race

Brian T. Murphy, an assistant professor (Medicinal Chemistry) at University of Illinois at Chicago, writes that Chicago is now ripe for Ferguson-style protests.

Unfortunately, like too many others in academia and the media, Murphy either ignores or (purposely?) skates over uncomfortable facts regarding (black) crime and incarceration.

Via Reboot Illinois:

There are a few misconceptions as to why citizens are currently fighting for civil rights in Chicago’s streets. The reasons have less to due with the recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and 12-year old Tamir Rice at the hands of police. The details of these cases can be debated, but in the bigger picture they are irrelevant. Consider this:

African Americans comprise approximately 12% of the U.S. population, while they make up nearly 44% of our prison population. Roughly 1 of 15 African American males go to prison compared to 1 of 106 white males. Therefore, either 1) African Americans are more prone to crime, or 2) the criminal justice system has in some way become biased toward putting black human beings in prison.

Ironically, Murphy goes on to note that “The main obstacle to achieving equal rights under our law is shifting public opinion on this matter, by teaching that perception is not a substitution for fact.”

Black Americans committing 5,375 murders in 2013 vs. 4,396 for whites isn’t a perception. That is a fact. Police killings of blacks being down seventy percent in last fifty years isn’t perception — it’s also a fact.

Not all Americans believe police are virtuous, nor do all Americans believe that American justice is color-blind, despite Professor Murphy saying that it “appears” otherwise. This is a straw man he sets up, just like the “either-or” premise above that either blacks are more prone to crime or the US justice system is racially biased.

The fact is that both factors play a role. The questions are to what degree, and how best to make them better.

“It is immoral to ignore these statistics …” Murphy says. But it appears he means only some statistics.

Read the full article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: DryHundredFear/Flickr

This past Monday, over one hundred University of Pennsylvania students marched through Philadelphia to protest the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown:

Protesters walked in fierce solidarity, responding to the leaders’ chants: “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
“I just don’t want my son, the child of an Ivy League graduate, to walk down the street in fear for his life,” a student who preferred to remain anonymous said at the protest.

This was along the lines of what New York City mayor Bill De Blasio said in reaction to the non-indictment of the officer who used a “chokehold” on (black) victim Eric Garner:

Mr. de Blasio told an audience that he worried over the years if his son Dante would be safe at night before adding, “And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Students at other Ivy League schools have expressed similar sentiments:

“I’m scared to go outside,” [Brianna] Alston said. “This is a real fearful situation for the black community.” (Columbia University)

“Business as usual can’t continue, our frivolities can’t continue while people are dying without reason and impunity,” [Stephanie] Amoako said. (Columbia)

“My brother is turning 20 next month, which means that he is solidifying his presence in a demographic of young black men between the ages of 19-25 in the United States who are disproportionately targeted by police brutality,” Karleh Wilson ’16 explained. “I worry about [my brother’s] safety under the hands of the law. My brother should feel safe among the presence of policemen, but he does not, and this is the same for all men of color his age in America.” (Yale)

A student at Harvard held a placard that read “This is Genocide.”

Nadia May recited a poem about “how she will mother her future children intertwined with commentary on racism and police brutality.” (Cornell)

A frequent refrain heard from “progressives” and Democrats — usually in snide rebuttal to conservatives/Republicans regarding global warming climate change — is that they’re “the party of science,” and the “believers in facts.”

So, is it really a fact that Ms. Alston and the others should be “scared to go outside” for fear of being killed by a police officer?

Compared to many other things out there in society, the answer is “hardly.”

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly this past week devoted a “Talking Points” segment to this issue. Here is what he noted, with sources from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the CDC, the FBI and the Census Bureau:

  • Police killings of blacks down 70% in last 50 years
  • In 2012, 123 blacks were killed by police with a gun
  • In 2012, 326 whites were killed with a gun
  • In 2013, blacks committed 5,375 murders
  • In 2013, whites committed 4,396 murders
  • Whites are 63% of the population blacks are 13%

To be fair, some have taken issue with these statistics. The Tampa Bay Times’ PunditFact site (a subsidiary of PolitiFact) argues that some of the figures are “incomplete” because, for example (in the CDC’s case), “coroners and physicians are under no obligation to detail police involvement in the deaths that they encounter.”

black-white-DryHundredFear.flickrHowever, ironically, PunditFact notes that the “whites killed by police figure” is artificially inflated because it includes Hispanics. But … weren’t we informed by the mainstream media in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident that Zimmerman was, in fact, a “white Hispanic”?? So … which is it? Do we refer to “white Hispanics” as “white” … or do we keep Hispanics as a separate category?

