Twitter is great for communicating with fans, and for hearing new perspectives. Twitter sucks when you're trying to explain your views on something complicated and nuanced that needs more than 140 characters. Or so I've learned.
Obviously, I am not a constitutional lawyer (and have never played one on TV). These days I tweet mostly about tacos and acting, but on Tuesday, I tweeted a link to Mayor Bloomberg's op/ed on the "stop & frisk" decision, and in a matter of minutes I became a racist asshole who deserves to eeaaaat shiiiiiiiit. Huh?
So let me clarify. The point of those tweets was what I presumed was a discussion among progressives of color, as a brown guy who gets stopped all the time after 9/11 and who lives in big cities, about what various things we need to do to make our communities of color safer -- together, including adhering to the constitution, and openly talking about whether there is merit to portions of a particular law when taken in conjunction with larger community-building. Not separately in some weird "us vs. them" mentality, but together. I tweeted something that alluded to a statistic about who commits crime and who are the victims of crime. I did a poor job being clear -- the stat was from the City of New York, indicating that 97 percent of gun violence victims are black and brown (this was the main point). Ninety-six percent of suspects fall into the same category. I fall into the same category as a brown man who has had a gun held to his head twice, and who also gets stopped and frisked.
I think the entire context of my tweets was lost -- probably because I tried to make some snarky cynical banter in a tweet about "activist judges." (That was meant as a jokey way of using words that we usually see on far-right news networks but was received about as well as my role in The Mask 2.) My original point was a conversation piece. As people of color is this effective? Does it have merit? How do we make our own communities of color safer (since we are collectively more often victims of crime)? It was a mistake to try to casually engage in 140 characters with folks who I thought understood my background and beliefs; instead, folks misunderstood this as a strong advocation of something entirely different. I feel terrible about that and am sorry.
I do know what it feels like to get stopped repeatedly for being brown post-9/11 (it sucks). And I do know what it feels like to have a gun put to your head repeatedly for walking down the street (FYI also sucks). At the end of the day, I'm going to resume tweeting about some more tacos, but if the vitriol of the Twitterverse is any indication, we all feel passionately about public safety and equality, about uplifting our communities, increasing access to education, economic prosperity, and community building. I've been proud to work on those issues both inside and outside of government, and continue to look forward to doing so. In more than 140 characters. You may resume your jokes, Hari Kondabolu (they were good ones).
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