Understanding Our Present — CRT: Part II

In Part I, I provided a bit of the history of racism in the U.S., how it started and how it has expanded and morphed through the centuries.  Today, I want to talk a bit more at length about Critical Race Theory, the facts vs the rhetoric we’ve all been hearing from certain politicians and the likes of Fox ‘News’.

Critical Race Theory (CRT) proposes that racism is systemic, that it is built into our very foundations and institutions, for it has been a part of the “American Way” since the first white settlers landed on the Eastern shores of this nation.  Contrary to what you have heard by people such as Tucker Carlson, CRT is NOT taught in elementary nor secondary schools today, though I would argue vehemently that it should be.  If we teach our children only half of the story, then we are painting a picture of a nation that simply does not exist.  If we teach about how the thirteen colonies so bravely fought the British for their independence in the 18th century, if we teach about the heroes from that effort, then we must also teach them about the fact that even 17 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 owned slaves!  We must also teach them that 8 of the nation’s first 12 presidents were also slave owners.  This, too, is part of our history.

How many times of late have you heard it said that the U.S. is not a racist nation, or is the least racist nation in the world?  I’ve heard it far too many times from those who are either ignorant, are wearing blinders by choice, or have an ulterior motive (politicians).  Think about how many unarmed Black people have been killed by police … with little or no provocation.  And if that doesn’t convince you, look closer to home.  In your own community there likely resides at least one ‘Karen’.  For those who may not know, ‘Karen’ is the latest buzzword for a white female who considers herself privileged, socially superior to others, especially Black people.  She is the one who calls the police demanding the neighbor kids’ lemonade stand be shut down, or demanding Black residents be removed from the apartment complex swimming pool.  She’s the one who calls the police saying a Black man is threatening her, when all he did was ask her nicely to put her dog on a leash in the park.  And Karen is the woman who comes out of her house with a loaded gun threatening to shoot peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters who are simply walking past her house, on the sidewalk, on their way to the mayor’s office.  If there is no racism in the U.S., then how do you explain these Karens?

Patricia McCloskey, St. Louis, Missouri, 28 June 2020

Critical Race Theory was developed by legal scholars in the 1970s as a way to explain the lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s.  So, it has been around for nearly 50 years, yet today, all of a sudden, it is causing an uproar, primarily led by the Republican Party who has convinced a great many people that this is some evil being perpetrated on white people to … what?  I’ve heard a number of ridiculous claims – that CRT is being taught in schools in order to make schoolchildren hate white people.  This is an outright lie.  There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it, such as lingering consequences of slavery, have been and should be taught.

Those who rail against CRT are the same ones you’ve heard say that they fear Caucasians becoming a minority in this nation.  WHO CARES???  I don’t care if there are more white people, more Black people, more Hispanic people … I care what’s inside those people, not their skin colour for Pete’s sake!  Personally, I think brown and black skin is much more attractive than white skin anyway!  But, let me tell you something … once you look beneath the skin, everything looks exactly alike no matter what the person’s skin colour was.  The heart is shaped the same, the two kidneys are exactly the same.  The difference is non-existent.

Nobody with an education and a functional mind can deny that this nation does have some very dark areas in its history, and neither can they deny that racism is still very much alive and well in the U.S.  So why all of a sudden has Critical Race Theory become such a controversial topic?  Let’s take a look at that …

You remember last summer, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by then-police officer Derek Chauvin that there were many Black Lives Matter protests around the nation, and even in other nations around the globe, including France and the UK.  Those protests were largely peaceful by the Black community, however agitators were sent in by the likes of the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups to start trouble, and ultimately BLM protests received much negative press.  At the time, we had a very much racist person in the Oval Office and he began attacking anything that dealt with America’s racist past … or present.  He cancelled diversity training in the various branches of government, he slammed the New York Times’ very worthy 1619 Project, and every other attempt to shine a light on our racist past, including … you guessed it … Critical Race Theory.  He even issued an executive order banning federal contractors from conducting racial sensitivity training, emphasizing his desire to stop “efforts to indoctrinate government employees with divisive and harmful sex- and race-based ideologies.”

Fox “News” jumped on the bandwagon, as did Republican lawmakers at both the state and federal level, and today there are 27 states that are trying to make any form of anti-racist teaching or training against the law!

