Thursday, February 7, 2013

With the right alliances and tactics

GUEST: Chino Hardin, lead know-your-rights trainer for the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, will talk about NYPD's stop and frisk policy and the hope for reform.

Chino took us through a training that she does for at risk teenagers. At risk for arrest because they are black. How could our system have strayed so far and allowed so many people of color to fill our jails? 

Perhaps it is our racist perceptions about black youth committing more crimes. Perhaps it is our comfort with the police, who would never treat us with less than respect. We make easy assumptions about our criminal justice system, preferring not to understand its racist nature and its neoliberal profit motives. 

Chino, of course, is a pro. Rather than talk about black people and white people, she preferred to discuss human rights for everyone. It made me think about the concept of universal human rights and why they are so often taken from the less powerful. Palestinians are simply asking for the same rights as Israelis enjoy. African Americans are simply asking for equality from the police and from the courts. Perhaps that is a definition of racism, the denial of rights based on an imbalance of power between two identifiable ethnic, racial, or religious groups.

Racism can be overcome with the right alliances and tactics. We saw that in the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps we will see it today in the End the New Jim Crow movements to reform our criminal justice system. 

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