Every now and then someone will tell me a story, when suddenly, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. They’ll say, “And then there was this big black guy.”
“Big and black??” I’ll say if I’m feeling cheeky. “Oh no.”
The story usually falls apart from there.
This isn’t to say there aren’t imposing and intimidating black men, as there are imposing and intimidating men of every race. Some rappers purposely strike an intimidating pose to show how tough and strong they are. That intimidation, though, also has to do with perception.
In a New York Times piece about white female rappers, Touré writes:
For many Americans, black male rappers are entrancing because they give off a sense of black masculine power — that sense of strength, ego and menace that derives from being part of the street — or because of the seductive display of black male cool.
In that passage, he writes as much about rappers as the public’s view of them: Menacing. Seductive.
The same is true for the person who tells the story with “the big black guy.” That description often says more about the storyteller than the person in the story.
Continue reading 'The Big Black Guy'»
It’s pretty hard to counter the conclusion that the New York City Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk policy is biased against blacks and Latinos. The statistics, which are the NYPD’s own numbers, indicate about 80% of the people stopped are black or Latino. Of those people who are stopped, more than 85% are completely innocent.
On, December 18, the New York Times published a story that illustrates the way Stop-And-Frisks impacts individuals. Nicholas K. Peart is a 23-year-old black college student who has been stopped and frisked four times in nine years. He was never arrested and was released every time. He describes the effect those stops have had on him.
After the third incident I worried when police cars drove by; I was afraid I would be stopped and searched or that something worse would happen. I dress better if I go downtown. I don’t hang out with friends outside my neighborhood in Harlem as much as I used to. Essentially, I incorporated into my daily life the sense that I might find myself up against a wall or on the ground with an officer’s gun at my head. For a black man in his 20s like me, it’s just a fact of life in New York.
It also changed the way Peart feels about police.
When I was young I thought cops were cool. They had a respectable and honorable job to keep people safe and fight crime. Now, I think their tactics are unfair and they abuse their authority. The police should consider the consequences of a generation of young people who want nothing to do with them — distrust, alienation and more crime.
Read the entire article here.
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