There is racism in America.
America is not a racist country.
Both are provably true.
I will do the latter, now.
Tensions are high in the country due to the #GeorgeFloyd protests. The righteous anger against police brutality is being hijacked by the actions of ANTIFA and other agitators who are leveraging this occasion for discord, damage and death. As a result, the light on police brutality and the potential reformation on police policies is being displaced for something all the more horrific. I have seen videos, like the one below, where white people are being intimidated to bow down before black people and apologize for their “white privilege.”
“White privilege (or white skin privilege) refers to societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.”
SKIN PRIVILEGE IS WRONG, EVEN WHEN BLACK PEOPLE DO IT
The sentiment reminds me of the “brown paper bag test” that black America used to discriminate against itself. Check out this quote from the website – Black Then.
An actual test, along with the so-called ruler test in common use in the the early 1900s among upper class #Black American societies and families to determine if a Black person was sufficiently white to gain admittance or acceptance. If your skin was darker than a brown paper bag, you did not merit inclusion. Thousands of Black institutions including the nation’s most eminent Black fraternity — Phi Alpha Phi, Howard Univiersity, and numerous church and civic groups all practiced this discriminiation. The practice has 19th Century antecedants with the Blue Blood Society and has not totally died out.
How did colorism surface? In the United States’ colorism has roots in #slavery. That’s because slave-owners typically gave preferential treatment to slaves with fairer complexions. While dark-skinned slaves toiled outdoors in the fields, their light-skinned counterparts usually worked indoors completing domestic tasks that were far less grueling. Why the discrepancy? Slave-owners were partial to light-skinned slaves because they were often family members. Slave-owners frequently engaged in sexual intercourse with slave women, and light-skinned offspring were the telltale signs of these unions. While slave-owners did not officially recognize their mixed-race children as blood, they gave them privileges that dark-skinned slaves did not enjoy. Accordingly, light skin came to be viewed as an asset among the slave community.
After slavery ended in the U.S., colorism didn’t disappear. In black America, those with light-skin received employment opportunities off limits to darker-skinned African Americans. This is why upper-class families in black society were largely light-skinned. Soon light skin and privilege were considered one in the same in the black community, with light skin being the sole criterion for acceptance into the black aristocracy. Upper crust blacks routinely administered the brown paper bag test to determine if fellow blacks were light enough to socialize with.
The article goes on to say this very interesting thing…
Colorism didn’t just involve blacks discriminating against other blacks. Job advertisements from the mid-20th century reveal that African-Americans with light skin clearly believed their coloring would make them more palatable as job candidates. Writer Brent Staples discovered this while searching the archives of newspapers near the Pennsylvania town where he grew up. He noticed that in the 1940s, black job seekers often identified themselves as light-skinned.
Even so, I was surprised to learn that the longstanding preference for lighter-skinned black people had been laid out in 20th Century newspaper ads.
I’ve begun to find those ads in the archives of old newspapers near the Pennsylvania factory town where I grew up. The skin-labeling was so common in the 40’s that black job seekers used it when advertising their skills.
In the “situations wanted’’ section, for example, cooks, chauffeurs and waitresses sometimes listed “light colored’’ as the primary qualification — ahead of experience, references, and the other important data.
They didn’t do this for a lark. They did it to improve their chances and to reassure white employers who, even though they hired African-Americans, found dark skin unpleasant or believed that their customers would.
Why do I bring all that up?
It is wrong to assert skin privilege as a way of dominating another culture.
It was wrong for the white community to assert such a standard.
It was wrong when the black community asserted a similar standard on itself.
It is still wrong to assert superiority based on skin color today.
Is not getting people to bow down before you to apologize for being white asserting power over them? Is it the right thing to do in a civil society? Some would say, yes, citing it as a long overdue recompense for slavery in America. I submit that it is not the case; simply because many African Americans owned slaves themselves and greatly prospered. If that sounds strange to you, please view my 3-part “Slavery in America” series below. In case you are short on time, here are a some bullet points.
The first slave owner in America was a black man.
White men gave black men to black women as slaves #blackgirlmagic
Blacks owned slaves and some even hired white slavemasters to manage them.
The President of an African country traveled to America to apologize for Africa’s role in slavery and the media ignored him.
This is the first reason why I say racism exists in America but, America is not a racist country. Slavery is typically the first reason people point to concerning the persistence of racism. Yet, blacks as well as whites are culpable. For that matter, Native Americans also share in the blame as they could also legally own slaves. (My videos cite all my research should you care to delve deeper; just FYI.)
And while I’m on that topic, The Underground Railroad that abolitionists used to smuggle escaped slaved to free USA territories, was likely started by Quakers; among them Betsy Ross. (So, don’t be ashamed to wear thatflag.) But, I digress. Check out the chart below.
