My wish is that the next U.S. presidential administration would include a cabinet post to openly deal with the issues of racism within the US culture and the racist bias and unfairness in its judicial system. The Black Lives Movement deserves credit for pushing back those who would like to deny the existence of overt and implicit racism existing within the US social structure and its extension into the US judicial system.
To me the Black Lives Matter’s objectives equal being pro-police. An example would be the 2013- 2014 policing reforms, many advocated by BLM and instituted by the City of Dallas despite strong opposition from their union, resulted in a drastic reduction of complaints of police using excessive force on unarmed Black citizens. In addition there have been significantly less on the job police deaths and injuries. (This is despite the recent reprehensible sick actions of one individual in Dallas against police.) In short the same reforms and training that eliminates the killing or serious injury of unarmed Black peoples by police equals less harm and a better, safer working environment for law enforcement officials.
FACTS DO MATTER
When I graduated in 1972, the approximate US prison population of 300,000 was comparable to the numbers of peoples in prison in other countries. But then in the late 1970s, after President Richard Nixon started his “War on Drugs,” (tough on crime) the increase in the U.S. incarceration rate grew by 500% over the next 40 years to where it is today, over 2 million 200 thousand Americans.
In a recent 6/18/16 Guardian article, the writer Nicole Puglise reports that Black Americans are incarcerated five times more than white people. The following are excerpts:
“A report published on Tuesday (6/14/16) sought to put data behind that reality by analyzing race within state prisons and comparing those findings to the US census.”
“Black Americans were incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate of 5.1 times that of white Americans, the report said, and in some states that rate was 10 times or more. The US is 63.7% non-Hispanic white, 12.2% black, 8.7% Hispanic white and 0.4% Hispanic black, according to the most recent census.”
“The research was conducted by Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst with the Sentencing Project, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that promotes reforms in criminal justice policy and advocates for alternatives to incarceration.”
“Nellis found that in five states, the disparity rate was more than double the average. New Jersey had the highest, with a ratio of 12.2 black people to one white person in its prison system, followed by Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Vermont.”
“Among black men in 11 states, at least 1 in 20 were in a state prison.”
“In her publication, Nellis wrote that the reasons for the racial disparity were problems in policy, implicit biases and structural disadvantages.”
“Criminal justice reform, especially relative to race, has been a key issue for Barack Obama, particularly in the past year. Last July, in a speech to the NAACP, Obama acknowledged those structural disadvantages, calling America’s criminal justice system “skewed by race and wealth”.
THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT HAS MERIT ( IT IS NOT ANTI-POLICE AS PORTRAYED BY THOSE IN A STATE OF DENIAL ABOUT US RACISM)
Tim Wise discusses this issue of denial in his 11/25/15 CNN News article, “What whites don’t know about racism.” The following are some excerpts:
A just released report (11/2015) from CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation, finds that white Americans are far less likely than persons of color to believe that racism remains a serious problem in the United States.”
“Even a simple recognition of ongoing racial inequities in life chances differs markedly across racial lines, with clear majorities of African Americans perceiving that the typical black person is worse off than the typical white person in terms of income, education and housing, while about half of all whites fail to perceive such inequality of condition.”
“So despite the fact that African-Americans are worse off than whites in every single category of well-being, and despite the research indicating that these disparities owe significantly to discrimination both past and present, most whites believe there are few, if any, ongoing inequities.”
Who gets discriminated against
“For instance, even though young blacks with college degrees are twice as likely as similar whites to be unemployed, regardless of their field of study, most white Americans don’t appear to see much of a problem.”
“Despite the fact that white male high school dropouts between 18-34 are more likely to find work than black men that age with two years of college, most white Americans don’t see much of a problem, or again, insist that “reverse discrimination” is the real issue when it comes to racism.”
“Despite the fact that the typical white family has about 16 times as much wealth as the typical black family — and that even white households headed up by a high school dropout have, on average, twice the wealth of black and Latino households headed by a college graduate — most white Americans don’t see a problem.”
“Despite the fact that black children are about three times as likely as white children to be suspended or expelled from school, even though the rates of serious school rule infractions are largely the same (contrary to popular belief), and despite the fact that black children are about twice as likely as white children to be taught by the least experienced teachers, most white Americans don’t see much of a problem.”
“According to the survey, whites are also far less likely to believe the Voting Rights Act is still needed, even as several states have moved to create impediments to voting that will disproportionately affect voters of color.”
“And while the overwhelming majority of blacks see biases in the justice system, only about half of whites agree; this, despite the racial dis-proportionality of police-involved shootings, and the blatant disparities within the so-called war on drugs, whereby blacks, for instance, are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana, even as rates of usage and dealing are virtually identical.”
“It apparently doesn’t register as a “big problem” in the eyes of most whites that there are roughly 160,000 black folks arrested for drug possession annually who wouldn’t be were it not for the racially-disproportionate way in which African-Americans are targeted in the drug war…”
THE CONCEPT OF FAIRNESS AND EQUAL JUSTICE STILL MATTERS
There is a book that I highly recommend for everyone to read but especially those who question the legitimacy of the words,” Black Lives Matter.” It is the NYU’s highly regarded law school Professor Bryan Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” which details stories of real cases that he has personally handled, to drive home the point that racism and judicial unfairness exists and that this needs to be confronted and addressed with the urgency, it deserves.