“Beautifully written, painfully honest” first-person accounts of racial profiling, as experienced by twelve black men from all over America (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow).
In an era of contentious debate about controversial police practices and, more broadly, the significance of implications of race throughout American life, 12 Angry Men is an urgent, moving, and timely book that exposes “a serious impediment to the collective American Dream of a colorblind society” (Pittsburgh Urban Media).
In this “extraordinarily compelling” book, a dozen eloquent authors tell their own personal stories of being racially profiled. From a Harvard law school student tackled by a 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 also happen to be black men (Publishers Weekly).
Although there is some thematic repetition, these essays on racial profiling are extraordinarily compelling. Contributors include journalists, federal prosecutors, and hip-hop artists; diverse in background, age, and education, they share one identity being black and one rite of passage "the silent reality most black men have to live with," the frequency with which the police demand they produce identity papers; search their bodies, their cars, and their homes; and even maim or murder them for any perceived threat, imaginary and real. Fortunately, these 12 live to tell twice-told tales that still seem new. The congressman, with means, time, and "faith in the judicial system," fights back in court; the sports commentator brings a successful lawsuit. One says, perhaps for all, "In tolerating these transgressions day in and day out, I sometimes feel like my humanity is being chipped away." Legal scholar Guinier's introduction provides a helpful statistical and political context as well as a vigorous argument against the entrenched police practices that undergird the brief potent individual vignettes. Bantamweight in size, this book packs a heavyweight wallop.