THIS SHOULD BE SELF-EXPLANATORY, BUT JUST IN CASE ITS NOT
It’s been half a century since the US supreme court decriminalized interracial marriage. Since then, the share of interracial and interethnic marriages in America has increased fivefold, from 3% of all weddings in 1967 to 17% in 2015.
Now, while that is firmly in mind, have you noticed the increase in interracial couples on television? The Daily Beast reported on the phenomenon from the angle of so many interracial couples being featured in advertising. To quote…
In a 2016 commercial for Chase, the viewer follows the relationship between a white boy and a black girl who grow from hand-holding as young children on their way to school, to a joyful marriage as adults. It’s advertising the company’s investment guidance through the message: Some things are worth waiting for. When asked why they made this casting decision, Erich Timmerman, spokesman for Chase, said: “We want our ads to reflect our diverse customer base and to look like the world we live in.”
Biracial couples and families are becoming increasingly common in the U.S., so featuring them in advertisements is indeed reflecting a key part of our society.
So, why do I bring this up? If America is a racist country then, why are there so many interracial marriages? Why is that number increasing? A few more questions to ponder…
IF AMERICA IS A RACIST COUNTRY THEN, WHY ALL THIS?
If America is a racist country then, why did we elect a black man to be President – twice? (Or, three times if you count BillClinton.) If African Americans are in the minority that would have to mean that his ascension was overwhelmingly due to white voters.
And then, there are comments made by Orlando Patterson, a Harvard professor and scholar of slavery race issues. Quite recently, when asked, “To those who are not white supremacists but may be just be awakening to racial disparities in the nation, what would you like them to know about issues of race in the United States?”
I don’t want to use the term “white people” in general terms because as I said before, what is special about these recent protests is the participation of whites in it, many of them young. But I also see middle-aged and some people my age. I want to emphasize that I think white Americans have gone through quite radical changes in their attitudes, and that we’re talking about a more likely 25 percent of Americans who are hardcore racist, but I think most Americans have quite decent views about race.
The hearings also brought to light the fact that the American public is way ahead of its journalistic and social-science commentators with respect to race relations. The sociological truths are that America, while still flawed in its race relations and its stubborn refusal to institute a rational, universal welfare system, is now the least racist white-majority society in the world; has a better record of legal protection of minorities than any other society, white or black; offers more opportunities to a greater number of black persons than any other society, including all those of Africa; and has gone through a dramatic change in its attitude toward miscegenation over the past 25 years.
I think for a Harvard professor to make such a bold claim, with academic research to back it, says a lot. And while I cannot say for certain that he is a Democrat, he has admitted to being a very strong supporter of Barack Obama. I mention that to deflect any suspicions that he is a shill for some political agenda.
There are only a few reasons why I say America is not a racist country but, racism does exist in America. (Obviously, it does.) If you have reasons to the contrary, please do leave a comment below. As long as your retort is respectful and without expletives, I will allow your comment to post, even if I disagree.
By the way, if you have an interest in black history, you might want to check out my website – Black History Quiz and/or my book on black history. I have been too swamped with multiple projects to keep that website updated but, I hope to reboot it soon.
Original description of this episode of “The Recruiters Lounge” podcast.
Racial Politics In The Workplace
Why am I called African-American when I’ve never been to Africa in my life? Karen and Jim both want to know. Should companies be compelled to create prayer rooms for their employees? (Its almost happening in the UK.) And if I am checking my blackberry in the check out line, I should get paid for it. If you use a company phone to send text messages, does the employer have the right to read them? (The answer may surprise you.) All this, plus, a few shameless plugs for new websites! Tune in to another exciting episode of The Recruiters Lounge Podcast.
00:32 – And now, a word from our Sponsor
01:35 – Name that tune
03:31 – No matter where it happens, it might happen here eventually
04:50 – Still, never heard of them
09:08 – Its not a right for you to pray
13:55 – He loves to berate people who believe in God. Because he is an atheist
17:10 – A lot of rainbow kids in America, but yet there are high levels of (employment) discrimination
20:28 – If I say I am biracial, people say, “What, you’re not proud of being black?”
25:08 – America is the only country to classify people the way we do
27:22 – Those who are not apathetic to the process are vocal and it changes for them
33:08 – Should they say that they worked 2.3 minutes of overtime?
37:12 – Just because you put it in writing and sign off on it, does not make it so.
39:25 – Its my phone! Yes, but its not your messages.
43:20 – Its gotten more confusing because this happened just recently
44:12 – Go to www.twitter.com/jimstroud
44:20 – The other one is called Hirecentrix
The biggest news over the past week has been concerning the death of George Floyd. Here is a quote from Wikipedia, with my own links added in.
