Friday, July 31, 2009
I don't mean to throw a damper on the last few days of carefree summer relaxation. But for parents with school age children, no date seems to be far enough away to not sneak upon them. And besides, whether school starts in mid-August or September, education demands are such that school never seems to end anyway. Summer reading assignments, summer school and all manner of prep courses and camps seem to interfere with summer fun. But that's the world we live in now and of course those who fail to adjust to the new reality get left behind. The danger of going back to school having 'forgotten' where you left off has consequences far beyond having homework the first day of class.
This is why programs that help keep young people in 'learning mode' are growing increasingly more important. We try and do that at Central Dallas Ministries with our University of Values Summer Program. But there are others who have ingenious programs which try to make sure that kids don't 'forget' school on summer vacation.
Here's an example of one of those programs.
The challenge of making sure that kids don't fall behind means that adults have to start planning even earlier for vacation - or is vacation even the right word anymore?!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"Ironically, in the same week that the media has devoted so much attention to the unwarranted arrest of Gates in his home, three boys -- two black and one white, ages 7, 9 and 11 -- were handcuffed and arrested at their homes in Baltimore for stealing a scooter and a wagon from their neighbor’s yard."
"The neighbor chased the 7-year-old to his home and called the police. The boy’s mother was present when the police arrived and clearly did not condone her son’s actions. “Let’s talk to my son,” she reportedly asked. “I don’t have time. I’m locking him up,” the police officer reportedly responded. The second-grader was questioned and tearfully identified the other youths who attempted to steal the wagon with him. The police handcuffed all three boys and took them to a juvenile detention center."
"Each boy, accused of attempting to steal a scooter and a wagon from a neighbor’s yard, will return to elementary school in the fall with an arrest record. These are the stories I hope will constitute the center of Gates televised examination of race and criminal justice system."
Teaching the young boys a lesson? Overreacting to boyish pranks? Juvenile profiling? Or just being 'tough on crime'?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Generally, our current crisis is compared to the Great Depression, but there is a more recent and more related corollary in what is called 'contract mortgages'. I learned about this over the past couple of weeks, watching Beryl Satter, a professor at Rutgers University, author of the book, "Family Properties: Race, Real Estate and the Exploitation of Black America". Dr. Satter's father Mark was a Chicago attorney who fought against the practice of white real estate entrepreneurs 'invested' in purchasing properties in transitioning communities buying them at low prices and selling them 'on contract' to African-Americans at exorbitant prices while holding the title. The new homeowners were responsible for maintenance and insurance, for the most part, just barely able to afford the inflated mortgage costs, most often unable to afford maintenance costs or insurance. In the meantime, the person holding the contract, could sell the paper to another investor, thereby making a profit.
[Beryl] Satter's story is incredibly interesting. It is, indeed, a story of greed, individual and institutional racism, but neither the villains or victims are as sharply defined. White homeowners who fled deteriorating neighborhoods, were not, in many cases, fleeing because they didn't want to live next to black people - they had the resources to escape plummeting home values. Blacks who were unable to keep up their properties, were not, in many cases, lazy, or lacking pride in their homes, they were being charged as much as three times the actual value of the house, being led to believe that they would one day actually 'own' the home. Speculators, financial institutions and even the federal government, were actually more culpable than many of the people the general public list as 'the cause' for urban blight.
Our attitudes toward low income neighborhoods are often shaped by personal experiences, personal encounters, observations from long distances, prejudices and bias that all too often never go deep enough into the issues at the root of the phenomenon. There are those who are quick to point out the need for personal responsibility, in order to avoid being 'blamed' or in an effort to search for a way to avoid addressing these problems with public policy that transgresses their ideology. Even those who believe that government intervention alone will solve the problem, dismiss the fact that systemic factors that make life enjoyable for some, can make it possible to exploit the hopes and dreams of others.
Or have we already forgotten September 2008?
Sunday, July 26, 2009
On this post, however, let me admit my lack of originality - especially to those of you who read Central Dallas Ministries' president and CEO, Larry James' blog. It's just too good not to share...
