Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stop And Frisk? Stop And Think, First

Hi, my name is Dennis. You may know me as Felonious Munk, comedian and contributor to WPIX11 5 o'clock news. I'm pretty easy to vet. "Google me, baby". I'm on TV in the largest market in this country...but apparently I look like a criminal.

Yes, I have a full, flourishing, lumberjack beard. That's what you would call it if I was a white guy from the mountains. Uncle Jessie from the Dukes of Hazard had one, too. Never would anyone ask them if they were terrorists. I also wear my Yankees cap backwards. I've worn it that way for 20+ years (much to my mother's chagrin). There's a simple reason...I have a small cranium and based on size and shape, the hat fits better. Plus it's MY hat. I also wear jeans and graphic tees (often with a zip up hoodie) on the news. Oddly enough, people question that. As if by virtue of a suit and tie, you become more qualified.

I'm fully aware of society's rules. I recognize that some believe that in a professional setting you should be clean shaven. You should wear a suit. And if you're going to wear a hat, dammit, turn it forward! Most of those same people can complete this sentence: don't judge a book by its _ _ _ _ _. Dr. King hoped for a day when the content of a man's character trumped skin color. I have no such dreams that people will one day stop judging me by what I wear.

A few years ago, I unplugged. Decided to ignore society's bogus rules on acceptability. Stopped caring what the newest shoe was. Stopped attempting to appear like I was living the American Dream. Started living MY dream. Happiness ensued! Imagine concerning myself with bettering my life, and not with what people would think, I actually became successful (inasmuch as success = happy). But I digress. My point? My character, work ethic, and visibility don't prevent me from being more likely to be stopped and frisked "randomly" by the NYPD. Because I'm not white.

The statistics show overwhelmingly, that more Black & Latino youth are a staggering majority. Before you quote the crime statistics, consider this: I'm a citizen. I'm not a criminal. I pay my share of taxes that help pay the salaries of the NYPD. Many who support the stop and frisk policy don't consider themselves to be racist. They may not be...but can they please explain to me why I SHOULDN'T feel outrage at a policy that singles me out as more likely to be a criminal than they are?

I don't have a racial chip on my shoulder. But, if I could it not be justified? Again, all things being equal (and they are) I'm more likely to be stopped and frisked than my white co-workers. The Tea Party sprang up as an answer to the rights of law abiding citizens being infringed upon. You want people to stop calling you racist? Stand up for the rights of the young non-white men in NYC. (nah...I don't believe in unicorns either). Regardless of your intellectually dishonest choice of words to justify this policy, it remains at its core, racist. It is a civil rights violation. It's a hate-crime. I worked my ass off to be happy...just to be reminded that you fear me. Guess're the real scary one. NYPD, protect and serve by the law...or accept that YOU created the distrust in the brown/black communities. But, I guess Bloomberg is too busy addressing super-sized sodas to worry about people's rights, huh? STOP IT B!

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