Morning Musing: The #BrooklynRiot

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 • no responses - be the first

That was the hashtag for what was a typical demonstration in the world today. Think those kids are outliers? Let Me Google That For You. Protests today often turn violent. Think about what it takes to get people into the streets today. The 60′s are long gone. I generally believe that marching nowadays is worthless (for reasons that have much to do with our media & political class), but I understand why people do it. I frequently understand the anger. Especially when it’s another young Black man/boy shot to death by the police. No matter what the circumstances were surrounding the shooting people are angry. As Martin once said “…in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.”

But what happened last night in Brooklyn was not a riot. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I lived through a riot once. And as I read the #BrooklynRiot tweets last night it was plainly obvious that what was going on was not a riot, but lots of people attempting to be heard. People exercising a right that is often severely curbed by the NYPD, NYC govt & the police departments & governments of many other cities:

Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And as happens sometimes in this situation, some people took the protest as an opportunity to stir up some trouble. I make no excuses for those who destroyed people’s property, but make no mistake about it, some of those people were/are filled with anger. An anger that had nowhere to go, but out. And anger that we refuse to discuss except with lip service.

I don’t know who decided to declare that protest a riot when some folks turned bad, but my money is on the NYPD. They are almost universally adversarial towards Black & Latin@ people. If they want the anger to begin to subside then their tactics & attitude must change.

The irony of this so-called riot is that without the trouble there would be almost zero coverage of last night’s demonstration.

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Quote of the Day: Questioning the Jewish State

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013 • no responses - be the first

But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish mainly Palestinian citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall. Of course Jews have a right to self-determination in this sense as well — this is what emancipation was all about. But so do non-Jewish peoples living in the same state.Any state that “belongs” to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group.

I don’t understand how anyone can consider Israel a democratic country.

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Black Woman Fired For Being Nice

by TKOEd • Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Via Journal-isms:

“Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

“I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals.

“Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that.

“Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”

That’s former KTBS-TV meteorologist, Rhonda Lee responding to a comment about hair on the channel’s Facebook page. This comment:

the black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv.

All I kept thinking to myself is that Lee’s response is exactly what many white people say they want from Black people. They want us to explain our strange ways to them. Explain our strange hair that they love to touch, explain our “attitudes”, and why we’re so damn “angry” all the time. Here you have someone who did that in a nice, and professional way. Does she get praised for handling a difficult comment well? No. She gets fired. Damned if you, damned if you don’t. Meanwhile, as of today, the original comment by “Emmitt” is still on KTBS’ FB page, AND to add insult to injury the station “liked” his comment:




But hey, race had nothing to with it.

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Black Republicans & The “Plantation”

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • one response - join in

Why do Black GOPers like Herman Cain & Shirley Husar like to refer to Black Democrats as being on the “Democratic plantation” or in “bondage” to Democrats? Why do they always seem to do when addressing white Republicans? And why are they surprised after making such statements that a Black person might call them a “sell-out” or some variation?

I don’t know about you, but when you say that I’m a slave to the Democrats I suddenly don’t think very highly of you. And when you do it while addressing nearly all white audiences I’m become extremely skeptical of your motives. Because you’re clearly not trying to convince me to come over to your side. You’re not even talking to me. Usually you’re in the middle of giving advice to white GOPers about how they should “recruit” Black folks.

Herman Cain described himself as a “modern-day Harriet Tubman.” Shirley Husar (who? exactly) said:

It is time to lay down the tracks of a new “underground railroad,” a movement to help a people who are in bondage to the Democratic Party find hope and encouragement in the GOP…

These self-styled Harriet Tubmans didn’t do so well this year, Obama won 93% of the Black vote. Damn those stubborn coloreds. They really love their massa.

We have values that resonate strongly with GOP values – love of family, the desire to succeed, hatred of cronyism and concentrated power, which are often used against us.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Love of Family: The GOP is generally considered the party of “family values”, but are they really? The Family & Medical Leave Act passed, but nearly all who voted against it were Republicans. They’re anti-gay marriage. They’ve been anti-programs like S-CHIP. They’re anti-family planning.They voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Desire to Succeed: I’m not sure what this is referring to specifically, but I’m assuming it has something to do with work. GOPers are often cited as being on the side of “small business”, but who are they really in the pockets of? Big Business. Who are they always working for? Rich investors and/or rick business owners. They’re virulently anti-union. Again, they voted against Lily Ledbetter. They are generally the ones voting against raising the minimum wage. All these are ways in which people try to better themselves, and the lives of their families.

