Category Archives: Notes and comments

My opinions…just mine, you don’t have to share ’em

Body Armor with School Spirit!

You know how important it is to be safe, right? With so many U. S. states enacting laws to permit guns on college campuses, folks might consider body armor…and why not body armor with a little school spirit? “Protect your student body!” Body armor emblazoned with the names of state universities of states promoting campus carry laws. What could be cooler? StudentBodyArmor.com.

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Filed under Amusements, Education, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Thanks for reading

HB, TJ

Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson!

At the University of Virginia (U.Va.), today is called “Founder’s Day.”

At the same time that I temper my admiration for him with the knowledge that he kept people in bondage, bought and sold them, and abided their maltreatment, I also want to remember that Mr. Jefferson was among the principal architects—if not the lead author—of many socio-cultural, governmental, and philosophical constructs that I hold dear:

The  list could continue….And I very much appreciate these contributions to the commonweal. So, it’s a b’day worthy of celebration.

 

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Filed under Atheism, Birthdays, Civil rights, Education, Equity, Free speech, Humanism, Justice, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, UVa

Is Trump More About Media Attention than Policy?

I don’t know, but people are saying, people are talking about Trump these days…they are talking about him—Donald Trump—a lot, and these are people who know a thing or two, even his pals at Fox News,…they are talking about how he’s just, you know, I don’t know, playing the media. Even the Rush-kin said it, way back in December of 2015, saying that he was going to explain “how it is that Donald Trump owns the media.”

So, do you wonder if his campaign isn’t really about public policy, but more about airtime, clicks, audience? Do you think, maybe, he figures he wins if he loses and he wins if he wins? Laughing all the way to the bank?

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Apple’s Human Family Ad

I understand that advertisements are brief, so the iPhone ad by Apple featuring Maya Angelou’s marvelous “Human Family” had to be limited to 60 sec. Ms. Angelou’s poem runs 105 sec. So, of course, some parts of the poem had to be cut. Well, here’s a link allowing you to hear Ms. Angelou reading the poem in it’s entirety. Sorry. No photos shot on an iPhone or anything else. Just the the elegant, excellent words in her beautiful, more-alike-than-different, human-family voice.

Most readers will see the Apple advertisement without my help.

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Filed under Arts, News, Notes and comments, Peace, Technology, Thanks for reading, What I'm reading, Words

Would this have happened if it had been a white woman?

Charnesia Corley was stopped in the Houston (TX, US) area for running a stop sign. Presuming these facts are accurate, fair enough. Let’s dig. There’s more to this story.

The officer alleges that he smelled marijuanna so he called back-up support. Ms. Corley is 21-year-old African-American. Female officers came and, despite Ms. Corley’s protests, they held her down and searched her vagina for drugs. According to multiple different reports it is way worse than I am describing.

So, I’m trying to imagine allowing gang a of cops holding me down and probing my privates. I’m an older white guy (note: WHITE.) They’re not likely to expect they’ll find a bag a drugs the size of a sandwich up any of my orifices. Would I—oryou—tolerate this?

To be sure, I don’t know what transpired between the officer and Ms. Coreley that night. Maybe one or the other of them said some nasty things that ignited a personal confrontation. (I hope police officers are prepared to defuse such situations, not to take things personally.) Would this have happened if Ms. Corley had done something differently? I don’t know.

Would something different have happened if the Police Office had behaved differently. I bet so. It smacks of confrontation. It’s his job not to escalate situations.

Let’s get over that! Hello. We are neighbors. We live in the same blocks, areas, precincts, city. Let’s work together.

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Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Justice, Neighborhood, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Peace

Black encounters with the justice system

So what happens if you’re Black and you have a police encounter and, lucky you, you don’t get killed? You just get stopped, detained, arrested….

Writing for Slate, Andrew Kahn and Chris Kirk explain “What It’s Like to Be Black in the Criminal Justice System.” They provide graphics illustrating statistical differences in how Black, White, and other non-Black AMERICANS (yes, I’m shouting) are treated in our American criminal justice system. It’ll only take a couple of minutes to read.

As Mr. Kahn and Mr. Kirk show, these days we don’t need John Griffin to expose how that old racism is lurking about in our society. We simply have to look at the data. Of course, some people will likely try to argue away the data and Mr. Griffin’s Black Like Me case study, but their arguments won’t actually hide contemporary racism, let alone mitigate it.

At the end of Mr. Kahn’s and Mr. Kirk’s article, if you have the strength, you can watch a video interview that Slate has been running during the last week of July and the first week of August 2015 (as I recall). It features a drive around Baltimore featuring an interview with Michael Wood, Jr., a former Baltimore (MD, US) police officer who has spoken out about problems with police training in urban environments. It’s about 12 minutes long, but it’s pretty informative. Mr. Wood explains why, he thinks, urban police officers are essentially trained to respond improperly to Black citizens.

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Filed under Civil rights, Equity, Humanism, Justice, Neighborhood, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Thanks for reading

Racism, how healthy thou art

In Racism is Real, Brave New Films illustrates just a few areas where bias lurks for people of different ethnic backgrounds. In what, to many white people, are everyday life events, actors illustrate different experiences documented in research studies. Go ahead a watch it now. It’s brief—only about as long as a TV break.

Perhaps you saw it in the spring of 2015 when it was first airing. At that time, the film got some coverage from the press. For example, Ana Swanson of the Washington (DC, US) Post suggested

[I]f you have any doubts about whether racism still exists in America, this 3-minute video from Brave New Films, a California-based company that makes films to spur political activism, might clear them up. The video counts down eight reasons that racism is still very real in America, using research from Yale University, the American Civil Liberties Union and the New England Journal of Medicine, among others.

Ave. Number Killed per US state per 100,000 White Black
10.4
(3.9)
18.3
(6.5)

Now, please add one more statistic. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported the number of deaths due to firearms per 100,000 population by race or ethnicity for the year 2013. Guessing that these numbers haven’t changed much in the last couple of years, I took a look at them. Some states did not report numbers because there were not sufficient data or because reporting the data would identify specific individuals. To get an idea of the difference by white and black groups, I eliminated the states where there were not per 100,000 rates for one or the other group. Then I simply tool the mean (and standard deviation) for the remaining 34 states. Those are the data you see in the table.

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