poverty policing

Open Letter to the Police Department of Stamford, Connecticut

*Please be adviced that heavy language is used

On January 6, 2017 at around 11:40am Eastern Standard time, I was a victim of racial profiling by the police of Stamford, Connecticut. It was a cold day as I was making my way home when I heard shouting coming out of nowhere. I looked to see where it was coming from and suddenly, there were two police in their police cars screaming at me, telling me “get the fuck on the ground NOW!” A police officer comes out of his car telling me “get your hands out of your fucking pockets, get down on your knees with your head on the ground!” I was handcuffed, searched and forcibly frisked at gunpoint and no reason was given. When that gun was aimed at me, I thought “Oh my god! I am going to die! What did I do?” I was told that everything would be explained in the car. No explanation was given whatsoever. The world stood still on that cold January day as I thought it was my last breath of life on earth. I was asked if I had a knife on me. The officers searched me, found my ID, scattered my belongings in the front part of a car. For what seemed like an eternity, I was un-cuffed as I overheard the officers saying “it’s not him! let him go!” They found no knife on me. All they found was chapstick, some religious iconography, and scrap pieces of paper. This was humiliating and traumatizing! The police officer gave me a ride home because it was all he “could do” and no apology was offered. Nobody came out of their homes to witness this or help me. 

Later that day, I went to the police department to file a complaint and as I sat down, the chief of the department came to meet me. While the chief was respectful and took time out of his busy schedule to meet with me, he was rather dismissive of my traumatic experiences telling me that “they were just doing their jobs, they needed to protect their lives.“ Understandable. I showed the chief a picture of the Madonna and child and told him “Officer, I beg you, please stop spilling our blood! stop spilling the blood of innocent people!” He kept asking me “who is us? who is they?” Suddenly, he accused me of accusing him of racism. The irony is that I NEVER once mentioned anything remotely related to race or racism, this came perhaps as a projection of his own conscience. He then expressed that there is no way the officer who stopped me could be racist since they were darker than me and that he cannot be racist because he works with people in the police department who are of color. Chief, being of darker skin DOES NOT liberate one from racial prejudice. I was also told by the chief that I fit the description of a Hispanic male wearing a blue-purpleish coat and possessing a knife. I was stopped simply for looking Hispanic. How do you even know I am Hispanic? But the most important question, Chief, what does Hispanic look like? What is  Hispanic SUPPOSED to look like? Are you aware of the anti-Blackness that exists within the Latino community as well? I was stopped simply for looking Hispanic. Are you aware that a lot of the time, lighter-skinned African-Americans are treated slightly better than darker skinned African-Americans? When these words were said to me, it gave me profound and shocking insight into the very nature of my situation and to the reality of racial profiling in the United States of America. You say that the officers are just doing their job and have to protect their lives? Well, is the induction of psychological trauma on the average civilian a part of the job description? If police officers need to protect their lives by aiming their guns at me, tell me, what can average citizens do to protect their lives from racial profiling by the police? Your question about you being racist gave this situation the insight it really needed. Chief, you did the work for me and unfolded yourself right in front of me. As the saying goes, if the shoe fits…

Chief, just because you are used to dealing with life and death situations as a part of your job, it does not mean that you can apply the burden and weight of your work on the average civilian who is not accustomed to this. You have a callused mind and somehow seem to think that what applies to you as a policeman should therefore apply to the average civilian. I do not know what it is like to be shot in the eye, as you said unfortunately happened to you. I am not accustomed to living life YOUR way. Please, law enforcement, come up with more efficient ways to deal with your work other than relying on racial profiling that destroys a lot of innocent lives and communities. This is not the 1950s, it is the 21st century. If your officers, Chief, would have shot and killed me for something I did not do, I would have hoped that you and your officers would have knelt in front of my mourning mother and beg for her forgiveness​.

Racial profiling HURTS and DESTROYS COMMUNITIES. It creates mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement. Racial profiling is based on generalized phenotypes (physical characteristics) on what a person is supposed to look like, which results in the harming of a human being, especially if that person is innocent.

