Sunday Commentary: Lack of Trust Fueled the Crisis at Ferguson

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Ferguson-riot
Ferguson exploded for the second time in late November following the Grand Jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson. The Justice Department investigation vindicates the Grand Jury but hammers Ferguson nevertheless.

Back in December I wrote that the prevailing belief in the black community, especially for those under the age of 40, is that they do not trust the system to oversee the actions of the police and hold them accountable. While there is no agreement about whether Officer Wilson was justified in his shooting, the absolute lack of faith in the system renders that a moot point.

Indeed, this week, the reports from the US Justice Department validate both views. The first report provides the latest exoneration for Officer Darren Wilson, going so far as to question whether “the hands up, don’t shoot” symbol of the movement has validity. But that finding is undermined by the second report, which hammers the Ferguson Police Department and validates the lack of trust in the black community.

Worse yet, while the shooting of Michael Brown happened in Ferguson, the focus on Ferguson is almost an historical accident – it is neither the only city in St. Louis County nor the worst to suffer these problems.

The report is nothing short of devastating, concluding, “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.”

“This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing, and has also shaped its municipal court, leading to procedures that raise due process concerns and inflict unnecessary harm on members of the Ferguson community,” it continues.

“Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices both reflect and exacerbate existing racial bias, including racial stereotypes. Ferguson’s own data establish clear racial disparities that adversely impact African Americans,” the DOJ states.

Worse yet, “The evidence shows that discriminatory intent is part of the reason for these disparities. Over time, Ferguson’s police and municipal court practices have sown deep mistrust between parts of the community and the police department, undermining law enforcement legitimacy among African Americans in particular.”

In a way, the focus on the revenue rather than ensuring public safety really tames the findings. It is easy to point to the racist emails and the quick terminations that resulted from them. But the bigger finding to me is that “routine interactions between officers and black residents quickly escalated.”

The report, for example, cites a 2012 case where a violation of a city code on window tinting resulted in the illegal pat down of a black man. He would ultimately be arrested on eight offenses, including “making a false declaration” by giving his nickname instead of the name on his license. Over the course of the arrest, the officer accused him of being a pedophile, asked to search his car without cause and reportedly held a gun to his head.

The report also notes that the Ferguson Police Department used Tasers and dogs in excess on black suspects.

In 2013, in one prominent example, police chased down a man who was bitten by an officer’s dog even though the officer had frisked him and knew the man was unarmed. The use of force was then justified by police supervisors with a false statement, suggesting that the officer feared “that the subject was armed.”

Under this backdrop, are we surprised that the public, particularly the black community, is forthcoming with accepting official police versions of incident?

As outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder described it, the Ferguson criminal justice system created “a highly toxic environment, defined by mistrust and resentment, stoked by years of bad feelings, and spurred by illegal and misguided practices.”

“While there is an issue as to whether his hands were up, the bigger question is whether we as a nation are going to step up to try to bridge this gap of distrust between police and those who they are sworn to protect and serve,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat of Maryland.

The trust issue continues to undermine even the Justice Department’s conclusions. The Justice Department’s findings about the series of interactions between police and African-American residents of Ferguson suggest that perhaps the interaction between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson may have been avoided with more adroit handling by the officer, or a greater level of trust between the young Michael Brown and the young officer.

Civil rights violations require a very high bar in this case.

Still, as an article that appeared in the New York Times today suggests – Ferguson has become the symbol but bias knows no border.

The Times notes that had Michael Brown been shot about 500 yards to the southeast, he would have been in Jennings, Mo. “The court system there, which is overseen by a white judge but has almost exclusively black defendants, routinely sends people to jail for failure to pay minor traffic fines, a new lawsuit alleges.”

Three and a half miles to the north, and we would be talking about Florissant. The Times notes, “In 2013, the police stopped black motorists at a rate nearly three times their share of the population. Less than four miles to the northwest, in Calverton Park, court fines and fees accounted for over 40 percent of the city’s general operating revenue last year.”

