Black and Blue

I know I am not the only American who is struggling to come to terms with the events of the past week: the videos of police killing black men whose “crimes” consisted of selling CDs and driving with a broken taillight, the equally horrendous murder of Dallas police by a U.S. Army reservist bent on “killing white people,” and the use of a sophisticated robot to kill, rather than incapacitate or capture, that gunman.

Most reasonable people understand that every group–racial, occupational, whatever–has its bad apples, deranged or bigoted or otherwise damaged individuals. In the case of police, the rogue behaviors displayed by a small percentage of officers makes police work more difficult and more dangerous: for one thing, when people fear and distrust law enforcement, they are unlikely to co-operate and provide helpful information; for another, as we have seen in Dallas (and last year in New York),  shocking evidence of such behaviors can provoke attacks on all police by unstable individuals.

When one of those attacks, or another high-profile crime, is committed by a black person, it reinforces stereotypes of black criminality, making the lives of the vast majority of black citizens more difficult. (Of course, when whites like Dylan Roof massacre churchgoers, his actions do not feed into widespread beliefs that all whites are murderous. The fact that whites are not seen as monolithic and interchangable, while marginalized minorities are treated as if members of those groups (African-Americans, Muslims, etc.) are fungible, is one aspect of what has come to be known as white privilege. The difference is incredibly unfair, but it exists.)

The question before us is: what do we do?

There are practical steps we can take to reduce the likelihood of gratuitous police violence; many police departments are already implementing better training protocols and better psychological screening of applicants, and others–especially in smaller, less professionalized police forces– need to do so. We also need to eliminate systems like the one in Ferguson,where citations for low-level infractions actually funded the police department, incentivizing unnecessary confrontations between citizens and police. (For that matter, we need to stop criminalizing everything from not using your seatbelt to driving with a broken taillight, and let police focus on crimes against person and property.)

As many people have pointed out, when everyone is armed to the teeth, we shouldn’t be surprised by gun  violence. If not for the NRA’s stranglehold on our feckless lawmakers, we might be able to institute some reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

Those and other measures should certainly be undertaken, but they ignore the elephant in the room.

Racism is certainly nothing new in America, but over the past few years we have seen an upsurge in nativism and bigotry of all sorts. It began with the ubiquity of talk radio–with Rush Limbaugh and his clones, who made money by appealing to the discontents of older white men, assuring them that women and African-Americans and various “others” were taking  jobs and status that was rightfully theirs. Fox News followed the script and amplified the resentments.

It got worse when we elected an African-American President; evidently, the thought of a black man occupying the White House was enough to make previously closeted white supremacists crawl out from under their rocks.

That led to Donald Trump, and his attack on “political correctness”–an attack seen by  legions of angry white guys as permission to discard hard-won norms of civility and respect. In Trump World, it is disdained as “politically correct” to refrain from ridiculing the disabled; “politically correct” not to display crass racism; “politically correct” to refrain from sexualizing or demeaning women.

Ultimately, what keeps police from disregarding the worth of black lives is a culture that genuinely values those lives. What keeps most citizens from breaking the law are social norms that value the rule and role of law. What keeps our diverse and polyglot nation from disintegrating is the conviction that we share an identity as Americans, that there is a “we” that supersedes our various tribal commitments.

Americans will probably never live up to our highest aspirations and principles, but when we discard them, when we celebrate crudity and name-calling and bigotry as “telling it like it is,” we betray those principles and degrade our communal life. Worse, we give damaged people from all groups encouragement to act on their anti-social impulses.

