By Sam Madden
(Edited with added link for Reiteration Comment, Jan. 26, 2021)
There is a troubling thing that has been going on in our country for the past several years which is doing more harm than good.
The subject of race and the United States history of it is at the forefront of many people’s and non-profit organization’s agenda.
Now that is not to say that racism does not exist in the United States, but it is being blown way out of proportion by many.
This country has been healing and moving forward on racial issues, but for some reason certain groups are not realizing this or refuse to acknowledge it.
How can we discount the fact that 76.3% of the voters in the 2008 election that put Barack Obama in Office were white?
Does that sound like a racist nation?
My daughter went to an elementary school that was only 6% White. It was 35% Black and the rest Hispanic. She is now 21. No one based on the color of their skin were treated any differently. In fact many of these kids have gone onto college, the military or are assistant managers in retail outlets.
Handley Elementary in Garland, TX. First Grade Class of 2005
Now I realize it is not like this all over the country, but it is in a ton of places compared to the past or when forced bussing was implemented.
FOCUSING ON THE PAST:
Most Therapists and Psychologists do not want their patients to focus on the past. They want them to move forward. That doesn’t mean that they forget about their past, they acknowledge it, learn from it and move on. They do not dwell on it. That is a recipe for a psychological disaster. Which this country is currently in.
So why are the past actions of the United States at the forefront of today’s thinking? Shouldn’t we be celebrating the strides this country has made over the last century? Especially over the last 50 years?
How many Black News Anchors did we have 50 years ago? How many Black Lawyers? How many Black College Professors? How many Black Politicians? How many Black Entrepreneurs? How many Black Judges?
The number of Black Judges hit an all time high back in 2015 according to a report put out by the Federation of American Scientists.
These Achievements this country has made are being tossed aside. Why? Why are we focusing on the past, and not celebrating these huge advances we have made?
If one lives in the past that is where they will stay. The media, the government, and others are “Race Baiting” us, as this Black Man stated at a protest in Stockton, CA.
It appears that society, (unless you live in a high crime neighborhood), don’t realize how many children are being shot in drive-bys. Sometimes while sitting in their home doing their homework. Now imagine if there were cell phone recordings of these incidents that could be placed on youtube? But there are not, so they are not at the forefront of people’s minds.
A Black Mom in Portland, OR who lost her 14 year old son in a drive-by shooting, stated that dismantling of the “Gun Violence Reduction Team,” (a special police unit) was the worse thing that has happened to the Black community she lives in. Elmer Yarborough a Black Man stated the same thing after losing his Nephew in a shooting.
(Note: The Gun Violence Reduction Team has been reinstated in Portland, OR)
People see an unarmed black man being shot by a white police officer, or incidents like the Eric Garner case or the George Floyd case and immediately call out racism, start calling for the defunding of the police and other measures that will only hurt communities.
Are there things that can be instituted to aide our police officers in certain situations, and also help the person who may be faced by a police officer? Yes, depending upon the circumstances. And those types of things definitely need to be worked on and instituted. But at the same time we can not tie the hands of our law enforcement officials who keep us safe.
There are approximately 1,000 deaths at the hands of a police officer every year. Around 250 or less are Black. Yet, approximately 7,500 Blacks are killed every year that are not at the hands of a Law Enforcement Official.
ANOTHER FALSE NARRATIVE:
The case of George Floyd has been called a lynching. And while what the officer did was despicable and I could easily see it being referred to as a lynching metaphorically, that type of rhetoric does not help us.
The fact is that George Floyd and others were killed at the hands of law enforcement by what is called “positional asphyxia.” And despite what the public thinks this is not a race issue. Since 2010 at least 107 people have died at the hands of a law enforcement official due to positional asphyxia, about 40 of them were White.
Due to social media and the media in general, people believe that the police are the greatest threat to black communities. They see raw footage of an incident from someone’s cell phone or other recording device and they are appalled. Which they have a right to be. But they shouldn’t have the right to jump to conclusions, immediately call out racism, call for the defunding of the police, or call for dead cops.
I always go back to the Ferguson incident. The “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” narrative that the media exploited and the nation ate up. But then testimony from Black witnesses said no that is not what happened. The Officer was fired before all the facts came out, and was forced to leave the community because of death threats on him and his family.
This point deserves to be reiterated: It appears that society, (unless you live in a high crime neighborhood), don’t realize how many children are being shot in drive-bys. Sometimes while sitting in their home doing their homework. Now again, “imagine if there were cell phone recordings of these incidents that could be placed on youtube? But there are not. If there were, people would be probably even more outraged, as they see for example a 5 year old child sitting in her Father’s lap after a Drive-by Shooting.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?:
First off we need to stop the “Us vs Them” attitude. People no matter the subject, whether it be politics, race, religion, etc. always want to turn it into a metaphorical war against what they perceive is the enemy.
James Alison, a Catholic Theologian and Priest stated the following:
“Give people a common enemy and you give them a common identity. Deprive them of an enemy and you deprive them of the crutch for which they know who they are.“
So as the Reverend David B. Smith, (An Anglican Priest from Australia and nominated for Australian of the year three times) stated, we must first “Stop, Think, Look, and listen.“
Everyone has something to bring to the table and it is within this table discussion that solutions will be found. As Dr. Mike Ghouse, the founder of the Center For Pluralism states: When we recognize and accept the “uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.”
This does not happen overnight. It is going to be a long and strenuous process. Facts must be laid out. Objectivity must prevail. Emotions need to be left outside the door. Rhetoric that divides us needs to stop. We not only owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our children, grandchildren and future generations so they can have a better world to live in.
Sam Madden is a Co-Director for the Center For Pluralism. He can be reached at email@example.com
Additional readings and sources on this subject from Sam Madden: