WTF, 12/10: Law and Order, opinion, thoughts, etc…

???????????????   There is gonna be a slight change in the way WTF is done this week… necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention… so, due to the great hullabaloo that been hitting the fan this week, and, the last few weeks past… even months… today’s column by necessity is gonna re-invent itself, to some degree, and, primarily deal with things that go part and parcel with what concerns my thoughts on law and order.

Simple words… it’s gonna be about cops… bad and good… and… peeps getting killed by cops.

I’m starting off with…

joe1Charles Barkley is still running his mouth… and that’s a good thing.

Whether, I … or, you… or, anyone… agrees with the mouth that roared (sorry Ali); disagrees; thinks he is a complete ass; the best thing since sliced bread, or, anything otherwise, sideways, over, under, down, or, other opinion possible, the fact that he is opining is just perfectly fine and right.

It’s what we are supposed to be all about… able to have the freedom to speak our mind… assuming we have one… mind, that is, not the freedom… the freedom is supposedly assumed in this country.

Freedom… yeah… that’s another topic entirely, and, for another time.

Back to Sir Charles… last week he said, among other things…. that the rioters in Ferguson were scumbags. This week he is saying …

1) “We never discuss race in this country until something bad happens. We never have meaningful dialogue over a cold beer when things are going good.”race bad happens

Ummm… Sir Charles… maybe you don’t … or… more to the point… maybe the media doesn’t. But, back in the day when ya’ll could find me in any old gin mill, beer tavern, or, street corner near a package store, seems that everyone I hung with, race was a topic of discussion sooner or later… regardless, if things were good or bad.

I am willing to betcha dollars to donuts that’s still a reality.

Ya might not have always agreed with some of the opinions about race being bandied about between the glugging down of the booze, but, they were a definitely a topic of discussion and the dialogue was meaningful in one form or another.

Now that good or bad thing… I assume that Chuck means… whether cops were killing someone black or not…

Don’t know about where Chuck lives… but … every day, somewhere, there is a cop interaction with John Q Public where a black person is killed… been that way for a long time. It’s just that once upon a time in America it never used to get as much notoriety, because, simply, the technology was never there.

Now?

Almost everyone has a cell phone, and, almost every cell has a camera function of some sort. Ipso facto… it just gets out there more often when it does happen. But… the simple thing is that it’s just not news if it ain’t being filmed, and/or, it’s a not an unarmed person… especially, a kid.

2) “You don’t put everybody altogether; black is not always right and white is not always wrong. You’ve got some bad apples who are taking advantage of the situation, and that’s unfortunate. Somebody lost a child, this is something we need to sit back and discuss and figure out what went wrong.”

No arguments there… but… it just seems every time shit comes down, we always start in on the meaningful dialogues, yet, we never come to any meaningful solutions that are worked out. Why is that?

Big reason is it ain’t something that can be legislated and changed overnight. Yeah, laws can beMLK-Civil-Rights-Lynching-quote made and all sorts of stuff passed…. and…. it’s one of the reasons why the civil rights era was important…

I mean Dr. King was right when he said “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but, it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

But, when it comes to changing minds… that’s another thinking entirely. That’s gonna take some time.

It’s been a while since MLK Jr. spoke the words he spoke and fought the fight he did, but, it’s still gonna be a long time acoming before everyone’s mind gets the message about truth, justice, and, equality supposed to be being the American way. Sorry, but, it’s true.

Like, Chris Rock says… white folks is getting nicer when it comes to black folks; let’s just hope they keep getting nicer and nicer.

Full nice-cessity is yet to be real.

3) “The notion that white cops are out there just killing black people is ridiculous. It’s flat-outcharles-barkley ridiculous. I challenge any black person to make that point. Cops are absolutely awesome. They’re the only thing in the ghetto (separating this place) from this place being the wild, wild west.”

Okay… I ain’t black, but, I take on that challenge…

Do I think cops go looking to kill black people? The truth? As I see it? Sometimes.

The truth is that there are still ignorant slobs that are able to become cops that are racist assholes who look for an excuse to what evil they can. I think that is a dwindling number, but, I do think it’s still a reality, and, these types are still out there. But, overall… no, I don’t think cops go looking to kill blacks as way of doing police work.

I do think the mindset that they go into the communities with can allow things to get to a point where emotions get out of control, and, then someone can wind up dead.

As I said earlier… cops kill black people every day.

They also kill white peeps. They kill brown peeps; yellow peeps. They kill almost every other color… aka race… imaginable.

But, here’s the thing… the real magilla… out of all those peeps they kill… the biggest group of them all that they kill… is poor people. They kill more people who are poor than they kill any other part of the population. And, it just so happens that in some places there be more black folks than white folks…. or… maybe in some other area… like Arizona or Texas… it might be more Mexican folk… or maybe in Oklahoma or North Dakota it could be Indians or even white peeps… Iowa or Minnesota… who knows… maybe white, or, even Asians. The fact is… just go over the numbers… or, if, you would statistics… and, I will lay down money that more poor folks get killed than rich folks, or, the so-called folks of affluence, or, even what they call middle class folks. And, a lot of them poor folk tend to be the so-called minorities.

And let me ask… who hires the cops to begin with?

“We do”, you might say.

Really?

Yeah… we elect people who appoint people to set up, and, run police departments.

And, exactly how do those peeps get elected, again? Who fronts the money for the majority of them campaigns that gets politicians elected?

Ya’ll get my drift here, yet?

Rich peeps get people elected… money does it. Money talks. And, that, by extension, means rich peeps set up the police forces. It’s always been that way, and, not much has changed. Before the rich peeps there were the kings and emperors, or, what have you, and, they just made the laws, and, then made the forces that kept the peace as they wanted it kept… and…

Now, they do it through the thinly veiled process of elections and so-called democratic processes.

Ya’ll think them rich peeps wanna be bothered by the police forces that they set up? Or, maybe they just wanna be left alone, for the most part, and, let the cops go off protecting us… them?… from the bad folks that run around in the poorer sections of town?

Let’s face it, there is a need for police, because, there is a need for some form of law and order. It’scb and cops just who be setting up the law and order rules; who be following them rules, and, how they be enforcing them rules.

And, sometimes… not always… but, sometimes cops are part of the reason it’s the wild west out there.

Cops serve a purpose… mainly, and hopefully, they go get the bad guys, but, sometimes they tend to rock and roll and cowboy it up, when, they should be using a tad more easy does it. The bad guys are… well, bad people, who, often enough, will not hesitate to pop a cop, if, they think they can get away with it, or, if it means not being arrested. And, deadly force is sometimes needed by the cops… wanna live like a bad ass and go around carrying weapons and doing evil unto others, then, sometimes that shit come home to roost.

And, let’s face reality… we need cops. And, at times, we need SWAT teams. The bad guys have always had certain stuff that seems to keep the good guys always out gunned and always out numbered. So, sometimes the good guys need to be armed the same way, or, they ain’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of stopping the bad guys.

But, that is the exception, and, not the rule when cops go into the communities to do what they are supposed to be doing… keeping the peace and preventing crime from happening. To protect and to serve.

Most so-called crimes are little crimes that need more logic and common sense to be applied then anything else. Arresting folks should be a last resort, and, using force to arrest folks should be the last of the last resorts.

Right now, what we got is an us-versus-them mentality. And, that ain’t good, because, when cops, or, the peeps on the street, get into that mentality… suddenly, there are no innocent people. There’s your side and the other side. If you’re the cops; you’re the good guys. If you’re the peeps in the streets; you’re the good guys. And, a lot of folks that be innocent wind up on the short end of the stick and caught in-between… and sometimes dead.

One more time, for certain types of crimes there is a need to be as bad as bad can be… but… all folksuntitled ain’t the enemy, and, the fact is, they should not be looked upon as the enemy. All peeps in the street are not bad asses looking to commit the next great crime that society has ever seen.

