It’s hard for young blacks to separate themselves from the ghetto…

May 7, 2015

I was watching a New York Times video presentation on the subject of what it is like to be black in America, a series of observations from several young black men, who looked to range in age from pre-teen to teenagers. All were very articulate and came off as being extremely well mannered.

It was heart rendering and troubling. They cited the usual litany: being stopped by police for no other reason than being black. Having people move to the other side of the street when they see you out of fear. One kid said that he was the only black student in a class and they were discussing Huck Finn and then the magic word came up, the one that begins with n. And everyone looks at him — what will he say or do or feel? I noticed in saying this he reverted to the black slang way of talking: “I be”.

Of course we all use slang or informal speech patterns, and maybe that was a good way to describe the feeling, the moment.

One or more of them assured viewers that they were not a threat to anyone.

It seems to me the black community is hampered by the actions of those who do mean harm. But that is not the only problem. It is true that racism has a long history in the United States. But the U.S. is not the only place on earth where racism persists. Racism is part of human nature I think.

You are only as good as the company you keep, they say. Sometimes people are forced by circumstances beyond their control to live with or keep company with the less desirable element of society. That less desirable element comes in all colors and races. It just happens to be easier to spot when there is such a distinct difference in skin tone, black vs. white.

In the original colonies there were essentially both white and black slaves and even free black people. The white slaves were indentured servants who had no more rights than black slaves, at least during their indenture (which sometimes they could never get out of). But I think the convenience of having a race that stood apart by skin color seemed attractive as a captive labor force by those who imported slaves into America. It was the most shameful part of our past, the time of slavery. We’ve yet to overcome it.

I have few answers in all of this really, mostly just observations.

But I think the bad element, who like I say includes those of all colors or races, needs to somehow have its control over large parts of our cities taken away. It seems to thrive where people have nothing to do and where people feel hopeless and not part of our democracy, not part of the wider society.

That element seems to thrive in blighted areas. So we need to clean up the blight. We need more grocery stores and fewer liquor stores. We need more jobs, but our leaders over the past decades have done about everything that can be done to ship those jobs overseas in the name of free trade.

I don’t really know what community policing is, except I have heard that term used over the years. It seems that it has been tried many times but always runs out of funding. I think it means having the cops have better relations with the people they serve, going out on the street and talking to them, getting to know them and helping where they can when appropriate. But I guess that takes more officers and time and that means money. But the cruising down the street like an occupying army is counter productive, as we have seen lately.

In the meantime, however, it does not matter what color you are. You will be judged by the way you comport yourself, by the way you dress. If you act and look like a hoodlum what do you expect? (This admittedly not withstanding the situation when one is black and neither looks nor acts like a hoodlum and still meets grief with the police.)

I realize the problem is that if you are black you are more easily identified by the non-black and for that reason you may well be put to an unfair higher standard.

In earlier posts I stated that it is my observation that people have a better chance if they can somehow move out of the ghetto. I guess, however, some of these young black men are saying somehow that the ghetto follows them.

In that respect I have to agree that it must be indeed challenging to be black in America.

Sterling the bigot needs to be brought down, but do we have any privacy left?

April 29, 2014

While I could not care less about professional basketball and I realize from reading that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a bigot, to say the least, and a quite distasteful person who sees his and other black basketball players as high-paid slaves on the plantation of the NBA (blacks make up 75 percent of the players I read), it is unnerving that private phone conversations can get a person into so much hot water.

He has been banned (or soon is to be) from the NBA, fined $2.5 million by the league, and a forced sale of his team is in the offing, all over words in an apparently secretly taped phone conversation in which he criticized his girlfriend (mistress) for and admonished her against hanging around with blacks. Ironically, she herself is half black. And as I read it, the old guy is married and the woman in question is much younger than him.

Sterling has a history of racism and is said to have forced black families out of housing he owned and I think may have been a slum lord.

So, whatever, Sterling seems to be  horrid person. And I have no sympathy for him.

I also realize that people in the public spotlight have to work and live under different conditions than the normal citizen. But one wonders whether there is anything such as privacy and the right to hold your own opinions anymore.

This incident does prove, though, that one does not have to have good judgment to be rich.

It is said that even if he is forced to sell the team he could make upwards of a billion dollars on the transaction, after buying the Clippers at a much lower price. There is some talk of somehow keeping him from profiting from the sale, but it would seem that there would be significant legal barriers to that and that Sterling would have the wherewithal to fight that.

In this case the NBA governing body has little choice but to do something decisive due to public uproar.

But probably the biggest and most effective pressure is from the commercial part of it all. Sponsors are fleeing the team not wanting to be associated with racism and thus putting them into a bad light with their potential customers.

And that is as it should be.



I have not yet read up on the deal with his, I guess mistress. I guess it is her who taped the conversations. Maybe she was trying to blackmail him. It’s all very sordid.













Violence by hooligans should never be tolerated; civil society cannot allow itself to be intimidated…

August 11, 2011

Police being overwhelmed by rioters/looters in London and other urban centers in the United Kingdom, and then the slow, timid response at first, but the now strong response authorized by their prime minister and its apparent success (although it’s not over yet at last report) made me think of the so-called race riots in the U.S. in the 1960s.

The story is really quite similar. It starts with legitimate grievances involving race relations (how minorities are treated by the authorities, police) and poverty and lack of opportunity and so on. But once things get out of hand and break into a riot, the opportunists, the lawless, the hooligans, the scum of the earth or the scum of the earth in training take over.

Destroying private property, theft (of televisions and other electronic equipment and other goods, even candy bars) is completely unjustifiable and of course ironically is counterproductive. If you destroy your own neighborhood you have no place to live.  Just as bad, you create a backlash from people who are justifiably shocked at the lack of law and the disorder and the threat to safety.

Case in point:

I’m a white guy who has been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative peace away from the urban centers. During my teenage years (and later) I watched those riots on TV and saw people looting stores and destroying property. I was outraged. I never could figure out and still cannot figure out why the authorities do not step in quicker with a much stronger response. Once things get out of hand and it is clear that local police cannot handle things, then as far as I am concerned it is time to pull out all stops and call in police from other areas and even the National Guard and even the regular military if need be. Yes that is a problem in that the military, except for Military Police, are not trained in civil policing, but they could be somewhat, and besides, drastic situations call for drastic measures. There are dangers to using raw recruits, say from the National Guard, because you can wind up with tragedies such as Kent State.

But the tragedy is that we never have made it plain that lawlessness cannot be tolerated, so we have moved from the summertime riots of the 60s to wanton drug-fueled warfare, with drive-by shootings and the rest.

Also, I would submit that the modern conservative movement and now to some extent the Tea Party are an outgrowth of 1960s-style lawlessness and disorder that so threatened normal society and so injured its psyche that it ever so gradually turned politically right. They saw the liberals make excuses for the lawbreakers — they grew up in poverty, they don’t have a chance, they are discriminated against.

And let me stop right here to clarify that I am not in any way casting aspersions upon any one race. There is a too large element in all races that use the opportunity of circumstances to justify their own lack of ambition and their own proclivity to lawlessness.

While the current riots in the United Kingdom may have had their start in an incident in which a  young black man was shot by police (and he was by all accounts a criminal and the police said he fired first, but there is a question on that), the riots seem to involve people, primarily youths, of all races (hard to tell unless you have good video, because in a lot of the politically-correct print media, race is left out). And rather than protests it just seems as if it is something to do.

I have never been to the United Kingdom, but I read that most of their police do not even carry guns and there is always a controversy on whether to arm them. Their prime minister has now authorized police to use all methods at their disposal — they’re even considering “rubber bullets”, oh my God! They also are using or may use water cannon. Hey, whatever works.

No I do not suggest that they do it Syrian style and just mow people down or send in the secret police — that is not the civilized or western-democratic way to do things, to say the least.

For those who have legitimate grievances — try politics and non-violence methods — Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior had a lot of success with it (although sadly, King was brought down in the violence of a sniper’s bullet, and that violence begat even more violence).

As I have already stated, there are questions as to how much race even has to do with the riots in the UK. Some observers there say hooligans of all races are taking part. And many people there on the scene, as well as elsewhere, look at all the youngsters involved, some as young as 10 (maybe even younger), and ask, “where are the parents?”

