I've been trying to think if I have ever been the target for racial profiling. As a white person in a predominantly white town, it isn't something that I think about a lot. There are simply too many of us for a targeted reaction to even register. I wonder how often any of us are discriminated against on the basis of our race and we do not even notice. It is something that we generally do not even think about.
I remember the first time I ever consciously noticed a black person. I was in fourth grade, and she was a new student in another class. No one was really brave enough to talk to her, as we were so afraid of possibly offending her (since about the only thing we "knew" about racial relations was that black people were very touchy about how they were treated).
We all belong to groups, most of us belong to many, many groups. I know that I act certain ways and am treated certain ways because of the groups I am associated with. There are some groups that I did not choose, such as being a female, my family, the school classes that I belonged to as a child, my religion. These groups shape who you believe you are, as others treat you in certain ways depending on how they perceive these groups.
For example, my brother and I were very interested in learning how to make computer games when we were children. When my brother showed interest, he was encouraged, given books on the topic and he is now in college as a network administrator and having a blast. On the other hand, when I showed a similar interest, it was as if it did not even register on people's radar. Young girls were not expected to want to program, and people only see what they expect to see.
As a young person, I have most definitely been the target for ageism. We tend to think of this as a problem affecting the elderly in our communities, but just as we discriminate against those who fall over a certain age, we also discriminate against those who are younger.
Throughout my working life most of my jobs have involved working with those who are quite a bit older than me. I have a knack of sitting quietly and observing those around me in such a way that they forget I am there and will act naturally. I am always amused when they start bashing on the "young people these days" when I am sitting right there next to them. Many of the negative perceptions that are held about the younger generation by the elderly are false and stem from a misunderstanding of the culture that we have grown up in. I would get worried, but I know that the previous generations have all spent their later years bitching about the youth and how they we are going to ruin the world.