When Law and Order Hits Close To Home

In “Law and Order SVU: Season 13, Episode 6“ there is an episode involving a complicated situation regarding race.  In this episode, a college-aged white girl is raped at gun-point by a black male.  Throughout the episode they begin to question the girls story, learning that she is dating her piano teacher and cheated on him with another black male the night before.  The lawyer hired to take on the rapists case is a black male, who claims that SVU is basing the investigation on stereotypes, and insisting that he did not commit the crime.  The episode ends with the … Read more

Placing Chris Rock in Conversation with Beverly Daniels Tatum

It seems as though anytime there is a widely-publicized instance of police brutality in the United States, my Facebook timeline is flooded with the same grainy YouTube clip entitled “How to Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police.” In the faux public service announcement filmed in 1998, comedian Chris Rock provides black viewers with a comical step-by-step guide to follow in order to avoid getting into trouble with the law.   The skit is problematic because it perpetuates negative black prejudices, showing only black men breaking laws and acting in a stereotypical thug-like manner, but also because it victim-blames, … Read more

Every. Single. Day.

Every. Single. Time. I got a campus safety alert in college, I crossed my fingers and hoped it was not a black or brown man. I remember hearing people say to stay away from sketchy neighborhoods in Allentown, which at the time didn’t look too different from where I grew up. I heard people talk about going to White Wawa instead of Black Wawa or “Blawa.” Some people would drive out of their way to exclusively go to the former. These instances are a symptom of a larger problem, black and brown bodies being seen as dangerous. Police brutality is a … Read more

Checking the Box

Many job and college applications include a question that reads something like, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” While this may seem like a simple question, used to filter out people who have committed crimes, it actually has huge racial implications and is therefore a very problematic question to have on an application. Whether companies and colleges realize it or not, this question traces back to laws in the criminal justice system that are made to purposely keep White people at the type of the hierarchy. In her chapter on mass incarceration, Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow; … Read more

Who are They Really Surveilling?

I recently read some news that made me think a little more critically about authority. On the Highlands Today newspaper website they said that as of this week the officers of Lake Placid Florida would began to wear camera’s attached to their uniforms to video record their interactions with civilians on duty. This means that their patrolling, arrest, and other things that they do on their daily rounds will be recorded and under review! This initially made me happy. It made me think of the countless amounts of times where police violence was used specifically on Black people. And then … Read more

Are We Beginning to Chip Away at Mass Incarceration? An Example from New York State

Last week, our class discussed mass incarceration, the system by which a vastly disproportionate amount of people of color are imprisoned for the use or distribution of illegal drugs. The situation is quite bleak; the system has been escalating for the past few decades and has wreaked havoc among communities of lower class people of color. Nevertheless, there may in fact be a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout the country, some states are decriminalizing, and two are even legalizing, marijuana. Somewhat differently, in my home state, New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced a … Read more