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Is America in 2015 facing a crisis regarding racism? Major forces in the corporate world apparently want you to think so. Starbucks Coffee has combined with USA Today to launch “Race Together” in order to force unsuspecting readers and coffee consumers to face difficult questions about discrimination and oppression. The formal announcement declares: “Racial inequality is not a topic we readily discuss. It’s time to start.” But the real question should be by what standards has racial inequality gotten worse. We have more black success stories than ever before, with rates of police shootings and crime going down everywhere, not up. How do major companies, or the country at large, gain by convincing the public we’re facing some huge racial breakdown? Nearly all Americans long to move past bigotry, but it’s hard to see how talking endlessly about racism is supposed to help us with that process.

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  1. martin  •  Mar 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    If it wasn’t for Brown v Board of Education we would never be hearing the words racism or discrimination or inequality so much. I have come to hold the Brown decision did little to help the Blacks. As of today nothing is substantially different. Black complain Schools today are essentially resegregated. So where’s the progress?

    The blunder that was Brown was Judges assuming the role of social pathologists in regard to behavioral and developmental interests of elementary school children by its opinion holding that the way to cure legal inequality is to enforce social equality.

    There must be a cause for every effect. What causes racism or unequal treatment between the races? The cause of all this inequality is misunderstood. It is but a symptom of a more fundamental issue. The failure to understand is excusable, except for the educated. It is not ” white discrimination” that retards Black progress, except in trivial ways for a few. The underlying root of the problem is the denial–unintentional or perhaps adverse to one’s agenda — by both Blacks and Whites — to come to understand and accept the impossibility of social assimilation which persists, obviously, even after 100 years of the Brown v Board of Education decision. Blacks interpret this as race discrimination by whites thinking if there was no discrimination there would be no inequality and assimilation would in time prevail. They have it inside out. It’s the inexorable difficulty by Blacks to achieve assimilation that they are experiencing racism making race the one major domestic insoluble social problem. And the sad fact is the problem is a burden to the Blacks, not to the Whites, but the Blacks think the problem is the Whites, not the Blacks. The Blacks are caught in a trap and there’s no way out. Black resentment of discrimination and inequality will continue to percolate unabated with Ferguson-like events over and over until Blacks finally come to understand Self-Segregation or Nationalization is the only solution for interpersonal equality and social justice, as did Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X –and that, for all practical purposes — is only in theory. If all men were archangels there would be no inequality or discrimination as assimilation would never be an issue.

    Every human society, civilized or uncivilized, throughout history has had a system of class privilege based on something–a royal birth or impressive wealth or one’s religion…. or one’s race. Monarchism is a system of privilege based on birth. Plutocracy is a system of privilege based in wealth, Theocracy is a system of privilege based on a religion and Racism is a system of privilege based on race.

    In summary, my view of the situation is that black agitation and its offshoots in “diversity” politics and multi-culturelism having its origin in Brown v Board of Education tragically promotes an antagonistic, alienated, oppositional black politics that serves only to polarize the races, has only marginally helped Blacks and will end either in separation or a national movement, ultimately to the Blacks advantage and the Whites blessings.

  2. ds7  •  Mar 27, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    black dysfunction > white privilege

  3. Chris Kleinberg  •  Mar 30, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Personally, I have chosen to ignore it all.

  4. Simon Sobo  •  Mar 31, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Does Being Afraid Of An Angry Black Man or Crazy Black Teenager Constitute Racism?

    I don’t know what to make of the current heated up denunciations of racism in America. I thought we were doing so well, then Ferguson, followed by Eric Garner’s death and all of a sudden white society has again been on trial. To defend white society right now is to be more than simply complacent. It hints at a certain insensitivity to black people’s hardships, and what else could that be but racism? I must be harboring it or I would be as impassioned as the commentators on CBS news, NBC, ABC and PBS.
    Yet, the facts about what happened in Ferguson have proven to be irrelevant to the plight of black people, truly a non event. After hearing the results of the autopsy, it turned out that Michael Brown was not attempting to give up when he was shot. He was in a fury. He had punched Officer Wilson in the face, and tried to wrestle his gun away from him. There were powder burns on his hands from when the gun went off as he tried to grab it in the car. The bullet entry angles unequivocally proved he did not have his hands up when he was shot. Those who claimed he was surrendering were not credible witnesses. Their stories were full of contradictions. Brown was 280 lbs, and 6’5″ and he was charging at the officer. Many witnesses concurred about that. Officer Wilson had never used his gun before. If he didn’t use it, his children would have grown up without a father. He was scared for his life.