Last week wasn’t a face-off between black and blue. It was a test for us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37 thoughts on “Black and Blue

  1. Sheila,
    Amen.
    From SPLC:
    This week has been a hard one for all of us and a telling one for the country.
    On Tuesday, it was the murder of Alton Sterling at the hands of white police officers in Louisiana. On Wednesday, it was the slaying of Philando Castile in Minnesota.
    Both were grim reminders of how little progress we’ve made since Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson nearly two years ago.
    And then yesterday, five Dallas police officers were killed in what appears to be a misguided act to even the score.
    That was a reminder of what Dr. King often said: “Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets a greater toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody. Along the way of life, someone must have enough sense and morality to cut off the chain of hate.”
    That “someone” is every one of us, every person in our country who believes that black lives matter and that the time for action, and not just soul searching, is now.
    Throughout our country’s history, people of color have been marginalized, exploited, and brutalized.
    That’s why our work lifting up the dignity of every person and fighting for equal opportunity and equal justice is so important. And that is why it is so important for us to resolve to continue the work in the face of the week’s news.
    The march for justice must go on.
    Richard Cohen
    President, Southern Poverty Law Center

  2. Sheila, it was a test all right, but of a broken socio/political system. As Mike Wallace, the Dallas Mayor pointed out, “We must get to the cause of what happened last night.” I would add, “quicker than a New York minute.”

    At the rate things are going, it is going to be either a “cake walk” for the likes of a Donald Trump, or, on the other hand , a “living hell” for the likes of a Hillary Clinton.

    Our only chance for us now….. is a “crash program” to develop an accurate root cause analysis of what has happened to America since the Kennedy assassination with the realistic hope that it is not to late.

  3. Nice to see the early returns are in and, of course, cops murdered two more black men. Silly me! I thought innocent until proven guilty applied to police as well.

  4. Marv; I called you out before on your anti-SPLC attitude and comments, your reply was that you agreed with much of their work but seem to concentrate only on issues you disagree with as being your reason for warning us against SPLC. I am a member and will continue to be one; I do not agree with everything they support either but the good works they do outweighs the few issues I do not agree with. I am one person, you are one person, our pro-SPLC and anti-SPLC cancels one another out. The comments from Richard Cohen; who obviously is one of “us”, Sheila Kennedy supporters, have great value.

    I have not read every article on the Dallas attack but have noticed one issue not reported on. I saw ONE interview by a CNN newscaster with the sister of a protest attendee who was shot in the leg by Johnson as she lay across her young son on the ground to protect him. Were there other attendees injured, in any way, during that terrible attack? Why have they been ignored? If the mother protecting her child was the only protester injured; she deserved to have her heroic effort and her injury reported.

    I have seen comments from those who support NRA and no gun control reform saying that if the protesters had been armed, they could have helped the Dallas police take down the shooter. It doesn’t get more stupid than that! The issue of “Black Lives Matter” too often results in efforts to point out that those killed were breaking laws. Dead and dying Dallas police laying around and Black protesters shooting in any direction would have resulted in Dallas police, rightly so, shooting protesters. As I said, it doesn’t get more stupid than that remark. Fortunately; the protesters were there in peace, following Rev. Martin Luther King’s non-violence actions in their protest. They are to be applauded. Or…IF there is more to the story than we have been told, we are again dealing with media intervention…ARE WE?

    “…many police departments are already implementing better training protocols and better psychological screening of applicants…”

    I copied and pasted the above portion of Sheila’s comments for a specific and personal reason; many of you may be sick and tired of my rant about my own victimization over two years ago…deal with it or scroll past. My point is; how often has this incompetence by IMPD resulted in serious crimes? My attackers had attacked two other elderly women, one 84 and the 90 year old was injured and robbed; a witness provided descriptions of the mugger, the driver, their car and their license plate number so they were identified that day. IMPD undercover officers began THAT DAY following them 24/7 (so the police report states); the criminals followed me from Kroger to my home four days later, a simple and direct route with little traffic and only one way in or out of my small neighborhood. Yet they managed to attack, seriously injure and rob me at 11:00 in the morning; if the undercover officers missed that they should have received the report of the 911 calls and found them a few blocks from my home where they first used one of my credit cards. They did “find” them that evening registering in a nearby motel; one officer registered in the room next to them to continue surveilence. One week later they sat in the small parking lot at MCL watching the car but didn’t see the man get out and attack and rob the 85 year old woman. They did follow the car to a Shell station where they got a call on their police radio about the attack and robbery of the fourth elderly victim in the MCL parking lot they just left. Yes; this is long, it is to show you the need for qualified training of officers. I received the full story verbally from investigators regarding the full actions of the criminals – so how did they manage to attack and rob two additional victims within a small area of the east side of Indianapolis. As an aside; all of the victims and the criminals are white, no racial issues to claim lack of protection.

