Racism & Resistance Urban Style

A couple of interesting items in the New York Daily News today reflect what racism and resistance to racism look like urban-style. First up, there’s extensive coverage in a series about the racism in the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices on the subway.   For example:

Blacks and Hispanics make up 49% of subway riders, yet account for nearly 90% of the citizens stopped and questioned in the subways in the last two years.  Whites make up 35.5% of subway ridership, yet they account for a mere 7.9% of the subway riders stopped in the last two years, records show.

This happens across the city, but the racial disparity is particularly evident in Manhattan which is predominantly white.  In one of the related stories, the News staff writer Tina Moore reports on the experience of Victor Streety, a 42-year-old single father, who works with an early childhood literacy program and volunteers tutoring children in Harlem, who has no prior criminal history.  When Streety was stopped at the 125th subway station, he responded by asking: “Why?”  This is how Moore reports the story:

“A question was not what the black cop and his white partner wanted to hear. ‘He said, “If you’re going to give us a hard time, we can make this worse,” Streety recalled. ‘I said, “I’m sitting here waiting for my girlfriend and you want to see my ID? I want to know why.”   ‘I started to get a little upset,’  he said.  Streety says one cop swung him around to face a pillar, clasped his hands behind his back and asked if he had any weapons. “I said, ‘Weapons? Why would I have any weapons?’  Streety recalled.  The cop patted him down. Discovering no weapons, Streety says the cop then fished his driver’s license out of his back pocket.   For 20 minutes, the single father was captive just blocks from his home.  “I was embarrassed because it was my home station,” he said. “I didn’t want anyone to think I had been doing something against the law or anything like that. I don’t think anyone saw me, but who knows?”  Finally the cop handed the license back and apologized, saying he was just doing his job. Since that day nearly a year ago, Streety’s feelings about police have soured. ‘The police can do anything they want,’ he said. ‘It’s not like a black versus a white thing. It’s the police versus the public.’ “

The kind of indignity that Mr. Streety faced is the kind of harassment and humiliation that is a daily reality for Black and Latino/a citizens of New York.

In a second item from today’s Daily News, columnist Albor Ruiz writes about the important work that some NYC-residents are doing to combat this sort of racism.  Ruiz highlights the work of three New York women:   Ejim Dike, director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, Diana Salas of the Women of Color Policy Network and Aishia Glasford of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  All three are traveling to Geneva to address the UN convention about racial discrimination and its consequences in New York.  They will be delivering a report called, “Race Realities in New York City.”   The report details the many racial disparities in the city, including and beyond the subway stop-and-frisks, to include education and employment, like the fact that almost 80% of the city’s higher-paying administrative and managerial job positions are held by whites.  And, African-Americans are more than five times as likely, and Latino borrowers almost four times as likely, as white borrowers to receive high-cost home purchase loans.  Black and Latino New Yorkers are less likely to graduate from high school or to have health insurance. At the same time, they are more likely to live in poverty, lack voting rights or get arrested.   Ruiz quotes Ms. Dike, saying:

“Our goal,” said Dike, “is to share with advocates from around the world what they and their governments can do to combat racial discrimination even at the most local level.”

When they return their plan is to aggressively monitor and fix policies that create and further racial disparities.  I suspect that the stop-and-frisk practices are going to be on their list to monitor and fix.