Eye on the Courts: Has the Police Issue Been Miscast As Racial Rather than Class-Based?

police-lights-2

In the year since Ferguson, the media and the nation has focused largely on a string of incidents that feature police interactions with unarmed African-Americans. But Damon Linker argues in The Week, “On the whole, that attention is a very good thing, as I’ve argued on numerous occasions. But, as always, we need to beware of confirmation bias — the tendency of the mind (including the minds of journalists) to take note of evidence that confirms our preconceived ideas and filter out what threatens to complicate or falsify them.”

Mr. Linker notes that the Washington Post’s ongoing investigation into police shootings suggests, but the paper does not point out specifically, the issue is not just a race problem, but a class problem.

Mr. Linker writes, “The first thing everyone should notice about the compilation of data is the raw number: 570 people dead in just over seven months. That’s a huge number.”

How big a number? In March 2014, 111 people died at the hands of police in the U.S., 90 of them by shooting.

In contrast, the United Kingdom has seen only 52 people killed by police since 1900. And Mr. Linker adds, “The U.K. is not drastically less prone to violent crime than the U.S.”

Of the 531 victims identified by race, 282 are white (53 percent), 140 are black (26 percent), and 89 Hispanic (17 percent). On its surface, “That translates into a considerable overrepresentation of blacks — at roughly twice their share of the population as a whole (13 percent) — and a modest under-representation of whites (who make up 63 percent of the total U.S. population).”

“Is this evidence of racism? I’m sure it plays an important role. This is especially so in the category of unarmed assailants. Of the 58 unarmed people killed, 24 (or 41 percent) (were) African American,” he notes.

But “that can’t be the whole story” – as he points out, 282 deaths of white people in seven months is lot. And yet, as he notes, “in my overwhelmingly white neighborhood, there’s no sign of it at all.”

He again looks at the data and notes that, while these occurrences happen frequently enough, “never in my life have I encountered something like this — someone brandishing a weapon in a threatening way, leading him to be shot by the cops. Is it just a fluke of luck?”

He writes, “No, it’s not luck. Or not simply that. Rather, it’s a near inevitability for an American who’s well-educated and relatively well-paid. For nearly my entire life I’ve lived in places with people like me: professors, lawyers, doctors, corporate middle managers, other professionals. The violence, or threat of violence, that sparks a deadly confrontation with police, typically doesn’t happen among such people. It happens elsewhere, among other people.”

Instead, he argues, “Among what people? Poor people. Working-class people. Of any and every race.”

He writes, “America has a serious problem with police violence — but its victims are not just African Americans. The victims are those — whether white, black, Hispanic, or ‘other’ — who reside far from the top of the socioecomonic pyramid.”

He therefore concludes, “We nonetheless have ample reason to surmise that, however bad our race problem is and remains, our class problem may be even bigger. (Overrepresentation of blacks among the victims of deadly police violence can be at least partially explained by high rates of black poverty (27 percent) in comparison to the rate among whites (10 percent)).

“A class-based policing problem is an unsettling prospect, and not only because class (far more than race) has tended to be a dimension of social life that Americans are resistant to examining and confronting. It’s also troubling because police officers typically come from a similar class as many of their victims: the working class.”

Meanwhile a Story on How the Supreme Court Has Made It Legal for Police to Pull You Over For Just About Everything…

The Marshall Project article notes that the U.S. Supreme Court in December came down with the decision in Heien v. North Carolina, just three weeks after the decision not to indict Officer Wilson in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. That ruling provided police with greater leeway to stop people and subject them to questioning and searches in pretext stops.

Such pretext stops are featured prominently in the recent incident involving Sandra Bland and Sam Dubose.

Writes Ken Anderson for the Marshall Project, “The law already allowed police to make stops on pretext — that is, to pull someone over for some minor infraction in order to investigate more serious wrongdoing. The law already set conditions under which police, in making stops, could be wrong about the facts. Now, with the Heien decision, police could also be wrong about the law.”

Mr. Anderson reports that in the eight months since this decision, “courts in at least a dozen states have excused mistakes made by police who initiated stops based on a misunderstanding of what is legal and what is not.”

In these cases, the judges would refuse to throw out evidence that was seized as a result of what turned out to be ill-founded arrests.

