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Thread: Race and Equality

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Race and Equality

    In light of the recent situation in Ferguson and New York, there is a lot of focus on race, not just in terms of police, but in true equality. The media has been flooded with different statistics regarding the percentages of African Americans and Hispanics in prison, the percentages of arrests, and so on.

    Let me preface this by saying that I donít doubt that there is still racism and hate in the United States. But I do question if the statistics are part of a cultural issue vs a race issue. For example, what percentage of gang members are black or Hispanic? What percentages grow up in single parent households? What percentages drop out of high school? I have looked up these exact numbers but I know they have been discussed.

    But the more important thing is what do those factors have to do with the color of their skin? The color of oneís skin does not make someone more prone to violence, less inelegant, or less capable than anyone else. But for some reason, we as a society continue to label people based on the color of their skin. WHY?

    Take President Obama for example. There is little doubt that he is a very intelligent guy. While I donít agree with is political decisions, I applaud his ambition and desire to make America a better country. I truly believe that he has good intentions, but is approaching things from the wrong direction. I donít give a rip about his color and I don't think the color of his skin has anything to do with his abilities. But I was appalled by the number of people who I personally know that voted for him because he was black. Does the color of his skin make him any better or worse as a President? No. But we continue to focus on it for some stupid reason. Yes, I am sure that there are people who didn't vote for him because of the color of his skin, and that makes them just as wrong as those who used that as a determining factor.

    People are people and as I said before, anytime someone uses the color of oneís skin as a determining factor, I see that as racism.

    What can we do as a society to work to establish true equality for all people, regardless of color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, religion, or other label? What can we as a society do to change the cultures of those in impoverished, drug filled communitiesÖ not just black, but white, Hispanic, and every other race and background? What can we do as a society to start treating people as people, and just some irrelevant label?
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Sadly racism does still exist. I have never seen it as bad as I have living here and I've lived in border states and the south. I still hear people referred to as "colored" and worse. The hard part for me, they don't think they're being racist, that's just what those folks are called. I wish I had a great answer in solving the problem, but there isn't one. I think each of us just has to do our part. Recognize that we are all just people and that we all have a different view of the world based on how we grew up, how we were treated by society, etc. As far as racial profiling goes, I bet if you took race out of the equation you would find it's more of an income or education problem. Although I'm sure we also find that minorities make up a greater part of the lower income levels. I look at the New York thing and think, you had to take this guy down physically over selling cigarettes? Couldn't you have used some other method to get him to do what you want. I think too often police seem to escalate to violence a little to quickly when there should be easier ways to handle situations. Granted if I knew what that was I would be off winning a Nobel prize and not sitting at a planning desk.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Let's pretend for a moment like I actually have answers to these issues... and I apologize now for my cynicism.

    Honestly, ending the drug war will go a long ways. A large segment of the prison population is locked up for petty crimes & drug offenses, that that disproportionately affects racial minorities and low-income. I don't think that is an accident.

    I'm an advocate of mandating police officer indictments be processed by prosecutors and grand juries in a different jurisdiction. Prosecutors work so closely with local law enforcement that it is difficult for them to remove bias. Plus, district attorneys are elected locally and politics can interfere.

    Police clearly need training, and hiring processes need to be looked at. 99% of cops are fine, but it is incredibly difficult to get rid of bad apples. What you saw in NYC is a woeful misapplication of "broken windows." Cracking down hard on petty crime does not really impact the crime rate--what it does do is sow the seeds of distrust between the community and the police. The only person arrested in the NYC incident was the person filming--what does that tell you? Police are doing a piss-poor job of community oriented policing.

    Truthfully, and I know this is a very cynical attitude, but humans by nature seek to differentiate ourselves from one another along arbitrary lines in an effort to scapegoat societal ills. We don't like to look within ourselves for blame--we are selfish, egotistical and lack empathy on a broad scale. We have for millennia differentiated between populations on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, sex/gender & religion. It is not a uniquely American problem. It is a fundamental flaw of humanity. The best you can hope for is that we eventually step back from "ism"s, but prejudices & biases will always remain. It is figuring out how to keep those prejudices & biases from resulting in actions & policies that marginalize other populations that is the real challenge.

