America The Beautiful

An interesting conversation to have with people is to ask them which phone is best. More than likely they’ll pull out their device and start to tell you all about it. Have enough people in the vicinity and you’ll get large groups that will likely split down the middle; Apple vs. Google. There are a small number of folks that are device agnostic, as well as a small number of folks that will call on other OS’s (Windows, Cyanogen, and dare I say Blackberry), but the majority will be placed in those two buckets. They will tell you stories, stats, and “facts” about their respective devices and why it is the best and works for them. The last part is the most important part, “works for them”. That statement is the focus because that is our introduction to bias.

BIAS: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

1013I will frequent sites/blogs/vlogs and look in the comments section whenever race is part of the discussion. It is so interesting that as soon as they start talking about race, it is almost as if someone said “fire” in a movie theater. Suddenly everyone is an expert and they can tell you how racism is a tool used by liberals and Blacks to make White people feel guilty. It is even referred to at times as white guilt. You’ll have another group that claims racism doesn’t exist, Black people are the ones that are racist, and (one of the most ignorant) “the real racists are the ones calling out racism”. Then there is the one that l really don’t like,” I’m Black and l don’t see a problem.” C’mon son!

I don’t believe that a bias towards a group automatically makes one racist towards said group. Bias and racism are two entirely different things. For a person to assume that ALL Black people like chicken and watermelon is racist is far-reaching. It certainly would fall into the bias bucket, it could also be seen as stereotyping, and in some cases just plain ignorant. Similar to the Vice President’s recent remark about ALL his Somali friends being cab drivers. However, if that same person were to use that assumption (stereotype/bias/ignorance) in a derogatory remark, THAT would be racist.

The point is, many times bias can be born from racism. And racism, well… is about as American as fireworks on the 4th of July and apple pie. Yup. Lots of the racists here got it honest.

Brief History Lesson:

Just because slavery was abolished in 1865 (just 150 years ago, in some cases that’s only 2 generations), it didn’t mean equality for all. The civil rights act of 1866 came a year later to reiterate that which was already established with the abolishing of slavery in 1865:

“… That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States…”

How about the fact that Andrew Johnson attempted to veto the Civil Rights Act. This president also allowed for the South to establish its bad practices (Jim Crow, etc.). Makes you wonder had he not become president, would King still be alive today.

Never mind this line was deleted:

“…there shall be no discrimination in civil rights or immunities among the inhabitants of any State or Territory of the United States on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

…or that the last civil rights act was passed in 1991.

So, while slavery was abolished 150 years ago, freedom still was not obtained considering that rights were still being established less than 25 years ago.

It is my belief that because the line about “no discrimination” was deleted and Andrew Johnson being a. . . well… racist he is a correlating factor as to why there were so many problems with racism through the years during and after The Reconstruction (even unto now).

FROM: .S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who quotes Dennis Mitchell and his book, A New History of Mississippi.

Those who died at the hands of mobs, Litwack notes, some were the victims of “legal” lynchings — having been accused of a crime, subjected to a “speedy” trial and even speedier execution. Some were victims of private white violence and some were merely the victims of “nigger hunts” — murdered by a variety of means in isolated rural sections and dumped into rivers and creeks. “Back in those days,” according to black Mississippians describing the violence of the 1930s, “to kill a Negro wasn’t nothing. It was like killing a chicken or killing a snake. The whites would say, ‘niggers jest supposed to die, ain’t no damn good anyway — so jest go an’ kill ’em.’ … They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger. We was always in season.” Said one white Mississippian, “A white man ain’t a-going to be able to live in this country if we let niggers start getting biggity.”

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program:

All over the country now people are having conversations about race. It cannot be had without knowing its history. American’s racist roots run deep.

All over the country now people are also seeing the ramifications of not racism, but the dangers of what happens when bias goes unchecked. In the instance of a cell phone choice, it just means that no matter how crappy the iPhone is (and it is) a person with a particular bias towards Apple will always buy it. They will even play with/use other phones to see how their phone lacks in a lot of areas, but will soon forget the advances of modern technology once they hear Siri’s voice cull them back into the iFold.

Unfortunately, when this is applied to people the outcomes are far worse than a person being stuck in a contract with an iPhone. In the case of several Black males it resulted in them dying. We all carry these same biases, but when it is applied to a person with a gun, the ramifications can be tragic. It can also be just as traumatic when the bias exists into our court system; that have failed to bring justice when it was sought.

My wife recently told me about a story she heard on the news that discussed a huge welfare rings that was just busted. Like many I’m sure, I started to think about a Black woman (with a blond wig/weave) who lived in, what looks like a housing project on the outside, but on the inside it looked like a Manhattan condo. My mouth went agape when she responded to my query, “Were they Black?” I asked with shame in my voice. “No.” she responded, “They were White.” Despite me having studied Sociology and Social Work and knowing that White people are the predominate benefactors of welfare, this bias still existed with me.