While we all have a duty to our fellow man and we must strive for living conditions that allow hope and opportunity for all, civil society must not allow itself to be intimidated by the lawless.

On the other hand, people with legitimate grievances, grievances that are left to fester, can be expected to explode in rage at some point — but it is questionable how much the chaos in the UK has to do with unrest among otherwise law-abiding citizens and how much has to do with a troublesome element. It seems that the bad element has taken an opportunity to go on its idea of a lark.

Obama administration falls into race baiting trap; racism is natural, though…

July 23, 2010

I am almost incredulous that the Obama administration could have fallen into the trap set by right-wing race baiters concerning the Shirley Sherrod affair.

A blogger posts a misleading video on the internet, taking some remarks out of context, and the administration ousts the Agriculture Department official who made the remarks, without first even asking her what it was all about.

Oh, to be sure, racism is not confined to the right, but exists at all points on the political spectrum and in society in general.

And who knows? Maybe it is only natural, a kind of tribalism.

When I was a teenager taking a vacation with my folks and siblings we were sitting at a lunch counter in Winston-Salem North Carolina, as I recall, and a red-haired and red freckled white man with a stingy brim hat, who looked to be some kind of salesman, who was sitting on a stool next to us, volunteered, without us asking:

“If God had meant us all to live together he would have made us all the same color”.

We as little kids used the N word freely but not against blacks, but against each other or we just said it. I don’t think we really knew why we used it or what the full implications of it were.

I recall feeling bad when I saw on TV police in the South using dogs against peacefully demonstrating blacks in the 1950s and 60s. That made me mad at white bigots.

I did not feel any better when I watched blacks rioting in big city ghettos every summer it seemed in the 60s and looting stores. That made me mad at the blacks who did this.

While I don’t know personally how it feels to be black and be the victim of white prejudice, I do know how it feels to be white and be the victim of black prejudice — I served in the U.S. Army in Germany between 1968 and 1971. White officers and white NCOs for the most part in the unit in which I served were scared to discipline blacks because they would A not respond (and might resist) or B they would play the race card.

I have spoken to white soldiers and sailors who wanted to make a career of the service but decided they did not like the racism and favorable treatment given to some over others.

Am I racist? Only when racism rears its ugly head against me or when some of my resentment from a time in the past comes back. But what I noticed then and notice today is that members of different races ignore the differences in many cases, but in certain social situations they are inclined or feel compelled to slip back into racism.

It’s of course not just black and white, but brown and yellow and Middle Eastern and so on.

The most ugly and blatant racism seems to come from poor white trash and ghetto blacks, but it can be just as bad at other levels of society too, but maybe a little more subtle, or not, but just as destructive.

(The Tea Party reportedly has a lot of well-to-do whites in it and some of them do not seem to be subtle about race, but it is hard to identify who is saying what in that nebulous group.)

But speaking from the white perspective, what does stick in the craw is the idea that while if you are what we currently call a minority it is okay and even expected that you have pride in your race. But if you are white that is politically incorrect.

Affirmative action also is hard to take. While I don’t think I have ever suffered from it directly, I have relatives on my in-laws’ side who have. One was told flat out by a government fire service official that he need not apply if he was not black or American Indian. I don’t care how you look at that, even taking the fact that minorities of the past were discriminated against in employment, reverse discrimination does not solve the problem. Discrimination is discrimination.

(In the 50s and 60s when my family used to go to San Francisco, our former home, for a visit, I always noticed that the bus and street car operators were mostly black, as well as the bridge toll takers at that time. That was evidentially some kind of affirmative action going on well before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)

But resentments of past racial discrimination have to be put behind and so does race discrimination no matter which way it goes.

We do have a black president — something that I swore would never happen in my life time.

I haven’t seen any indication that President Barack Obama made the move to oust Sherrod over the apparent misunderstanding of her remarks, but someone or ones in his administration did. He has since called her and said the decision was wrong and she has been offered her job or even a better one back.

It seems the administration was so scared it would be seen as racist that it fell for the dirty work of a blogger with ulterior motives. The motive was to discredit what the ultra and reactionary right sees as its enemy.

