The other day, Kal Penn tweeted a link to an op/ed piece by Mayor Mike Bloomberg in support of New York City's Stop-and-Frisk program, setting off a flurry of back-and-forth Twitter messages in which the Harold and Kumar actor (and former White House aide) seemed to step out in support of the controversial policy. "Say it ain't so, Kalpen!" many of us exclaimed with much disappointment and shaking of fists at screens.
Penn's comments and the resounding response set off some pretty interesting reactions and conversations:
This tweet is a funny gem from comedian Hari Kondabolu.
Kal Penn? You Racist, Bro? This Week in Blackness astutely points out this 2011 GQ interview, in which Kal Penn talks being the unjust target of racial profiling ("many, many times"), and how it's happened to "almost every brown dude" he knows. Kind of funny how that works, huh?
An Open Letter To Kal Penn On Stop And Frisk: Writer/activist Bridget Todd attempts to drop some knowledge on Mr. Modi about Stop and Frisk, because 140 characters isn't enough space to adequately tell someone how misinformed he is on the policy.
This Is What Happens When I Don't Tweet About Tacos (Expanded Thoughts on a Few of My Tweets): But hold up now. Kal Penn attempts to clarify his statements on Stop and Frisk, after learning the hard way that, indeed, "Twitter sucks when you're trying to explain your views on something complicated and nuanced that needs more than 140 characters."
Kal Penn Writes a Stop and Frisk Editorial That Says Nothing About Stop and Frisk: There was only one problem, as Lakshmi Gandhi from The Aerogram points out: Kal's piece didn't clarify anything.
Stop and Frisk, South Asians and Kal Penn's Tweets: Rinku Sen, Publisher of Colorlines.com, and Deepa Iyer of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), crafted a statement on racial profiling and its impact on South Asians, signed in support be a number of individuals from across the community.
They also reached out to Kal Penn to express their disappointment and concern over his tweets, who in turn endorsed the statement and agreed to engage a process of further dialogue, learning, engagement and action on racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies. Here's his brief response:
I support the statement from South Asian community leaders on the impact of racial profiling. I have and still do oppose racial profiling in any form. I want to thank SAALT and the Applied Research Center for reaching out and starting to educate and dialogue with me about these issues. I plan on being in regular contact with these great community leaders and allies around the issue of racial profiling, and to dialogue with and engage others about it. It’s important for all our communities to be educated, informed and mobilized."Man. One tweet, and look at what happens.