Wednesday, September 14, 2011

arrested while being Black

September 5 - Labor Day....City Councilman Jumaane Williams was, as the saying goes, “arrested while being Black”. This story, which was featured on the NY Times’ front page online along with tons of others, is even more personal because Jumaane is my cousin.

The son of a doctor from Grenada, Jumaane Williams, 35, was elected to the City Council from Central Brooklyn in 2009. He is well-educated, articulate and a rising star among black politicians.

Why was he arrested? Jumaane was walking through a police “frozen zone” after the West Indian Day Parade to get to an event at the Brooklyn Museum. He had permission from police supervisors to go through this area. However, when he came to the third checkpoint the police refused to let the Councilman pass. While trying to confirm his credentials the cops surrounded him and put him in handcuffs.

As Jumaane states in his official statement: “This was an incident involving a select number of police officers that quickly and unnecessary escalated itself. We believe that had Mr. Foy or I been white, this would not have happened. Plain and simple. It is a reflection of a culture which includes stop and frisk protocol that I hope after this incident will finally end, based on how unfairly it targets innocent black and Latino young men.”

I wanted to wait a week or two before writing about this….to calm my anger etc. When I first heard about this I was overwhelmed with the sense of injustice too many people have to live through every day. It reminds me of something a family member once said….”Never forget that you are Black. Don’t get too comfortable, finding yourself in a place of wealth or power. The moment you forget someone will be there to painfully remind you.”… I am still waiting and working towards the day when the color of one’s skin or where they live does not determine their life/how people view them. Sadly though, the US is very far from this.

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