Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What Would You Do?

ABC News correspondent John Quioñes has conducted a hidden camera experiment on What Would You Do? in various social and cultural situations over the last two years.

One situation focused on mean girls verbally harassing a less popular girl in a public park. Only women, not men, stopped and intervened to breakup the confusion. I don't think I'd have gotten involved, especially living in New York City where some teens carry weapons. My thoughts would've been more on my personal safety versus rescuing a stranger. If I were with someone else with a cell phone, I'd stand at a distance until park officials or NYPD arrived. Why are men less likely to help men than women? Are men not emotionally or spiritually equipped as women are in these situations? Or perhaps men aren't as patient or nurturing as women? Whatever the case, I wouldn't risk my life when a group is on the attack like a wild pack of hyenas on National Geographic.

The next situation took place in a Texas bakery when a man repeatedly refused to serve a Muslim woman dressed in traditional clothing. I'm originally from Texas, and know all too well about the blatant and subtle racism. Is it less likely that a person stopping in for coffee, bagels, or donuts will have a pistol strapped to his leg or shoulder? In Texas, anything is possible. I remember how it felt when a white student in high school called me boy while I gathered my things at my hallway locker one day after school. He shook his head like a shaggy dog after having swam in the school pool. I was on the other side of town in River Oaks, but this wasn't 1950's Texas, but the 1980's, and he apparently had been raised racist. The sting of racism revisited upon me these many years later. Words linger and haunt.

The third scenario featured an African American couple in a park fighting, the female was verbally abused and spanked with a belt. All but one lone female walked by the arguing duo. Two white men approached and advised that this isn't the place or the time for that sorta thing. They were saying that it was acceptable for the man to assault the woman, but just not in the park in front of others. Private lives, public people.

The final segment showed drunken people struggling to unlock a car door while passersby looked on in disbelief. I think a drunk wouldn't be as threatening as a belligerent racist or bully. It'd be easy to commandeer a set of car keys, and/or nudge them to sit on the sidewalk or in a chair.

Thankfully for the sake of the televised experiments, the victims and abusers were actors, and weren't in real harm. The show raised important questions that I think everyone should ask and answer. What would you do?

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