It was, however, the city of Ferguson that came in the crossfire for “explicit racism among city officials, abusive policing and a system that seemed to view people ‘less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue.’ And it is Ferguson that will almost certainly be forced to make wholesale changes.”

The Times reports, “Ferguson, a city of 21,000, is unusual in some respects — it has issued the most warrants of any city in the state relative to its size, for example — but the unfairness in its court system that the Justice Department highlighted is not limited to it, to St. Louis County or even to Missouri.”

“Ferguson is one dot in the state, and there are many municipalities in the region engaged in the same practices a mile away,” said Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department’s top civil rights prosecutor. “It would be a mistake for any of those neighboring jurisdictions to fold up their hands. They should absolutely take note of this report.”

Ms. Gupta urged “police and city officials nationwide to read the report on Ferguson and take stock of whether their police and court systems were equally in need of an overhaul.” “The Ferguson report really does highlight some issues that jurisdictions around the country are plagued with,” she said. “Police departments shouldn’t wait for us.”

As Jann Murray-Garcia wrote locally in December, “This (racial) divide is defined by first a stinging difference in the frequency of racial experience as Americans of black race, and two, a lack of trust because of experiences in well-documented excessive use of (lethal) police force, disproportionate, unwarranted law enforcement contact with people of color, and prosecutorial overcharging.”

What police and public officials need to recognize is that, as long as there remains the issue of trust, they will never get the benefit of the doubt.

We may be a nation built on laws, but for too many people in this nation we are a nation built on the rule of two different laws – one that governs privilege and one that governs people of color, and in Ferguson we saw what happens when those two sets of law meet. Without trust, there can be no acceptance of the rule of law.

For that, “hands up, don’t shoot” remains a fundamental iconic image for the breakdown of trust and, until that can restored, more incidents will happen like in Ferguson.

—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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54 thoughts on “Sunday Commentary: Lack of Trust Fueled the Crisis at Ferguson”

  1. Davis Progressive

    the biggest problem here and the reason why people were quick to turn on officer wilson is the lack of the trust for the police.  we can see now very clearly why there is such a lack of trust of police.  they using inappropriate methods not only for the purpose of revenue, but in terms of policing.

  2. Anon

    The report is nothing short of devastating, concluding, “Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.”

    This says it all IMO.  The only thing Holder was able to conclude with any degree of verification from the Ferguson situation was the city’s focus on revenue.  In other words, there was insufficient evidence to show racism in the confrontation between Officer Wilson and Brown.  However, unless Holder is completely clueless, focus on revenue is common throughout the nation’s police departments.  How many cities across the country use speed traps to generate revenue? LOL

    1. Miwok

      What I want to know is if when the Police and State Polices were investigating this Brown case, did they get different answers? Feds?

      I don’t think any of the Ferguson residents trusted any police at any level.

      I guess the old Southern Speed Trap stereotype is alive and well in America.

      Which law governs the looters?

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Don’t forget that billionaire Progressive George Soros funneled over $3 Million into  various groups who helped drive the Ferguson story.

    3. Davis Progressive

      well it seems that the use of force complaints, the escalation mild situations, and the racist jokes were relatively serious.

      the article noted that the revenue was common in the st. louis region and in fact ferguson may have been less egregious than other places.  however, the racial disparity should be alarming here.  i saw a segment by bill o’reilly that someone forwarded via youtube, i never watch tv but it was interesting watching him here and his main point was that the police choice in who to flag on jaywalking and minor infractions is entirely discretionary whereas running a light or more serious offenses is less so.