Pulling over a guy for taking cigarillos and winding up in a confrontation before back-up arrives, and, having someone dead is unacceptable.

Accusing someone of selling loosies in NYC, and, then using overly aggressive tactics to take them down for an arrest, and, having someone dead is being a bit over the top and cowboyish… and unacceptable.

Cops have a damn hard job to do… and it seems they are always on the edge… that needs to change. I have said that cops, at times,need to be phsyically armed to their jobs… they also need to be armed in another way. They need to be given the tools… educationally, socialogically and psychologically… to do their jobs better than they are presently given… which in most communities is essentially little to few to none.

4) “I don’t think that was a homicide. I think the cops were trying to arrest him and they got a little aggressive. I think excessive force… something like that… but to go straight to murder?”

Barkley said that, and, it rankled me to no end. Point blank… anytime a person kills a person, it’s a homicide.

Charles ya’ll need to be responsible for what ya’ll say. You say you don’t wanna be a role model, but, then, you go uttering stuff on national TV as a supposed person of intelligence with an opinion that’s supposed to matter. Sounds like on some level ya’ll are trying to be some sort of model after all. NO?

That being the case… and even if it ain’t… ya’ll need to be responsible for what you say. If, you gonna be a public voice espousing supposedly responsible and sage commentary, then, you have to be cognizant of what your words mean, and, how you use them.

Murder and homicide are not the same act. They are different acts that sometimes can be the same. Deaths caused by people are homicides… not all deaths by people are murders.

5) “Sometimes it’s wrong, but sometimes it’s right. But to sit there and act like we hold nocharlesbarkley_ responsibility for some of this stuff… it’s disingenuous.”

No, its not…

Cop sees a person of mid-eastern descent walking down the street… no cop can just go roust him for walking down the street for doing that. Not for just walking down the street.

Same cop sees the same man walking down the street, but, looking around furtively, and, reaching in and out of his pockets, and, talking on a cell phone demonstratively. Could be just arguing with his wife, or, he could be planning some scary shit. That’s just cause. And, yessiree, buddy, a cop had better go check him out.

Black dude wearing a hoodie is walking late at night in a so-called well to do nabe. A cop can’t just stop him for walking while black and wearing a hoodie.

Same hoodie wearing kid, and, he’s acting all heebie-jeebie like. He can be stopped and asked a few questions.

It’s all about having probable cause… a reason. Ya can’t just profile.

Let’s be real… cops see a mid-eastern dude, or, a black kid, in a certain nabe… will they probably stop him for just because? Sure, they will. They’re not supposed to, but, they will. Sometimes ya just gotta roll with it, and, fight the good fight another day. But, it’s still wrong and a part of the reason why Johnny and Joanie Q Public don’t trust cops.

Like the song says…

Said, hey little boy you can’t go where the others go
‘Cause you don’t look like they do
Said, hey old man how can you stand
To think that way, did you really think about it
Before you made the rules?

He said, “Son, that’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah but don’t you believe them”

That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is

Well they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no, no

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

(Songwriter: Bruce Hornsby; Published: Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)  

6) NYDN headline… EXCLUSIVE: In 179 fatalities involving on-duty NYPD cops in 15 years, only 3 cases led to indictments … and just 1 conviction”.

A Daily News analysis of NYPD-involved deaths starts with the 1999 slaying of unarmed Amadou Diallo in a hail of bullets in the Bronx and ends with last month’s shooting death of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn stairwell.

Where race was known, 86% were black or Hispanic.

News item: NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted by a grand jury’s for using a choke hold that led to the death of Eric Garner. The city was shocked and outraged. The Daily News’ report show that the outrage may have been well placed but not the shock.

Why?

Because the odds were stacked in Pantaleo’s favor.

