PRINT December 1989


The New Racism

THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN area this summer treated itself to several weeks of openly virulent bigotry, violence, and death, played out in the pages of local papers and the nightly TV news. Another black man was killed by a white mob for the sin of setting foot in the mob’s pristine Brooklyn neighborhood, an attack similar to the 1986 Howard Beach killing in Queens. In that crime, one image replayed in the media and the mind again and again: Michael Griffith’s broken, sheet-covered body lying at the side of the highway onto which whites had chased him and where he was struck by a car and killed.

But there is no single compelling image left of 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins, who had gone to the Bensonhurst area in Brooklyn with three friends in response to an ad for a used car. He was killed on a Wednesday night, and one of the only available pictures of the dying boy didn’t run in papers until

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