Saturday, February 20, 2010
Before Black History Month closes out I would like to address yet another topic pertaining to the Black plight in America. The term angry black man/woman has been used quite a bit in different white supremacist societies and the question is, why? I, as a black man have never really been called that term by someone of my own race, yet for some reason the term is still used heavily by other members within society. My one and only question to those who believe in those terms is, why and what constitutes one being an “angry” black man or woman? In my own research the term generally means a black man/woman who “complains” too much about racism or societal inequalities. Also, a black man/woman whom is considered too stuck up or confrontational.
Why is it that every time a black person speaks about his/her experience in America they’re labeled as unpatriotic or even worst ungrateful (wtf)? This same technique was tried on Michelle Obama on the behalf of the right when she stated, “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” that was said after her husband Barack was elected president! The right immediately began to attack her, while never asking why she spoke out such words. What is the fixation by non-blacks to label blacks who speak upon their experiences or who critiques this nation angry black men/women? Do these people not break down the validity to what the alleged angry black man/woman is saying, or is it another way to marginalize people based on their “foreign” culture or life experiences? Everyone does not grow up the same way in America; there are loads of social barriers to prove that. Something isn’t clear about this technique; to me it is an attempt to discount the fact that blacks are living human beings with a story to tell just as anyone else. Stop using the term and instead listen and if necessary refute! Everyone’s experience and history has a right to be heard. The only history people are taught in K-12 is white American history, yet people are expected NOT to complain about that. The only thing blacks are taught about themselves during K-12 is that they were nothing more than a damn slave! Yet when the truth is told they’re labeled angry, yea ok!
Friday, February 19, 2010
There seems to be a huge misinterpretation on what crime is in many of the judicial systems throughout the world, however, this is primarily due to the way in which different governments have chosen to define crime. When it comes to the U.S, crime is defined legalistically. Our criminal code is written and made into law by legislators. It is the duty of the legislator to define right and wrong and somehow fit it into the system of laws. In our system of law there are two types, statutory and case law. Again, statutory law is law that have been passed by legislatures and placed in the state criminal code or federal criminal code and case law stands for how judges interpret law. Certain policy is set by the courts as well, when it comes to cases where possible policy may need to be reexamined (Plessy v. Ferguson). Once the law is interpreted it becomes the basis for legal rulings in future cases (stare decisis).
Crime in the U.S must be an intentional act. In our system there is something called mens rea and actus reas. To be convicted of crime the State must prove both. It has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Mens rea deals with the state of mind, while actus reas stands for the actual act. In the U.S system of laws one must have committed some act to be found guilty of a crime. Under the U.S system if you’re found guilty of violating the law then you’re “legally guilty.” I use the term legally guilty, because once a person is convicted according to law, then they’re guilty based on law and only law, nothing else. However, defining crime within legalistic terms can have devastating setbacks on society or certain members of society. Under this system it is very easy for disparities to come about and grow without a care, because people are more concerned with the legalistic definition than the sociological definitions of crime, which are studied by criminologists. The legal academy, although it tries its best to define crime within the context of law, race, and other sociological factors, they fail miserably at getting their points across due to the simple fact that they’re unable to travel outside of the legal field. Therefore, although they may write amazing articles on certain setbacks in the law, there will be certain key sociological factors missing. When it comes to legal scholars such as Paul Butler and Michelle Alexander we find that they’ve been quite successful in borrowing from the field of criminology, a unique branch of sociology to help make their profound points within their writings.
However, the vast majority of legal scholars are extremely oblivious to the field of criminology and because of that other key factors are not heard. Lawyers are in many ways synonymous with politics, and if they’re going to write on a certain issue pertaining to the law and injustice one would at least hope they’re covering all parts of the problem, but that is not the case! The courts are extremely guilty of ignoring sociological evidence. Even where evidence is presented that is overwhelming such as in the US Supreme Court decision death penalty case, McClesky v Kemp (1987), the court returns to legalistic arguments. Here the high Court was provided huge amounts of the very best statistical evidence (The Baldus study) that showed that black defendants were much more likely to be sentenced to death compared to white defendants even though the crime was the same. The US Supreme Court simply said, that even though the statistics show this pattern, in this particular case of McClesky’s appeal, he had to show specifically that he was discriminated against. The courts in short, follow legalistic arguments, not sociological.
This is precisely why racial injustice continues to exist within the court system, due to the lack of the sociological perspective being included within the writing of law. It is as though the field of criminology exists for its health. The only way to combat racial injustice in the US is to combine the two academies together. We need the best legal and criminology scholars to come together and conduct research and publishing. This is the only way to truly influence politicians on making change. Society as well, must be educated on defining crime. People must know that law on the books are written by fellow human beings whom in many cases are biased, due to party politics and they may not have your best interest in hand if you’re indeed a targeted group. When we look at the history blacks have had in the US when it comes to law enforcement it is more than clear to cite that they’re a targeted group. The field of criminology and sociology collectively, has a ton of scholarly information showcasing this sad reality, yet legislators continue to draft up law that blatantly discriminate against blacks, totally showing their ignorance to the possible effects of their bills. The prison system is comprised mostly of blacks. The public defender office, which is overburdened with cases is almost all the time utilized by poor blacks, so much for Gideon v. Wainwright (1963).
The fact is simple; law defined within legalistic terms will always be a threat to society if the field of criminology is readily ignored time and time again. Problems of injustice cannot be fixed unless the courts finally start to acknowledge the fact that all crime has a sociology to it that must be acknowledged. The courts must begin to acknowledge offenders’ socio-economical status as a possible factor to crime. It is also wise for the courts to start acknowledging one’s psycho-sociological status as well. These factors with a host of many others are covered within the field of criminology all the time, yet they receive no utilization from legislators or the legal academy. If there are loads of black men being jailed for drug offenses, the more proper approach would be to have a criminologist investigate the issue and then immediately following his findings politicians/lawyers would take those findings under consideration, and then a possible law will be drafted into a bill and voted on. Although that may sound like common sense, our current system doesn’t follow it and therefore crime continues to grow and disparities go through the roof.
This is why I ague that the rule of law is a joke. The rule of law is what the majority wants it to be, and under our system of legalistic crime, the impacts of certain crimes are not seen as important, only the amounts of those convicted, however this was not the case during prohibition when those impacted negatively were majority white. It is easy to conclude with the help of history that unless the law impact whites negatively, nothing will never come about to help those who are non-white. The only hope left is to see both academies (criminology and legal) combine together to fight off injustice. In order to truly define crime, every possible attributing factor to crime must be factored in, especially when it comes to the poor. Crime committed by those up the economic ladder is readily dismissed as frivolous acts not worthy of criminalization. According to government statistics and scholarly research, the poor is disproportionately affected by crime, therefore the law isn’t protecting or helping the poor. Incarcerating someone for his lack of being able to provide for himself is one of the biggest crimes of humanity, and the US government engages in that crime on a daily basis by ignoring the grave importance of the field of criminology. But as the saying goes, history inevitably repeats itself if people do not learn from their prior mistakes, on the other hand with the history of blacks being terrorized by the State, one must ask if the law will ever be written with their welfare in mind?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
This note is basically an add on to something my good friend Melissa Smith has stated under one of my posts to another contributor during a debate. However before I copy and paste her commentary within this note I first want to go over what I feel a superiority complex is. In America and abroad there is something called White Supremacy, which breeds a certain kind of superiority onto Whites who actually believe in it. If we were to scan America and its history in terms of how the White race has maintained its place at the top it would be clear to anyone with common sense that this was done with the help of racism, which as Nikki stated is used as a tool to maintain their power at the top. However in order for such a tool to actually work, the notion of superiority must be believed by all or by enough people. For example, before Brown v. Board of Ed and Plessy v Ferguson the notion of feeling less than had to be imbedded within Black folks to justify the separate but equal treatment. This is best done when racism is included, I.E the fallacy that Blacks are retarded or slow learners and therefore different than Whites when it comes to learning. Although Plessy v Ferguson gave off a lovely victory, disparities still exist today in education, thus some would conclude that we have defacto segregation within our school system today. In addition, because of our defacto segregation in education today, the numbers show as they once did back in History that Whites are achieving at much higher rates than Blacks, which again forces Blacks to wear the badge of inferiority just as their forbearers. However this doesn’t mean the slightest bit that Blacks are inferior to Whites when it comes to education, because the actual problem is based in the quality of education not one’s capacity to learn. The numbers also show that school districts that are mostly filled with people of color receive less funding than those schools that are positioned in suburbia, which is undoubtedly reminiscent to the days of Separate but Equal.