I personally have neither seen the original video nor the full video that supposedly vindicates her. In reality I think the whole affair is much ado about nothing, except it gave a chance for me to vent a little about my own frustrations with the race issue.

ADD 1:

Actually white pride is accepted in certain traditional American ethnic celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest, but in general it is not politically correct to be white and proud of it, while it does seem to be so to be black and proud of it or to go around saying si’, se puede. A white person entering the U.S. illegally might be thought to be a Russian agent, but a Latino entering illegally is an “immigrant” in the parlance of political correctness.

ADD 2:

The irony of course in the Sherrod affair was that she is black and it was implied that by her own admission that she was racist against whites and that an administration led by a black man (well half black — Clinton, of course was our first black president — just kidding — I guess it was his cool sunglasses and his ability to play the sax and his appetite for sex), Barack Obama, rushed to judgment, showing its own vulnerability in questions of race.


And why does my computer freeze up when I try to write this blog? And why does my spell check not recognize Obama and wants me to write Osama and why does it not know the word blog or blogger?

Looting and vandalism have nothing to do with honest protest…

July 9, 2010

Many of the hometown crowd thought it was murder when a Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) cop shot and killed a young black man in the wee hours of this past New Year’s Day, but an all-white jury called it involuntary manslaughter and so in reaction some looted stores and engaged in vandalism in Oakland, Ca. last night.

Excuse me. Am I missing something here? I don’t see the relationship between the two. You think an injustice was committed so in protest you commit one yourself.

Somehow I actually think that those who loot stores just want the merchandise and see the so-called protest angle as an excuse.

To be sure, there do seem to be continuing race problems in Oakland. And even seemingly law-abiding black citizens often tell their stories on radio talk shows of being stopped by police for apparently no reason — they call it “driving while black”.

In the incident in question, one Oscar Grant was riding on BART and was involved or got caught up in some kind of fracas on the train.

He was detained by police but was said to resist. However, at the time of his shooting he was pinned down on the ground.

Transit cop Johannes Mehserle claims he thought he was grabbing his taser gun but mistakenly grabbed his service weapon and accidentally and fatally shot Grant.

Grant ‘s history with the law indicates he was no angel, but of course that does not mean that he can lawfully be murdered.

Some sage black people are advising young black men (or anyone) that when you deal with police the thing to do is to cooperate. Even if they are treating you badly, you will at least survive.

More than one black person I heard on KGO Radio last night claimed that the rules are different between white kids and black kids. They claim white kids can get away with more.

I also heard from someone near and dear to me who lives in the Bay Area that the BART cops kind of act like Nazis toward just about anyone they come into contact with (actually that is my interpretation of what this person said).

While I have read some of the coverage on the story over these past months, I am not steeped in the details.

From what I have gathered, though, BART has a continuing problem of rowdy, mostly black, riders in the Oakland area. There is tension between the BART cops and that crowd. One BART officer, not the defendant in the shooting trial, but the one who originally detained Grant, the victim, yelled the N word several times that night.

My conjecture is that Mehserle got caught up in the moment and really did not realize what he was doing (some earlier statements by him had indicated that he knew he had drawn his gun). I think the verdict was probably correct. I understand he’s looking at a sentence between 5 to 14 years.

I think there is a large contingent of black people in Oakland who although they feel racism still persists, in the words of Rodney King, they think: “Why can’t we just all just get along?”

They implore the younger set to behave themselves and not break the law and to bear up to some continuing injustices, while working to set things right, and not risk jail and pre-mature death.

They also claim that some of the violence is the result of outside agitators.

But this vandalism and looting — I watched in on TV each summer in the 60s as black ghettos erupted in riots all over the nation.

Civil rights has been a long struggle and it may not be over yet, even though we now have a black president, but somehow I don’t think looting and vandalism have any connection with righting wrongs.

In fact, I think it only serves to perpetuate the problem and anyone caught ought to face the full consequences under the law.


In kind of a strange twist, the trial was held in Los Angeles after a request for change of venue and before a jury with no blacks on it. That has some in the black commuity suspicious. But then again a black jury in LA apparently let OJ Simpson get away with murder. Two wrongs, of course, would not make a right.

I’m a little unclear about the anti-ethnic studies law in Arizona…

May 13, 2010

This is what I don’t understand about the new Arizona law to ban ethnic studies (said to be aimed at primarily one program in Tucson public schools).