    I think you are seeing now the pain of everyone realizing that the judicial branch, the one that was supposed to be "above the fray," really isn't much better than the others in terms of prejudice & bias. Those that have been marginalized by the judicial system (whether real or perceived is irrelevant; perception is reality) have known this for a while, but the mainstream is beginning to take notice. The blindfold worn by justice isn't as opaque as many of us thought--especially those of us that come from a position of privilege (racial or socioeconomic).

    If you can solve that, they'll rename the Nobel Prize for you.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman GŲring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    Sadly racism does still exist. I have never seen it as bad as I have living here and I've lived in border states and the south. I still hear people referred to as "colored" and worse. The hard part for me, they don't think they're being racist, that's just what those folks are called. I wish I had a great answer in solving the problem, but there isn't one. I think each of us just has to do our part. Recognize that we are all just people and that we all have a different view of the world based on how we grew up, how we were treated by society, etc. As far as racial profiling goes, I bet if you took race out of the equation you would find it's more of an income or education problem. Although I'm sure we also find that minorities make up a greater part of the lower income levels. I look at the New York thing and think, you had to take this guy down physically over selling cigarettes? Couldn't you have used some other method to get him to do what you want. I think too often police seem to escalate to violence a little to quickly when there should be easier ways to handle situations. Granted if I knew what that was I would be off winning a Nobel prize and not sitting at a planning desk.
    For the guy in NYC, I agree completely. I don't think that was appropriate and I am not sure why this cop is not going to trial. I also know many cops that are trained to go into every call on full alert because you doing know. Last summer there was a cop here in MI that was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. LINK You never know what is going to happen in the line of duty. But I also question some of the military like tactics that are brought out as a first resort. In many cases, I agree that they only result in escalating the situation from bad to worse. But I don't think that race is a determining factor with things like that.
    Invest in the things today, that provide the returns tomorrow.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I don't know if race was a factor in the NY thing. Would the cop have jumped on him and started a choke hold if he was white? The size of the guy is obviously a factor, that was a big dude, but from the couple times I saw the video, he didn't make any violent actions that required that level of force. To me I question the police tactics more than the racism behind it, but then I'm a white guy and have never been subjected to excess scrutiny because of my skin color and let's face it, black, brown, green, whatever, if you're not white you get profiled. You get extra attention going shopping, walking in the right neighborhoods, whatever. I just don't know how to stop that, but I'll keep working on my DVD Prize. The winner gets a donations made in his name to the Human Fund.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    ...Take President Obama for example. There is little doubt that he is a very intelligent guy. While I donít agree with is political decisions, I applaud his ambition and desire to make America a better country. I truly believe that he has good intentions, but is approaching things from the wrong direction. I donít give a rip about his color and I don't think the color of his skin has anything to do with his abilities. But I was appalled by the number of people who I personally know that voted for him because he was black. Does the color of his skin make him any better or worse as a President? No. But we continue to focus on it for some stupid reason. Yes, I am sure that there are people who didn't vote for him because of the color of his skin, and that makes them just as wrong as those who used that as a determining factor. ...
    People complain a lot that people voted for Obama just because he's black. In general (not talking about the people you know) it seems like a way overblown claim to me. These same people didn't support Hermain Cain or other black politicians who have run for president. It would be like complaining that too many people voted for Mitt Romney because he's white or HiIllary because she's a woman. People vote the way they do for lots of reasons.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I think that the Planning profession is instructive in the consideration of race and equality. We know all too well that decades of bad planning will take decades of good planning practice to correct. It's like turning a big ship. You point the nose in the right direction and start the swing, but it takes time and is not some 180 degree about-face. Race relations and equality in this country at this moment represent a point on that curve. We are course correcting.

