Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chapter 13 - Why Harlem Drug Cops Don't Discuss Race

The Harlem Narcotics team is assigned to take out drug dealers by utilizing undercover cops, mostly comprised of African Americans and Dominicans. Racial profiling within the New York police department is nothing new and is ever present. Undercover detectives under Sergeant Brogli describe different experiences of their work on and off duty. However, the topic of race is not mentioned much in the police department. Even after Diallo verdict was established. According to the officers, race is trivial since they rely on each other. Racial differences are more or less put aside for the purpose of their carriers. 
The trust between Cops and African Americans, or any other minority,  has been an issue that seems to resurface quite often. Countless stories such as Diallo, the officers for the cause of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, Ferguson, etc.   Racial profiling by police officers result in actions fueled by panic or distrust. The African American or Hispanic communities in turn develop animosity. Officers seem to act on the stereotypes without a second thought. In this case the officers of the Harlem Narcotics Team are around these stereotypes daily and have learned how to handle them. In a sense they understand the situation more than anybody else.
Moat  incarcerations due to drugs are consisted of minorities. Why is that? Gonzalez recalls a visit to the Dominican Republic where he correlates the experiences of the Dominicans to Americans. The experiences of the Dominicans are more or less the same in America. He notices that drug dealers have lavish houses while others live in poverty. Gonzalez states, " Most are not bad people. They come up humble, county people. It's a choice of living in a shack or getting something better for their families." (pg. 249)  


  1. "If the police can be too quick to label, Gonzalez says, they are only reflecting society." (p.248) The NY police department, very much so, reflects society as they use racial profiling to do their job. It's crazy because they basically rely on it to reel in the"Domos" or "the bad guys".The dark-skinned undercover cops are able to relate to the Dominicans because they look just like them in the eyes of a white cop. The article mentions that Gonzalez and Brogli think the same when they see a Dominican. but the reason is from two totally different perspectives. Gonzalez realizes that some choose to deal drugs to avoid poverty, while Brogli just matches the specific race with that activity. Race is used as a tool for policemen on the streets but not mentioned in the office. Why? It's simple, using race in the streets equals successful police officers who meet the quota, but mentioning race in the office will only segregate the officers, hindering the success of the department, Discrimination is only used to their advantage.
    I find it interesting that sometimes they arrest people simply to evade being embarrassed for leaving without detaining someone. Even if it is true that many Dominicans sell drugs, it is unfair to automatically assume with no reason besides the color of their skin; but this is the norm in America right?
    Even more interesting is that the African Americans in the neighborhood view the Dominicans the same as the policemen do. They blame them for destroying their neighborhood and even some move. They treat Dominicans how the whites treat them,supporting the notion of a racial hierarchy. Each race just looks down on the next.

    1. I thought the idea of the racial hierarchy was similar to chapter 6 of the racial hierarchy within the slaughter house in Tar Heel. I think you're right Jessica, that the reason race is not mentioned in the office is due to the fear of causing any type of friction or stress between the officers, because they have to work together in order to function as a unit. "Neither could afford to offend the other; light and dark, they needed each other to get home safely at day's end". This is also true that the department uses race to their advantage in regards to undercover officers. Obviously a dark-skinned officer undercover among other black or Dominican people will draw less attention than a lighter skinned or white person.

      I also think it's interesting how Brogli and Gonzalez have the same opinion and idea of Dominicans on the street, yet their perspectives at the same time come from different reasoning and backgrounds.

    2. It's interesting to compare it to the Tar Heel pork factory story. There is a racial hierarchy in both the emphasis in Chapter 13 being that dark skin is preferable because it makes you more effective at your job. I think there is a key difference though. In this story, the department used race as a tool of common purpose. As your quote indicates, they all relied on each other to get home safely at the end of the day. In the Tar Heel story, it seems more that the company used racial hierarchy, particularly between blacks and hispanics, as a way to keep their eyes off how badly both groups were being screwed.

    3. John, I agree with the key difference you mentioned between the two articles. It's interesting how race is used so differently depending on the scenario at hand.

  2. Race and the police seem to be very touchy subjects. Everyone has heard of cops racial profiling unjustly at some point or another. As is mentioned in this story though, sometimes it seems that the cops are just mimicking what is already found within American society. I think in America race is tied so closely to socioeconomic status that it can be hard for people of minority to "break" away from this image. And sometimes even when they do they are still seen by others, often times the cops, as being within a certain group based on their skin color.

    For me, this article reminded me of the one in chapter 2 in Miami, Florida with the two friends who immigrated to America from Cuba. The black Cuban man in that chapter also experienced several instances of racial profiling by cops in Miami. I think a lot of times the problem of drugs and race can just be attributed to being a vicious cycle tied to the socioeconomic status of race in America. Many of the black Cubans that ended up in Miami, just like with the Dominicans in New York in this chapter, ended up having to live in neighborhoods where they are constantly exposed to drugs. Add to this the stress of taking care of their families in an area where they are not getting very good jobs in most cases, and as Gonzalez mentioned with the Dominicans, often an idea that drug money gets you rich fast, and it isn't hard to see how easily some of these people get involved in drugs.


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