Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Invisible NYPD Race Problem

I often find it difficult to convey to my students why data matters. "They're just numbers" is a common refrain. Racismreview has a good post on the elimination of racial data from reports on NYPD police shootings after 1997. Pre-1997 the NYPD did keep these records. The New York Times speculates that the move to stop collecting this data by race was done during the Amadou Diallo controversy. The key passage from the post:

if you bury knowledge about racism and racist practices (such as the NYPD’s abysmal record), then you effectively subvert efforts to combat racism.

I frankly have never understood arguments in support of colorblind policies. Societies can recognize race and racism as distinct realities of social life without descending into tribalism. There are times in my life where I want to be color blind and times when I want to be color (read - group) conscious. What would art or music or literature be without color consciousness. The Invisible Man would become the Just as Visible or Invisible as the Next Guy?

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