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Opinion

Opinion

Americans link race and criminality

May 6, 2012

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I don’t care about George Zimmerman’s MySpace page.

Granted, it was gratifying to read recently in The Miami Herald about his crude animus toward Mexicans (“soft ass wanna be thugs”) and his reference to a former girlfriend as an “ex-hoe.” Given the way white supremacists and other Zimmerman supporters have exaggerated and manufactured evidence to paint Zimmerman’s unarmed 17-year-old victim, Trayvon Martin, as a thug who somehow deserved shooting, this unflattering portrait offers the same satisfaction one feels any time the goose is basted with sauce that was prepared for the gander.

But ultimately, Zimmerman’s online profile is as irrelevant as Trayvon’s to any real understanding of the social dynamics that were at play the night the boy was shot to death. Worse, our fixation on this ephemera, the need on the one hand to make Trayvon some dark gangsta straight from Central Casting and on the other to find a Klan hood in the back of Zimmerman’s closet, suggests a shallow, even naive, understanding of the role race seems to have played in this tragedy.

The pertinent fact is that Zimmerman found Trayvon suspicious because, as he told the 911 dispatcher, the boy was walking slowly and looking around. That might be the behavior of a boy who was turned around in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Or of a boy enjoying a cell phone conversation with a girl and not overly eager to return to where his sweet nothings might be overheard by his dad.

That no such alternate possibilities seem to have occurred to Zimmerman for even an instant suggests the degree to which we as a people have grown comfortable with the belief that black is crime and crime is black. Nor are African-Americans immune to the effects of that invidious formulation.

Indeed, the dirty little secret of the Martin killing is that Zimmerman could easily have been black. True, a black Zimmerman probably would not have been sent home by prosecutors who declined to press charges — whiteness still has its privileges — but otherwise, yes. It is entirely possible.

Why not? Blacks watch the same TV news as anyone else. We internalize the same message. We drink the same poison.

Why else do you think black folk flinch when the mug shot goes up on television, hoping the face will not be brown — as if we bore some communal responsibility for the suspect’s misdeeds? Why else do you think so much of our music is a song of violence and crime? Why else, when I ask an auditorium full of black kids how frequently the individual who murders a white person is black, do they figure it at 75 percent? Why else are they shocked to hear it’s only 13?

At some subterranean level, we — African-Americans — still believe the garbage of innate criminality we have so assiduously been fed, and struggle with hating ourselves, as America long ago taught us to do. We struggle with it, yet we know better from firsthand, man-in-the-mirror experience. So how much harder is the struggle for white folks?

This is why I grow impatient with those — black, white and otherwise — who think the salient social issue here is George Zimmerman’s character. It is not. Nor is it Trayvon’s.

It is, rather, that ours is a nation so obscenely comfortable in conflating black with crime that a civilian carrying no badge of authority nonetheless feels it his right to require that an American boy walking lawfully upon a public street justify his presence there. And it is the knowledge that at least some black men would have done the same.

To make this about Zimmerman is to absolve the rest of us for maintaining a society that, in ways both overt and covert, still makes criminality a function of skin. Trayvon Martin was killed by a stereotype. George Zimmerman is just the guy who fired the gun.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

grammaddy 2 years, 2 months ago

Amen!! Thank you for another wonderful piece.

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Kendall Simmons 2 years, 2 months ago

Uh...what do two dysfunctional foreign countries whose population is over 95% black but whose social structure and economy and government and...well, pretty much everything...is entirely different than ours have to do with the topic at hand?

And singling out Detroit...was that simply because it's over 80% black? After all, Flint is the #1 most violent city in America, not Detroit. Why not choose #1? Why settle for #2?
Of course, blacks are only slightly more than half the population of Flint, so I can see why you might want to ignore Flint and opt for Detroit.

And the other three of the top 5 most violent US cities, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Statistics? Well, I can see your ignoring St. Louis because their black population is only 44%. And New Haven's is only 37% black. Whoops. Can't mention New Haven.

Now Memphis? Well, you could always choose Memphis. After all, their black population is over 61%, so that ought to fit your stereotyping just fine.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Another typically liberal Pitts article. Making crazy assumption without backing it up with facts, "(t)hat no such alternate possibilities seem to have occurred to Zimmerman for even an instant..."; and "...ours is a nation so obscenely comfortable in conflating black with crime..."

No wonder liberals love Pitts. He blames society for the act of one person (i.e. doesn't believe in individual responsibility); and makes wild accusations about how society connects "blacks" and crime, without a shred of data (i.e. makes conclusion based on emotion rather than facts). I think I am beginning to understand liberals' appeal.

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Kendall Simmons 2 years, 2 months ago

Do you realize that you actually quoted Pitt saying "no such alternative possibilities SEEM TO HAVE occurred to Zimmerman"?

Pitt doesn't state that Zimmerman didn't think of alternative possibilities. He simply says that Zimmerman doesn't SEEM TO HAVE considered alternative possibilities. An opinion. Nothing more.

And...when Zimmerman himself provides us with his own words about his own thinking about Martin's presence (including words recorded as statements and asides on his own darned original 911 call)...and his attitude about Martin's presence is all negative...why on earth is it a "crazy assumption" to think that Zimmerman didn't "seem to have" considered legitimate reasons for the kid being there???

I mean, Zimmerman starts his 911 call with "We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. [provides address]. This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.

Does that SEEM LIKE someone considering alternate possibilities to you?

I mean, seriously. They had break ins...so Martin looks "real suspicious" and "up to no good or on drugs or something" simply because, for crying out loud, "it's raining and he's just walking around looking about".

SEEMS TO ME...a personal opinion based on the 911 call transcript...that Zimmerman had a mindset going in, based on previous incidents. That he SEEMED TO BE assuming the worst. And that this mindset very likely could have precluded his thinking of positive reasons for a black male wearing a hoodie to be walking in the rain in his neighborhood.

It's too darned bad that Zimmerman couldn't have simply rolled down his window and said "Hi! I'm George with the neighborhood watch. Can I help you with something? You look kinda lost". SEEMS TO ME that someone considering alternative positive possibilities might have done something reasonable like that...and we'd have never heard of either George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. Crazy assumption on my part, huh?

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Acornwebworks… “He simply says that Zimmerman doesn't seem to have considered alternative possibilities. An opinion. Nothing more.”

You are putting words into Pitts mouth. He doesn’t say Zimmerman didn’t “seem” to have considered an alternative. He stated without equivocation, that Mr. Zimmerman DID NOT. He made this audacious claim without being able to read Zimmerman’s mind, and without truly knowing all the facts. He makes this wild accusation simply so he could make another wild and unsupported conclusion.

I think Zimmerman is probably guilty of some crime (likely manslaughter) and should have been arrested. However, I until I know all the facts I will reserve judgment (like a reasonable person).

“I mean, seriously. They had break ins...so Martin looks "real suspicious" and "up to no good or on drugs or something" simply because, for crying out loud, "it's raining and he's just walking around looking about".” – acornwebworks

Yes, seriously. If I lived in a neighborhood that had a recent history of break-ins, and someone was wondering around (casing the place), in the rain (usually people try to get out of the rain), wearing clothing to conceal one’s face, my immediate and very rational presumption would be suspicion. If you wouldn’t be suspicious, then you are not being objective. Does that mean I wouldn’t consider another possible alternative before shooting someone? Of course not. But you and I don’t know exactly what happened after the call to the police. Yet somehow Mr. Pitts knows for a fact Zimmerman didn’t consider anything other than what any rational person would have thought at first glance.

“It's too darned bad that Zimmerman couldn't have simply rolled down his window and said "Hi! I'm George with the neighborhood watch. Can I help you with something? You look kinda lost". – acornwebworks

Do you know for a fact a similar discussion didn’t occur? If so, you should immediately bring your evidence to the prosecutor.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Your quote uses the word "seem".

Is it inaccurate?

"no such alternative possibilities seem to have occurred..."

A hoodie also protects one from the rain, doesn't it? That may be why Martin had his hood up - seems reasonable to me.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Jafs…

Thank you for the correction. I was being sidetracked by a non-relevant argument, and was basing my comment from memory rather than going back to the source. I should know better.

My argument was that even though Mr. Pitts doesn’t know all the facts, and neither does Acornwebworks, he still makes the statement that Zimmerman didn’t seem to consider any alternatives. Again, how can he know this? How do we know Zimmerman didn’t approach the Trayvon and demanded to know what he was doing around his neighborhood. We don’t, so to make a comment that Zimmerman didn’t seem to consider any alternative is reckless and its only purpose is to incite passion.

