12 ANGRY MEN by Gregory S. Parks


True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today
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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, a New York Times journalist, 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 by Times reporter 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.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59558-538-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2010