    As for the presidential question, someone on Cyburbia I think recently pointed out: in our last presidential elections the sitting president was African-American, having beaten a female candidate in a primary and then eventually faced a member of a religious minority in a general election. I'd call that some progress at least. We have a society that is in a long, slow, but healing curve in my opinion.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  8. #8
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Let's pretend for a moment like I actually have answers to these issues... and I apologize now for my cynicism.

    Honestly, ending the drug war will go a long ways. A large segment of the prison population is locked up for petty crimes & drug offenses, that that disproportionately affects racial minorities and low-income. I don't think that is an accident.

    I'm an advocate of mandating police officer indictments be processed by prosecutors and grand juries in a different jurisdiction. Prosecutors work so closely with local law enforcement that it is difficult for them to remove bias. Plus, district attorneys are elected locally and politics can interfere.

    Police clearly need training, and hiring processes need to be looked at. 99% of cops are fine, but it is incredibly difficult to get rid of bad apples. What you saw in NYC is a woeful misapplication of "broken windows." Cracking down hard on petty crime does not really impact the crime rate--what it does do is sow the seeds of distrust between the community and the police. The only person arrested in the NYC incident was the person filming--what does that tell you? Police are doing a piss-poor job of community oriented policing.

    Truthfully, and I know this is a very cynical attitude, but humans by nature seek to differentiate ourselves from one another along arbitrary lines in an effort to scapegoat societal ills. We don't like to look within ourselves for blame--we are selfish, egotistical and lack empathy on a broad scale. We have for millennia differentiated between populations on the basis of skin color, ethnicity, sex/gender & religion. It is not a uniquely American problem. It is a fundamental flaw of humanity. The best you can hope for is that we eventually step back from "ism"s, but prejudices & biases will always remain. It is figuring out how to keep those prejudices & biases from resulting in actions & policies that marginalize other populations that is the real challenge.

    I think you are seeing now the pain of everyone realizing that the judicial branch, the one that was supposed to be "above the fray," really isn't much better than the others in terms of prejudice & bias. Those that have been marginalized by the judicial system (whether real or perceived is irrelevant; perception is reality) have known this for a while, but the mainstream is beginning to take notice. The blindfold worn by justice isn't as opaque as many of us thought--especially those of us that come from a position of privilege (racial or socioeconomic).

    If you can solve that, they'll rename the Nobel Prize for you.
    This. All I am going to add is that we have a legal system, not a justice system. There's rarely any justice if you are a person of color or poor.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  9. #9
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    I think that the Planning profession is instructive in the consideration of race and equality. We know all too well that decades of bad planning will take decades of good planning practice to correct. It's like turning a big ship. You point the nose in the right direction and start the swing, but it takes time and is not some 180 degree about-face. Race relations and equality in this country at this moment represent a point on that curve. We are course correcting.

    As for the presidential question, someone on Cyburbia I think recently pointed out: in our last presidential elections the sitting president was African-American, having beaten a female candidate in a primary and then eventually faced a member of a religious minority in a general election. I'd call that some progress at least. We have a society that is in a long, slow, but healing curve in my opinion.
    What he said!

    Having grown up in the Deep South, I've seen a lot of change since when I was a kid. My own family is a good example.My little brother's first wife was Mexican and his current wife is Thai. My wife is Latina. And my older brother's current girlfriend is Filipino. One of my cousin has a Latina wife. Twenty years ago our families probably would have looked negatively upon these pairings. My mom was overjoyed that I had married a Catholic! Okay, I never mentioned the black girl I dated in the 1980s (and I don't think she told her mom either). Had my mom known, she probably wouldn't have approved, but she also wouldn't have let anyone other than my dad know that she didn't. She wasn't liberal in her thinking in most things, but she also didn't have a hateful or ungracious bone in her body.

    I think a lot of the changes regarding race is a result of attrition - the old folks with their antiquated ideas are dying off. But there is also some of the old dogs learning some new tricks - my mom's views on homosexuality became practically liberal in the 21st century.

    Race and equality is not a big issue in Montana, where 95 percent of the people are white. A cop would have to look pretty hard for a minority to oppress.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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