Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Extraordinary Measures

October 4, 2016

The 10-1-16 Newark Advocate ran a Gannett article entitled “Ohio cities target vacant houses, crime havens” by Adrian Burns. As if the association of vacant homes and crime insinuated by the headline weren’t enough, the first line of the article reads: “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Followed immediately by “These are the sorts of things that go on inside vacant and abandoned homes – and Ohio’s cities are home to an estimated 100,000 of them.” Analysis isn’t much interested in the “640 such vacant or abandoned homes in Newark” that the census found in 2010. Rather, Analysis would like to consider how the entire article would read if instead of “vacant homes” being associated by correlation with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” it was guns being associated by correlation with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” One could just as glibly say “Houses don’t kill people. People kill people” as “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” After all, guns and homes share one very important aspect in common – they both are considered private property in the eyes of the law, and can be addressed as such legally. The various municipalities, land banks and conservancies described in the article bend over backwards in their legal maneuvering to employ the extraordinary measures of ridding the community of this crime associated private property. How many guns sit unused in closets, drawers, basements, etc. (originally obtained for sport purposes, self defense, etc. but over time neglected due to lack of interest)? Could municipalities, county governments and the state do more, let alone take extraordinary measures to rid the community of this crime associated property? Why haven’t they? The reluctance on the part of elected officials to do anything, let alone take extraordinary measures to deal with such private property, lies primarily with the exception made for this property as a right within the US Constitution. Something NOT given as a right within the US Constitution would be what Analysis has often referred to as “the right to look”. Though not given as a right, the “looking” aspect (through various audio/video recording devices) has created a correlation association of guns with “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Not only that, but with those held in the public trust to protect and keep that very public from “Murder. Theft. Drug use. Sexual Assault. Vandalism. Squatting.” Al Jazeera reports “NY man who filmed Eric Garner’s death heading to jail. Ramsey Orta took plea deal on unrelated charges but says police harassed him after filming officers killing his friend.” (Anealla Safdar, 10-2-16). “Garner, a father of six, was selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island, New York, when officers tackled him. His case was ruled as a homicide, meaning that his death was caused by human beings, but [NYPD officer Daniel] Pantaleo was not indicted.” A grand jury decided not to indict the police officers involved (including Pantaleo). “After filming Garner’s death, they [Orta’s lawyers] claim, he was increasingly harassed and targeted by police and was arrested at least eight times in fewer than two years.” Analysis finds these lines from the end of the article to be especially pertinent in light of the recent Midland Theatre reasoning re: Michael Moore’s presence in Newark – “In August, filmmaker David Sutcliffe wrote an open letter in favour of the “right to record”, which was signed by more than 100 documentarians, including Asif Kapadia, Laura Poitras and Nick Broomfield. “Armed only with camera phones, citizen journalists have shattered America’s myth of racial equality,” the letter said. “Instead of garnering Pulitzers and Peabodys, they have been targeted, harassed and arrested by members of the very institution whose abuses they seek to expose.”” In regards to exposure (of what is not to be seen) Robert Higgs, writing for Cleveland.com (Ohio Supreme Court considers lifting secrecy that shrouds grand jury process 9-29-16) reports: “The proposed rule changes would allow members of the public to petition for release of the proceedings in cases where the grand jury, a system enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and Ohio Constitution, chooses not to indict.” Not exactly a right to look, but an extraordinary measure in the right direction.

