Is It Safe to Be Black?

by Cinque Brown

On Monday April 5th all the newspapers carried the latest ground breaking headline. "U.S. Court Allows Search of Car Passenger Items". According to Tony Mitchell it should have read "U.S. Court Allows Search of Minority Car Passenger Items."

I agree, more than those words can convey. This decision comes on the heels of the forced resignation of New Jersey's top law enforcement official .State Police Superintendent Carl Williams, who "mistakenly" revealed in a interview that he supports the racial profiling that his New Jersey Highway State Troopers have been practicing for years. We know it as DWB, Driving While Black. It explains why we make up approximately 70% of the stops by these officers, while only making up 13% of the motorist population. It also helps explain the more dastardly statistic. In February 1999, the Attorney General's office released statistics showing that in early 1997, three out of every four people arrested on the turnpike were minorities.

I don't know about you folks, but I am tired of these fascist laws being invoked every day which will hamper the quality of my life and give racist law enforcement officials more opportunities to interact with me. You may be minding your own business but when they make up their mind that they want to mess with you that day, its going to be legal harassment.

When I read "The U.S. Supreme Court gave police broad new powers to search a passenger's personal belongings inside a car suspected of containing contraband," A sudden feeling of sadness came over me. "The high court, by a 6-3 vote, ruled that officers may inspect a passenger's purse, briefcase or other personal items if they have sufficient grounds to search the car. Continuing a trend in recent years by the court's conservative majority to expand police powers to search and seize evidence". I marked the day on my calendar. It is very significant. Remember if you are Black, by their definition you are automatically a suspect.

Then I went online and received an email from a friend in Los Angeles. I was dismayed to read about the greedy nonsense taking place in California. It read "The next time that you decide to braid someone's hair you may want to look over your shoulder for the cops. California lawmakers have just passed a bill that calls for hair braiders to go to beauty school and obtain a LICENSE for hair braiding! The bill was passed with a 70-0 vote. That means that most likely it is eventually going to be a Law.

The worst thing about the bill is that it requires stylists to complete 1,600 hours of instruction in chemical application, coloring and perming techniques. All Methods those hair braiders DO NOT use. That's like a bill, which requires construction workers to get a certificate as a life guard if they want to help build a dam.

I wondered when this would hit New York City because it seems inevitable since on 125th in Harlem there are so many women from Africa making tons of money braiding heads. I have to tell you, this is about one thing and one thing only! Economics and the attempt to put a stop to all them "tax exempt dollars" that the sister's are making on the street braiding all that hair! When anything escapes taxation it is legislated so that tax, fees, tariffs, and fines can be collected. It is the #1 means of generating revenue in any municipality....punitive revenue!.......That's the government. Every time I turn around these people are trying to get something extra. When is enuff, enough?

Black people have been braiding each other's hair as long as we have been Black. Hair braiding is part of Black people's culture. How can you rightfully tax this art form? You should ask yourself who are going to be the one's telling Black people how to take care of their hair? Even though you know the answer. This battle is not over. A woman from Washington informed me that District of Columbia council tried to pass legislation forcing the braiding companies to go to hair school to get a license. However, braiding is so popular in the Washington D.C. that opposition to the legislation came out really strong and defeated the council.

Another woman wrote me and said "Cinque it passed in Ohio also! Right now, I am trying to convince the PGRNA to allow for certifications drawn on our hasn't passed the PCC yet... did get them to agree to copyrights though... still working on for me getting a license from "them?" ...ain't gonna happen... I don't go to my enemy for permission to be an African."

More importantly there was another woman who wrote me and told me of an analogous story. She said "Several years ago here in Illinois a law was passed to regulate Nail Sculpturing, a market at that time totally Black. After the law was passed, an exorbitant fee was affixed to the law to get licensure, the Nail Sculptures have since turned predominately Chinese".

You might not have noticed any of this because of the tragic situation-taking place in Kosovo. You might have noticed that the U.S. and other NATO countries have offered asylum and refuge for the Albanian's. America said send 20,000. It would seem that there is no place for them to fit since both Rwanda and Haiti are even closer to the United States and they didn't get any similar offers. In Rwanda 1,000,000 people were murdered in one month but that's another story. White suffering has always been more imminent in America. It says something about the global sentiment that Blacks of any ethnicity have. Keith Johnson reminds me that "Pat Buchannan, during the first Yugoslavian wars, commented on some peoples' observing this fact by saying, "Well, it's a lot easier for America to assimilate a million Eastern Europeans than it would be to assimilate a million Zulu's". So it shows regardless of the party line the feeling in Washington is mutual. It's interesting I figure after they are here for circa 9 months they will be learning to say "Nigger".

On April the 9th Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a dramatic warning stating that Russia would not permit NATO to mount a ground invasion of Kosovo - raising the specter of a third world war. In reality because of the terrain and topography of the Kosovo area a ground war is really the only way to stop the slaughtering. The Cold War may be over but Yeltsin Company still have a nuclear arsenal that can change your comfort overnight. But don't worry if it is safe to be Black because if this escalates it may not be safe to be any color.

Is It Safe to Be Black? by Cinque Brown

© Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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