Hatred of Cronyism & Concentrated Power: Is she really serious with this one? “Heckuva of job Brownie.” Enron. The Wall Street recession. Iran Contra. Blackwater. As far as concentrated power goes, all I’ve got to say is reproductive rights.

Do these people think we’re stupid? Shirley says no:

Blacks and Latinos aren’t genetically Democratic. We aren’t stupid. We aren’t blind.

You’re right, Shirley. We’re not stupid. That’s why we aren’t persuaded by charlatans like yourself looking to bamboozle & swindle us. This isn’t about helping Black folks. It’s about selling the white GOP establishment on how you can magically bring minorities to their side, by telling them to get off the plantation.

Again you’re right, we’re not stupid, and we’re not blind. As a matter of fact, we see right through you.


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The Big Story: David Durk, The NYPD & Corruption

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 • no responses - be the first

R.I.P. David Durk.

Frank Serpico. David Durk. One of those names you almost certainly know. One man was played by someone who now a big time movie star. The other man had a minor character loosely based on him with a different name in the same film. David Durk doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page.

Frank Serpico is alive. David Durk is dead. This is not an obit to Mr. Durk though, the NY Times has done a far better job than I ever could.

We probably never hear of Frank Serpico if not for David Durk. Their stories are intertwined, and you can run a direct line from Serpico/Durk to Adrian Schoolcraft, a man who’s technically still a cop, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s been treated. The stories of these three men, all great cops, should serve as an inspiration to all current, and future police officers. Instead the NYPD attempts to push them into the dustbin of history, and tries to minimize their achievements, and their (corroborated) accusations.

The NYPD has a corruption problem. Their PR guy will tell you that things are 10 times better than they were when Serpico was a cop. Does it even matter though? How much of that is through their own efforts, and how much of that is the decline of mob influence in NYC? The NYPD seems so eager to pat itself on the back instead of acknowledging that they have a shit ton of work to do. Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham. You know the names. You know what happened. And I’m telling you that the way the city, and the NYPD handled the findings of the Knapp Commission, which never happens if not for the persistence, and the insistence of Serpico & Durk, is why we have today’s NYPD. A police force of quotas, harassment, and racism.

…the fallout was minimal. Dozens of officers were prosecuted, but no senior police or city officials were charged.

A few people were cast out, and they called it a day. Ray Kelly was a police officer during those days. I wonder if he’s ever been asked about that era. Was he on the take? He sure does like to minimize police misconduct. How can we expect the NYPD to do their job in a fair, honest, and transparent way when they’ve never tackled the ghosts of the 60s & 70s? How many corrupt cops went on to become senior officers? How many are in the top brass today? We’ll probably never know. What we do know that is that the “blue wall” is as strong as ever. Adrian Schoolcraft’s apt was invaded by cops, and he was tossed in a mental ward by those same cops. Unlawful imprisonment anyone? Of course we’ve seen no criminal charges against any of the officers involved in these Gestapo tactics. I now feel vindicated every time I cross the street to avoid walking next to or crossing paths with a cop. If they can do this shit to another cop bet money they can, and HAVE done it a civilian.

I’ve always said that the police should be held to a higher standard than the average person, but this country seems to completely disagree with me. All over America cops are held to lower standards. Shoot a Black man in the back while he’s face down being handcuffed by another cop? Say you were scared, and you were reaching for your, far lighter, Taser. No one will even ask why you were reaching for your Taser in the 1st place. After the judge gives you double credit for time served you’ll end up serving a year in prison total. Now try, and imagine an average white man who’s not a police officer using any or all of that as an excuse. Now do it for the average Black man. I can’t see either of them getting just a year. Add some “fear”, and make ‘em both cops & it’s likely that they’re acquitted, and continue to be police officers.

All a cop has to do is say they were scared, and they’ll have people lining up to defend them. “You don’t know what it’s like to be a cop.” “Their job is dangerous.” There are around 800,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. (including state & federal officers). In 2010 160 of them were murdered. That’s a rate of .0002. In 2005 about 57,600 cops were assaulted. A rate of .072. Out of that number, about 15,800 were injured. A rate of .0197. My intent is not to minimize police shootings, and assaults, but show that this fear that cops regularly invoke, usually after they’ve shot another unarmed person, is unsubstantiated by the stats. Most cops probably don’t know another officer who’s even been assaulted let alone killed. So what are they so afraid of? The answer seems to be be Black & Latino men. Since we’re the ones that usually end up on the wrong end of a cops glock.

