That’s famed Pittsburgh hip hop artist Jasiri X in the video above rapping the #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS, a video that is debuting today at http://10friskcommandments.com in affiliation with Brooklyn comedian Elon James White’s award-winning web series This Week in Blackness. (You can read Jasiri X’s lyrics below the fold.)
The song and video sprang from a conversation White had with Jasiri at Netroots Nation in June. Target: the stop-and-frisk laws of New York City, Philadelphia and some other large cities. These policies allow cops to stop, question and search anyone they think is suspicious. Proponents say such laws reduce crime by finding weapons, especially firearms. Foes argue that they encourage racial profiling and violate Fourth Amendment rights. Stop-and-frisk policies create an atmosphere of martial law and worsen tension between police and citizens. While authorities say police are looking for weapons, mostly firearms, critics have complained that an increase in misdemeanor marijuana arrests has accompanied the stop-and-frisk policy in New York.
An analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that people have been stopped, interrogated and patted down on the street in New York City more than four million times in the decade since the policy was imposed. Nine out of 10 of those stopped and frisked have been completely innocent. And nine out of 10 have been African American or Latino. In 2011, for instance, according to the NYPD’s reports, New Yorkers were subjected to stop-and-frisk 685,724 times. Nine percent were white, 53 percent black and 34 percent Latino. Half were between the ages of 14 and 24.
Last month, thousands of New Yorkers turned out for a silent march in the city to protest the stop-and-frisk policy. They were joined by several high-profile public officials, including the Manhattan borough president.
Jasiri X is perhaps best known for his “Free the Jena Six,” the song named 2007 Hip Hop Political Song of the Year, which built support for youth jailed in Jena, Louisiana. He is president of LYRICS, Inc. (Leading Young Rappers In Career Success) and a founding member of One HOOD, an organization of men working against violence in black communities.
White—who Melissa Harris-Perry has called “the perfect comedian for the Obama era, talking race while exploding racial stereotypes”—explains how #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS came about:
Actually it was at Netroots this year that the idea was birthed. I had just finished doing my radio show on the Exhibit stage and I had joked about my only understanding of what to do when stopped by the cops was Jay Z’s song “99 Problems.” When I got off stage it clicked in my head that Biggies’s “10 Crack Commandments” would be a GREAT way to explain something that’s NOT how to sell crack.
I ran over to Jasiri and pitched him the concept. He started to shake his head saying “That could work.” I told him if he wrote the song I’d direct and shoot the video here in Brooklyn as soon as possible. He gave me the song last Tuesday and we shot the video this past weekend. Jasiri is one of best rappers out there that’s actually TALKING about something. His work on the Trayvon Song, We Are The 99, and his latest Do we need to start a riot? are prime examples of his passion and why the progressive community loves what he does.