Saturday, July 25, 2009
U.S. Open Winner (1968), Wimbledon Men's Champion (1975), Activist
"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life."
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
KERA the local PBS affiliate has an laudable and excellent effort going on to help people deal with the recession. Its called 'KERA the Economy'. This initiative is designed to arm viewers with information and possible solutions in grappling with facing home foreclosure, job loss, health care issues and other challenges resulting from the current downturn in the economy.
I caught what I believe to have been the first installment of the series recently entitled 'Facing the Mortgage Crisis' and it was incredibly good. The story of Jesus and Milagro Irizarry who faced loss of their home by sale at auction, is a poignant, cautionary tale for those who have fallen behind on their mortgage through job loss, health care issues, or inflated mortgage payments, to seek help and to do it quickly!
There was also a very helpful segment on dealing with unemployment. There were practical suggestions from dealing with everything from the need to file for unemployment insurance immediately, to seeking counseling for the emotional impact of losing your job during a recession.
Great work KERA! It's really worth checking out.
Speaking of television...
The word I heard most often associate with CNN's Black In America 2 is 'inspirational'. While last year's 'Black In America' focused almost too much on the problems and pathologies of the African-American community, this season Soledad O'Brien shows much more of the promise of efforts that are transforming lives. Such as Capitol High School in Hartford, Connecticut where every child that graduates goes on to a four year college.
Nothing short of inspirational, and again, worth checking out!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"The latest Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) data indicates that a much wider breach has opened up in racial wealth inequality from the mid-1990s to now. This pattern reflects a firmly embedded racial stratification."
"In 1998, the net worth of white households on average was $100,700 higher than that of African-Americans. By 2007, this gap had increased to $142,600. The SCF survey, which is supported by the Federal Reserve Board, collects this data every three years -- and every time it has been collected, the racial wealth gap has widened."
"In short: non-white wealth grew slowly and incrementally while wealth in white families grew 40 percent. Why such a huge gap (read the rest of his commentary here)?"
Monday, July 20, 2009
Cronkite had a boyish and almost infectious enthusiasm when it came to America's space program. And even though I didn't understand it all (I just couldn't make heads nor tails out of the staticy communication between command control and the astronauts), Walter Cronkite made it all seem important. And it was.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Trey's take on the matter has to do with a perspective which places the blame on the absence of black fathers in black families. Shawn approaches this scourge from the point of view that the black community must acknowledge the problem and have the courageous determination to deal with it, individually and organizationally. Both have valid points. But both adherents to both perspectives must take into account larger issues that contribute to a culture and a pathology so pervasive that it frustrates any work to help these communities achieve health.
To Trey's point, for instance, families can be significantly healthier when the father and mother are present in the home. But mere male presence isn't the cure all to self destructive or other destructive behavior. Trey isn't saying this, but it has to be realized that a great contribution to the violence that we see in our urban communities isn't due to the fact that the father is missing. Statistics aside, the father in that family has to be a healthy and helpful presence. Working, emotionally mature and available, loving the wife, children AND himself. I wish I could tell you how often I found that not to be the case in two parent families. The result: children, not just boys, who were in someways expressing anger and resentment. This is not a black phenomenon, but it is a problem that is exacerbated when poverty and the frustrations and failures associated with it are daily facts of life.
The other reality that Trey's solution doesn't take into account is the phenomenon of grandparents and even great-grandparents, raising children. These are often female headed households and the parents of these children are either deceased or incarcerated. It is important to point out that neither death nor incarceration are always according to stereotype. These parents sometimes actually die because of the diabetes related illnesses, cancer or heart disease. We have seen, as is represented by the exonerees in Dallas County who represent 10% of the exonerated wrongfully convicted citizens in this country, that everyone in prison isn't always guilty. Aside from that, not only are African-Americans disproportionately represented in the prison population - they also are disproportionately incarcerated for non-violent crimes. So its important to point out that grand and great-grandparents are not always raising the children of drug addicts and murderers.
The women who are rearing these children are, more often than not loving disciplinarians, deeply concerned about and committed to the children in their care, but who also don't always have the energy, perspective or resources to address the needs of growing adolescents.
The other issue to which Trey attributes the problem of the absence of fathers in the home is failure of 'the welfare state'. If heard this ad infinitum ad nuaseum. We often revise history and, in the process demonize old heroes and while sanctifying old demons. The 'welfare state's' failure had more to do with LBJ's determination to fight a war on poverty and a war in Viet Nam at the same time. There was not enough money or public will to do both effectively.
To judge what 'the welfare state' did to the black family, you clear about the causes of failure from the perspective that Trey's talking about. Like the drastic cuts in domestic spending which also took their toll on welfare recipients in the Nixon - Bush I eras (as a matter of fact, a snapshot of how welfare devolved can be seen by looking at the 70's Diahann Carol/James Earl Jones classic 'Claudine'). By the time of the Reagan years and its excoriation of the mythical Cadillac driving 'welfare queen', welfare, which never paid enough for any family to live on and has never represented more than 1-2% of the federal budget, was under constant attack as a drag on the economy and social fabric of the nation, and the damage on the black family. Was there abuse and fraud in the system? Yes. Did it result in the deconstruction of the black family? Not as much as the deconstruction of the economic infrastructure of black communities where jobs moved further and further away to places where it became less and less accessible to public transportation.
Collaterally there was also redlining of black communities: a decades long period where insurance and loans for the purchases homes, home improvement and even cars were difficult, if not impossible to come by. It was not a matter of income, work history or education - it was the systematic devaluing of property in black neighborhoods that led to the flight of the black middle and even working classes, the communities they left behind ultimately drifted into concentrated poverty. The reason being that those left behind were the least educated, the most vulnerable (the youngest, the oldest, the least healthy); they were those whose incomes didn't allow them the luxury of leaving for better neighborhoods and ultimately the city (in this case Dallas) invested less and less in infrastructure, code enforcement, public safety and education. In other words all the things that make neighborhoods liveable.
All of these issues contribute to a hopelessness and despair that lead to something that is hard for most of us to understand: the point where life itself appears so pointless that it becomes nearly valueless. It is the result of the failure of a number of systems that influence the lives of most of us who are in anyway successful. It has been much more than the absence of fathers.
Take for example environment. Sharon's colleague at DMN, Tod Robberson had a post a few weeks ago in which he expressed his dismay at a group of men drinking outside drinking at 9:30 in the morning, while a group of young people were involved in a neighborhood clean up. The fact is, no one can deny that there are people in Highland Park, or Frisco who drink at 10 in the morning. They do it indoors or behind gated communities. It is unacceptable to be seen outside swilling alcohol that early. But in a neighborhood proliferated with liquor related businesses and advertisement it can be taken as a matter of course. Especially when the saturation of liquor related businesses is excused as a result of 'the market.' Well you can't have it both ways: you can't pack an area with liquor related businesses, and then say that people who purchase the merchandise and become addicted are 'irresponsible'. Addiction becomes another contributing factor to the violence in poor communities. Those alcoholics and drug addicts are, more often than we realize, the mothers and fathers of some of the children that we are labeling directly or by inference, as incorrigible. It is, 'the water they swim in', and there are few people to teach them differently.
These addictions are among the physical and mental health issues that also must be dealt with. The difference between mental health problems in south Dallas and University Park is insurance. There are few places where people who are depressed - who suffer the psychological and emotional damage from dead in lives, and life lived quite literally, in a war zone, can go for therapy. In suburban areas people see counselors and doctors, in southern Dallas they go to jail or homeless shelters, where they become either the perpetrators of or the victims of violence.
Young people have few opportunities to play organized sports, too few safe parks and recreation centers. Normal childhood skirmishes in schools, that now have 'zero tolerance' for such, lead to early introductions to the criminal justice system or child protective services, introducing these young people far too early to the very elements from which we claim to want to shield them.
My point in all of this is that we don't have a simple problem when it comes to violence. Trey has part of the answer; Shawn has still another part. But the fact is this is an issue that we all must work on. We have to have communities for all of our people that are safe and livable.
