Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-1999

Abstract

In the public arena, issues of race continue to command center stage. The ongoing debates and discussions have raised new questions, while not necessarily answering the old ones. Specifically, the recent dialogues have focused on the role that Blackness plays in today's society. Some assign Blackness a primary role, others believe it is secondary. Still others dismiss it as tertiary. These varied positions, ranging from "race has nothing to do with this" to "race has everything to do with this" have in some ways canceled out any meaningful discussion of racial issues. Each of the racial camps has been allowed to claim victory without giving any ground. The result: racial homeostasis.

This failure of movement is particularly troubling given that in the legal arena, Blackness itself faces increasing criminal penalty-both actual and perceived. One of the clearest examples is the phenomenon of "Driving While Black" ("DWB"). This expression has been used to describe a wide range of race-based suspicion of Black and Brown motorists. This Article explores DWB and related phenomena. Further, it considers how these problems affect criminal justice processing in particular and social policy in general. The discussion is divided into three parts. The first part considers ways in which Blackness has become a standard indicator of criminality. The second part provides an overview of the 1997 Traffic Stops Statistics Act. The final part evaluates the social fallout of DWB and its collateral consequences.

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