Sunday Commentary: Eyes Wide-Open, Listening to the Community

BTSR-2012

When you help to plan an event, the gnawing fear as you gain commitments for people to participate is what if people never come.  In planning the “Breaking the Silence of Racism” event, we added an element of risk by putting forth the idea that the event would not be about the people at the table talking, but rather about letting the community talk and the leaders listen.

And so yesterday it was D-Day, so to speak, as we had planned and promoted the event, but would anyone come?  The answer was a resounding yes.  More than 200 people packed into the Community Chambers.  The line of people waiting to speak was so long that we quickly and briefly huddled outside and decided to prolong the event so that everyone could speak.

After all, you cannot “break the silence” if you silence the public.  The result was that the event went an hour past the original plan.  People poured out their hearts.  They came, in fact, not just from Davis, but from around the region.

The panel was comprised of Davis City Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, Chief Deputy DA Jonathan Raven, Reverend Kristin Stoneking of the Cal Aggie Christian Association, UC Davis Executive Vice Chancellor Rahim Reed, Pam Mari from DJUSD and Captain Darren Pytel of the Davis Police Department.  They were great – they listened when they were supposed to, they commented when they needed to, they committed to follow up, and they all stayed an extra hour in their busy schedules.

It was a variety of topics, a variety of viewpoints, and a variety of people from different backgrounds.

The meeting started with a bang.  Francisca Reyes and Maria Quezada spoke, whose sons will be sentenced in a week, probably, to life in prison for a drive-by shooting in Woodland which was gang-related.  Ms. Reyes admitted that her son had done wrong, but believed that he did not deserve life for his crime.  She believes that had her son been white, he would have gotten a second chance rather than going to prison for life for his first offense (we’ll talk more about this case later this week).

There were a number of complaints about the DA’s office, in fact.  Supervising Deputy DA Jonathan Raven talked about the task force they were putting together, made up of citizens, to deal with racial issues including racial profiling.  He said he was trying to get Jann Murray-Garcia, a pediatrician and a community activist, to join.

Dr. Murray-Garcia earlier had asked each of the agencies to provide various data on issues of race.  Each of the agencies committed to trying to provide that data, including Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, about compiling a database of police stops.

Later, Dr. Murray-Garcia spoke about the case of Bernita Toney, who has twice been wrongfully accused of crimes and in the first instance was acquitted; in the second instance, the charges were dropped.  She explained that this, and other cases, is why she is declining participating in the DA’s task force.

Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, a Davis resident now, talked about his experiences dealing with police in this county, on both the Luis Gutierrez matter and the pepper-spray incident.  He looked straight at Chief Deputy Raven and told him that he felt that the DA in this county was part of the problem.

But the bulk of this event was not about the DA or the police.  It was about the racial climate that the average citizen in the city faces, and it was about the schools.  Parents and even teachers poured out their hearts, often to the point of tears.

A local business owner shared stories about the experiences that his interracial grandchildren suffered.  He told the audience that if you explain this story to a black person in Davis, they understand.  When you tell it to a white person, they respond that this is Davis, a liberal and progressive city.  He said they just don’t get it.

Another person told of how their children had been bullied in the schools and felt more comfortable in a school in a different community.

Others related the problems that interracial kids had – not fitting into any group.

In the end, it was not the police, not the DA, not the university, but Pam Mari of the school district who was on the hot seat the most during this three hours of public comment.

She had a tough task, especially with emotions as raw as they were.  She said that she felt bad mentioning it, but the school district has for the last several years simply been in survival mode.  But she felt that was not a good excuse.  She also talked about how new federal regulations would require the district to spend 100 hours in data entry on reporting requirements.  She didn’t know where they would get those 100 hours.

But mostly she was passionate and forceful that things had to change and that addressing these issues is a mission that she is committed to.  She believed we could do better and we had to do better.

I received the privilege of making the opening remarks to this great event.  In those remarks, I noted, and my comments were echoed by others, that from time to time in this community, a crisis has arisen.  In dealing with this crisis people come together, study the problem and make commitments to change.

Despite these commitments and the genuine way in which they are made, these changes fall by the wayside.  One longtime resident talked about the fact that, in her time here, things have really not changed.

Rick Gonzales of the Yolo County Concilio talked about how they had formulated a 51-point plan back in the 1980s that is gathering dust right now, and that he believes that each of these 51 points applies today.

When I hear the stories about the plight of interracial students in this district, it hits close to home.  We have an inexplicable and unacceptable achievement gap in this community that is far broader than in many other communities.