  5. Let’s all take a deep breath.

    Ken, one of the most obvious aspects of the recent police killings of black men, is that they seem to be found not guilty in nearly every case, no matter the circumstances. They keep their jobs and their pay. Sometimes we are informed that they have a history of excessive use of force complaints, all of which have been dismissed. The most obvious thing to do is to remove those investigations from the affected police departments. Let’s consider putting them in the hands of state police, rather than locals.

  6. “The birth and development of the American police can be traced to a multitude of historical, legal and political-economic conditions. The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities. For example, New England settlers appointed Indian Constables to police Native Americans (National Constable Association, 1995), the St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols. In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation’s first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered proper.” From Victor E. Kappeler, PhD; A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing.

  7. Joann,

    “I am one person, you are one person, our pro-SPLC and anti-SPLC cancels one another out. The comments from Richard Cohen; who obviously is one of “us”, Sheila Kennedy supporters, have great value.”

    As you always make it clear that you’re an old timer on the blog. I’m not with Richard Cohen. So if he is one of the group as you say, please excuse my exit. Pronto.

  8. So when are the police going to be held accountable? When are the good cops that don’t speak up about bad cops going to end this nightmare and stop protecting cops that have no business being cops?

    When are the KKK that infiltrate the police departments going to identified and purged from the forces before they shoot first and ask questions later again?

    When are the citizens that have a gun permits and carry licenses going to be protected by the NRA? Oh wait, the MN guy was black so the NRA has been silent about that. Not a word from those NRA holders that should be shouting about his 2nd amendment rights being ignored and protected?

    You see, I can say those 2nd amendment carriers have a right to protect themselves and I can also say that innocent police officers can and should be mourned. I can hold these two thoughts in my head at the same time but nobody has an answer to any of these questions.

    All I know is that this GUN ISSUE is one of the most important reasons why I will never live in the US again until these questions are answered and addressed so that I can feel safe there. And yet, I have flights books next month to visit my family and I will be there wondering if it will be my last visit “home.” This is a crucial issue for all citizens and we need to address it and many many years ago wasn’t soon enough. I’m furious.

  9. I believe there is more to the Minnesota story that we will never know.

    Police departments do everything they can to protect their reputations, even if they know one or more of their own members are walking time bombs. How do I know this? I was married to a cop for over twenty years and was informed on a daily basis about what goes on within their ranks.

    I am suspicious of the cop’s reason to pull over the man for a tail light that was not working. That is a common ruse used by cops to stop people for a completely unrelated reason. If he was truly stopped for a tail light, the cop only needed to tell him about it, instruct him to get it fixed and send him on his way. There was no reason to do anything else.

    I wonder if the driver was mistaken for someone else who is known to drive the same make and model of car and if that was the real reason to pull him over. If that was the reason, the public will never be told.

    The police departments have got to do a better job of policing themselves. They have to stop protecting the bad apples out of fear that if problems become public knowledge they will all be looked down upon. Obviously, by protecting each other it is now causing a lack of respect for all of them. Cell phone videos have brought all of these issues to everyones’ attention and the cops can no longer hide their misbehavior.

    Now, for cops always being ‘found innocent’ innocent in lawsuits – judges also collude with the cops because they never know when they will need cops to protect them and they don’t want to jeapordize themselves if they might need to be protected in the future. Cops have been known to delay answering a call or to claim they are too busy to come to someone’s aid if a person is known to have crossed them before. This is also a reason why they won’t rat out their own. They may need that bad apple to come to their aid on a call and they don’t want to risk being on their own if they need help.

    Finally, all police departments have been gifted military weapons and armored vehicles of all kinds . The military was forced to purchase more than were ever needed for the past 15 years of war and that is why they have been offering them to police departments – just to get rid of it. Most cops are excited to have access to this equipment and they enjoy being trained to use it. We do not need militarized police departments.