He writes, “What’s striking about these cases — aside from the officers’ limited understanding of the laws they’re entrusted to enforce — is how flimsy the pretext can be to pull someone over. The grounds cited for stopping drivers included entering an intersection when the light was yellow; or having, on the back of a car, a trailer hitch; or having, in the front of a car, an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror.”

One example is the case involving a traffic stop over a dangling parking pass.

The Virginia Court of Appeals judge excused that stop, writing, “So dense is the modern web of motor vehicle regulations that every motorist is likely to get caught in it every time he drives to the grocery store.”

He added, “Reasonable suspicion justifying the seizure of citizens will be found even if police officers are mistaken concerning the law as long as their testimony includes magic words such as ‘I thought . . . I believed . . . I mistakenly believed . . . I suspected . . . I mistakenly suspected . . .’ or as in this case, the officer just doesn’t really know one way or the other.”

See here for a list of cases including some in California that have been impacted by this largely under-publicized decision.

—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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35 Comments

  1. zaqzaq

    This article leads us to the question of whether low income individuals are more likely to commit crime and thus more likely to encounter police.  It might explain the racial disperity but someone would have to go and determine the class or income status of each of the individuals killed.  Also the use of the term “victim” for justified police shootings is problematic.  Many people would not look at many of these individuals as victims.

    Regarding the recent Supreme court case that you described I believe that it is a good thing.  The concept of getting the evidence excluded due to a technicality is just plain wrong in my opinion.  All illegally obtained evidence should be used to convict the criminal.  Sue the cops in civil court for doing it wrong, but do not let the criminals off the hook.  Criminals should be held accountable for their crimes.

    1. David Greenwald

      “The concept of getting the evidence excluded due to a technicality is just plain wrong in my opinion.”

      The technicality being the law and the constitution. Basically what you’re saying is if the police can articulate an excuse for pulling someone over, the seizure should be legal. That pretty much shoots the Fourth Amendment dead.

      1. Frankly

        Seems like a cat vs (mouse + mouse-protector) game.  The mouse is stealing cheese, and the mouse protector blocks the cat from seeking justice by using technicalities… so the mouse can go on stealing cheese.  Seems like the cat is justified in having a problem with both the mouse and the mouse protector.  And everyone having their cheese ripped off is also justified having a problem with both the mouse and the mouse protector.

      2. zaqzaq

        The Fourth Amendment existed before judges decided that the evidence should be suppressed for a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  You show your true colors (bias) when you refer to the officers articulating an “excuse” instead fo the reason they pulled someone over.  My point is that the criminal should take the cops to court seeking a civil remedy for the violation fo the Fourth Amendment, not have the evidence suppressed.  This allows both the crimnal and the cop to be held accountable.

  2. Tia Will

    zaqzaq

    Criminals should be held accountable for their crimes.”

    And when those criminals happen to be police, should they not also be held accountable ? Would you let a criminal, as you define them, walk free if they used the phrases “I believed” or “I erroneously believed” or “I suspected…” or I erroneously suspected…” as their defense for having committed a crime? How about in the case of a civilian shooting a police officer using the defense “I erroneously didn’t know he was a police officer and was in fear for my life ?” Would that work for you as a legitimate defense ?  If we allow that for police officers, why not for the general public ? Shouldn’t police with their supposedly superior knowledge of the law, and their responsibility for maintaining the safety of citizens not be held to at least the same standard as those they are supposedly protecting ?

    1. PhilColeman

      Your analogy does not quite compare accurately. Going back to the article saying the Supreme Court liberalized police ability to stop and question, this was a “probable cause” standard, and had no relevance or application to a citizen in the same circumstance. Citizens can’t cite a probable cause justification for anything, because that’s a standard applied only to law enforcement.

      Criminally, both police and citizen have identical rights under law. There is no question that when it comes to credibility, the police officer has a distinct advantage in trial compared to citizen defendant. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, law enforcement officers–when judged by the public majority–received a pre-conceived bias in favor of any testimony they offer. Note, the qualifier, ‘majority.” There certainly is a large body of irrational unrepentant cop haters in our midst. They just haven’t reached a population majority, yet.

       

      1. Barack Palin

        There certainly is a large body of irrational unrepentant cop haters in our midst. They just haven’t reached a population majority, yet.

        I fear for our society if it ever does, let’s hope that never happens.