We have to do better.  Twenty years ago, this was an overwhelmingly white community.  In the 1990s, right before I came here, white students represented 75 percent of the student body in DJUSD.  Now they represent 57 percent.

This issue hits close to home as I raise three interracial children and hope to educate them in DJUSD.

As one observer noted, “I hope that the action plan that comes from the event is as robust as the day’s events were.”

We have a lot of work to do in that regard, but my commitment is to make sure that these efforts do not end up falling by the wayside as they did decades ago.

My eyes are open even wider than I thought possible.  I was blown away by the level of turnout and discussion yesterday.  We have a lot of work ahead of us.  But we have to do it.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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39 Comments

  1. David M. Greenwald

    DMA was there taping. I don’t know how long it will take to process three hours, but we’ll post the video and probably run a second story at that time.

  2. Phil Coleman

    Crowd count estimates are always to be taken with a grain of salt the size of a basketball. The Enterprise’s crowd estimate was 40 compared to this column’s estimate of over 200. Other comments spoke to “standing room only” in a rather large assembly room, and long lines of people anxious to speak.

    That’s a considerable discrepancy. Council Chambers can absorb 40 people easily with plenty of empty chairs left over. Did anybody think to do an actual head-count and is willing to publish it under their real name?

  3. Ryan Kelly

    David, Pamela Mari has spent over a decade (maybe more) of blaming work overload for her inability to respond in any effected way to solving the achievement gap, reduce truancy, or the disparate treatment when wielding disciplinary actions. Parents should do all they can to keep their children off her radar. She is good at attending meetings, but that’s about it. If you want anything to change, you’ll need to find someone else to work with.

  4. biddlin

    Count heads in the photo, Phil . You can count more than forty people in just that shot . Congratulations on a successful event, David . I am away on family business, but look forward to the video.
    “We have a lot of work ahead of us. But we have to do it.”
    I applaud your sentiment, but fear that Davis’ “tolerance” will be it’s Achilles’ heel, as`long as the intentionally disingenuous and truly bigoted are given a pass by most of the “Good People” of Davis .

  5. wdf1

    Phil Coleman: [i]Crowd count estimates are always to be taken with a grain of salt the size of a basketball. The Enterprise’s crowd estimate was 40 compared to this column’s estimate of over 200.[/i]

    You know, you could actually look at the photos to count people and realize that the Enterprise under-counted, both in David’s photos the Enterprise photo ([url]http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5908:sunday-commentary-eyes-wide-open-listening-to-the-community&catid=51:civil-rights&Itemid=81[/url]).

    I’ve been there when I counted about 250+. There were people in all seats and seated/standing around the sides and spilling into the lobby, the room off to the side of the lobby, and outside in the breezeway. The fire marshal was there.

  6. medwoman

    I am sure that if anyone is really concerned about an actual head count, that can be approximated from the sign in sheet which would provide a minimum number assuming that at least a few will not have signed in but there will not be duplicates.

    Fixing on the number of attendees would be an error in this case. There were enough folks there to fill the chamber.
    For me it was the range and intensity of the discussion that was of greater interest. One writer has stated that there are some in the community who “like to fan the flame”. I would not disagree with this statement. However, I would also point out that in order to “fan” there must be a “flame”. I doubt anyone present in the chamber yesterday would have doubted the reality of the experiences for those describing them. To deny, or belittle someone else’s reality, is to deny the credibility or validity of their point of view. To me this is the essence of promoting inequality in our society. Yesterday was a very moving experience in terms of seeing an issue from alternative points of view, including that of a white individual feeling that his presence and experience was being devalued. All were listened to. I would strongly urge anyone who has any interest in this issue, and especially those who do not believe that this is an issue, to watch the tape of the event when available with an open mind and heart.

  7. B.Toney

    Although I could not attend, my most recent tragedy was shared by my supporter and dear friend. Since the City of Davis disbanded the former HRC in 2006, members of this community have no place to go with issues like the ones presented Monday. Just maybe this was enough for the current council to revisit the roll of the HRC. I strongly suggest your readers revisit the Vanguard article, “City Continues Move toward Stripping Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Key Power”. I clearly remember those meetings of 2005 and 2006, both HRC and School Board meetings. This city was deep into recognizing a real problem exist. Televised meetings revealed true pain and valid evidence. Some could not deal with the real truth and progress was halted. As mentioned above, the Enterprise had a problem with printing. We had to buy the Sacramento Bee or the Woodland paper to find out what was going on in our own city. Maybe Mondays forum is a start of something new and effective.