  10. Anyone interested in learning more about Indy’s public safety departments, there interagency interaction, and theire interactions with the community, should look into taking the free Public Safety Citizens Academy that is offered twice a year. You have to commit to one night a week for 10 weeks , but it is incredibly informative and often eye-opening. it’s also a terrific opportunity for two-way dialogue which has to happen in order to effect change.

  11. The thing is, it’s not “a few bad apples.” It is, as it usually is in this kind of thing, a rotten barrel. These folks have a good systemic view and some very concrete proposals for improving the quality of the barrel.
    http://www.joincampaignzero.org

    I wrote a long post on FB yesterday comparing the amount of training, supervised experience, vetting, and ongoing oversight, between the 552,000 mental health professionals in this country and the approximately 800,000 sworn officers. We have a lot less power, but a *ton* more barriers to getting and keeping that power.

    Fundamentally, I am not okay with a status quo that says, “the job of police officer is so stressful and people are so ill-trained that *of course* they are going to snap from time to time and kill someone.” We need to fix the system so that there will be no excuse for starting and escalating a routine confrontation and then turning oneself into judge, jury, and executioner.

  12. Unedited related thoughts to blog topic.

    The best coverage I’ve heard has been the last few days of NPR. From a variety of perspectives, racial culture and coping, science and empathy, long coverage of police talking about their jobs. Recommend looking for the podcasts.

    The murder and abuse of black men, fear driven or unconscious implicitly biased is longstanding. Not my purpose today but a given. Basically undeniable. Institutionalized and systemic. Intermittent progress has been made but under high stress or chaotic circumstances under-trained, under-prepared officers revert to most of the same emotional responses as the general public.

    I’m sympathetic to the stresses of the job but as an institution and profession there are serious issues to address. I’m terribly disturbed by the deaths in Dallas as I’ve been by other deaths all my life but I am not at all surprised.

    The policing institution and function should not be either. Like other professions the error prone and ignorant are observed, sometimes addressed and others scapegoated. But most do not carry a gun charged with ego management under stress. I’ve seen businessmen, doctors, lawyers, educators and all manner of professionals so angry that if armed I’d consider them dangerous.

    Most professions protect their image and try to quietly shove the most egregious offenders out the door or minimize their impact in some way. It’s not surprising that police agencies do as well – and calls into question the position of unions and personnel management. Policing is not a job for amateurs, no matter the community.

    I despise killing as anything but the very last resort. A felt sense of danger is not sufficient justification. This is even more egregious if racially motivated. The reason I say this goes like this,

    If any healthcare ER worker injured a patient, if a teacher abuses a student, a soldier shoots to kill when not being fired upon, if a businessman or woman falsely accuses or confabulates “evidence” to support either a legal or internal complaint they’re sanctioned heavily, fired, blackballed, sued dismissed for malpractice, but held accountable. We expect citizen accountability, and in most places professional accountability. We can stand to address law enforcement accountability.

    It’s time for serious – ongoing, long term cultural address, continuous education, professionalism with ongoing permanent required training, and transparency. Not as punishment for police but to insure their safety, improve their relationships in community after community and set a higher standard. Further, If we are to run around armed as seems inevitable for the moment- let’s work for some change there too- take a lesson from the military. As follows,

    Respect is not guaranteed. When the workplace is able to shoot back and video is ubiquitous, it’s in everyones interest to know each other at far greater levels. Their will be consequences and containment or winning by attrition, simply wearing out or dominating the opposition is seldom an option any longer. See the Irish Troubles as written about by Gladwell asd supported by ongoing research for greater data.

    At a very personal level I count on the police department for assistance. Recently they were the ones who solved the murder of my neighbor, addressed the 6 murders within a mile of my home last summer, come when called and generally provide a level of safety and reasonableness that I may remain here. I’m aware and have participated in outreach efforts police instigated and supported. On the other hand- I’m aware of at least some degree of difference in treatment between my city neighborhood of very diverse population and monocultural areas I’ve lived in at other times.
    Even more importantly I depend upon my neighbors far more than police to make our community livable, lovable and if not perfect – generally pleasant and secure.