Y’know … if you spill grease on your carpet, you can cover it up with a rug so nobody sees it, but the grease is still there, the stain is spreading, and someday somebody will trip over that rug and expose your ugly stain.  More importantly, that grease is damaging the foundation, the flooring beneath the carpet.

The Republican Party has turned the term Critical Race Theory into its boogeyman of the year, claiming that schools are teaching children that those with white skin are inherently evil (hmmmm … sounds familiar, only in reverse).  They are telling parents that CRT poses a threat to parental control of the world views of their own children — as “brainwashing” or “indoctrination” rather than as simply encouragement to think critically and independently.  And good ol’ Fox ‘News’ is doing its share to promote the lies, having mentioned CRT no less than 1,300 times since March!

In Nevada, where critical race theory hysteria is only just beginning, a conservative group suggested that teachers wear body cameras to ensure they’re not teaching critical race theory. In Loudoun County, Virginia, a group of conservative parents is attempting to recall school board members after the district required teacher training in “systemic oppression and implicit bias.”

I’ve rambled enough tonight, given you enough to ponder and chew on.  Far too many people simply do not understand that CRT is merely a way of understanding and explaining why racist ideology is still built into our institutions, our laws, schools, and courts.  It is not an evil developed to undermine that which is, or once was, good about this nation, but to try to point out the bad as well, so that we can correct our way of thinking and NOT make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past, to become a better nation.  We do our children a disservice when we teach them only the bright, shining points of the nation’s history, for what we are today is a compilation of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  You cannot simply erase the bad and the ugly.

I don’t plan on a Part III to this series, for I think I’ve said most of what I wanted to say, however … if anybody would like to ask questions or start further discussion on the topic, I would be more than happy to devote another post to it.  Racism … all forms of bigotry … is one of the issues nearest and dearest to my heart, and anytime I can help people better understand, I’m happy to do so.

Juneteenth — Another Point Of View

While I have applauded the passage and presidential signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and have chalked up most of the objections to both ignorance and racism, I did come across one thought-provoking OpEd.  This piece by a professor at Morehouse College, a historically Black liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia, makes some very valid points.  Professor Robert A. Brown is not against the Juneteenth holiday, but reminds us that declaring it a federal holiday is not the end goal, that there is much work to be done in this country yet before Blacks have true freedom and equality.  The phrase, ‘Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words’ comes to mind as I read his words and ponder what he says …


Juneteenth As A National Holiday Is Symbolism Without Progress

June 19, 2021  6:00 AM ET

ROBERT A. BROWN

This week, President Biden signed into law the “Juneteenth National Independence Day.”

It is honoring the work of Black Americans, including people such as 94-year-old Civil Rights Activist Opal Lee, who had long advocated for the celebration that started in Galveston to be made a federal holiday.

Juneteenth celebrates the date when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865, bringing news that the Emancipation Proclamation had freed the enslaved population living in the Confederacy, albeit two years prior.

Yet the reaction amongst many African Americans, myself included, has been muted.

There is a growing discontent in the African American community with symbolic gestures that are presented as progress without any accompanying economic or structural change.

The vestiges of a shameful past continue

Though Juneteenth is a celebration of the people who endured slavery, the vestiges of slavery and the Jim Crow segregation designed to preserve it continue to this day.

As law professor Michelle Alexander notes, “There are more African American men in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850.”

The average white household holds almost 7 times more than the wealth of a Black household. Perhaps more concerning, education does little to close the Black-white wealth gap as white families headed by those without a college degree have more wealth than Black families headed by those with a graduate or professional degree.

And yet, in the face of these stark disparities, lawmakers have been more willing to engage in performative symbolism than passing laws to make substantive change.

We have seen federal lawmakers take a knee, draped in kente cloth, but we have seen no substantive change about reforming police brutality that inspired Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest.

Lift Every Voice and Sing” is sung across the country, while legislation for reparations for the horrors of slavery languish. Sports arenas and streets have the words “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned for all to see, and yet police reform and anti-lynching laws that were some of the initial goals of the Black Lives Matter movement remain unpassed.

What is needed are substantive steps

There are substantive steps that federal lawmakers could take to honor the historic debt owed to the descendants of the enslaved in addition to a federal holiday.

