Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Systemic racism in America explained in just three minutes

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Jason Kottke has a powerful post, which begins with a three-minute video:

Kottke writes:

This short video shows several ways in which systemic racism is still very much alive and well in the United States in 2017. See also Race Forward’s video series featuring Jay Smooth.

“What Is Systemic Racism?” is an 8-part video series that shows how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: Wealth Gap, Employment, Housing Discrimination, Government Surveillance, Incarceration, Drug Arrests, Immigration Arrests, Infant Mortality… yes, systemic racism is really a thing.

The reason why this matters should be obvious. Just like extra effort can harness the power of compound interest in knowledge and productivity, even tiny losses that occur frequently can add up to a large deficit. If you are constantly getting dinged in even small ways just for being black, those losses add up and compound over time. Being charged more for a car and other purchases means less life savings. Less choice in housing results in higher prices for property in less desirable neighborhoods, which can impact choice of schools for your kids, etc. Fewer callbacks for employment means you’re less likely to get hired. Even if you do get the job, if you’re late for work even once every few months because you get stopped by the police, you’re a little more likely to get fired or receive a poor evaluation from your boss. Add up all those little losses over 30-40 years, and you get exponential losses in income and social status.

And these losses often aren’t small at all, to say nothing of drug offenses and prison issues; those are massive life-changing setbacks. The war on drugs and racially selective enforcement have hollowed out black America’s social and economic core. . .

Continue reading.

The fact is that the United States has been a racist society since its beginning, and it is obvious to those who look. However, many whites, enjoying their privileged position, will not look. (A good book in this connection: Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, by Daniel Goleman.) To take one glaringly obvious example: the genocide of the Native Americans, who still must struggle to make their voice heard (cf. the Dakota Access Pipeline struggle at Standing Rock).  Of see the attitude many Americans express about immigrants.

One good example is the War on Drugs. When drugs were a serious problem in the black community, as in the days of crack cocaine, we got paramilitary actions against both drug suppliers and drug victims, with mandatory minimum sentences and tens of thousands sent to prison for the crime of addiction.

Now, however, the drug epidemic is affecting white victims, and lo! the tactics used are suddenly much more compassionate. See, for example, Al Baker’s report “When Opioid Addicts Find an Ally in Blue” in the NY Times:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — In this college town on the banks of Lake Champlain, Chief Brandon del Pozo has hired a plain-spoken social worker to oversee opioids policy and has begun mapping heroin deaths the way his former commanders in the New York Police Department track crime.

In New York City, detectives are investigating overdoses with the rigor of homicides even if murder charges are a long shot. They are plying the mobile phones of the dead for clues about suppliers and using telltale marks on heroin packages and pills to trace them back to dealers. And like their colleagues in Philadelphia and Ohio, they are racing to issue warnings about deadly strains of drugs when bodies fall, the way epidemiologists take on Zika.

The police in Arlington, Mass., intervene with vulnerable users. Officials in Everett, Wash., have sued a pharmaceutical firm that they say created a black market for addicts. Seattle’s officers give low-level drug and prostitution suspects a choice: treatment instead of arrest and jail.

Opioids are cutting through the country, claiming increasing deaths and, in some cities, wrecking more lives than traffic fatalities and murders combined. Police leaders are weary of the scenes: 911 calls; bodies with needles in their arms; drugs called “fire” strewn about. They are assigning themselves a big role in reversing the problems. They are working with public health officials, and carrying more antidote for heroin and its synthetic cousin fentanyl.

Continue reading the main story

Few see policing, by itself, as the answer to such a complex social problem, certainly not through enforcement alone. The law enforcement approach to the crack-cocaine scourge of the late 1980s filled jails and prisons, expanded government and did little to address the social issues driving that addiction crisis.

“The police can play a critical role in a very broadly based social and medical response,” said Samuel Walker, an emeritus professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska Omaha. “So if people think we are going to arrest our way out of the opioid crisis, they’re wrong.”

Governors like Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, both former prosecutors, have adopted a notably compassionate tone in framing the crisis. In 2014, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont used 34 minutes of his state-of-the state speech to urge treatment and support for addicts. As a candidate, President Trump vowed to solve America’s drug crisis, a pledge that resonated in impoverished, rural areas that have been ravaged in recent years by opioids.

Labeling it a health epidemic, not a war on drugs, marks a stark contrast with the criminal justice system’s approach to the crack-cocaine plague, which was met by mass arrests in mostly black and Hispanic communities. [But the opioid epidemic is affecting whites, so a totally different approach is used. – LG]

Now, policing leaders claim to have learned from the past. But they also know how violent crime can flow from illegal drugs the way Anthony Riccio, a chief in the Chicago Police Department, says is happening in his city. A big fear among police chiefs is that increased demand for low-cost, high-potency opioids will lead to more shootings, and murders, as prices drop and drug traffickers organize.

In Mexico, where almost all of the heroin entering the United States is grown and cultivated, violence surrounding the drug trade is “horrific,” said Chuck Rosenberg, who runs the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But American cities are not immune.

“In almost all of our major seizures and arrests, we’re encountering weapons,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “And there’s only one reason to have those around.”

Increasingly, the police find themselves scrambling from call to call for reports of seemingly lifeless bodies. Death counts are rising. Nearly 1,400 people died of drug overdoses in New York City last year, the highest ever and up from 937 the previous year. In Philadelphia, the tally was 906. Nationally, there were 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015, Mr. Rosenberg said. And last year, the drug overdose death count likely exceeded 59,000, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 June 2017 at 9:37 am

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