Despite all the talk about “community policing” Ray Kelly has been very confrontational when confronted with just about any criticism of the NYPD. This unwillingness to criticize the self is at the heart the NYPD’s problems, especially with regard to Blacks, and Latinos. When it comes to unwarranted defensiveness, only self-aggrandizing millionaires, and billionaires are in competition. 16 officers get arraigned for ticket fixing, 100s show up in protest. It’s someone else’s fault. They were “just following orders.” Guess what? I believe them. I believe they were just following orders when they stopped, and frisked 685,724 people (87% of them Black & Latino) last year. I also believe that they were just following orders when they stop and frisked 25% less people in the 2nd quarter of this year than last. This brings me back to Ray Kelly, and other cops who were “on the job” during the years the NYPD was nearly completely overrun by corruption. Where are many of these men now? David Durk said during a formal lecture at the police academy he was told to always carry a SASE with him in case he got a bribe. That way he could immediately mail it to himself without fear it would be found later. This is what they were telling recruits! But I’m supposed to believe that the overwhelming majority of corrupt cops who never got any  disciplinary action just suddenly became good cops? Maybe for a little while, ’til the cameras & the reporters & investigators went away, but not for long. Until society stops treating cops as above the law, and infallible we will continue to see corruption, racism & violence flowing from the NYPD.

In 1970 Frank Serpico said:

the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers.

That’s still the case. Just like in the 60′s, and 70′s today’s cops are “just following orders.”

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The Big Story: Romney’s Racism

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 26, 2012 • no responses - be the first

“We’re taking back America” ~ Mitt Romney

Did I miss something? Was America stolen? If so, who stole it? Wait, I know. It must have been that Black guy (from the southside of Chicago no less) in the big White House in D.C. You know, the one with the militant wife. He’s shifty on the basketball court. He’s probably shifty off of it too.

Mitt Romney’s co-chair, John Sununu, is a man who has blown quite a few dog whistles in this campaign. Now he’s recycling one from the 2008 presidential elections: Colin Powell is going to vote for Obama because they’re both Black. Should I assume that Sununu is supporting Romney because they’re both white? Is he “proud” of Romney because he’s running for president, and he’s white?  Should I assume that the 57% of white men who voted against Obama in 2008 did so because he’s Black, and McCain is white? A Democrat hasn’t won the white vote since 1964. That was the year Lyndon Johnson won in a landslide against Goldwater. Interestingly enough, the Civil Rights Act passed that year. I wonder if that had anything to do with whites voting GOP for nearly half a decade? Nah, no way (#straightface).

Personally, I’m interested in any of Sununu’s apologies or retractions of his racist bullshit. I am interested in the fact that Romney has never rebuked any of Sununu’s remarks publicly. Instead Sununu continues to be on the frontlines for Romney’s campaign. Constantly sent to talk to the media. So I have to assume that, at worst, Romney agrees with his co-chair’s bigoted pronouncements or, at best, sees a political advantage to these kinds of statements. For some reason I’m very inclined to believe it’s the latter. Maybe it’s because Romney believes Black people just want free stuff from the government.

Lately, Romney wants the American public to see him as a moderate. But as I watched clips from his speech yesterday, and I heard that “taking back” line, and knew he was going to send out racist dog whistles right up to & on the day of the election. This is who Romney has decided he’s going to be. This is who the modern day GOP is. Blacks want free shit, Obama stole America, and Negroes vote for Obama because he’s Black.

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Fatherhood Friday: Crime & Punishment

by TKOEd • Friday, Oct 19, 2012 • no responses - be the first

It’s hard for me to punish our daughter. Not because she’s a girl or any nonsense like that, but because she’s a kid. Like all kids she makes a lot of mistakes. Basically, she only gets punished for things on which we know that she knows better, and that what she’s done is wrong or something we don’t want her taking part in.

Today her class was supposed to go apple picking. Erika & I were going as chaperones (mostly because we wanted to pick some apples too!). A minute or so after we get to the school with Kyli one of the school administrators comes up to us & asks Kyli to tell us what she did on the school bus the other day. Kyli’s face immediately changes. It goes from full of joy to showing some shame. Kylie recounts her transgressions. Erika hands me the pastries for the parenting forum the school principal holds every Friday. Erika stays downstairs to speak with one of the other kids involved (Kyli’s cousin). Erika comes upstairs, and tells me the whole story. I decide that we are all not going to go on the trip. Erika goes to inform Kyli’s teachers.

Kyli is predictably very upset that she will not be going on the trip. I err on the side of being tough on Kyli while trying to always keep in mind that’s she’s only 6 years old. The other thing I always keep in mind is that I am raising a Black child in America. Some folks have no problem arresting very young Black children for a tantrum.

These are the issues that white parents don’t have to concern themselves with. We’re raising kids that the older they get the less slack they receive just because of their skin color. In some states, Black & Latino juveniles are far more likely to be tried as adults than their white counterparts charged with the same crimes. Now I’m someone who opposes trying juveniles as adults in ALL situations. The notion that we’re going to say a child was acting as an adult is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. A child is a child is a child. Nothing can change that. The fact that we are the only country in the world that sentences juveniles to life in prison should make us all support continuing that ask why.

Maybe my biggest fear as a father is my child having to deal with our justice system, especially the NYC police. So maybe I’m a little tougher than I need to be sometimes. I’ve been dialing it back, successfully I think. This summer was tough, but Kyli’s been doing better than ever when it comes to actual school work. One thing we’ve learned is that if we’re talking, Kyli is most likely listening. Even when we think she’s not. It can be a long hard struggle to actually see the results, but they always come. But for me, possibly the toughest thing about parenting is the uncertainty. It can take a long time to know if you’re on the right path with your decisions, and as I’ve laid out above it feels like the consequences of being wrong falls harder on our children. At the same time, I’m not interested in stifling Kyli’s personality. All we do is to try, and help her grow into the best Kyli she can be. We’re not interested in raising a child who will fit perfectly into what white society thinks is the best presentation of a Black woman. As I’ve stated before I don’t want her to beholden to anyone or anything, but herself. I believe at some point kids are partially raising themselves, and parents act more as guides than anything else. The tools we give them or help them cultivate up until the point they start to take over can make all the difference. It’s scary that we don’t really know until they’re grown if we’ve given or helped them find all the tools they need. But at the end of the day I think it’s really about do they know they can trust us, and have we helped them find what they need to help themselves. Time will tell, but I feel good about us, my family and our communities.

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Apparently Blackface Isn’t Racist Any More

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012 • no responses - be the first

At least that’s what the commenters on this CNN iReport article would have us believe. As infuriating as the story of some white kids donning blackface, and “reenacting” Chris Brown’s brutal assault on Rhianna is, I might be more pissed off at the commenters trying to downplay the whole thing. Now I know better than to get angry at anonymous commenters on the interwebz, but I see many of these comments as indicative of precisely what’s wrong with the way many white people in this country view racism, prejudice, and bigotry in this country. Their view is that if it doesn’t involve a Black person being called nigger to her/his face, or something akin crosses burning on lawns it’s not racist. Pretty much anything goes as long as there aren’t any Klansmen, or swastikas around. Let’s jump into some of these comments:

society should probably toughen up, theres zero chance that this was racist Chris Brown and Rihanna are icons, therefor the kids are gonna portray icons its  SKIT and I guaruntee if a black person painted their face white to portray Eminem, or a mime no one would be saying a word. stop being such a sensitive, sue happy, find something wrong in everything society, and toughen up and let kids be kids. -NotRacist123

Poor choice for a skit. Not intentional racism, but could appear to offend some people. - gapperguy

alright an adult.. this is not portraid to be racist this was supposed to be representing chris brown and rhianna yes i agree with the whole demestic vilonce part but it was not ment to be racist. you people twisted it into your own little project to make these kids feel like crap for just having fun. like i said it was not ment to be racist you guys just twisted it - waverlypride

I fail to see how this skit was “racist.” By this logic, we could say that Adam Sandler is “sexist” because he plays a female character in the movie “Jack and Jill,” which would be completely ridiculous. They were not being racist at all, the characters they were choosing to play in the skit just happened to be african american. I’m not saying this skit should have be tolerated or even allowed, but it is by no means racist. It should not of been approved because violence of any kind is not comical. Also, the kids that wrote up the skit and participated in it are not to blame and should not be under attack for doing so. Look at the mainstream medias in modern times, current comedy celebrity Daniel Tosh makes tons of racist, violent, and highly offensive jokes, but its accepted. Kids didn’t learn this stuff from themselves, the past generations and the mainstream media are to blame for how society accepts offensive and believes they are comical. - username24

Seriously this is ridiculous. For someone to even say the pep rally skit was racist when in all reality it was a reenactment of a TRUE event. The former student that is supposably ashamed of being from Waverly bc of this skit was part of something actually RACIST that is no longer continued at the school bc actual RACIST comments that were made. That incident did NOT reach any kind of news it was taken care of by the teachers and the administration.. Clearly the person having the problem should have talked to the SCHOOL before they went and did any of this. That should have been the proper first step. This whole business with involving outsiders that were NOT even present for the skit should NOT even be involved. It’s none of their business. And it’s none of CNN’s business either. So leave it alone. It wasn’t meant to be racist and there are more controversial topics someone could bring up that are important in the news then some high school skit that was never intended to be racist. - ClassOf13

What if these kids have never even heard of “black face”? How can you be racist on accident? Racism is intentional. They were making fun of a well known topic in pop culture. Not of black people. I have asked several of my black friends (who by the way did not attend waverly) if they were offended by this and not one of them said yes. - GreenLady82

That last one is my favorite, but far from the last comment of its ilk. Mind blowing stupidity, and willful ignorance on full display. White people think they face more racism than Black people. All accusations of racism, prejudice & bigotry now require “proof.” If this were merely limited to the uneducated populace it would of much less concern, but the Supreme Court has even taken this stance. Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow:

According to the Court, whether or not police discriminate on the basis of race when making traffic stops is irrelevant to a consideration of whether their conduct is “reasonable” under the Fourth Amendment.

The Court did offer one caveat, however. It indicated that victims of race discrimination could still state a claim under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees “equal treatment under the laws.” This suggestion may have been reassuring to those unfamiliar with the Court’s equal protection jurisprudence. But for those who have actually tried to prove race discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court’s remark amounted to cruel irony.


As we shall see below, the Supreme Court ruled in McCleskey v. Kemp that racial bias in sentencing, even if shown through credible statistical evidence, could not be challenged under the Fourteenth Amendment in the absence of clear evidence of conscious, discriminatory intent.

This is a mindset that runs through much of white society, and the larger American society as well. I’ve had a Black friend tell me it wasn’t racist for some white kid to randomly come up to me on the street, and ask if I know where to buy weed. Why in the fuck would I know that?

What can we do about it? Personally, I don’t think we should shy away from “calling out” folks when they try massage away racism, bigotry, and prejudice. No need to get into people’s faces about it, but we shouldn’t be letting shit slide amongst our friends. A lot of folks just don’t know, and don’t get it. Now this is much harder in our work environments. I don’t think I can or should tell you how to handle that there. Each situation calls for different responses. With our friends as well, each person requires different tactics. Some say we shouldn’t have to “teach” white folks how to be, and how to treat us as humans. I agree to a certain extent, but I’m not sure how we expect things to change otherwise. Even if it’s just saying that “that’s not ok, it’s offensive” then leaving it at that. Sometimes we don’t have the mental space to go into this shit. White folks, sometimes you just have to accept what we’ve said, and go do some research. Learn something. We have to live in the wider America which is controlled mostly by white people. We have to know about yall. You don’t have to know about us. But you should. We all should try & understand the people around us as much as we can.

I’m going to have a follow up to this where we chat about making fun of domestic violence.

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The Achilles Heel of Affirmative Action?

by TKOEd • Monday, Oct 15, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Richard Kahlenberg writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Set aside the fact that American universities have no dearth of privileged students of any colors—86 percent of African-Americans at selective colleges are middle or upper class—or that those minority students most likely to be admitted without a preference are those from wealthy backgrounds. To most Americans, the privileged minority student is the very least sympathetic affirmative-action case, which helps explain why President Obama has said his own daughters do not deserve a racial preference in college admission.

Justice Alito pressed on. Does a minority applicant whose parents are successful lawyers and are in the “top 1 percent of earners in the country” deserve an admissions preference over white and Asian applicants from families of more modest means? Gare’s eventual response, “we want minorities from different backgrounds,” spurred Justice Kennedy to comment, “So what you’re saying is that what counts is race above all.” Justice Kennedy continued, “The reason you’re reaching for the privileged is so that members of that race who are privileged can be representative, and that’s race.”

Emphasis mine. Kahlenberg is very knowledgeable on these issues, and has edited a book on the subject. So I can’t understand why he doesn’t bring up affirmative action for the most privileged of all when it comes to college, legacies. To say that “privilieged” minorities are the least sympathetic in AA cases, and not contrast or ask why the same isn’t true for legacy admissions is a massive oversight.