So when the police get a call about a Black person their bias is going to be shaped by the information that they receive regarding the call: what neighborhood is it, how old is the suspect, what time of day is it, etc. All these will shape their bias of the situation and if the bias goes unchecked… they will show up to the scene, guns drawn, ready to shoot and not at all interested in taking any chances. Hence we have the deaths of: Kimani Gray, Kendrec McDade, Ervin Jefferson, Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Ousmane Zongo, Timoty Stansbury Jr., Sean Bell, Victor Steen, Seven Eugene Washington, Alonzo Ashley, Ramarley Graham, Akai Gurley, John Crawford, Eric Garner. All killed by law enforcement officers. While I don’t know their hearts and cannot call them racist, I can state that had they gone into the situation with their bias in check, these folks likely could have lived. Even in regards to these cases I have my own bias, I was particular in typing each name because many that I researched didn’t fall into the same category as those I have listed; my bias, those that were involved in committing a crime. My controversial statement/stance, Michael Brown is not on my list as he was not an innocent. I was upset that his story got more press time than John Crawford. My bias again, I can relate to John Crawford; I like guns, I go to Wal-Mart, I AM LIKELY to pick up an air gun in Wal-Mart. Unlike Michael Brown though, l AM NOT very likely to steal from a convenience store or assault people.

On 02/12/15 FBI Director James B. Comey orated a speech entitled Hard Truths: Law enforcement and race.

“At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups,” Comey said.

He also added to his speech this line from a musical

“Look around and you will find / No one’s really colour blind / Maybe it’s a fact we all should face / Everyone makes judgments based on race.”

December 5, 2014

So as we approach the end Black History Month and hopefully what has been one of the coldest winters ever; not just in terms of temperatures, but the frigid actions from law enforcement, judicial system and in some cases our fellow Americans. Let us be warmed with the knowledge that seasons change. Let us be encouraged that when the winter is over, the cold will abate and the road to recovery will be… can be exposed. And once that road has been exposed we can really get to work to repair the holes, cracks and damage that was done during our cold winter.

 

My Spidey Sense Is Tingling!

 

Unbelievable, stupendous, exciting news!

Okay, before I even get started there is a back story, before the story. That being I don’t tend to get excited; or should I say, I don’t excite very easily. A close friend of mine is always asking me, “What do you get excited about?” Almost as if the response is going to change or if something new has developed that has altered my state of mind/being. My response is usually a shrugged shoulder. It isn’t that I don’t get excited… I’m not a complete stoic. I seem to have a vitamin E (excitement) deficiency.

The more I’m asked and the more I think about it, the truth of the matter is there is a delay in my reaction to things. I come from a life where disappointment was the expectation. Imagine a little boy being told that you’re going to get to go to your favorite place, eat your favorite food, get your favorite toy, see your favorite. . . blah, blah, blah and then it never happens. Excitement becomes this thing associated with broken promises and lies. So one would use the adage, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ Therefore, the things that I likely can get excited for are things that don’t require any personal attachment (no opportunities for lies). Seeing it written in such a way is seems kind of depressing. There are certainly things that shape our existence and our early experiences in life are high on that list.

I guess you could call this idea of getting excited something that sets off my Spidey Sense… It alerts me, creates a bit of anxiety and also triggers this sense that, just like Spider-Man, I need to watch out.

So then, what do I get excited for? I’m excited to see the next Spiderman movie that Marvel will produce. Why is that? Because for the most part I get excited about things that I can control. For instance, if a movie is coming out that I really want to see… I feel that I could get excited for that because I’ll control if I’m going to see it or not.

The downside to this behavior/attribute… I don’t get excited about life events that people typically get excited about. I once tried to feign it… and everyone looked at me like, ‘That’s it? That was you being excited?!’ So yea.

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Road Less Traveled

 

No one at this point believes life to be fair. If it were, Detroit would have an outstanding public transportation system. Alas, it does not and life continues to toss us around, much like the potholes of Detroit. I mean some of the potholes in ‘The D’ have zip codes of their own. These things eat small animals and brought back the concept of neighborhood pools they are so deep.

Despite the road conditions, there are times when we happen upon a road less traveled and suddenly things are a bit smoother than they were. It can happen suddenly from an unexpected turn or an old street having been re-paved. This is your opportunity to enjoy the ride. Don’t speed through it, don’t complain about how the roads were and subsequently complain about why none of the roads aren’t like the one that you’re on, and most importantly don’t be so into how you felt about the road you just got off of that you miss the one that you’re on. Because before you know it, you’ll suddenly be reminded that you’re in Detroit. You’ll feel the bumps, be shaken by the holes and thrown off course by the cracks. Just don’t let that road swallow you up, as it will inevitably do to some.

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