12 Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Todayby Gregory S. Parks
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When Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was approached by the police on the front porch of his home in an affluent section of Cambridge, many people across the country reacted with surprise and disbelief. But many African American men from coast to coast were not surprised in the least. Gatesgate” serves as the most recent manifestation of a phenomenon many black men experience regularly: being the subject of increased suspicion because of the color of their skin.
In Twelve Angry Men, a dozen eloquent authors tell their own personal versions of this story. From a Harvard law school student tackled by security guard on the streets of Manhattan, a federal prosecutor detained while walking in his own neighborhood in Washington, DC, and a high school student in Colorado arrested for loitering” in the subway station as he waits for the train home, to a bike rider in Austin, Texas, a professor at a big ten university in Iowa, and the head of the ACLU’s racial profiling initiative (who was pursued by national guardsmen after arriving on the red-eye in Boston’s Logan airport), here are true stories of law-abiding Americans who happen also to be black men.
Cumulatively, the effect is staggering, and will open the eyes of anyone who thinks we live in a post-racial” or color-blind” America.
Winner of a PASS Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
"Beautifully written, painfully honest."
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
Victims of racial profiling recount the particulars of their harassment.
Polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of African-Americans believe racial profiling is ubiquitous in American society. This collection puts faces to the problem, demonstrating that racial profiling occurs in both big cities and small towns. It can happen outside Manhattan's Latin Quarter, in a city park, airport, tony neighborhood or high-crime section of town; its victims include a 19-year-old high-school graduate, a young hip-hop artist, a Harvard Law School graduate, aNew York Timesjournalist, an ACLU attorney, a Hall of Fame baseball player and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In this collaboration, law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals Parks (Critical Race Realism, 2008, etc.) and Hughey (Sociology/Mississippi State Univ.) collect a dozen stories designed to drive home the outrage engendered and the humiliation endured by those stopped and frisked, detained or arrested, for walking, driving, flying, even simply reading while black. Readers shouldn't expect fine writing—only the account byTimesreporter Solomon Moore could be described as eloquent—or balanced discussion of the frequently disputed facts and the always difficult tension that exists at the intersection of individual liberty and civil order. This is raw testimony intended to vividly capture the invasions of privacy and the assaults on dignity that always accompany unreasonable government intrusion. Harvard law professor Lani Guinier's introduction takes a stab at a larger perspective, but her conclusions are overdrawn and her proposed solutions—we must all learn to "read race"—take the form of airy academic locutions.
Of interest to social scientists and criminal-justice students, but not likely to appeal to a wider audience.
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Meet the Author
Gregory S. Parks is an attorney in private practice and a co-editor of Critical Race Realism(The New Press). He lives in Washington, D.C.
Matthew W. Hughey is an assistant professor of sociology at Mississippi State University, where he lives, and is the co-editor of The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America.
Lani Guinier, a professor at Harvard Law School, was the first black woman ever to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department. The author of critically acclaimed book The Miner's Canary, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The contributors are:
M.K. Asante is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and professor. Asante earned a B.A. in Africana Studies and English from Lafayette College, and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television. He is the author of the books It's Bigger than Hip-Hop, Beautiful. And Ugly Too, and Like Water Running Off My Back. His films are the feature documentaries The Black Candle, 500 Years Later, and Motherland. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Language Arts at Morgan State University.
Bryonn Bain, MA, JD, founder of the Blackout Arts Collective, and a graduate of Harvard Law School, has taught courses at New York University, Brooklyn College, Columbia University, The New School, Long Island University, Rikers Island Academy, and in prisons nationwide using the arts and popular culture to examine critically the prison crisis in America. He appeared on 60 Minutes, after his personal story of racial profiling received a record response in The Village Voice, the nation's most widely read progressive weekly newspaper. The acclaimed multimedia stage production Lyrics from Lockdown (Official Selection NYC Hip Hop Theater Festival) weaves his story of wrongful imprisonment with the poetry and letters of Death Row survivor Nanon Williams through hip hop, theater, spoken word and song.