  8. Frankly

    [i]Dr. Murray-Garcia spoke about the case of Bernita Toney, who has twice been wrongfully accused of crimes and in the first instance was acquitted; in the second instance, the charges were dropped. She explained that this, and other cases, is why she is declining participating in the DA’s task force.[/i]

    This only adds to my suspicion that the activists of racism are in too deep in their victim worldview to do anything other than protest.

    My sense is they are not helpful to their own stated cause.

    There is plenty of evidence that backs an assertion that, related to racism in this country, we have progressed beyond a point where protesting solves any problems. In fact, I think it serves the opposite result: fomenting and perpetuating a conflict of races that would otherwise decline from a collective mindset of a population more and more experienced and at ease with racial integration.

    We live primarily racially integrated lives, but then have our senses continually assaulted by an amplifying media, and a few prominent race issue-noisy people, unable to let go of their templates of racial conflict sensationalism.

    If we are completely honest, we know that the root-cause source of over-represented minority crime rates, and under-represented minority prosperity achievement rates, are two things:

    1.Broken family values that contribute to high rates of out of wedlock childbirth and single parent households.

    2.A crappy public school system that fails miserably to engage and educate minority students.

    Targeting law enforcement for minority over-representation in crime is a lazy, if convenient, diversion from the hard work that otherwise should be done. It feels good to release those emotions against a defined culprit. However, it is a type of short-term therapy without any tangible contribution to solving the real problems.

    If these complaints against the DA and law enforcement are warranted based on the evidence (the few stories of individual mistreatment, and the crime statistics outcomes), then educators and minority community leaders should be much maligned for failing to stop the breakdown of minority families; and educators should be held in the utmost contempt for their contribution to dropout and illiteracy rates of minority children.

    Complaining, protesting, maligning, blaming, demonizing and being full of contempt… these things might help us feel better as we release pent-up emotions, but they also serve to divert our attention from the real root causes, and prevent us from working together to solve the real problems.

    I don’t think events like these are helpful in the big picture.

  9. K.Smith

    [quote]David, Pamela Mari has spent over a decade (maybe more) of blaming work overload for her inability to respond in any effected way to solving the achievement gap, reduce truancy, or the disparate treatment when wielding disciplinary actions. Parents should do all they can to keep their children off her radar. She is good at attending meetings, but that’s about it. If you want anything to change, you’ll need to find someone else to work with.[/quote]

    I would have to concur with this on the basis of my one interaction with her. During the recent Emerson Jr. High/Da Vinci “A Christmas Carol” debacle, she was singularly unhelpful, contradicted herself several times on the reasons for cancelling the play, and was unwilling to consider community buy-in for finding helpful and positive solutions to allow the play to move forward. Luckily the problem was solved, but it wasn’t through any kind of help from her.

  10. Matt Williams

    Phil Coleman said . . .

    [i]”Crowd count estimates are always to be taken with a grain of salt the size of a basketball. The Enterprise’s crowd estimate was 40 compared to this column’s estimate of over 200. Other comments spoke to “standing room only” in a rather large assembly room, and long lines of people anxious to speak.

    That’s a considerable discrepancy. Council Chambers can absorb 40 people easily with plenty of empty chairs left over. Did anybody think to do an actual head-count and is willing to publish it under their real name?”[/i]

    Phil, there was a voluntary sign in sheet, so some sort of count is possible from that. I was sitting on the right side of the room and saw no more than a scattered half-dozen empty seats. With four full rows of approximately 20 seats on that side of the aisle plus the short row of 5 seats in the back, I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that there were between 80 and 100 people seated to the right of the aisle. As speakers came to the dias from the left of the aisle it looked equally packed. There were at least 20 people standing as well. So, 200 total isn’t an unreasonable estimate IMHO.

  11. medwoman

    Jeff

    [quote]If we are completely honest, we know that the root-cause source of over-represented minority crime rates, and under-represented minority prosperity achievement rates, are two things:

    1.Broken family values that contribute to high rates of out of wedlock childbirth and single parent households.

    2.A crappy public school system that fails miserably to engage and educate minority students.
    [/quote]

    If we were being “completely honest” we would acknowledge these as two of the issues, but far from the only causes of differential outcomes between different races and socioeconomic groups in police enforcement, the
    judicial system, education, economic success, health care outcomes, and virtually every other aspect of our society.
    These issues are not as straightforward as you would like to portray them. To gain a different perspective, I would encourage you to watch the tape. You will see a number of different perspectives and views presented worthy of consideration.

  12. eagle eye

    At least in East Davis, there are many police interactions with pedestrians and drivers based on race or other minority status; when police notice they are being watched, the encounter ends. I.e., there was no basis for the encounter except minority status.