According to the NYDN at least 179 people were killed by on-duty NYPD officers over the past 15 years, and, only 3 of the deaths led to indictments. And, only 1 cop, while on the job, who was seen as being the cause of someone else’s death… a homicide, Sir Charles…. was convicted but never did jail time. Instead, he got community service and probation. FYI… The News found that since 1999:

  • Roughly 27% of people killed by cops were unarmed.
  • Where race was known, 86% were black or Hispanic.
  • Twenty-one people were killed, 3 of them by off-duty cops, in 2012, the highest during the 15-year span.

Also, the News found 222 deaths total during the 15-year span… 43 of which involved off-duty officers.. Some of those deaths involved cops who stepped in when they saw trouble, others were involved in personal disputes or DUIs. The News reported that out of the 14 off-duty deaths they could only find evidence of 10 convictions.

Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said that during the same time period that the News reported upon, that almost 80 cops were killed in the line of duty. According to Lynch, “When there is a life-or-death situation on the street, be it an armed robbery, a homicidal maniac on the street or someone driving a vehicle in a dangerous and potentially deadly way, it is New York City police officers who step in and take the risk away from the public and put it on themselves. Our work has saved tens of thousands of lives by assuming the risk and standing between New Yorkers and life-threatening danger.” The News, to be fair, pointed out that some of the deaths involved fierce firefights and death-defying heroism by some NYPD personnel… an example being…

NYPD Officer Ivan Mercano, hero.
NYPD Officer Ivan Mercano, hero.

At about 6:30 pm, on October 24, 2012, off-duty NYPD Officer Ivan Mercano and his girlfriend were in his car when they spotted 2 men robbing another man.

He stopped; got out of the car, pulled out his gun and shield, and, identified himself as a police officer. One of the robbers fired at him, striking Officer Marcano in the chest.

Long story short… during an ensuing shootout, the wounded cop bravely took on the bad guys, killing one of them.

Marcano was later given full presidential honors.

Been saying all along that all cops ain’t bad.. but…

7) Elie Mystal is the managing editor of Above the Law: Redline. Right after the grand jury’s failure to indict the cop involved in the choke death of Eric Garner Mystal wrote a piece in the NYDN that began with question: Good cops, how can you be quiet now?  Mystal

Mystal describes himself as a “fat black man”. An interesting choice of word when it is understood that Eric Garner could be described as a fat black man.

Mystal’s fat black man has a goal… he wants to see the Blue Wall of Silence torn down.

Mystal says “We are going to hear a lot of talk from people in power… even from liberals in power… about how ‘most police officers’ are hardworking, upstanding, pillars of the community who do not choke unarmed black people to death in broad daylight.”

Mystal goes on to say… “Fine. Great! As a large, overweight black man who has lived in New York for most of my life, I’d like to say thank you to all of the police officers who have not yet found me threatening enough to kill. I appreciate you allowing me to live.”

He makes the following points…

  • Why aren’t the “good cops” of the NYPD outraged? Because there are some folks who wear the same uniform who take pride in choking a man to death in the street.
  • And, if it does bother the good cops, then why don’t they say anything? Because doesn’t being a “pillar of your community” involve speaking out when someone does violent and public harm to that community?
  • And, if you are a good cop, then they should understand that he is a part of your community… he says, “Me, right here, the fat black guy who is literally terrified of your power to execute people who look like me: I’m your boy. I’m the guy you signed up to protect. You are supposed to be on my side, not the side of the people who dishonor your uniform. I am polite and courteous to you when we cross paths… (why) aren’t you willing to stand with me now?”
  • Relations between the police and the communities they police cannot improve so long as allegedly good people ignore crimes…
  • Not all Staten Island cops are like the ones who killed Eric Garner? Then where is the loud and proud display by the Finest that opposes these cops?

He then takes NYC Mayor de Blasio to task when he says, “I don’t want hear boo from you about how these cops are not representative of the policing African-American New Yorkers have come to expect until you start showing me some cops who represent a different philosophy. Start showing me some cops who think that omerta is the wrong standard for police officers.”

