Tag: New York

The Depths of Racial Profiling

As the events in Ferguson continue to unfold, I am constantly reminded of the divide in the policing experiences of many Americans. The Pew Report came out with an interesting study regarding perceptions of the problems in Ferguson, and sadly, it went firmly along racial lines. White Americans thought justice will prevail; African Americans did not.

This gets to the heart of the issue. If you (or those around you) have negative experiences with police while growing up, you will never believe the system is fair.

Looking back, I can think of one such encounter. Growing up in a beautiful waterfront community in suburban New York, my father loved to take me to the park. He would play games with me, walk with me along the water, and listen to my little girl chatter. One day, a police vehicle drove by. The car returned, and began to slowly circle, watching us.

I, of course, was oblivious. It can be a joy to be young and naive.

My father, however, got the message.

The message wasn’t “oh how cute, look at this man and his little girl”

It was “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE“.

Rather than risk an unpleasant encounter, he cut our day short and took me home.

Maybe I didn’t mention it before — I grew up in a predominantly White community.

And another additional fact: my father never wore jeans or sneakers. To this day, he wears slacks, a polo or button down shirt, and a proper British hat, weather permitting. So this was not an issue of fashion, or fitting the description of a call regarding a criminal act.

This is an issue with no easy answers. I just encourage everyone not to assume, and LISTEN to what the deeper issues are.

Here is one man’s experience with profiling that really struck me. Even though he did everything society would expect, he was profiled as a student at Harvard. One quote from his article that struck me was that being racially profiled was a rite of passage as an African American into manhood, similar to a Jewish bar mitzvah. Read Madison Shockley’s article here.

My dad and mom circa 2004
My dad and mom circa 2004

Legal Divas of Color: Jane Bolin

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Jane Bolin was born in Poughkeepsie, NY on April 11, 1908. Her father was an attorney, and cared for young Jane after her mother died. A brilliant student, she graduated top of her class at Wellesley College, in spite of the challenges presented due to the racist views of her classmates and teachers. Imagine going to school, and everyone ignoring you, day after day; this is what Ms. Bolin had to overcome. She was discouraged from pursuing her goal of becoming an attorney, most notably by her college career counselor. Pushing on, Ms. Bolin became the first woman of color to receive a law degree from the very prestigious Yale Law School in 1931.

In her professional career, Ms. Bolin was the first African American to join the New York City Bar Association. She became the first African American assistant corporate counsel for New York City (New York Law Department). Her smarts and tenacity did not go unnoticed. Mayor Fiorello Laguardia called her to appear with him at the World’s Fair on July 22, 1939. The mayor gave her the biggest surprise of her career; he appointed her as a judge, making her the FIRST African American judge in the United States! She was 31 at the time of appointment.

Judge Bolin served in the Family court division until her mandatory retirement at age 70. She was reappointed three more times by three different mayors. She took on racist policies, and fought for the rights of children and parents of all races. Until her death in 2007, she served on a variety of boards, including the NAACP. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt on a holistic program aimed at reducing crime in the male juvenile population.

Judge Jane Bolin, I thank you for being the ORIGINAL Legal Diva

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Justice Delayed…But It Finally Arrived

the-central-park-five Growing up in New York, I will always remember the Central Park jogger rape case. It was very polarizing, and due to the fact the boys involved were minorities, the case was used to showcase what “animals” young minority boys were.  This was before DNA; the entire case revolved around the teen boys confessions.  After a highly publicized trial and conviction, it was later revealed that these boys did not commit the rape; another man came forward and claimed responsibility. DNA evidence was now the norm, and it exonerated the 5 boys while incriminating Matias Reyes (the true rapist serving life in prison for unrelated crimes). The boys (now men) sued the City of NY…and the new mayor de Blasio has decided to settle the suit. Check out this link, and share your thoughts!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/12/bill-de-blasio-central-park-five_n_4262203.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003