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I’ve blogged a couple times about the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case, and for the sake of time and space, I won’t repeat much of that, here are the links if you are interested: An Honest Discussion of Race; John Wayne and Clint Eastwood Characters: George Zimmerman, OJ Simpson – Two Legal Wrongs Do Not Make a Right
There are three items in the Time article that jumped out at me.
1) 16% of Whites believe there is a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today, while 56% of Black Americans believe this. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. White Americans rarely see discrimination, and based on examples I presented in a previous blog, Black Americans see it where it doesn’t exist. Further, the media is on a hair trigger to play the race card, because it’s controversial and emotional. It sells papers. Let’s not let the media make this a bigger issue than it actually is.
2) Black Americans are 13% of the population and estimated to be 13% of the regular drug users. In other words, drugs are not a “Black thing” or a “White thing.” However, 38% of those arrested for drug offenses are Black. This is a racial problem. The prison population should reflect the population of people committing the crimes. We need more effort in educating our police force. On a broader level, the whole “War on Drugs” needs revamped to emphasize treatment and rehabilitation rather than jail. Jails are a huge waste of: potential human talent serving time; human resources devoted to the guard force; and resources to build and maintain the jails. I’m not saying throw more money and TLC at drug users, and the problem will go away. But until we put as much effort into deterrence and rehabilitation as we do into incarceration, we won’t know how effective they can be.
3) “The Talk,” I’d never heard of this before. Black parents telling their sons, “If you are detained by the police, you have to be extra polite and cooperative. You have to be extra careful not to make any sudden moves, or any moves that might be interpreted as reaching for a weapon.” It troubles me that all Americans can not expect equal treatment under the law. But the police officers’ fear is equally real. They have kids, wives, and husbands. They want to go home in good health at the end of the shift like the rest of us. I don’t have any ideas on this problem. Do you?
High Level Solution: the country as a whole needs to put more effort and energy into improving: 1) the economy and 2) our educational system. Notice I didn’t say “more money.” I”ll repeat, it’s too easy for politicians to throw money at problems and hope they’ll go away. The reality is all levels of our government need to cut back, not spend more. So we as a community must figure out ways to do more with less. The root of the drugs/crime problem(s) is economics, and the jobs of the future will not go to high school drop outs. So I’m suggesting that the Black community needs even more effort and emphasis on getting their young people, especially the young men, through high school. “Insiders” always have more leverage than outsiders.
If we look at look at the issue historically, the civilized world has come a long way in reducing prejudice (pre-judging) based on race, religion, etc. We can not lose heart when an event shows we haven’t reached the ideal . Neither can we rest part way along the journey, just because we’ve made progress. I believe we all share a vision of a future where every individual is judged and rewarded (or punished) based on their individual effort, talent, and actions. No one is penalized or rewarded based on race, religion, sexual preference or any other factor that does not affect performance. Everybody has the same opportunity for education and jobs based on their preparation and accomplishments. Isn’t that the core of the American Dream we have for our Grandchildren, “The Land of Opportunity”?