I want to explore this a little further using other factors. Are you, Chief, or any of your officers trained in American Sign Language? Suppose I were deaf and could not hear. How would I be able to communicate with your officers while being handcuffed? What if I could not hear them coming and shouting at me and got shot and killed in the process? Suppose I was mentally disabled. If I did not know and ran out of fear from people coming after me, I would have been shot and killed. Do you ever think of these factors? More innocent blood would have been spilled for no reason. So who are the innocents, you ask, Chief? Theyre the people who are simply walking home to their families. The innocents are the disabled and people of color who have their lives threatened for no reason at all.

The problem that the American institutions of power (law enforcement, government agencies, schools, etc) grapple with are issues of race and racism. How do you know someone is Hispanic? How can you tell if someone is Hispanic? Again, I was told I was stop because I fit the description of a Hispanic male. Did you know, Chief, that there are white-Latinos too? There are Black-Latinos, there are Asian-Latinos, Japanese-Latinos, Jewish-Latinos. Are you unable to fathom that Latinos are just as diverse of a group? If I had blonde hair and blue eyes, would the officers not have bothered with me because according to the archetype of a white male, there is no possibility that a white man can be Hispanic? Plenty of people in town own blue coats, are you going to stop everyone who wears a blue coat, looks Hispanic, and possessing a non-existent knife? I invite you Chief, and anyone reading this, to contemplate on this. If I looked like an Eastern Asian man, would I have not been stopped because there is no way that someone who “looks East Asian” can be Hispanic as well? Are you aware of the existence of Japanese-Peruvians? Do you know who Keiko Fujimori is? She is a Peruvian woman of Japanese descent who is the daughter of former Peruvian president,  Alberto Fujimori. Go on, Google his picture. He is just as Latino as I am. You will be shocked by what he looks like. Yes, a Latino man can have a Spanish name  (Alberto) and a Japanese last name  (Fujimori). This, United States of America, is the reality of human diversity that not only exists outside of your borders but WITHIN your borders as well.

Chief, let us explore the word “Hispanic.” Hispanic are people who come from the Iberian peninsula (Spain). Latinos and Hispanics are names that were given to us by the American government because the United States cannot be bothered to know the multi-ethnicities and diversity that exist among a community. I am not from Spain, so therefore, I am NOT Hispanic. But for the purposes of identifying myself to the American government, I have to say I am Hispanic.

I know people who are looking to enter into the police academy or already are in the police academy and they carry with them anti-Black sentiments. Actions stem from thought. It is frightening to think what a person in authority can do if they manifest their thoughts into actions against other people of color. When we hold prejudice attitudes toward ethnic minorities, we do not question them and they become like second nature. Thus, when we act upon actions that are harmful to people of color, we do not question them as they have become second nature. When sensible people confront us, we victimize ourselves due to conditioning the dehumanization of other people IN OUR MINDS. 

Chief, your police officers may have traumatized me, humiliated me, and scared me temporarily, but you have not taken away my courage to continue walking the streets of the city that I grew up in and call home. You have not taken away my ability to love and forgive. I am a poor person of color but I am educated and I have rights as human being. I have no choice but to be brave! I may not be able to afford the best lawyers that money can buy but you have only encouraged me to speak LOUDER against injustices committed by institutions of power. My community is WITH ME when the best law makers cannot represent me. I invite you Chief and law enforcement around the USA to understand and contemplate racism, racial profiling, the reality of people of color living in the USA. I invite you to contemplate "what is Hispanic supposed to look like?” The images of the police officer pointing his gun at me for a crime I did not commit remains vivid and fresh in my memory. When the image comes to me, it is very real and I am brought to that very moment when I almost lost my life for a crime I did not commit.  I could not sleep that night, I kept waking up in the middle of the night nauseous and with a headache, wondering why my country did this to me…to us people of color. I am alive. I dare to exist and will continue to do so! Courage is mine! I have no choice but to be brave and forgive you, not because what happened was “okay” but it is necessary for peace within myself and in order to cast away fear from my heart.