Is Chicano Studies or whatever it is called taken only by Hispanics or do all students take it or is at least open to all students?

(Please see Add 2 at the bottom of this post)

When I went to college I was required to take an ethnic studies class. As it turned out,  I took Black History. I am white. I believe the whole idea of the class was not to promote black pride but to inform white boys like me (as well as minorities) about the history of blacks in America. The emphasis in the class as I recall was on the law, to include Supreme Court decisions, and the civil rights movement. The class was taught by a black man from Africa.

I see nothing wrong with ethnic studies being required, particularly if the idea is to let us whites know about the struggles of other ethnic groups, but it is a whole different ball game if ethnic  minorities (or ethnic group members, minority or not) are taking separate classes about their own ethnicity at the expense of accepted U.S. History and national unity. I never thought that ethnic studies were intended to promote race pride at the expense of American patriotism.

I read several stories about this current situation but have not yet gotten in straight what is or was going on in Tucson.

It is true that U.S. History as taught in the past concentrated primarily on the perspective of those of white European descent, but then again that is our history — you can’t change that. But ethnic studies requirements have or were designed to give us all a fuller picture of history and a better appreciation that this nation has attempted to overcome racism and ethnic strife that has not only caused problems in America but continues to cause upheaval all over the world.

But again, if the idea of the Tucson program was to use public education dollars to promote the pride of one race, that does not seem wise or right. But if  it is open to or required of all as a needed supplement to standard U.S. History, I would not think that should be outlawed.

ADD 1: (May 13, 2010)

A friend and former boss of mine turned me onto the fact that columnist Dough MacEachern of the Arizona Republic newspaper has written extensively on this subject, so I am going to try to read up on this for more info. If you’re interested you could google: ethnic studies, MacEachern, Arizona Republic.


ADD 2:  From what I have now read since beginning this post, the ethnic studies program in Tucson schools has been put together and run by people who some might regard as left-wing activists. Just as having history written by white European ethnocentrists can have a misleading effect on the truth (what we should all be after, the truth, that is), so can history slanted another way. I’d say: let’s be objective and pile on the facts and have discussion, but leave out the slant (well possibly except as needed for some good old fahioned patriotism — you have to believe in something good about your country). I have also now read in an article from the Christian Science Monitor that the ethnic studies classes are supposedly open and attended by students of ethnic groups other than the ones under study. And it notes that the Tucson district is 56 percent Hispanic in enrollment.



I know there have been charges that the Tucson program promoted racial strife. Well of course that would be wrong, but the program could be changed to do away with that I am sure.

The crazies are scary, but I think they may have always been with us…

April 8, 2010

Not much time to blog, but I feel compelled to comment on all the crazies coming out of the woodwork and threatening primarily those who supported the recent health care reform law, and primarily Democrats.

Part of this is technology — the internet, 24-hour news by the minute. Things that would not have made the news years ago make it today. In other words there always have been crazies — they just did not always make the news.

Also, I have mentioned this before and I was forwarded a story from the New York Times that says some of the anti-health care rhetoric is really a cover for racism.

The downtrodden white supremacists and male chauvinist pig holdouts are mad. Their world is falling apart.

And don’t get me wrong — I’m not one who wants to throw out all old ways and completely change society. I try to think progressive while holding on to the middle of the road somewhat.

But I know racists and women haters when I hear them. I used to listen to the CB radio out on the road — yes I’ve heard it all.

But even if there always have been crazies, it is kind of troublesome and downright scary at times.

And again, politicians and other public figures who condone all the crazy talk or give tacit approval or even stoke the fires are just as bad or worse than the crazies — they should know better.

What would the far right crazies say if they were being physically threatened? They would say “the commies are attacking us”. But right now it seems as if some form of neo-Nazis are attacking or threatening.


And maybe I’ve understated the threat of the crazies, since history shows it only takes one crazy to change the course of history. And often these crazies take in all the vitriol and think to themselves, “gee wouldn’t I be noticed if I actually went beyond words and took action”. Again, I wish that those who would consider themselves responsible public figures would not pander to the extremists — they are playing with dynamite!