I agree with what Laura Stampler wrote in The Nation in 2010:

…legacy preferences seem to clearly violate basic notions of fairness and equity

Maybe I’ll take attacks on race based Affirmative Action seriously when I see legacy admissions being challenged all the to the Supreme Court.

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License To Kill, Or License To Murder?

by TKOEd • Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Or license to maim, threaten, abuse authority, and be a racist scumbag?

Robbie Tolan

Oscar Grant

Sean Bell

Noel Polanco

Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr.

And many more.

Some names you know, some you may not. Either way we need to ask ourselves why so many Black, and brown men keep ending up dead at the hands of the police in this country. Anaheim police have shot more people this year than in the last 2 years combined. Even a white, double amputee in a wheelchair, and wielding a pen was shot, and killed by an officer who “feared for his partner’s safety and his own safety.” That’s all before we get to Chavis Carter. We’ll probably never know what really happened, because I’m sorry I just don’t buy that this was a suicide.

In my eyes it all starts with ALL forms of law enforcement & military being put on the highest pedestal in all the land. America, and many Americans seem to think the police can basically do no wrong. Other than Oscar Grant I don’t believe that any of these men or their families have received even the slightest amount of recompense from the criminal justice system.

If this many, literally & figuratively, unarmed men can be shot by police we have to seriously wonder what kind of training the law enforcement in this country is receiving. Guess what? We have some idea of the training they’ve received:

The police have received no training that enhances the likelihood they will spot the drug criminals as they drive by and leave everyone else alone. To the contrary, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers have received training that guarantees precisely the opposite. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) trains police to conduct utterly unreasonable and discriminatory stops and searches throughout the United States. Perhaps the best known of these training programs is Operation Pipeline. The DEA launched Operation Pipeline in 1984 as part of the Reagan administration’s rollout of the War on Drugs. The federal program, administered by over three hundred state and local law enforcement agencies, trains state and local law enforcement officers to use pretextual traffic stops and consent searches on a large scale for drug interdiction.

That’s from Michelle Alexander’s excellent book, The New Jim Crow. Considering the large amount of young Black & brown men shot and often times killed after a traffic stop or a “stop and frisk” this is extremely alarming, and infuriating knowledge.

As for that license to kill, we don’t really know much about what cops are taught about when to “discharge” (as if shooting someone is akin firing them) their weapon. What we do know is that there are way too many scared cops on the streets. Let’s take Oscar Grant’s murder for instance. Mehserle claims he was reaching for his Taser. Many have asked, and I’ll ask again. Why? Why would you tase a man who was lying face down being subdued by another police officer? You’re that scared? Why the fuck are you a cop?

In this country police officer is synonymous with “hero.” Unless of course you live in certain communities where the only times you see cops are when they’re pushing you up against a wall for being young, brown & male. Every time I see cops walking the streets I get a little bit nervous. I wonder if this will be the day I have a run in with them. I instinctively want to cross the street. You can’t change that with platitudes or by changing your slogan to Courtesy Professionalism, and Respect. There’s got to be more, a lot more.

Rarely does it ever seem that the police are interested in actually interacting with the people they are supposed to be keeping safe. Every time I see a cop he or she is standing around talking to another cop, giving someone a ticket or arresting someone. Never are they talking to business owners, chatting up the old ladies sitting outside on Eastern Parkway or anything that resembles any sort of outreach. This type of behaviour only reinforces the skepticism the police have earned.

The question we’re left with is what can we do? I’m not sure how we can dramatically lower police shootings of unarmed brown people, but I’ve got some ideas on where we can start:

  • Strong, and persistent pushback against illegal police tactics. I think that this was largely responsible for the drop in stop & frisks in NYC last year.
  • We must acknowledge, and publicize all suspicious police shootings. To me, they’re all suspicious until proven otherwise.
  • We need to push for laws that hold law enforcement to higher standards for shootings, not lower. If they are so well trained as every police commissioner & captain claims then they should have no problem meeting this higher standard.
  • We need support projects like MXGM’s People’s Self Defense Campaign
  • We need to continue the fight to end the “War On Drugs.” The WOD can credibly be considered World War 3 considering the amount of direct, and indirect deaths owed to it.

There’s a lot more we can do of course. Please leave your ideas, projects, and programs in the comment section.

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