Of course a hoodie can protect one from the rain. There could be a million reasons to explain Trayvon’s behavior that isn’t related to a crime (the truth being only one). But if anyone says in that same situation they wouldn’t have initially been suspicious is either naïve or lying (not being objective).

If the facts come out that Zimmerman simply attacked Trayvon without talking to him, then he is guilty of a crime. But we don’t know what happened and we don’t know what was in Zimmerman’s head. Hopefully justice is served. But again, Pitts comment and much of his article is unsupported by the facts.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Of course we don't know all of the facts, and we probably never will, unfortunately.

What right does Zimmerman (or any non police officer) have to demand anything like that from anybody? I find it disturbing that so many people seem to think he has any right to do that.

And, demanding an explanation is rather different from simply asking if somebody needs help, which would indicate an alternative possibility, as acorn comments.

Demanding an explanation already assumes he's up to no good.

His main point is a good one, I think, that many people, both black and white have internalized a variety of assumptions, and that affects how they see things, and how they act.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs... "What right does Zimmerman (or any non police officer) have to demand anything like that from anybody?"

I think you are veering off course. You are latching on to a word I used only for illustration so you could make a tangential argument. Please feel free to change my comment to, "How do we know Zimmerman didn’t approach the Trayvon and (requested to see if he needed any help)." Whether he demanded or offered his help doesn't change my argument.

"Demanding an explanation already assumes he's up to no good." - jafs

So are you disputing my claim that a rational perspon would likely have made that same inititial assumption?

I am not denying people make assumptions, but as I stated below, that isn't the problem. The problem is Pitts somehow ascribes racist motives to the assumption (and everything else in this universe), and insinuates White Society is to blame.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok.

I don't know why you're trying to hard to deny that people have assumptions regarding race, and that affects their perceptions/actions.

Seems pretty obvious to me.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Jafs…

I am not sure how many times I have to repeat myself. I agree people have assumptions regarding race. I agree people have assumptions regarding race. I agree people have assumptions regarding race. I agree people have assumptions regarding race. However, that is not the issue.

The issue is some people (Pitts) believe all assumptions regarding race are based solely on racism. Most people understand most assumptions based on race are based on facts and understanding patterns and statistics.

You still haven’t addressed my question of whether you think a rational person would likely have made that same initiation assumption. Because if so, then it isn’t racist stereotyping. You for some reason want to dodge that question. You seem determined to talk past me to avoid the unconfortable truth.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't know.

If he fit the description of the folks who had committed the previous robberies, then it would be more reasonable to think him suspicious.

I disagree that "most assumptions based on race are based on facts..."

Some may be, of course, but that's too broad for me.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

But if he fit that description, it's not exactly an assumption based on race, it's a suspicion based on his fitting the description.

Either way, I have no problem with Zimmerman calling the police to report a suspicious looking person.

If he had just done that, we wouldn't be having this conversation - the police could have come, checked out the situation, and determined that Martin wasn't doing anything illegal, and he'd still be alive.

Sounds better to me.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

"But if he fit that description, it's not exactly an assumption based on race, it's a suspicion based on his fitting the description."

Exactly, and if part of "fitting the description" includes a particular race, then it would also be an assumption based on race. However, you wouldn't blow that out of proportion and claim Zimmerman wasn't considernig the entire profile, and focused mainly on the race of the person. But others (Pitts, Al Sharpton, the media, etc.) might.

"Sounds better to me." - jafs

I agree. Loss of life is tragic when it can be avoided. It's even more tragic when it is a kid.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

How could I have been blind for so long...it isn't the African American communities' problem there is so much black on black crime, or "so much of (their) music is a song of violence and crime." It's my fault. Now I see it...every bad decision an individual makes, and every problem of every minority race isn't because of personal choice, or due to single parent households, it is because of White Society.

Thank you for showing me the light Mr. Pitts. And without any facts, or hardly even an anecdote to back up you accusation, I will dip into the Liberal golden rule to justify your irrationality (i.e. others are to blame for my problems).

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

I get it-- cause and effect is a liberal myth. Therefore, any attempts to understand any such relationships deserve a healthy dose of smarmy, self-congratulatory criticism (along an with amusingly contradictory measure of self-defensiveness.)

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Bozo...

Cause and effect isn't a liberal myth, but correlation = causation is a liberal myth. In fact, Pitts didn't even go as far as providing any evidence of a cause, let alone any evidence to link his conjured cause to his illusory effect.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

"correlation = causation is a liberal myth."

Wow, what a straw man.

Correlation is not the same as an easily demonstrable cause-and-effect relationship. But in a complex universe (the existence of which modern "conservatives" have difficulty acknowledging, apparently including yourself) correlation is often the best and even only information we can obtain about how that universe operates.

But when any such correlation threatens the entrenched interests of the plutocracy, narrow-minded minions are quick to discount the inconvenient but most likely truths in favor of the little blankie of willful ignorance that pumps up quarterly profit statements.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

bozo... "...correlation is often the best and even only information we can obtain about how that universe operates."

You are free to continue to argue that correclation leads to causation when supported your biases, and I will continue to argue for objectivity and fact based conclusions. Pitts still struggles to understand the difference.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Anybody who wants to see clear and direct evidence of the ways in which many people view those of different races differently should see a show called "What would you do?"

There was an episode recently in which two young men were shown trying to steal a bike (all were actors), one white and one black. When the white kid was doing it, some people asked questions, but nobody tried to stop him or called the police. When the black kid was doing it, many people intervened and tried to stop him, and called the police.

Both of them were wearing the same kind of clothes, gave the same answers to questions, etc. The only difference was their skin color.

It was completely obvious they were trying to steal it, and they didn't try to hide the fact. They had bolt cutters, hacksaws, and the white kid at one point escalated to a power saw.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Your story reminds me of something I saw a few years ago. I was driving down the road, behind a car that had, shall we say many problems. It's shocks were shot, it was bouncing down the road like a basketball. It's rear quarter panel was heavily damaged and there was no taillight there. It was smoking badly. That car was asking to be pulled over by the police. As I passed that car, I noticed that the driver was black. Now the question is this, if he were indeed pulled over (which I have no idea ever occurred), and the driver was convinced he was a victim of racial profiling, given his life's experiences and I saw him pulled over and thought it was justified, given my life's experiences, who is correct?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

You don't have any response to my comments? Looked like very clear evidence of racism to me - wouldn't you agree?

The analogous question would be if the police pulled him over, but not a white guy in exactly the same car, would that be racist? And, I'd say the answer would be yes.

I'd say anybody driving the car you mention should be pulled over by the police, or nobody should - but selective enforcement is the issue analogous to the show I mentioned.

So, you could both be correct - the car should be pulled over, and yet there may be significant differences in the way that police enforce our laws, which may be racist in nature.

Another interesting tidbit from the show - when an attractive young woman was the one stealing the bike, she not only wasn't hassled much about it, but several men jumped to help her do it. What does that say?

And, I'm not using racism in the most precise way here - let's just say these things are clear evidence that people of different races are perceived and treated quite differently.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

O.K., I'll respond to your comment. My first reaction is "Duh". The story is leading you to a conclusion, one that is already well known. Racism in America exists. Is there anyone that really disputes this? It must have been a slow news day when a report is given where we all know the end.
The problem I have is that it is presented as an experiment. Any social scientist can pick this whole story apart.
First, because the experiment was designed to lead us to an obvious conclusion, it's doing nothing more than reflecting the bias of the experimenter, an obvious no-no in any real experiment. But having done that, I wonder why a similar experiment wasn't conducted in a predominately black, high crime neighborhood. Would the results been the same, worse? Would that good looking white woman have been sexually attacked? (while we're addressing stereotypes, let's go all out and address the worst we can think of). BTW - me thinking those things might be an indication of my own bias, while the fact you didn't question the results might be a reflection of your own bias. The point is that the story said racism exists. They may well have said that the sun rises in the east.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

  1. It's not a "report" - it's an ongoing show that uses actors in a variety of settings and scenarios.

  2. Many people like to dispute the existence and prevalence of racism - haven't you been reading the comments on this forum at all?

  3. As far as I know, they do in fact do the show in a variety of neighborhoods, but that's a good point.

  4. I was surprised at the extent of the difference - I expected perhaps some difference, but the extent was much greater than I would have thought. And, I don't know that I could have predicted that men would jump to help the woman steal the bike - I would have thought they'd just leave her alone.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, I certainly agree that it's a show, nothing more. Clearly, from the few times I've seen the show, they are leading you to a certain conclusion, thereby making any real scientific value nil. That they are leading the viewer anywhere shows an inherent bias. Many people on an anonymous forum deny racism. Again, the value of an anonymous forum is questionable, at best. I can't imagine very many clear thinking people who don't admit that racism exists in America. We can argue to what extent, or what are the effects, or is it reciprocated, etc. But an absolute denial would be rare. I've seen the show a couple of times, but I've yet to see them try to lead me to the obvious conclusion that blacks can be as racist as whites. Then again, I've only seen the show a couple of times. But again, even if they did that show, trying to lead me to any conclusion makes the whole scenario questionable. An analogy I might give is if 60 Minutes showed up at some company and had the door slammed in their face. It might not look good, and it's certainly not evidence of wrongdoing, but it sure makes good T.V.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

It's not a scientific double blind controlled study, of course.

