stop and frisk

Diary of a Mad Black White Woman – Hail to the Chief

Dear Diary:

It’s obviously fun to blend inI’ve spent a lot of years, a lot of dollars and perfected a lot of grimaces at the salon to do so. I mean, who doesn’t want to look like you belong, to get the invitations to THE events and to not be shoved on the ground just because you bought an overpriced belt.

But getting profiled and being harassed based on your looks gives you cool stories, bro. Not getting profiled doesn’t. Hence the fact that my yesterday was fairly uneventful.

What, this? Oh, nothing. Just the leader of the free world hanging out where I have coffee everyday. nbd

What, this? Oh, nothing. Just the leader of the free world hanging out where I have coffee everyday. nbd
(photo courtesy of Madison Sellers)

I mean sure, President Obama came to my work and I got to see him speak from 30 metres away. Yes, that happened. But some of the people I worked with got to see the President speak from 30 metres away AND got to tell everyone how intense security was with them. At their obligatory dinners tomorrow, they’re going to be ones getting sympathy and attention because they were roughly turned away from stairwells, had dogs search their bags and got wands stuck in uncomfortable places.

I’ll only be getting sympathy and attention because my hosts will find it unfathomable that my jaw can actually unhinge and that that much stuffing can fit inside one human being. During our President’s Day, none of the SWAT/CIA/FBI/Secret Service/Glendale Police even looked twice at me. I got to go up a blocked off flight of stairs as a (white) co-worker was questioned before he could proceed up the same stairs. And even though I went through 2 mandatory metal detectors, when I held my arms out to let the guy rub that stick on me, both times I was waved on with nary even a flick of that stick. Apparently “stop and frisk” isn’t really that big of an issue.

BORING!

I know I’m supposed to be happy about this. The fact that I was ignored means that I blended in. The way that I looked, spoke and comported didn’t raise any hackles or pique any suspicions. According to law enforcement, I looked just like everyone else– a success in an Oreo’s book.

But I’m wondering: maybe becoming one with the majority isn’t just about being profiled or not. Maybe it’s about where and how you get profiled. Any ol’ RBP can get stopped in Beverly Hills or handcuffed in the Upper West Side. That’s to be expected. That’s what RBP do.  But since domestic terror suspects aren’t usually black people, maybe it should be the goal of a true and dedicated Oreo one day be mistaken for one (a terror suspect, not a black person, let’s not get crazy). Yes, I think that’s what it is.  It’s not that I’m impossible to please, it’s just that an Oreo’s work is never done.

I’m sure I’m in part just overreacting to what was a perfectly fine and historic event. So,  I’m going to get back to finishing this Earl Grey and quiche and start hoping for what will happen at airport security when I head back to London next fall. Fingers crossed that the stories will be epic! 

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Is It Worth the Frisk?

This week, a U.S. District Judge ruled that New York’s policy of patting down suspected ne’er do wells known as “Stop and Frisk” was unconstitutional. Stop and Frisk will be allowed to continue, though Judge Shira Scheindlin had ordered that an independent monitoring agency oversee changes in the NYPD related to the policy.

Some of the things the as-yet-to-be-determined agency might find interesting include the following:

  • Last year, 87% of the people stopped under stop and frisk were Black or Latino–groups that make up less than 50% of NYC’s population.

  • Only about 1.9% of Stops and Frisks lead to police finding guns. Police were almost twice as likely to find guns on whites than minorities.

  • NYPD officers stopped young black men 168,000 times. Only 158,000 young black men live in NYC

  • Only about 6% of Stops and Frisks lead to arrests

In addition to the numbers on the page, there was also this video where a young man was stopped and frisked twice in just a few blocks. When he tried to point this out to the officers, they didn’t take it too well.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg plans to appeal the ruling. He has also said in the past that the best way to deal with Stop and Frisks is to be “cooperative” and to accept the policy as a part of urban life.

You might read the above and think it’s unfair. It might sound like a law enforcement tactic really went off the rails.  It might sound like people are being profiled and rights are being violated.

Even if all of that is true, don’t be sad. Be ready.

Here are three things you can do to make sure that your Stop and Frisk experience is as painless as possible.

1. Always wear cashmere. Just like a real lady is never under-dressed  neither should an of color be in New York City. Class it up by investing in a variety of high quality cashmere satin shirts, pants, jackets, dresses, rain coats, corsets, vests, turtlenecks, socks, and shoes and you’ll be ready when a cop starts patting you down. The officer will be so distracted by the glorious texture and your excellent taste that they won’t even notice that gun you’re not carrying. In a pinch, velveteen will do.

2. Stay Moisturized. By keeping your skin moist, smooth and supple, those rough cop hands will slide right over your trembling body, no matter how much you struggle to hide that handful of 57 Splenda packets you took from Hugo’s. Sure they’re not illegal, but it is an embarrassing stash.

3. Be Flexible. Not just with your opinions on social justice, but with your actual body. They’re going to get all up in there, so don’t fight. Let ‘em get all up in there. You never know what they’re going to not find, so practice holding that grand battement and let them have a good ol’ fashioned look around.

Have you been stopped or frisked? What do you think of the ruling? Let us know in the comments!

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