Then there is The Daily Dot which claims to have “debunked” O’Reilly’s “argument about racism in American policing”:

Secondly, what O’Reilly’s statistics show—but what O’Reilly leaves unsaid—is that black people are killed at disproportionately higher rates than white people by police officers. African Americans are 14 percent of the population but 30 percent of the police-shooting deaths. This is double the rate that one might expect from O’Reilly’s fantasy world in which race is not a factor.

The numbers get even grimmer when narrowed down a bit. Police kill young black men at a rate 21 times higher than the equivalent rate for young white men.

Which, unfortunately, completely omits any reference to vastly disproportionate black murder rate noted above by O’Reilly. It is quite disingenuous to expect “proportionate representation” in law enforcement killings when the (race-based) crime rate isn’t even close to being such.

The mainstream media also doesn’t help matters by omitting virtually identical types of stories … but where the races are reversed. For instance, a Trayvon Martin-like tale involved a (black) man named Roderick Scott. Scott shot and killed seventeen year-old Christopher Cervini, who was white. Cervini and two others were stealing from cars when Scott confronted them. Scott pulled out a gun and told the boys to freeze until police arrived. However, Cervini apparently charged Scott, who then opened fire, killing the teen.

After a trial, Scott was found “not guilty” of manslaughter.

Some of the comments afterwards by Cervini’s family sound awfully familiar:

Cervini’s family members say justice wasn’t served. They say Christopher was murdered in cold blood, that he’d never been in trouble and Scott acted as judge, jury and executioner.

“The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact,” said Jim Cervini, Christopher’s father. “My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered.”

With regards to the Michael Brown case, two years ago a black police officer shot and killed unarmed white teenager Gilbert Collar in Mobile, Alabama. But, “despite public pressure for an indictment, a Mobile County grand jury refused to bring charges against Officer [Trevis] Austin, concluding that the officer acted in self-defense.”

Collar was under the influence of an hallucinogen when taken into custody. He was 5’7″ and weighed a mere 135 pounds. Once at the police station, Collar “began banging on the outside windows, then walked in the general direction of Officer Austin, who had his gun drawn.”

Austin shot Collar in the chest, killing him.

You can argue about the reasons we didn’t hear about these stories; however, many would say it’s because it doesn’t fit the (usual) media narrative.

The “party of science and facts” does itself, and everyone else, a big disservice by continuing to stand by a discredited narrative. Once the facts — science — came forth from the Ferguson grand jury that Michael Brown did not, in fact, have his hands up, supporters promptly stated “it doesn’t matter.”

Recently, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton repeated as much. When asked if she had “read all the evidence” in the Brown case, she replied “I did not, and that is not a concern.”

Further, will the mainstream media heavily cover what Erica Garner said (her father being the aforementioned New York City suspect placed in a chokehold who later died as a result, according to a coroner) this week about her father’s death — that it wasn’t a racial matter? That it was more about general police aggression and misuse of tactics?

Any rational and reasonably intelligent American is cognizant of the historic plight of African-Americans. It is certainly understandable that many in that community harbor a degree of mistrust of police; it wasn’t all that long ago when the law made it a crime for black Americans to even sit at the same lunch counter as whites.

But it does no American — black, white, brown — any good to promote falsehoods which serve to shred the entire American community asunder.

We have competent legal procedures in place to rectify a miscarriage of justice — led by the top law enforcement officer in the land, Eric Holder, a black man. The most recent of these unfortunate police killings  (that of  Eric Garner) appears to be a case where the feds can make a compelling case in the typical follow-up investigation.

Dave Huber is an assistant editor of  The College Fix. (@ColossusRhodey)

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

INTERIOR IMAGE: Dry Hundred Fear/Flickr

Is a racially diverse faculty is a necessary requirement for a good college education?

The Brown Daily Herald apparently believes so, with its story “Faculty Whiteness Complicates the Classroom.”

In it, article authors Emma Harris and Joseph Zappa lament the fact that white faculty outnumber “underrepresented minority” faculty at Brown by a factor of ten.