  13. Don Shor

    I’m sure that the young men who are constantly being pulled over will be happy to know that it’s just because of their parental birth status and the crappy schools.

  14. Matt Williams

    David M. Greenwald said . . .

    “I took those pictures early, a lot of people came in later too.”

    I was one of the late arrivals and in order to get a seat I had to go past 8 or so seated people to get to the one available seat in the row.

  15. Frankly

    [i]If we were being “completely honest”[/i]

    Let me change this to: [b]If we were being completely factual.[/b]
    This quote sums it up:
    [quote]“Even if white people were to become morally rejuvenated tomorrow,” writes black economist and professor Walter E. Williams, “it would do nothing for the problems plaguing a large segment of the black community. Illegitimacy, family breakdown, crime, and fraudulent education are devastating problems, but they are not civil rights problems.”[/quote]
    So, you can wring your hands about this other things, but The civil-rights establishment that characterizes such problems as nothing more than by-products of white racism… and continues to push that view through decades of constant repetition… has won the minds of many black Americans.
    [quote]“Instead of admitting that racism has declined,” observes Shelby Steele, “we [blacks] argue all the harder that it is still alive and more insidious than ever. We hold race up to shield us from what we do not want to see in ourselves.”[/quote]
    Some related “facts”:
    [quote]Among black families where both the husband and wife work full-time, the current poverty rate is a mere 2 percent. Moreover, the relatively small (13 percent) income disparity between black and white two-parent families completely disappears when we take into account such factors as occupational choices, educational attainment, age, geographic location, and comparative skills.[/quote]
    [quote]Children in single-parent households are raised not only with economic, but also social and psychological, disadvantages. For instance, they are four times as likely as children from intact families to be abused or neglected; much likelier to have trouble academically; twice as prone to drop out of school; three times more likely to have behavioral problems; much more apt to experience emotional disorders; far likelier to have a weak sense right and wrong; significantly less able to delay gratification and to control their violent or sexual impulses; two-and-a-half times likelier to be sexually active as teens; approximately twice as likely to conceive children out-of-wedlock when they are teens or young adults; and three times likelier to be on welfare when they reach adulthood.[/quote]
    [quote]In addition, growing up without a father is a far better forecaster of a boy’s future criminality than either race or poverty. Regardless of race, 70 percent of all young people in state reform institutions were raised in fatherless homes, as were 60 percent of rapists, 72 percent of adolescent murderers, and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates. As Heritage Foundation scholar Robert Rector has noted, “Illegitimacy is a major factor in America’s crime problem. Lack of married parents, rather than race or poverty, is the principal factor in the crime rate.”[/quote]
    The education establishment blames the breakdown of the black family for their crappy outcome statistics for black students.

    The civil rights establishment blames whites for the breakdown of the black family, and other

    This sets up a dysfunctional circular blame-game that ensures we will never focus enough energy on real solutions.

  16. B.Toney

    Jeff Boone wrote:
    [quote]
    [i]This only adds to my suspicion that the activists of racism are in too deep in their victim worldview to do anything other than protest.[/i][/quote]

    With this statement, it is obvious to me that you know nothing about Dr. Murray-Garcia, her commitment to the Davis Community, or the pain and struggles of the people who volunteered to share their experiences. This event can be a step in the positive direction to help our community become the place you believe it is.

    Jeff,
    Are you close with anyone who has been a victim of racism? Have you ever shared the pain felt by a child or an adult? Walk a mile in my shoes… in your case, start with a few blocks. I encourage you to sit in Yolo County Court with someone who has been wrongfully accused. Watch DA office try to bully someone to take a plea, strip months/years from the lives of the family. Volunteer your time to attend every court date, say 19 visits in 21 months. Try explaining to your employer that you are innocent and you want to keep your job but you have to have these days off, for yourself or to support a friend.

    Jeff did you read this?

    [quote]A local business owner shared stories about the experiences that his interracial grandchildren suffered. He told the audience that if you explain this story to a black person in Davis, they understand. When you tell it to a white person, they respond that this is Davis, a liberal and progressive city. He said they just don’t get it.[/quote]

    Jeff you wrote: [quote]We live primarily racially integrated lives, but then have our senses continually assaulted by an amplifying media, and a few prominent race issue-noisy people, unable to let go of their templates of racial conflict sensationalism. [/quote]

    I know nothing about you, if you have bi-racial grandchildren of your own or not. Based on your views, my guess is NOT.
    My recommendation to you and others with doubt is to put yourself in a positions where you are the minority, face racism and imagine that feeling to be a way of life. After which you should return to this post and read your comment. Only then will you truly know how wrong you are.