    The local grand jury spent an unusual amount of time studying the evidence. Grand jury hearings are usually kept private. Out of respect for the sensitivity of the situation, the evidence was made public. It didn’t matter. On the news, not only was it implied that the officer was lying, the District Attorney was suspect. After all, when the district attorney was a boy of 12, his policeman father had been killed by a black man. The whole proceeding was a farce, but then what can you expect in white America?
    Obama sent his top Justice Department team to check on the grand jury’s conclusions. Their pathologist did his own autopsy, They interviewed witnesses themseleves, some of whom told them they were afraid of giving testimony that contradicted what was in the news. When they went over the facts of the case, the Justice Department agreed that Officer Wilson’s account of his shooting of Michael Brown was accurate. Defending himself was completely justifiable. The truth about what happened was clear. But Holder’s Justice Department report worked a new angle. The reason that the people of Ferguson would not accept the grand jury’s conclusions was that the Ferguson Police Department was so racist that people from Ferguson couldn’t be expected to accept the facts. Even after two New York City policemen were executed by a man furious with what he had been told happened in Ferguson, Obama held back from cooling things down. He was against shooting policeman, as he was against the rioting that followed the grand jury’s announcment but this man, who considers himself the president of all the people, could not bring himself to proclaim Officer Wilson’s innocence. The best he could do is this. During a town hall-style meeting at Benedict College, a historically black school he said to the crowd.
    “Officer Wilson, like anybody else who is charged with a crime, benefits from due process and reasonable-doubt standards… And if there is uncertainty about what happened, then we can’t just charge him anyway because what happened was a tragedy.”
    Not exactly Mr. President. That is not nearly enough. Not even close. As president of all the people, it is his duty to get at the heart of this story, to proclaim the innocence of the policeman. Especially after two policeman were killed in New York City, by a killer enraged by what he had been told happened in Ferguson. We have a new Obama. Apparently lately, as we can see with his recent reaction to Israel, his long standing antipathies are no longer easily quieted. Apparently his anger about racism has far more venom behind it than we suspected. I suppose that must mean that the degree of racism in the white community has gotten intolerable and he can no longer be silent. Or have things become more comfortable so that he doesn’t have to try to be objective?
    If racism is out of control I just don’t see it. True I am white and couldn’t possibly understand what blacks have been through. But still I don’t see intolerance towards black people growing. I don’t understand why now, why black people are indignant all over again (although in truth, as opposed to what I see on TV I haven’t been particularly struck by the anger of black people I meet). I am mostly struck by the media’s anger, their usual mob psychology reaction, by their wailing over white people’s racism, and to liberal politicians delight, their willingness to grant pundit status to left wing white and black hot heads, stirring the craziness still more. Not just the likes of Reverend Sharpton who was suddenly meeting with President Obama, but every politico spouting phony statistics about white policemen’s war against black men, every mother frightened that their child might be the next unarmed black victim, is seen as having an understandable reaction. In this, it doesn’t seem to have mattered that Ferguson, despite evidence to the contrary, has remained a symbol of white racism. It is the tip of the iceberg critics tell us. Police everywhere in America are killing unarmed black teenagers. They are harassing innocent law abiding young black men simply because they are black.
    To me it is astounding. Why is Ferguson still mentioned in the media as a civil rights cause? By now I would have thought that moderate black leaders would have stepped forward and tried to calm things down. Where is Oprah? Where is Mayor Dinkins, and Governor Patterson of New York? Why aren’t black moderates speaking out about Ferguson. I assume they fear being labeled as Uncle Toms, accused of denying just how bad racism is in America. Or denounced for having sold out. They got theirs, so sure, what does it matter what the rest of their people have to go through . They’re as bad as the 1%. Rich apologists that just don’t get it. This kind of fear of taking on hot issues has become commonplace in America, as the crazies in the media rule.