And, they clearly have a bias - that seems to be their idea that people should intervene in many of the situations they present.

Other than that, I'd have a hard time identifying their "conclusions they're leading us to" - they set up the scenarios and record what happens.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, I certainly agree that it's a show, nothing more. Clearly, from the few times I've seen the show, they are leading you to a certain conclusion, thereby making any real scientific value nil. That they are leading the viewer anywhere shows an inherent bias. Many people on an anonymous forum deny racism. Again, the value of an anonymous forum is questionable, at best. I can't imagine very many clear thinking people who don't admit that racism exists in America. We can argue to what extent, or what are the effects, or is it reciprocated, etc. But an absolute denial would be rare. I've seen the show a couple of times, but I've yet to see them try to lead me to the obvious conclusion that blacks can be as racist as whites. Then again, I've only seen the show a couple of times. But again, even if they did that show, trying to lead me to any conclusion makes the whole scenario questionable. An analogy I might give is if 60 Minutes showed up at some company and had the door slammed in their face. It might not look good, and it's certainly not evidence of wrongdoing, but it sure makes good T.V.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

What would you do in those situations? Would you react differently depending on the race/gender of the person or not?

I'd like to think that I'd just call the police, regardless of who's stealing the bike.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, now I'm going to insert my own bias, my own value system. I just don't like thieves. I can tolerate many crimes better than I can tolerate thievery. Unless I felt fear for safety, or for those with me, I would intervene. I would stop the stealing physically, if necessary.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I wouldn't recommend that - intervening physically to stop somebody from stealing a bike.

You'd have a hard time calling that justifiable self defense or defense of others.

I'd just call the police.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

But, would you act the same, regardless of the race/gender involved?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Race, yes. Gender, maybe not.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Interesting - why not? What would you do differently if you saw a woman stealing a bike?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

I said I might intervene physically, if I deemed it were safe to do so. I would be far less likely to lay hands on a woman. Call me sexist if would like, but racist no.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok - you're sexist.

This is why I'd just call the police, regardless. It's a lot simpler.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs...

I think the only conclusion one can draw, especially when you add in the further anecdotal evidence of the female, is that these people are human. What I mean by that is most people know it is statistically unlikely for an attractive female to steal. Knowing this, most people when they see something which objective could be seen as odd, don't put up their guard. Most people also know it is statistically much more likely for an African American male to be engaged in larceny. Therefore, people are more likely to put up their guard when they see something suspicious. I would call that smart.

Understanding statistics or "stereotyping" is a useful human trait. While stereotyping can be bad as Mr. Pitts points out (even though I disagree with his ultimate conclusion or how he reached it); stereotyping is the ability to notice and extrapolate patterns in seemingly unpredictable and inconsistent chaos.

A stereotype is just a recognition of a statistical probability as a likely truth in most if not all cases. Its wrong when you don’t have an intellectual basis for the stereotype. The moral crime is committed when one holds an individual to a generalized expectation and standard while failing to recognize their potential individual uniqueness and capabilities. But when the circumstance doesn't lend itself to being able to recognize this uniqueness, we default to what we know statistically.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

What a strange comment.

If people are so unable to see what's clearly happening in front of them, that's a real problem, not something to simply accept, in my view.

These people were all clearly trying to steal the bike - they had hacksaws, bolt cutters, etc. and if/when asked if it was their bike, they didn't claim it was - they said things like "Is it yours?" "It will be soon", "Not technically", etc.

I don't know if it's accurate or not that attractive women don't steal things much, or if black folks are much more likely to do so, etc. and I don't really need to create a statistical database in my mind.

Would you be unable to see the simple reality in front of you because of that database?

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

I didn't see the show, so I won't continue to argue what lessons can be learned therefrom.

As I said before... The moral crime is committed when one holds an individual to a generalized expectation and standard while failing to recognize their potential individual uniqueness and capabilities. But when the circumstance doesn't lend itself to being able to recognize this uniqueness, we default to what we know statistically.

If I go into a Best Buy and see a young male wearing a blue polo shirt, I am going to continue to assume he works there, until I investigate and learn otherwise. Other people are free to assume everything is random and there are no patterns in this world.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't know what you're trying to say.

If I see somebody trying to steal a bike, that's what I see - there's no need for generalized expectations or any of that stuff.

The problem is that people saw those of differing race/gender doing the same thing, and reacted quite differently.

You can assume whatever you like, but I think it's better to find out what the reality is first.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs... You can assume whatever you like, but I think it's better to find out what the reality is first.

We are focusing on two different things. You are focusing on why didn't soemeone discover what this person was up to, regardless of race. I am talking about why they made the initial assumption.

I do not disagree they should "find out what the reality is." Do you disagree that a persons' knee jerk response when the situation isn't completely obvious, is to make assumptions based on their knowledge of statistics and patterns (people at Best Buy wearing blue polo shirts usually work there)?

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Correction from previous comment...

"You can assume whatever you like, but I think it's better to find out what the reality is first" - jafs

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

The reality was pretty obvious to me in the show - I would argue that if people didn't see it easily and quickly, it was because of their predisposed ideas. If you saw somebody with a hacksaw and a bolt cutter trying to cut a bike lock off, what would you think?

And, you forget that even after asking the thieves, and finding out that they were stealing the bike, people reacted quite differently. Even after the white kid said "Is it yours?" "It will be" and/or "Not technically" in response to the question of whether it was his bike, very few people tried to stop him or called the police.

What's that about?

If you saw a white kid stealing a bike, would you react differently than if he were black, or a woman?

Of course, that's what people do all of the time - they make assumptions, especially when things aren't clear.

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Armstrong 2 years, 2 months ago

Observant telling others about denial of reality. Thanks for the laugh

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Observant...

Are you claiming I am a racist? If so, by what evidence? Is someone a racist if s/he disagrees with Mr. Pitts on every issue, or because a person is skeptical when conclusions are provided without sufficient facts to lead to that conclusion?

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"Why else do you think so much of our music is a song of violence and crime?"

Seems to me that Mr. Pitts has placed his cart before his horse here. Sixty years ago, very little black music celebrated violence and crime. John Lee Hooker's "I'm Bad Like Jesse James" comes to mind, a single song from an incredible Blues career. Today there is an entire genre of such celebration, and youth, white and black and hispanic, celebrate the gangsta life.

It's far more likely that music of violence and crime is a causal factor in actual violence and crime than that it is the plaintive cry of a falsely accused, peace-loving culture. Mr. Pitts notes that blacks are only responsible for the murder of 13% of whites. What percentage of blacks are they responsible for murdering? Isn't that the real tragedy, Mr. Pitts?

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

And yes, it is the real tragedy:

"an African-American in Cincinnati was 10 times more likely to be the victim of another black in a violent crime than of a white..." (from a source) http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/report-black-on-black-crime-rising-in-cincinnati-1363910.html

"“Would you think to have 41 people shot [in Chicago] between Friday morning and Monday morning would be much more newsworthy and deserve much more outrage?” [T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami] asked. (from a source) http://news.yahoo.com/black-black-crime-widely-ignored-african-american-activists-190404331.html

Of course it deserves much more outrage, but it doesn't motivate people to go the the polls. What Obama said about Trayvon was stupid. What Gingrich said in response was twice as stupid and intellectually dishonest to boot. But both of them ignore black-on-black violence, not because it's a national disgrace (it is) but because it does not help their campaigns. It seems to be the same reason Pitts talks incessantly about a killing that is one fortieth as important as what happens in Chicago nearly every week.

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gudpoynt 2 years, 2 months ago

I think Pitt's mentions the 13% merely to contrast it with the 75% commonly guessed by his young, black audiences. I don't see anything in the article where he tries to use that stat to mitigate the tragedy of any crime at all, let alone "black on black" crime.

Furthermore, I don't see where he suggests violence in music is causation of crime. He just mentions that a lot of music young black people listen to has violent themes. Since music is a reflection of culture (or at least perceived culture), I gather he's merely highlighting a cultural indicator.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"I don't see where he suggests violence in music is causation of crime"

He doesn't, but he ought to. He seems to make "Why else do you think so much of our music is a song of violence and crime?" into a plaintive "It's TV's fault for distorting our image." In fact, it's the fault of people who buy such music and impressionable kids who try to live up to it, often without parents who have the skills and experience to guide them wisely around the pitfalls of youth, pride, anger, and testosterone.