That definition of “underrepresented minority” does not include Asians (is this really a surprise?), and then, when comparing the campus enrollment of white students to that of minorities, the definition of the term becomes based on those who “self-identify” as such.

This dearth of “faculty of color” makes for some … uncomfortable experiences:

Students of color sometimes encounter difficulties in the classroom resulting from the differences between their experiences and those of white faculty members.

While Armani Madison ’16, president of Brown’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has not experienced outward racial bias from faculty members, he said, “race is dealt with quickly” in the classroom. When racial issues in the United States are brought up, they are frequently skirted by professors and summarized in the framework of the American people moving forward, he said.

White faculty members sometimes espouse views in class that should be questioned, said Emma, a junior whose name has been changed to maintain confidentiality.

“I would love to see more initiatives aimed at making faculty aware of microaggressions and biases and how those could affect students in class,” she said.

But being of color is not necessary for a faculty member to handle discussions on race deftly in the classroom, Emma added. “I have professors who are not of color who have to talk about race and other sensitive issues who handle it very well.”

Still, the dynamics in a predominantly white classroom may pose challenges for students of color.

Often Madison is the only student of color in the room, he said. When subjects relating to race arise, he said, he is “looked to as the authority” on the subject by his peers.

The pressure to perform in a predominantly white class taught by a white faculty member is particularly intense for students of color who may not have had high school preparation as strong as that of their peers, said Dolores Maldonado ’16, who came to Brown intending to concentrate in physics.

“If it’s a white professor, they expect me to be at the same level (as students with stronger high school preparation), so I need to prove that I don’t fit into stereotypes,” Maldonado said. “I need to speak very intellectually or formally to portray an image that they would want.”

Seeing “deplorably low” numbers of faculty members of color in senior administrative positions makes him feel out of place at a predominantly white institution, Madison said. He will “never be comfortable” at Brown, he added, due to the overwhelming lack of diversity.

A couple of thoughts/questions:

  • Why did Madison choose Brown, or, at the very least remain there with the knowledge of the “deplorably low” number of minority faculty? Not to mention, why does he subject himself to “never being comfortable?”
  • Why is it unreasonable for a (white) professor to expect the same academic results from Ms. Maldonado as his/her white students? She’s enrolled at Brown, after all.
  • Madison gets irked when (white students) look to him “as an authority” on race matters? He is, after all, the president of Brown’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and this entire article is about how people of color feel “out of place” due to their “different experiences.” The media, after all, routinely seek out college professors of color and (minority) civil rights leaders for “their community’s” perspective on various issues. So, why would it seem out of line for Madison’s peers to ask him?

This Brown Herald article is the second in a series titled “Pervasive Prejudice.”

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

In keeping with what seems to be a college … “tradition,” the Associated Press reports on how — now that the Ferguson grand jury determined there was no truth to the claim that Michael Brown had his hands up when confronted by officer Darren Wilson — it isn’t really important if Brown had his hands up in a “don’t shoot” gesture.

To some, it doesn’t matters whether Brown’s hands literally were raised, because his death has come to symbolize a much bigger movement.

“He wasn’t shot because of the placement of his hands; he was shot because he was a big, black, scary man,” said James Cox, 28, a food server who protested this week in Oakland, California.

Protester Taylor Gruenloh, a 32-year-old white man from nearby Florissant, said that while he believes there’s truth to claims that Brown had his hands raised when shot, the lack of proof makes little difference to protesters who have found it to be a unifying force.

“Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry,” he said. “It’s just a metaphor.”

Architect Evan Chakroff was among the protesters this week in Seattle. He said the “Hands Up” gesture is far from a literal representation of the circumstances of Brown’s death.

“My sense is that it’s totally symbolic and a way of representing powerlessness” in the face of inequality and militarized police, he said.

Several demonstrators said focusing on the exact circumstances of Brown’s shooting misses the point of the slogan.

“This is not about one boy getting shot in the street, but about the hundreds just like him who have received the same callous and racially-influenced treatment,” said Oakland, California, protester Gabe Johnson, a middle school teacher. “So ultimately, no, it doesn’t matter at all if somehow we can say for sure whether this one young man really said these words or had his hands up.”

