Sunday, February 22, 2009

Holder's Trivial Example of Cowardice; Bamboozled

In early February 2009 the Washington Post featured an article called Holder Seen as a Chance To Right Racial Wrongs: With First Black Attorney General Come Expectations That Justice System Can Change. His first statement on race does not make one optimistic.

I didn't have a problem with Attorney General Eric Holder calling Americans a nation of cowards - I just had a problem with his examples. Sure, adult blacks and whites should talk about race more at lunch and socialize more outside of work. And there is sometimes a reluctance or reticence to do so by members of both groups that one could call cowardice. This is less true of many of the younger generation, though their parents' fear of letting children go to school with or socialize with poorer, less educated blacks (or in fewer cases whites) can foment current and future cowardice in their own kids.

But there is a far more important issues of cowardice - the refusal to discuss the continued persecution of black males in the justice system. A persecution which Holder himself defacto has engaged in as a prosecutor.

DOJ statistics show as of 2001: ever imprisoned included black males (16.6%), Hispanic males (7.7%), white males (2.6%); black females (1.7%), Hispanic females (0.7%), white females (0.3%); sixty-four percent of state prison inmates belonged to racial or ethnic minorities; 6 in 10 persons in local jails in 2002 were racial or ethnic minorities. Not surprisingly federal prison population only was not summarized and a brief search found more avoidance of that statistic. I think we can assume the worst, since half of federal prisoners are there for drug crimes. For lots of details on blacks convicted of drug crimes see

Sure, Obama - and doubtless Holder - has alluded to this here and there. But this speech was the time to talk about it. If he doesn't soon, he himself will be guilty of the cowardice he bemoans. Holder must know:

* Drug laws were created originally to permit persecution of blacks and Latinos and still are defacto used for that purpose and drugs perceived to be more commonly used by people of color tend to earn greater sentences. See Race and the Drug War.

* A psychological study showed police (and average people) more likely to shoot a black thought to be armed.

* Chronic police shootings and executions of unarmed blacks, including a couple noteworthy ones already in 2009 in California and Georgia. (Will link to comprehensive list when I find one.)

* Driving while black. Barack Obama and Eric Holder both know that once they lose their secret service or other protection, once they are a lone black man driving down a dark road late at night, they are more subject to the whims of any angry or sadistic police officer than the average white person. They know that a cop could shoot them and probably get away with it, if he told a good enough sob story.

* Impediments on street sellers nationwide. All these black men coming out of prison have a hard time getting employment. One of the prime means of self-employment and bootstrapping out of poverty worldwide is opening up your own shop on the street. Washington, DC allows this with the payment of a relativley small sale tax advance; most cities don't allow it. Lots of black men have those businesses in DC (many of them obviously unlicensed). Something for ex-prisoners and their allies to rally around and Obama and Holder should bully pulpit.

But as long as we're just discussing, here's a couple topics:

* Spike Lee's movie Bamboozled. Just saw the very funny and thought provoking movie and Lee makes fun of everyone, layering stereotypes on stereotypes. Or does he?

* And as of the New York Post Shooting-the-Ape-of-Stimulus cartoon... If the cartoon had been an Israeli soldier drinking the blood of dead Palestinian children, would there be any debate at all? Of course not, since both the Ape and the Blood Drinker are well known ethnic stereotypes rendered as slurs. Only a total ignoramus wouldn't know that. Does the Post hire total ignoramuses?

* And while we are at it, let's compare and contrast all this to private, public and "artistic" violence against and hatred of women of all colors.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

To end: Eric and Barack - start discussing the real violence done to black men, violence which you yourselves continue to perpetrate in your current political offices and which you may be subjected to someday, officially or unofficially, in this still cowardly and racist society...

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