Lest We Forget

September 9, 2016

The international news this week is of the outrage expressed by a Norwegian newspaper (Aftenposten) blasting Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg. The newspaper had been running an inquiry into the impact that images have on war utilizing this online platform. Zuckerberg had censored the Nick Ut photo image of a naked Vietnamese girl running terrified from the napalm bombing that had burned off her clothes. Facebook defends the decision by saying the platform cannot distinguish between images of naked juveniles. They are all considered equal. The paper’s front page editorial finds such carte blanche treatment of images to be frightening. Analysis finds the entire matter to be analogous, if not a reenactment, to considerations of race here in the US, specifically policies of affirmative action and Black Lives Matter. The response to Black Lives Matter is the knee jerk “All Lives Matter” while to affirmative action policies it is that to be considered equally requires a disregard of difference. The similarities and resemblances are uncanny. Approximately 100 years ago a European named Walter Benjamin addressed this question in a rather oblique manner, but what he had to say definitely bears on this. In an essay entitled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Benjamin considered the difference between an original and the various printed copies that were immensely popular at the time. The Columbus Museum of Art recently ran a show of Picasso’s work from this time. In its little gallery store are many incredible reproductions (copies) of artworks that people buy and hang up at home. All the reproductions are “equally” saleable, one no better than another. Benjamin alludes to aura in his attempt to differentiate the material images (one original, one a copy). The copies have no aura, or only that of a mechanically (technically) reproduced material while the aura of an original is its history and nuance found in the work having been expressly (and intimately) created by the artist, and the object’s continued material involvements after that (provenance). That was a hundred years ago. And yet today we have Facebook acting without regard to what an image is about, its “aura” (digital or otherwise). “All Lives Matter” likewise categorically dismisses the nuance of history and the “provenance” of a people. The algorithms that Facebook relies on to make its determinations treat all zero’s and one’s as equal (to zero’s and one’s). What Analysis finds frightening is that this form of “equality” (the equality of mathematics found with algorithms) is embraced and has gained acceptance by so many Americans who likewise value and insist that history not be dismissed. Does 9/11 possess an “aura” or is it best described by an algorithm?

Free Breakfast Program A Social Commentary

March 2, 2016

Maria DeVito, writing for the Newark Advocate, reports on 2-29-16 “Newark schools launch free breakfast program”. In it she states “The pilot program started at Ben Franklin on Jan. 8, but Newark City Schools Superintendent Doug Ute said the district plans to provide breakfast at all its schools starting next school year.” One reason for this was given as “Last year, the district realized that of the students who were eligible to eat a free breakfast, only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. The rest of the article covers the nuts and bolts specifics of the program and its implementation (such as “The school uses the federal reimbursements it gets for students to pay for the program, which the students named Morning Kickoff, Cable Miller said.”). It also notes that “Licking Valley Local Schools has been offering free breakfast to all of its students for about six or seven years, said Jan Jennings, the district’s cafeteria director.” and that “Heath City Schools just started serving breakfast to all of its students this year, Superintendent Trevor Thomas said.” Analysis, of course, is intrigued by all this, especially that “only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. Analysis wonders what is behind all this? That same leap day (2-29-16), Janie Boschma, writing for The Atlantic, came out with a very long and complicated study entitled “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools”. She begins with the rather cut and dry (and almost lifted out of each page of American history) “In almost all major American