But I wrote all of that to ask the following: Is the superiority complex that many whites hold (not all) just a mental construct? After all the way in which things are set up, are done in a specific manner to give off such numbers that feed into their need to feel superior. For instance, if you want to label Blacks drug dealers then set up laws and put Blacks in a position whereby your labeling will come into fruition, labeling theory tells us this. Is this false sense of superiority just something in their minds? Can they not see reality? Why is it that stats are used to counter common sense question such as these but yet they’re rarely used to actually solve the very issues they claim to point out? In point of fact, it is clear that locking people up for selling drugs isn’t fixing the problem, so why have we not come to other solutions, such as sending those types of offenders to problem solving courts, or better yet actually putting opportunities in drug oriented neighborhoods that will deter the young men of color from engaging in drug dealing? It seems to me that things are set up in such a way as to preserve the superiority complex that many Whites have long been accused of having since the birth of this nation. Sadly, as a result of being labeled less than, many non-whites begin to adhere to their lower-casted status of being subhuman and non-deserving of the same joyfulness in life as Whites, and thus fall into the trap of becoming the many negative things that have been set up for them to become. It is no coincidence that there is such a high level of Black men in prison, for their destiny has already been determined long before birth. In closing, I will copy and paste Melissa Smith’s UNEDITED comment, PLS ANSWSER, is it accurate, does she slightly have a point, or is it an outright lie?
Patrick said : "Whatever isn't "normal" can seem threatening."
EXACTLY!!!!!!! And don't you get it??? I have ALWAYS been the "norm" as a white girl!! I am barbie. I am June Cleaver. I am Jackie Kennedy. I am Betsy Ross. I am Jane from the Dick and Jane books. I am Cinderella. I am one who wears "skin colored" bandaids, and they match! I am 80% of ... See Moreour nation's educators. I am Jennifer Aniston. I am "the girl next door"...... This country made WHITE the norm!!! THat's the point!! So white people always think black isn't the norm, latina isn't the norm, cuz WE are the norm! We are the standard to which others are measured! We were born to know this, to believe this.... And we inherently believe this norm to be true, and other norms to be "less than".... THAT'S racism.
What says you folks?????
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
So it is Black History month but yet there seems to be a silence upon it. Nobody is really saying much about it and now the U.S for some reason feels as though it is in the age of colorblindness for some reason. We have a Black president whom to quote from Dr Dyson, “Runs from race more than a brother running from the police” and this Black president as he proclaimed himself to be has yet to acknowledge any of the problems that affect Blacks negatively at disproportionate rates. This president is having a summit on health care, yet he continuously fail to introduce to the table conversations on crime and race, housing and race, and other issues that we know to be problems in the Black community. When will this president grow the courage to attack these historical problems in the Black community? To throw a bone to the right he doesn’t even have to label the issue with race. He can easily just announce it as a conversation, a summit, or a discussion. Him just speaking on a certain issue can have a dramatic effect on a possible outcome, why has he yet to be as courageous as MLK, a person whom most whites like to associate with him although he is nowhere near MLK’s legacy. MLK was far from a coward and he spoke up for what he knew to be truth.
With Obama being in office there is a huge case of colorblindness. People suddenly believe that there are no longer racial tensions in America. Barack being elected allegedly proves that White Supremacy is no longer an issue, when the numbers still show Whites being the least impacted by almost every “negative” thing in society that can paint them a bad picture. But nevertheless Barack is the proof that Blacks have a fair share and everything is equal to now. I am confused because in one breath Blacks are equal and all is ok and then in the next breath we have to put up with manufactured or real statistics that paints us in a negative light thus showing that things are obviously unequal and not ok. Barack getting into the white house is essentially his own accomplishment and not an accomplishment that should be generalized to all Blacks. Yes he is a Harvard educated lawyer, but the masses of Blacks are being weeded out of Law School admission due to the LSAT’s and other discriminatory practices, yet folks don’t wish to talk about that huh? Yes some will get through, due to having the resources to do so, but is that a fair assessment? How the hell do we expect to make the legal profession or any other equally important profession representative to all people in the U.S if we continue on with practices that are CLEARLY hindering that process?