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gudpoynt 2 years, 2 months ago

No, he oughtn't.

It doesn't seem to me he is making the plaintive contortion you are suggesting. Furthermore, I find it hard to imagine anyone would think that violent imagery in popular music predates criminal connotations associated with black culture. Exacerbates? Sure. Negatively distorts? Ok. Unjustly glorifies? Perhaps. But gangsta rap did not come before the gangsta. How could it? Nevertheless, elements that spring from a culture inherently effect perceptions thereof. It's a feedback loop, and once it has started, one cannot clearly pick apart cause and effect so easily.

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Armstrong 2 years, 2 months ago

It's ilke dejavu again. I believe yesterday Valkarie was spewing out a heaping batch of racist excrement, with Tusch it's a daily thing so Pitts you're up !!! At least Lenny let everyone know it's whitey's fault from a national level.

Just to recqap, whites stereotyping leads to -

1) Black on black crime - whitey's fault 2) Drug abuse in the black community - whitey's fault 3) Broken families, yep whitey's fault too

Thanks for strainghtening that out Len. M.L.K. would be proud of your efforts. You follow rule number one of the liberal playbook, " Always the victim " Unfortunate some are dumb enough to believe your garbage.

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

Sigh....You must think pretty highly of yourself to not be embarassed by making such an ignorant statement.

Too bad no one else is as stunned by your brilliance as you obviously are.

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Armstrong 2 years, 2 months ago

You mean this quote of yours yesterday ?

Valkyrie_of_Reason(Kathy Getto)replies… Sadly, comments such as ijm's are born out of fear. White man's fear. Fear of equality, because to them, if equality exists, vengence is justified. Fear of loss of status; existing "order" and fear that the tables may be turned someday and the privileged white American may be subjected to blindness, negative emotions, and stereotypes that result in disrespectful, punitive, or contemptuous behavior. I won't delve into the obvious fear of a black man's masculinity that is so prominent these days. The last time I hinted at this behaviour of math's, he whined and got it pulled. Pull it again, math, but I will then be certain what I have posted is the truth about you and others of your ilk. Talk about oozing stupidity

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

"I know you are, but what am I?" Repeat and re-repeat, A - everyone will respect your opinion then.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Valkyrie_of_Reason... "Sigh....You must think pretty highly of yourself to not be embarassed by making such an ignorant statement."

Is Armstrong's recap not essentially what Mr. Pitts is claiming? If you disagree, what other conclusion would you draw from Mr. Pitts statement, "...ours is a nation so obscenely comfortable in conflating black with crime..."?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

It's an overly simplistic and somewhat distorted view of the column, in my opinion.

Pitts is trying to describe and understand the lasting effects of slavery/racism in our culture, and especially the effects of those on black as well as white people.

Armstrong is trying to discredit that with a simplistic "whitey" blaming post which is rather unhelpful.

Check out the post in which I mentioned the show "What would you do?" - both black and white people reacted differently to the young men involved.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs...

Already commented on your post above.

"Pitts is trying to describe and understand the lasting effects of slavery/racism in our culture, and especially the effects of those on black as well as white people." - jafs

I wish Mr. Pitts could be as articulate. First, I agree that is his objective, even though he doesn't state it as plainly, and provides no evidence to back up his claim.

Second, isn't how you describe the problem (the lasting effects of racism), and how Armstrong described it (it's all whitey's fault) essentially the same thing?

Pitts' problem has always been to over inflate racism as a causal factor in almost every situation and underestimate the numerous other individual and social factors into this mix. This over inflation of blaming racism on every social ill prevents dealing with many of the other causal issues, including a tough look in the mirror for many in the African American community. The only reason Pitts suggests looking in the mirror is to recognize Blacks have bought into the over inflated racism theory as well, not that there are greater underlying sociological problems.

This lack of personal and communal responsibility for the many issues that exist is holding back the progress of the African American community. This is the reason I despise his rhetoric, and others who use it. He profits from hurting the African American community. He is a hypocrite of the worst kind.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I think you haven't been reading his columns very well - he often points at the need for personal and communal responsibility.

Thanks for the compliment :-)

How much of a factor racism is isn't an easily objectively verifiable thing - it's a matter of judgment, and different people see things differently.

And no, it's not the same thing, since black people internalized the same messages as white people - that's exactly his point.

When Brown v. Board of Education was tried, black children were questioned, and they tended to believe the same as white children, that they (the black children) were inferior.

So it's not a simple "white v. black" thing - it's the idea that white is superior, which is often internalized by black as well as white folks.

Malcolm X, in his autobiography, describes in painful detail how he tried to be more white, by straightening his hair, etc.

In trying to understand what's going on with the racial situation in this country, I think we have to understand the history of slavery and ongoing institutional racism for some time after that, and also the effects of that on both black and white mindsets.

It's not so much a matter of "blame" for me - it's a matter of understanding, so that we can do what we can to improve things now.

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks jafs - very nice. We have to come to an agreement as a society about how much we really care about others and what it will take to move past the extremes. We need a new language of empathy and compassion.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs... “How much of a factor racism is isn't an easily objectively verifiable thing - it's a matter of judgment, and different people see things differently.”

I agree, but when someone (Pitts) sees racism in their breakfast cereal and has a financial incentive for a public perception that racisism is extremely pervasive, forgive me if I am somewhat skeptical when he cries racism.

“And no, it's not the same thing, since black people internalized the same messages as white people - that's exactly his point” – jafs

I understand and appreciate that difference, but the cause is still the same – white people. Blame may not be important for you, but it is the only thing important for some people (Pitts and the lack of personal responsibility crowd).

“In trying to understand what's going on with the racial situation in this country, I think we have to understand the history of slavery and ongoing institutional racism for some time after that, and also the effects of that on both black and white mindsets.” - jafs

I wholeheartedly agree, and think that is much better place for this discussion to be heading, but can’t you see that Pitts muddies this discussion and distorts reality to serve his own financial interests?

As always, I appreciate your manner of discourse. It is a rare thing to find on message boards.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks - I'm always glad to be able to discuss/debate things without personal attacks coming into play.

We clearly see Pitts' columns differently - I don't perceive them to be as you describe.

I perceive Pitts and I to be saying the same thing, overall, in my comment that you liked.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

Das Pittster has much more reason to be wary of young black men than a White Hispanic does.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Given hat he lives in 63% white Bowie, Maryland, which has a median family income of over $100k and only 1% of families below the poverty line, he has much more reason to be wary of stray golf balls, methinks.

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rockchalker52 2 years, 2 months ago

"I" like to "put" words "in" quotation "marks."

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tomatogrower 2 years, 2 months ago

I once heard a story about a racist woman who said she was always super vigilant when in an elevator or a parking garage alone, and there was a black man nearby. She ended up getting raped by a white guy. Of course, the Christian taliban would say that it was a blessing, and the white guy was just looking for someone to bear his children, so shut up and have the baby.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

I once heard a story about a woman driving her car late at night, when another car came up behind her and flashed her with his high-beams, over and over. Annoyed, the woman was just about to curse the other driver out when those headlights illuminated a would-be killer rising up in her back seat, holding a butchers knife! She slammed on the brakes and ran away and was safe. Whew.

Probably came from the same book as your story.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

Fossick...

I heard this story about a house made of gingerbread. Stop me if you heard it.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm in a calling out mood so here it goes.....who brought capitalism here to get gold, fur, pelts, and tobacco in return? who created the triangle trade to provide free labor for lazy europeans in the 17th century? who had no sense of economic balance four centuries ago and demanded that the wilderness be cleared of pelts and furs and set up the trade system in such a way that land was the only quid pro quo once too much trade was done? who passed the equality part of the bill of rights but didn't really mean it? who came up with the 3/5ths provision and the doctrine of discovery to game political equality and justify land theft? who had cowards like SCOTUS justice Taney who waffled on Dred Scott? Who enacted Jim Crow to offset the US Constitution? Who was okay with the Dawes Allotment Act and Plessy V Ferguson? Who created reservations and the other side of the tracks to benefit from theft and disenfranchisement? Who created the dixiecrats when Truman integrated the military by executive order? who fled to the suburbs to create american apartheid and the divide between east and west of troost avenue and neigborhood covenants? who is soooo defiantly anti minority that the US Justice Department still has to monitor voting districts in African, Latino, and Native American voting districts in this country in Alabama, Texas, and South Dakota? Who has the current batch of clowns trying to reverse social equality trends to go back the mythical archie bunker days? Okla Nahollo has scored 100% on whose responsible for the wonderful expliotative mess known as the US. Enough with the love it or leave it nonsense also.....my ancestors were already here and it wasn't called America after Amerigo Vespucci....it was whatever 700 indigenous nations called their own territories.