cities, most African American and Hispanic students attend public schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, a new analysis of federal data shows. This systemic economic and racial isolation looms as a huge obstacle for efforts to expand opportunity because researchers have found that the single-most powerful predictor of racial gaps in educational achievement is the extent to which students attend schools surrounded by other low-income students.” This is followed by a slew of statistics, studies, and sources which all pretty much indicate that big city or small, these students find themselves in schools where 75% or more of their peers can be designated as low income or poor. “the National Equity Atlas [“The Atlas is a joint project of PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, or PERE”] defines low-income students as those eligible for the federal free- and reduced-lunch program.” Given that Ohio has opted to emphasize charter schools as a “choice” remedy, Analysis considers the significance of the disparity. Boschma writes “The overwhelming isolation of students of color in schools with mostly low-income classmates threatens to undermine efforts both to improve educational outcomes and to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the economy at a time when such students comprise a majority of the nation’s public school enrollment.” Again a slew of statistics, studies and sources citing how graduation rates, test scores, college matriculation, etc. are affected. “The issue, Reardon said [“Sean F. Reardon, a professor at Stanford University’s graduate school of education and one of the nation’s leading experts on residential and educational segregation”], isn’t “that sitting next to a poor kid makes you do less well in school.” Rather, he said, “it’s that school poverty turns out to be a good proxy for the quality of a school. They are in poorer communities, they have less local resources, they have fewer parents with college degrees, they have fewer two parent families where there are parents who can come spend time volunteering in the school, they have a harder time attracting the best teachers. So for a lot of reasons schools serving poor kids tend to have fewer resources, both economic and social capital resources.”” OK, so that would explain the initial low participation rate at Newark’s Ben Franklin (“only about 30 percent were taking advantage”). To participate is to admit, much as use of “food stamp” plastic reveals one’s situation. But why take a program intended for a part and extend it to all (“All the students at Ben Franklin Elementary School were offered the same meal as part of a pilot program that offers all students a free breakfast regardless of whether they are part of the free and reduced-price lunch program.”)? Again, Boschma writes ” In some cities, urban leaders are trying new strategies to confront these trends. They are driven by a belief that for prosperity to continue, they need to craft policy that ensures their own young people are equipped to compete for the jobs the city is creating.” Though her article focuses primarily on racial/ethnic disparity, the problem, as problem, returns to one of economic conditions – income disparity with prosperity as the solution. “These high levels of concentrated poverty in schools persist—and have increased overall—even in cities where there has been tremendous growth since the recession.” This would account for the use of this program in rural Licking Valley as well as economic wunderkind Heath. As DeVito reported for the Newark Advocate in her 2-26-16 article, “Local experts: Diversity a necessary conversation topic”, “According the United States Census Bureau, in 2014 less than 10 percent of the county population’s identified as a minority. The biggest minority population was African Americans with 3.8 percent.” What drives or “creates” this breakfast program since the racial/ethnic factors described by Boschma would preclude its use? Indeed, as Boschma writes, “Socioeconomic integration is a legal alternative to racial reintegration—ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007 in the case of Parents Involved v. Seattle—that largely produces the same effect.” Analysis finds that having everyone eating together without pretense for exception is definitely a form of socioeconomic integration, something affirming and for which schools implementing it should be lauded.