Paul Butler, JD, PhD, is a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He teaches in the areas of criminal law, civil rights, and jurisprudence. His scholarship has been published in the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and UCLA Law Review, among other places. He has clerked for the U.S. District Court in New York, and worked in private practice specializing in white collar criminal defense and civil litigation. Following private practice, Professor Butler served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where his specialty was public corruption. He also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney, prosecuting drug and gun cases before deciding not to work inside the legal system. He is now the country’s leading expert on jury nullification, and provides legal commentary for CNN, NPR, and Fox. He has written for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the award-winning author of Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice (The New Press).
Devon W. Carbado
Devon Carbado, JD, is a law professor at the UCLA School of Law. He teaches Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, and Criminal Adjudication. He has twice been elected Professor of the Year and is the 2003 recipient of the Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is a former director of the Critical Race Studies Program at UCLA Law and a faculty associate of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. He is also a recipient of the Fletcher Foundation Fellowship, which is awarded to scholars whose work furthers the goals of Brown v. Board of Education. Professor Carbado graduated from Harvard Law School in 1994, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of The Harvard Black Letter Law Journal. After receiving his law degree, he joined a firm in Los Angeles as an associate before his appointment as a Faculty Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa College of Law. Professor Carbado writes in the areas of critical race theory, employment discrimination, criminal procedure, constitutional law, and identity. Along with Rachel Moran he is editor of Race Law Stories (Foundation Press), and is working on a book with Mitu Gulati on employment discrimination, tentatively titled Acting White (Oxford University Press).
Daniel K. Davis
Daniel K. Davis has been a devoted public servant in the Chicago metropolitan area for over thirty years. Since 1997, he has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Illinois’ 7th Congressional district. He has launched several successful campaigns to improve the quality of life for others, including the passage of the Second Chance Bill that gives ex-offenders the opportunity to become productive citizens. Despite a 1991 run for mayor, he is primarily interested in national issues, especially those related to ex-offenders, re-entry and other issues affecting African American males.
King Downing is a civil rights activist and public speaker who has dedicated his life to social justice. He is an attorney and director of the Human Rights-Racial Justice Center (H2RJ). H2RJ provides policy analysis and advocacy on race and policing. It acts as advisor to the Sean Bell Justice Project, created by the family of the police shooting victim. Formerly the national coordinator of the ACLU’s Campaign Against Racial Profiling, Downing worked with the organization's affiliates and partners to identify and end racial disparities in policing on the federal and local levels. Along with monitoring traditional on-the-ground policing, Downing focused on data collection, tasers, and hip hop profiling. He has led "Know Your Rights" workshops and spoken on criminal justice in many settings across the country. Downing received his B.A. from Harvard University and is a graduate of Rutgers School of Law.
Richard F. is 19 years old and was born and raised in East Harlem. He recently graduated from Washington Irving High School in Manhattan and is looking for a job. He is also considering continuing his education. He likes to spend time with family and friends, and enjoys traveling to North Carolina to visit relatives.
Nii-Odio is a father to daughter Naa-Odoley. He attended school in Washington, DC, and for the past few years he has been based in Los Angeles, CA, where he works in event-marketing. He is soon to relocate back to his hometown of Washington, DC.
Kent H. is 35 years old and was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He has worked for several years in the non-profit world as a job developer, and feels it is his calling to help others. He focuses much of his energy on being a good father to his seven-year-old daughter.
Solomon Moore was a criminal justice correspondent for the New York Times based in Los Angeles from 2007 to 2010. His work focused on national law enforcement and crime trends, incarceration, and criminal justice policy. He covered the Iraq War from 2005 until 2008 for the New York Times, and before that, for the Los Angeles Times. He was part of a four-person team in Baghdad that won a 2006 Overseas Press Club award. His bureau was also selected for an honorable mention for the Pulitzer Prize that year. In addition, he has worked in Africa, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Jordan, and Europe. He has two children.
Joe Morgan is a former Major League Baseball player. Although he played a majority of his career for the Cincinnati Reds, he also played for the Astros, Giants, and Athletics. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. Morgan was the National League MVP in 1975 and 1976 and won the Gold Glove Award from 1972 to 1976. Morgan is currently an Emmy-winning commentator for ESPN television and radio.
Joshua T. Wiley
Joshua Wiley holds a GED and is currently studying to become a teacher. He is a burgeoning hip-hop artist, musician, and promoter by the name of RAW” and is affiliated with the group Top Souljas. He has worked an array of jobs and is a father to a son named Caleb and a daughter named Ariel. He lives between Clarksville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina.
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