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Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 2 months ago

You are totally right. I am white and I am throughly ashamed of how this country was stolen from the people who were living here. Those who are greedy take what they can because they can, they have the means to grab and hold on tight. Every example you give is true. Zimmerman murdered that young man because he is crazy and he almost got away with it.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

is blaming the smart person the only defense you have? it must be a non admissal admissal.....ducking reality since people landed on the shore....didn't have land in feudalism in Europe....didn't pay taxes to England for French and Indian War debt.....stole land from Indians and got free labor from Africans.......just like the shirt I saw at a pow wow a decade ago that stated, "America's first welfare recipients" with a picture of a pilgrim with the buckle hat and an empty plate and a begging face. From then to corporate welfare and tax abatements now.....flipping reality on it's head like white people have always done.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

there's no point explaining anything to you.......learn how to spell reality first......

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

You are the person most in need of a chill pill of any person in this forum. Heck, I'd even vote for medical marijuana if you would smoke some and chill out.
Medication, meditation, psychotherapy, something baby.
Have a nice day, give it a try. Please.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

( .......... from .......... a .......... source ..........)

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Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 2 months ago

What is with the anti-native American comments on here. Everything that tuschahouma has written is true and can easily be verified.

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equalaccessprivacy 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Pitts is largely correct, but I believe in coalitions. Other suspect classes exist besides African Americans. Of course as former slaves, blacks have been especially mistreated.Law enforcement and residents of white supremacist, homogeneous communities are like the characters in Jackson's "The Lottery" when it comes to singling out their fellow human beings for stoning.

Only profiling isn't random. I find those who kiss to kill especially monstrous. Some folks are so clueless and misguided they regard their self-serving definitions of helpfulness as the soul of godliness and neighborliness--- when in truth, they are actually committing terrible harms and singling out their fellows on a discriminatory basis, not making any positive contributions. Don't try to make my day by grabbing the mail out of my hands to post it in the blue-domed box. That expresses your wish for gratitude not any need of mine. I respect those who honor boundaries and independence. Messing with mail that doesn't belong to you is a federal offense.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

Geez, another in desperate need of a chill pill. Is there a doctor in the house?

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

Will we be seeing messages from your alternate identities on this thread?

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 2 months ago

Speaking of crime, the set of criminal spammers who have a personal bone for LJW has to be a rather small set. woof

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

My wife and I were profiled on I 35 in Edmond, OK, after an OKC Thunder game in February of 2009. We were profiled north of Carbondale, KS in September of 2009. White officers both times. Judge in Osage County courtroom let my wife elaborate from witness stand about profiling over the prosecutor's objections. My wife spoke openly about racial profiling. Small victory over white court system in rural Kansas. Please start denying it exists now......

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

I deny the anecdotal evidence you have presented leads to the single conclusion that racism was a substantial factor.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

three other times occurred leaving the Iowa and Kickapoo reservations on K-7 near White Cloud and on US 75 near K-9 and Netawaka. My Kiowa friend and I were pulled over three times in an hour between White Cloud and Sparks and never given a ticket. I refused search knowing my 4th amendment rights and dealt with a k-9 unit neat Iowa Point which is a ghost town on the third stop. I've been employed 15 years and don't have any criminal record.The officers simply didn't like the Indians discovered columbus sticker or the choctaw and proud of it sticker on the back of my car window.

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jaywalker 2 years, 2 months ago

Overall a decent piece by Pitts. There's no doubt the "narrative" has been instilled through media forever. But after admitting inappropriate glee upon the discovery of two comments from a social media site (two comments that don't prove jack about jack), Pitts decides being obtuse will help set the stage for his main point? First this:

"That no such alternate possibilities seem to have occurred to Zimmerman for even an instant suggests the degree to which we as a people have grown comfortable with the belief that black is crime and crime is black."

8 burglaries in 14 months. Numerous other crimes, attempted break-ins, and vandalism in same period. Majority of reports cited black youths involved.
I've said it before: if the majority of the crime in that ravaged neighborhood had been perpetrated by 50-something Amish men in overalls, that's who Zimmerman would have been "profiling." That Pitts refuses to acknowledge that obvious and understandable influence on Zimmerman's mindset is, at the least, pathetic, and not a little dishonest.

" — whiteness still has its privileges"

No matter what transpires with all this going forward, it's at least altered history in one aspect. Never before, at least that I can recall, has one race instantly become another race over night. There are some that might argue effectively that people like Pitts, with their agendas stamped on their foreheads, are merely opportunists grasping at anything to keep their position and agenda alive within a particular story. Personally, I think this is all a desperate conspiracy by the Census Bureau designed to make their jobs easier. All those boxes to check and count is a drag. Ideally, they'd like to whittle it down to just two. Think of the time saved! Scuttlebutt 'round the water cooler says the fix is in for Mongoloids to become "white" next.

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50YearResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Americans link race and criminality Sad, but true. However there is a reason why this happens and it's not the fault of white people. I guess we could blame the nightly news for running stories about the crimes that happen each day and showing who committed them. Maybe it's the stories we read about gangs and drugs in the inner cities and mob violence. Or it could be the stories about the rundown slums that nobody ever does any upkeep on. Almost all of these stories envolve the same race. So Leonard, why wouldn't Americans link race with criminality?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Did you know that the vast majority of homicides are same race homicides?

That means that the vast majority of white people are killed by other white people, and the vast majority of black people are killed by other black people.

I was surprised at these statistics - like most people, I probably overestimated black on white violence.

What is that?

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50YearResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Did you know that the vast majority of homicides are same race homicides?

I agree, however the vast majority of these same race homicides are blacks killing blacks. That leads to a conclusion that race is linked to violence. Isn't that verified on the news evey night?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't think that's true - the overall numbers of white on white homicides is quite similar to the overall numbers of black on black homicides.

Fossick's point may be a good one, that those numbers reflect a larger percentage of the overall black community than white one, which would mean crime is more common in the black community.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Check Fossick's stats - the numbers for the overall homicides of black and white people are virtually identical.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Black men murdered, 2009: 5,561 White men murdered, 2009: 4,599 Black murder victims total: 6556 White murder victims total: 6568 http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_01.html

Because most murders are same race murders, we can safely assume that the numbers for murderers fall along the same lines as the above numbers for victims, adjusting for the fact that men are more likely to kill women than vice versa.

Because there are more white murderers than black, it's unfair to conclude that the face of crime is a black one. However, because blacks make up a small part of the population (12% vs 76% white), the almost identical murder numbers mean that they are 6x as likely to be the perpetrator or victim of murder as whites. Black males make up 6% of the population and are responsible for almost half the nation's murders. One can find the stats to draw any racial conclusions one likes, but blaming the TV news for what is a reasonable impression of black crime is dishonest. Like Chris Rock once asked, "Do you think I have three guns in my house because the media's outside?"

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

If that's for me, I didn't blame the media.

I'll have to think about your comment on percentages, but it seems reasonable at first glance.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Pitts blamed the media: "Blacks watch the same TV news as anyone else. We internalize the same message. We drink the same poison."

Chris Rock calls that out: (5:00) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51vFbs...

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok.

But it's undoubtedly true that black folks internalize the same messages as white folks.

Which is his main point.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

It might be his main point, but it is not a point that can stand alone. There are two possible reasons that black people see black criminals on the news. The first is that there is a conspiracy to make crime black. The second is that in areas where black people watch the news, black people commit the crime.

There is nothing wrong with internalizing a message so long as it's accurate. Pitts is trying to imply that the message is inaccurate but does not have the stomach to come out and say so.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

There are other possibilities as well.

Black crime may be covered more extensively by the media, even if it is in fact more prevalent.

That would mean that the amount of black crime we see is still over-emphasized.

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grammaddy 2 years, 2 months ago

If Zimmerman is a "white hispanic", wouldn't that make Obama a"black caucasian"?

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

always leave it to a troll to make funny on a profiling issue.....maybe said troll needs to experience profiling and they maybe troll wouldn't be such a troll.....

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

It is interesting, yet sad, that the GOP and the Dems both view black people in America as "problem people" instead of American people with problems. The liberal solution is too simplistic (economics) and the GOP blame it on the poor moral behavior of black men. If any of this is to change we have to begin with the flaws of our American society.

@rockchalk, how would you begin to discuss inherent problems in the black community while taking personal responsibility? Would you take the easy way out and just blame it on the inferiority of the black race?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok - so now all of a sudden the news is reliable? I thought it was the biased liberal blamestream media or something like that.