At the end of the day, both Trey and Shawn say something that is right, but which doesn't reach deep enough into the problem: we all, know what the answer(s) are. Those answers include solutions as simple fathers engaged in and supporting the lives of their children and families, organizations and institutions becoming the guardians of the communities persistently working ending the scourge of violence. But I have to insist that there are systemic solutions of public investment and engagement that must be made to address the root issue of poverty. No matter how deep I believe the roots of those problems to be, however, I agree with the fundamental premise of Trey and Shawn's respective columns, as individuals, in the affected communities and regarding the city as a whole, the things we know must be done are the things we must do, no matter how hard they are.
We cannot afford to throw our hands in the air in frustration and surrender.
We cannot delude ourselves into believing that poverty is simply a matter of personal responsibility or laziness. To do so comforts those of us who don't want to be 'bothered' with these problems. We are indeed, deluded if we actually believe that the issue of violence in poor communities can be contained. We will all feel the impact in the explosion of that violence into 'secure' communities or the societal impact of the implosion of these communities as we lose not only the lives of the victims, but the productivity of the lives of the survivors.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
"You get that education, all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can."
I've been hearing about Barack Obama's speech before the NAACP's 100th Convention in New York City. I finally got a chance to hear it and I agree, it is inspiring and challenging - to all of us!
I think all too often we - all of us - don't remember that the challenges of overcoming poverty, injustice and inequality in our country is the responsibility of every American. We all have influence; we all have resources; we all have capacity. It is when we try and make ourselves the delusion of living in comfortable deniability, suggesting that we can pursue our dreams untouched and in no way benefitting from or suffering from the dark failures of our country's past, that we forgeight the greatest prospects for a brighter future.
It is interesting, that near the end of his speech, the President's call for greater personal responsibility can be heard in nearly every church in nearly every inner city community across this nation. There are teachers and coaches preaching this same message in classrooms and locker rooms across this nation saying the same thing.
Perhaps there is no greater partnership needed than that of other suburban communities to not just talk about compassion, but brotherhood. A partnership is needed in which suburban America talks about the shared future of every citizen and wealth not just for personal comfort, but to strengthen the fabric of society as a whole.
We have no excuses for doing less...
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The RTD is confessing their role in and apologizing for supporting 'Massive Resistance' to the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.
"Massive Resistance inflicted pain then. Memories remain painful. Editorial enthusiasm for a dreadful doctrine still affects attitudes toward the newspaper. Many remember. We understand. Words have consequences. Artful paragraphs promoted ugly things. Stylish sentences salted wounds. Euphemism was profligate. As members of the Fourth Estate these pages did not keep a proper distance, either. The debate is over. It is done."
"Virginia long has prided itself on its gentility. The state's political tradition has lacked firebrands such as Gene Talmadge, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, Bull Connor, Theodore Bilbo, and James K. Vardaman. Massive Resistance shattered pretensions. Although the commonwealth's campaign to evade Brown v. Board of Education did not produce the pyrotechnics seen in other states, it was directed toward the same dead end. Pride, humanity learns ever again, is not a virtue but a sin. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
"Hubris prevailed. Those who railed against oppressions visited upon sovereign states by an allegedly imperial Washington relied on government's coercive might to deny the full humanity of their fellow citizens. Massive Resistance was neither a departure nor an exception but the extension of Jim Crow and the attitudes informing it. Segregation and its associated indignities were in retreat. Massive Resistance formed a last stand."
Obviously there is more to their apology than I understand. But all things being equal, I'm not sure I understand what the follow up to the apology will be: will the editorial position of the Dispatch be one of putting more money into the schools of predominantly low income children? Will they advocate for more experienced qualified teachers in low income schools? I'm not sure what they can do to make this wrong right. Not that the apology is not appreciated. More enlightened attitudes on history should be always welcomed. It is far more appreciated than efforts to rewrite history to fit one's comfort level.
Here is one thing I do take away from their apology, however, and that is that media can shape and reflect public mores and views. I jokingly say that I was editor of our high school newspaper for about 25 minutes (long story), but the point is even then, we were taught about 'objective' journalism. Objectivity is rare. The fact is the public record doesn't go away. It is something that will be here for a very long time. The question is not just about degrees of objectivity, its how you will look and be judged 50 years from now. Its about being on the wrong side of history.
