It is 2013 in the United States, and it has been more than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement struck a cord in the United States. So how is it that race and equality are still a part of the discussion?
I am a Latina living in Uniondale, N.Y. I would not call it The Projects, but I sure would not call it The Hamptons, either. It is a Long Island suburb that dabbles in darkness every now and then. Gangs are not as rampant as they once were. I still see lots of middle schoolers and high schoolers posting photos on Facebook and Instagram throwing up gang signs, attempting to be thugs. However, it is more of a show than reality now. (Thank goodness!)
But why is it that minorities like myself and my black brothers and sisters continually receive the short end of the stick? New York City’s stop-and-frisk law, legally known as New York State Criminal Procedure Law section 140.50, as stated in Yousef Abukhdair’s Huffington Post column, disproportionately targets black and Latin men. Out of the 4 million New Yorkers stopped, 90 percent were either black or Latino, according to the column.
Let me take a few steps back. For those unaware, stop-and-frisk authorizes New York City police officers to search or pat down an individual’s outer clothing if they have “reasonable suspicion.” Now, what does that mean? Pretty much anything the officer wants it to mean. In Trayvon Martin‘s case, it meant a young black man wearing a hoodie, walking around a predominantly white neighborhood. Martin is another story, but for George Zimmerman, Martin’s killer, that was reasonable suspicion to chase Martin down and shoot him. One can only imagine what types of things New York City police officers deem as “reasonable suspicion.”
Fortunately, the Justice Department is taking action. Reuters reports that the Justice Department is sending a monitor to check whether stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional. I can only hope that justice is served.
While I appreciate New York City’s effort to reduce crime, I am tired of Latinos and black men being targeted as criminals and wrong-doers.