Stop & FriskGrowing up as a teenager in Newark, N.J., the summers were often correlated with the dread of enhanced police presence in the city brought on by the infiltration of New Jersey State Troopers.

This practice of state police support in Newark continues to this day.  Much like the entire nation, the citizens of Newark accept the appearance of enhanced security without much discussion about privacy and/or civil liberties especially significant given the state’s long history of racial profiling and the plethora of police stops casually justified as “driving while black.”

What we refer to now as “stop and frisk” has been tactical practice for urban police departments for nearly all of my life. That it has been formalized and institutionalized in the 21st century only serves to strengthen law enforcement’s reliance on it and faulty justifications for it.

Maybe if you’ve never been profiled; if you’ve never been stopped for no apparent reason, questioned about your destination, tousled and frisked, searched and put up against a wall or a car; maybe if you’re not painfully aware of how many of these kinds of encounters (between police and innocent citizens) have ended in the deaths of too many innocent victims to tally here; maybe if you have no connection to the utter humiliation of being publicly detained by police for no reason, then it might be difficult to comprehend the underpinnings of privilege in the recent discourses on the NSA, Manning, Snowden, and the unchecked access to our digital lives.

The left’s outrage directed at the Obama administration in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaking of classified information has been palpable and well documented in both print and television media.

While the discussion has sometimes centered too much on Snowden and not enough on the principles of civil liberties in relationship to national security, I find myself in agreement with those who are suspicious of any government that wants us to simply trust that they will do the right thing regarding our rights.

Yet how can we have a discussion about civil liberties and security, privacy and safety without connecting it to the physical surveillance to which black and brown Americans have been historically subject?  In short, why aren’t the champions of Snowden, Manning, and others saying anything at all about stop-and-frisk and Stand Your Ground laws/policies.  They have been and remain silent on the historical and perpetual encroachment upon the civil liberties – the freedom to walk the streets without being detained or shot – of black and brown citizens of the United States.

The facts are that we live in a surveillance state; we are complicit in this surveillance via our willingness to exchange privacy for (digital) consumption; the government, at least since the Bush era, has voraciously deployed new technologies to enhance its surveillance capabilities; and poor people, women, and people of color – black folks, Latina/Latino Americans, Arab and Muslim Americans, as well as anyone who looks like any of the aforementioned have and will continue to be subject to physical surveillance.

Digital surveillance summons fears about privacy.  State-sanctioned physical surveillance produces fears about safety and ultimately fear for one’s life.  The concept of living in a society that watches you but does not fully acknowledge or recognize your humanity is a reality too many Americans face on a daily basis.  Once you add state sanctioned polices designed to normalize racial profiling, the placement of cameras in traffic lights or on street corners, and/or the invasive searching of some who would like to travel by airplane, then the picture of the surveillance state becomes clear.

(Continue Reading @ The Grio…)

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • Apple

    They are too busy writing on their novels at Starbucks preparing for their vintage festival for white feminist

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    “Where is the white liberal rage on stop and frisk?”

    Somewhere working hard to keep you out of their gentrified neighborhoods.

    • Laura Charles

      “Somewhere working hard to keep you out of their gentrified neighborhoods.”

      Somewhere working hard to GET you out of their gentrified neighborhoods.

  • My states population is six million plus with 14% people of color, our state wide elected officials (6 offices 4 dems) and our general assembly has 10 dems out of 34 senators and the house of reps is about the same ratio, we have 163 house members. The dems/liberals are not going to ruffle their feathers in this state because they want to keep their seats. Each year when the racial profiling results are published it is proven time after time that our county sheriff departments are guilty of profiling, no outrage from the dems. The general assembly right now is drafting a voter fraud bill and none has been proven to the extent there needs to be voter id. Instead of fighting with facts, they compromise with early voting. This state elected officials are not going to take a stance on any of the unfair practices because if they show support for people of color they are bound to lose their positions.

  • DiasporaUK


    I wonder if any of the blacks in San Dominique, now called Haiti, begged for white liberal support when they launched the Uprising which became the first successful revolt of an enslaved population in recorded human history?

    I doubt it.

    The Maroons of Jamaica, The Seminoles of Florida, Nat turner of Virginia, The Mau Mau of Kenya . . . . didn’t go begging for white liberal support and they all defeated the white supremacist order of their day or struck major blows against it, in the cause of Black Freedom.

    Indeed, Queen Zinga of Angola (interesting that this website never mentions that black woman) a warrior chief who had co–operated with the system of slavery but turned against it. Although some would argue only because slavery’s depopulation of her region was decimating her power and influence. However as flawed as she was, she joined the African Resistance. Why never a mention of her on this site?

    She didn’t beg for white liberal support, so we do have a precedent that stands as an example of fierce INDEPENDENT black womanhood confident in its own ability and capacity to lay out a program to rid itself of white supremacist domination.

    bout white liberal support.

    You only ask for whiteys’ help because you love white people and expect them to feel the same way about you.

    But oddly enough, the truth is, there is some “love” between blacks and whites, like that between a controlling exploitative and physically abusive husband and his wife. Husband “loves” his wife the same he loves his dog or car. It’s a proprietary love . . . he loves not the woman, but his ownership of the woman.

    What do we tell the wife in that situation?

    These fools wanna keep us lovin white people so we can stay “their property”.

    Dream on

    So I’ve laid it out, examples of black people who have liberated themselves WITHOUT help from white people. If you don’t believe then stay a slave, accept what whitey does to you and shut up.

  • Where is the white liberal outrage on stop-and-frisk? Doing what they always do home taking care of theirs cause it’s not their concern!