House Resolution 40 has called for a committee to study reparations. If advanced, it could ultimately begin a national discussion about cash reparations at the federal level.

Substantive reform to end the immunity police who brutalize our citizens should be enacted, as well as a reversal of the decades-long militarization of the police.

Historically Black colleges and universities, most of which were founded around the end of slavery, should receive substantial increases in federal funding.

In many ways, the history of Juneteenth and the end of U.S. slavery mirrors the uneven pace of progress for African Americans during the following 150 years.

I have celebrated Juneteenth at festivals that honor the culture and community of the descendants of those who had been enslaved. Those celebrations always featured a community singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” just like members of Congress did upon the signing of the Juneteenth holiday into law.

This year, while I’ll sing about being “full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” like many African Americans, I’ll be mindful that, as the song says, we must continue to fight on “till victory is won.”

Opal Lee — Grandmother Of Juneteenth

Look at this beautiful woman …

This is Opal Lee, age 94, and on this, the first time Juneteenth is being celebrated as an official U.S. holiday, I want to tell you a little bit about Ms. Lee who is known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.  While yesterday I wrote a bit about the negativity of some racists toward the new holiday, Juneteenth, today I want to put aside the negative and focus on the positive … and the voice of Ms. Opal Lee.


When Opal Lee was growing up in Texas, she would spend Juneteenth picnicking with her family, first in Marshall, where she was born, then in Sycamore Park in Fort Worth, near the home she moved into at age 10.  Ms. Lee’s paternal grandmother was born into bondage in Louisiana, and while Ms. Lee, born in 1927, was not a slave, she felt the cruel edge of racism at a very early age.

She and her family lived in a predominantly white neighborhood in Fort Worth. On Juneteenth 1939, when Ms. Lee was 12, a mob of 500 white supremacists set fire to her home and vandalized it. The structure was destroyed, and no arrests were made.  Says Lee of that time …

“People gathered. The papers say that it was 500 strong, and that the police couldn’t control them. My dad came home with a gun, and the police told him if he busted a cap, they’d let that mob have him.  If they had given us an opportunity to stay there and be their neighbors, they would have found out we didn’t want any more than what they had – a decent place to stay, jobs that paid, to be able to go to school in the neighborhood, even if it was a segregated school. We would have made good neighbors, but they didn’t give us an opportunity. And I felt like everybody needs an opportunity.”

And that incident was the spark that lit Ms. Lee’s subsequent decades of activism.  Ms. Lee earned her college degree and became a teacher.  She joined the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, which oversaw local Juneteenth celebrations. But she said that after more than 40 years as a community activist, she “really doubled down in 2016” by “going bigger.”

At the tender age of 89, she decided to start with a walking campaign in cities along a route from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C. It wasn’t a straight line. Over several weeks, Lee arrived in cities where she’d been invited to speak and walked 2½ miles to symbolize the 2½ years that it took for enslaved people in Texas to learn they were free.  She made the entire 1,400-mile trek from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C.

“I knew I just had to spread the word about Juneteenth to everybody.  I was thinking that surely, somebody would see a little old lady in tennis shoes trying to get to Congress and notice.”

Since then, Ms. Lee has become known far and wide as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.  So, it only made sense that on Thursday when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, Ms. Opal Lee was invited to attend the signing.

Not only that, but the President himself called her “a grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday” and got down on one knee to greet her in the audience.  During his speech before the signing, Biden asked the audience to give Lee, who was seated in the front row, a standing ovation.  And after he signed the bill into law, he gave Ms. Lee the first pen he used to sign it.

“I have to say to you, I have only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have as president – not because I did it, you did it, Democrats and Republicans. It’s an enormous, enormous honor.”


What follows is a part of an interview between Ms. Lee and the New York Times last year on Juneteenth:

What is your first memory of celebrating Juneteenth?

It was in Marshall, Texas, where I was born. We’d go to the fairgrounds to celebrate. It was like going to Christmas or Thanksgiving, we had such a good time.

Some people still compare Independence Day to Juneteenth. How would you explain the type of freedom and community that comes from celebrating Juneteenth?