He closes with these words… “I’ve been black for too long to be surprised that there are cops who would just as soon choke me as look at me. I’ve been black in New York for too long to . . . have a reason to go to Staten Island. But during all that time, I keep hearing about the good New York City cops. I’d like to see one now. One who hasn’t had his tongue cut out. One who will stand with me against the criminals who hunt me.” silence of the good

Sounds like some pretty damn serious, honest thoughts and questions from a concerned citizen who deserves some damn serious, honest answers, if, you were to ask me…

Where are the good cops? Why the silence?

8) Even George W. Bush doesn’t get how the cop who killed Eric Garner didn’t get indicted.

In an interview with CNN, The ex-prez said, “You know, the verdict was hard to understand… it’s sad that race continues to play such an emotional, divisive part of life.”

Bush said he recently had dinner with his former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and they talked about the riots in Ferguson…“We Talked about this subject, and yeah… she just said, you gotta understand that there are a lot of black folks that are incredibly, more and more, distrusting of law enforcement. Which is a shame, because law enforcement’s job is to protect everybody.”

Imagine that…

9) Harry Siegel is an op-ed writer for the NYDN news, and, on December 3, he wrote a piece titled “The lonesome death of Eric Garner”.

I’m not gonna go into his entire piece, although I recommend ya’ll check it out by clicking on the link: http://nydn.us/1tOoDLC

I am gonna point out a couple of parts that I think may not be known, are important, and, need to be thought about…

In the piece, he says he cried when he saw video of the cops, and, how they treated Eric Garner…i can't breahte not the one where his infamous words are said… “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

But, the video that was “…shot minutes later as Garner lies dying among men and women in uniforms, men and women who seemed not to give half a damn…”

Siegel says “As he lay dying, he was treated like a piece of meat. By Pantaleo. By the other cops on the scene. Even by the medical technicians. Had Garner been treated with basic human dignity after he was violently, and, needlessly, taken down, he might not be dead. I’m no lawyer, but this is section 125.15 of New York’s penal code: ‘A person is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree when: 1. He recklessly causes the death of another person.’

Anyone unsure why so many people of color are upset with the police, and suspicious of the American justice system, put your politics down, open your eyes and watch the videos.”

And that’s worth noting…

There is something else worth noting about what Siegel writes…

Anyone tell me why Garner was being arrested?

For selling loosies… untaxed loose cigarettes. Which, admitedly, is against the law.

Problem… here it is in Siegel’s words… “There’s more to be said on another day about broken-windows policing. Garner was known to cops for selling loose cigarettes, though he wasn’t doing that when he was arrested and killed.”

Hmmphhh…

Recently, Rush Limbaugh joined in on the discussion regarding the arrest of Garner, as well as the why of Garner was being arrested…

“What was Eric Garner doing? He was selling cigarettes, loose cigarettes…. because (NY government is) so eager for tax collection… I think the real outrage here is that an American died while the state is enforcing tax collection on cigarettes. This is just absurd… $13 a pack in New York City. Over $6 of that is taxes. And, the authorities are telling the cops, ‘You go out and you stop that’, because, they’re so intent on collecting tax revenue.”

Then Limbaugh asked… “How many people smoking marijuana did the cops pass by and ignore on the way to Eric Garner?”

I might add… or, other more serious criminal activity… I don’t know… drug deals… prostitution… potential terrorism… take your pick…

But… again… I thought he wasn’t selling any untaxed loose cigs.

Even his wife, Esaw Garner, has said that the cops regularly harassed her husband over selling untaxed loose cigarettes. Just as a habitual everyday occurrence type of thing.

She told NBC’s “Meet the Press”, “I feel that he was murdered unjustly. I don’t even feel like it’s a black-and-white thing, honestly, in my opinion. I feel like it’s just something that he continued to do. And, the police knew him by name and harassed us (for his illegal cigarette selling). We would go shopping. They (would say) ‘Hi, cigarette man. Hey, cigarette man wife.’ You know, stuff like that, And I would just say, ‘Eric, just keep walking. Don’t say anything; don’t respond. Don’t give them a reason to do anything to you.’ And he just felt like, ‘But babe, they keep harassing me.'”

