Hari takes Kumar to White(ness) Castle: Why Kal Penn is Wrong on Stop-and-Frisk
by hari stephen kumar, August 17, 2013 // @kineticnow
Dear Kumar (aka Kal Penn),
Dude, it’s time for us to talk, you and me.
Kumar to Kumar.
You see, as a brown man with a name like Kumar, I’ve gotten stopped many times. And asked about THAT movie of yours. You remember it, right? The one where you and Harold critique racism and mock how cops profile brown folks?
And so now I hear you’ve been tweeting about Stop-and-Frisk. And about how you think it’s a “good policy.” About how you think “the stats don’t lie” when it comes to “who, sadly, commits & are victims of the most crimes.”
And how, even after someone pointed out to you that other cities saw reduced crime rates without Stop-and-Frisk, you responded “If they added s&f it’d be even better.”
Well, KUMAR, for the sake of Kumars everywhere, I do believe it’s time we stop and frisk your brain.
I don’t think you realize how wrong you are about those stats, especially since they have convinced you to believe the many myths about Stop and Frisk. Bridget Todd, with whom you exchanged a few tweets about this issue, wrote an excellent open letter to you on Racialicious about why these myths are dangerous.
And furthermore, I don’t think you realize how Stop-and-Frisk actually benefits whiteness.
So, get up. We’re going to White(ness) Castle.
by hari stephen kumar, August 7, 2013.
(Also published on www.racialicious.com on August 14, 2013.)
Shortly after George Zimmerman was acquitted, a friend said to me that “these are dark times in America.” To which I said, “No, these are white times in America, as always.”
In the month since the Zimmerman acquittal, the mainstream conversation about the case has morphed into a personal verdict on Trayvon’s behavior and a cultural indictment on black people more broadly. When even the President of the United States, a black man, begins his heartfelt statement on the issue by saying that he wants to address “the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling,” you already know that in the public imagination the case of Florida v. Zimmerman has become instead a Trial of Trayvon.
And when the President ends his speech by asking the American people to ask ourselves, echoing Martin Luther King, Jr., “Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?” you cannot help but reflect on all the ways that it was indeed Trayvon’s character that was judged and assassinated in both the legal courtroom and in the court of public opinion.
For many, this is one of the strangest things about the case: why did the trial’s focus shift to Trayvon instead of Zimmerman? After the verdict, why has the so-called “national conversation on race” become so fixated on “problems” with “black culture”? Why did the acquittal give license to commentators from across the racial and political spectrum to speak so bluntly in blaming black people for Trayvon’s death? How do we make sense of the ugly racial rhetoric coming from white commentators like Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and NRA board member Ted Nugent who are so quick to condemn the character of “the black community”? Why do their talking points get repeated across online comments and in personal conversations?
And why do so many such conversations begin with “I’m not racist but …”?