The difference between Juneteenth and the 4th of July? Woo, girl! The fact is none of us are free till we’re all free. Knowing that slaves didn’t get the word for two and a half years after the emancipation, can’t you imagine how those people felt? They’d been watching — that’s what they call Watch Night services — every New Year’s, thinking freedom was coming. And then to find out they were free, even two and a half years after everybody else.

So, the 4th of July? Slaves weren’t free. You know that, don’t you? And so we just celebrate the hell out of the 4th of July, so I suggest that if we’re going to do some celebrating of freedom, that we have our festival, our educational components, our music, from June the 19 — Juneteenth — to the 4th of July. Now that would be celebrating freedom.

How do you think the protests for Black lives that are happening around the country have shaped the way that people understand Juneteenth?

We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet. There’s so many disparities. You know, we need some decent education and some decent jobs that pay money, and we need health care and all kinds of things and if people would just get together and address these disparities, we’d be well on our way to being the greatest country in the world.

Right now lots of companies are making Juneteenth an official holiday. How does it feel to see your vision coming to fruition?

Ooh girl, I could do a holy dance. I’m so happy to see things coming to fruition and the fact that we are almost there making it a holiday. We started out talking about 100,000 signatures and now we’re saying let’s take a million signatures to Congress to let them know that it’s not just one little old lady in tennis shoes.

I hope they understand that we’re talking about a holiday like Presidents’ Day or Flag Day. We’re not talking about a paid holiday. However, I’m delighted to have the big companies give their employees the day off with pay.

What changes do you hope to see in our country beyond having Juneteenth recognized on a national level?

If we would unify, if we would get together and do something about homelessness, and do something about people having decent housing, and decent food, and they would have not only a place to stay but a decent education.

If we could just love one another, you know? If you could get past the color of my skin and love me like you do that boy next door to you.


And those, my friends, are words for us all.  If Ms. Lee has one message for us it is that one – get past the colour of people’s skin and just love them!  Stop the hate, the violence, the petty bickering and … just love one another.  Life is too short to waste it with bigotry of any sort.  And on that note, I wish you all a very Happy Juneteenth!

January 6th Commission

It is beyond the scope of my imagination why anybody would try to stop an investigation into the attacks and attempted coup that took place in the Capitol on January 6th. To ignore this is to ask for it to be repeated, perhaps next time by people with brains who will be successful. Members of our own government were involved in a number of ways and we MUST know who they are, their level of involvement, and OUST them from their leadership roles. And yet … the Republicans led by Mitch McConnell are doing everything in their power to block or dilute such an investigation. Why? Because they are afraid their own roles may be exposed? I’ll let Brosephus give you his views, which I fully share, on the issue. Thanks, Bro!

The Mind of Brosephus

Getty Images via Aljazeera.com

Let’s discuss the idea of a January 6th Commission. There’s no doubt that a deep investigation into all things surrounding the insurrection that occurred in Washington DC is warranted and required if we wish to maintain our democracy. This was a direct attack on the Constitution itself as the plan was to disrupt a process laid out within the Constitution to certify the winner of the presidential election. I don’t think it is as much of an if it will happen question as it is a when will it happen.

There has to be accountability for all people responsible. This includes those pictured above who marched on the Capitol Building, those who attacked police officers, as well as those who encouraged and financially supported the entire fiasco. As history has taught us before, a failed coup becomes a practice run when it goes unpunished. So, America…

View original post 615 more words

A Pair Of Mini-Rants

I actually had three things to rant about today, but I ran out of time and space, so I shall have to save the third for another day …


Lies, Denials, and False Equivalencies

The Republicans who are falsely claiming that the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th was little more than a bunch of tourists are doing this entire nation a disservice.  They are treating us as if we are too damn stupid to have seen and remembered what was right before our eyes.  On a normal tourist day, are five people killed?  On a normal tourist day, are 140 police officers injured?  On a normal tourist day, do the tourists crap on the floors of the Capitol building?  No, no, and no.  We are not that stupid, Mr. Clyde, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Gosar and the rest of you who are trying to pull the wool over our eyes!  Normal tourists do not break down doors with a battering ram to enter the building, nor do they break out windows or climb to the 2nd story from the outside like deranged Spidermen.  They do not carry guns into the Capitol.  They do not cause some $30 million worth of damage to property that does not belong to them, but rather belongs to We the People … We the People whose hard-earned tax dollars will have to pay to repair the damage.