  17. Don Shor

    Jeff, I’m not understanding the point you’re trying to make. I wasn’t there either, but it seems from David’s article that the focus of the presentations was on interpersonal interactions (incidences of racism) and the climate that those create. Not on the existence or root causes of poverty.

  18. Frankly

    [i]I’m sure that the young men who are constantly being pulled over will be happy to know that it’s just because of their parental birth status and the crappy schools[/i]

    “Happy?” Is that your goal Don, to make sure everyone is happy?

    It would quite frankly suck to belong to a group of people owning identifiable physical characteristics that are attributable to a valid statistical difference that justifies the assessment of a higher risk for criminal activity. I put myself in a position of a cop – sworn to protect the peace and prevent crime – in this town of primarily white affluence… what is the correct thing for me to do when I am suspicious of an individual belonging to one of these groups… especially when demonstrating behavior or affiliations more commonly associated with criminal intent?

    Should I second-guess my suspicions as being some subconscious form of racism that the modern civil rights establishment seems stuck on shaming every white person to admit they have?

    Should I limit the numbers of people of color I pull over or question to match the ratios of diversity in the general population?

    Should I start pulling over and questioning more white people to help make it seem fairer?

    If I am a DA, should I go more lenient on people of color charged with crimes just to help level the statistical over-representation of minorities in crime and punishment?

    If I am a judge, do I follow a sort-of affirmative action set of set of sentencing rules that give more quarter to minorities to compensate for the racial unfairness alleged as largely contributing to the criminal situation they find themselves in?

    Maybe doing these things would make everyone happier. My guess is that it would not. I would also not do a damn thing to fix the root-cause problems. So, why are we wasting so much energy on them?

    It sounds like a good part of this event was focused on the education outcome difficiencies. So, I need to roll back my point that this event was not useful; as this is one of the two categories of solution I suggest we tackle. Unfortunately, as we saw in this election, black and Latino voters came out in support of Democrats committed to protecting the education status quo. So, the actions are not backing the rhetoric. Again, it is more evidence that the pursuit is short-term, feel good complaining at the expense of working on the real long-term solutions.

  19. rusty49

    I’ll bet pretty much the same people showed that always show up to these types of events. You’re always going to have a core of people in Davis that like to perpetuate racism.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    First of all, Jeff, a lot of the people who came were not in poverty, they are middle class people.

    Second, Rusty, pretty much the same people? What does that mean? You are drawing a broad net considering you weren’t there. Some people who came might fall into that category, but I was impressed by the wide range – a number of people I have never met came, there was a business owner whose grandson is interracial, there were some educators, there were people who worked with law enforcement, it was a very broad range of people. And interestingly enough, not everyone agreed.

    Your comment is very presumptuous and inaccurate.

  21. Frankly

    [i]David’s article that the focus of the presentations was on interpersonal interactions (incidences of racism) and the climate that those create.[/i]

    Don, I think this focus on this type of superficial “how we make people feel” is detrimental to keeping our collective eye on the root-cause and real solutions ball. I don’t so much care about each imperfect human interaction (specifically because it is a wasted pursuit to seek perfection in a biological entity made perpetually imperfect by the very emotions that we seem driven to satiate).

    What I care about is the plight of all those minority children that have a much higher probability for leading a life of low prosperity and higher levels of criminal activity. Within that lager scope of problem will be contained copious less-than-perfect individual interactions that could be attributed to some form of race-based bias. However, continuing to focus on these dwindling number of less-than-perfect individual interactions, takes our eye off the ball for what we should be working on. It gives us a false sense that we are doing something. It makes people feel better that they got to voice their complaint and someone heard them… when in fact we are accomplishing very little to nothing to really help fix the real problems.

  22. David M. Greenwald

    Jeff: You’re commenting on something in ignorance. A lot of the people who spoke are not poor. In fact, some were educators themselves, most had college degrees, this is not about what you are talking about. You’re making presumptions here and you weren’t there. That’s a problem.

  23. Frankly

    [i]First of all, Jeff, a lot of the people who came were not in poverty, they are middle class people.[/i]

    I understand that David, but don’t those people not in poverty understand that there is a problem with race-based crime statistical representation that makes it difficult for law enforcement to make them feel good while also doing the right things to prevent crime and enforce criminal law?

    It is a dead chicken and egg argument. I think your position is that racial profiling – if it is even happening – is contributory to racial inequity. Let’s assume that is the case for the sake of argument. Well, it is a dead chicken. The gains you make in winning that argument will be de minimis in the scope of the problems contributing to the over-representation of minority crime statistics.