  13. Gee Aging Girl, why even pay attention to what goes on here in the U.S. if it is such a hateful place?

  14. There has been evidence of several civic fault lines lately and in fact several occurred in one day.

    Too many guns is one but that’s more the symptom than the disease. The disease is an ad agency, the NRA, selling killing machines through the act of making citizens angry and afraid. There is simply no other explanation for citizens believing that they need to, and much more incredulous they can, defend themselves from rogue government.

    Racism has been a never ending battle. The more conditions change towards making empathy essential the more we seem to gravitate towards extremism. I think that Sheila is right on with the cause. Archie Bunker led to Rush Limbaugh led to Roger Murdoch and Roger Ailes and a literal gold mind for all of them.

    Anybody who would expect the police of the country to not be the same mix as the society that they both come from and protect is nuts. Ain’t happening. It is a matter that only police chiefs can solve and we have the right to demand that.

    Demonstrations no matter what the are for or against are a necessary evil. That’s how stubborn society evolves. But they’re always dangerous because they soon become out of control; mindless on all sides.

    We are in many ways exactly like the dinosaurs. We are ill adapted to our times and somewhere between partial and total extinction could be the price that humanity pays for not living realistically or sustainably. Climate change is just the canary in the mine.

    It has never been more important to be liberal and engaged. It is the only hope for our salvation.

  15. A sergeant in a big-city police force tried to explain to me how run-of-the-mill white bias against blacks becomes magnified into racial profiling. He told me that daily observations on the job are overwhelmingly of crimes committed by black persons, including many black-on-black crimes involving violence. (This refers to garden-variety crimes, not to hate crimes.) Officers can’t ignore what they witness every day, he said, and it eventually influences the way many white officers perceive many black citizens. Must that lead inevitably to police shootings of black citizens? The Washington Post provides eye-opening statistics on all this (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/07/the-broad-gulf-between-what-happens-to-black-people-and-how-america-reacts/), including:

    “A study [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2016/04/27/this-study-found-race-matters-in-police-shootings-but-the-results-may-surprise-you/?tid=a_inl] released earlier this year found that white police officers were a third as likely [three times less likely] to shoot unarmed black suspects than white ones. But that same research found that 78 percent of white officers taking an implicit bias test associated black people with weapons — vs. zero percent who made the same association with whites.”

    Nevertheless, the Washington Post reports in another article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/fatal-shootings-by-police-surpass-2015s-rate/2016/07/07/81b708f2-3d42-11e6-84e8-1580c7db5275_story.html), fatal shootings by police are up 6% from last year, and “fatal encounters are strikingly similar to last year’s shootings: Blacks continued to be shot at 2.5 times the rate of whites.”

    If, as a long-ago study reported, “police have one trigger finger for whites and another for blacks,” then what is the solution to this problem? What impact can be made on that early point where racial bias originally becomes magnified so that the outcome in police confrontations with suspects will be fair and less often deadly?

  16. Great piece as always but you talked around (but got close to) what a lot of folks really are thinking in the bit about the NRA and feckless leaders of the country. What we REALLY need to do is repeal the 2nd Amendment. It’s outdated (unless there’s a “well oiled militia” somewhere I have yet to see), it costs lives and just as we repealed prohibition as that’s what the majority wanted, the time has come for the “sacred 2nd” to go. The NRA be damned that’s the ONLY thing which will stop this increased killing and counter-killing.

  17. Irvin: Why pay attention? Because I still have empathy in my soul for my fellow humans. And, I have family that live all over the states and I don’t want them to be victims of gun violence. Because as an American Citizen unless I die or renounce that citizenship, I have to report income and pay taxes to the US gov’t every freaking year, even if I get no other benefit from it. And finally, because I still vote. Good grief man, open your eyes. The headline news lately has been all about the US. About the President visiting NATO. About that racist wind bag that foreign journalists report on every time he opens his big stupid mouth. What a silly question. That’s why.

  18. Greeting Aging Girl! Silly question? I have lived in this dangerous country for many years. I choose to stay and face the times and what they have to offer without fleeing to the protection of some country where the roads are perfect, the streets are clean and the people are so wonderful. and the trains all run on time and they are clean too. Let’s see, there was another country in the past where the trains all ran on time. I can’t remember where that was. Well stay save and stay there.

