We talk about myths and facts in class a lot and how societal perceptions are very often based on myth. A lot of people think white privilege is a myth. It is not. I learned a great deal from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Norma Gaines-Hanks. Amazing woman. I had a three-hour class with her (HDFS 235: Survey in Child & Family Services) and never once felt bored or anxious to leave. I went into the class incredibly naive. I’m sure there are many things which I am still naive about or ignorant to, but I feel thanks to her class I can actually see why there are people in Baltimore, who feel like rioting is the only thing they can do to be heard.
Now, it might seem pretty ludicrous to embed a Fresh Prince episode into this post but it’s fitting. Carlton feels the police were just doing their jobs when they were pulled over. Will explains to him later in the episode that they were stopped because they were two black men driving in an expensive car in a nice neighborhood. The police officer did not believe them that they were given permission to drive the car. He arrested them both. In the clip below you will see the scene between Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv and the police officers in the station.
- Black drivers (12.3%) were about three times as likely as white drivers (3.9%) and about two times as likely as Hispanic drivers (5.8%) to be searched during a traffic stop in 2008. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
I had a long talk with a friend last night because I was hearing about the riots in Baltimore surrounding the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death and I was upset to say the least. Just as I was upset with the rioting in Ferguson and in New York.
This is the fact…
My white son is less likely to have to get out of their car to be searched at a traffic stop than someone’s black son. Why?
I am not a police officer. I do not want to be a police officer. I have respect for authority and I know that I could not emotionally handle the responsibility they face every day. Not all police officers are bad people. I don’t believe police officers wake up in the morning thinking they hope they get to shoot their gun.
But I do believe there is a huge racial injustice happening in our country and it has been happening for far too long and I wish I knew how to fix it. But I don’t. It shouldn’t be a problem.
All lives matter. Every single one of us is someone’s son or daughter. Every life means something to someone.
Would the media go on and on about a peaceful protest in Baltimore? No. Probably not. There were groups of people holding signs and protesting peacefully yesterday but did anyone see pictures or videos of them online or tv yesterday?
Why does it take more violence to get attention? And what will this type of attention solve? Why is this a debate which is spanning over a century!?
I am a 34-year old white female. There have been times in which I was discriminated against because I am white, there are times I was discriminated against because I’m female. I can count those times on my two hands. I have a black friend who has been pulled over 7 times in one year. 7 times! Failure to yield when there was no traffic coming is one of the reasons he was given. Pulled over for a brake light being out and then asked to step out of the car because he told the officer he knew the brake light was out and he hasn’t been able to fix it yet.
I heard on the radio this morning a black woman saying she has taught her sons how to talk and how to dress so that they are less likely to be in a tricky situation. While I am grateful she is helping her sons to learn skills to help them grow into respectful young men I do not agree that their clothes or the way they talk should be what decides if they get arrested or not.
Equate it this way. When someone tells a rape victim that they are partly responsible for their rape because they had on a tight outfit… is that an appropriate statement? Hell no. Do you see what I mean here?
The disparity is real. This is not a myth.
Consider Dearborn, Missouri.
More than half of the people Dearborn police arrested in 2011 and 2012 were black, according to reports they submitted to the FBI. By comparison, about 4% of the city’s residents are black, as are about a quarter of the people who live in Metropolitan Detroit. Over those two years, the department reported arresting 4,500 black people – 500 more than lived in the city. As a result, the arrest rate for blacks, compared with the city’s population, was 26 times higher than for people of other races.
One thing we can do is to make sure that all agencies report complete demographic data so we can get a more complete picture of the disparity. Not all agencies report race. If this is a nationwide issue then this should be a nationwide policy.
But how do we show why someone is accused or pulled over? If there are 25 white men pulled over in a week and 20 black men pulled over. What are the chances that the 20 black men were pulled over due to a stereotype versus the white men and how do we collect that type of data? Is it possible to get that data objectively? Probably not. But without that type of data the percent distribution of total arrests may not show a clear picture. Data sets are incomplete without this information.
This post is getting long and rambly. But this is an issue which is really eating at me.
Rioting is wrong. There is no way throwing a chair through a window, burning down a senior center and a CVS and blowing up cars will ever be the right thing to do. Rioting is only going to cause more problems. Rioting is going to force authority figures to point at the rioters which are not the root of the problem. We need to work together in a more peaceful way to get to the bottom of this issue and find justice.