Edward Wyckoff Williams

He loves the Fourth of July, writes The Root contributor Edward Wyckoff Williams in a blog post at Salon, but what is independence if full freedom still doesn't exist for everyone in this nation?

Comedian Chris Rock sparked a debate a year ago today, when he tweeted: "Happy white people's independence day! The slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed fireworks." The sentiment expressed in Rock's comments reflect the profundity of racial inequalities by challenging Americans to remember the stark realities of the past.

Recently, liberals and conservatives alike were outraged by the revelation that the National Security Agency, under the auspices of the Patriot Act, were collecting phone records and data on millions of citizens. The thought of the government recording their intimate calls outraged their sensibilities and sparked a national debate. Likewise, following an outcry from angry travelers, changes have been introduced to curb post-9/11 Transportation Security Administration practices that allow airport security to aggressively search, screen and frisk flight passengers.

This is what one may call "white people problems."

For, you see, young black boys and black men in the Bronx and Brooklyn are stopped and frisked by police while walking to McDonald's. They are criminalized and stigmatized — seen as suspicious and treated without respect. This culture is so deeply embedded that both police and citizens alike regard Skittles as a deadly weapon when held in a black boy's hand.

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg displayed an egregious case of cognitive dissonance when he claimed that the problem with the NYPD's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy (SQF) wasn't that it racially profiled African-Americans and Latinos, but rather that far too many whites were subject to stops.


Read Edward Wyckoff Williams' entire piece at Salon.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Edward Wyckoff Williams is a contributing editor at The Root. He is a columnist and political analyst, appearing on Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, ABC, CBS Washington and national syndicated radio. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

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