  19. Guess that ‘easy access-open carry’ wasn’t such a great idea, eh? Ya think?

  20. It’s the guns, guns, guns, no question about it. I agree with Ted, that the 2nd Amendment needs to be repealed. Unfortunately, our gun culture is too much invested and in love with devices whose purpose is to kill, that repeal is unlikely. It may take a century, but it’s time to begin with removing guns from all Americans. Begin with the police. Here is a graphic which shows the vast difference in police killings in the US compared to the UK where relative few police carry a firearm.

    http://metro.co.uk/2015/09/01/graphic-shows-how-many-people-have-been-killed-by-police-in-usa-compared-to-uk-5371271/

    To begin approaching the UK with regard to police killings, let’s mandate that dual police patrols have only a single gun between them capable of discharge, thus reducing the shooting capacity by half. Ignore the NRA and have all military style firearms taken out of society by a buy-out program or confiscation if necessary. Then further reduce the number of guns in the hands of police. Then bring in the public’s handguns except for the simplest of pistols. And so on. Or we can just wring our hands, do nothing, and cry over how many senseless gun killings there are.

  21. Greetings Ted and FMonty. The NRA is not alone in this problem. The gun manufacturing industry also has a strong voice in government both state and national. That leads to the question of jobs. Would you want to see your son or daughter or yourself lose your job just because a bunch of anti-gun liberals seek to abolish that wonderful 2nd Amend? Really, no answer is required. 🙂

  22. The second amendment did not contemplate a standing army which we now have and which sucks up a huge percentage of our tax dollars. The State militias that are mentioned are supposed to be well regulated. I would liken the militias to a state national guard equivalent. The Supremes interpret the second amendment to protect individuals right to own and carry weapons. I would say the NRA is the group that is opposed to any regulation. The fact that their dollar contributions have stopped our elected legislatures from enacting reasonable regulations are a serious problem.

  23. When the 2nd Amendment was written; all people had guns, they were necessary for hunting food to feed families. Also needed for protection from wild animals and at that time they were still killing off Indians. When a militia (an organized protective group) was needed for protection from possible invasion suddenly, they all had to provide their own arms, armed meaning “well regulated” at that time. What we are subjected to today could not possibly have been envisioned at that time.

  24. Irvin, you asked a question so you deserve and answer. I have great sympathy for the eastern underground coal miners who have lost their jobs because coal is a highly polluting and less efficient source of energy than other fuels. I also have feelings for the 50 million farmers and their families who had to leave their livelihood between 1900 and 1980. Also, the workers who jobs were lost to China. As for myself, and I believe, my children, we would not choose to work for a manufacturer of weapons with a primary purpose to kill. As for the NRA, perhaps better known as the GMA (gun manufacturers of America), I have no problem seeing them go out of business. [I was once an NRA member.] Slavery was abolished by a Constitution amendment and so was prohibition. The Constitution has provision for repeal of amendments and the 2nd Amendment is far outdated. I say get rid of it and save around 30,000 lives a year, more than who now die in car accidents. I’m sure you will agree.

  25. Greetings FMonty. My remarks were gently sarcastic. Yes I agree with you.As far as the 18th Amendment and its repeal, I think the whiskey and beer industry had some influence. But I also think our desire for a cold beer or a shot of good whiskey played a role. And I’m glad for the repeal because I was hired by the Joseph E. Seagram Co. back in 1947 right out of high school and worked for that company until I was drafted. The down side of the repeal,I think, brought about the illegal drug business because those some boot-leggers wer deprived of their money so they turned to dope sales.

  26. I agree with 95% of what you wrote. I do have a problem with “decriminalizing” not wearing seatbelts and burned out taillights. While these are not criminal behavior, they are safety issues, especially seat belts. Until laws were passed to ticket and fine people not using seat belts, most people refused to use them. We all know, the use of seatbelts has dramatically lowered fatalities in car accidents. It was the same for helmets for motorcyclists, smoking in public places, and many more laws that I can enumerate here. Unfortunately, as a society, we seem to behave as children. If actual consequences, especially those that affect our wallets, are not imposed, we ignore public safety rules. The problem is not with the laws, but rather with how the police deal with those caught breaking those laws.

