Emilia Sykes is a state representative in Columbus, Ohio. She is also a 32-year-old Black woman who has been stopped twice within the year by security guards at the Ohio Statehouse because didn’t ‘look like’ a legislator. This is another example of Living While Black—whether you are a legislator, an athlete or the average Black person sitting in Starbucks.
Sykes revealed the first incident on Twitter this weekend, writing, “I was once told when stopped that I ‘don’t look like a legislator’ and thus need additional screening. After that incident they clarified that it was because I looked ‘too young.’ I’m not the youngest legislator in the OH General Assembly.” See below:
Cincinnati.com reports she was searched even though a colleague she was with, a 65-year-old white man, was not searched, “Sykes said she questioned why her bag needed to be searched when that wasn’t protocol. Lawmakers only need a badge to gain access to the Statehouse or the nearby Riffe Center, which houses many lawmakers’ offices. Her colleague told the trooper Sykes was a member of the Ohio House. She was told: ‘You don’t look like a legislator.’ The trooper then clarified: ‘You look too young.'”
But that was not the only incident. Cincinnati.com also reports on May 30, “Sykes had trouble getting into the Riffe Center for a meeting. She flashed her badge for security there. Security said they couldn’t see the badge. She flipped it around. They still couldn’t see it. She was stopped, and officers examined the badge, Sykes recalled the next day.” Now that her experiences have gone public, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which oversees Statehouse security, will meet with Sykes on Friday.
This is clearly a larger issue of Black people constantly being policed — even by an average person like BBQ Becky. One man, Darren Martin, is trying to change this. As we reported, cops accused the former Obama staffer of breaking into his Manhattan home. Martin is now asking for a congressional hearing on racial profiling. He is joining forces with the Yale student who had the cops called on her for sleeping, the Black women who had the cops called on them at an Airbnb and others. They collectively sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees this week, asking for a hearing on racial profiling.
The Washington Post reports the letter read in part, “These egregious affronts on human rights, eerily reminiscent of some of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history, are the sad reality for Black people in America. We would request that this new hearing widen the focus from just the police, as in previous hearings, to addressing prejudice and profiling from public companies to private citizens, as well.” Martin told The Post “he’s not promoting a specific policy position or piece of legislation, but rather would like to hear what a collection of experts, victims and legislators has to say about potential solutions to the issue.”
The letter asked for the hearing before the August recess.
Hopefully, this is a huge step in some needed change.