With the passing of Rodney King, and the death of Trayvon Martin both happening the same year as the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots, I took time to pause and think, are we really willing to continue obliviously repeating history? Has our country truly made significant gains in racial equality? Or is it possible that the real problem lies somewhere underneath it all, in implicitly racist ideologies, both in practice and in preach? These incidents of racial tensions, and public outcry are not mere outliers, they’re statistical probabilities. America remains separate and unequal, where wage and race increasingly determine your ability to successfully compete, for that shrinking piece of the pie.
For those of you not already acquainted, Mr. King was pulled over for a DUI by LAPD, and after a tussle, left brutalized by police. Rodney King’s beating was so severe it required hospitalization for the injuries sustained. A spectator captured much of the encounter on video camera, eventually leading to the indictment of all officers (they were acquitted), and later settlement for Mr. King. I am not going to even touch on that event too much, or attempt to argue one way or the other,- just giving a very brief, brief. –
The important part is the rioting caused by the acquittal, was the result of years of racial tension left untreated, a plain another case of history repeats… There is something truly wrong when citizens feel they have no recourse other than violence to turn to in order to gain some sense of relief to their feelings oppression. Following the acquittal of the officers, at the hands of a mostly white jury in Simi Valley, outside Los Angeles County, these tensions finally came to a head, the City of Los Angeles burned for days afterwards, as citizens turned to violence for relief.
-AS the city was being burned and looted, rioters battling with police; Mr. King offered the famous quote, “Can’t we all just get along”, despite his beating from police.
The question we all still need to ask ourselves, is;
yeah, Can We?
Despite what our high school history courses may have taught us (or not taught), nothing was completely overcome at the end of Ken Burns documentary. When the teacher turned back on the lights, inequality still exists. This nation is still grossly separate and unequal, and yes the word racism still applies. We sweep this stain under the carpet, away from prying eyes, where it seeps and it bleeds deep into the hearts of those for whom it is the cold hard truth of reality.
Why the history lesson you might ask?
I lead with a small history lesson, because the tension surrounding Trayvon Martin’s case is rooted firmly in the past. Racism and its existence, the United States personal boogeyman, is an unexplainable, indefensible and inexcusable blemish on a career supposedly built upon such lofty beliefs.
Freedom and Equality, Democracy for all.
The nation at large has hoodwinked itself into the greatly mistaken belief that civil rights was an issue of the past, when it gets brought up they act as if someone decided to be dealer of imaginary cards.
They must just be playing that almighty RACE CARD, as if it were an Ace upon their sleeve.
African-American and Latino youth are daily witnesses that all men are NOT created equal in the eyes of the law, as they suffer humiliation through racial profiling by a largely white police force which doesn’t share the hardships of their lives. Young men especially, live in constant reminder of the fact, regardless of crime, they are already criminalized in the eyes of many, law enforcement most of all.
Without fanfare, or much media attention, the United States has created a prison population more than double that of China’s, a nation more than thrice our size. Those who populate this new form of slavery just so happen to be predominantly Black and Hispanic, most for non-violent crimes.
-Oh Surprise, Surprise!-
According to the same Stanford study the upper right hand graph is from,
The incarceration rate in the United States has grown so dramatically since the 1970s that the U.S. now has one of the highest rates in the world. The rise in incarceration has been especially prominent among young Black males and high school dropouts. As shown in this graph, a full 37% of those who are both young black men and high school dropouts are now in prison or jail, a rate that’s more than three times higher than what prevailed in 1980.
Percent of 20-34 year old men in prison or jail, by race, ethnicity, and educational attainment, 1980 and 2008
Source: Western, Bruce & Becky Pettit (2010). Incarceration and Social Inequality. Daedalus, 139(3), 8-19
We have fallen back into a trap, losing touch and losing focus of a pure and simple fact. The people who founded our nation upon those hallowed principles, did it upon Black and Latino backs.
Without thanks, and without praise, the system repays them by still trying to hold their progress back. We all need to ask ourselves why we can’t be more like the late Mr. Rodney King? Instead of violence he turned to peace for relief.
Not only that;
Do we wish to go forward; or do we wish to go back?
Do we wish to see what form the next incarnation will take?
Who the next Rodney King, or Trayvon Martin will inevitably be; suffering death or bodily injury at the hands of needless harassment?
Most importantly, if we do, will the next time be as peaceful and as bloodless as the last (except the blood of Trayvon Martin, whose breaths that night proved to be his last.)?
Unfortunately there is a wealth of information out there to give credit to what I have said. I have provided some links below if you would like to learn more or would in some way like to get involved in reversing the blatantly racist justice system’s current path. Here is a contact list by state as well. Stanford University has also provided a list of proposals which are looked upon as pragmatic means of combatting the gross inequality existent today.
For those of you interested in rehashing the 1992 LA Riots;
It amazes and bothers me that we in this country are so reluctant to talk about race and racism.
I spoke this week at an event which I thought would be predominantly white; the sermon was about how we who love God ought to choose God and serve God over racism, sexism, militarism, materialism, homophobia …I didn’t say it, but those things in the list could be, and should be, classified as “sin” since sin is anything that separates us from God.
The audience turned out to be predominantly African-American, and I am more than sure that, while the message resonated with the African-Americans, many of the white people in attendance were probably offended.
I know by now that we all see things through different lenses, lenses tinted by our life experiences, but in this, the 21st century, where racism is as ugly and as…
I don’t know why people continue to need to be taught the lessons from the days of “King”. Rioting, and violence, accomplish nothing especially not making your point for you. Acting stupid, even if you have just cause to, will only breed more stupidity
Why do conservatives catch such heat? It’s probably because there is still so much racism on the Right to go alongside valid arguments on issues relating to race and ethnicity. Conservatives so often get unfairly pounded on race because, so often, conservatives get fairly pounded on race.
And this is the Right’s own fault, because conservatives are not serious about draining the swamp. In recent months, both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have gotten questions at public events that referred to President Obama being a Muslim. Neither candidate corrected the questioner. Santorum later told a reporter that’s “not his job.” PPP polls in Mississippi and Alabama have found that about half of Republican voters believe Obama is a Muslim, and others aren’t sure.
….There has been a clear strategic calculation here among Republican elites. Better to leverage or at least accept the racism of much of the Republican base than try to clean it up….My challenge to conservatives who feel they get a bum rap on race is this. Stand up for yourself and your colleagues when you feel that a criticism is unfair. At the same time, criticize other conservatives who say racist things, cynically tolerate racism in the Republican base, or deny the mere existence of racial issues in America today. The conservative movement desperately needs self-policing on racial issues, if it ever hopes to have credibility on them.
I think it’s fair to suggest that liberals use race as a cudgel more often and more crudely than we should. The problem conservatives have is that this is pretty much the sum total of their take on racial issues: that liberals bring it up too often. When they write about race there’s usually a pro forma “to be sure” somewhere, but I can’t remember the last time I saw a conservative take seriously — either generally or in a specific case — the idea that racism against ethnic minorities is still a genuine and important issue in America. If you inhaled nothing but conservative media, you’d think that African-Americans are endlessly pampered; that racial animosity is simply an invention of the “victim industry” these days; and that the white working class is the real object of oppression.
Barro is right: if conservatives want nothing more than to appeal to the racial resentment voting bloc, they’re doing the right thing. But if they want to be taken seriously on racial issues, they need to take them seriously themselves. If they did, their criticisms would have a lot more force.
This piece was intended for the original poster’s page, but I’m not exactly the most WordPress literate person just yet, [shrug] anyways. You know what they say; “practice, practice, break things in frustration, practice” or something like that.
Oh man, so glad this popped up,
and not surprised that it was Beneath the Tin Foil Hat, another sane, aware and concerned citizen, sharing it. I am going to have to respectfully spread the love, sharing this zen like moment of clarity with whoever I can. The reverse racism that’s flooded the press lately, especially about the Treyvan Martin case, has made me severely nauseous, with signs of diarrhea on the way. A sensation akin to what I would imagine irritable bowel syndrome feels like… decidedly unpleasant. Either that or one of the Olson Twins, pre-lunch binge…
By far the scariest part to me
is for the most part, the ones preaching the most hate, (targeted hate, in the interest of honesty, and accuracy) are also the ones most convinced they aren’t racist.
No, no, of course not,
you aren’t a bigot, you just use “common sense”, or “gut instinct”, to do your thinkin’.
(You know like Dubuyah that president who was the type of guy you’d have a beer with*).
Generally resulting in a prefabricated, semi regurgitated, neo-aryan reaction to another person who just so happens to be of a race other than their own (entirely by coincidence mind you). Only difference between them and their more outspoken predecessors like the KKK, is the backbone to at least be blunt about their ignorant beliefs (and by extension, their own ignorance) and ride that pony come hell or high water. Also there seems to have been a mix up at headquarters about what types of “sheets” were actually being referenced in the monthly newsletter*, regarding “Expectation of Members“.
Bedsheets, sheets of paper, you say po-tA-toe, I say po-ta-toe. An honest mistake but whose counting?….it could happen to anyone right? I’m just not so sure that the sheets of hate-laced paper they pollute the internet with will hide their identity nearly as well at the next cross-burning……( shoulda stuck with cotton homie). See what happens when you let an “uppity” President (who just happens to be black) try to make it so college is accessible to everyone? Shit goes and gets all complicated.
Hmmpffff Homonyms who needs em’, not I, for one.
* side-note: I wonder how many drinkin buddies the former president has had since he left office,..? Hmmmmm....
*additional side-note: monthly newsletter is in fact only published quarterly....I know, I know, [sigh] Ive just learned its just best not to ask...
All in all, this proves to be A troubling trend indeed. Keep preachin’ the good word Tin Foil Hat Man!
Note: this was originally posted as a response to the comment left by wylde-goose to my post “An Attempt To Write These Wrongs” but I figured that it was deserving of its own space so it didn’t end up buried in the bottom of the comments section.
I agree with you completely on a lot of points,
Indeed a large part of the people out there grouped together as “racist” when perhaps ethnocentric is a term that would fit better because the biggest differences ARE cultural in origin. Perhaps the deepest cultural divides are the ones drawn within an individual ethnic group. Whites weren’t the only ones to flee the large influx of southern rural african-americans who moved north to industrial centers during the Great Migration. Many of the more established and well off, African-Americans fled as well. To take that to its extreme there is the gang culture. Living in Norther California, I am all too aware of the ongoing gang war between the Nortenos and the Surenos gangs, knowing people personally for whom that is just a way of life, probably the only one they’ll ever know, the reality they live in. If I lived in Southern California I would be more familiar with the struggle between the Bloods and the Crips. There are countless others, these are just two I am familiar with. This among other things leads me to agree with your friends that unfortunately racism is the correct word for the behavior of more than .1% of the population.
That was precisely the point of my original post. It’s here, all around us, still woven into the fabric of society, like a pox infested blanket. Its ugly, just as ugly today as yesteryear, its just more discreet for the most part, in any case, personally I am not OK with it. I hope that it was clear that me saying we should “own it” and recognize its existence was in no way meant to trivialize it. Quite the opposite really, I think that for most Americans the struggle for civil rights ended in 1965 after the Voting Rights Act, or when that same episode everyone watches of the Ken Burns special ended. Shows over, pack up its time to go. The only people talking about race in any public way are caricatures in a sense like you described in your response, further adding to the illusion that it can’t be a “real” concern, held by “real” people, justifying our collective lack of concern because, It’s just nonsense spouted by “crackpots” (in both camps) as a publicity stunt, extremists from one end or the other. We all look at the world through a different lens, our prescription is determined in part by a combination of both experience and upbringing. There’s no sense in denying it, were human. However, that does not excuse the individual from personal accountability either. We all have to accept responsibility for the ways in which we have actively shaped our own reality.
It is easy to take a look at people who seem to embody stereotypes and say, “see” theres proof, these stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true, my bigotry is justified. That is not only a very lazy approach, its harmful, only further promoting cultural bigotry. More than that though, it just doesn’t make sense, I mean isn’t that kinda like reading your horoscope and then attributing to the stars some uncanny ability to predict your future when things came true…? Now you have to ask yourself, how much of that was you making it come true because you read it?
