Papers Please is for Black Girls Too

August 6, 2012 1 comment

Alexis Sumpter, a 15 year old Harlem resident, was handcuffed and detained at a NYC metro station by the NYPD for 90 minutes after she swiped her student metro card, on her way to the first day at her marketing internship. Two plainclothes police officers approached her and told her that “she looked older than her age to be using a student metro card.”  Sumpter told them that she was 15 years old and that she didn’t have any ID because it was recently stolen.

“They called me liar, then they grabbed me by my arms and flung me up the stairs. I kept saying, I’m only 15 — why are you guys doing this?”

A third cop joined them and he pressed her face against the wall while the other two cops handcuffed her.

The police called her dad and he told them that Alexis is 15 years old.

But the police didn’t believe him.

The police called her mom and she came to the metro station to tell the cops that Alexis is 15 years old.

But the police didn’t believe her.

Alexis’ mom went home, retrieved Alexis’ birth certificate and brought it to the metro station.

Only then did the police believe that Alexis is 15 years old and released her.

So many issues come to mind while reading this story.  “Papers please” by the NYPD in a Harlem metro station, like the “papers please”Arizona  SB1070 law. A law that presented as targeting immigrants but invariably  affecting all people of color in the US. The police don’t believe the truth of Alexis’ parents, only the papers.

The demand for identification in an era of increasingly  strict voter ID laws, when blacks, Latin@s, young people and the elderly are least likely to have valid ID. The lack of valid voter ID leads to reduced ability to effect change via the political process.

The fragility of Black girlhood. 15 years old but seen as a grown woman by the police. The innocence of adolescence is far gone. Alexis no longer rides that train line, accommodating her life to the mistreatment & poor behavior of others.

Check the NY Daily News video to listen to Alexis tell her story.

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Where’s Gabby?

August 1, 2012 6 comments

Last night the US women’s gymnastics team won a gold medal in the team final. Gabby Douglas led the team, winning 1/3 of the 183.596 total points as she competed in all 4 events: floor, vault, beam and uneven bars. All 5 members; Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber; contributed to the win.

However, I opened up my Express this morning and there was no mention of Gabby Douglas in their writeup of last night’s victory. The only picture of Gabby Douglas anywhere in today’s edition is a small pic in the upper right corner of the front cover. It is a picture of her mid-tumble, so her face is obscured and her legs are most prominently displayed. The picture isn’t labeled or captioned to reference Gabby Douglas.

Front Page:

Page 11 is all about the winning gymnasts yet Gabby Douglas isn’t mentioned at all in the article and she’s not included or captioned in the picture of Team USA:

Closer look at the photo used:

The caption reads: Alexandra Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, and Kyla Ross celebrate the U.S. gymnasts’ win on Tuesday.

When I say all about the winning gymnasts, it’s really about Jordyn Wieber. The only other team member mentioned was McKayla Maroney. The Express excerpted an AP report on Team USA’s victory poorly; excluding any mention of Gabby Douglas and highlighting the disappointments & challenges of Jordyn Wieber bouncing back from not qualifying in the all-around individual finals.

Gabby Douglas was an integral part of Team USA’s win last night and deserved to be recognized. Let the Express know how you feel about their coverage via email

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August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Giving this writing thing a go…

Lots of people, family, friends, twitter pals, etc have encouraged me to write and here I am to take the plunge.

This blog will primarily focus on politics, policy and the news via the perspective of a mid-twenties black woman.

“People never get the flowers while they can still smell em'” ~ Kanye West

This blog is dedicated to my grandmom who, besides my immediate family, is the one with whom I always talk politics. I’ve always read a lot and grew up discussing the news and politics at home, over the kitchen table, or on the way to school. She worked in constituent services for state politicians in Pennsylvania when I was growing up which I thought was the coolest thing. And I want to let her know while we are all here together.

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Same Reforms, Different Face

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

So Cathie Black is out and Dennis Walcott is the new NYC Schools Chancellor. Walcott was previously Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for education. In DC Michelle Rhee resigned after Adrian Fenty lost his mayoral reelection and was replaced buy her #2 Kaya Henderson.

Both Henderson and Walcott present different faces but neither proposes and changes to the fundamental policies of the school districts. Yes they may be nicer and more polished in dealing with students, parents, and the press but the underlying policy that you were upset with it still being implemented.

On a larger scale this same principle can be seen in federal education policy by comparing the policies of the Department of Education under former Secretary Margaret Spellings and under current Secretary Arne Duncan. Race to the Top has been an extension of the principles of No Child Left Behind, just with the states competing among each other to receive federal money instead of the money being shared among all 50 states. There has been no shift away from high stakes testing, charter schools or criticism of public school teachers.

A new fresh face isn’t enough to clean up the problems and bring change.

Updated: Exhibit A: NY Times article detailing Dennis Walcott’s plans to continue the same policies as Joel Klein and Cathie Black

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