It seems like the phrase “Snitches get stitches” has always been around.
The term became ingrained in the culture, though, in the past two decades as a staple in rap songs and on shirts.
The distrust of people who might cooperate with police, especially in the Black community, stretches back hundreds of years to slave patrols – which predated modern policing in America.
“We have to understand there’s a long history when it comes to the fore in almost every encounter between police and an African-American,” Ronnie Dunn, an urban and social policy expert at Cleveland State University, told Jae Williams of WOVU/95.9 FM.
The snitching term has grown to take on a much wider cultural meaning, one that doesn’t only apply to cooperating with police.
While talk of no-snitching culture is often presented as something unique to the African-American community, Dunn said it is not. This is about police culture, he said. The so-called “thin blue line” is not all that different.
Whether on the streets, in the police precinct or at home with siblings, there can be consequences for snitching.
This week, our video series continues as collaborator Edward “Phatty” Banks, founder of Reading R.A.M.M., asks: “What happens if you snitch?”
Miss our earlier videos? Go back and watch:
- What is snitching?
- What age were you when you first learned about snitching?
- How did you learn about snitching?
- Snitching, does it have more than one meaning?
Learn more about The Witness Project here.