The difference between a white guy breaking into a car and a black guy breaking into a car


While I do think that some racial profiling/bias exists, the two guys and the target car are in two different parts of town. While the conclusion is provocative, I’m not 100% convinced that this location swap did not affect the results of the experiment.


True. It may also reflect a bias towards taller people.


I remember around 1989, I locked my keys in my car in the parking lot of my bank. A sheriff happened to drive into the parking lot, so I went up to him and told him I had locked my keys in my car and he grabbed a slim jim from his trunk and unlocked my car for me. He checked my registration after unlocking it to verify it was my car, but it was such a cool thing for him to do, I thought.

I wonder if the world has changed too much since then for that to happen today.

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Fair enough. Have a look at this then:


How come nobody gives a shit about the white guy breaking into a car? This seems to me as worthy of some thought as the undeniable racism of the situation.


That is the racism.

I think no one is that surprised that the police come when you try and break into a car. But the racism is precisely that the white guy gets a free pass.

This is an absolutely perfect illustration of that excellent analogy posted around awhile back that got lots of people (i.e. white men) riled up: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

If this were Grand Theft Auto, the white guy in this video is playing on the very easiest level: commit a crime in broad daylight and everyone assumes you’re an innocent guy.


As a black man who was born and raised in Florida, spent some time in the Northeast, currently lives in Texas, and who has traveled all over the US, I feel pretty confident in stating that the location swap likely had a trivial effect on the outcome. One does not typically see large variances among attitudes toward race within a given urban area.

You might see wide variance within a given so-called “greater metropolitan area” but it’s not my experience that there’s a huge block-by-block difference in attitude, even when moving among “ethnic enclaves” in an urban area.

I suppose it’s possible the 2nd part of the experiment took place in a completely different city, but I’d guess that they could have gone back the next day to the exact same spot where the white experimenter attempted his break in and seen pretty much the same result for the black experimenter that we saw in the video.


I locked my keys in my car a few years back and a cop told me that they were no longer allowed to unlock people’s vehicles because the cop could be held liable if the lock gets broken in the process. He suggested that I call a professional locksmith instead. In today litigious society, it seemed like a reasonable stance.


I suspected this as well. [Disclosure: I am 5’1" and I suspect taller people of nefarious thoughts and deeds; also, people wearing sweatpants in public are probably up to no good, too.]

I was amazed by this phenomenon long ago when the battery in my alarm fob died. I was parked on a fairly busy street, both vehicles and pedestrians, but the only way into the car was to just open the door, set off the alarm, then spend 5 minutes digging under the floor mats trying to find the alarm fuse.

Not one person asked me what I was doing.

I think that was the day I finally understood the concept of “white privilege” .


You could post 10,000 more videos like this and some people would insist that racial profiling against black people isn’t an issue in our culture.


Considering the abysmal racial relations, I’m actually relieved that the black actor didn’t get shot, by some vigilante OR the cops. I would have been terrified to try this, in his place. That’s so sad on so many levels.


I understand from our Supreme Court that racism is over, these videos are obviously outliers or before their recent decision.


A buddy and I were urban exploring in a downtown area. A cop (a black cop, if you care) saw me trespass on private property, and stood there as I wiggled out from under the chain link fence. He said, “You guys doing okay?”, then proceeded to harrass the homeless guy that was just passing through the parking lot.


Earlier this week my dog was going nuts in the kitchen. I couldn’t figure out why. Finally, I realized that I could hear male voices. Couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. Dog continued to be agitated about it, so finally I went outside to get an answer. There were three black teenaged boys leaning against the side of the building by the basement door, talking and sharing a bag of chips. When they saw me, the first thing they said was “we’re not smoking anything” and then when I started talking to them and explained that they were on private property and driving the dog nuts so they had to go, they said “thank you for not calling the cops”.

They couldn’t have been more than about 14 or so. But they knew that eating chips somewhere they didn’t belong could result in the police (or an irate neighbor with a gun).

Compare that to a while back, literally the day after the Newtown, CT school shooting. A group of white teenaged boys – right about the same age, now that I think about it – were playing with air rifles up and down the street, hiding at the corners of buildings and behind bushes, etc. I ran out and told them they had to stop immediately because all the adults were on edge and they might get shot for real as a result…but just the fact that these boys had no sense that their actions might result in the police being called was a real snapshot of white privilege.

Same block (on the south side of Chicago), same ages, very different actions…and the likely consequences of those actions would be determined more by the color of their skin than by what they were actually doing.


Really, you can’t really argue the reaction of officers in the same PD is totally different because they’re a 15 minute drive apart, on two similar looking, not particularly fancy shopping streets?

Incidentally - The Daimaru Hotel, seen in the background of the first shot, is at 345 E 1st St in LA.
The H&H Hotel & Hostel, seen in the background of the second shot, is at 7038 Hollywood Blvd, also in LA.

I mean, if this were an actual experiment intended to derive statistically significant conclusions, with 100s of samples at randomly selected locations, there might be a point, but it’s not an experiment, it’s an illustration.


This is not an experiment. An experiment would require hundreds of trials, with lots of controlled variables. This was just a demonstration, and a very clever one.

It’s always easy to dismiss a sample of one. But there are actual experiments out there, clear, unambiguous, peer-reviewed, and people dismiss those too. We are very deeply invested in pretending racism is over; it’s Black History Month!


Generally, if the alarm is going off, you can fix it by turning the ignition on.

I found this out doing the same.


On Michael Moore’s tv show, he did a bit showing a white guy and later a black guy try to flag down taxis in NYC. Only the white guy getting all the taxis was an ex-con and the black guy was Yaphet Kotto.