Walk Black Live

Readers Respond to ‘The Bill of Rights for Black Men’

I will be reading this piece to my class on "Contemporary African American Culture" at the earliest opportunity. I, too, have been humiliated—pants down on ankles, teeth checked, and told to get out of town. This was before the B.A., two master's degrees, and Ph.D. But I am no fool—this could happen to me tomorrow.

Dr. Vernon L. Andrews
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand


Bryonn booked: the author in the Harvard Law library
Bryonn booked: the author in the Harvard Law library

By Any Means

Thank you for Bryonn Bain's article. It was a sadly true and profoundly depressing reminder that despite any accomplishment or hurdle overcome, very little has changed in the hundreds of years that black people have struggled to win their basic human rights in this country. To paraphrase Malcolm X, a black person, whether a Harvard student or not, will always be a nigger in the eyes of an inexorably white racist society.

Joan Kee
Class of 2000 Harvard Law School


Black Like Me

As a white person and a recovering racist, I am an expert at decoding whitespeak. The fear of black people is passed down from parents and teachers. It is reinforced daily by news media. It is fear of the "other" and fear of a whole segment of the population that has been scapegoated, targeted, hunted, and humiliated. In New York City, that fear is legitimized by the continual harassment and murder of black men by cops.

I also know that if I feel this way, I can only imagine the daily terror of being black in this city.

Kay Bachman
Brooklyn


Southern Discomfort

I just finished Bryonn Bain's article, and I must say, it makes me ashamed to be a white person and read things like this. The "good ole boy" sentiment is still out there. I live in the South, and as a woman I am also subjected to it. It's a sad statement on today's society that this kind of behavior is viewed as relatively harmless.

Jennifer Hoff
Houston, Texas


Not Guilty

Great cover story. I applaud you for printing it. Being a young, educated, fairly "successful" black male, I could relate. I haven't been arrested, but I have been unfairly judged in situations because I am black. It is, for lack of a better description, exhausting. Approaching 30, I now understand that what I thought was apathy among some of our parents was really exhaustion. You get tired of being stared at with accusing eyes and trying to prove your innocence.

Luster Chauncey
Manhattan


Dr. Morales & Mr. Hide

Walking While Black" is an excellent example of how much our society has not changed but has just shifted from one type of racism to another. Being a young black physician, I lead almost a double life. Nine to five Monday through Friday is when I am in my professional clothing, using professional language among my colleagues. Nights and weekends is when I am wearing the "baggy jeans, baseball cap, and boots"—thug gear to some people. But when I am not at work I dress in what is comfortable—and these are the times when I am most apt to be assaulted, mistreated, or mishandled by police.

The problems described by Mr. Bain are inherent in the NYPD and other police departments. Change will occur only with continued education, and more importantly with exposure to people of other cultures.

Roger L. Morales, M.D.
Bronx


Billed Correctly

This was a powerful piece. As the father of two sons, 21 and 24, I could only think of them in the same situation. The "Bill of Rights for Black Men" is an important statement about the lives of black Americans and anyone else who is different.

William L. Pollard
Raleigh, North Carolina


Reprint Rights

The story by Bryonn Bain should be published once a week in every newspaper across the country. It's unfortunate that Americans of African descent still cannot expect more from the government that they pay taxes to. It reminds me of Gil Scott Heron's statement, "The revolution will not be televised."

Joan Cartwright
Fort Lauderdale, Florida


The Other Black People

Bryonn Bain's article spoke for me and many others who are nonwhite who dare to walk. Such crimes can happen to us. We are the other black people.

Kaemba Mwale
Indianapolis, Indiana


Slam Dunk

Just a note to let you know that the gentleman who wrote your cover article, Bro. Bryonn Bain, won a slam at the Nuyorican Poet's Caféon the Lower East Side a month ago. His poetry that evening addressed many of the issues that he dealt with in his article.

Keith Roach
Brooklyn


Bryonn Bain replies: While I deeply appreciate that so many share my outrage at the racist practices pervasively employed by New York City's finest, I have opted not to reply directly to these letters so that as many as possible could be published. Those who are interested in continuing to engage in constructive dialogue and action should do so by writing me care of www.blackoutartscollective.com, a nonprofit organization committed to empowering communities of color through the arts.

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