dispatches from post-racial america: stop-and-frisk on a national level

Remember when Barack Obama was elected, how international media declared that racism in the US had been vanquished? How academics and pundits started using the term "post-racial" to describe US culture?

Was that before or after the tea-partiers paraded around with pictures of monkeys and openly called for assassination?

Before or after US cities made practice into official policy with "stop-and-frisk"? That's the racism-based method of urban policing, in which police stop, frisk, interrogate, and otherwise harass millions of African-American and Latino men who are simply walking down the street. (The NYPD seems to be succumbing to pressure and cutting back - although of course not abandoning the tactic.)

Now we have some hard evidence of what many of us have known all along: in US airports, the Transportation Safety Authority performs stop-and-frisk on a grand scale. Bravo to the TSA workers who came forward with this.
More than 30 federal officers in an airport program intended to spot telltale mannerisms of potential terrorists say the operation has become a magnet for racial profiling, targeting not only Middle Easterners but also blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.

In interviews and internal complaints, officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavior detection” program at Logan International Airport in Boston asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles — Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for “suspicious” behavior.

“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” said one white officer, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. . . . .

At a meeting last month with T.S.A. officials, officers at Logan provided written complaints about profiling from 32 officers, some of whom wrote anonymously. Officers said managers’ demands for high numbers of stops, searches and criminal referrals had led co-workers to target minorities in the belief that those stops were more likely to yield drugs, outstanding arrest warrants or immigration problems.

The practice has become so prevalent, some officers said, that Massachusetts State Police officials have asked why minority members appear to make up an overwhelming number of the cases that the airport refers to them. . . .
One of the comments on this story says:
Let's see--if you are black and dressed casually, you look suspicious. But you are also suspect if you are black and wear expensive clothes and jewels. And if you dress practically and casually for a flight (i.e, in sweatpants and t-shirt) and you're black, well, you're still suspect. What should black folks wear that won't make them suspect? Why am I even asking?
Now about that whole post-racial thing.

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