  27. Bear with me, please, I am going in a different direction, sort of, for this post:

    https://shar.es/1lxTnz

    This text was written by Albert Einstein in 1946: “The Negro Question”. Albert Einstein’s 1946 Statement on Racism and Civil Rights

    I am writing as one who has lived among you in America only a little more than ten years. And I am writing seriously and warningly. Many readers may…

    I hope the link works. If it gives you trouble, you could try just googling author and title.

    The statement is strong but gentle, and gives me an even deeper appreciation for Einstein.

  28. One of the marks of immaturity that our continuous overdose on entertainment brought about is the idea that America is exceptional. It’s usually brought up by individuals scared to death of the future and desperate to return to times when they were entitled by some aspect of who they are for which they had no responsibility. Like gender or skin color or original locale.

    We have plenty of problems to fix and always have and what made us exceptional was the passion which we invested in solving them. We always strove to be better.

    Trump promises to make Anerica as great as he imagines himself to be. Pure empty ego. We passed that long long ago.

  29. I have family who are officers one actually moved away from the St. Louis area. I think his issue is he has a Masters degree and continues to work for small town police departments where majority of fellow officers may only have a high school diploma.

    I also have a cousin who was shot 4 times and ended up in the hospital. Police went to the wrong address but my cousin was former military and had a gun. Since it was 2 in the morning and he didn’t hear them address themselves but banging on his door he announced he had a gun and who was banging on the door….I know their is a lawsuit but not sure of the outcome.

    One thing it would be nice if the entry level for a police officer would be a 2 or 4 year college education. Many times on this blog there have been so many that have commented on how just even going to college for however long helped broaden their experiences.

  30. NVL:
    I juts read the article at your link. A few days ago I was sharing my thought w my wife that it may be possible to trace most of our social problems back to slavery in the US. Those captives were never truly freed; they were set adrift and most have struggled to overcome their history. There are more socially and economically successful minorities now than ever before, but my impression is that the number still mired in the history of slavery is still large and significant. The prospects for the rising economic tide to lift “all boats” seems unlikely. So much to do.

  31. Sheila said, “Racism is certainly nothing new in America, but over the past few years we have seen an upsurge in nativism and bigotry of all sorts.” As I was rightfully reminded by a black friend who has two early teen kids, one of them a boy, when I mistakenly said something to the effect of “It must be really scary raising your son the way things are going these days”. She said “These days! You don’t think it used to be better, do you?!?” As soon as she finished I knew that she was right, and that I knew that she was right before she said it. I still haven’t figured out what prompted me to say ‘these days’.

    If you think you’re white and you think you really understand the issues black folk are dealing with, you are part of the problem. Go read The New Jim Crow or White Like Me or Learning to be White, or any of a hundred other books. Educate yourself on contemporary racial issues. Get involved.

  32. GALJohnson; even being married to Black men and living in primarily Black areas, there was no way for me to fully know what they have dealt with or what they continue dealing with today. I do know that there has been a backward movement regarding racial issues but there has been a backward movement regarding white issues within the white community. It is usually referred to as “neighbors aren’t what neighbors used to be” type comments. The number of Black on Black killings seems to be escalating; if neither race can find trust and acceptance within their own race, how can we expect to find trust and acceptance between the races? Any of the races? We are also now subjected to lack of acceptance between religions. We are living in an age of alienation on many levels for which we can find few reasons, many excuses but few reasons – other than bigotry in all it’s many forms which is often based in fear…real or imagined.

  33. A very well thought out note Sheila! A message to the Police Departments across this great nation. From a twelve year old in Cliveland to a thirty something man in South Calorina. I AM SICK and TIRED of you not having regard and value of black people’s lives! If you cannot manup or womanup and work as a peace officer and if you’re afraid of and hate the black folks, news flash for you, black people are here to stay and you cannot kill them all in your lifetime. Get out of the police force and find a security job someplace else. Police work is essential for law and order, so the bigoted officers need out!

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