Usually, If you think something enough you’re bound to make it true in some way. My family didn’t exactly bring me up as anything but a mild racist. If I would have allowed that to be justification enough, then I would be exactly that. While I could say that my parents were merely a product of their times, and it is true to some extent, it’s really just a cop-out, an excuse. There has even been experiences in my past, of where something screwed up happened to me. It would have been easy to blame an entire group of people for the wrongs committed by a few, who just so happened to share similarities with them. (I wont even lie that it wasn’t my first reaction, albeit a brief one) If I feed that beast,I’m just part of the problem, rather than the solution. I would become everything that I am against. I know that I have absolutely no idea on where to start or what to do to achieve this thing I believe in. I just know that the ONLY thing I can control, is myself, and how I treat people and when I have children what I teach them, hoping to be the best role model possible.
In fact, its far outside many people’s comfort zone. Allow me to introduce the elephant inside the room, boldly standing there, stoic, and proud. It is comforted in the knowledge nobody will say a word. Despite the collective discomfort of its presence, nobody is willing to acknowledge that it even exists. Better to just pretend it away, put a tablecloth over it, hide it “for heavens sake”, a cold hard truth to face another day. Those with the access to the news mediums or the very mechanisms of government, do not speak of it. Those who we need to be strong, our leaders and role models are anything but. The nature of the beast has made them fearful, of becoming unpopular, offending someone, committing some social faux pox, saying some unpleasant thing.
This thing I speak of is racism.
Yeah, I said it, R-A-C-I-S-M, not only does our little melting pot have a history rife with it, we’re still just as guilty of it today, a fact that transcends ALL borders, exclusive to none. Many of us do not even know that we do it (at times), others, maybe only in bursts, misguided anger, and still others are all too cognizant of it, allowing it to consume their very being. Saturated into their very essence, seeping from their pores, is hate, pure unadulterated hatred. A cold, consuming fire burning inside, passing judgment on entire populations of people, without cause.
Sadly, this behavior is not restricted to a certain type of individual, whether it’s a bad apple or a native of the South. Racism is embedded into our very culture, despite hard-fought gains made during the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination DOES still exist, inequality IS real and race certainly plays a major factor in determining a person’s life prospects. While I am by no means saying that our society is on par with the Third Reich we must open our eyes to the fact that racism exists at every level of government, in every institution of learning and every home.
However, humans can determine group themselves together there will be some form of preference or bias in place within those groupings. It may upset some of you if you have taken the time to read this but this is one of my core beliefs to some extent there is a form of social bias at play. It is also my belief that the sooner we accept our faults; as individuals, as a society, the sooner we can move past it. Lessons are not gleaned from mistakes you “didn’t” make. Likewise, true growth from your mistakes can never happen without you taking the time to evaluate your behaviors, and having the want to figure out how to change. I feel like to a large extent this hasn’t happened in the United States, at least not to the degree necessary for closure to occur, not to the degree that we’re capable of. As it now stands overt racism and discrimination were not eliminated, they just picked up a “C” and are no longer mentioned, they fell off the radar…..still there, just unspoken of. One giant, peanut eating conversation piece minus the dialogue.
The greatest shortcoming of the United States of America as I see it, is people with questionable moral standards don’t just occupy the highest echelons of power, they are often actively sought out for them.
Instead of doing the right thing, they like to hedge their bets and do the safe thing, unless of course they’re playing with your money, when that’s the case anything goes, just don’t be expecting any kind of guarantee on return, or any kind of refund, recourse, or redress if (when) something goes awry.
Those in office lack the necessary courage to do what they must, to put their own personal gain on the back burner or off to side so they can focus on the public good while in public office, to admit when they were wrong, to just downright own it, and without a scandal or a preplanned press conference either. I wanna see someone just level with a constituent, person to person, off the cuff and unscripted. The person who did that would have a lifelong supporter in me.