One week ago today, George Floyd, an African American man, died in Powderhorn, a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota United States. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time occurred after Floyd became unresponsive. Video of the incident hit the internet, spread across social media and has been shown ad nauseum throughout mainstream media.
One of the videos capturing the event showed Floyd repeating “Please”, “I can’t breathe” [Viewer warning], “Mama”, and “Don’t kill me.” After Floyd’s death, demonstrations and protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area were initially peaceful on May 26, but later that day became violent as windows were smashed at a police precinct, two stores were set on fire, and many stores were looted and damaged Some demonstrators skirmished with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Additional protests developed in over 100 cities throughout all 50 states in the United States, as well as internationally.
A secondary concern, is the resurgence of coronavirus cases as the social distancing narrative repeated in the mainstream media feels wholly abandoned. Which makes me wonder (1) the severity of the virus when there is so little alarm being echoed in the media about it now and (2) if the reporting of the media on matters of such importance can be suspect, can I ever truly trust them? This is not to suggest that any organization maintained by humans can be infallible. It is to say, this event and others like it have caused me to further research what I hear on TV, read online and what I pass on in social media.
A third concern that I have seen building momentum in alternative media, is a hidden agenda being perpetrated on the public; fanning racial hatred towards some nefarious end. One piece of evidence towards that claim being pallets of bricks placed in the pathways of protestors where no construction has been taken place. Its as if someone wanted to use the George Floyd protests to encourage discord in America.
All of these concerns and more have been running through my mind and more. I do not have any answers and the more I ponder these things and research, the more questions arise. I am sharing my random thoughts and questions here with the hope that in your responses I can receive some form of enlightenment and direction on how to perceive all of what has been happening. Forgive me if my stream of consciousness is too meandering.
I THINK I SAW A MURDER. NOW, I’M NOT SO SURE.
When I watch the reporting of this incident, the storyline I tend to hear is that a racist cop arrested a black man and used excessive and unnecessary force when arresting him. (Spoiler alert: He did.) I saw the video of the incident and it looked like murder to me; as it did to the majority of people watching it. (I won’t post it here. Enough psychic damage has already occurred over it.) However, that was not the entire story and as it continues to develop, the more I realize how so many of us rushed to judgement.
George Floyd was an adult entertainer under the stage name “Floyd the landlord” having made several explicit films. (There has been speculation about a potential connection concerning this. Jealousy? NSFW link)
The preliminary findings of the autopsy reveal that George Floyd did not die from strangulation; despite what the video shows. The medical examiner found, “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation” and further said, “Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
To be clear, I am not playing the devil’s advocate. In my view, all of the officers involved should be punished to the fullest extent of the law with Chauvin suffering the harshest of all penalties. Whether he strangled George Floyd to death and that alone killed him or, whether Floyd died from a combination of drugs, pre-existing conditions AND choking, what remains consistently clear is that Floyd was unjustly handled during his arrest.
When the news of this broke, many people began reporting that racism was endemic within all police organizations, largely categorizing them as storm troopers imposing their draconian authority over helpless citizens. Even if I had not grown up with policemen in my life or had the privilege to enjoy the friendship of officers since, I would not have believed that. I have always seen them wholly as heroes albeit, with some bad apples among them. No different than any other organization run by fallible human beings. Still, all the recent fervor in the media did cause me to wonder a few things and research answers; all leading me to even more questions. My first question being, why are so many black people being harassed by so many white people? If I am to believe what I tend to hear from the news, this is an unfortunate reality of being black in America. Yet, I found contrary evidence.
INTERRACIAL CRIME IS HAPPENING, BUT NOT LIKE I THOUGHT
There is an astonishing level of consensus, at least among scholars, on the fact that almost all of the interracial crime that does occur in the United States is POC-on-white. In the representative year of 2008, 429,000 Black-on-white violent crimes and only 91,000 white-on-Black violent crimes were recorded by the FBI, and the proportional breakdown of interracial offenses by race was nearly identical during 2012 and 2015.
Anti-racist activist Tim Wise, who provided the figures just given, thus estimates that 82.5 percent of interracial crime involving Blacks and Whites is black-on-white crime.
And another interesting quote from renowned columnist – Heather Mac Donald, who quoted Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2018 survey on criminal victimization which basically said black on white crime was increasing.
Just this month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its 2018 survey of criminal victimization. According to the study, there were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations (excluding homicide) between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90 percent, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10 percent. That ratio is becoming more skewed, despite the Democratic claim of Trump-inspired white violence. In 2012-13, blacks committed 85 percent of all interracial victimizations between blacks and whites; whites committed 15 percent. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of white victims and the incidence of white victimization have grown as well.