        1. Frankly

          This might make the original 1987 Robocop plot a reality.

          In a dystopian 2020s, the city of Detroit, which is now bankrupt and overrun with crime, gives Omni Consumer Products (OCP) control of its struggling police force. The company plans to replace the poor, run-down sections of Old Detroit with the high-end “Delta City,” but must first address the city’s high crime rate.

      2. Tia Will

        Phil

        I agree with your comment as far as the “probable cause” portion goes. That does not address the ” I didn’t know or understand the applicable law portion”, in my opinion. If the police are not to be held responsible for the accurate knowledge and application of the law, how can we expect that degree of accuracy on the part of our citizens.

        Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, law enforcement officers–when judged by the public majority–received a pre-conceived bias in favor of any testimony they offer. “

        In my opinion, there is no “rightly” in this, there is only “wrongly” as is demonstrated again and again when it is demonstrated that police are willing ( just as are many citizens) to lie in order to see their view prevail.

        There certainly is a large body of irrational unrepentant cop haters in our midst.”

        I would like to point out that criticizing the police when one believes that their behavior and/or procedures are unjust does not make one an “irrational unrepentant cop hater” but those who have the temerity to speak out are frequently branded as such.

        1. sisterhood

          PC,

          Your remarks are just plain polarizing. Being a cop’s daughter, I try to see both sides but you are pushing me to one side: it’s not the side of law enforcement. “Irrational unrepentant cop hater” is one such remark. It does nothing to find some common ground. Before I left Davis, I was involved with “neighbors night out” and neighborhood watch. Then I retired & actually considered volunteering to work w/ the Davis police dept. I believe my background gives me a unique perspective. But I decided to move to a more affordable community. Now I’m volunteering for several local organizations. I’ve given up on the idea of doing any kind of volunteer work with law enforcement altogether.  I recently told a local cop that I’ll never call them for help unless someone is breaking int my house. It makes me sad, but it preserves my mental well being  (By the way, the cops in my new community are nice, respectful and dignified. And they even smile and wave at you if you smile & wave at them.)

        2. Barack Palin

          (By the way, the cops in my new community are nice, respectful and dignified. And they even smile and wave at you if you smile & wave at them.)

          So are the cops in Davis.

      3. sisterhood

        There is also a large bodies of irrational lazy jurors who think, “he must be guilty if the cop pulled him over/arrested him. And he must be guilty if he accepted a plea bargain.” Note the other VG article re: probation, where folks on probation who maintained their innocence but took a plea bargain are referred to as “criminals” by some VG readers.

         

    2. zaqzaq

      Tia,

      You are comparing apples to oranges.  Defendants who shoot and kill cops are free to argue that they were acting in self defense or if relevant that “I erroneously believed that I was in danger from the police officer”.  As a society we arm police with guns and other tools (tasers, pepper spray, batons, … .) and expect them to use these tools when they believe it is necessary.  Officers are legally allowed to shoot and kill someone when they reasonably believe that they are in danger.  In Cincinnati I expect that the officer will claim that he believed he was in danger when he was partially inside the vehicle trying to turn it off when the suspect put the car into gear.  The question for the jury will be is that a reasonable.

      Crimninals who get their two pounds of methamphetamine suppressed on a technicality based on an error of the police officer is getting away with a crime.  I do not believe that the two pounds of methamphetamine should be suppressed.  Instead let the DA prosecute that criminal who can then take the officer to civil court for the error which may or may not have violated some constitutional right.

  3. PhilColeman

    ” . . . we need to beware of confirmation bias — the tendency of the mind (including the minds of journalists) to take note of evidence that confirms our preconceived ideas and filter out what threatens to complicate or falsify them.”

    For the discerning reader, please take note of Mr. Linker’s above admonishment and feel free to take his rope and hang him with it.

    Note how Mr. Linker details gun violence involving the police in the United States. Statistics are provided that reveal a disturbing pattern of police/gun/violence.

    A comparison with another society is needed. The United Kingdom is chosen, a country where most of the police and most of the citizenry don’t carry guns, or don’t even own one. In the full application of Mr. Linker’s “confirmation bias,” why did the United Kingdom has so much unique appeal?

