If you went to the Jay-Z concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last month, getting into the arena probably felt like you were getting on an airplane — concertgoers were put through airport-style metal detectors.
However, if you caught Barbara Streisand at the same venue last week, the same security measures were not in place — security officers used a much less intrusive metal-detecting wand to check concertgoers for weapons.
The two different policies for two different performers — who have two very, very (very) different fan bases — caused a bit of a stir; charges of racism were made against the arena for putting rap fans through the wringer, while Streisand fans were only checked with a wand.
The arena has since changed it’s policy: It will now use only the wand to check concertgoers — regardless of the performer. But the question remains: Is the different security policies for different concerts racist?
Streisand fans — typically — are little old white ladies and the husbands they drag along to the show. Jay-Z fans are often much younger, baggy-pants wearing kids. Jay-Z also has a much bigger following in the black community than Streisand.
In other words, Jay-Z fans often look like the people targeted by the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy — which is uber-controversial for the same reasons people are in a huff over the arena’s policy to put Jay-Z fans through a more-intrusive security: It tends to target black kids based on little more than their appearance.
“We utilized the first two weeks since the arena opened as an opportunity to test different security methods,” David Anderson, Barclays Center General Manager told the Post. “After witnessing long lines during events in which we used walk-through magnetometers, we began to utilize hand-held magnetometers at the Barbra Streisand concert Thursday evening.”
We want to know what you think: Was Barclays’ security policy at the Jay-Z concert racist, or just a test to determine the most efficient way to keep the arena safe?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 15, 2012