A Frank Discussion on Race in Davis on MLK Day

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Lecia Brooks from the Southern Poverty Law Center came to Davis on Monday to speak about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, as well as to talk about contemporary issues of race in our society.

The Southern Poverty Law Center came into being in the early 1970s by two white natives of Montgomery, Alabama, Morris Dees and Joe Levin.

“Morris talks about having Klan members in his family,” Lecia Brooks told the audience, “and Joe, though he is Jewish, grew up experiencing and living out white privilege.”

“But these two white men decided to found the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971 because they didn’t believe that Alabama would live up to the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act,” she told the Davis audience.  They continued Dr. King’s legacy in the legal arena.

One of their big early victories was suing the YMCA in Montgomery, which Ms. Brooks said, “instead of living up to the Civil Rights Act, and integrating public spaces, they just decided to close.”

They also sued the state of Alabama to force them to integrate their state troopers, because Alabama for a time simply refused to hire additional state troopers in an effort to integrate.  “The state of Alabama said, well we just won’t hire any black state troopers,” she said.  “We won’t hire any state troopers if we have to hire black ones.  We had to take that case all the way to the Supreme Court to force Alabama to desegregate the state troopers.”

She spoke both of the progress that has been made but also the work that has yet to be done.

“The SPLC is hard at work, trying to advocate for the rights of marginalized people in our society,” she said.  “But are we there yet? We’ve been doing what we’ve been doing since 1971, but have we realized the dream yet? No.”

“And we have Dr. King’s immortal words to help us gauge our progress in whether or not we’ve achieved that dream.”

It was here that the local community and leaders within the community came together, in the form of a panel discussion joined by Ms. Brooks, to discuss racial issues in Davis today.

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The panel was moderated by Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson and, in addition to Ms. Brooks, there was: Osahon Ekhator, a former member of ASUCD Senate; Desmond Jolly, a retired agricultural professor and longtime UC Davis resident; Superintendent of DJUSD Winfred Roberson; and Professor Tilahun Yilma, professor of veterinary virology at UC Davis.

“I keep on my phone the quote, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ Mayor Pro Tem Swanson said, “but as we go on and look forward to what we can do in our own community, I always think about the judging people by the content of their character and it’s beyond race and something that we’re challenged to do, there are so many groups that feel marginalized because of their beliefs, their orientation, the color of their skin, their level of education”

She added: “I could stand up here for an hour and that would be my challenge to the community to stop and really think about how you’re engaging each other.”

The panel first responded to the question as to what MLK Day means to them.

Professor Yilma stated that he has been in Davis since 1965 and “I have seen very significant improvements that have happened from the sixties to date.”

While he sees this as a special day, he also sees that there is a long way to go.  “One of the things I want to bring your attention to is that 33 percent of African-American are in prisons.  We spend close to $50,000 a year in California to keep them there.  So we have plenty of money to spend to incarcerate people but we don’t even have $2000 to go school.”

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Superintendent Winfred Roberson noted that you look at the students from Patwin who came to sing and all of the people on the stage, “You at that at face value and everything looks fine.  And it does because we have made significant progress as a nation.”

He sees education as a civil right, he said.  But while we have made progress, he said, “There is an achievement gap that exists.  The students of the same color, same background in school yet that find that their achievement isn’t at the same levels.  So, as I reflect on Martin Luther King Day, that stares me in the face as we begin to deal with the complexity of that issue.”

Desmond Jolly related the story of a colleague who told him that when the first Chinese professor was hired at UC Davis, “he could not find a place in Davis that would rent to him.  The university had to actively intervene to find a place for this Chinese professor.”

“Well today, the majority of the students on the campus are Asian-Americans,” he said.  “They have no problem finding a place to live.  That’s due to the civil rights movement.”

He also related a story of a female who was told she could not become a doctor, so instead she became a nutritionist and eventually a provost.  Today, the majority of students in the medical field are women.