When I was a freshman in college, the president addressed us in assembly and challenged us with something I never forgot. He said, 'There's a difference between a thermostat and a thermometer. Thermometers only reflect temperature; thermostats regulate the temperature. Its up to you, to decide what you want to be!'
In 1954 the editorial board of the Richmond Times Dispatch decided to be a thermometer; more than half a century later, another generation is embarrassed and apologetic, when it comes to that decision.
Its a choice both institutions and individuals have to make.
We're not the only ones who live with the consequences.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Of course now we know that Chatman is one of 20 in Dallas county and more than 200 nationwide, who through DNA evidence or some other discovery has been found innocent. The 200 across the nation means that Texas, although it leads the nation in exonerated prisoners, is not by itself.
Sunday evening's 60 Minutes profiled yet another DNA case which helps us to know that this kind of thing happens all too often for any of us to be comfortable.
Watch CBS Videos Online
In Illinois the latest members of this fraternity are Marvin Reeves and Ronald Kitchens, both of whom served 20 years incarcerated for a murder they didn't commit.
""It hasn't really hit me yet. It's surreal," Kitchen said after the Illinois attorney general's office dismissed charges in the allegedly drug-related 1988 murders of two women and their three children on the Southwest Side."
"Kitchen, who said he was forced to confess by an underling of disgraced former Chicago Police Detective Cmdr. Jon Burge, was originally sentenced to death, and Reeves had been been serving five life terms without parole."
""If you're getting whooped for over 39 hours and you're constantly saying that you didn't do it and they're constantly doing what they're doing, somewhere along the line you're going to realize they're not going to stop unless somebody gives in," Kitchen said."
""I gave in hoping that the judge and the jury would see that, 'Hey, he's telling the truth.' But it didn't happen that way. It took 20 years.""
"Illinois Assistant Attorney General Richard Schwind told Criminal Court Presiding Judge Paul Biebel on Tuesday that after an exhaustive review of both cases, the office determined it could not "sustain its burden of proof.""
"Officials with the attorney general's office would not comment on whether any other suspects have been identified."
Obviously there are some systemic issues involved. Addressing those issues is critical. Failure to do so involves devastating lives, disrupting families and delaying justice.
The case regarding Mr. Kitchen and Mr. Reeves, brings to light another issue with the matter of justice. DNA evidence played no role in their exoneration, and as time goes by will play less and less a role in liberating those who have been mistakenly and falsely incarcerated. As Alan Bean points out in his blog, "Unfortunately, the era of post-conviction DNA exonerations is drawing to a close. In Dallas County, for instance, most of the old DNA evidence has already been tested. Without a steady supply of exoneration stories the wrongful conviction issue will fade from public awareness."
"The only solution is for groups like Friends of Justice to intervene at the pre-conviction stage in actual cases where the building blocks of wrongful conviction are clearly on display. We can’t say the guy is innocent with absolute certainty; but we can argue persuasively that the State is gunning for a conviction in a case built on shakey eye witness testimony and circumstantial evidence."
Bills introduced in the 81st Texas Legislature meant to address the issues that lead to false identification in live and photograph line-ups, failed to become law. It will take strong public outcry, not just to right the wrongs that have already taken place, but to do all within the power of our legal system to make sure they don't happen again.
Happy endings are possible for those whose lives have been so unfairly disrupted as crime victims - and by crime victims, I mean those who have been victimized by a criminal and those who have been erroneously accused of that crime. But those happy endings would be unnecessary if we insisted on laws that eliminated as many flaws as possible from faulty eyewitness testimony and the tendency to rush to judgement.
Incarcerating the wrong person is costly. I don't know of anyone whose life should be considered disposable.
Monday, July 13, 2009
We all want this type of thing to be over. But racism doesn't end without vigilence and vigorous reaction when it occurs. When we say 'we've learned our lesson' let it mean that we've made making room for everyone a priority in public policy and in public life.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Remembering Karl Malden also gives me a chance to share his memorable guestspot on my all time favorite TV show. I don't think I need to tell you what it is...
