This talk examines how Black Caribbean youth perceive and experience the state-endorsed ‘Stop and Search’ program in London and then-ongoing ‘Stop and Frisk’ practices in New York City while on route to and from public schools between 2007 and 2014. Despite a growing body of scholarship on the relationship between policing and schooling in the U.S. and U.K., comparative research on how school students experience stop and frisk/search practices remains sparse. Drawing on the BlackCrit tradition of Critical Race Theory and in-depth interviews with 60 black Caribbean secondary school students, this article explores how adolescents experience adult-like policing to and from schools. The findings indicate that participants develop a strained sense of belonging in British and American societies due to a security paradox—a policing formula that promises safety for all in principle, but does so at the expense of some black youth in practice. Participants learned that irrespective of ethnicity, black youth are regularly rendered suspicious subjects worthy of scrutiny, even during the school commute. This paper concludes with recommendations that can assist in improving students’ safety while en route to and from school.
Derron Wallace is an assistant professor of education and sociology at Brandeis University with joint affiliations in African and Afro-American Studies and Social Justice & Social Policy. He is a sociologist of race, ethnicity and education who specializes in cross-national studies of inequalities and identities in urban schools and neighborhoods, focusing specifically on the experiences of young people of African descent. His work has appeared in journals such as Sociology: The Journal of the British Sociological Association, The British Journal of Sociology of Education and Harvard Educational Review. His research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Marion & Jasper Whiting Foundation and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. Prior to joining the Brandeis faculty, he served as a professional community organizer in London, working on youth safety, living wages, fair housing and immigrant rights campaigns.