    Continue with the UK comparison. Note how Linker compares GUN violence in the United States with ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE in the United Kingdom. Apples on one side of the pond, oranges on the other. The argument is concluded with the pronouncement that the UK is not drastically less prone to violence than the United States and a hyperlink is identified for validation. Click on that hyperlink and find a blog post, a post that was rendered FALSE after careful scrutiny by academics and criminologists.

    Linker’s concluding paragraph is a real head-scratcher. After equating police intervention to social class, he notes that police typically come from the working (or lower) class themselves. He finds this “troubling.” Two questions: Why?, How?

    Confirmation bias. The second article on the Supreme Court alleging further legitimizing pretext traffic stops by the police. Note how the act of a traffic enforcement officer stopping a vehicle for a minor equipment violation is summarily classified as pretext stop, and always for the purpose of conducting another investigation of the occupant. Yet, at this very moment there are thousands of police officers making thousands of enforcement stops throughout this country. Many of them are for equipment violations, the most common violations in any state’s vehicle code. Most of these stops taking place this very minute will result in the violator being warned of the violation and released with just a warning. And their car is not searched, and the stop consumes but a few minutes. Confirmation bias.

    1. Frankly

      Great analysis.  I was thinking all the same.

      But despite Mr. Linker’s own demonstrated confirmation bias, I think he makes points worthy of discussion.   I have been spouting off with similar points… that blacks are over represented in crime and punishment because blacks are over represented in low socioeconomic circumstances.   And I also include the problem with black pop-subculture celebrating violence and lawlessness.

      This isn’t a small issue.  For there to be so much media and political focus on race, it detracts from a focus on the true root cause.

      I think some are ignorant to this, and others know perfectly well that the true root cause in a politically inconvenient truth.

    2. Biddlin

      ” Most of these stops taking place this very minute will result in the violator being warned of the violation and released with just a warning.”

      If the occupants are Caucasian and over 30.

      ;>)/

      1. Frankly

        You are demonstrating some pretty strong confirmation bias… my musical brutha’ from another mutha’.

        Although the “over 30” part is interesting.  Are you saying that young people are more likely to get attention from the cops?   And if so, do you think there is anything wrong with that?

        1. hpierce

          Well, I can tell you that the YFCU was robbed a number of years ago.  Minutes later, police were looking for two young black men (based on the video).  Several hours later, two young men were pulled over, and questioned at length as to their possible involvement.  They were ~19, obviously ‘white’, and one of them looked “nordic” (blond hair, muscular build).

          One of those two young men were pulled over a few months later because (according to the officer) their registration tag did not match the license plate.  Yeah, right.  The car was impounded, and either the officer or the impound folk scraped off the only evidence… the registration sticker.  I discovered this when I retrieved my son’s car from impound.  Turns out the officer was ‘correct’.  We had two cars, whose registration came due the same month, and I inadvertantly put the wrong tag on the wrong vehicle.  Wrote the facts up, and judge dismissed it.  Now except for age, why was my son pulled over?  No way in hell the officer could see, with two moving vehicles, that the tag did not match the plates.  Yeah, that stuff has happened in Davis.  Might still be.  My understanding is that the latter officer is no longer employed by Davis PD.  Have no clue as to why the separation of employment occured.  For what it’s worth.

           

        2. sisterhood

          hpierce,

          My son & friends were pulled over numerous times. His friend was attacked by Davis cops at a football game. He was drunk, but the cops way overreacted, had him pinned to the ground, and he suffered injuries. Several Davis Moms helped him. They also took videos of the police behavior. He ended up settling a lawsuit with the cops, I do not know for how much money. There is possibly a correlation between suing the cops and subsequently getting harassed by them. My son was merely driving by the Motel Six when cops pulled him over, so he pulled into the parking lot. They wanted to search his car, but he refused to let them. They actually had the nerve to ask him why he was in the parking lot of the motel!

        3. zaqzaq

          hpierce,
          So you screwed up on the registration tags, then went to court to fight it all to avoid a $10 fix it fee or did you pay the $10 fee and the citation was dismissed.  Have you noticed that the color of the tags changes each year.  All the officer has to do is see the wrong color tag in order to pull your son over and then check the status of the registration.  You also assume that the officer was able to determine your son’s age prior to the initiation of the traffic stop.

    1. Tia Will

      BP

      What’s different in this story?”

      Maybe the only thing that is different is that David is currently out of town.

      Or maybe the story has not come to his attention yet.