  3. Tia Will

    Anon

    However, unless Holder is completely clueless, focus on revenue is common throughout the nation’s police departments.  How many cities across the country use speed traps to generate revenue? LOL”

    I am not sure what you find amusing about this. Are you giving a pass to law enforcement because their abuse of power is, in your eyes, ubiquitous ? Are you stating that you do not believe that it matters if these abuses fall disproportionately on one segment of the community ? Do you not think that it matters that tickets for one segment of the community get “fixed” by those in power, while those who do not have an in are subject to every increasing fines due to their inability to pay or to get someone to “fix” their ticket for them ?  What am I missing here about your amusement ?

    1. Miwok

      too many conflicts of interest in these organizations, too much nepotism, and too many family dynasties, just about like any long time institution..

  4. Frankly

    Indeed, this week, the reports from the US Justice Department validate both views. The first report provides the latest exoneration for Officer Darren Wilson, going so far as to question whether “the hands up, don’t shoot” symbol of the movement has validity. But that finding is undermined by the second report, which hammers the Ferguson Police Department and validates the lack of trust in the black community.

    First, Office Wilson and everyone else that jumped on the cop-hating, cops are racists narrative bandwagon owe everyone else a giant apology.  And although David and the Vanguard should be included are rider on that bandwagon, David was at least early in his deflection that the issue was compounded by a lack of trust.

    So lets talk about the lack of trust.  Where does it come from?

    It comes from people of all colors demanding safety and protection from the police.  It is because of this demand for safety and protection that cops have to do the dirty work… going to the societal cesspools that origination crime and criminals that threaten the safety and protection of others.  It just so happens that these cesspools of crime and criminals have a higher percentage of black residents.   Is is circumstantial that blacks are highly over-represented in these neighborhoods where there is a lot of crime and a lot of criminals?  I think that is a worthy debate?  However, it is not the responsibility of the cops to solve the problem.  The ONLY think police are responsible for is to try and reduce and/or stop crime from happening.

    And when we or our family and friends are mugged, raped, killed and robbed… we demand that the cops prevent that next occurrence.

    And because of our demand the cops go to these neighborhoods.

    And black in these neighborhoods note that there are more cops and more encounters and they feel they are treated unfairly.

    But the issue is geography and demographics, not cops.  Just like you are more apt to get shot or have your head cut off in Mosul Iraq, there are increases risks for cop encounters in Ferguson.

    Trust might very well be the issue.  But police are not the replacement for all those missing fathers.  Cops do not provide the missing fatherly love… even if it is to be considered tough love.  Cops do the job we ask them to do… and we cannot then turn around and blame them for the consequences.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Root causes. In areas like this the illegitimacy rates often approach ninety percent, and any semblance of a “traditional” family is gone. I rarely see any Nigerian- or Ethiopian-American families at these protests or living in these areas.

      Fact is that the black family survived slavery, but has been torn apart by Big Government / Progressive-ism. And now they want to solve the problems they created?

      Does anyone every notice we rarely or ever see these stories run in Black Beverly Hills? Because the kids are in school, or studying, or working a job, or being pushed by their tiger Mom.

      1. Miwok

        So why are the Schools and City trying to add to programs like lunch programs that keep people dependent? Why are they not using the school to give the people on these programs extra educational opportunity instead of a handout?

        And when we or our family and friends are mugged, raped, killed and robbed… we demand that the cops prevent that next occurrence.

        So true because Police do not prevent crime.. They just clean up after.

      2. Tia Will

        TBD

        Fact is that the black family survived slavery,”

        This is a very sanitized version of what slavery actually meant for black families. It conveniently ignores those husbands and wives who were sold separately and children who were  separated from their parents and sibs either by being sold, or given as gifts to tother families.

         

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Slavery was and is an abomination. But historically, the Black Family – under immense pressures from slavery, and then Jim Crow – survived! I don’t think children were sold after slavery ended and Jim Crow was the law of the land. In fact, the black family was more “intact” than white families despite their larger burdens (generally speaking).

          You also skip how the growing Big Government programs have shredded the Black Family via unintended consequences of the social engineering experiments of the Left.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            “But historically, the Black Family – under immense pressures from slavery, and then Jim Crow – survived!”