Saturday, July 11, 2009
"Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even."
Friday, July 10, 2009
Here's a newsflash to all who want to rewrite Texas history to reflect the 'republican' values upon which this country is based: we've all ready gone through a period in which the contributions, accomplishments and achievements of minorities were erased from public education: we called that period 'segregation'.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
My frustration (irritation really), is with what I consider the logic she uses in analysing the source of the moral declension of which Sanford is guilty somehow reaching back to the Kennedy presidency and his sexual indiscretions. It doesn't take into account patterns of immorality and unethical behavior that have nothing to do with sex and cyloes the 'upholding family values' argument by suggesting that sexual purity is proof positive one's integrity. At least that, as I see it, is implication of her argument. I see it that way because she, along with countless other conservatives have the habit of explaining away other morally and ethically transgressions in public policy initiatives and sometimes indictable, if not criminal activities, that have little and in most cases nothing to do with sex. These too, eat away and the fabric of our culture and constitute public 'sin' for which there also needs to be accountability and atonement.
This is the larger reason why Tod calls me out.
Don Hill, one of Dallas' former city councilmen is caught up in an ethics scandal allegedly involving bribery of wealthy developers of low income properties throughout the poorest sections of our city. It is a complex and controversial case and it is fraught with implications regarding racial politics and the integrity of African-American politicians.
Tod says in reaction to my post, "I would like to hear Gerald Britt specifically address the many ethical issues raised by elected officials in southern Dallas using race-baiting tactics to stir up anti-white sentiment while lining their own pockets under the guise of creating business opportunities for minorities and ensuring that "rich whites" don't come in to exploit the community. I raise this because of all of the revelations from the Don Hill trial, as well as the recent controversy surrounding the alleged "shakedown" of developer Richard Allen as he worked to build his sprawling inland port facility in southern Dallas County."
And Tod is right. There are many ethical issues raised when a sensitive and explosive issue like race is used gratuitously and self-servingly. The fact is, not every politician who races the spectre of race is trying to fan the flames of racial pride, or sound a critical alarm. There are some who indeed use race as a cover for their own incompetence and negligence, or a cloak for their own ambition.
Race prejudice provides too easy an excuse for some in our community to refuse to commit themselves to the hard work of taking control of our own communities. And when race is used as a clarion call for a fight that doesn't exist, it is the worst kind malfeasance. And this is especially true when it appears that such leaders derive personal benefit and gain from scare tactics and bullying that result.
But, as someone has said, 'Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean that no one is following you.' And if there were no distress in minority communities directly attributable to racial injustice, there would be nothing to which either unscrupulous or sincere leaders could appeal. What is clear, when it comes to dealing with race issues in this city and this country, is that there are some people who believe that minorities are just making this all up.
Tod implication is right on point; its despicable for race to be used to forestall opportunity and personal enrichment. But it is equally short sighted to not understand that racial injustice is a serious and substantive problem in this country - the 'age of Obama' notwithstanding. In the past - the recent past - naivete on the part of blacks and other minorities regarding this point didn't just mean the loss of property, or employment, it could mean the loss of life.
Can African-Americans hyper-sensitive around this issue? There are times when that is true. Is the black community vulnerable to exploitation when it comes to this issue? The answer is also yes, some indeed are. This is why we have to hold our leaders accountable for producing real results and not use race as a means of fulfilling their ambitions or not fulfilling their obligations.
But it is also true, that we must continue to remind the broader society that there are severe inequities that exist that are directly attributable to the issue of race. The fact that it makes those who hear that message uncomfortable, is not the issue. The fact that it is something for which they do not 'feel responsible' is again, not the issue. It is a fact and no real justice can ever be achieved by ignoring it.
