Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Power to Exercise #Racism in America

Once upon a time,  in a far away galaxy called Left in Alabama, I was trying to explain racism to their resident Righty,  Old Prosecutor.

I said then: I believe most of us can agree it takes power to exercise racism.  Meaning, a person can harbor racial prejudice against a certain group of people in their hearts and minds, but when they have the power/authority to act on those beliefs it's racism.

Exhibit A:  Washington GOP State Senator:  Colored People are more  likely to commit crimes. 
During a committee hearing last Thursday, Republicans in the Washington State Senate had a really hard time wrapping their heads around a proposal that would require the state to carry out racial impact statements on legislation when requested by lawmakers.
What's a racial impact statement? It's an assessment of whether something will affect all racial groups equally, or whether it will harm some groups more than others. (Like an environmental impact statement, except dealing with race.) For example, sentencing laws are much harsher on people dealing crack cocaine—more often people of color—than those dealing powder cocaine, even though the drugs are virtually identical. A racial impact statement on these laws would inform lawmakers of their disparate effects. (And, in an ideal world, would do this before the laws get voted upon.)
Exhibit BJudge Gets To Keep Job After Calling Black People Country N****rs
Judge Gerald Popeo will keep his job, even though he was heard openly using racist epithets against African American defendants. The Utica City, New York judge is accused of using the racial slur after a court session when he asked an African-American lawyer “do you know what New York City blacks call black people from upstate New York?”
The attorney just looked at him, apparently in shock that the judge would ask such an obviously problematic question. When the attorney had no response for the judge, Popeo answered: “country n*******.”
The judge thought his “joke”, apparently about a defendant, was hilarious. But the lawyer obviously did not.
For his part, Judge Popeo has vehemently denied making the racist “joke.”
But two separate lawyers claim to have heard this one-way exchange according to
Back in 2011, Popeo was caught referring to a prosecutor as a “cigar store Indian” …twice.
Exhibit CJustice Department Finds Pattern of Police Bias and Excessive Force in Ferguson
Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the city’s black residents, the Justice Department has concluded in a scathing report that accuses the officers of using excessive force and making unjustified traffic stops for years.
Exhibit DHere is the racist Obama joke the Justice Department reportedly uncovered in it's Ferguson Investigation.
It seems the investigation also uncovered additional disturbing material that suggests a culture of racial bias among those who hold power in the city: according to the Associated Press, the report includes a 2008 message — which appears to be an attempt at humor — from a municipal email account that says President Obama wouldn't be in office long, because "what black man holds a steady job for four years."
There's more, but I think you get my drift.  Now can we have an open and honest dialogue about race in this country?

No comments: