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-- he will have a major opportunity to tell
yet another truth on race to an audience that may
find it difficult to hear.  I'm talking specifically
about young black male criminals.  I don't mean he's
going to be talking to the criminals.  But I do mean
that in this the 7th blackest state in the nation
(after the 5 states of the Deep South and Maryland),
with an African-American population-proportion almost
double the national average,  he will need to spend
some time inspiring the base.  And the base needs some
talking to -- not just about the violence among our youth
in general, but specifically, about
Eve Carson.

I shouldn't really say "when" (he is here today,
at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville in the morning for
a major address on national security to military
families, and in Charlotte in the afternoon for a
sold-out town hall) -- but I will, because the campaign
won't begin in earnest here until after Pennsylvania
is over.  White America's fear and resentment about the
criminal threat they face from young black men is very
timely here&now today, in North Carolina, though,
since UNC had to wait for students to return from
Spring break before finally having a proper memorial
service (yesterday) for their fallen student body president.

Here are some before&after photos
relating to the arrest of the current suspects in this murder.
Yes, they are young black men.  Yes, gang affiliation
is expected to be relevant.  Yes, at least one of them
is believed to have killed not only the UNC student body
president but a Duke graduate student as well, earlier.

My point here is simply that Eve Carson, in addition to being
a decent human being, had actually volunteered in Ecuador,
Egypt, and Ghana.  That's right, west Africa, where most
African-Americans' African ancestors came from.  Eve Carson
was a brilliant young white activist who was trying to help cure
the kinds of evil racist conditions in America that left young
men like her alleged killers believing that gang-banging was a
meaningful alternative to graduation.

As black man (and a person whose whole family basically went here --
my father got a J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1957, and was one of
the first half-dozen black people to manage that -- I have an M.S. and
all 3 of my sisters, though they have advanced degrees from other places,
got their bachelor's degrees there), I am sick about this.

OK, youthinks I doth protest too much.  Black people in general
had ample opportunity to get sick all the way back in 1994, when
an actual young black man beat and robbed Rosa Parks, of all people.
But back then, we did not have a viable black presidential candidate.
We did not have a leader strong enough to say both that he understood
white fear of our young men (straight from his own grandmother) and
that he would not disown a black friend for having vented, in his
(and our) justifiable anger, "God damn America".  When white people
tut-tutted at how far we had fallen if one of our youth could do this
to one of our heroines, we could look them in the eye with a straight
cace and swear that black-on-black crime in general was white
America's fault:  Black people did not consign themSELVES to ghettos.
But after 15 more years of that "stalemate" in attitudes about this
situation, I personally am at a breaking point over this.  A lot of
our white opponents would think the "God damn America" should be a
breaking point, but that was righteous indignation.  This is just
an intolerable waste of humanity.  Even if white America never pays
another cent toward undoing the economic damage it has done to us
over centuries, I for one personally will STILL feel that WE owe
some sort of reparations to somebody for the loss of Eve Carson.
This isn't just crocodile tears -- it's also entirely pragmatic:
if 2 or 3 more of these happen then there will never be hope,
not EVEN with Barack Obama leading the reconciliation attempt,
of getting most white people to think of us as even potentially
civilizable.  They will always think that decent black people are
the exceptional overcomers.  They will never be able to think of us
as people who just normally grow up to be decent, like they do.

It bears further stressing that these murders occurred in the same
metropolitan area that was racially poisoned by the Duke lacrosse
case two years ago.  The final resolution of that was that a black
woman had either gone crazy or just made up some shit trying to
score a payday vs. Duke; that very much tilted the future playing
field around THESE parts AGAINST claims of racial injustice, real
or made-up.

My point is that Barack Obama has some standing to try to do something
about this.  I don't.  Eve Carson's family and neighbors and community
in Athens are already richer than mine and much richer than the
black community here out of which this violence grew.  We can't
contribute that way.  But we can do something to make sure
that things like this stop happening around here.  And Barack Obama,
unlike the right-wing bigots who would've told us to clean up our
OWN house after Rosa Parks in 1994, does have the stature and
standing in the African-American community to make concrete suggestions
about what we could actually do, and see some people get to work on
implementing them.

My point is that we as black people have got to own this issue!
I am reminded of what should've been the most effective campaign
tactic of this entire season, when John Edwards traveled New Hampshire
with the parents of a girl WHO HAD DIED because of inappropriate delay
by her insurance company in covering needed medical care.  CAN YOU
IMAGINE what is going to happen here if some REPUBLICAN politician
starts touring North Carolina and Georgia (where Carson was from) with
HER parents insisting that WHITE people have GOT TO DO something
about young black men???  I don't know that we're at THAT tipping
point yet, but I can FEEL things tilting toward that.  I think
Barack Obama may be just the kind of person who can help prevent it,
and I think addressing this could also give him a chance to say
something about "the domestic analogue" of national security -- "law
and order" -- withOUT having to endorse any repression of domestic
civil liberties are harsher sentences or anything like that.  He
could just say that we as black people are sorry, we own our own half
of the responsibility for the problem, this is what we are going to
try to do to address it, and this is what we also hope white people
will do (toward their half) in CO-OPERATION WITH us in order to lessen
the future likelihood of such senseless tragedies.  YES WE CAN give
young black men an alternative to gang-banging.  YES WE CAN give
ourSELVES an alternative to fear of them.  Obama would surely score
white votes just for being seen to be telling black people to work
on it ourselves.

Originally posted to ge0rge on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 02:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In other news, a random white dude raped and (0+ / 0-)

    threw a girl over a sixth floor balcony in Florida.

    What exactly should the black community do to prostrate itself in the wake of the willfull criminality of individuals?  Seriously, I am trying to understand the reasoning here.

    Black people kill white people, white people kill black people, this is not even a race-related crime, it was a felony murder in the midst of a robbery.

    If the black community starts begging for forgiveness everytime a black person commits a crime, where does it end?  At some point it will just affirm racism to pander in this way.

    "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." Orwell

    by NotablyZen on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 03:32:22 PM PDT

    •  This IS NOT *random*! (0+ / 0-)

      In other news, a random white dude raped and threw a girl over a sixth floor balcony in Florida.

      You have not said whether the girl was black or white.

      This stuff IS NOT random.
      This stuff IS CAUSED by other stuff.
      The question is, what are the causes?
      That question was rhetorical, because a lot of
      the causes are NOT OPEN to question.  A lot of
      the causes are statistically glaring.

      My whole point was that sometimes the general statistics
      are irrelevant.  Sometimes the individual case
      is compelling, despite being exceptional.

      If I wanted to stay stuck in the 30-year stalemate
      (since Reagan), I could say that white people
      in general can kiss my black ass regarding their fear
      of black crime  -- most of the crime perpetrated
      by young black criminals is necessarily perpetrated
      against victims that they can reach and interact
      with, who, since the criminals for the most part
      are from ghettos, are other black people.
      White people are enduring more victimization than they can tolerate,
      yet still less than their fair share of victimization,
      at the hands of black criminals.

      People don't know what to even expect as normal,
      mathematically.  If both white criminals and black
      criminals were non-racist, and criminality occurred
      in equal proportions in both populations, then
      both races of criminals (since white people are
      in the majority) would have a majority of their
      victims as white, and the number of cross-racial
      crimes would be THE SAME in both directions.

      The reality is otherwise.

      Therefore, something is causing some correlations,
      and the correlations observed do not look good for
      black people.  While a lot of this may be due to
      discrimination in enforcement, there are  more
      white people victimized by black perpetrators than
      the other way around (at the physical level -- I'm
      not talking about institutional or economic assaults
      here), and that is even more surprising in a nation
      with 6 times as many white people (3 times in my
      state), and therefore 6 times as many potential
      white perpetrators, as black ones.  If the white
      people being victimized were Republicans, I wouldn't
      even care (there IS such a thing as DESERVING it),
      but when it's  one of those whose help we need
      the most and who is working hard to give it....

      It is bad to say "random" about any of this.
      That is a copping out from seeking explanations,
      and explanations are needed.
      The killers' motives are not yet clear.
      If it really was random then I guess I would say
      "quit doing RANDOM -- you might off a friend."
      This probably wasn't completely random.
      White SUV driver looks more like enough money
      to make it worthwhile.  Female looks like an easier
      victim.  They were 1 or 2 towns away from the hood;
      why didn't they perp closer to home?
      It is locally feared that this is going to turn
      out to have been some sort of gang initiation, that
      the adult suspect put the juvenile one up to it.
      Trying to have a reasoned argument against internal
      gang ideology on a blog is probably hopeless, but
      we can still try to develop counter-recruitment
      strategies.

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 09:26:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sound Bite Solutions (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lauramp, ge0rge

    Although you're touching on some legitimate issues, you do sound a bit extreme on the subject.

    After all suggesting reperations to the white community based on the actions of black criminals misses the whole point of the reperations argument entirely: Namely that the U.S. Government violated its own laws by being complicit in the subjugation of the rights of blacks during the period between the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, where laws protecting blacks were on the books but never enforced and rutinely subverted by government officials themselves. It was never about individuals whites breaking the laws visa-vie blacks. So unless you can show that the U.S. Government is promoting blacks to attack whites, or looking the other way when they do by not charging them crimes, there's no point in bringing up reperations.

    But despite the hyperbolae, the subject of black criminality has some merit. Self-help is a nice mantra, and must be part of the solution. But it can not be the only solution.

    For instance one thing that hampers black communities at war with crime is that there they are rarely policed by black policemen. I remember reading a study, which I'll try to find, which talked about how the number of police shootings went down for every black man put on the police force. There were a variety of reasons offered for this, but nevertheless, policing the black community...and getting co-operation from the residents...is easier when fewer police-citizen encounters end up with the citizen dead. A program to get young blacks, without criminal records, into blue, would be a good thing.