      Or maybe he is waiting for someone else to cover the story. He frequently does not cover issues that are of importance to me. For example he has not written any articles on the current Planned Parenthood controversy. I have written two, and time allowing will probably write more.

      If you want a story covered, rather than speculating or enquiring about why it hasn’t been covered, you might want to write that article yourself.

       

      1. sisterhood

        “If you want a story covered, rather than speculating or inquiring about why it hasn’t been covered, you might want to write that article yourself.”

        I get very annoyed at folks who try to tell David what to cover. Palin obviously enjoys writing. He should write his own story. Especially since the Vanguard is totally free. I hope all the people who frequently write comments are financially able to donate even $10 a month.

        1. Barack Palin

          Really, that annoys you?  So you don’t just get annoyed, you get very annoyed?  It doesn’t sound like it takes much to annoy you if something this small makes you very annoyed.   Did you actually watch the video?  The Vanguard does cover these types of stories but mostly only when a black is involved and he can make it about race. I was trying to make that point, as have other posters, but I guess it flew over a few commenter’s heads.

        2. sisterhood

          Your constant negative, glass always half empty rants and button pushing truly annoys me, when you live a privileged lifestyle in one of the nicest small towns in CA, if not the US. Take a lesson from Frankly. We have very different outlooks, but he has an optimistic attitude towards life, and I usually relish his opinion, because he backs it up with interesting facts or anecdotes to try to prove his point. You do neither. I certainly hope you contribute at least $10 a month to the VG since you spend so much time on here, trying to irritate others. You seem to enjoy that. I even tried to call a truce with you, but you didn’t even have the manners to reply. That’s okay, just proves my point.
          I look forward to reading an actual full page article from you. About the video that you want us all to read. Explain why in your article.

  4. Tia Will

    Phil,

     

    After equating police intervention to social class, he notes that police typically come from the working (or lower) class themselves. He finds this “troubling.” Two questions: Why?, How?”

    I cannot begin to speak for the author about how he sees the “why and how”, I did have the following thoughts when I read your question. I have lived in many different “class” and ethnic neighborhoods in my life. One consistency that I have noted is that violence or “excessive use of force” tends to be directed against one’s peers, not against members of a perceived “out group”.

    A couple of the more obvious examples from my life. While doing my internship at Fresno County affectionately referred to as the “knife and gun club capitol of the world” at the time by the residents who manned the ER, I lived a few blocks from the hospital. My apartment was in a complex mostly occupied by young professionals but was on the border of a very rough section of town. I frequently walked to work and only felt unsafe once ( from a couple of white jerks trying to hit on me). The rest of the time, although there was frequent violence bordering our little complex, we ourselves remained largely untouched.

    The same was true when I worked on a reservation in Arizona. There were frequent violent attacks by members of the tribe on other tribe members. Those of us who worked on the res were unscathed with not a single violent act directed at us the entire time I was there.

    Perhaps this might have been a consideration of the author when he penned that portion of his article noting that the harshest treatment tends to be directed towards those we consider our peers.

  5. WesC

    No one seems to be willing to discuss the role that class plays in determining who goes to prison and who does not.  If the law prohibits both rich and poor from stealing, why is it that only the poor go to prison?  The proponents of the institutional racism theory do not claim that rich blacks and Latinos are  being herded into prisons and jails in vast numbers, because they are not.   White prisoners tend to share one thing with their black and Hispanic compatriots: POVERTY.  Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000/yr in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed atthe time of their arrest.  Tellingly in a society that measures everything, no government statistics are kept on pre incarceration earnings and employment histories.  Few researchers seem interested in proving the obvious.

    Does anyone really thing OJ Simpson would have been acquitted if he had a public defender rather than the dream team?  Our own Clayton Garzon nearly beat someone to death and was involved in a stabbing at a party a few weeks prior to the beating, but because he is the son of a local wealthy Latino physician he gets a plea deal of battery with a hate crime enhancement, and gets to serve his time in the local county jail despite state requirements that those convicted of a violent crime do their time in state prison.  Had Garzon been the son of a local Latino field worker I am sure the DA in his usual fashion would have stacked the charges to include attempted murder, gang enhancements, and whatever else he  could throw at him, and Garzon would have ended up in prison for a long long time.

