On Stereotyping…am I a bad person?

I was headed up to my room from the hotel lobby. As the elevator door opened, another guest walked up and entered the elevator with me. Our conversation was limited to me asking “which floor” so that I could push the button for him since I was closest to the buttons. Within the short period of time it took for us to enter the elevator and travel to our respective floors, I observed as much as I could about this guest. He appeared to be a middle-aged white male with nothing really shocking or unique about his appearance. Under most circumstances, I would never be concerned about his presence. But as this middle-aged white male entered the elevator and rode up to his floor, I realized I was concerned simply because he had three bags with him.

One bag was a metal style piece of luggage. Okay, I know you are probably wondering, “what’s the point, Tonza?” Yes, I know, most people have luggage when they come to hotels. But I was still concerned. His second bag looked like a messenger style leather bag. Nothing to be alarmed about, right? Okay, I am with you. Nothing to be alarmed about. He could be in town on business, or he probably had his laptop with him. Duh… But I was still concerned. His third bag was a large duffle bag on wheels, not quite long enough for golf clubs. Still, nothing to be alarmed about…right? I mean people pack according to the length of their stay and sometimes travel with items other than clothing. Logically I understood this. But I was still concerned.

As I stood there quietly, my brain processing these thoughts, I understood that this man had done absolutely nothing to make me feel alarmed or uncomfortable, but… I was. To quell my unfounded discomfort, I kept telling myself that I was being absolutely ridiculous and quite unfair. Despite that pep talk with myself, I stood there wishing I had x-ray vision so that I could see what he had in his bags in order to completely put my mind at ease.

Why did this middle-aged white man, who did absolutely nothing but have the audacity to have three bags in a hotel, make me uncomfortable? Because the fact that he had three bags that looked as though they could comfortably store a nice amount of firearms and ammunition made my mind race back to October 1, 2017, when a white male gunman, after a carefully executed plan, murdered 58 innocent human beings while injuring another 851 from a hotel window in Las Vegas using ammunition and guns that he was able to bring into the hotel without detection. And, as much as I pride myself on being a liberal person, there was nothing that could stop me from praying that the man in the elevator with me flew to this destination so someone would have had to at least check his bags.

If he were a black male with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed. If he were a white woman with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed. If he were a black woman with the same luggage, I definitely would not have been alarmed.

I am a black woman, and I was stereotyping. Does that make me a bad person?

Much love,


I believe that we must begin to have honest and open conversations with one another so I hope that you all will share your honest thoughts on this piece. 

Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

8 thoughts on “On Stereotyping…am I a bad person?

  1. Did he appear to be Cooky or unhinged in anyway? Honestly, with these lone wolf serial killers intent on doing mass killings the only way we can quell our fears is through stricter gun control laws. It’s absolutely sickening and shameful that after all the mass atrocities we’ve seen here in America in he last four years we are still having to plead with these worthless lame duck politicians to do the right thing to protect our children and our families. Gun control. That’ll erase some of your fear and prejudice right there.

    1. He did not appear to be cooky or unhinged in any way.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I never thought about the fact that stricter gun laws might be the answer to alleviating some of the fear and prejudice that might exist but I think you are dead on with that proposal. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Tonza, I don’t think that makes you a bad person, it makes you a concerned law abiding citizen of the USA. Now days we all should be concerned. The problem is that after you saw this gentleman with all of this there was absolutely nothing done about it. What could you have done? What if he was a disturbed person ready to take action? What if he had taken action? Now it would only be news, right? I’m sure millions of people saw the same think & had the same thoughts you had but what was done to help him? What was done to protect the people?
    So in a American, what do we do? What do we say ? Who do we talk to?
    Love you Tonza & thanks for always sharing your thoughts 💭

  3. I truly understand where your coming from. Being a Vet, and having been in a war zone, i try to be as observant as I can. When you add what’s going on in the world right now, we all have to be observant of our surroundings. As the old saying goes, better safe than sorry.

  4. I once left DC, for a grip. I spent five months in L.A., with a chick who’s dead now. No autopsy needed. She was shot dead in a murder-suicide by her husband, a clean-cut, African American, middle-aged finance officer, who’s weapon AND his possession of it, all fell gracefully under legal conditions. I was back in DC, before that happened. Ironically enough, the time I spent in LA, was the time we had that damned sniper in DC. I bs you not, I missed that freak show, by just under 48 hours. I really want to say, that by the time I lit my first El on the west side, some cat was asking me about–dig this now–the WHITE DUDE SHOOTING UP DC. That’s my word. You remember that? The first description, for the lookout, was a middle aged white male, in a white cargo van. So nah, you far from the first. Professional profilers around the nation’s capital got the drop on you, years ago with that.

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