To those from around the world who are reading this, this is the reality for people of color within the United States of America. This is the reality of Black people, Native Americans, Muslims, South Asians, Jews, Latinos, and even East Asians in the United States of America. When the Nazis came for Anne Frank and her family, those arresting them were just doing their job. When the Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II in the USA, those who arrested them were just doing their jobs. Will I be racially profiled, stopped, frisked, and searched at gun point because I look Hispanic, because you are doing your jobs? When Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks were arrested simply for existing and fighting for Civil Rights, the authorities were just doing their jobs. If we do not question the powers that be when they abuse their authority, they will say “we’re just doing our jobs” and get away with it. Society then starts to accept it, normalize it, justify it, and condition themselves to dehumanizing others. This is what happened when the Japanese-Americans were interned by force during WWII, it is what happened to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and it is what happened to Anne Frank and her family. What can poor communities of color do to protect themselves from institutions of power that use barbaric methods of racial profiling against them? Tell me, what? Why am I speaking out? In the words of Zora Neale Hurston, writer and anthropologist “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

The USA is the land of the free for some people but it is the home of the brave for those people of color who are lucky enough to survive to see the light of tomorrow. At that police station, I saw drawings made by children thanking police officers for their service. I pray that none of these children will ever experience what I went through, what a lot of people of color around the country go through. This is our daily reality. It is as if I do not fear murderers and thieves but I fear law enforcement that can appear out of nowhere and since they are the law, they can use themselves against me or us and wash their hands clean of innocent blood.

Look Chief, this is not about demonizing law enforcement as there are honorable  men and women who work hard in police departments every day but this is about confronting the reality of racism our country grapples with, a poison that continues to infect  institutions of power and authority in the United States of America. 

What is Hispanic supposed to look like? What does Hispanic look like? I was going to lose my life simply for looking Hispanic and having a non-existent knife.

Black lives matter
White lives matter
Gay lives matter
Lesbian lives matter
Bisexual lives matter
Transsexual lives matter
Asexual lives matter
Pan sexual lives matter
Queer lives matter
Demisexual lives matter
Straight lives matter
Poor lives matter
Poverty stricken lives matter
Wealthy lives matter
Police lives matter
Doctor lives matter
Student lives matter
College lives matter
Religious lives matter
Atheist lives matter
Librarian lives matter
Grocery clerk lives matter
Businessmen lives matter
Blue collar lives matter
White collar lives matter
Pink collar lives matter
All lives matter
Treat everyone with respect

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
—  Frederick Douglass

Being an All Lives Matter activist must be exhausting. I mean, participating in protests against racism and police brutality; vigils; fighting for LGBT rights and gender equality; speaking out against xenophobia and Islamophobia; fighting against homelessness and poverty; working in their communities, etc…. They’re the real heroes.

I see all you Americans and Europeans who are completely ignoring the protests in South Africa by university students, I see you not giving a shit because we aren't a high profile country. South Africa stans everyday for justice in the world but when we need international pressure no one gives a fuck. People are being suffocated, brutalised and exploited by our police and government. At least reblog for support for fucks sakes. The momentum is dying.

Excellent interview on how to make youth’s voices heard in a way that will impact their immediate communities. 

The state is NOT a mediator of white supremacy or settler colonialism. We cannot expect it to intervene or interrupt settler colonialism, it is a facilitator of land pillaging and white racism and settlerism and was formed out of that very same violence.

The state is not moderate, neutral, or an instrument of regulation, it is a means of enforcing colonialism, capitalism and hierarchy. It achieves this goal through constant aggressive intervention against non-whites, by institutionalized oppression via courts, policing, prisons, poverty, and selective non-intervention/endorsement of (seemingly vigilante) acts of white terror that are actually much broader and rooted in historical violence and the maintenance of the state.

This is why we have to prepare for both the white militias and the state, because either the state won’t be intervening against white reactionary violence or it will be actively intervening with repressive violence against those defending themselves.
—  Jessica Rey

The one thing that pisses me off more than anything is when people refer to Orange is the New Black as “That Lesbian Show” with the inflection that the show is some soft-core lesbian porn on Netflix that is only about naked women and lesbian sex. Am I saying that the show doesn’t have those things? No, the show definitely has a plethora of nudity and sex scenes, but that’s not what the show is only about.