It is my sincere hope that every single person who entered the Capitol uninvited on that day spend time in prison.  The most serious offenders should spend at least the next 20 years in a cell, giving them ample time to consider their perfidy.  Some claim that those who were just “swept up in the heat of the moment” should not be punished.  I disagree.  If they entered the Capitol, they broke the law.  If they were there, saw the violence, and stayed … they are not law-abiding citizens, not good people, and they must be punished, though granted at a lower level than those who destroyed, maimed, and killed.

Congress is in the process of establishing a ‘bipartisan’ commission to investigate the events of January 6th and those events that played a role leading up to the day.  A few Republicans are on board with this commission, however, they want to expand the scope of the investigation to include last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.  WHAT THE SAM HELL does the one have to do with the other?  Nothing, that’s what.  Black Lives Matter has become a scape goat for the Republican Party, a “whaddabout” issue for them to rebut any and all of their own wrongdoings.  If the Republicans in Congress wish to investigate Black Lives Matter protests, they certainly have the right to do so, but under a separate commission from the one that is established to investigate the murderous, treasonous events of January 6th.


Integrity???  HA HA HA … Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Isn’t it strange to hear Republicans speak of election ‘integrity’, when the very word ‘integrity’ has been erased from their vocabulary?  Honesty and integrity are a thing of the past that Republicans no longer adhere to, yet they claim to be the ones who are so concerned over the fairness and integrity of elections.  Their answer, of course, is to disenfranchise as many of the people who would vote against them as possible, such as Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, working single parents, the elderly, college students, and the disabled.  Get those people off the voter rolls and what’s left?  White dudes.

Trouble with that is that this is NOT a nation of only white dudes.  This is a salad bowl of many cultures and ethnicities, all of whom live and work here, all of whom pay taxes!  We have a right to a voice, too!  There was NO measurable voter fraud in the 2020 election … this has been proven in court cases, re-counts and audits too numerous to count.

Recently a few corporations have spoken out against the voter suppression bills being proposed or passed in nearly every single state, but … a funny thing happened on the way to the forum … they aren’t exactly backing up their words with their actions.  According to an article in Popular Information, a newsletter put out by Judd Legum …

Several large corporations that have recently issued public statements supporting voting rights — including Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup — are also funding and collaborating with a top Republican group advocating for new voter suppression laws. Internal documents obtained by Popular Information and Documented reveal the corporations participated in a “policy working group” on “election integrity” with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a party organization that is actively supporting new voter suppression bills. Participation in the roundtable required a minimum annual contribution of $15,000 to the RSLC.

For example, on March 31, Google’s SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker tweeted that the company is “concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level” and “strongly support[s] the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

A week later, Google’s State Policy Manager, Joe Dooley, was listed as a participant in a private RSLC policy working group led by the organization’s “Election Integrity Committee.” The April 6 presentation, obtained by Popular Information and Documented, details an array of proposals to suppress voting, including purging of voting lists, more stringent voter ID requirements, and targeting of voting centers. The RSLC also opposes any federal action to protect voting rights. The meeting was run by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who has embraced Trump’s lies and conspiracies about election fraud. 

Can we say, “talking out of both sides of their collective mouths”?  More and more it seems that we are going to come to blows over this issue, for the people in this country are NOT going to simply sit back and say, “Oh, okay … we’ll give up our rights to vote and let the white dudes decide everything for us while we keep paying them.”  Well … some probably would, but NOT ME!

Racist Country

I don’t know about you guys, but I was NOT impressed with Senator Tim Scott’s speech on Wednesday night. He claims this is not a racist nation, but I see the evidence that it IS every day. Clay Jones of Claytoonz fame has done a sadly apt ‘toon and commentary on the subject … Thank you, Clay!

claytoonz

Cjones05022021

Republican Senator Tim Scott was chosen to deliver his party’s response to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress. In his speech, Scott said, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”

Republicans, who struggle with race, rallied around this message in hopes that we can finally stop talking about race so they’ll be left alone to create racist legislation.