Now of course there is still more time for him to act, however the fact still remains that he is now a year in and he has yet to acknowledge any major problems to alleviate Blacks from the bondage in which they find themselves. Michelle is guilty of the same charge, and so is congress. Senator Buriss is the only standing Black senator in congress, and once his term is up, which is extremely soon, there will be NO Black senators in the American Congress, yet we believe that we’re in a colorblind society. This government and this society are despicable!! Each and every time Black History month comes around they have an opportunity to make change and have it matter the most to those who desperately need change, and yet they pass it up time and time again. To add insult to injury we now have an actual Black president with the majority of Congress on his side and even with that nothing have been even remotely acknowledged. This is a major catastrophe to many Blacks who feel as though they’ve voted for change! Barack Obama didn’t receive over 80% of the Black vote for no reason, many Blacks felt as though he would actually make a change in the system, so that things can be a bit more easier for them. For example, the hundreds of thousands of Black men who are arrested and can no longer live a proper life. How about the Black young adults who voted for him so that their fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers can get a second chance and their families’ can stay intact. How about the middle school and high school kids who campaigned and held up his signs so that their schools can perform just a tad bit better. Why aren’t these issues being singled out and acknowledged, after all they EXIST yes they EXIST!! Why do those on the right and some on the left wish to act as though they don’t exist. Why is there this pseudo culture of colorblindedness further depressing issues that needs immediate looking in to? His presidency means much more to Blacks than any other race of people within the U.S and to see him blatantly ignore Black issues is something most conscious folk can’t even began to fathom. Other presidents have acknowledged problems that have been disproportionately attached to Blacks why can’t president Obama? People like to fall back on Lincoln who was a bigot and the Civil Rights Acts, yet when we look at incarceration rates we see that Blacks are hardly free. Tim Wise has a new book coming out in May titled, “Color Blind Barack Obama, Post-Racial Liberalism and the Retreat from Racial Equity” I can only hope that his book will somehow put into motion the buzz that is needed to force this President to act. How many progressive Blacks have been invited to the Whitehouse? NONE!
In closing, I would like to state that Blacks are equally citizens just like everyone else with needs that must be addressed. The historical record clearly shows that certain issues Blacks are faced with are nothing close to surprising in this nation. The emergence of these Tea Parties is a clear testament to that. Anyone that would suppose otherwise is clearly in denial. Barack Obama thus far has failed the many Black American leaders that came before him. But then again he isn’t a descendent of slaves either; perhaps this is a reason why? To those Whites who are bigots perhaps there is a difference in threat levels between Black Americans whose ancestors were slaves and those who don’t fit into that genre. Why are we so afraid to acknowledge the mistreatment of Blacks in this allegedly free nation? America is extremely phony for celebrating prior Black leaders knowing damn well that our progress is being purposely delayed. Throwing a bone to Blacks isn’t fixing issues that literally put them back into the Jim Crow era and that includes the electing of Barack Obama. Don’t throw a damn bone and think that will suddenly solve the issues. Petty ass apologies and phony ass speeches are not what is needed the issues must be attacked directly, why are some so afraid to do that? With Obama being the president, do you guys think Black History has lost its buzz to a slight degree? What says you?
Friday, February 5, 2010
As I began to take notice to the extensive conversation that was taking place under my last note on “Societal values and the law” A thought came to mind; a thought in the form of a question, “Anarchy or government?” To what extent are those who are excluded from government recognition are willing to continue on with the current system? When will those who have been excluded finally break away from the system? There seems to be a heavy need for defiance against the system for some, but the question is why don’t they rebel? What is it about this current system whereby some folk are actually being oppressed rather than being included? The Civil Rights Acts were supposed to bring Black Americans into mainstream involvement, however, the broader question to that alleged goal is simple, can that be seen today? Are Black Americans truly apart of mainstream society? How many of them own houses in the suburbs and are actually making it to levels in this society that has been historically unseen. What are the demographics looking like in terms of state and federal congresses—something isn’t right! How about law school and graduate school admissions? As my favorite legal scholar Michelle Alexander would say, this is The New Jim Crow age. However, surprisingly, the act of being left out of government can now be directed to all members of this society, the Patriot Act being the number one reason to that.
