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A sad week for the US

17/08/2014

Sitting south of the border reading the news and watching videos proved to be a very sad week indeed.  Not solely the news out of Ferguson, Missouri, but more deeply what those events tells us. It made me wish, almost, that the hot topic was Kim Kardashian.

coloredWhen I was a child, yes I know that was a long time ago, I remember seeing three restrooms at gas stations: Men, Women and Colored. I remember seeing a designated water fountain, or in this case cooler, for black people. There were many pools that didn’t allow blacks. These vestiges of racism are now gone, but racism is not.

Private-rental-racism-016I worked with a black lady in Chicago. She and I had many conversations about racism. Being Caucasian from a little town in southern Indiana, I truly didn’t know anything about it. I once asked her if there was more or less racism in the North as compared to the South. She said it was much worse in the North. In the South in was overt – right out there in the open where you could deal with it. In the North it was covert – alive and functioning, just hidden neatly beneath the surface. That’s now what has happened throughout the US. Racism has gone covert.

TargetOCTLet’s try some examples. These “gentlemen” in the photo are proving their manhood by openly carrying loaded firearms in a Target store. Now what do you think would happen if these were black or latino men. Spend a minute thinking about that scenario. IMHO there would be a fully decked out SWAT team there in 3 minutes.

beber2Suppose I told you that I just say a young man in a black hoodie, wearing sunglasses with his hoodie up. And that I saw him running and jumping into a black Escalade. What’s the first thing that comes to mine – certainly not Justin Bieber I’ll bet. Why can’t a young black man wear his hoodie up while walking home from a 7/11 on a rainy night without being shot?

ethnicbreakdownNationally, according to the U.S. Census, blacks are incarcerated five times more than whites are, and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites. The young, the male, the black and the latino are disproportionately incarcerated. Almost 9% of black men in their late 20s are behind bars.

ferguson2Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson is not a social anomaly. It is the direct product of deadly tensions born from decades of housing discrimination, white flight, intergenerational poverty and racial profiling. The militarized police response to peaceful assembly by the people is some ways mirrors what happened in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement but, to me, is much more deadly.

scotus-2014In a series of decisions made since Roberts became chief justice and Justice Samuel Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the court has steamed openly toward elimination of any meaningful remedies for structural racism, while undermining basic protections against discrimination for minorities. Roberts’ approach, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “presupposes that racial discrimination is at sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted.” On this point the Robert’s court is flat out wrong!

Racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of the US.  Electing a black president has brought much of this to the surface. I firmly believe that most of the angst over things that President Obama does or doesn’t do is racism – plan and simple.

Now, not tomorrow, is the time to start unwinding the systemic biases in the social and economic systems of the US.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 18/08/2014 14:05

    Barry, and Nancy–so true!! Thanks for your courage in posting this.

  2. 18/08/2014 20:17

    I’m living only ten minutes from Ferguson and it’s hard for everyone. It’s hard to know the truth from the fiction and the stories are running wild…..many of the people causing the damage are from out of town, even out of state….. so who knows…not me and not many from what I am hearing. Just a truly difficult situation for everyone.

  3. 18/08/2014 22:30

    Thank you for this post. We worked hard to get President Obama elected. It seems when facts are presented to an Obama hater to counter the stated reason they do not like him, it makes no difference. They just do not like him. Most will be older and white, or from states where we know color makes a big difference. If he were white, and had done what he has done, he would be a hero. Yes, racism has gone covert all over. It bubbles just below the surface while being denied and screams we are playing the racecard if it is called out. It is sad to see the US de-evolve so, and they have guns! The protesters against women and children immigrants struggling for their lives is another national shame.

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