Pointers for creating profile-free posts on Nexdoor.com

Introduction 


Neighbors for Racial Justice began when several of us came together because of our concerns about racial profiling on crime alert posts on Nextdoor.com. Nextdoor is a social media platform for neighbors. While most posts are friendly offers of free items or alerts about runaway pets, there are also frequent posts from neighbors reporting crimes or observations of "suspicious" activity.

While some changes have been made to the platform in response to our suggestions, harmful racial profiling still occurs on Nextdoor. In an effort to better educate our neighbors about racial profiling and how it makes us all less safe, N4RJ has been writing a series of "Pointers for creating profile-free posts" and sharing them on Nextdoor.

We invite you to share them as well. The principles apply whether posting on Nextdoor.com, or any other social media platform or neighborhood listserv. Feel free to share them widely.

Note that the links we include to refer back to our previous posts on Nextdoor will only work if you live in our neighborhood and have an account on Nextdoor.com. Instead you may want to link back here, where we will publish our posts, or on our Facebook page .

https://www.facebook.com/neighborsforracialjustice/



Tip #1


Dear Neighbors,


Did you know that Nextdoor has community guidelines that promote safety for all our neighbors by defining and prohibiting racial profiling? Profiling refers to the practice of considering race, among other variables, as a predictor or criteria of criminal behavior.

Unconscious stereotypes and racial bias can skew judgment and mislead us in interpreting and predicting others' behavior in spite of our best intentions.

Example: African American youth, driving by houses slowly, possibly casing. Look out for this car!

Tip: Consider what other reasons someone could be driving by slowly, looking at homes. Could this driver just be looking for a house number?

Racial profiling also includes describing people in vague and general terms, which then cast a wide net over innocent people who fit these loose descriptions.

Example: Tan Honda with paper plates idling near my home, driver claims to be waiting for a friend. Watch out for a teenage Asian male.

Tip: Given such a vague description, do you intend to have the neighborhood scrutinize all Asian teens with suspicion? Not only is it unhelpful, it can be harmful.

In considering these tips, and reviewing Nextdoor's guidelines, we will create a safer, more welcoming and inclusive neighborhood that we all deserve.

Read more about it in Nextdoor's help section:



This is the first in a series of helpful tips brought to you by Neighbors for Racial Justice.

http://www.neighborsforracialjustice.org/


Tip #2


Dear Neighbors,


In May we discussed the definition of racial profiling which refers to the practice of considering race, among other variables, as a predictor or criteria of criminal behavior. It includes describing people in vague and general terms, and results in a cloud of suspicion over innocent people who fit these loose descriptions.
https://oakmore.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=52975967
This month we shine a light on the harm racial profiling does to individuals. Next month we plan to look at the harm it causes to the community.

Racial profiling forces individuals who have engaged in no wrongdoing to endure the burden of proving their innocence to suspicious neighbors and law enforcement.
Posting vague descriptions on Nextdoor (for instance, black teenage male) promotes suspicion of innocent black teens and puts them in a position of having to defend their right to just be.
Neighbors and visitors of color report being stopped, questioned, and harassed in Oakmore. In some instances they fear physical harm. This leaves neighbors and visitors of color feeling isolated, angry and distrustful of their own community.
Please ponder these questions before hitting "send" on your next post:

  • What harm and frustration might this post cause to an innocent person of color?

  • If you don’t have a full description that points to a specific person(s) when reporting a crime, could posting a vague description lead to the harm of an innocent person?

  • When you walk to the bus or to get a cup of coffee, how many people do you pass who fit that vague description? These are your neighbors.



Tip #3


Dear Neighbors,

This is the third in a series of posts in which we are sharing useful information about racial profiling, how it impacts us, and the harm it creates. In reducing racial profiling in our neighborhoods, we are working towards creating a safe and inclusive community.

We defined racial profiling in May:
https://oakmore.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=52975967


In June we discussed how racial profiling harms individuals:

But how does racial profiling negatively affect our larger community?

Racial profiling can lead to a sense of isolation and segregation and stand in the way of building rich, vibrant, inclusive communities.

Regardless of our race or background, we’ve all been conditioned to hold beliefs and assumptions about groups of people. Biases cloud our ability to see members of the group as individuals and can distort our view of what is normal, everyday activity versus what is suspicious or potentially criminal. This is not only a potential danger to members of these groups, but can cause us to live in fear and suspicion, creating disharmony in our community.  

Evidence shows that racial profiling as a crime-fighting approach is both ineffective and inefficient. When we engage in racial profiling on a neighborhood level, such as on Nextdoor, we may encourage unwarranted and time-wasting calls to the police. Such calls can divert law enforcement resources and hurt us all. Check how ineffective racial profiling is here:
  
Here are some things to think about:

1) How do negative assumptions about people of color affect who you see as “unsafe” or unwelcome in your neighborhood and city?

2) If you are posting about a crime or safety issue on Nextdoor, how are these negative assumptions impacting the content of your post, and how could this be divisive in your community?



Tip #4



Dear Neighbors,

This summer Neighbors for Racial Justice has been sharing some common-sense tips with our fellow Oaklanders on how to avoid racially profiling one another when we post on Nextdoor, especially in postings about crime and safety. Here are the links to our past posts:

https://oakmore.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=52975967



This month we would like to offer up a few questions you can ask yourself as you post to Nextdoor in the Crime and Safety section. If you take the time to ponder the answers, we hope it will be helpful to you as you compose your posts.

Did you witness or experience an actual crime, or are you posting about something you deem suspicious?

If you are posting about something you deem suspicious, could the behavior or activity you are reporting be an innocent, everyday activity (walking by, sitting in a car)?

If the behavior could be described as an everyday activity, what about it makes you think it’s suspicious?

Is it the person’s race or appearance that raises your suspicion?

Can you describe this suspicious person in a way that an innocent person will not be mistaken for the person you are describing in your post?

Given that an innocent person can be harmed if mistaken for a suspicious person vaguely described in a post, will you still choose to send that information to your neighbors?



Tip #5


Dear Neighbors,

With this new post in a series discussing racial profiling, Neighbors for Racial Justice invites you to test your own racial and cultural biases. In becoming more aware of our biases, we will create more inclusive, safer, and welcoming neighborhoods, and reduce racial profiling on Nextdoor.

Members of Neighbors for Racial Justice have taken this online test for implicit bias and found the results surprising, interesting, and useful.

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

While we are often urged to “trust our gut” and if we “see something, say something,” there is very little discussion about how our biases influence what we find suspicious.

We all hold biases; it is unavoidable. Having biases doesn’t mean you are racist or a bad person. However, when biases are unconscious, they can lead us to make assumptions about people and situations, and it can be difficult to know how much they are influencing what and who we deem suspicious.

Implicit biases are hard to uncover because they don’t necessarily align with our stated beliefs. They can be negative or positive, but usually favor our own ingroup. When unexamined, our biases can lead to racial profiling and harm to others and ourselves. The good news is they are malleable and can be unlearned.  


Let’s take responsibility and learn about our own biases and how they inform our behavior. As a first step in that direction, we urge you to take the Harvard Implicit Bias Test on race.

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

Please feel free to email us your thoughts and reflections upon taking the test. We look forward to hearing from you!

Neighbors4RacialJustice@gmail.com