Three years ago, 22-year-old Uriah Brown mounted his bike pulling out of Brooklyn College campus and into the street, pedaling towards home.
According to Brown, he made it two blocks when five cops emerged from their patrol vehicles approaching Brown for what the cops would call illegal biking on the sidewalk, but what Brown calls unconscious racial profiling. What began as a stop for a smallscale offense led to much more when Brown was arrested and brought to central bookings to be processed.
As Brown sat in his cell, he looked down at his dark skin and then to faces of his fellow “criminals.”
“When I was in that jail cell and I looked around, 99% of the people at central bookings downtown were black and hispanic,” said Brown. He began to question, how is it that black and brown people are the only ones being arrested for crimes? “That moment was the kicker for me to say ‘Ok,I need a platform to talk about this issue’ and that kind of pushed me to write this book,” said Brown.
After three years of researching, interviewing and typing on his blackberry, Brown has published a book in response to what he feels is the injustice he has witnessed. The book, The
Black Bubble, lays out what Brown feels are the problems African Americans face and introduces strategies through which black communities can reclaim their lives and their rights.
“African Americans have been put in what I call the Black Bubble, an institutionalized barrier that creates ongoing disadvantages for African Americans on a daily basis. It discusses how African Americans can navigate and move through a society that is completely white supremacist,” said Brown with a deep voice and sternness that comes off emotional and passionate. His voice is one that comes with an air of confidence making his medium build and square structure seem larger.
His 136-page book comes at a relevant time as Black Lives Matter campaigns and protests for the end to racial injustice is in the forefront of the news. His book faces this social problem, but without calls to protest. It discusses institutional racism through four topics education, employment, media and police brutality, and approaches racism not in the way that provides solutions to eradicate, but in a way that provides individuals with tools to work against the uncontrollable bias and embrace their communities.
“Racism provides this cloak, this armour for white people and that’s something that they are never going to give up,” said Brown with a sense of acceptance. “Understanding that racism is never going to not exist. What we need to do as African Americans is create our own. We have to come together.”
After his years of research, Brown concluded that the only way to work against these barriers is to look into the black community in order to build a closeknit separate society. Brown encourages the black community to make statements against these social barriers through reeducation and purchasing power. These movements, he feels, are the only ways to break free of ingrained racism and live a life as close to free as possible.
His first step is to fight against what he feels is a eurocentric and whitebased curriculum. For him, this curriculum leaves students uneducated of the hard work of immigrants and “leads these kids to believe their race has absolutely nothing to offer.” He advises his community to prepare a black education at home. “First thing, [the black community] needs to reeducate themselves. You can’t do anything without education. It starts with both the children applying themselves more in school and it also starts with the parents themselves retraining their minds,” said Brown.
He continued, putting emphasis on his last sentence, “Let the kids go to school to get their white education they need to survive in this world. When they come home, that’s when second school starts, meaning the parents need to develop a curriculum at home that basically incorporates black history.” He highlights the importance of making black history a part of the home by having black literature on hand, mounting photos of black leaders and photos of Africa.
Education isn’t the only place Brown sees an opportunity for the black community to gain power. “Second, we need to stop spending. A.A’s purchasing power is so high, but a majority of what we purchase is from white companies. Just think of the impact that African Americans can have within their own society if they were to support black businesses; if they were to keep that inside of their community because at the end of the day whoever controls the money, controls this country,” said Brown emphasizing the need to keep the community together and self-
These conclusions came after hours of reading and many moments of overwhelming anger and sadness staring at statistics and scholarly articles. The book for him was a learning experience not only about the social injustice but society and himself. He claims the book was a platform for him to find his voice. After the long journey of soul searching and fingers flying over on his beloved blackberry keyboard typing, Brown has received recognition and was chosen to participate in the 2016 National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College.