            Sort of.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          From economic historians like Dr. Walter Williams and Dr. Thomas Sowell.
          Blacks Must Confront Reality
          Walter E. Williams

          “Though racial discrimination exists, it is nowhere near the barrier it once was. The relevant question is: How much of what we see today can be explained by racial discrimination? …To begin to get a handle on the answer, let’s pull up a few historical facts about black Americans.

          “In 1950, female-headed households were 18 percent of the black population. Today it’s close to 70 percent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children lived with the biological mother and father. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. Herbert Gutman, author of “The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925,” reports, “Five in six children under the age of six lived with both parents.” Also, both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.

          “A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families (composed of two parents and children). What is significant, given today’s arguments that slavery and discrimination decimated the black family structure, is the fact that years ago, there were only slight differences in family structure among racial groups.

          “Coupled with the dramatic breakdown in the black family structure has been an astonishing growth in the rate of illegitimacy. The black illegitimacy rate in 1940 was about 14 percent; black illegitimacy today is over 70 percent, and in some cities, it is over 80 percent….”

          “The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities — for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. …According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims….”

          “The black academic achievement gap is a disaster. Often, black 12th-graders can read, write and deal with scientific and math problems at only the level of white sixth-graders. This doesn’t bode well for success in college or passing civil service exams.”
          http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2014/08/27/blacks-must-confront-reality-n1882887/page/full

    2. tj

      CESSPOOLS – What a charming description of low income neighborhoods.  Did this description come from your friends and relatives in law enforcement?

      1. Frankly

        Nope.  They are more PC than me.  Not all low income areas are cesspools.  That was your words.  I was referring to areas of high crime.

    3. Frankly

      Wow… noted lots of typos in my posts.  iPad spelling not working on the VG site.  Anyone else having the same problem?  Also, cannot copy and paste using iPad.

    4. Davis Progressive

      i’ll tell you where the lack of trust comes from – every african american has encounters with police that they cannot easily explain and it starts early in life and it is repeated. they are viewed with suspicion.  i know african americans who have been pulled over in davis for example, 15-20 times and never issued a citation.  i don’t know any white people with the same experience.  you’re comment goes way off the track here.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Every? Sounds like another exaggeration. Condi Rice wouldn’t agree with your position.

        CONDI RICE: TODAY’S TRUE RACISTS ARE LIBERALS WHO DEFEND TEACHERS’ UNIONS

        “Rice said, ‘Poor black kids trapped in failing neighborhoods schools, that’s the biggest race problem of today. That’s the biggest civil rights issue of today. Anybody who isn’t in favor of school choice, anybody who isn’t in favor of educational reform, anybody who defends the status quo in the educational system, that’s racist to me.’ ”

        http://www.breitbart.com/video/2014/11/10/condoleezza-todays-true-racists-are-liberal-who-defend-teachers-unions/

         

        1. Frankly

          Too bad that Condi does not want to run for Senate nor President.  She would get my vote in a heartbeat.

          But then I apparently am racist against blacks and hate women.

  5. Tia Will

    Miwok

    So true because Police do not prevent crime.. They just clean up after.”

    And this is a major problem. If we were to ask our police, through building close relationships within communities to (community policing ? ) focus on crime prevention rather than on “just cleaning up after” we might see very different outcomes.

    1. hpierce

      Why should we look to “police” rather than other political/social constructs, for crime avoidance?  ‘Law enforcement’ is not even near the top of where I’d look for ‘crime avoidance’.  I’d look to parents, other family, ethnic community organizations, faith communities, personal examples, schools, etc., long before I laid this on the feet/hands of law enforcement.  To me, law enforcement is impartial (or should be).  Threatening, maybe, but not values-forming. If ‘law-enforcement’ defines values, we really will go towards a “police-state”.  Am suspecting that is not your goal.  Nor mine.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        Why should we look to “police” rather than other political/social constructs, for crime avoidance?:

        For exactly the same reason that we should look to doctors as guides to prevention of disease, not just cure once the problem has arisen. Prevention is always better than correction after a problem has arisen.

