Since August, there have been some fairly controversial billboards popping up on bus shelters in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn that are reminding residents that “racism still exists”. Each month, a different form of racial injustice is highlighted by the billboards. Thus far, the campaign ads have tackled issues such as entertainment, smoking, policing, fast food and Black wealth.
This month’s ad is confronting the controversial Stop-and-Frisk tactics of the NYPD, which are highly criticized for their impact on Black and Hispanic men. The attention-grabbing billboard reads:
“Don’t want to get stopped by the NYPD? Stop being Black.”
The organization behind these billboards remain anonymous, but what we do know is that the campaign series is a part of a project entitled RISE. A brief excerpt, which provides background information on the campaign, found on the group’s Tumblr page reads:
“Although public commentary describes the United States as “post-racial”, racism continues to exert a very real and pervasive influence on institutional policies and processes, interpersonal interactions, neighborhood infrastructure, socioeconomic opportunities, media imagery, and more. RISE is a project designed to illuminate some of the ways in which racism operates in this country.”
According to Colorlines.com, although the group maintains their anonymity, New York activists applaud them for their efforts.
“Bed-Stuy, and Brooklyn in general, is going through a very profound transformation and we gotta put that in context […] For many of the young yuppies and buppies, they see the police playing a positive role and trying to engage in a race neutral dialogue. What the billboard is doing is kinda opening up and exploding this myth that [stop-and-frisk] is taking place in a race neutral light — it’s making people confront it in a very real way. I applaud the effort. If the intent was to shake things up, I think they did their job,” expressed Kali Akuno, an organizer affiliated with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s New York Chapter.
Jazmine Denise is a news writer for Madame Noire. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise