Trayon Christian’s experience says a great deal about the process of discrimination that minorities, especially black men, are subjected to.
I would argue that discrimination is any negative act towards someone, or denial of a basic privilege to someone, based upon a given characteristic that they possess. Discrimination is a recurring event, which is often justified by stereotypes in the media and the ideas they project. Patricia Hill-Collins states, “The combination of physicality over intellectual ability, a lack of restraint associated with incomplete socialization, and a predilection for violence has long been associated with African American men” (Black Sexual Politics, 152). Thus black men have always been expected to be volatile and without restraint, something which is certainly promoted by mainstream media’s image of black men as “thugs” and “pimps.” It leads to a negative perception, for example “any Black man can testify who has seen a purse-clutching White woman cross the street upon catching sight of him, his physical presence can be enough to invoke fear, regardless of his actions and intentions” (Black Sexual Politics, pg. 153).
These perceptions are translated into continued discrimination as black men are subjected to intense suspicion if they in any way attempt to elevate their image. With Trayon Christian this was attempted with his purchase of a fancy (somewhat absurdly expensive) belt. The fact that he was not allowed to so without objection from the establishment, and interrogation by the police, indicates the level of discrimination black men are facing.
Hill, Collins Patricia. “Booty Call: Sex, Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.”Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2004. 149-80. Print.