    The egg argument is that these other things – breakdown of the family and crappy education – are root causes of socioeconomic differences that result in greater representation in crime statistics… that in-turn lead to over-representation of police stops.

    Asians are a minority group that is not over-represented in crime stops. Asking and answering why provides a window into my argument for where we should be focusing our efforts.

  24. Frankly

    [i]Too bad you weren’t there jeff, maybe you would have a different view.[/i]

    David, maybe, but I doubt it.

    I certainly would anticipate that my views on this topic would not be welcome or well-received by the attendees of that event.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “I understand that David, but don’t those people not in poverty understand that there is a problem with race-based crime statistical representation that makes it difficult for law enforcement to make them feel good while also doing the right things to prevent crime and enforce criminal law?”

    There are two classes of comments (I’m oversimplifying) criminal justice issues and social interaction issues. I was actually caught off guard by the number of social interaction issues and the rawness of those emotions.

    So, I think we need to start by separating there.

    The difficulty in law enforcement is one of what is a legitimate stop and what is the equivalent of phishing for crimes. You argue that Asians are not over-represented in crime stops, do you know that for sure? You’re just assuming. And if not, why not? The Asian population is rapidly growing and as more Asians come from the Southeast as opposed to more affluent areas like Korea, Japan and China, I think these differences may further decrease.

    The perception is that there is an inequality in the application of the laws by race. Whether that is true or not, we need to study the perception, determine if it is accurate, and address it. Dismissing the complaints only helps to further the frustration and exacerbates the problem in my opinion.

    We have a problem. We need to study it and figure out what it is.

  26. David M. Greenwald

    “I certainly would anticipate that my views on this topic would not be welcome or well-received by the attendees of that event.”

    There were people at the event that expressed some of your views and the comments were welcomed. I’d add, that at the very least you wouldn’t be talking as much about poverty issues if you were there because you’d have a better appreciation for what was discussed.

  27. Matt Williams

    Jeff, the point you are making has a lot of merit, but only if you make it in a bit less absolute terms. What I saw and heard in a number of the stories that were shared, was the fact that things get very blurry at times both when one looks at events from the order provision perspective and from the live one’s life perspective. Jonathan Raven chose to respond to one of the more critical comments of the DA’s Office by saying something like , [i]I could share specifics that would “defend” the DA’s Office, but the reality is that such a “defense” would overlook/ignore the fact that perception is reality, and that we in the DA’s Office need to do more to engage the feelings that are being expressed here.[/i]

    My personal perspective when I heard that was that he truly meant what he said. What was also clear to me was that the standard that my mother-in-law held me up to applies to both the DA’s Office and the people who were sharing stories about the problems that their community is having with the DA’s Office, specifically that [i]You are only as good as [u]your[/u] next mistake.[/i]

    In a world of “decision making with incomplete data,” law enforcement is regularly in a position where they find themselves saying, “If I only knew more . . .” and those concerned about profiling regularly find themselves saying “If they only knew more . . .” However, the reality is that we also find ourselves as a society sometimes asking ourselves,”Why didn’t they act sooner . . . ” That is an incredibly difficult line to walk, and what is a solid rational decision in the eyes of some, is a precipitous decision in the eyes of one group of others, and a far too slow decision in the eyes of another group of others.

    I wish there was an easy solution, but the reality is that there isn’t one. The best that we can do is attempt to walk in the other person’s shoes each and every day. If we do that we will be focusing on our similarities rather than our differences.

  28. Frankly

    From Wikipedia…

    In terms of over-representation of blacks in crime, [b]prosecutorial and police discrimination theory[/b] has been discredited in that various studies have shown that, in recent decades, there has not been any noticeable disparity in black vs white crime statistics in black-controlled vs white-controlled cities (say Atlanta vs San Diego). In the largest counties, the rates of conviction for accused blacks was slightly less than the conviction rates for whites, for example.

    The theory that makes the most sense to me as being valid is [b]Social Control Theory[/b]

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_control_theory[/url]

    [quote]that exploiting the process of socialization and social learning builds self-control and reduces the inclination to indulge in behavior recognized as antisocial. It was derived from Functionalist theories of crime and Ivan Nye (1958) proposed that there are four types of control:

    1. Direct: by which punishment is threatened or applied for wrongful behavior, and compliance is rewarded by parents, family, and authority figures.

    2. Internal: by which a youth refrains from delinquency through the conscience or superego.

    3. Indirect: by identification with those who influence behavior, say because his or her delinquent act might cause pain and disappointment to parents and others with whom he or she has close relationships.