“That’s what King Day means to me,” Professor Jolly said.  “I look not just at the failures.  African-Americans have not been participating meaningfully in achievements in the post-apartheid society, but there are reasons for that.  But women, Asians, other groups have benefitted tremendously.”

“So inadvertently perhaps, perhaps advertently, Dr. King’s work has opened up the society to a whole wide swath of people in terms of being able to realize their dreams,” he said.

“I came to this country in 1994 from Nigeria,” said Osahon Ekhator, the youngest member of the panel.  “My mom and dad both had to go to college all over again because they were told that their degrees didn’t really count.  So I watched my parents struggle and fight a steep uphill battle and succeed.”

“Now that I’m in college, King Day brings me make to poignant memories in my childhood that exemplify the aims in his dreams,” he said.

Lecia Brooks was asked about the most pressing civil rights issues of today.  She responded, “One would be income inequalities and disparities, immigration, the rights of lesbians and gays,” she said.  “Racism is an ongoing issue.”

“College cities, college campuses often have the stereotype that they’re a lot more liberal and a lot more easy for everyone to mesh and coexist,” Mr. Ekhator responded to a question about the racial climate in Davis.  “That’s what I thought too before I got here.”

He said that the campus does a really good job of “seeming” to coexist and mesh.  He related that as soon as he got a new car from his parents, he was pulled over seven times by the police.

In an incident overshadowed by the pepper-spray incident, “The campus newspaper published an opinion article entitled ‘Jungle Fever’ that reduced black males to animals, objects,” he said.  “It was horrible.  It was like a safari guide as to how to get a black man.”

He did say, “At the same time, my time here at UC Davis has not been bad, because there are structures and there are communities and the different student groups at UC Davis that work together to fight these injustices.   They’re strong and they’re only getting bigger and better.”

Desmond Jolly again noted the progress of Asian-Americans in the community and on campus.  “In that sense, Davis has become much more tolerant and much more accepting of diversity.”

“For young black men unfortunately, I think it’s still a problem,” Dr. Jolly told the audience.  He related that his son was stopped frequently by police in Davis, “almost every Friday and Saturday night.”

“Davis has become much more open and tolerant about diversity,” he said, “But there are still pockets of resistance.  I think the locus of that might be the police department and perhaps, in some degree, in the schools.”

He also noted that when he sees African-Americans working in businesses in Davis, he feels “uplifted like somehow it’s not a hostile business place.”  He said, “Occasionally, I see a black person working in a business in town and I think wonderful, why aren’t there more?”

Superintendent Winfred Roberson told the audience, “The achievement gap has to do with the academic performance of students in the relationship of students of color to white students.”

He issued a big thanks to the school board, which he said, “has the tenacity and the will to close the achievement gap.”

“It seems simple but it is not easy,” he said. “There are a lot of underlying structures that hinder the achievement of students of color.”

He said his research suggests the need to look at what he called, “internalized and transferred racism.”

“I think many of our students of color have internalized or they begin to believe and act upon the negative messages that they’ve received about themselves and their group which causes them to give up, which causes them to lose hope, and causes them to doubt that they’re as intelligent as their white peers,” Superintendent Roberson said.

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“This undermines their ability to do well,” he said.  “We’re having conversations, serious conversations about what we need to do as adults to make sure that every student is valued and feels valued.”

Professor Yilma spoke to the issue of bias in sentencing policies and noted an article that pointed that, while the US had only five percent of the population in the world, it has 25% of all incarcerated individuals.

“When you have 33 percent of African-Americans at one time or another in prison, and it costs $50,000 a year in California to incarcerate someone,” he said an added, citing Senator Webb from Virginia, “there are two explanations… either we have the most evil citizens of the world or there is fundamentally something wrong with what we’re doing when we incarcerate so many more citizens in prison.”

“Isn’t it interesting that if a young person wants to go to college we cannot afford to give him $2000 or $3000 a year,” he said, “but we can spend $50,000 a year to incarcerate him.”

“There is something fundamentally wrong with that,” he added.

The take-home message of the day was powerful, because it is not that we have not made progress, it is simply that we have not progressed enough or progressed evenly.

