Data Clarity: How Racism is Bad for Our Bodies

posted by Molly

Journalism is just another form of storytelling. You’re telling a set of factual truths, hopefully, but data is just data. As a journalist, you get to decide what story to tell. The article from “The Atlantic” above tells a very clear story with some very clear data (I must be on a clarity kick.). Here’s the money quote of data:

"The scale and scope of stop-and-frisk practices in communities of color have left many residents feeling that they are living under siege," ... In 2011, there were 685,724 stops. In 70 of 76 precincts, greater than 50 percent of stops targeted blacks and Latinos. In 33 precincts, that number skyrockets to over 90 percent. Perhaps most shockingly, the number of stops of young black men (168,126) actually exceeded the number of young black men in New York City (158,406).

However, supporters of Stop and Frisk argue that it is an effective crime control tool and, if you want to avoid a stop, then do not commit a crime. The problem is that 90 percent of black and Latino men stopped were innocent. What might this mean in terms of heightened vigilance and stress? Not only must black and Latino people in New York anticipate acts of prejudice from the police, but they also must know innocence does not reduce the risk of harassment.