I guess that’s what happens when you incentivize being a civil servant the way we have, only recently having restricted congress’ ability to use information gained through their work for personal financial gain, you are bound to see people enter the arena with less than the public good in mind, they’re looking to get rich quick as opposed to growing wealthy. Politics is impossible to divorce from lobbying in our current system. Lobbying is big business, and let me tell ya, business isn’t just good, it’s never been better, the cozy relationships businesses enjoy with elected officials is at an all time high either through the lobbyist as a middle man, or in the form of campaign contributions so large they can’t be ignored and they don’t come without a price either.
I mean one of the greatest political gambles in history, made by Johnson to force through civil rights legislation to honor Kennedy’s legacy This is perhaps the greatest shortcoming of our nation, as I see it. Not that these terrible things existed or still exist, but that when presented with the opportunity to fix it, (or opportunities, I should say) to grow from it, to put an end to it, or come clean with it, it doesn’t happen, we refuse to make good use of what are solid teachable moments.
All too familiar is the desire to deny, to cover up, or brush shit under the rug because company is coming and could arrive at any time, or we’re otherwise in a rush for some reason, and did I mention deny, deny, deny? Only when presented with evidence so air-tight and insurmountable it can’t be squirmed out of with half-truths or white lies that they are willing to admit they’ve been lying. One great big and never ending “Ok, you got me, the gig is up”, which typically transpires after the most vehement denial up to that point in the saga. This is a sad state of affairs, based on incontrovertible fact, and it’s plagued administrations on both sides of the isle.they can’t squirm out of it do they acknowledge the fact that indeed the whole time they had been lying. Every administration it seems has some sort of scandal and none of them when given the opportunity did the right thing.
Disgraceful. I say we deserve better.
People in power are too worried about their popularity contest to do the right thing, to admit this thing we try to ignore, impossible as it may be. Never directly saying “hey we screwed up” “we were wrong”, it makes me think of a selfish ex I had once, she just couldn’t quite bring herself to ever say sorry. instead, they claim it’s a thing of the past, a bad dream we have awoken from. Now that the Civil Rights Movement is taught in schools which are desegregated for the most part, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, you assume it was a complete success, movement over…, The CRM can now be relegated to its appropriate side-note in history. Now everyone; ALL Americans; African-Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and we certainly can’t forget our better halves (whatever sex they may be, whether they are of the same sex as us, or identify as being gender neutral, it’s all good) can all vote in elections, that whole equality problem is solved. …….
ahhhhhh…….If only this were true……
Perhaps if teachers and the rest of society were a little more willing to talk about these ugly truths which account for the better part of our history, it would be more obvious that discrimination, segregation, and inequality are still alive today.
Vast inequality DOES exist within our infrastructure, the achievement gap is real and it widens daily much like the gap between Mitt Romney’s income and that of myself. The only difference between the problems faced today vs. yesteryear is instead of the rural south, the worst schools are within the large urban centers, overcrowded and underfunded, examples of some of gentrifications very best work. While slavery was abolished under Lincoln, the gains made by African-Americans during the Reconstruction were undone. It actually happened quite rapidly as soon as some of the legal restrictions and vigilance were relaxed in 1877. The South became a Bastion of Democratic ( clarification; Party NOT principle)voting and the seat of its power. They even had their own name, the “Dixiecrats”.
Despite several things for which I am unable to forgive him, (Gulf of Tonkin and general prosecution of the war come to mind), I must say this; LBJ was the last politician with some cajones on em. Big brass ones at that, if nothing else I’ll at least give him that. Johnson knowingly kissed the South goodbye and threw the Democrats lot in with the African-American vote when he pushed to finally pass the civil rights legislation previously pigeonholed by the powerful Dixiecrats within his own party, fulfilling the assassinated Kennedy’s legacy.
This decision was far from being the politically expedient one, but it was the right one, “consequences” be damned.
Find me a politician willing to do that these days, in either party; you can’t…
Unfortunately, the politicians of today more resemble weather vanes going whichever way the wind blows.
Sharecropping replaced slavery, the nation not yet ready to take the responsibility to care for its own. When African-Americans fled to the North in search of jobs and to escape the institutionalized racism of the South, *de-jure*, or legalized segregation, otherwise known as Jim Crow, so too fled white capital once racist housing practices were no longer enough to keep their neighborhoods sufficiently homogenized, fearing decreased property values, which is really just a nice way of saying they were just that petty and just that racist and just that chickenshit that they tucked tail and ran at the first sign of neighbors who didn’t look like them.
Unfortunately, due to the historic legacy of racism and slavery which ensured there could be no truly equal playing field between the races in terms of income, as white capital fled, it took with it much of the public funding which is used for things like public education and things of that nature, so it wasn’t long before the condition and the quality of the institutions and the offerings available in minority communities began to actively reflect this fact also.
Instead of meeting the needs of these increasingly dilapidated, underfunded and outdated institutions and the communities they served with the necessary increased funding to meet these challenges, or adding support services they opted to double down on slashing services and funding while increasing the police presence, effectively criminalizing entire generations of black youth in the process, especially young black males, forever the target of institutional oppression it would appear.
When is enough enough?
You often hear about the school to prison pipeline, and that’s how it operated then and still operates today despite the fact it costs over 3 times as much to jail these youth as it would to send them off to college or provide them with a quality education. With as much as we like to talk about fiduciary responsibility in this country, or bicker about the budget, something as common sense as that be actively pursued for any reason other than pure and simple racism, that ever present fear of the “other”.
Today, prisons, which dispro have replaced sharecropping, which in turn replaced actual slavery as a way to get cheap or free labor out of the same population its always historically been taken from African-Americans. This isn’t a recent development folks, merely the continuation of a well documented historical trend.
Racialized drug laws disproportionately send minorities to jail with longer sentences for similar possession crimes. The most notable example of such laws would be those on crack cocaine, a drug prevalent in urban communities vs. Cocaine predominantly seen as a white, suburban drug. Crack cocaine carries a far stiffer sentence, it and other non-violent offenses are a direct cause for the staggering statistic that in the United States, a nation that imprisons over 2,000,000 members of its population, more than even China by nearly 1,000,000. Of that population, African-American men constitute a disproportionate percentage, approximately 31% according to this study. (Sentenced State and Federal Prisoners by Gender and Race, 2006 — Infoplease.com). The prison industry is just that, an industry, and business is booming.
My point is this; history is important because it’s a part of us.
We need to embrace and understand our collective history just as much as we need to do so with our own personal story. That is why I will not apologize for the length, or the details, because they’re the truth. That is the REAL scoop, maybe I went into a little more detail than some would have liked, there will be no sugar-coating from me ever. I promised myself a long time ago that I would always keep it R-E-A-L, especially with myself. Future prospects are far better if we address the problem and not accept living in that awkward space, one of silence. The best analogy that comes to mind is a victim of abuse. We’re a nation of abuse victims, too afraid to face the abuser, leveling them with our accusations allowing the chips to fall from that point on where they may.
Perhaps we’re scared of giving it a sense of “realness”. Going through life trying to convince ourselves that we’ll be ok, so long as we don’t think about whatever terrible things happened, and no emotions flare up, we’ll be fine…..when we clearly aren’t. Until we face our fears, and overcome our shame, there can never be closure. In that case, we’re talking about an entirely different form of slavery, having already enslaved our minds. I don’t love our history DESPITE the bumpy road we took to get here. I love the study of history BECAUSE of it.
The thought of a story without struggle does not appeal to me, nor does it exist anywhere; even in the land of Walt Disney. I like a story with wrong-turns, suspense, and scars. The more we look the other way denying racism existence, the longer the behavior is left to propagate itself amongst our youth, amongst ourselves rotting from the inside out.
Cheating our youth of contacts left unmade and potential dreams left unfulfilled. The longer we continue ignoring a system which has seen an increase of something like 600,000 African-American men become incarcerated while the number of college enrolled continues its steady decline, (now less than the incarcerated) then the more militant, the more vocal, and disenfranchised they will feel. Hard to blame them for feeling the system has NEVER worked for them, the less we care about having already failed them, and the rest of our youth for that matter, the more we implicitly condone tragedies such as Treyvan Martin, FEMA’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina, the treatment of Muslim Americans following 9-11. We are all aware and yet we do nothing, just standing around playin with dynamite. I guess my question to you is, Are you OK with this? Cause I know I’m not.**