It goes back to Ms. Brooks’ comment about the People’s Campaign March, which was largely deemed a failure because those involved “had grown weary of protesting and [were] frustrated by the lack of immediate change.”

The conversation began but will not end on Monday, as we all paused in our lives for a few seconds to ponder the legacy of a society that told people that they could not do the same things as others, for no reason other than the color of their skin.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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30 thoughts on “A Frank Discussion on Race in Davis on MLK Day”

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]“I think many of our students of color have internalized or they begin to believe and act upon the negative messages that they’ve received about themselves and their group which causes them to give up, which causes them to lose hope, and causes them to doubt that they’re as intelligent as their white peers,” Superintendent Roberson said.[/quote]

    Very wise observation. As a teacher, I can tell you half the battle is in getting the student to believe they CAN DO THE WORK. It may take them a little longer to grasp concepts, but only because their fear of failure is so deeply ingrained. Once you get students over that hump of feeling as if they are not capable of doing the work, it is usually smooth sailing from there…

  2. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The take-home message of the day was powerful, because it is not that we have not made progress, it is simply that we have not progressed enough or progressed evenly.[/quote]

    I prefer to look at the glass half full than half empty. As Professor Jolly pointed out [quote]“So inadvertently perhaps, perhaps advertently, Dr. King’s work has opened up the society to a whole wide swath of people in terms of being able to realize their dreams,” he said.[/quote] This does not mean there is not room for improvement – there always is in any endeavor. But we have come a long, long way from the days of my childhood in the racially segregated South…

  3. Rifkin

    [i] “One of the things I want to bring your attention to is that 33 percent of African-American are in prisons. We spend close to $50,000 a year [b](FOR EACH INMATE!)[/b] in California to keep them there. So we have plenty of money to spend to incarcerate people but we don’t even have $2000 to go school.”

    Given that most inmates (blacks, whites and others) are in prison for drug crimes–in other words for “victimizing” users much the way the forerunners of Mondavi Wines or Sierra Nevada Brewing “victimized” those who drank during Prohibition–I think the mass incarceration we have in California and across the nation is an abomination. As a percentage of the total U.S. population, the prison population has quadrupled since the “war on drugs” was declared in the 1970s.

    Why has a UC education become so expensive? Because the money California used to spend on subsidizing it has gone to the best friends of the Democratic legislators, the CCPOA.

    That said, those who are incarcerated for drug crimes knew they were breaking the laws. They knew the consequences when they chose to get involved in the drug trade. They chose their fate.

    The answer, in my view, is not simply to end the war on drugs. (My preference is that we strictly regulate the manufacture and sale of “stree drugs” to strip the profits from the black market dealers.) The primary answer is to be found in the families of those who are growing up in order to go to jail.

    We need to strongly disincentivize young people who are not prepared to rear children from bearing children. We need to strongly incentivize fathers to marry the mothers of their kids. We need to strongly incentivize couples with kids to stay together and raise their children.

    We also need to allow kids who are not academically oriented to get a trade school education beginning in junior high school (before they start dropping out). We need to make it easier for employers to hire the next generation of young men who come from broken homes in our inner cities. And we need to have governmental programs (like the EITC) to subsidize their wages until they have the experience and skills to earn enough money to support a family.

    Even if we got rid of the unjust drug laws, we would still have, unfortunately, the vast majority of black boys (and a large percentage of Hispanic and white boys) growing up in households which fail to provide them the direction needed to succeed in our increasingly technological economy. The key to ending bad outcomes (prison, poverty and premature pregnancy) in black America, in my view, is mostly by rebuilding the intact black family.

    It’s really no different for whites or Latinos among the poor. The only difference is the percentage is worse for blacks. If you take a middle class black child in Davis who is reared by his mother and father and the family has a stable income, that child has every advantage over the poor white child whose father abandoned his uneducated mother.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    I don’t necessarily disagree that intact families are optimum. However, in this day and age of high divorce rates, and one spouse choosing to walk out on his/her family responsibilities without any societal prohibition/repercussions, the reality is that so many children come from one parent families. Even two parent families can have serious problems for a child, e.g. alcoholism, abuse. Yet kids are extremely resilient. The most important thing to do is support our kids in the school system be it urban or rural, where they generally are present more hours of the day than they are home… it is the key to the success of our youth, who are our future…

  5. Rifkin

    [i]”I don’t necessarily disagree that intact families are optimum.”[/i]

    The academic studies of this topic overwhelmingly prove this to be true. Here is a University of Chicago study from 2005 ([url]http://www.alabamapolicy.org/pdf/currentfamilystructure.pdf[/url]) which (in 47 pages) examines a lot of other studies done before.

    The point is not that there are no exceptions–I should say that after age 7, when my father died, I was raised successfully in a single-parent, relatively low-income family*–the point is that the odds of raising children who will go on to lead productive lives and who will avoid getting incarcerated are much higher if the household includes a mother and a father and those parents (or stepparents) are married to each other; and that if a child is reared by a mother only, and that mother lacks education and work skills, and the family lives in a neighborhood full of other such homes, the odds are much higher that the children will not succeed in school and will not be well-prepared for the work world and will end up in prison.

    *I have always thought that one key to my success in school and as a kid was that all of the families around me were intact. I did not have my own father, but I was helped having all of my friends’ fathers in my life. By contrast, in many low-income communities, there are almost no fathers. Every household is headed by a single female and she often lacks the skills to earn enough money to provide for her kids on her own.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    It’s hard to ignore the impact of single-family homes, but I would caution people not to get too far off track here because if you look at the data on the achievement gap, you quickly realize that the gap holds across races controlling for SES, controlling for parent’s education, and yes, controlling for parent’s marital status. It is in short a racial issue and not just one driven by the fact that some minority groups are disproportionately less well off than other groups.

  7. wdf1

    [i]”When you have 33 percent of African-Americans at one time or another in prison, and it costs $50,000 a year in California to incarcerate someone,” he said an added, citing Senator Webb from Virginia, “there are two explanations… either we have the most evil citizens of the world or there is fundamentally something wrong with what we’re doing when we incarcerate so many more citizens in prison.”[/i]

    An interview I heard yesterday that is relevant to this point:
    [quote]1/16/12, Fresh Air, NPR: Legal Scholar: Jim Crow Still Exists In America ([url]http://www.npr.org/2012/01/16/145175694/legal-scholar-jim-crow-still-exists-in-america[/url])

    Under Jim Crow laws, black Americans were relegated to a subordinate status for decades. Things like literacy tests for voters and laws designed to prevent blacks from serving on juries were commonplace in nearly a dozen Southern states.

    In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.[/quote]

  8. Frankly

    [i]”The most important thing to do is support our kids in the school system be it urban or rural, where they generally are present more hours of the day than they are home… it is the key to the success of our youth, who are our future…”[/i]

    Bingo!

    [i]”The New Jim Crow”[/i]

    [i]”She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.”[/i]

    Bullshit.

    Do you get the absurdity of blaming the justice system for denying blacks “basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens”… when breaking the law landed them in jail in the first place?

    Are we going to do? Give blacks a special get-out-jail card, or advocate 4-strikes or 5-strikes for blacks only? How might that help blacks from feeling marginalized and disfranchised?

    The culture of lawlessness is the problem. The solution is to stop the soft bigotry of low expectations. The solution is to go into these neighborhoods and starting with the youngest children separate them from the culture of gang violence and teach them to respect and obey the law. The solution is to bolster their self-confidence… ridding them of any and all adult mentors that preach black victimology. Teach them to channel their aggression and risk-taking behavior into activities that generate positive opportunities and outcomes (e.g., academics, athletics & work). Teach them that there is no need for “black” or “white” culture, because there is a more valuable American culture… the one that Dr. King gave his life to help them be accepted into… and it is the one that provides them the best chance at success, prosperity and happiness.

    In this way we can save the next generation. Because, about the time these kids hit junior high, despite what we might try, most of them will be lost adults having adopted the law-breaking culture.

    Note that if we release too many of these prisoners, they will go back to the neighborhoods and influence the youngsters. I am for decriminalizing and taxing (to be used exclusively to fund treatment programs) some drugs, but we need to be careful letting out a flood of prisoners that believe in a culture of lawlessness.

  9. Frankly

    [i]”It’s hard to ignore the impact of single-family homes, but I would caution people not to get too far off track here because if you look at the data on the achievement gap, you quickly realize that the gap holds across races controlling for SES, controlling for parent’s education, and yes, controlling for parent’s marital status. It is in short a racial issue and not just one driven by the fact that some minority groups are disproportionately less well off than other groups.”[/i]

    The only racial issue is the lack of adequate root cause analysis explaining the data differences… and a jump to conclusion that white on black racism still exists to the extent that warrants professional activists and politicos that make their living or fullfill some identity or ego quest perpetuating black victimology.

    David, using your logic, professional sports organization are racist against whites… of course though only controlled for SES.

  10. Frankly

    [i]”It is in short a racial issue and not just one driven by the fact that some minority groups are disproportionately less well off than other groups.”[/i]

    Fist let’s clear up that “racism” and “racial bias” are one in the same. They are in my book.

    So then what does the quote above imply if not racism? You have before used similar data/arguments related to the over-representation of blacks in prison as indicative of racism.

    What if I reworded my point to say that over-representation of blacks in professional sports is a racial issue? Would you then conceded the absurdity of the point?

  11. David M. Greenwald

    I didn’t use bias either in the statement you quoted. I simply stated that race a fact that race is an explanatory variable in achievement.

    I don’t see the sports analogy as comparable to economic and social issues that involve racial differences. Where there was a racial issue in sports more recently it had to do with the under representation of blacks as managers, head coaches and in the front office.

  12. Rifkin

    [i]”… if you look at the data on the achievement gap, you quickly realize that the gap holds across races controlling for SES, controlling for parent’s education, and yes, controlling for parent’s marital status.”[/i]

    Why do you think there is an “achievement gap” between various racial groups when you control for all of those factors?

    Are you suggesting it is cultural? Do you think there is either an internal or external expectations gap?

    [i]”It is in short a racial issue and not just one driven by the fact that some minority groups are disproportionately less well off than other groups.”[/i]

    This statement makes it sound as if you are saying the achievement gap is due to biology. Is that your point?

  13. Don Shor

    Rich: [i] 
Why do you think there is an “achievement gap” between various racial groups when you control for all of those factors? 
[/i]

    I think Superintendent Roberson makes a clear statement as to where he thinks the achievement gap originates:

    “I think many of our students of color [b]have internalized or they begin to believe [/b]and act upon the negative messages that they’ve received about themselves and their group which causes them to give up, which causes them to lose hope, and causes them to doubt that they’re as intelligent as their white peers,” Superintendent Roberson said. “This undermines their ability to do well,” he said. “We’re having conversations, serious conversations about what we need to do as adults to make sure that every student is valued and feels valued.”

    It is the [b]beliefs[/b] of those who are underachieving that holds them back. Certainly that isn’t unique to students of color; perhaps he and others are saying that such beliefs are simply disproportionate among such students. I think he would know better than we would how you can overcome[b] beliefs [/b]that are self-defeating. But since beliefs can be changed, so can outcomes.
    Positive role models, positive reinforcement of success, help in goal-setting and career counseling, and early intervention when behavior problems manifest themselves seem like starting points, and none of those requires separate programs just for students of color.

  14. David M. Greenwald

    “Why do you think there is an “achievement gap” between various racial groups when you control for all of those factors?”

    That’s a good question that I do not know the answer to. Winfred Roberson offered his take on it. I don’t know the answer.

    “Are you suggesting it is cultural? Do you think there is either an internal or external expectations gap? “

    That seems to be something of what Winfred is suggesting.

