President Obama, Want to Help Black Boys? Don’t Nominate a Racial Profiler to Head Homeland Security
Many of us watched last Friday as President Obama held a surprise press conference in which he addressed Trayvon Martin's case and briefly touched on the issue of race in America. For some, the words he spoke were long overdue. For others, they fell on deaf ears—Obama's rhetoric doesn't match his policies or action.
A perfect example of this would be what took place earlier in the week, before the press conference. Obama hinted at nominating NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. This is troublesome for the obvious reason. Kelly has been a long-time advocate and firm supporter of the stop and frisk policies used by NYPD to, among other things, get weapons off the streets. The problem is that these policies don't produce the desired outcomes.
Since 2002, New Yorkers have been interrogated more than four million times and nearly nine out of 10 of those stopped and frisked have been innocent. Time and time again, black communities are overwhelmingly the targets of these practices. In fact, in 2011, African American males between the ages of 14 to 24-years-old were stopped 168,126 times while the population of black males in that age group is 158,406. In essence, NYPD stopped more young black men that year than the total number of young black men living in the city.
Raymond Kelly not only oversees this practice, he also strongly defends stop and frisk and has even said that African Americans are "understopped."
During Obama's speech, he highlighted the plight of young black boys in America by sharing their experiences of being on the receiving end of having car doors lock as they walk by and being followed through department stores. If we don't want our young black men followed and profiled, we must say NO to the policies and people that encourage such actions.
Obama asked the world, how we can "bolster and reinforce our African American boys" and "give them the sense that their country cares about them?" You want African American boys to feel valued in America and know they are accepted? One way we can do that is by eliminating policies like NYPD's stop and frisk which demonizes young black boys for the melanin in their skin. Another way we can do this is by refusing to nominate and appoint the individuals into office who have enforced and praised these racially motivated policies.
It is hypocritical to want to reduce, as Obama says, "the kind of mistrust that exists in the system"—all the while considering Raymond Kelly for the Department of Homeland Security when his policies perpetuate the same mistrust in the system that Obama says he wants to see diminished. It is also hypocritical to talk about combating the negative reinforcement of young black boys when they are negatively reinforced daily from the NYPD under the direction of Raymond Kelly.
Obama put the world on notice that young black boys do not feel validated here in America. Let's not further invalidate them by appointing Raymond Kelly to the Department of Homeland Security. We cannot allow stop and frisk policies to go national. We have a chance to change the conversation—let's rebuild and reaffirm young black boys. Let's not only tell them that they are worth it, let's show them with our actions. President Obama, I'm asking you to show them with your policies.
Click here to add telling Obama not to consider Ray Kelly for Homeland Security to your GOOD "to-do" list.