    Certainly the relationship in our country between blacks and whites is not perfect, but I will dare to mutter a PC forbidden claim, the automatically dismissed claim of apologists Black people have come a long way, far beyond anything I might have expected in the 60’s, when Martin Luther King had a dream. So have white people in their attitudes. Americans have elected a black president. Oprah is one of our most respected public figures. Turn on the TV during the daytime. Put on a few game shows or talk shows. Bob Barker is long gone. Charming, cheerful, friendly, confident black men and women are often the host or hostess of these confections. And not because the networks are trying to do a good deed . These hosts and hosteses are genuinely welcomed into the homes of Americans. They wouldn’t be there if they couldn’t do the job. They wouldn’t be there if they weren’t liked in TV land And these are Americans’ casual acquaintances. The signs of progress go way beyond ordinary acceptance. Many of today’s heroes, many superstars, the stuff of legends are amazingly often African American athletes and entertainers. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Will Smith, and before his current difficulties, Bill Cosby. They are embraced. Chris Rock fills up concert halls with biting jokes about whites that go to the gut. He ain’t no goody-goody gooing up people’s feeling with platitudes. He receives thunderous applause. Who does not embrace Morgan Freeman, in what has become one of our most beloved American movies, Shawshank Redemption. It is love we feel. The same love Jimmy Stewart gets around Christmas time for It’s a Wonderful Life How can we be a racist society when there are so many examples of how we are not?
    I’m going to bring forward some statistics that are rarely mentioned in the discussion of white racism. Americans have been willing to spend 22 trillion dollars since Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty began. That is not a small sum when we consider how aware we are of the collapsing infra structure around us. We don’t have the money to fix it. Yet we still elect congressman who place help to the poor as a higher priority than new bridges and highways. Moreover a good proportion of the families of individuals taxed by the government to help the poor are like me. True, as a New Yorker I tend to only know Jews and other ethnics. But our grandparents came to America long after slavery was abolished. They cannot be held responsible for what went on in America before they came. Yet so morally repugnant was American slavery, so great did blacks suffer at the hands of white masters, so horrendous was the misdeeds of Southerners in the century following the Civil War, and so poor have so many black people remained, that even though we are not responsible for the terrible abuse of black people, we feel, and apparently most Americans feel, that special treatment, huge programs costing huge sums of money is owed to black people. It is the least we can do.
    True, the money spent on the poor has not only helped black people. Forty eight percent of the poor are white. But I would argue that a significant portion of the population believed, and still believes, that the government was and is spending most of that money trying to help black people. There is a reason for this belief.
    Our vastly ambitious poverty programs only began to capture enormous sums of money in the context of the civil rights struggle. In many people’s minds, correctly or not, they are one and the same thing . My point is not to quibble over the numbers. It is simply the point that accusing Americans of being racist, and still being racists, after their (for most part good hearted) efforts to empathize with, and help black people, does not qualify as a fair assessment of white people’s behavior. Indeed, no other group in our history has received so much public help. There were no affirmative action programs for uneducated Jews and Italians and Irish, coming over on the boats. They, and their children, were expected to make it on their own, come what may. Kikes and the Wops and Miks were kept out of country clubs, out of Wall Street, out of executive positions in large corporations. Their numbers were kept low at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. Even at Columbia in the middle of New York City, Lionel Trilling was the first tenured Jewish professor in the English Department. That was in the 1940’s. Although he did not, as rumored, change his name, he, like most intellectuals of the time, did not betray his Bronx accent. And this from a man who was obsessed with authenticity. The times demanded a certain persona.
    Black people have every reason to remember and hate the persecution they have suffered. Discrimination against meritorious individuals can never be justified. But given the mistreatment of ethnics, there was never a program to have Jewish contractors, or Italian contractors shown preference by government programs trying to equal things out. They were never beneficiaries of large government programs attempting to eradicate their misfortune. Nothing compares to what was done, and is still being done to help black people. Perhaps it is too much to hope for a giant thank you, but at least a modicum of recognition would help the cause of better understanding, rather than incessant accusations that we live in a racist society.
    We should not underestimate the effectiveness of our poverty programs.
    Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, at the beginning of the War on Poverty, only about 12 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    Nearly three-quarters have a car or truck; 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.[9]
    Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television.
    Two-thirds have at least one DVD player, and a quarter have two or more.
    Half have a personal computer; one in seven has two or more computers.
    More than half of poor families with children have a video game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation.
    Forty-three percent have Internet access.
    Forty percent have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.
    A quarter have a digital video recorder system such as a TIVO.
    Ninety-two percent of poor households have a microwave
    It is not just gadgets and toys that the poor are managing to obtain for themselves. When it comes to necessities America’s poor are well served. Despite impressions to the contrary, most of the poor do not experience undernutrition, hunger, or food shortages. Information on these topics is collected by the household food security survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA survey shows that in 2009:
    Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food.
    Some 83 percent of poor families reported that they had enough food to eat.
    Some 82 percent of poor adults reported that they were never hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money to buy food.
    As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and in most cases is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels.
    Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.[
    True enough, the average white person can’t figure out where all the money is going that they pay in their taxes. The left shouts that it is the Pentagon eating up the money, but adjusted for inflation, spending on the war on poverty (which does not include Social Security or Medicare) is three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution.
    So again I come to the same question, why now is there incessant talk about American racism? I really don’t know. Has the bad economy in the last few years hit black people so much worse than whites? Maybe. I am still bewildered that whites in this country so easily agree with the charges. Or don’t dare disagree. It is completely against the evidence to glibly assert that the average American is a racist. There are problems between black and whites that can be understood as manifestations of white prejudice. The average American is not color blind. He may have one or two friendships with black people, but he may not. And he may choose to live in neighborhoods where he doesn’t need to worry about low class blacks’ criminal activity. He may have liberal attitudes about black’s civil rights, but if he lives in Manhattan he may consider it a necessity that his children be educated in a predominantly white private school. It is fair enough to say that such people probably would prefer that their kids have exposure to black classmates, preferably middle class black children, but even poor black children are acceptable if the numbers are kept to a reasonable proportion.
    It is also fair to say that most white people are afraid of lower class black crime and violence. And I will push this beyond what white people are allowed to say. Crime and violence are the biggest problem. It is for black people as well. They too dream of getting out of their lousy neighborhoods so they won’t have to worry that their kids will get shot on the way to school. If they are ambitious they want their children to be exposed to children who are striving to get a decent education, without being considered a nerd by the ruffians in their classroom. That presumably was the point of busing, giving poor black kids a chance to be exposed to white kids’ behavior and values. I mentioned black entertainers and athletes as heroes for white people, Do white people also have an ambivalent admiration for poor black culture, for gangsta rap and clothing styles. They do. There is something exciting, something liberating about people who don’t live according to the rules. This didn’t begin with black hoods. Edward G. Robinson, James Garfield, Italian gangsters in Mafia movies similarly captured the public imagination, just as a century before, Europeans were thrilled by American Indians, noble savages who defied civilization’s constraints. We all have a part of ourselves that hates having to behave, that would like to go wild as hippies once did, singing and dancing and having sex where and when we choose.
    But it also frightens us. Again, when our minds wrap around the subject we don’t want to be exposed to the violence of lower class black culture. The numbers are shocking. While so much has been made of police “racism” particularly after Ferguson and the Trevor Martin case, nationwide 123 black people were killed by the police in 2009 and that includes many violent criminals. Since Trevor Martin’s death, 11,000 black men were killed by other black men. There is reason for white people and black people to be frightened by this violence. And this is since the homicide rate has drastically decreased in recent years. There is reason for anyone to not want to live anywhere near it.
    Is this “racism?” The term obscures more than it clarifies. The problems between blacks and whites are too important to be swept up in categories used by the mind numbing language of media hysteria.