    “This statement makes it sound as if you are saying the achievement gap is due to biology. Is that your point? “

    No.

  15. Frankly

    I agree 100% with Winfred Roberson.

    I would also add to this the self-defeating belief that there exists enough racism in this country to hold a person back from what they can otherwise accomplish.

    I do not agree with Michelle Alexander.

  16. David M. Greenwald

    My guess is that you and Winfred probably do not agree on most things involving the achievement gap. I must also say I’m a bit disappointed some of you did not come yesterday. Fortunately, it was taped and we’ll be posting it.

  17. Frankly

    David: What do you mean “explanatory variable”? What does it explain? What is this “racial issue” you say exists?

    So, it is only the cases where minorities are under-represented in positive outcomes, or over-represented in negative outcomes that you see as racial issues? That seems very limiting if your goal is to seek equality. It is also hard to see your arguments as credible if you cherry-pick the data/examples like this, IMO.

    David, I know a bit about your family situation and you are to be commended over and over again for what you are doing caring for the children of your relatives. I want the best for them as I do all kids. I just think minority kids have their will destroyed by so many reminders that they are, or will be, victims of racial bias. If a life is 10% more difficult because of racial bias, then the lesson should be to make it an advantage for developing coping skills for better handling adversity.

    Growing up poor. Moving frequently. Never feeling like I quite fit in. I know what it was like to feel marginalized. I hate to think how I might have turned out had I had so many people telling me I was a victim and could blame others for my challenges.

    The big piece of this is education. Let’s be honest about this, education is failing in a big way for blacks… especially black males. Spending more money on the current system has not helped. There is something fundementally wrong. We can blame weak family structure until our faces turn blue, but it does not solve the problem. What is the solution? I think the system as designed needs to be replaced with one that can better satisfy the needs of these kids. At the very least, by reforming the system to attemp to make things better we show we care enough about them. How must it feel to be trapped in a crappy public school with no option to do something different? No wonder kids lose hope.

  18. David M. Greenwald

    What I mean by that is that race has an impact on achievement in Davis after controlling for other factors.

    Now what that is, I don’t know. I think Winfred, who btw, based his thought on research, is getting at some of it.

    Give me an example where minorities are over-represented in positive outcomes due to race (and sports is not such an example).

    What concerns me are examples where the children of college educated minorities do considerably less well than the children of college educated whites and Asians. That’s not an example of a failed school. Davis is not either. So I think it is more than you suggest. I know you believe that the problem will be solved by private schools, I just don’t believe that – I think the problems are too deep. Private schools really don’t have the resources to deal with problem kids.

  19. medwoman

    JB

    “The solution is to go into these neighborhoods and starting with the youngest children separate them from the culture of gang violence and teach them to respect and obey the law

    And how would you propose to do this without completely removing them from their families. We have a history of this approach in this country with disastrous results. Our government thought it a good idea to forcibly remove thousands of Native American children from their families and their reservations in order to “save them from life on the reservation. The toll in terms of destroyed families and lives was incalculable. How iwould what you are suggesting be any different from this debacle ?

  20. Rifkin

    [i]”Give me an example where minorities are over-represented in positive outcomes due to race (and sports is not such an example).”[/i]

    White actresses, especially blondes with implants, on telenovelas

  21. hpierce

    [quote]“Give me an example where minorities are over-represented in positive outcomes due to race (and sports is not such an example).” [/quote]
    Any DMV office…

  22. wdf1

    JB: [i]I do not agree with Michelle Alexander.[/i]

    Have you listened to the interview? It seems like you’re reacting more to the teaser blurb I posted rather than the meat of the interview. It seems like you miss the points. There are some good points consider. The interviewer, I think, questioned fairly, and even offered your position, almost verbatim. I’m paraphrasing some of her points:

    1) The “Drug War”, which began in the Reagan administration, had more targeted prevention outreach (programs like D.A.R.E.) in middle class suburban communities, but more targeted enforcement in poorer inner city neighborhoods.

    2) In spite of the fact that drug use in poorer inner city communities was proportionally not higher than in other communities.

    So the point that she makes is that blacks and latinos were disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.

    She also discusses the use of grant incentives to local police agencies for purposes of drug enforcement, not too different from what DMG has reported on for Yolo County with respect to gang enforcement. Such grant incentives were used more for enforcement in poorer communities because they didn’t have the resources (money) to challenge the charges in court. And to target enforcement in middle class communities would have brought more public outrage and political repercussions.

  23. Frankly

    [i]”Give me an example where minorities are over-represented in positive outcomes due to race (and sports is not such an example).”[/i]

    – Hip Hop music
    – Tyler Perry films
    – Oprah’s money

    From the the US Census Bureau:
    [quote]Minority- owned businesses are growing faster than other businesses — and black-owned businesses have been growing at the fastest rate of all.

    The total number of U.S. businesses grew by 10 percent between 1997 and 2002, the most recent data available. By contrast, the number of black-owned businesses grew by a whopping 45 percent.

    The number of Hispanic-owned businesses grew by 31 percent, and the number of Asian-owned businesses grew by 24 percent.[/quote]

    [quote]The U.S. Census Bureau says blacks owned nearly 2 million businesses in 2007, the year of the last survey of business owners. That was up more than 60 percent from the previous survey in 2002. The jump was more than triple the growth rate for all U.S. businesses, and the highest rate of increase of any minority.[/quote]

  24. Frankly

    medwoman: [i]”And how would you propose to do this without completely removing them from their families.”[/i]

    wdf1: [i]”2) In spite of the fact that drug use in poorer inner city communities was proportionally not higher than in other communities.

    So the point that she makes is that blacks and latinos were disproportionately arrested, convicted, and incarcerated.”[/i]

    What do we do when kids in these neighborhoods go bad and start breaking the law? What do we do when gangs form and provide an unhealthy attraction and role model for the younger kids? What do we do about the violence in neighborhoods that endangers good kids and that adds another level of stress to their lives and desensitizes them from the worst types of human behavior? When kids live in an environment of greater despair and lower hope, and see so many adults around them using drugs, how do we prevent the spread of drug use?

    We have to stop the cycle and doing so means we need to focus on the younger children. We need strong law enforcement in these neighborhoods to root out the older kids that have developed into lawless thugs. We need to remove the drug users from the neighborhoods. We basically need more law enforcement to clean the neighborhood of the junk to make room for positive opportunity to bloom.

    Then we need a completely different type of school… more hours, more days, more activities… different teaching methods… more counselors… more use of technology and tools… more arts and industrial arts… more engagement of the students… military-style schools for the more spirited and borderline trouble-making students…

  25. wdf1

    JB: [i]What do we do when kids in these neighborhoods go bad and start breaking the law?[/i]

    Again, you’re not bothering to listen to the interview. When you look at drug convictions (more for possession of small amounts) apart from other kinds of criminal convictions, the point she’s making is that the enforcement was done disproportionately in poorer neighborhoods. Similar rates of drug use exist outside of that community, but according to her, we’re not bothering to enforce drug policy as heavily in those areas. It is the more minor drug convictions that are taking up space and resources (taxes) in our prison system.

    [i]Then we need a completely different type of school… more hours, more days, more activities… different teaching methods… more counselors… more use of technology and tools… more arts and industrial arts… more engagement of the students… military-style schools for the more spirited and borderline trouble-making students…[/i]

    I don’t exactly disagree with you, but it all costs more money than we’re now spending.

  26. jimt

    I agree with the gist of Jeff Boone’s comments here.

    Jeff, amazing that we can disagree so strongly on economic issues but not on this and some other issues of personal responsibility. I guess it would seem to me that you haven’t opened your eyes to the fact that many of those near and at the top of the social/economic pyramid have demonstrated even worse social irresponsibility than those near the bottom (the consequences are even bigger, and from a moral standpoint because they know better, or should know better). I’m not talking about the small and medium size business heads, who mainly play by the rules (I have much respect for these guys), but those at the top of some of the major corporations and financial institutions who have essentially hijacked the government, and because of the internationalization of business have interests that are no longer aligned with those of most American citizens.

