Category Archives: Racism/Diversity

“They Can’t Kill Us All” – A Washington Post reporter on shootings of unarmed black men

We all need to read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander - A must read for the parents of every young black man.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander – A must read for the parents of every young black man.

Michele Alexander is a lawyer, legal scholar, advocate and  author who has written a comprehensive, well-researched examination of what is happening to our young men and women, to our families, to our future generations at the hands of the criminal justice system.

It seems that nearly every black family has a child, cousin, nephew or uncle who has been incarcerated. It’s happening to our college students, business professionals,  working dads & mothers, drug involved and not.  At every level, all over the country, black men, in particular, have been stopped and questioned multiple times. Now, that level of intrusion into black life is resulting in more than overwhelming legal costs and delayed goals for families. The fact that our men are constantly being sought out for examination of their being, is resulting in staggering numbers of deaths. We can no longer blame it on the boys, the neighborhood, our color. It is way bigger than that. We need to understand exactly what is happening and why. You cannot negotiate with an enemy that you cannot identify. This book identifies the problem AND the solutions.

Excerpt from the Introduction

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© Robert Gumpert 1996

Jarvious Cotton cannot vote. Like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather, he has been denied the right to participate in our electoral democracy. Cotton’s family tree tells the story of several generations of black men who were born in the United States but who were denied the most basic freedom that democracy promises—the freedom to vote for those who will make the rules and laws that govern one’s life. Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.

Cotton’s story illustrates, in many respects, the old adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” In each generation, new tactics have been used for achieving the same goals—goals shared by the Founding Fathers. Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian….(read more….)

2016 Election depression – What now for “the African-Americans”?

A good rule of thumb for choosing a therapist is to find someone who can understand your feelings – someone who sees the world from your perspective in some way. You assume that their familiarity with you will help them protect you more effectively.

Painting by artist Kerry James Marshall, now at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art
Painting by artist Kerry James Marshall, now at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art

In this 2016 election upset, the outsider who has stunned the world, has demonstrated that he sees women, immigrants, African Americans and Latinos as the outsiders. The newly elected misogynistic, reportedly racist, clearly flawed president-elect has no history of public service and yet he is taking on the role of protector & advocate for all Americans.  Many black folks (and whites, gays and women and differently-abled)  are now decidedly nervous.  With a penchant for “law & order” while being blind to the injustices acted out on black men & women daily through the criminal justice system, our fathers, spouses and children can become easy targets in this crisis of economic, religious and racial change.  What to do, what to do?

10 Steps to protect black life, especially in a Republican administration:

PLAN AHEAD

  1. Start planning now to take your whole family to vote.  Four years will pass before you know it. Be educated and prepared for local upcoming elections.
  2. Join & become active in your local political process and party of choice.
  3. Keep a lawyer & law enforcement friends on speed dial. Check out apps that will automatically send your phone video to the ACLU. Know and communicate with your local public officials.
  4. Teach your kids how to interact with policemen & others in authority.
  5. BE VIGILANT: Monitor your kids’ whereabouts, know their friends & keep them busy in healthy activities. Be nicely nosy.  Practice gentle but effective intervention. Parenting is a 24/7 job.
  6. ADJUST THE SOLUTION TO THE LEVEL OF THE PROBLEM: Don’t use the police to settle family disputes & minor neighborhood disagreements. Have a plan in place for settling differences & learn to back down when it can save a life.  If the issue is serious enough,  use your church, school or community officials to help you negotiate solutions. If a family member has extreme stress or mental health needs, get them to a psychiatrist, mental health clinic or therapist. If drugs are being used in your home, contact a drug program or addictions counselor for help. Be respectfully persistent in getting them help from the right professionals. Police persons are not mental health specialists!
  7. Face your relationship problems with the intention of being fair to all parties. You could win the argument now but be faced with violence later. Every little slight does not require redress. Allow yourself & others to make interpersonal mistakes – to have a bad day. Let the minor things pass while you plan a fair, effective strategy to handle common problems in a democratic way.

We are reading…..”Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond”

nobodycasualtiesofamericaswaronthe-vulnerable

There is an almost palpable level of fear rising in the minds of many Americans over the steady stream of
unarmed young black men and boys, women and girls killed by police. How do we protect our children? How do
black people conduct themselves to be sure that they are not seen as dangerous. Not shot down, because by
their physical appearance alone, their movements are intuitively misperceived as imminently threatening.
While the majority of killings have been white officers against black citizens, there is that small number
of black officers on black victims that indicates that it’s not only about white on black racism.

Whether it’s this American drama on our urban streets or any of the international wars that bring death
to everyday life, it is clear, killing is not a solution to anything. Guns do not speak more articulately
than human reasoning. Mental health, is the essence of prevention. Racism is a mental health issue. Diminishing
the value of “others” is a mental health problem. In this book, Marc Lamont Hill joins Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander
in bringing clarity to the ongoing war against black men.

For Black Girls, Teenage Behavior is Criminal

From TakePart.com

We all watched in horror, the video of South Carolina school resources officer,  Ben Fields, of the Richland County Sheriff’s office, as he flipped  a black teen on her head and dragged her across a classroom floor as if she were a piece of trash. This because she began using her cell phone in a math class, against her teacher’s instruction.

This brings into question the kind of reality that a person in authority has in mind when a classroom disruption becomes criminal behavior requiring physical force.  She did not have a weapon. She was not threatening anyone. She was not following directions in a way that is pretty typical of teen in the throes of hormonal flux or any child, for that matter. We can think of all sorts of reasons that she did not comply instantly. It seems that this lack of instant submission that police officers seem taught to expect is a central factor in many of the police abuse cases that have been in the news lately.

As we work hard to raise our children and get them to adulthood safely, the school should be the one reliable safe place. It should be the one place that understands children, how their minds work and how their behavior varies with their humanity. It is not so anymore.  And it is especially not so for African American children. More……