Young black males are certainly not the problem in most communities - that's a very far reaching conclusion based on little/no evidence.

There are certainly problems in the black community with absent fathers, but how on earth you blame that on FDR is beyond me.

And, Pitts has in fact discussed problems in the black community, and the need for personal responsibility - you must not have read those columns, but I did.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"The liberal solution is too simplistic (economics) and the GOP blame it on the poor moral behavior of black men."

Both solutions are too simplistic, but that does not make them wholly incorrect. There is nothing wrong with blaming crime on "the poor moral behavior" of those who perpetrate it. Why else do we throw anyone, white or black, in jail? And there is, of course, an economic element to it, though I think Liberals are incorrect in making income inequalities a causal factor in crime to the extent they do.

The place we need to look is in our cultural messages. When a black male grows up with no male role models but gang bangers, listens to music that celebrates gang banging, and experiences the cultural respect that accrues to successful gangs, it is a very rare kid who will not be involved in gangs and their inherent violence to some extent. The kid who grows up watching BET is going to be a different kid from one who grows up watching Nickelodeon. The kid with books in his home is more likely to be a reader than one who does not.

Blacks have always had an outsized effect on the majority culture, especially in music and language. Nearly all of our modern music has black roots, and what happens in Black America will probably always continue to move American culture as a whole. That said, there is very little a white person can do to take "personal responsibility" for the cesspool that is today's urban black culture. We can't ban NWA*, can't force BET off the air, can't make people get married or make fathers take emotional responsibility for their kids. That has got to come from within the Black community. Thankfully, the basis for such a renaissance exists. But it will be a long road to travel.

The problem is not black people, the problem is the cultural values that celebrate crime and violence, and that culture's messages are transmitted and received predominately by black people. The second problem is those who think that blacks are a) too inferior to do better, or b) too inferior to be held responsible. Liberals have one of those faults, Conservatives the other.

  • Though I remember when Florida tried to ban 2LiveCrew a few years back. NPR ran a wonderful opinion piece about the importance of free expression, with a live performance of 2LiveCrew as background, while bleeping exactly what Florida wanted bleeped. The irony was delicious.
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jaywalker 2 years, 2 months ago

Good points. I've been saying for a while that hip hop music has been a tremendous success; the culture an absolute failure.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

The only problem is that you don't question and analyze why gangs are such an attractive option.

And, just judging people for their poor decisions doesn't help the situation.

I suppose it affords the judger the opportunity to feel superior, or something.

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree jafs - it may also allow the judger to avoid admitting our society's flaws related to long-standing cultural stereotypes and historic inequalities. The discussion must begin there.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, Kathy, but the discussion does not begin there. I'll willingly grant anything you want to say about the past. Racist? Hell, yeah. Unfair? Yup. Horrendously, incredibly destructive to black people as individuals, families, and cultures? Absolutely. And it was because of white people. So now that we have our self-flagellation out of the way, we still have all the same problems. Our problems do not lie in the past, which cannot be changed or helped. They lie in the present and the future.

So what are you going to do about the 6% of Americans who are responsible for more than 40% of the murders in the US? Are you willing to tell black people that now, when they have had full legal redress for half a century, they are responsible for the content of their character?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

You can tell people whatever you want.

It's pretty ineffective, though, at changing their behavior, unless you're a close friend, therapist, judge, etc.

I'm curious that you mention 50 years of equal rights, but not the 186 years without them. You really think that the last 50 years somehow erases the previous 186 from the culture?

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"but not the 186 years without them"

Jafs my good friend, you seem awfully concerned about all the stuff I fail to say, and awfully unconcerned about what I do. But I'm really curious as to what you think I was talking about when I said, "Racist? Hell, yeah. Unfair? Yup. Horrendously, incredibly destructive to black people as individuals, families, and cultures? Absolutely. And it was because of white people."

In case you don't know, I was talking about a lot longer than 186 years.

But I do wonder, how many years will it be before liberals give MLK what he asked for, that they judge his children by the content of their character. I'm perfectly willing to do that. How about you and Kathy?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes - you made that statement. And then proceeded immediately to say that it's been 50 years of equal rights.

I might say "So what?" 50 years of equality can't erase more than 186 years of destructive inequality in my view.

I don't like to judge people as much as you seem to in general, but yes, I might judge people on their character. But, I also understand that given such a long destructive history, one can't separate the present from the past in that way.

As a white male from an educated middle class family, it's been a lot easier for me to make good decisions and develop my character than for a lot of other folks. And, I've made my share of bad decisions as well - hopefully I've learned from them.

I'd much rather see what can be done to improve things than just judge people - what's the point of that really?

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

"But I do wonder, how many years will it be before liberals give MLK what he asked for, that they judge his children by the content of their character. I'm perfectly willing to do that. How about you and Kathy?"

You have determined this entire conversation useless by using the word liberal. See how the discussions get derailed? And for what? Another jab at someone you consider a "liberal"?

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

I for one don't consider liberal an insult but a description of a certain way of looking at the world. Am I incorrect in my assessment that such a label applies to you?

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

Fossick, maybe it is easy for you to admit that atrocious things were done to people because of the color of their skin, but especially now, most white Americans refuse to. I've said it before and it has been taken as an insult to white people, which it is not: until enough white people truly understand their privileges, they can't understand those without. Until we all decide it is not just up to black Americans to change, but our society as a whole, we will never have viable discussion that leads to change.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

I think one reasons gangs are such an attactive options is because it feels like a family, or at least something with male role models. Something they don't necessarily have at home.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Sure.

So it's not enough to say "Don't join a gang" - we'd have to find some way to get black fathers more involved with their families in a positive way, if that's the lack.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"you don't question and analyze why gangs are such an attractive option."

With a 3,000 letter limit? Seriously, one cannot explain everything in a single post. But if you have a question, I'll try to answer it. However, if you start here you might be able to work forward for yourself: http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm Pay special attention to the effects of racism/segregation and welfare on manhood, because from there it becomes easy to understand the exaggerated manhood inherent in today's gang mentality.

"just judging people for their poor decisions doesn't help the situation"

I'm not judging people, I'm judging culture, but it does not take a genius to judge the effects of that culture on the people who revel in it. Watch BET for a whole day and then tell the class if America would be more peaceful and prosperous if what you see there became the norm from sea to shining sea. Do you suspect we would be better off or worse off?

I suspect that if I had criticized gun culture or yuppie culture, you would not have worried about "the opportunity to feel superior." Correct?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm saying that simply judging modern "black culture", if there even is a uniform and homogenous version of that, without looking at, and understanding the past in this country is pointless.

Trying to understand it in light of that past, and figure out what could be done now to improve the situation, would be a good thing.

I would say that about any attempt to simply judge a culture like that, including the ones you mention.

People who are so judgmental appear to me that they are really interested in feeling superior to those they judge, regardless of the specifics.

Personally, I hate rap music for a variety of reasons. But, even there, I've seen some rap artists who are trying to create positivity in that part of black culture, and I applaud them for it.

It's not enough to say people should make better decisions - that's true of a large number of human beings from a variety of social and economic levels. Obesity is on the rise, people smoke and drink too much, etc.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Then you have missed the point - it's not "rap music," it's "the cultural values that celebrate crime and violence." I personally have no problem with rap music as a form. I have a huge problem with middle schoolers chanting this: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/officespace/notears.htm

I applaud positivity as well. You might recall that I said, "That has got to come from within the Black community. Thankfully, the basis for such a renaissance exists." It's Bill Cosby, it's uplifting rappers, it's inner city churches with drug recovery programs, it's all that.

You seem to want to read into my stuff the desire to find black people to be bad or less. I have two black daughters, and I want everything for them that I wanted for my white kids. Maybe, just maybe, you might read a little more carefully and psychoanalyze just a little less.

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Kathy Getto 2 years, 2 months ago

"I have two black daughters, and I want everything for them that I wanted for my white kids. Maybe, just maybe, you might read a little more carefully and psychoanalyze just a little less."

You got me a bit with your use of liberal as an explanation, but this has to be the end of the conversation for me with you, Fossick. I have two sons and a daughter, I have children, beautiful children. I certainly don't think of them as my white children or my black children. I am so sorry that you do.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Nice try - you ignored the fact that my mention of them is in response to the implication that I don't care about black people. It's as silly as me saying to your claim to have daughters that I see my kids not as daughters, but as children.

But if you're looking for a conversational out, I'll gladly grant it. Adios.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I never said anything of the sort, that you don't care about black people.

One can care about people and judge them at the same time.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs...

I think the past can definitely help explain how we arrived where we are at, and it is naive not to look at everything. But when one thinks we are still living in the past and thinks the answers to the present are in past problems, then we cannot move forward. Solutions to present problems are better understand with history, but cannot be solved if we ignore present issus.

Pitts wants to avoid this harsh reality and the painful process of taking personal responsibility by claming past problems (rampant racism) are still an epidemnic. He sees only racism as the impediment to progress, not the greater social issues. Why? Because he has a financial motive to distort reality. Follow the money friend.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

The point is that "present issues" may have their roots/causes in the past.

Nobody thinks that solutions are in the past.

Solutions can only happen in the present and future, of course.

You really must not have read many of his columns, or misread them - in my reading, he often points towards personal responsibility as well as other things.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs... "The point is that "present issues" may have their roots/causes in the past."

Isn't that exactly what I already said, "I think the past can definitely help explain how we arrived where we are at, and it is naive not to look at everything"?

Again, let's make sure we know where the argument are, before stating we have a disagreement.

"....he often points towards personal responsibility as well as other things" - jafs

Please cite examples from this column.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Why am I only allowed to use this column? He's written many others, that I've read that do what I say.

This is a column about something other than that.

Have you read any of his other columns? If so, and you're not reading through a distorting lens, you'll know he talks about personal responsibility as well.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Jafs: "I suppose it affords the judger the opportunity to feel superior, or something." VoR: "I agree jafs - it may also allow the judger to avoid admitting our society's flaws related to long-standing cultural stereotypes and historic inequalities"

Here's the problem with the armchair psychoanalyst game: it's too easy to play. For example, Jafs' response and Kathy's are perfect examples of Liberal emotional reaction to anyone trying to hold blacks to full citizenship as Americans. Because Liberals are simultaneously afraid of blacks and afraid of being called racists because of that fear, their cognitive dissonance drives them to treat blacks as children (and therefore non-threatening). Liberals psychologically project onto all posts concerning blacks a desire for superiority because they believe themselves superior to the "noble savage" child-image of blacks they have created in their own minds. When they think of black people, they immediately establish a mental superiority/inferiority framework with themselves safely on top.

Ironically, when liberals refuse to treat blacks as full citizens and even full, morally-responsible humans, they are displaying the same hyper-paternalism that slaveholders used to keep blacks in a state of subservient dependence for 300+ years. They even share the same desired result, albeit for a different reason: while the slaveholder hoped to gain financial from black dependence, the Liberal hopes to display to his peers his moral sanctimony via the dependent black mascots he collects.

Liberals therefore have become the thing they most hate: white supremacists who retard black people's development into mature and well-balanced adults because they have convinced themselves that blacks cannot do any better.

See how easy it is?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow, I must really have struck a nerve with that simple statement.

Note I said "I suppose" and "or something" - I certainly wasn't claiming any sort of certainty about that idea.

The rest of your post is just silly, of course, and you know it.

I never argued we shouldn't hold black people fully accountable as citizens, or any of the rest. Of course, I can't speak for VoR.

But, really, what's the point of simply judging people? What does it accomplish? Does it help anything? I hereby judge all people who make bad decisions - they're wrong for it, and they should make better decisions. Have I accomplished anything there?

I'd say no - it doesn't do anything at all - it doesn't encourage them, or help them to make better decisions - it doesn't remove the social consequences and price we pay as a society for those decisions, etc.

Judge them all you like - put them all (the criminals) in jail. Now what? Unless something can be done to encourage/help better decisions, we just wait for the next generation of criminals, and do the same.

Seems like a real shame/waste to me.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

"Wow, I must really have struck a nerve with that simple statement."

The problem is that it's not a simple statement, but a consistent approach to information you and others find uncomfortable. To write off what someone says as a psychological manifestation of desired superiority is simply a defense mechanism that allows people to not deal with information they find troubling, as is constantly mentioning things they left out while ignoring what they wrote. And of course my post was silly - it was merely an extrapolation of the silliness of constantly psychoanalyzing the posts of other people.

But I really find it amusing that you judge so much without even knowing it. When you talk of "186 years of destructive inequality in my view" you are judging and condemning another culture. When you say "There are certainly problems in the black community with absent fathers" you are judging. To say that absent fathers is a problem is to hold the nuclear, two-parent family as a standard and to judge the overriding black culture a failure by that standard. It is to condemn as less than whole any family headed by a single female for any reason. How is that any less judgmental than anything I have said?

Neither you nor I can reach any conclusions about what is better or worse without having a standard and judging something against it. It is patently silly to pretend that judging is something to be avoided at all costs.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

We certainly have to have some sort of way to measure things we observe, that's true.

Your comment about the absent fathers makes a huge leap of logic - I never said it was the only problem, or that the overriding black culture is a failure, or any of that nonsense.

It does seem that absent fathers and the lack of positive male role models is a problem in the black community (and not only there, of course.) But I don't say that to judge and condemn a culture - I only say it as an attempt to understand what's not working, so it can be improved.

I'm glad for any number of alternative family structures - if they work well, and children are raised well, I don't particularly care about whether it's a single parent, a couple, an extended family, a same sex couple, etc.

But, there's a real difference between trying to understand a problem, so that we can improve things vs. just judging people (or even worse, a whole culture).

I don't even know if there is such a thing as "black culture" any more than there's "jewish culture" or "female culture".

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Funny, lots of Jews think there's a Jewish culture. "The Foundation for Jewish Culture invests in creative individuals in order to nurture a vibrant and enduring Jewish identity, culture and community." http://jewishculture.org/

But if it would make you happier, we could say "gangsta" culture instead of Black culture*. Of course, then we would need to get our friends at BET to change their name to GET.

But again, you misunderstand. To condemn a culture is not to condemn the people in in, any more than to condemn a building is to kill all its residents. You move the people out and you knock the eyesore down. I have moved people out of it as well as tried to knock it down.

Every culture has redeeming aspects and damnable ones. But if one is unwilling to condemn the damnable aspects of a culture that advocates and celebrates violence as a proof of manhood, does one not have to accept responsibility for its wholly predictable effects?

I'm perfectly willing to condemn the actions of a gang-banger who kills an innocent little kid in a drive-by. I'm even willing to send him to prison if I wind up on a jury and judge him guilty of the crime. How about you? Too judgmental?

  • Which is admittedly unfair. A lawyer friend of mine once "I'm black as the ace of spades and that $#!t ain't my culture." He was right.
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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Of course he was right - that's my point exactly.

Of course I'd judge actions, according to the law, if I were on a jury.

And, how exactly does that help that situation? The little kid's dead already, and sending him to jail doesn't bring her back. It probably won't even deter him from doing similar things in the future, given the recidivism rate.

So, whoopee, we judged and punished somebody - doesn't do much for me. I'd much rather prevent the tragedy in the first place, if we can.

You've moved from condemning a "black culture" to condemning aspects of a subculture that advocate violence - a much more reasonable position.

But simply condemning the culture doesn't help anybody either, does it? If you've been able to help people step outside of it, and find other ways to live, that's great, and that's what we need more of, in my opinion.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Satirical: "But when one thinks we are still living in the past and thinks the answers to the present are in past problems, then we cannot move forward."

This is exactly correct. The past is what it is and cannot be changed. Its tentacles reach into the hearts and minds and unthinking actions of everyone today. But it's too easy to blame the past in some amorphous way. When the black illegitimacy rate was 25% in 1965 (when Pat Moynihan first screamed about it) and has tripled since, it's foolish to blame slavery or Jim Crow for the fact that it is three times as high today. When black murder rates climb today and more and more kids are shot on the streets of Chicago, it is foolish to blame 150 years ago. If what happened 150 years ago caused black crime, why was it not higher 150 years ago? There has to be something today that's causing what we see today.

In that sense, using the past as an excuse for today's problems is a way of escaping having to deal with them. If we are constantly arguing about the past and how all the horrible things white people did are in some unknown way partially responsible for some unknown number of actions that people make today, then we might as well leave it wholly out of our calculations. We'll not get anywhere because there's nowhere to go.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Since the "tentacles reach into the hearts and minds" of people, then it's part of the cause of today's actions and problems.

As such, we can't solve today's problems without dealing with it in some way.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

So tell us the answer, jafs. In what ways does Jim Crow affect today, and what things can be done to undo those effects. What will they cost, what will they accomplish, and how long will they take? Feel free to round to decades and billions of dollars.

If there is no answer, then we must attack today's problems without dealing with the past in some way or we will never do anything about today's problems.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I quoted you - if it's part of the problem, then the problem can't be solved without dealing with it.

You can define the tentacles, and elaborate if you like.

We can't possibly ignore the past, and solve problems that are related to it.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

But you ignored the question. If you're the guy who insists we must deal with the past, then tell us how and what it will do. I've answered your questions all day, turnabout is only fair play.

I welcome your solutions. Please provide some.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, the first thing I'd do is stop pretending the past isn't relevant, and stop ignoring it.

Then, I'd do my best to understand how it affects people today, and how we can help heal whatever wounds are still there.

Also, of course, we can look at the continuing racism that still exists today - it's by no means disappeared from our culture - and try to change that.

On an individual level, I think counseling is very helpful, especially with a counselor who isn't so afraid to look at our history and racism in this country.

On a social level, I think that attempts to help reverse the effects of racism are good, as well - so I support a wide variety of social programs to help people, parents, and families.

Education can also help, so I support that as well - I support public education, and funding it.

There's some evidence that earlier interventions are more helpful than later ones, so that might be a good place to focus - there's a very promising program in Harlem that provides parenting classes, and a variety of other things. I forget the name, but I think it's run by somebody named Geoffrey something.

As a white person, I make attempts to be aware of how racial stereotypes might be coloring my perceptions, and try to treat people as individuals, and see them clearly.

I also pray for a variety of things, including help in solving our problems, at a local, state, national and world level.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Very good. Yet I don't see much on the list that we haven't tried since the Great Society began. For example, we have whole libraries full of books and departments full of scholars that look at racism, past, and present, and try to understand it. We have Affirmative Action and school desegregation and busing that attempt to reverse the effects of racism, plus an entire division of the Justice Department to stomp out continuing racism in hiring and housing. We have created income programs and tax credits to support families and especially mothers with kids . As far as fully funding education, we spend more on education than we ever have, and we spend more per kid in an inner city district than almost anywhere else in the country. The KCMO district spent $2b over 20 years on new schools, smaller classes, fencing, swimming pools, everything the finest education minds thought those unfortunates had been deprived of.

And yet here we are. Somehow all that stuff, occurring over a whole generation, did not really solve the problem. Well, it solved it for some, as life has never been better for the top fifth of black families. But for those left behind, not so much.

Whatever shall we do next?

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Some more ideas:

Legalize all drugs/regulate/tax them - a large percentage of black people in jail are in there for non-violent drug offenses.

Stop incarcerating all non-violent offenders.

Bring back the ideas of rehabilitation/restitution to the criminal justice system, and stop focusing on punishment.

Mentoring programs, especially with those that have been there, seem pretty helpful.

Counseling, ged programs, and job training for all those on government aid, combined with mandatory classes in health, budgeting/financial matters, parenting, etc. If they don't pass the test with a high enough grade, they have to repeat the class.

Re-structure our aid programs so that they provide incentives to become more independent, rather than the reverse. For example, if we're providing somebody with $500/month, and they get a part time job making $250, drop their aid to $300-$350/month, so that they're making more if they work, and we're still paying less.

I'm sure that others have good ideas as well, if they look for them.

But, it requires shifting away from a "blame" mode, into a "how can we improve the situation" mode.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Also, we need to make it possible and easier for those convicted of non violent offenses to reintegrate into the community as a productive member of it.

And, I'd try to help people see through our society's emphasis on material wealth and competition, so that they can have some basic self-esteem even if they don't have a lot of money/stuff.

Older values like simple dignity, or spiritual values, or the enrichment of things like art/music/literature might be helpful in that regard.

As might a perspective on how much higher the American average standard of living is than much of the rest of the world.

The rap artist I mentioned earlier had the view that a lot of the problem involved the internalization of materialism in the black community.

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Satirical 2 years, 2 months ago

jafs...

I think the problem is that liberals too often want to blame the past and racism for current problems, and therefore the only solutions they derive are racism (or economic) based solutions.

On the flip side, some conservatives (not I, and apparently not Fossick) want to pretend the past is irrelevant andn doesn't believe racism exists at all.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle (not exactly in the middle). Come follow us to the middle and look past racism based solutions solving the majority of the problems, without forgeting racism can help us understand why we got here.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Well, if it got us here, and has tentacles in our hearts and minds (Fossick), then we can't ignore it if we want to solve those problems.

I welcome your solutions - please provide some.

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booyalab 2 years, 2 months ago

some of my best friends are criminals

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

Jafs: "You've moved from condemning a "black culture" to condemning aspects of a subculture that advocate violence - a much more reasonable position."

But it's only a start. Because once we agree to condemn random violence, perhaps we can agree the personal responsibility is a good thing, and that therefore the baby daddy culture is not helpful. Then we can hopefully work on agreeing that literacy is good, so we need to break the cultural assumptions that "make black racial identity irreconcilable with literacy for blacks, especially black males" http://www.amazon.com/Your-Average-Nigga-Performing-Masculinity/dp/081433248X (even if idiot scholars promote exactly that)

At some point, step by step, we'll have gotten back pretty close to where I began.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

And I'll let you in on a little secret, one that multi-culturalists always seem to miss: culture matters. Culture has consequences. A culture that does one thing will provide to its adherents different results than a cultural that does something else. The kids of Tiger Moms excel because of culture, not because Asians are smarter than everyone else. Jews are overrepresented and excel in law, medicine, and politics because of culture, not because Jews are smarter than everyone else. A culture that celebrates short-term thinking and immediate gratification will produce different results over the long term than one that promotes delayed gratification, savings, and multi-generational thinking. Multi-culturalists seem to think that cultures are all different without making any real difference, as if culture were merely a matter of funny hats and exotic holidays. They don't know anything about culture, I'm afraid.

There are three possible reasons that urban areas look like they do. One is that it's the fault of racism. If so, then all those programs mentioned earlier ought to solve it any day now. The second is that it's mostly a matter of culture: that given correct cultural influences, blacks can excel and prosper just like whites and Jews and Asians. That's my thesis, and I'm comfortable that I have thought most of its implications through.

The final possibility is not a pleasant one: it is the Bell Curve thesis that Jews excel because they are smarter, Asians excel because they are smarter, and therefore blacks lag because they are not. That's a dangerous, dangerous possibility. But as the "racism effects" thesis continues to prove false for another generation, and so long as people do not accept the cultural explanation, the only remaining conclusion will be that there's nothing we can do for blacks so to hell with them. That would be the most tragic result of all.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

The problem is that the "culture" has roots in the past, and in the racism in our society.

So, I don't think you can transform it without dealing with that.

I agree with much of the rest of your comment, except to note that I'm not a huge fan of Tiger mom parenting.

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50YearResident 2 years, 2 months ago

I have spent some time reading all these posts and I have to agree with Fossic. We have to look to the present for the answers. We can't continue to give a free pass for what happened 150 years ago. Jafs wants to excuse the black culture problems for what happened before any of the present living people were born. The black people need to make life's decisions on the present. I was raised without grand parents and set my goals in life by what was available to me by working hard and getting educated. Anyone can do that regardless of race, so why isn't it happening? Maybe it"s because we are not holding people responsible for their own success. The American dream is still available but you have to earn it, it's not an entitlement.

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jaywalker 2 years, 2 months ago

"Check Fossick's stats - the numbers for the overall homicides of black and white people are virtually identical."

Hence the cause for alarm, jafs, if you consider percentage of population.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I looked at your link.

Since the very first paragraph involved terms like "left wing claptrap", I quickly concluded it was of little interest or objectivity.

Is it not obvious to you as well that it is simply an opinion piece?

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Mike Ford 2 years, 2 months ago

the most persuasive case for letting unknowing white people ignore the sins of american history and doing away with the teaching of other culture's history to finally foment the creation of a totally amnesia laden society that sees things the George Will, William F Buckley Jr, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas......ooops....I mean white washed way......hooray for dumb.... hooray for the Michelle Bachmann view of history.....hooray........

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

You know, Tusch, you are the guy in Lawrence with whom I would most like to have a beer someday. I could listen to your שטיק all day.

Jafs, a guy with a heart as big as the moon, is a close second.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey, that's nice :-)

I've thought in the past it might be interesting to meet some of the folks on here, but I'm not sure I want to give up my anonymity.

Could be weird.

But, I like you too.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

That's terrible.

I imagine you mean he tried to "confront" the assailant. They should have stayed in the car, and called the police, don't you think?

"Marjon Rostami" - an interesting name, I wonder what ethnicity.

If you have any other sources than Fox, I'd be interested to read them.

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50YearResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Ofcourse jafs, no one should try to confront a black mob.

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jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

Or a white mob, for that matter, right?

Or an Hispanic one.

Etc.

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50YearResident 2 years, 2 months ago

Ofcourse jafs, no one should try to confront a black mob.

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Fossick 2 years, 2 months ago

White mobs are so much more civilized, right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dul... (extreme racism warning)

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