A slew of anonymous billboards have emerged on bus shelters across the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and they all speak to one simple message: we as a nation are not past racial discrimination.
“Racism Still Exists” is the title of the advert campaign that is seeking to broadcast the way racial disparities continue to impact African-Americans. Accompanied by a detailed Tumblr post, each month a new billboard pops up, highlighting topics such as unfair representation of blacks in film, the stop-and-frisk dilemma, and the increased marketing of cigarettes towards black people.
Because the owners remain unknown, the campaign’s message rings loudly and synonymously with the mission statement listed on their site:
“Although public commentary describes the United States as “post-racial”, racism continues to exert a very real and pervasive influence on institutional policies and processes, interpersonal interactions, neighborhood infrastructure, socioeconomic opportunities, media imagery, and more. RISE is a project designed to illuminate some of the ways in which racism operates in this country.”
It is intriguing that Bed-Stuy has become the public space in which this racial dialogue has been launched and is engaged. The neighborhood is among the nation’s 25 most rapidly gentrified zip codes, a 2012 study from the Fordham Institute reported.
Additionally, the imbalance of economic mobility in the region contrasts strongly with the billboards overall message of inadvertent discrimination in the 21st century.