If America is not a racist country, at the very least, the Republican Party is a racist party. Proof of this is they chose their one black senator to deliver the message that they’re not racist. It’s not like they said, “Hmmmm….which one of our many black members should we choose to deliver this address?” And to be a successful black Republican…

View original post 1,210 more words

A Good Cop’s Perspective

Last night, I came across an Opinion piece in The Washington Post, written by a police officer that really impressed me.  Halfway through reading the article, I was saying, “Oh yeah … this guy really gets it!”  The officer is Patrick Skinner, working on the police force in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  Officer Skinner is a former CIA operations officer and served in the United States Coast Guard as well as the U.S. Capitol Police, so he has a broad base of experience in law enforcement.  The man knows of what he speaks …


I’m a cop. The Chauvin verdict is a message for me, and for my colleagues.

Police officers can’t be defensive. We owe it to those we serve to change policing — and slow down.

by Patrick Skinner

I was at work as a police officer when the judge announced the jurors’ verdict Tuesday in a Minneapolis courtroom. I am a violent-crimes detective in my hometown of Savannah, Ga., but like the rest of America, I was worried about the verdict. I was worried that once again, a jury would, despite clear video evidence of guilt, find that it was somehow reasonable for a minor criminal matter to end in the death of an unarmed suspect at the hands of a police officer.

But I was also worried that we would view the outcome as the conclusion of a trial and not the beginning of change. Because as powerful as the murder conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin is, what we do next — as a country in general and as police in particular — will go a long way in determining whether systemic positive police reform is possible. It is in this time immediately after the verdict that several things, which are entirely within my control as a police officer, have to happen.

The first thing is actually something that needs to not happen: Police must not be defensive. We must not circle the wagons. “Not all cops” is exactly the wrong reaction. Even though that is true — of course not all cops are bad — it is irrelevant. Systemic reform is inseparable from individual change. We need both, and they have to feed off each other. There will be a natural desire by police, myself included, to say that the system worked, that Chauvin was found guilty by a jury of his peers and that a bad apple was sent to jail, no longer around to rot the bunch. Again, this is true, but it is also irrelevant. A nation so tense about a single trial, so uncertain about what was going to happen, is a nation in desperate need of much more. And we all have to take a first step. For me, the first step is that I need to take this verdict personally if I am to change professionally: That means I need to empathize more with my neighbors, and if they’re outraged or sad or just weary from police interactions — theirs and others’ — I need to work from that space. It means these outrages aren’t just outrageous to my profession, they’re outrageous to me personally. It means to step out of comfortable anonymity and demand that we change it all.

Here’s the second thing that needs to happen: We police need to fight the destructive reaction we have resorted to before in places like New York, where members of the police union had an unofficial but announced slowdown in 2019 after the dismissal of an officer implicated in the killing of Eric Garner by police in 2014. We have to stop saying, in effect, that if we can’t do our job the way we have always done it, well then, we won’t do our job at all. We might still collect a paycheck, but we will stop a lot of work because of an exaggerated fear of running afoul of the “new rules.” Rules such as “Don’t treat your neighbors like robots of compliance,” “Don’t escalate trivial matters into life-or-death confrontations” and “Treat your neighbors as if they were your neighbors.” That anyone would consider these rules “new” is a problem in itself. Few police officers reading them aloud would take issue with such anodyne statements, but put accountability behind the statements and now they’re an attack, not just on all police but the very foundation of American policing. The truth is that we do not get to tell our neighbors — those whose communities we police — how we will do our job. They tell us.

Faced with criticism that perhaps police should not be turning a traffic stop over an unarmed person’s vehicle registration sticker into something to be resolved at gunpoint, some will say, “What are the police supposed to do, let all criminals just run away?” There is a lot wrong with that reaction. To begin with, let’s slow down on calling someone with registration issues a criminal. And then let’s slow down everything, because we police are rushing to make bad decisions when time is almost always our friend. Tamir Rice most likely would not have been killed for having a toy gun if the Cleveland police officers had not rushed right up to him and shot him. There was no violence going on; the 12-year-old was alone in the middle of a park. Slow down, I tell myself in almost every police encounter. The risk to my neighbors in my rushing to a final judgment in very uncertain and fluid situations far outweighs the risk to myself. I’m often wrong in the initial assessment of chaotic scenes, and so I try to be wrong silently, allowing my judgment to catch up to my reactions, to allow my perception to catch up with my vision. Slow down.

