Sunday, December 7, 2014

Institutionalized Racism in America...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth

America has a race problem. As with any problem of consequence there are many sides, or slants to the narrative. With a problem rooted as far back in history as the race problem in the Untied States of America the issues are complex and the solution, if it is to be found, will require shedding old paradigms and beliefs held by many white folks. Like it or not this is the simple truth.

Environment has a lot to do with ones views and beliefs. If a child is raised in an environment that teaches respect for all people regardless of color or ethnicity, combined with parental examples that one should extend respect to all regardless of color or ethnicity the likelihood is that the child will grow into adulthood carrying these belief with them.

One of the biggest reasons racial tensions continue to persist in America in the 21st century is because the foregoing simple truths are not universally understood and practiced by all.

Us white folks today certainly have nothing to do with the history of oppressing and enslaving blacks. Yet to deny that institutionalized racial bigotry and racism continues to exist today is either to be naïve or willfully ignorant. To deny that distrust and suspicion of people of color by many white folks indeed continues to be a reality in the 21st century is to admit burying your head in the sand.

Few, if any respectable and law abiding black or white folks condone the violent and anarchistic activity of the thugs looting and destroying the property and businesses of innocent community members in Ferguson or anywhere else. Yet perusing any of the hard right weblogs will lead any rationally thinking individual to realize just how deep seated the racial prejudice and bigotry runs in some. Even today in the 21st century.

When people rely on surface appearances and false racial stereotypes, rather than in-depth knowledge of others at the level of the heart, mind and spirit, their ability to assess and understand people accurately is compromised. James A. Forbes

While we dance in the streets and pat ourselves on the back for being a nation great enough to reach beyond racial divides to elect our first African-American president, let us not forget that we remain a nation still proudly practicing prejudice. Harvey Fierstein

America has a race problem, and for those white folks who question why this is a valid statement it might be a good time to start looking in the mirror.

Please take the time to read the following and understand why it was written. But most importantly why it is necessary to understand.

The Washington Post By Redditt Hudson - As a kid, I got used to being stopped by the police. I grew up in an inner-ring suburb of St. Louis. It was the kind of place where officers routinely roughed up my friends and family for no good reason.

I hated the way cops treated me.

But I knew police weren’t all bad. One of my father’s closest friends was a cop. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to join the force. He told me that I could use the police’s power and resources to help my community.

So in 1994, I joined the St. Louis Police Department. I quickly realized how naive I’d been. I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered.

I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist.

One example: A couple of officers ran a Web site called St. Louis Coptalk, where officers could post about their experience and opinions. At some point during my career, it became so full of racist rants that the site administrator temporarily shut it down. Cops routinely called anyone of color a “thug,” whether they were the victim or just a bystander.

This attitude corrodes the way policing is done.

As a cop, it shouldn’t surprise you that people will curse at you, or be disappointed by your arrival. That’s part of the job. But too many times, officers saw young black and brown men as targets. They would respond with force to even minor offenses. And because cops are rarely held accountable for their actions, they didn’t think too hard about the consequences.

Once, I accompanied an officer on a call. At one home, a teenage boy answered the door. That officer accused him of harboring a robbery suspect, and demanded that he let her inside. When he refused, the officer yanked him onto the porch by his throat and began punching him.

Another officer met us and told the boy to stand. He replied that he couldn’t. So the officer slammed him against the house and cuffed him. When the boy again said he couldn’t walk, the officer grabbed him by his ankles and dragged him to the car. It turned out the boy had been on crutches when he answered the door, and couldn’t walk.

Back at the department, I complained to the sergeant. I wanted to report the misconduct. But my manager squashed the whole thing and told me to get back to work.

I, too, have faced mortal danger. I’ve been shot at and attacked. But I know it’s almost always possible to defuse a situation.

Once, a sergeant and I got a call about someone wielding a weapon in an apartment. When we showed up, we found someone sitting on the bed with a very large butcher knife. Rather than storming him and screaming “put the knife down” like my colleagues would have done, we kept our distance. We talked to him, tried to calm him down.

It became clear to us that he was dealing with mental illness. So eventually, we convinced him to come to the hospital with us.

I’m certain many other officers in the department would have escalated the situation fast. They would have screamed at him, gotten close to him, threatened him. And then, any movement from him, even an effort to drop the knife, would have been treated as an excuse to shoot until their clips were empty.

* * *

I liked my job, and I was good at it.

But more and more, I felt like I couldn’t do the work I set out to do. I was participating in a profoundly corrupt criminal justice system. I could not, in good conscience, participate in a system that was so intentionally unfair and racist. So after five years on the job, I quit.

A simple yet powerful principle... "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

Via: Memeorandum


  1. African immigrants and West Indian Black immigrants both do exceptionally well in America (the latter group also having experienced slavery), and as far as I can tell they're just as black as the native born African-Americans. And what group was hated more than the Japanese-Americans were after WW2 (yeah, they're doing pretty well, too)? Maybe there's a hell of a lot more to this than what the Tavis Smileys and Cornel Wests of the world would like there to be.

  2. My problem with this controversy, and my problem with partisan discourse in general, is the inherent tone-deafness of talking points. When one proffers a viewpoint, the tendency is to counter one talking point with another to preempt the first and make the second predominant. Are all controversies populated with mutually exclusive talking points? Hardly! Sometimes there are valid points on two or more sides of an argument, and the logical operator should be “and instead or “or” or “nor.” When we regard our pet viewpoints as binary and mutually exclusive, the result is impasse and an end to discourse.

    A: Historically, this is true: Riots and looting and arson have caused businesses to flee impoverished communities – leading to further declines in quality of life. However, when we focus exclusively on acts or self-sabotage, we miss the desperations that fuel the moment …

    B: Historically, this is also true: Poverty, racial profiling, inequality, and powerlessness – conspiring with incidents of harassment, excessive force or outright brutality by law enforcement – are lethal combinations that lead to explosive resentment.

    To focus exclusively on talking point ‘A’ to the exclusion of talking point ‘B’ is to miss a point … and compound an injustice. Yet, there are people who cannot hold two or more talking points in their heads simultaneously. Some folks will invent new talking points based on false attributions – such as blaming the president for every leaf that falls from a tree. Partisanship feeds on intellectual dishonesty and keeps us polarized.

    This may not be the best time to be a cop. It is certainly the worst of times to be a rational and fair-minded person. From a historical perspective, perhaps W. B. Yeats expressed it best in simple terms:

    Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
    A beggar upon horseback lashes a beggar on foot,
    Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
    The beggars have changed places but the lash goes on

  3. As I commented elsewhere, while the looting and rioting are intertwined with community feelings of distrust and inequality the act of looting and rioting (criminal) must be separated from the root and dealt with appropriately while at the same time addressing the underlying causes the inappropriate criminal behavior.

    Thus my posting of the Covey quote. Until such time as authority understands the points you make here (O) CT (O) PUS and the gist of my post, and take steps to right the perceived inequality and injustice it will
    continue to be a road filled with ruts and dangerous ravines.


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