Freaking harassment over selling untaxed loose cigarettes.

Call in Eliott Ness…  J. Edgar… James Comey… My Gawd! The revenue that’s being sucked away from the guvmint here.

Even, Rush Limbaugh can understand, and agree with, the absurdity of the situation. Rush might have gotten there by a different thought process than, maybe, mine, but, still, the reason for a man laying dead on a NYC sidewalk was because of the government not getting their piece of the taxes charged on the sale of loose cigarettes.

And… the man didn’t have any on him that day… wasn’t selling that day.

So, he died for nothing I suppose.

All about the taxes when you come right down to it. Full circle. It’s all about the money. Cops, doing the duty of the government, who on some level is brought and paid for by the 1%.

Didn’t we fight a war… a revolution… about that shit a long time ago? Nobody learnt nothing?

Now…. about the racial part of this story… to an extent, I do agree race is not as big an issue as a lot of folks try to make it to be.

Why’s that, you might say?

Consider this fact… the top cop in charge was a black female sergeant.

Can someone tell me why she didn’t take charge of the situation? Why didn’t she order Pantaleo to back off? Cease and desist? Why, maybe, didn’t she tell everyone to stand down, and, tell Garner he was getting a “desk ticket to appear” at the worst? And, why, if he didn’t possess any, and therefore could not be selling, any untaxed loose cigarettes… was he being rousted at all?

Why didn’t she do anything to stop what was going down?

A man might be alive now instead of dead in the ground.

But… now… add the fact that, the Staten Island’s grand jury decision on Garner’s death came nine days after the Ferguson grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, and, it had the quintupled effect of turning the fact that another unarmed black man was unnecessarily dead because of an interaction with cops.

I say unnecessarily, because, the evidence, that I see, says he never should have been being bothered by cops at all, and, it appears for some reason he was being systematically harassed over freaking selling stupid ass untaxed loose cigarettes.

I mean… ain’t that a damn good rationale for a bunch of damn cops to go around trying to take someone down? Right? For loosies?

And, please, forget about that argument that he shouldn’t have resisted arrest… the real point is he shouldn’t have been harassed, and, cops shouldn’t have been trying to arrest him about something that he wasn’t selling.

No crime; no harm? Right?

Then why is a man dead?

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This weeks gratuitous pictures…

 

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Joan Smalls (26) is a Puerto Rican fashion model who is ranked 8th on Forbes’ “World’s Highest-Paid Models” list…

 

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Another thousand words…

 

 

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rock center

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Comments

comments

9 Comments

  1. As a fat black man, born, raised, and still resides in New York City I will say that you would be hardpressed to find one black person who actually does believe that cops are only in the community to kill blacks. That absolutely isn’t true. Does the NYPD have a fair bit of young cowboys in their ranks? They absolutely do. Will some “compassion” course being pushed by our Mayor solve that? I’d say highly unlikely but something does have to change.

    As you well know we read the same newspapers so I’m a bit more familiar with these stories than other readers of your blog but when I saw those NYPD conviction stats I wasn’t surprised but I was a bit angry. Some of those cases were so open and shut but the decks were stacked in their favor.

    As for Sir Charles? While a part of me agrees with some of the things he is saying he does need to shut his mouth. For someone who never wanted to be a role model, the guy is seeking far too much press to put forth his asinine opinions. I’m sorry but when I want to hear someone talk about race relations in the United States I’ll turn to Chris Rock and others WELL before I consider the opinions of Charles Barkley.

  2. I sort of get why good cops aren’t expressing outrage about the grand jury decision in both Brown and Garner since they are the ones on the front lines with the bad cops and need to be able to count on them for help when they call for back up, but the only way evil can exist is for good to do nothing. And too much good is doing nothing.

    Cameras attached to a cop’s uniform is a good idea as long as someone can’t hack into it and change the scene it records. Until Robocop can take over.

