FX's new show, TOTALLY BIASED, looks at the funnier side of New York's racially skewed stop and frisk policy.
I haven't seen Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell yet - the show premiered last Thursday on FX - but I like the clips I've seen online. This one in particular struck my fancy; Bell went to Harlem to talk to residents about the NYPD's very controversial stop and frisk policy. But Bell wasn't interested in anger - he was poking fun at the obviously racist program, and his man on the street interviews aren't making the local residents look stupid but rather are empowering them by allowing them to have a laugh. That's the power of comedy.
Some numbers: last year the NYPD stopped and frisked 684,330 people. That's a 600% increase since the program began in 2002, back when everybody was in a rush to give up civil liberties to stop terrorism. 92% of those stopped were men. 87% of the people stopped were black or Latino. 12% of the people stopped were given a summons. That means the enormous majority of people - the enormous majority of whom were black or Latino - were completely innocent but were harrassed by the police anyway.