    4.Control through needs satisfaction, i.e. if all an individual’s needs are met, there is no point in criminal activity.
    [/quote]
    Related to this is the theory that an abundance of non-criminal opportunities for increasing prosperity will dissuade more from pursuing crime. So, 20%-30% unemployment rates, and extreme crappy schools, in our urban areas contributes to increased black crime and punishment. Which is exactly why this conservative says that Obama has been a disaster for blacks that voted for him.

    We solve the problem with over-representation of black crime, and the secondary problems where non-criminal blacks are treated unfairly by law enforcement, when blacks are no longer over-represented in single-parent, fatherless households; they have access to high quality education services designed to meet their customer needs; and we have a robust and growing private economy that gives them a much greater level of opportunity for legally growing their personal and family prosperity.

  29. Phil Coleman

    The suggestion that a tabulation of the sign-up sheet for a preliminary count is well taken. This is the first disclosure of an actual relevant document to assist in this discrepancy. Neither story summary used this data sheet as a means of going beyond unreliable estimates.

    The sign-up sheet would at least a minimum number of attendees since some folks would probably decline to give signatures, particularly if they were there only as an observer.

    And, yes, the picture, though distorted, shows what appears to be more than 40 people. But the picture, in itself, does not refute the Enterprise estimate to an arguable degree.

    This begs the obvious question: How did the Enterprise erroneously report crowd attendance by a factor of five? Event attendance equates to interest, so an accurate count, or estimate, is essential to gauging the community participation in this event.

  30. B.Toney

    Jeff Boone

    My gosh!…

    This is not “problems plaguing a large segment of [u][b]the black community[/b][/u]” Therefore everything that follows in your comment is MUTE.

    I was just about to post a response to your first comment and then I saw your second one. Now I realize something else is going on.

    Hint: To keep an open mind, I find it is helpful to review materials and debate on the side of your opposing point of view. Actually, I would bet Dr. Murray-Garcia would be willing to help you understand Racism, its causes and effects.

    [u]Because this is a forum for free speech, Jeff, I encourage you to continue.[/u]

    Also, because I think you have the most to gain from my reply … here it is.

    [quote]Jeff Boone wrote:

    This only adds to my suspicion that the activists of racism are in too deep in their victim worldview to do anything other than protest.
    [/quote]

    With this statement, it is obvious to me that you know nothing about Dr. Murray-Garcia, her commitment to the Davis Community at large, or the pain and struggles of the people who volunteered to share their experiences. This event can be a step in the positive direction to help our community become the place [u]you believe it is[/u].

    Jeff,
    Are you close with anyone who has been a victim of racism?
    Have you ever shared the pain felt by a child or an adult?
    Walk a mile in the shoes of a supporter. I encourage you to sit in Yolo County Court with someone who has been wrongfully accused. Watch the DA bully an innocent person to plea, cause them to lose their job, and strip months/years from the lives of the family. Volunteer your time to attend every court date, say 19 visits in 21 months,for the same case. Try explaining to your employer that you are innocent and you want to keep your job but you have to get these days off, for yourself or to support a friend.

    People, this is what happens in our community. Over and over again.

    Jeff did you read this? [quote]
    A local business owner shared stories about the experiences that his interracial grandchildren suffered. He told the audience that if you explain this story to a black person in Davis, they understand. When you tell it to a white person, they respond that this is Davis, a liberal and progressive city. He said they just don’t get it. [/quote]

    I say to [b]Members of Yolo County and the Davis community[/b]. RACISM is ugly. In my opinion it is a form of Terrorism, and I speak from experience. Likewise, the long term effects are devastating on an individual and on a race of people.[b] Much like the September 11 bombings.[/b]
    CHILDREN,WOMEN,AND MEN in countries under attack don’t have many buildings standing. Daily bombings and nightmares have become a way of life. Until it happened here, people in the US just didn’t get it. Note: we experience one day of bombings and look at the damage.

    [quote]
    Jeff you wrote:
    We live primarily racially integrated lives, but then have our senses continually assaulted by an amplifying media, and a few prominent race issue-noisy people, unable to let go of their templates of racial conflict sensationalism. [/quote]

    I know nothing about you so this is in no way personal.

    My recommendation to you and others with doubt is to be BOLD. Put yourself in a position to experience RACISM; where you are the minority or the only one of your race. Attend conferences or neighborhood events in other communities. Once you face racism, try imagining that feeling to be a way of life. Return to this post and read your comments. Only then, will you truly know how wrong you are.

    The bottom line, folks in doubt, Racism is REAL .. You just don’t get it
    Not until you or someone dear to your heart experiences racism, a personal terrorist attack.