Elizabeth Brondolo, a psychology professor at St. John’s University who specializes in the effects of race on mental and physical health, adds to the muddlement: “The truth always really matters, but it’s important to recognize that past experience to stereotypes also influences the perception of hands being raised.”

This is similar to instances on college campuses where “hate crimes” revealed to be hoaxes have often resulted in students and school officials alike claiming that “it’s no big deal,” and “ultimately, a good thing.”

Take this instance, for example, at Sweet Briar College as reported by The College Fix:

While posting these extremely hurtful labels, I had one thing in mind. My mission was to show others that words can still have an extreme impact, and the past still resonates with us all. While moving forward, we can never really shake the past. The past is a part of us and we are a part of the past. While they did not necessarily know this before, we are all equal and nobody deserves to be treated unfairly.

What has occurred on our College campus since Thursday morning points directly to the fact that sometimes our actions and words, no matter how well intentioned, backfire unexpectedly and inflict pain, hurt, and suffering upon others around us.

The first is a statement by the student who effected the hoax, and the second is a response by the college’s president. Both of them would likely make Professor Brondolo happy.

And there are many, many more such examples.

Truth? Say what?

Read the full article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Light Brigading/Flickr

At a Ferguson protest outside of the Los Angeles Police Department this past Tuesday, a young (white) lady who said she was a student at UCLA lambasted a black LAPD officer about … racism.

“As a person of color, are you ashamed to be part of such a corrupt system?…As a black man, have you ever experienced racism?” the woman asked.

Breitbart.com has the story:

The officer answered that he had grown up in Jackson, Mississippi during the Jim Crow era. “I know racism. I can spot it,” he said.

She was not satisfied. “Do you accept that there are covert types of racism?” she asked, citing an example of a woman clutching her purse tightly when he entered an elevator. “Racism is a structure of power,” she insisted. “You are a black man. You are kept down by your race, even if you won’t accept it.”

He threw the challenge back at her. “Think about it. There are people who don’t like me–they don’t know me–because of my uniform. Is that discrimination or not? Yes or no?”

“That’s a bias,” she said. “Job discrimination is different. I’m talking about your race. The color of your skin…You’re a black man. You’ll never reach the same pinnacle as a white man in this system, because you are black.” Others, gathered nearby, applauded loudly.

She went on to demand to know if the officer was “helping out his black community.”

When the officer replied that “it doesn’t matter what the race is,” demonstrators shouted “Yes it does!”

Because there’s nothing like being lectured to by college students about what it “means” to be African-American.

Here’s video of the encounter:



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Read the full article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Floyd Brown/Flickr

Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva says today’s racism is fomented without the use of actual racists. Or something like that.

He’s also written a book by the same name — Racism Without Racists, that is — and says that such is “a new way of maintaining white domination in places like Ferguson.”

CNN.com reports:

“The main problem nowadays is not the folks with the hoods, but the folks dressed in suits,” says Bonilla-Silva.

“The more we assume that the problem of racism is limited to the Klan, the birthers, the tea party or to the Republican Party, the less we understand that racial domination is a collective process and we are all in this game.”

As people talk about what the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson means, Bonilla-Silva and others say it’s time for Americans to update their language on racism to reflect what it has become and not what it used to be.

“The more we assume …”? You have to like how Bonilla-Silva falls precisely into that which for he lambastes white America. Who is the “we” who assumes racism is the (exclusive) realm of a group which includes the Tea Party and the GOP? Who is the “we” who groups the KKK together with the Tea Party and the Republican Party?

If that isn’t enough to make you stop reading right there, you’ll also “learn” that when whites utter phrases like “I don’t see color,” “But I have black friends” and “Who are you calling a racist?” (by the way, who actually says the second one anymore? It’s long since become a parody of sorts), they’re demonstrating incredible naïveté.

The article goes on to lament the conservative bloc of the US Supreme Court’s (legal) skepticism of “disparate impact,” the “legal approach that doesn’t try to plumb the racist intentions of individuals or businesses but looks at the racial impact of their decisions.”

To wit:

Disparate impact is built on the belief that most people aren’t stupid enough to openly announce they’re racists but instead cloak their racism in seemingly race-neutral language.

And there you have it. Everyone is racist, no one will admit it, and all will attempt to hide such using tactical (racial) subterfuge.

Read the full article.

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

IMAGE: Gregor Maclennan/Flickr