    If we are going to look at things like they are we can’t have a discussion of racism without including the effect that black crime and violence has not only on black communities ( where the consequences are far worse) but the fear it creates in white communities. Lower class black criminality and violence cannot be dismissed as something that racist America has invented. It is real and has consequences. My black doorman in Park Slope thought the media coverage following Ferguson, emphasizing the danger that policemen represent to black teenagers was ridiculous. When he gets off from work at 2AM and has to return to his neighborhood, he is thrilled to spot a policeman, black or white patrolling the streets. He used to be nervous when he saw a bunch of teenagers with their sweatpants hung low showing their crack. That has let up, since most of them are now in jail, an improvement in the community that he credits the police for. He understands that many completely innocent black teen agers have been hassled by the police as never before, stopped and searched, and that too many innocent black men (who had jobs!) are now in jail because they had pot on them when they were frisked. But he doesn’t see that as a manifestation of racism. He sees it as an unfortunate consequence of a police crackdown that has resulted in a dramatic decrease in homicides and crime. The streets of his neighborhood are no longer owned by drug dealers with fancy cars. Gangs are a horrible problem, but crime is way way down. Indeed it is so far down, that generation Xers feel completely safe in Harlem, Crown Heights, even Bed Sty. The decrease in crime has led to a new problem, gentrification. Segregation is breaking down, which he likes. He enjoys his increasing comfort with white people. He and I have become sort of buddies, talking politics and the like. I brought him latkes on Chanukah, and birthday cake from my wife’s birthday party. I’ve learned a lot and so has he.
    Growing up in the 50’s I had little contact with black people, but when I thought of them it was with uniformly positive feelings, mainly the result of my Jewish upbringing. The Jews knew what it was to be hated, to be an underdog. So that was extended to black people automatically. In junior high school there were few black students, but invariably one of them was elected president of the class, by their Jewish classmates. In college the few black students on campus were members of Jewish fraternities .
    In my leftist days I was Bronx chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights. I did tutoring. Began a lead poisoning project. I started a health careers program, which mentored 280 kids from the slums with 70 counselors, medical students, social workers, inhalation therapist even some of the professors at Einstein. The kids were let into the operating room. They spent an afternoon with X ray technicians. Etc. But I must also report that my idealism was greatly tempered by reality. In 1967 I had a surgery rotation at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. That same year the 41st precinct in the South Bronx had been named Fort Apache, a name that lasted until 1975 when the area was essentially burned down. I was astounded by what I was seeing in the emergency room, the number of patients being brought in with gunshot wounds, stabbings, women and children, old people and young men, their faces smashed in by heavy blunt instruments, or repeated punches to their face. Everywhere was rage and hatred.
    I had never witnessed anything like it before. It was impossible to maintain my sentimental liberalism about black people after that. I had read about all of this and knew it existed, but until then it was never real. I could easily dismiss it as a consequence of the way black people had been treated. This was a time when firemen answering a call in the Bronx often had rocks thrown at them. On the streets cars were double and triple parked, many of them abandoned, windows broken, stripped of their wheels and any other hardware that could be sold or destroyed. Graffiti was the least of the problems there. Garbage was everywhere. On the few occasions when white people drove through these areas, their car doors were always locked. And indeed the doors of neighborhoods throughout the city had double and triple locks and iron bars on the windows.
    Growing up, before the violence got out of hand, my mother actually had a black friend, a woman at work, Viola, (coincidentally she was Rap Brown’s aunt) She liked Viola because they had a lot in common, but that was it. That doesn’t mean she wouldn’t, like other Jews (actually everyone but the Italians,who guarded their streets as if defending their country) flee to a safer neighborhood when black people began to move in to the neighborhood. We have cities everywhere where downtowns were deserted by whites out of fear that black people were moving in. And it wasn’t, as is often said, property values. For the most part, the abandoned neighborhoods, for example the Grand Concourse in the Bronx consisted of renters rather than owners of property. I know these people and I don’t remember any snobbishness about black people, any derogatory remarks. I remember fear. Was this flight from black people racism? Or common sense. Not just white people but black people wanted out of their poverty stricken neighborhoods if they could afford to pull it off and found a receptive place to move to.
    Since so much has been made of the police picking on and killing black people I think this discussion has to include the part played by black crime and violence. It is unfair to take policemen’s treatment of black people as a reflection of a more general white racism, since their interaction with black people is a unique situation It should be separated as an entirely independent issue. Unlike other members of society who can avoid black crime and violence, they can not run in the opposite direction. They have to directly confront disorder, drunk and angry individuals, bring them under control. We can avoid them.
    I am no fan of policemen. Michael Brown was walking in the middle of the street with his stolen cigars, which is what attracted the attention of the Officer Wilson in the first place. All hell broke loose, when Officer Wilson ordered him on to the sidewalk.