  3. I heard this morning on the radio that there is a “Thank You NYPD” rally being planned for 12/19. Thankfully I’ll be out of town.

    As far as the body cameras I’m a tad skeptical. Why? We’ve already seen video being disregarded. So what’s the difference from a civilian cell phone video, a store’s security video, a starewell video or a cop body camera? None really. So, if incidents can be caught on camera and still disregarded, what’s the point?

  4. There is a feeling among many that we are now seeing old, hidden racism poking its head out of the shadows where it has been hiding. This is a new experience for many, since it is a racism that exists without racists. It is embedded in our social fabric to the extent that it is difficult to detect even by many who are adversely affected by it.

    Consider, for example, the situations which are called “cop killings (of afro-americans)” and “torture of prisoners of war (at Guantanamo).” Those who justify these actions seem to be together in saying that they result from two basic principles. (1) Some lives are worth more than other lives and (2) It is “natural” to hate those who are not a part of “us.”

    Police officers are trained to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Our nation’s security system is trained to defend the nation if it feels there is a threat to it. But are those feelings appropriate for the situation or are they–and we–only scaring ourselves to death. And have we, perhaps inadvertently, acted to bring about the conditions which we feel are threatening?

    These two sayings seem to be so much a part of our society that they frequently are not recognized for what they are. Oprah Winfrey, for example, tells of being in an elevator and becoming aware of and uneasy about two teen-age boys behind her. When she turned around and saw them, she let out a sigh of relief. They were white.

    Many may know that there is an acronym for being stopped by a patrol car because of race. It is DWB (driving while black). The fact that this acronym even exists indicates the extent to which racism (with or without racists) permeates our society.

    One of the social institutions currently under attack is the grand jury system. It was originally used (along with the preliminary hearing) to protect citizens from overzealous or biased prosecutors. It was supposed to be a force to keep them from abusing their powers. But the criticism now is that those same prosecutors are using the system to avoid prosecutions when they would be appropriate.

    I live in a neighborhood which is “mixed.” A lot of residents in this neighborhood have worked together long and hard to forge a society in the face of the social “laws” mentioned above. We differ from each other in many ways, but we are united in supporting our common effort to have a truly diverse community.

    I believe our efforts are paying off. We are recognized by our city and by surrounding cities as a “model” neighborhood. One of the problems we have is halloween, where people from all over the region bring their children to “trick-or-treat” here. It is difficult to find a parking place on halloween night because of the traffic, but I would rather have it that way than have others live in fear of us.

    I agree that it will be a long time before the insidious and racist attitudes mentioned at the beginning of this post can be wiped from the fabric of society. I hope we have taken some steps to eliminating them in our environment. But we will never be rid of them if we ignore them. And ignoring them is to accept a society that has racism even if it doesn’t have racists.

  5. I have a question… how can there be racism if there are no racists?
    And, what would happen if you substituted the word ethnocentrism for racism? Just a thought.

    I welcome, and appreciate, your thoughts and comments.

  6. Replying to Joe Cantiello:

    Thanks for your questions. They are appropriate. My responses depend on a narrow definition of “racist” (such as one who is not color blind) and a broad definition of “racism” (such as laws and social behaviors which treat one group of citizens differently than another group).

    There are other definitions, of course, and some of them do not fit the point I was trying to make. Substituting “ethnocentrism” for racism might work for some people but my feeling is that term loses some of the emotional clout I feel about our social structure.

    In other words, I feel that the United States has come a long way in the past half century in opening our society to all citizens, but still has a very long way to go, indeed.

  7. yeah… it does lose the clout but it encompasses more of what is really behind why people get into that “us versus them” thing. Essentially, there is only one race… the human race… but a lot of ethnic groups. But, I understand why race and racism is used.
    Without going into detail, I think you might find my next WTF column of interest… hope you stop by.

  8. (Another) reply to Joe Cantiello:

    Joe, I’m not sure we are quite on the same path, but I feel we are on the way to the same goal.

    I’ll look forward to your next WTF.

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