        The bigger question for me is why you see this as an either or proposition. Why can the police not be both a resource for crime prevention, a deterrent to crime and only as a last resort, a source for criminal capture ? Why would reliance on these other community resources mean that the police could not also have this function ?

        I see the police not simply as enforcers but as one of the models that you cite of optimal behavior. This is the difference that I see as police as a protective and preventive force from what you seem to see as having only a capture once the harm has been done role. It is this adversarial, some one in the community must be identified as the “bad guys” philosophy that creates the danger of a “police state”.

  6. tribeUSA

    It is interesting that these stats are focused on race, and are presented with the inferred implication that ipso facto this demonstrates that race is the predominant factor behind these statistics (and with the further stretch that this is due to racism), when in fact there are other factors that correlate highly with race.

    Why not post the crime & law enforcement stats in terms of:

    (1) economic condition (e.g. poverty, lower middle class, middle class & wealthy)

    (2) intact family structure (i.e. two-parent households; married parents)

    I’ll bet these two factors combined would show similar statistical results to the numbers cited above in terms of race;  i.e. the crime rate of whites & hispanics from broken families in poverty is comparable to that of blacks, as are the law enforcement stats.

    So why the fixation on race, when there are underlying factors that are common across most racial and ethnic groups that underlay these statistics? Could there be a program of identity politics at play here?

    And I have a solution to help poor people of all races

    (1) raise the minimum wage to $10-$11/hr to enable a dignified standard of living, providing incentive to poor people to choose to pursue jobs & careers rather than criminal lifestyles.

    (2) severely curtail both legal and illegal immigration (I would say no more than a few hundred thousand per year, legal and illegal combined), to open up more jobs to citizens. We should take care of our own first.

     

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Thank you, someone is thinking. If we closed the border, you probably wouldn’t even have to raise the minimum wage, it would be accomplished on it’s own.

    2. Tia Will

      tribeUSA

      Why not post the crime & law enforcement stats in terms of:

      (1) economic condition (e.g. poverty, lower middle class, middle class & wealthy)

      (2) intact family structure (i.e. two-parent households; married parents)”

      Maybe one answer to your question is because no one is denying that these other factors contribute and therefore the impact of poverty and familial disruption is not as controversial.  It only seems to be racism that continuously draws the strong denial that it is an issue even while those who are doing the denial say “well of course there are always a few bad apples. So those can just be ignored since they are not affecting me”. Last clause paraphrased from the “de minimis” comment that keeps circulating.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Bringing up family structure / out of wedlock births was infrequent before the Internet, and is still kind of a taboo. No one wants to “judge” the mother, or absent, often irresponsible father. And often when the issue is brought up, the person who raises it is considered insensitive or racist.

    3. Topcat

      (1) raise the minimum wage to $10-$11/hr to enable a dignified standard of living, providing incentive to poor people to choose to pursue jobs & careers rather than criminal lifestyles.

      The minimum wage in California is going to $10 per hour in January 2016, so this part of your “solution” is being implemented.  I know that other states have lower minimum wages, so perhaps the poor people can move here.

      1. Miwok

        I am laughing a little at this one. $10 an hour? to pay rent, feed kids, buy a car, taxes, etc.. If I can get 60 hours a week at this, that is still $2400 a month. Before taxes. You cannot even keep the Vanguard going on that..

  7. tribeUSA

    David brings up a good point about the lack of trust; and so we should investigate what factors have given rise to that lack of trust.

    Surely not the media, politicos, the attorney general, activists, etc. immediately labeling the whole Brown shooting episode as a racist murder or execution by the police officer, when after all the hoopla died down there was not a shred of evidence to support this? It seems to me that very often when there is a bad interaction between law enforcement (particularly when white) and minorities, there is a tendency by the media and many politicos to immediately look for signs of racism, and when in doubt to go ahead and label it racist.