How Do You Know, How Do You Really Know For Sure?

December 3, 2014

Analysis notes the many Open Carry demonstrations, not only here in Ohio, but also across the US in previous years as well as this one. NEO Carry, as well as others, takes pride in posting videos of individuals openly carrying assault rifles, hand guns, etc. in parks, shopping areas, and on the street. Videos are also posted of the (non) confrontations with local law enforcement officers. Analysis also notes another video of a little boy brandishing a handgun in Cleveland’s Cudell Park, waving it around. Analysis observed passers by ignoring the playing child. The video later shows law enforcement driving up and shooting the child immediately upon opening their doors. In NYC, the grand jury finds no reason to charge NYC law enforcement officer Daniel Pantaleo in the video taped asphyxiation of Eric Garner. The AP quotes Pantaleo as saying “It is never my intention to harm anyone.” Unfortunately Tamir Rice was never accorded the same privilege.

Follow Up To Economic Discourse In The US

August 11, 2013

            Economic Discourse In The US (7-28-13) attempted to initiate an inquiry into the benefit and appropriateness of racial categorization when discussing matters of economics, whether it contributes or only furthers the status quo. 18th and 19th century imperialism created categories of race as an obscene legalism to justify inequities. Yet somehow these categories persist in so many matters of importance today. Many call for a discussion, a discourse on race within the US. It is long overdue, not because past and present inequities must be addressed, but because so much regarding this subject is delusional, starting with the original categorizations brought on by 18th Century colonialism and punctuated by the hallmark myth of “racial purity” with 20th Century fascism. The delusions only grow and get more complicated with each day. An AP news story out today (8-10-13) underscores the burgeoning tragedy, spreading misery over time. South Carolina Authorities Issue Warrant in Adoption Case continues the adoption case of 3 year old Veronica Brown, Capobianco or Maldonado depending on how one “categorizes” a little girl. Again, as mentioned in Economic Discourse In The US, children are powerless in the US. Their identity is determined by others. In this case the categories utilized reside in the legalism of the 19th century. No mention is made of the irony of this entire travesty. In the 19th century President Martin Van Buren ordered the Cherokee nation expelled from its native territory of western South Carolina, and exiled to the “territories” of Oklahoma. In 2009 Chrissy Maldonado (race not specified) gave birth to a girl, naming her Veronica and fathered by Dusten Brown (at the time also unspecified). Maldonado decided to place the child up for adoption with the biological father’s tacit consent (deferring parental responsibility to Maldonado’s decision to place the child up for adoption). Matt and Melanie Capobianco adopted Veronica and provided her a home until 2011. Dusten Brown had a change of heart and sued for custody under the Federal Indian Child Custody Act. Mr. Brown now identified himself as having Native American ancestry, thus Veronica now became identified as Cherokee. Like her ancestors before her, she was uprooted from her home and relocated to Oklahoma. Another slew of law suits all the way to the US Supreme Court and back down again to the South Carolina Family Court which granted adoption (and return) of Veronica to the Capobiancos. Confused? You should be with all the legalities from start to finish always tainted by race, specified or unspecified (was the child listed as ? on the birth certificate, or race of mother, or was deference made to the 19th Century practice of establishing percentage of blood for purposes of determining racial purity, or did the racial composition evolve with time, or was it a grave injustice that no racial identity was indicated to begin with, etc.?). But wait, there’s more. Chrissy Maldonado has filed suit with the US Federal Government that the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional. “Maldonado has claimed that the law uses race to determine with whom a child should live, and therefore is a violation of equal-protection laws.”

            Yes, a national discussion on 19th Century delusional categories of race and 20th Century fascist delusions of racial purity is definitely long overdue.

Economic Discourse In The US

July 28, 2013

            CNN described George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic”. The 7-16-13 online Newark Advocate ran an OpEd by DeWayne Wickham entitled How did George Zimmerman become the victim? Mr. Wickham also described George as a “white Hispanic” which prompted a reader’s comment to the obvious: Does that make Barack Obama a “white African American”? Hope Yen of the Associated Press ran an article on 7-28-13 that just might keep the Sominex in the medicine cabinet unopened over that question. The article (a rather long one) is entitled Exclusive: 4 in 5 in US face near-poverty, no work. Based on statistics, interviews and data provided by Mark Rank of Washington University in St. Louis, Tom Hirschl at Cornell University, John Iceland at Penn State University, The University of New Hampshire Carsey Institute, the US Census Bureau and the Population Reference Bureau the map of America looks quite a bit different than it did at the time of the March On Washington 50 years ago. The US Supreme Court may have used just such reasoning (to say America today ain’t the way it was back then) to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act, but I don’t think that what Hope Yen presents is exactly what the court had in mind; probably more like what Dr. King had in mind while expounding on his dream. It is obvious that we have lost The War On Poverty. “Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white. More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.” The AP article attempts to follow the same racial narrative that has accompanied such economic discourse since before the Johnson presidency. Hope Yen cites “For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.” This begs the same question, seemingly facetiously presented by The Advocate comment. Though North West may claim exception, our current president has referred to his own personal upbringing as at times being that of a single-mother family. Hope goes on to point out “The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.” This REALLY muddies up the historic bifurcation of economics along the lines of race. Children are politically powerless in the US of A. As Gandhi, Mandela, and so many others pointed out, self-identity is incumbent on self-rule. Who determines the “racial” identity of these impoverished children? The enemy of my enemy is my friend; such a tired cliché. However, as Dr. King (and many others) have indicated, the racial narrative has always been the friend of those opposed to any victory in a War On Poverty. The AP article underscores this historical perspective, “Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.” Economic discourse in the US, the one that dominates our attempts at self-governance, embarrasses itself through such continuous contrived, covert and subliminal presumptions of hierarchy and entitlement based on Victorian era anthropological distinctions.