  27. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The culture of lawlessness is the problem. The solution is to stop the soft bigotry of low expectations. The solution is to go into these neighborhoods and starting with the youngest children separate them from the culture of gang violence and teach them to respect and obey the law. The solution is to bolster their self-confidence… ridding them of any and all adult mentors that preach black victimology. Teach them to channel their aggression and risk-taking behavior into activities that generate positive opportunities and outcomes (e.g., academics, athletics & work). Teach them that there is no need for “black” or “white” culture, because there is a more valuable American culture… the one that Dr. King gave his life to help them be accepted into… and it is the one that provides them the best chance at success, prosperity and happiness. [/quote]

    Well said Jeff!

  28. Frankly

    jimt, I’m glad that we agree on some of this, but I don’t really agree with your point about there being more at the top of the economic pyramid demonstrating worse social/economic responsibility/behavior; however, since there tend to be fewer of them, their actions tend to be amplified impacting many more people. I think they shoulder a much greater responsibility to do the right things.

    Sometimes what is pinned to them as bad behavior is actually just honest mistakes in judgment. Many higher-ups in the subprime mortgage and financial market meltdown were just caught up in the wild exuberism of the times. However, Bernard Madoff knew he was breaking the law and continued. An interesting point though about Madoff is that he was/is a liberal Democrat… the ideology that is supposed to care about all the people at the bottom of the pyramid. There is a very big difference between malice and ignorance. Mistakes deserve second chances. Malice deserves punishment.

    [i]”but those at the top of some of the major corporations and financial institutions who have essentially hijacked the government, and because of the internationalization of business have interests that are no longer aligned with those of most American citizens.”[/i]

    I’m not sure I agree that major corporations have hijacked the government (allthough the development of so many Super Pacs is a bit alarming). Lobbying and business-campaign alignment has gone on since the union formed. It is part of the democratic process. However, I do agree that larger multinational companies do not develop business strategy in consideration of what is beneficial to American citizens. They do though factor what will benefit customers buying their products and services, and what will benefit them in terms of employee labor to produce their products and services.

    This latter point is a big reason that I am so interested in education reform. What we are experiencing relative to jobs and outsourcing is a global wage leveling. The labor in developing countries is much cheaper than is American labor. However, American wages have been stagnant and will continue to for some time… while the cost of labor in developing countries will continue to increase.

    The primary cost components of a product company are:

    – Labor
    – Raw materials
    – Shipping
    – Taxes & regulations
    – Real property (land, buildings, etc)
    – Fixed assets (equipment)

    If we want to attract more jobs to America, then we need to work on improving what we can control. We can control the tax and regulatory cost to business by lowering it. We can also control the value of labor by improving education. Business will pay more for higher quality labor because higher quality labor is more productive (lower cost per unit of production).

    Business does not “care” about labor like a parent cares about a child. With business, the emotional-connection equivalent is profit, and related to that is the concept of value. These are beautiful things because they are pure… they are easy to understand and develop partnership agreements and economic strategy around. It is the emotional injection that usally screws it all up.

    We are in an increasingly competitive game to romance and attract job-producing business to our communities, our states and our country. The quality of our infrastructure and our robust legal system are still advantages that help us gain some competitive edge… but even these are in decline while countries with emerging economies strive to improve theirs. Add to this decline the fact that our education system is woefully inadequate and we are actually growing less competitive.

    The reason I want to see vouchers and choice is that I believe the public education system cannot change fast enough and profoundly enough to meet our needs for global economic competition. Getting back to the blog topic, other than the actions I listed to “clean the junk” from these depressed neighborhoods, ramping up the education services to meet the needs of the kids in these areas is the very best thing we can do to help end the cycles of lawlessness and poverty that have plagued generations… AND at the same time help our communities, states and the country become more competitive attracting jobs.

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