Is it better to chose anarchy over government? After all, suffering has been instinctively attached to some persons within this society and only a present thing for others, and even though certain laws were passed to fix such suffering, the suffering remains alive. Will there ever be a change, or will the system continue to go through periods of backwards evolutionary change to give off a visual effect of change, while never succeeding with the actual change that is needed to rectify the mishaps. After boundlessly seeing the failure of the system to commit to change, one may seek to adopt the concept of anarchy. At least under anarchy he isn’t bound to rules made up by another. He isn’t a slave to a system in which he has no say so within. There are no structural barriers in place that purposely have him in bondage while the rhetoric is that he is indeed free. When a person’s back is against the wall and the very system that claims to protect him is holding him back what choices does he have? Although anarchy may appear to be uncivilized to most, to many others the grass on the other side is much greener compared to the usual. To the readers who may be reading this note the question for you is clear, anarchy, government or other?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
As I sat on the phone chit chatting with a very good friend of mine about societal values and law, she and I came to an abrupt halt within our conversation, when I asked the question, “To what extent do we separate religious and/or bias values from neutral values that can be added into the discussion on developing law?” This is a very unique question on almost every debate that would be within the realm of domestic policy. For example, if one were to focus on gay rights, oftentimes the right would shout homosexuality is against God, even though there may be some homosexuals that may be agnostic, atheist, or a different type of Christian. Perhaps some homosexuals believe that their God accepts them. This can also be recognized in the debate on abortion. Usually conservatives are quick to say abortion is too against God. Yes, both sides have an exclusive right to have their voices heard; however, where do we as a civil society draw the line between what is to be considered neutral and what is to be considered a “self value”. Self value meaning a belief that should be limited to just the person who believes. In modern day this would play out like the following: Rhetoric on God being against homosexuals would have no value in the overall debate on gay marriage. Why, because all gays don’t believe the same way. Some may believe in God but not in the way in which how others who are against them do. Therefore the suitable response to “self valued” beliefs would be: your stance can only be limited to those of like belief. I say this because it isn’t fair to exclude certain civil liberties from those who may not believe the same way as others, and therefore, the philosophy behind “societal values” would have to be examined to a much higher magnitude in order to ensure that the eventual law and/or conclusion is fair to all parties. By doing so we ensure the process of democracy and give everyone their fair shares in the discussion. This exact same technique can also be applied to abortion, because there are differing views even within that discussion. There are many different standards of morality also if one were to examine it on a much deeper philosophical level, but these things should be acknowledged to say the least. Neutral values would be beliefs that everyone readily share and are practical for participation within the discussion. For example, mostly everyone would be against murder; also the rationale behind being against murder is easily accessible and understood thus making it logical stance.
Overall, in order to ensure a proper orchestration and implementation of law via the process of democracy we must make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and examined in a highly intellectualized manner. Stances that are not of logic cannot be included; stances that attempt to take civil liberty away from others due to their color, creed, or sexual orientation must also be excluded from the debate. Sadly, one would think Congress actually operates in this manner but the truth is that they don’t. Congress on a daily basis fails to recognize the differing life styles and beliefs of people in America when they’re making law and instead only vote in reference to their personal core beliefs. The constitution guarantees everyone a voice in this land, and that basic right must be rebirthed. The only way in which to bring forth the rebirth of our right to be heard, we must push through a process upon which legislators may use to prevent certain people voices from being disregarded. Congress will have to give extensive viable reasons on why they voted the way they did and this must be mandated. With the presence of too many interest groups and other entities that seem to have more control than the average citizen with a voice, there is a dire need of some form of regulation on the legislative process. By only allowing intellectual stances to be included in the debates and within the writing of law, we can prevent many forms of injustice and errors within the law
With that being said, I ask again folks, to what extent do we separate religious and/or bias values from neutral values that can be added into the discussion on developing law? There has to be a mechanism put in place that will properly define what law is and why we have it. There must also be a broader discussion on how to implement the needs of everyone in an effective manner so that people don’t feel wronged. If we are to be a land where everyone is allegedly heard then this must be done. Although it is said that we have such a process already, the harsh reality is that we don’t! Therefore, I personally move to bring forth a directive that will effectively regulate all actions of congress in stricter terms. What the legislative process needs is efficiency; this cannot be achieved with that which we currently have. To what extent do we separate religious and/or bias values from neutral values that can be added into the discussion on developing law? Most laws that came about and were based out of religious belief failed miserably, i.e. prohibition, which was pushed with religious rhetoric. Do you agree with my plan or do you have a different plan? Or do you feel the system is fine as is?