Blacks are also overrepresented among perpetrators of hate crimes—by 50 percent—according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24 percent. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Now when I read those articles and others like them, my eyebrows lifted; not only because of the interracial crime numbers, but the black on black crime rates as well. Homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, and 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks (not other white people). Why is there so much black on black crime? There are a lot of theories but, I tend to agree with economist Thomas Sowell who pointed out “…before the 1960s “most black children were raised in two-parent families.” In 2013, over 72 percent of blacks were born out of wedlock.” That being said, until two-parent families make a comeback, I think the trend will continue. But, I digress. Interracial crime is happening, increasing even, but it is not the way the masses believe. It is certainly not being reported this way in the media. Why is that?
Consider this scenario, imagine a black police officer confronts an unarmed black suspect and uses excessive force upon them; the very same chokehold that so many believe killed George Floyd. Would there be a public outcry concerning that? No, as this recent news story proves. Why is that?
Let’s take it a step further and suppose that a black police officer shoots an unarmed white man. For good measure, let’s say the video goes viral. Would there be a public outcry in that instance? No, as this video also proves. Why is that?
I don’t have an answer for this but it makes me wonder. Are these incidents a matter of race or police training or simply bad hiring? What about the way police approach people of color? Does it happen as often and as heinous as it is often reported in the news? I wanted to find studies to back what I have always heard concerning police in black neighborhoods.
IS THERE EQUAL APPLICATION OF FORCE IN POLICE ENCOUNTERS?
I looked at data about interracial crime from the perpetrator’s viewpoint but, what are the findings concerning how police tend to respond to African Americans. That’s not so cut and dry as I found several studies arguing 2 points of view, either police are more violent towards African Americans because of racial prejudice or, African Americans tend to be more violent during encounters with police so extra force is justified. I won’t cite every study I reviewed, just offer a few highlights.
A study by a University of California, Davis professor found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.”
An independent analysis of Washington Post data on police killings found that, “when factoring in threat level, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are, in fact, less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to the officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police.”
In Chicago, a 2016 Police Accountability Task Force report found that “black and Hispanic drivers were searched approximately four times as often as white drivers, yet [the Chicago Police Department’s] own data show that contraband was found on white drivers twice as often as black and Hispanic drivers.”
And on the flip side…
Research by a Washington State University professor found that, while shown video simulations, officers were less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects. They also took an extra 0.23 seconds, on average, before firing on black suspects in the simulations.
“Many people ask whether black or white citizens are more likely to be shot and why. If you live in a county that has a lot of white people committing crimes, white people are more likely to be shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of black people committing crimes, black people are more likely to be shot.”
Okay, America has its enemies, both foreign and domestic. Yet, there seems to be something special going on with these “protests.” Rioting and looting typically follows protests that turn violent after the crowd has been agitated to action by one outspoken critic or group. However, I have not seen anything quite like this. (Not even when I was researching my black history puzzle book.)
Much of the civil unrest it seems is not being perpetrated by community citizens but outside provocateurs, according to the mayor of Minnesota – Melvin Carter.
Several people, nationwide are reporting of pallets of bricks or pavers in areas with no construction taking place. Here are a few examples of this:
Interracial crime, police interactions and political intrigue will not all be resolved anytime soon, to my great chagrin. However, if it were to serve as a catalyst of positive long-lasting change, it would have all been worth it.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE NEXT
If there was a single magic bullet for fixing all of the issues cited herein, I would point to the church. When I think of the Civil Rights Movement, there were many factors intersecting at the church. Indeed, it was the heartbeat of the black community. While this may be an oversimplification of matters, please indulge me.
At that time, families were stronger and black on black crime was at a minimum. When there was a deficit of male presence in the home, it was offset by the brothers at church. If the church was as influential now as it was then, black on black crime would be at historic lows.
At that time, the community was closer, so negative intervention from outside forces was less likely. There was a belonging that negated yearnings fulfilled by less reputable affiliations (i.e. gangs). If the church was as influential now as it was then, the unified voice speaking against police brutality would echo louder and more consistently.
At that time, politicians were held more accountable because the church monitored and reported on promises kept and the values they upheld; things remembered when the next election occurred. Today, a lot of lip service is given to the black community during the election season but how can the church influence positive progress in an age of waning attendance?
Our country has endured riots in the past. I dare say that without the church binding the black community then and throughout, there would have been even more riots in increasing severity and consistency. Some people would have me believe that the church is not an essential service. To put it mildly, I disagree. The church is needed more than ever. I hope that this is realized before the next incident of police brutality, the next series of lootings (in the guise of protest) and before the next concerted effort to sow discord undermines America.