    If the purpose of prisons is to be a tool of social control to dominate and oversee the poor and working classes who might with political consciousness and organization, pose a threat to the status quo, then the institution of prison is a resounding success.  It also explains the absences of wealthy people of all races behind bars, and explains the resistance of virtually all pundits, academics and even activists to discuss the dirty secret of American politics: class.

    Class in the U.S. is almost a forbidden topic.  Raise the issue in any context, whether in tax policy, campaign finance, govt subsidies to corporations and criminal justice, and the speaker is quickly dismissed as a lunatic or worse, of fomenting class war.  Never mind that class war is already being waged on the poor and the criminal justice system is the primary weapon in this war.  Class is like a hippopotamus in a swimming pool where all the dinner guests are too polite to mention its existence.

    1. Biddlin

      Well said, sir!

      “Class in the U.S. is almost a forbidden topic.”

      Even more so in the egalitarian Peoples Republic of Davis, where racial, social or educational discrimination and police corruption are unthinkable, but politicians can be bought for a few bucks in contributions, from the wrong “class.”

      ;>)/

    2. sisterhood

      Yep. Look at the way the D.A. stacked the charges against Ajay Dev. Ridiculous. I don’t know how they sleep at night. And I agree w/your remarks re: O.J.and  Garzon. It was his privileged background that got him a sentence in county rather than prison. Is he already out?

  6. Tia Will

    BP and sisterhood

    The Vanguard does cover these types of stories but mostly only when a black is involved and he can make it about race. I was trying to make that point, as have other posters, but I guess it flew over a few commenter’s heads. 

    I can completely understand BP’s frustration at reading articles that he/she sees as having a particular slant over and over. To demonstrate how much I understand this, I will cite my own favorite frustration. Nearly every time that David posts an article that involves any issue regarding race, BP makes this same point, over and over again. I don’t feel that this is so much going over people’s heads as it is bashing them in the head.

    So it seems to me that BP is just as guilty as David is perceived to be in raising the same issue repetitively. Fortunately, there is an easy way to break this cycle. If what is wanted by any poster on the Vanguard is more variety and more differing points of view, the obvious solution is to write your own article. You don’t have to be a great writer as witnessed by David’s unedited posting of my articles as I submit them. You just have to have a point of view that you want to share. It’s easy. It’s fun. I highly recommend putting your own voice out there as an anecdote to the boredom and/or frustration caused by repetition.

  7. Tia Will

    Class in the U.S. is almost a forbidden topic”

    Agreed. This point was obliquely referred to again and again at the Repulican debate last night. The candidates, with a couple of obvious exceptions who couldn’t lay claim, to stressing their blue collar routes and how this made them uniquely qualified to be President.

    This story is told by our political folks with the spin ” I rose from humble circumstances to a high rank in our society” with the implication that this means that everyone has an equal opportunity to do so. But having a similar story, albeit in a different life endeavor, I know that this is not true. Not everyone can rise to a social or economic pinnacle. Our society puts many barriers in the way of those who would want to make that climb to a higher economic and/or social circumstance in life. I will share a bit of the story I know best. What I know is how medicine limits the class climb.

    1) Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are discouraged at multiple points in the education system from aspiring to careers above their station. I was told repetitively that I would never get into medical school, that I could not be a surgeon of any type, that I would never succeed on the west coast because it was “too competitive”. Translation to the young person “this is not for your kind”. Luckily I also encountered a few teachers who saw a spark and encouraged me as did my mother.

    2) “Too competitive”. So where does this accurate observation arise. Doctors have created this to preserve their own incomes. Medicine is “too competitive” as a field because the number of medical school positions and residency positions has been held down deliberately so that the incomes of doctors can remain egregiously high with regard to other professions and disciplines within medicine.

    3) Since I became a doctor, I have straddled the differences between the blue collar class into which I was born and the professional class into which I arrived through a combination of luck, fortunate timing and very, very hard work. But I see it daily. I see the elitism of many of my peers at work. I hear disparaging comments about those of perceived “lower classes” that include me in the conversations of those who do not know my background, and in the silences upon my arrival in the room of those who do know my story. I also hear the “false pride” of those in the blue collar workers when they make snide remarks about the doctors whom they perceive as arrogant and their hushing when I enter the room.

    Class is real in America and needs to be recognized as a major impediment to moving our country in a positive direction.

     

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