Thoughts on the Injustices of Stop and Frisk (1)

Many of you may not know this about me but I am by profession a scientist, well a junior scientist since I have a masters and 10 years experience but no PhD. One of the  first lessons I learned in college was that one can make statistics say anything. The best case example of this is the controversial book written by the Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein and political scientist Charles Murray named the Bell Curve.

The most controversial part of the book stipulated was where the authors wrote about racial differences in intelligence and discuss the implications of those differences.

A NY Times Critic at the time said of the book: “The authors were reported throughout the popular press as arguing that these IQ differences are genetic a scabrous piece of racial pornography masquerading as serious scholarship. “Mr. Murray can protest all he wants,” wrote Herbert; “his book is just a genteel way of calling somebody a nigger”

Racial Inferiority

Since colonial times or before, there was always this belief in the inferiority of certain races, and in many cases it was showcased in the public sphere in many different ways. I list the ways that are pertinent to me, but there are clear examples of American Anti-semiticism, American bias towards Asian as seen with ww2 The Japanese internment, bias towards women , immigrants and the list goes on

  1.  Slavery was considered good for Negro Soul. Slavery before being sent off to the ship where baptized and  given christian named
  2. After emancipation many white families couldnt understand why there slave didnt want to come back home to their families.
  3. Jim Crow Laws, Segregation  etc

Currently the issue has come up in a new way, in the controversial Stop and Frisk Policy of the NYPD. Of course the situation isn’t as extreme as back then and it has come up in a very subtle almost subversive way

The Stop and Frisk Program

An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that more than 4 million innocent New Yorkers were subjected to police stops and street interrogations from 2004 through 2011, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent. Two facts stick out tome personally:

  1. Black and Latino males aged 14-24 are only 5% of NYC population, but accounted for 41% of police stops last year
  2. The number of stops of young black men exceeded the entire city population of young black men (168,126 as compared to 158,406). Ninety percent of young black and Latino men stopped were innocent.

Statistics  in this case tells one story but for me, again I harp on the fact that this is for me, there is another reality  beyond which statistics cannot say much about. From what I hear on the train it is almost as if we (Black and Latinos) are programmed to be violent and uncouth ruffians/barbarians.  Case and point a comment I received:  “We should research into why blacks and latinos kill so much, it’s a better use of Tax payer Money.” There is a gene in us at the cause of all this

Survey says:

Statistics and many NYers feel that crime has dropped considerable because of these wide stop and search tactics.  They also feel that since Blacks and Latinos according to statistics account for 91 % of all the violent crimes committed in NY City  it’s only fair that they are  profiled more. But is it really that simple ? I generally feel that it isn’t. Case and point:

London Town , UK

London has 7.5 million people, but it only had 130 murders last year. (London has nearly 800,000 black people – that’s more black people than the city of Detroit.) That’s incredible! The murder rate is only 1.8 per 100,000 people.  Compare that to America’s “safest” big city – New York City. New York’s population is slightly less than 8.4 million.  So, if it had the same murder rate as London, we’d expect about 152 murders. In reality, NYC had FOUR-HUNDRED SIXTY SIX murders in 2009 – and that’s the lowest number since 1963! 466! That’s 314 “excess” murders compared to London.

Since Reagan  I believe the American attitude on poverty has been if you are poor its your fault. The government and society has nothing to do with it at all.  Poverty is a civil rights issue to me, its not a black issue or a white issue. The poor part of the neighborhood, is also the more violent, has the higher rate of teen pregnancy,  the least educated, etc There are a confluence of reasons why we see what we see that aren’t talked about and I wanna talk about them in the next post.

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  1. Those are some amazing statistics. I could be wrong, but I thought the gun laws were very different in the UK and they have far less guns on the street as we do. But as all the rednecks would say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Then I say, but if there aren’t any guns then people couldn’t be killed, whatever, I’m a just a dreamer.


  2. The Bell Curve reminds me of a similar ‘scientific theory’ of sorts known as environmental determinism. Basically the same points as those presented in Bell Curve, just focused on geography dictating skin color, thus dictating levels of intelligence and whether or not one’s life would be full of privilege or persecution. . It was an incredibly racist, yet widely accepted theory when it first took the discipline of geography by storm. Now it is an embarrassment…. go figure.

    Good blog Mr. Mary 🙂 it made me think and that’s always good.


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