Tag Archives: race

Race is not always the issue

I think it is unfortunate for African Americans and others who are non-white that some people choose to blame race whenever something goes wrong in life. For example, consider the reaction to a verdict today in New York regarding three police officers shooting 50 rounds from their guns and killing an unarmed man.

NYPD officers cleared in killing; rights leaders want probe – Yahoo! News
NEW YORK – Civil rights leaders demanded a federal investigation and vowed to march through the streets in protest after three police officers were cleared of all charges Friday in the killing of an unarmed man cut down in a hail of 50 bullets on his wedding day.

The verdict by Justice Arthur Cooperman elicited gasps as well as tears of joy and sorrow. Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 of the shots, wept at the defense table, while the mother of victim Sean Bell cried in the packed courtroom. Shouts of “Murderers! Murderers!” and “KKK!” rang out on the courthouse steps.

Two of the three police detectives involved were African-American. I don’t understand the connection to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to this case. I can see a strong argument for excessive force but I don’t see much, if any, argument for racism.

It is unfortunate for America when the race card is pulled in a situation like this. In fact, it occurs far too often. Another example comes out of the Motor City. Current Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has accused numerous folks of racism in his recent text messaging scandal, even though race doesn’t play a role. He is accused of perjury in his testimony during a lawsuit by former cops (neither white) he had fired because they were looking into corruption. Speaking of Detroit, former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young used it too frequently through the 1970’s and 80’s to retain his hold on political power, meanwhile driving his city further into the ground. Remnants of the antagonistic relationships with other local cities is still evident in local life and politics.

Race comes out too often when it has no relevance to a situation and is used only to raise hackles. But the louder and more frequent these cries are, the more they are ignored. Sadly, it has become a situation much akin to the parable regarding the boy who cried wolf. This was demonstrated by the Jena 6 imbroglio. It took weeks before the mainstream press bothered to cover the story and it is still taking a beating these many months later. That story deserved the discussion about racism that our country should have. But it didn’t and has been largely forgotten by most of America less than a year later.

As Barack Obama recently argued, a discussion about race in America does need to occur. However, I don’t think it can be very constructive in a world in which the little boy who cries wolf about racism is ignored. It is time for people to step back and collect all details about a situation before inferring that racism is a cause and, even then, to be more careful before pulling it out. There are many other reasons beyond racism that may cause a person to say or do something. In the case of the New York City cops killing Sean Bell, I would think that there are many, many other reasons such as fear, the early morning hour, a crowd of mostly intoxicated young men dispersing after an altercation, and society’s love for and access to guns. In the end, I think that America has been desensitized to cries of racism, as unfortunate as that is for us all.

BTW: I think Obama’s speech is well worth watching. I wish someone spoke up and made this many years ago.