In Brooklyn, Ohio, a man went into a branch of Huntington Bank to cash his paycheck. The initial problem was that he didn’t have an account there. The teller asked for two forms of identification. The man produced them. Then, because the teller suspected the check was fraudulent, she called 911 and the man was put in handcuffs and detained in the back of a police car. This incident is being labeled “Cashing a check while black.” Unfortunately, a brief Internet search reveals that he is not the only case.
Cashing a Check While Black: what is the real issue?
Like with the other forms of …while black, the basic issue is expectations. When Driving While Black was a new phenomenon, the impression that was taken from some of the victims was that their vehicles were newer, and often luxury models, and therefore, must be stolen.
In cases of people attempting to swim, grocery shop, wait on friends and so forth while black, there are the issues of who is allowed to use public spaces, and in what neighborhoods.
Those issues are similar to the ones involving black men who have been killed or harassed because a white person suspected that they didn’t really live there.
The latest issue, Cashing a Check While Black, goes even deeper. It confronts the bias that some people have that black people do not work, and if they do, it is for paltry sums. It is odd that such stereotyping runs so deep that it affects the biased individuals’ abilities to do their jobs.
Logic would indicate that once a biased individual saw proof contrary to the bias, he or she would begin to think differently. This is not happening. Instead, people are going out of their way to have their biases supported.
As far as the case in Brooklyn, Ohio is concerned, according to several news outlets in the Cleveland area and elsewhere, the branch of Huntington Bank that the man visited had a problem with fraudulent checks. One of the measures the bank representative took to ensure the viability of the check was to call the employer, an electric company. When the company couldn’t be reached, the teller called 911. The man’s check was for more than $1000.
Here are the aspects of the incident that make the bank representative’s actions problematic: There are a number of ways to find out if a check has been forged – – calling the company that issued it might not be the only way. Also, even if the check is suspicious, is it worth a call to an emergency line? Further, what happened to simply denying cashing the check?
No one has indicated if the aforementioned bad checks had anything in common with the check presented on Tuesday. At any rate, the man was able to cash his check elsewhere. For more about the incident, click here: https://www.cleveland19.com/2018/12/18/cleveland-man-alleges-racial-profiling-after-bank-refuses-cash-check-calls/
No matter how awful might find Cashing a Check While Black, this is not the first case.
In November 2017, an elderly black woman had the police called on her for trying to cash a check for $140. According to the Miami News Herald, the woman, Barbara Carroll, had her identification held hostage while Wells Fargo employees refused service and called the police. To add insult to injury, Carroll was asked what she did to get the money. This was after the person who wrote the check confirmed its validity. Carroll is a 78-year-old Ph.D. In July, she filed a lawsuit against the bank.
The way to eliminate the waste of law enforcement resources might be to devise a system of punishments for unnecessarily profiling someone. Much like there are punishments for falsely pulling a fire alarm and hate crimes, there should be punishments for this kind of profiling. Until then, the incidents remain unfortunate truths in black American lives.
The video at the top of the article tells the story of a man who experienced something similar to the man in Ohio.