  31. Robb Davis

    Hey Jeff – I think getting at root causes in any issue is important. But a cold analysis of data is not a substitute for sitting with people to understand how they are perceiving the world. I think this is especially true when we are trying to deal with a tough issue in our local context. Jeff, the people speaking yesterday were sharing intimate stories of pain and confusion and (as I said to rusty49 in another post) they are our neighbors. Taking a couple of hours to sit and listen and deeply hear how people are framing the issue from their perspective is time well spent. This is especially true if we want to begin to find a way forward as a community.

    As a public health practitioner I went into many communities in West Africa to discuss prevention and treatment of malaria. I had the data on hand that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that certain preventive measures and certain treatment regimens could save lives. I could have merely recited this information to the mothers in these communities, but I learned it was critical for them and me to engage in dialogue about their particular challenges, needs and concerns. It was only in engaging in the relational that the sharing of the data (the evidence) could be brought forth in a way that honored them as people–as agents of change in their own communities. Though imperfect, the space created yesterday was a dialogue space for those who chose to participate.

  32. SouthofDavis

    Don wrote:

    > I’m sure that the young men who are constantly
    > being pulled over will be happy to know that it’s
    > just because of their parental birth status and
    > the crappy schools.

    I’m sure that out of all the cops out there some of them are racist and like to pull over people of color for fun, but if we are honest we will admit that people of color tend to attract cops (of all races) more than white people. When was the last time you saw a white guy blasting rap music, with limo tint on the front windows, or driving a car that had wheels like these?

    http://automobileandamericanlife.blogspot.com/2012/09/more-donk-photos.html

    Years ago (just after he got his MBA at Haas) a friend was complaining how he is pulled over by racist cops just because he is black and driving a late model BMW. I got him to admit that he was never been pulled over when he was on his way to work (he was a banker in SF) and every time he was pulled over he 1. had the top down, 2. he was playing loud rap music, 3. he was wearing a baseball hat sideways (thankfully after he turned 40 he does not play the rap music as loud and I have not seen him wearing a sideways baseball cap with the tags still on it for years)…

  33. wdf1

    DMG: [i]Too bad you weren’t there jeff, maybe you would have a different view.[/i]

    JB: [i]David, maybe, but I doubt it.

    I certainly would anticipate that my views on this topic would not be welcome or well-received by the attendees of that event.[/i]

    I would suggest you attend such an event and figure out how to listen without comment. The exercise isn’t for you to explain how the world should be, but to see how others perceive the world. You don’t have to accept it personally, but just listening without comment goes far for relationships in communities.

  34. jimt

    re: perceptions of racism and realities of racism; some thoughts

    I think Rusty and Jeff make some good and valid points to balance out the discussion; on the other hand I would also agree that there is some real racism out there–exaggerated by some; and minimized by others (actually I would propose that most people call racism is more accurately a reflection of cultural biases–“culturalism” rather than racism).

    It seems to me its problematic to determine what kind of behaviors are conclusively indicative of an underlying racial bias as motivation; rather than some other motivation for the behavior.
    I suspect that certain talk and actions that are interpreted as racist may not be due to racism.
    I also suspect that certain racist-motivated talk and actions are not perceived as racist; but due to something else when in fact they result from racism in the speaker/actor; but are not interpreted this way!
    So both things probably happen.

    Doesn’t it seem, though, to an extent we are sensitizing people to perceive racism, not only in situations where it exists; but in situations where it does not exist? I worry that an increased sensitization can result in further polarization within society, and people pulling back into their own cultural groups, which we have encouraged in this society to be racially based (since society has encouraged people to identity themselves by race).
    So to some extent our society has a schizophrenic attitude, where on the one hand we are encouraged to identify ourselves by our race, but on the other hand we are told that there is no significant difference between racial groups (brings me back to my previous point that much of what we are encouraged to identify as racism might be more accurately specified as “culturalism”).

    As I have posted before on this blog; over a period of about a year where I had ongoing intermittent problems with rear license plate visibility and lighting, I was pulled over frequently by Davis police–I’m a middle-aged white guy who drives very conservatively. A good portion of the crime in Davis is in fact committed by minorities that drive in from out of town (Sacramento, etc.);this is reflected in the Davis crime records (Davis is a relatively soft target). So this may lead some police to look more closely at racial minorities, particularly if they appear to be from out of town. Unfortunate for those law-abiding minorities who live in Davis. It seems to me that to avoid this, avoid wearing gangsta or ‘hood style clothing–the baggy pants pulled down to crotch level (or below), the hoodies; etc.; my bet is that if you don’t look the part, even if you are a minority, you are less likely to be more scrutinized by the police–call it fashion bias (not necessarily racism).

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