    I won't touch the war on drugs, although it functions as a siphon into the prison system for a lot of young black men, especially those in that critical 18-24 range. An age where young men can be pretty stupid, and not realize how much a record can effect their future chances of earning gainful legal employment. There's probably no other criminal activity (except perhaps prostitution) which could hope to offer the type of profit margin that illegal drugs offer. Without them in the picture, I doubt other illegal activites would prove quite as attractive.

    If you know what to do about single mothers, and absent fathers, ect. tell me? Because we've tried preaching, and we've tried social programs. Perhaps not forcing women to choose between living alone with their children in subsidized housing, and living with their boyfired / husband / children in the streets might help.

    There are a lot of issues which contribute to the higher rates of crime in the black community. These are issues which need to be dealt with. However, framing these issues in a simplistic "Black Threat To White America" isn't the first step to solving them. Mostly because it takes what could be discussed by the adult brain, and throws it back to the child brain most racial issues are addressed with.

    In any serious discussion about race in America, the higher rates of criminality among blacks must be addressed. The underlying causes must be addressed, in all honesty without allowing the biological race = destiny folks a seat at the table, and then it will take leadership to begin to address these problems.

    And all of this, I remind you, in a context where in a recent survey on race, middle class and rich blacks held and lower opinion of poor blacks than they did of whites. And poor blacks likewise held a lower opinion of middle class and rich blacks than they did of whites.

    The world is a complex place for those willing to study it. But its sheer complexity doesn't offer itself to making simple sound-bite solutions effective solutions.

    •  Not on Reperations: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lauramp

      Although I'm not a proponent of reperations, since it is impractical, the argument is...or at least should be...based on one of two things:

      1. The fact that the slave trade was outlawed in the U.S. in (i forget the exact year) 1821 I believe, yet the Southern States continued to import slaves after that point and U.S. government refused to enforce the law
      1. The U.S. promised seperate but equal to African Americans, but never delivered on the equality part, thereby violating its own laws.

      It is not an argument based on sympathy. It is an argument based on the violation of laws.

  •  an important discussion (0+ / 0-)

    Whether or not people agree with your position, it is good to bring this issue up for discussion and make a place for people to share their views and learn from each other. It is a very difficult question with no easy answers.

    Hope is passion for what is possible. -- Soren Kierkegaard

    by lauramp on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 05:45:19 PM PDT

  •  ain't saying it's right, but I understand (0+ / 0-)

    I grew up in the south, lived as an adult in NYC and now have expatriated to Ecuador.  I think some are missing the point.  It's not that Eve Carson's tragic death was race related nor did you suggest it was. Unless you're from the South, it's hard to understand the blatant or subtle messages passed along from your grandfather, your uncles, the idiots you are in school with, etc. Racism plays a role whether 'discussed in polite company or not' as Obama stated.  It's about perception and an outlet for anger that might have nothing to do with race.  It's about a mob mentality when the rednecks are lead by some Red fearmonger with an agenda. This is the place where you still see confederate flags or bumper stickers or license plates.  I'm 49 and in my lifetime remember 'white patrons only' signs or being called a 'nigger lover' for having black friends as a teenager.  I was once stopped by a cop on a lone highway and he asked me if I had passed 'a nigger' on the side of the road.  This was 1993.  These mindsets are not of some faded generation. People my age and younger are practically programmed to think this is okay.

    I consider myself lucky to have grown up without parents and with an old, uneducated great aunt who could never believe men landed on the moon, that people paid money to buy dogs nor could she understand that sharks only lived in the sea so we were safe in lakes 200 miles inland.  I ceased to listen to anything she had to say at an early age, but even so, only once can I ever remember a racist comment out of her mouth when I brought home a friend. Which makes me lucky to have grown up without the programming.  I thought I was missing out on having parents like all the other kids, but finally, at the age of 41, I sat by her grave and thanked her for all the things she DIDN'T teach me, racism among them.

    I have been and am an Obama supporter.  I've even been a phone volunteer from down here in South America.  This is the first political campaign I have ever volunteered for in any capacity in my life.  As I read and responded to this diary, the thought occurred to me...what if he wins and does bring about change and what if the US is a far better place for it?  What would the good ole boys think of a black man then?  If the economy picks up and we get out of Iraq and health care is affordable and schools improve and businesses are offered incentives for keeping Americans employed, not Indonesians or Indians or fill in the foreigner.

    Will we get to look back and say, "It started to change when Obama was elected."  I sure HOPE we get that opportunity.  The only alternatives are more of the same.

    (Now if only he would truly grasp Latin American relations, I would be happy.  Hillary and McCain are beyond hope in that regard. Obama is the only hope in Latin America as the governments here grow more and more disillusioned with the US for very understandable reasons.  Google National Endowment for Democracy.  While reading, remember that Mark Penn's (Clinton campaign) company is one of NED's 4 primary contractors. This stuff makes tackling racism look like a tame issue. But I seriously digress.)

    You're right.  Him becoming president would be very healing to situations which can now become volatile for all the wrong reasons.

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