I don’t know the third thing that needs to happen to lay the foundation for sweeping positive change in American policing because I’m so focused on the first two. I’m worried. I’m even scared. Not of big changes but that they might not happen. There is nothing easy or comfortable about any of this. To change policing in America requires confronting issues of race, poverty, inequality, injustice — the very issues too many in America say aren’t even issues anymore, as if history and its terrible weight started today.

I believe I was wrong for some time about not taking this personally. I’ve often told myself to not take well-deserved criticism of police misconduct and crime personally, because while as a police officer I am responsible, I was not personally responsible. I even wrote about this very thing here last year after the murder of George Floyd. I meant that I must not get defensive and to accept responsibility even if I wasn’t to blame. But now I don’t think that’s enough, at least for me. I think I have to take it personally: I have to be offended, I have to be outraged, and I have to act. That means I need to understand the goal of every 911 call, and that the compliance of those I encounter is not a goal; it might be a path to a goal but it’s not the goal. It means putting my neighbors first at every instance. It means often to act slower, to give my neighbors the benefit of the doubt because they are the point of my job.

None of this is abstract, none of this is a metaphor. All of this is senseless death in needlessly life-or-death situations. And all of this is personal.

I was at work when the verdict came in; I’ll be at work tomorrow, taking this verdict personally because my neighbors demand it. And they have always deserved it.

As I said, Officer Skinner is one cop who truly gets it, who understands what his job is, understands who he really works for … We the People, and sincerely wants police officers across the nation to learn from the tragedy of the George Floyd murder.  I give two thumbs up 👍 👍 to Officer Skinner!  The rest of the police need to take their cues from him.

Accountability vs justice

I think most of us breathed a big sigh of relief yesterday afternoon when the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case was announced and Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts. Some said the verdict was ‘justice for George Floyd’. But, as our friend Brosephus reminds us, there is a difference between accountability and justice. Yesterday’s verdict was accountability, holding a former police officer accountable for his actions. We’re still a long way from justice for all in this country.

The Mind of Brosephus

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“Establish justice”

That was the first order of business for we the people of the United States when the country was founded. In the almost 245 years since the United States was founded, justice has more often been an illusion than reality for the Black community. The illusion is rooted in the constant fight between the Black community and America itself over the most basic sense of equal justice under the law. While we’ve grown from being valued worth three-fifths a single person only for the purpose of appropriating seats for Congress, we still have to fight for…

View original post 268 more words

Regarding the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial

This afternoon, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts of murdering George Floyd. I planned to write a post later about it, but meanwhile I read Brendan’s piece, and … well, I couldn’t have said it any better, so I am re-blogging his. Thank you, Brendan.

Blind Injustice

The George Floyd Mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Like with many people in the United States, and across the world, my heart was beating at a mile a minute as the judge in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial read the verdict on all three counts:

Guilty.

Guilty.

Guilty.

After I heard the verdict, I was personally relieved. I know many others who feel relieved with the verdict as well, for it meant that George Floyd’s life mattered enough that the police officer who killed him went to prison.

However, in my own humble opinion (humble because I do not have to worry about police on a daily basis like my friends of color do), what we saw today was not justice for George Floyd. Justice would’ve been if George Floyd didn’t get killed at the hands of Derek Chauvin.

Instead, what we got was accountability. Namely, accountability for a chokehold that…

View original post 283 more words

Freedom Summer Project – those who braved Mississippi burning (a reprise)

Keith has reprised one of his old posts, one that resonates today as much as at any other time. As we wind down Black History Month, this is an important lesson for us to remember. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following post is a reprise of one I wrote in the summer of 2014. I felt the story needed a new telling during Black History Month.

Fifty years ago this summer, over 700 students from across the country, joined in the Civil Rights battle in Mississippi, where African-Americans had been demonstratively and, at times, violently denied their basic civil rights, especially the right to vote. These students joined together with the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (SNNC) under the guidance of Bob Moses, who had been slowly organizing SNNC since 1960. These students, were predominantly white, but included all races and ethnic groups.

The fact that many were white helped bring further attention to the ongoing tragedy going on Mississippi, perpetuated by those in power as the young students lived within the African-American community, taught through Freedom Schools young students about African-American history, literature and rights, items that had been…

View original post 568 more words