Tod couches his challenge in a very interesting hypothetical, which touches on something I've been thinking about recently. He says, 'Let's dream a little bit. If City Hall and private investors were to devote one-tenth of the financial resources we think they need to invest to raise southern Dallas to a developmental level of parity with the north, then unquestionably there would be billions of dollars in projects flooding into the area. That means lots of opportunities for minority owned businesses as well as for white-owned companies. Everyone should get a piece of the pie. This should be a city-wide effort. But it is destined to fail if an attitude prevails in Dallas 1) that corrupt politicians and their cronies will insist on getting their own special payments for "services" rendered; and 2) if the public continues to be convinced that nothing happens in southern Dallas without someone getting a payoff for it.'
I can't argue with him there. It is clear that either actual or perceived corruption can make the prospect of doing business in southern Dallas distasteful. These reasons are used as excuses for not doing businesses in many of the business suites in Dallas. The prospect of crude, unsophisticated graft and unsavory personalities don't make for enticing business propositions.
But I'm wondering: does this mean every business deal being done in over developed North Dallas done in a pristine, above board atmosphere? No corners being cut? No side deals or kick backs? Why is the challenge to southern Dallas in particular and to minority communities in general, have a caveat associated with it?
Excellent traffic patterns...
Why must the people in these communities be more moral, more industrious, less corrupt, less crime ridden than their North Dallas fellow citizens? Why must we debate the intrinsic 'worthiness' of the poor and the 'merit' of residents of poor communities before we do what we know works in schools and neighborhoods? I don't think Tod believes this, but implicit in his statement is the idea that there is no, or not as much corruption among politicians in the north as can be seen in politicians in the south. I challenge that. There may be politicians who are more sophisticated and business leaders who have know ways that are 'legal' to line their pockets, but I object to the concept of corruption that is the province of any particular group of people.
There is indeed, more than one way to be corrupt.
The argument goes back to something many African-American parents and educators have had to instill in children in their care: you have to be twice as good, to get half as much respect.
Tod says something else that calls for conversation.
"I'd actually like to hear someone speak out in support of the FBI investigation and, instead of condemning this as an attack on African Americans, call for more such investigations until this city's and county's governments are cleaned up."
"But by raising suspicions that the FBI is targeting minorities for prosecution, commentators (and the accused politicians) only help further undermine public confidence. We're left with a situation in which we don't know whom to trust. We can't trust the politicians, but we can't trust the FBI."
It is interesting to me that some people don't understand why blacks and whites view law enforcement differently. Whites tend to view law enforcement as preserving order and security. African-Americans view law enforcement and the legal system as suspicious and threatening. Its not that we don't know that they are necessary. The fact is, there is a history of the FBI having undermined public confidence in the black community on their own. There is a history of victimization that is not a figment of the collective imaginations of black people. And so, even when there is a suspicion that someone might be caught up in the legal system might be guilty, there is also the suspicion that although guilty they will not be treated as fairly or humanely as someone who is white and guilty. Leading to the sentiment at which some white people shake their heads: Hill, if guilty, is no more guilty than other white politicians, but that he is being 'singled out'.
The fact is, if Hill is guilty, there are wrongs that are just wrong;
There is greed that is greed;
There is unethical behavior that is just unethical behavior, the real question is what is the degree of devastation resulting from the consequences. The truth is public confidence is the first casualty of a politicians abuse of power and unethical behavior, no matter what his or her color is. And I don't mind saying it: if Don Hill is guilty he ought to be punished and punished severely. But there is still such a thing as innocence until guilt is proven, and I am more disappointed that there are still many people who aren't charitable enough to allow for that.
As for the persistent questions regarding African-American support or silence regarding Don Hill - if he is guilty no amount of black support can make it right. If Hill is innocent, no amount of black support can eradicate the damage done by his false prosecution.
The columnist, conservative thinker and evangelical has grounds to be proud of her achievements in life and I can definitely applaud her support of Christian values which, she testifies, were key to her overcoming poverty and discovering self sufficiency.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
This particular episode, 'Monsters are Due on Maple Street', says much about the fear and paranoia of American society at the height of the Cold War and as our country was 'recovering' from the McCarthy Era. But I think it speaks volumes to us today as we have become comfortable with fear and suspicion of one another.
I tried to find a suitable excerpt from the episode, but having failed that, I'm sharing with you the whole episode. Hope you can take time to watch it.
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street