    Obviously this young man was looking for trouble. Is it possible there was a certain degree of racism in the voice of the policeman, that as some claimed, he told him to “fucking” get on the sidewalk? Had the man been white and drunk, walking in the middle of the street, would the officer have spoken more understandingly? I think it is entirely possible, but I have seen a white boy speak disrespectfully to an officer in Forest Hills Queens 30 years ago. I watched as the policeman went crazy, jumping on top of the white boy, hitting him over the head again and again with his nightstick with every bit of hatred the policeman had in his arms.
    I have had run ins with the police myself, over nonsense. Afterwards, I played the scene in my head. How dare he speak to me like that. I am a physician, an upstanding member of the community. I was standing on my front lawn. Didn’t he know who he was speaking to? The creep wasn’t going to back down. He became angry when I tried to reason with him. He threatened to arrest me if I didn’t shut up and he would have. Without going into the details I was in the right, but that is irrelevant. In that kind of situation with the police, the only option is to obey. It is obey or else. Most people may not like it, but they know how they are expected to act. The policeman is in charge.
    There is no question that some police are bull headed and bullies. They have the power and they are all too ready to use it. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that if I punched the policeman on my lawn in the face, and I was twice as big as him, and I just might be out of my mind with fury, I’d have been a dead white man. I’d be one of the statistics for white men killed by the police. According to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the span of more than a decade, (1999-2011) 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks.
    Policemen have dangerous jobs. They face the worst elements of our society. Possibly, Officer Wilson, if he kept his cool, could have shot Brown in the legs. Policemen who lose their cool should be assigned desk duty. The same applies to soldiers who, during a war situation go ape and start shooting wildly, possibly killing innocents. Such people might be fine men in ordinary circumstances but if they can’t keep their cool should they have a gun? My Uncle Lester ordinarily a sweet man, never left England during World War II. While on guard duty there he kept discharging his machine gun every time he heard a suspicious sound. Terrified people don’t think things over. They react from their gut. That doesn’t make them criminals. Certainly Officer Wilson didn’t start out his evening thinking; “ I think I’m going to go out and kill me an unarmed black teenager.” To reiterate, this was the first time he ever used his gun.
    After the Justice Department indicted Ferguson, they were asked by the police chief to take a look at Philadelphia. In Philadelphia there are six times the number of shootings by the police as in NYC. The Justice Department studied the pattern of OIS (officer involved shootings) when the suspect turned out to be unarmed (a great many of those shot were suspected of having arms). Sure enough 80% of those shot owing to “a misinterpreted threat perception” were black and their average age was 20. However the threat perception failure rate for white policemen was 6.8% with black suspects. For black policemen it was 11.4% and for hispanic policemen it was 16.8%. So apparently fear of the black suspects and acting on that fear was least among white policemen. One other statistic is worth noting. In keeping with the belief that having to patrol dangerous places is the main factor behind OIS, a map of Philadelphia was made which clearly shows that OIS, by far, most commonly occurred where there is the highest amount of crime and homicides, particularly districts 22 and 25.
    So what does this mean? Obviously, white policemen should have maximum exposure to black members of the community in situations where there isn’t a confrontation going on. They have to put a human face on the individuals they are asked to control. They have to learn disciplined responses to disorderly situations. Training, training, training. But, in the real world, a lot depends on what experiences the policemen might have had. A few of the policemen may have begun their job with a prejudice against blacks that carried through whatever their experiences. But I have to assume that even if a policeman began with a very sweet attitude towards blacks and the rest of the human race, day in and day out, seeing the worst behavior of human beings, is going to toughen them up, and greatly decrease their ability to empathize with the plight of black ruffians. Old black people, children, abused women, sure. This is the reason they are there . But clearly the statistics I cited above show that faced with situations where suspects are out of control, the issue is not racism. Given their willingness to try to bring violent and chaotic situations under control it is unfair to treat them without regard for where they are coming from.
