds and our time.

And many encounters that end in harassment and death start from suspicion.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with the data over at the Pew Research Institute. I read the results of a survey about experiences with discrimination.

And, one of the most common forms of discrimination against Black people is treating us like we’re suspicious. In the survey, half of the Black respondents said people have treated them like a suspect.

So, the end of suspicious treatment is one way we can measure racial progress. And, by my calculations, America does not measure up as it…