    Can we admit the possibility that it is the media, politicos, activists, etc. who often contribute to the perception of unfairness and help to generate mistrust? And I do acknowledge that there are undoubtably some instances of racism and bias by law enforcement and the justice system. I suspect much of the remaining mistrust (after accounting for media and politco hoopla) has to do with a lack of relationship building between the police and the black community–how about community outreach, and an enhanced effort to hire more black police officers for black neighborhoods?

    1. Davis Progressive

      the media are an interesting scapegoat.  the problem is that the reaction to ferguson started first and the media coverage was second.  the other question is how many of the people affected are actually watching the news – most aren’t.  my experience is that the distrust predated the media coverage and the media coverage was picking up the distrust rather than the other way around.

      “Can we admit the possibility that it is the media, politicos, activists, etc. who often contribute to the perception of unfairness and help to generate mistrust?”

      the bigger problem in my view is people’s experiences with the police. this stuff doesn’t get a lot of coverage unless a big incident happens, the distrust is deeply rooted and goes back easily to the days of jim crow and the parallels in the north when the police were operating from prejudice and discrimination.  it has carried over with the war on drugs and mass incarceration.  and what you are seeing now is simply a tip of the ice berg.  this is very deep – the media isn’t the cause.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        You are correct that it goes very deep. As an undergrad at UCD was the first time I witnessed a friend and fellow student be defiant and almost antagonist towards a police officer.

        You assume that white people aren’t stopped for odd or unknown reasons. I was once stopped and my car searched for over an hour. I saw no logic to what was going on. A friend later hypothesized that it was near his shift change, and once he pulled me over and didn’t find anything, he decided to dig.

  8. Barack Palin

    For that, “hands up, don’t shoot” remains a fundamental iconic image for the breakdown of trust and, until that can restored, more incidents will happen like in Ferguson.

    “hands up, don’t shoot” turned out to be a lie.  Why would anyone want an iconic image that is built on a lie?

  9. Tia Will

    Barack Palin

    Why would anyone want an iconic image that is built on a lie?”

    Why indeed ?  This could equally well be applied to :

     We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal ” while in much of the country if you were a black male, you were anything but equal.” To say nothing of what your status was if you were a woman of any color.

    These iconic words are a goal. They are not a description of what existed at the time of their writing and they are not a description of what we have now. They are a belief in what we should aspire to. To the extent that we do not adhere to these words we are falling short of our stated vision. To me it seems that those who are willing to keep this vision statement ( or icon) as just that, an aspiration ,rather than pretending that we have achieved it, are coming closer to what was intended than are those who are willing to accept the current state as “good enough”

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I can’t recall a single person here stating that our society is “good enough”, that is an exaggeration, a straw man. Many are tired of playing the race card at the drop of the hat.

      Can you name a country with more black millionaires, billionaires, doctors, lawyers, or business people? More mayors, city council leaders? Can you name another south american or european country with a black President / PM, black Attorney General, and nominated Attorney General?

      1. Davis Progressive

        explain why you believe that these points matter?  there are plenty of very rich people in brazil, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have one of the most extremely inequitable situations in the world where there are a few very rich and many who are in dire poverty.  why does your point matter?

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          You’re claiming that there are lots of very rich black citizens in Brazil? Really? You need to read more widely.

          “It was just a regular evening of monkey noises and racial slurs for Brazilian soccer referee Marcio Chagas. Then he left to go home.”

          “As he entered the parking lot after overseeing the March 6 state championship game in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil’s south, the black physical education teacher found his tormentors had vandalized his car and piled bananas on the windshield. One was inserted into the exhaust pipe.”

          ““…Brazilians are used to saying that Brazil is a racial democracy: That’s just a myth,” da Silva said. “If you go to an elegant shopping center you won’t find black people there, not even working. If you board a plane in Brazil you will not see black people working, maybe one or two, let alone as passengers.”