    One other point. The news is full of videos depicting policemen losing their temper and punching suspects while they are already subdued. This shouldn’t occur. Everyone was furious at the choke hold put on Eric Garner. He should have never died. It is truly a tragedy for his family. But does anyone seriously think the policemen were choking him when he kept saying I can’t breathe? He had asthma. The officers arresting him could have been more verbal in giving him directions about what they expected, but what I saw on the video was an awkward situation where a 300 lb man fell to the ground taking everyone with him. I can’t believe the hatred implicit in the belief that the police intentionally were choking him to death. I have seen a videos on CBS News of a black honor student with a bloodied forehead. He was apparently drunk and arrested Scott Pelfrey of the CBS showed the bloodied forehead and immediately went to the Ferguson and the Selma march (the anniversary of which black people were commemorating at the time). Quite a dramatic story. Let me explicitly take my position. I wish police arrests were always smooth and considerate. I wish if physical force is necessary, the police would have exquisite control of their arms and legs and bodies, and be able to to subdue an uncooperative suspect with laser like accuracy with not a mark on them. I wish they would never lose their temper and take out their frustrations on the person they are trying to arrest. I don’t doubt if, on that particular day, they had some very nice interactions with suspects, they might be more gentle on the next person. But if the last time, they got punched hard or had an elbow in the eye, it is very possible that they will take it out during the next arrest. Should they try to be rational and calm at all times? Should they receive training to do so? Should we never give up on trying to improve things? Of course But fair is fair. The media has no right to stir up the hatred they seem to love to engender. It doesn’t solve the problem. If I were a policeman right now I would have long ago quit. But then I am a sensitive type and policemen can’t afford to be sensitive. They’d land up dead.
    The Philadelphia statistics throw the ball back to black communities. These situations between the police and black young men and teen agers are going to keep happening until black violence subsides. There is hope. I remember when I was young, when us Jews in junior hight did not fear black people. We feared Italians. They picked on us. They were in gangs. I remember the Corona Dukes. There was lot of violence coming from them. They were the tough guys, the boxers and mobsters. And I remember the police picking on them. That is all over now. I assume the same thing will eventually happen with black people.
    As I started this essay, I noted that I am very impressed by how far we have come. Rocks are no longer thrown at firemen. Neighborhoods are no longer being burnt down (except in Ferguson where 9 stores were set ablaze after the grand jury decision).
    It goes much further than that. The last 25 years has seen an enormous improvement for a sizable number of black people. Members of my children’s generation have had, and still have good black friends. There is intermarriage. They have marched in to black neighborhoods, perhaps hoping for gentrification, (as an investment) but have had very little fear. They wouldn’t walk the streets at 3 AM, but otherwise they feel reasonably safe with black neighbors all around. There are reasons for that. Crime rates have dropped enormously. Most of the punks in the bad neighborhoods are no longer strutting about, spreading fear everywhere, including causing black people to be afraid. The really bad dudes are in jail. The local drug dealer is no longer sporting his fine wheels on the street corner. He is in jail. Tough guys have had to join gangs for protection.
    I’ll know things have improved even more if I were to see non gay black men in Prospect Park walking Laboradoodles instead of pit bulls or Rottwillers. Or if black athletes no longer have to carry guns at nightspots. Obviously fear motivates the dog walkers in Prospect Park with gangster dogs or macho or some other persona, but in my admittedly infrequent contacts in the park with black dudes, I am usually not frightened in the slightest. The culture of the before 9 AM off the leash dog walkers of Prospect Park is extremely peaceful and harmonious. For that matter so is the subway from Park Slope to Manhattan. White people are outnumbered 10:1, but I haven’t once felt fear in the subway in the last 10, maybe 15 years. No need to look at the floor. Most black people are friendly. I imagine because the bad ones are in jail, but still there is real black-white community on the 2 and 3 train and the Q. The black teen agers are either on their way to work (or a party), or trying to earn a few bucks by doing acrobatics on the poles or overhangs. They are not looking to scare anyone and they are not scared of the white faces they meet. I think they are the greatest.
    When my father was very sick, my elderly mother told me she grew to love Nan, this black woman who helped care for him. She was moved by this woman’s love for my father and her desire to help my mother. She felt genuine grief at Nan’s funeral. You don’t meet that many people who you love. That wasn’t my mother being sentimental because Nan was black. Nor was it an attempt to strengthen her liberal credentials. My mother couldn’t care less about political nonsense. She just loved Nan.
    That is the only way. One on one. I am not asking my liberal Manhattan friends to take their kids out of private schools and stop bullshitting about their liberalism. One relationship at a time. That’s how the real thing happens, when it becomes silly to categorize feelings as racist or not racist. People are just people. Do I wish I had known more black people over the years? I suppose, but I also wish I knew more Italians and Japanese, and more Goyim.

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