Orange is the New Black is a show about women, some of who happen to be gay, that experience real human issues and struggles. The show is not just about sex and nudity. It covers real topics such as gender-identity, experiencing true-love - regardless of gender. mental-illness, poverty, police brutality, family relationships, drugs, and so much more.

The show is not just another sexy and provocative TV show. It is revolutionary. It is one of, if not the only, shows that features lesbian characters that have  dynamic story lines.For a long time, most gay characters on television (Men & Women) were just stereotypes, and their entire story arc was based on the fact that they were gay. Orange is the New Black features dynamic women - who happen to be gay- that undergo change, development, and growth.

So when I talk about Orange is the New Black and people say “Ohh that lesbian show, yeah I don’t really like that stuff”  You better believe I’m going to correct you. It is not just some show about gay women. It is a show about women..

“let criminals out”

You mean fill prisons with nonviolent drug users and let the corrupt bankers who crashed the economy walk free? You’re blaming the wrong group of people.

“let illegals in”

Democrats didn’t do that. Christopher Columbus did.

“let boys in girl’s locker rooms”

You mean force a transgender man to use the women’s room because he was assigned female at birth? You’re blaming the wrong group of people.

“let women kill their offspring”

Quit acting like you’re “pro-life” when you’re against abortion but okay with poverty, anti-gay bullying, police brutality, and war.

“prosecute innocent officers” 

If you’re worried about innocent officers’ lives being ruined, there are two solutions. First, require all police officers to wear cameras, which will protect them from being wrongly accused of brutality. Second, protect the police officers who are bullied by their coworkers or fired for refusing to enforce the blue code of silence. Guess what? The people who you say “hate the police” want exactly that.

“persecute Christians”

You’re not being persecuted just because you’re no longer allowed to persecute other people. Seriously, quit whining.

“accept barbarity in the form of Islam”

The only “barbarity” in our country is the police force that can be as violent as they want and get away with it.

“over tax the hard working”

You mean allowing corporations to “tax” their hardworking, underpaid employees by keeping the profits that the employees produced? You’re blaming the wrong group of people.

“coddle the lazy”

You mean coddle the elite class who get their feelings hurt by any criticism? You’re blaming the wrong group of people.

From August 2012 through July 2013, the state prescreened 4,730 applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program with a written test. The state followed up with an actual drug test for the 466 of those whose written answers suggested a likelihood of drug use.

The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported. The results were similar when Florida launched welfare drug testing in 2011 and just 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive. National surveys usually find that about 8 percent of respondents used drugs in the previous month.


Welfare drug testing catches 12 people in Utah

A state representative said that some people dropped out of the application process, and since it mentioned they might have to take a drug test, they must have all been drug addicts, THEREFORE the state actually secretly saved a lot more money. You sure showed those powerless impoverished drug addicts who’s boss!

The Inevitable Moment When A Racist Boss Mentions Baltimore Uprising
  • Ask FM Question: "Today my boss said some really racist stuff about the folks in Baltimore. She didn't even realize how incredibly hurtful it was. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to lose my job. I really need it. But now I feel like a coward. Do you think I should say something tomorrow?"
  • My Reply: "I don't want you to lose your job either. Black unemployment is double that of Whites; always. White families have 20X the wealth of Black ones. We experience economic violence and remain in a bind because of situations like yours. You are not a coward. She is. You...are surviving. And I am sorry you have to deal with such violence in the workplace. It makes me sick; (((hugs))). Can you walk away when she starts that? Can you politely change topic back to the work itself? Can you ask if you can be left out of 'political' conversations in accordance with HR policy? Can you wear iPod while you work? Think of strategies to at least make your workspace more peaceful until you can find a better job, if needed. Also, do you have any Black co-workers who understand how you feel who can support you/vent with you during lunch as a break? Also, create a good self-care plan when you are off work. Wishing you the best. Take care. <333"