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-09/google-ventures-bill-maris-investing-in-idea-of-living-to-500

           

        2. Davis Progressive

          me: ” there are plenty of very rich people in brazil”

          you: “You’re claiming that there are lots of very rich black citizens in Brazil?”

          and you wonder why i talk down to you?

        3. Davis Progressive

          wow.  apparently you are not following me at all.  i never said “black” – i was making an analogy using brazil as an example of a country that has a lot of very rich people but extreme inequality.  the fact that there are millionaires in brazil (not talking about black millionaires, please pay attention) does not prove that the socieyt is fair or equitable.

          THEREFORE having black millionaires in the us, does not mean anything for the millions of blacks who are not millionaires.

          what do you imagine the welathiest blacks in this country look like.

          here is the list of nine black billionaires from 2014 – only one of whom was from this country: http://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2014/03/04/the-black-billionaires-2014/

          here’s the richest list: http://www.therichest.com/rich-list/nation/wealthiest-african-americans/

          the list is dominated by entertainers and athletes.

          so actually the fact that the us has a lot of black millionaires only reinforces the problem.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          I asked: “Can you name a country with more black millionaires, billionaires, doctors, lawyers, or business people? More mayors, city council leaders?”

          You couldn’t name a single country.

          You attempted to change the discussion because you couldn’t answer my very simple question. The fact is that there is also a very large and sizable black middle class in America. We’ve come a long, long way, apparently unmatched by any other country.

        5. Davis Progressive

          it’s false to say i couldn’t answer your question but rather i didn’t answer your question because it’s an irrelevant question.  if you’re point was that america has a growing black middle class i’d have agreed.  but again, that doesn’t really address this problem either.  the fact that we have a large middle class doesn’t resolve the problem that we have a large non-middle class.  and millionaires are not middle class and largely an artifact of our large entertainment culture rather than some sort of sign of true upward mobility.

        6. TrueBlueDevil

          Are you stereotyping black millionaires as predominantly being entertainers, and not lawyers, doctors, business people, inventors, sales professionals, educators, and investment bankers?

        7. Davis Progressive

          trueblue: it is frustrating trying to have a discussion with you as you don’t read other people’s comments very carefully.  if you had read the links from forbes for example, you would have seen that of the 20 richest african americans, 16 were either entertainers or athletes.  that’s empirical evidence to bolster my point.

    2. hpierce

      You do understand, Tia, that Jefferson owned slaves, right? It is far from clear that Jefferson or those who signed the Declaration of Independence intended “all men” to mean anything other than “Englishmen” whether they were born in the colonies or not.  It is also pretty clear that those words did not apply to women.

      Jefferson was a “word-smith” and a pretty good one.  He knew how to craft words in a persuasive way.   He was not “perfect”, but, overall, he was pretty damn good.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        I am well aware of the historical context within which these words were written. I am also aware that Jefferson and all of the other signers were aware that reproduction was possible across racial lines and thus knew that blacks were equally human beings whether or not they considered them to be social “equals”. The premise of equality was based on a lie in the sense that they knew of their mutual humanity ( biologically speaking) while choosing to ignore it since it was economically and socially convenient for them to do so. Much of human behavior is premised on the knowledge that we are in fact equal as human beings, but can be treated differently on the basis of some made up criteria ( or lies) if one wishes to be more harsh….or to “tell it like it is”. I really do not see anything substantively different in these two cases ( the Constitution and the “hands up don’t shoot)” chant ), just that one is much more eloquently stated than the other.

        Both are aspirational statements based on what we would like to see happen, not statements of the reality in which we live.

  10. Tia Will

    I can’t recall a single person here stating that our society is “good enough”, 

    The choice of the words “good enough” was mine. The sentiment of societal problems such as “racism” being  “deminimis” and the repetitive “don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the “good” when I feel we should be doing much, much better, are common.

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