A New Math

It was 1955 when on one day the Second Grade teacher gave a unique lesson to her class. For some of the students, it was a Life lesson. For others, the words were recognizable but the meaning of them was like a foreign language.



Her lecture didn’t come from a textbook. It came from her heart and a desire to feel she had encouraged her young charges to strive for excellence in every aspect of their lives.

It’s difficult to remember when she addressed the fact that her class was comprised of children of color. That fact was conveyed, however, in order for them to understand the importance of the information, especially for them. It was about learning a “new math.” It was about learning how to calculate one’s worth both in reality as well as in terms of how the rest of the world evaluates one’s worth.

Paraphrasing in order to compensate for the passage of time, she counseled, “When you go into the world and are competing against [White people], remember: you need to be three times better in order to be considered half as good.”

In other words, the world as her students interacted with it in any way would find them lacking and unqualified. In order to rise above being shut out of admission to the race for attainment, in order to be accepted and receive the deserved (earned) position, it would be necessary to make certain their skills and abilities were superlative, above reproach, and undeniably three times better than anyone else vying for the same brass ring. She was also telling them to be so overwhelmingly prepared that they could venture into any place and feel confident that they were among the best striving for the same situation. It wasn’t necessary to be embarrassed in any way. The main task was to perform well and thereby bring merit to the work that was done.

Did she tell her novices that in everything they did they were representatives of not only their school and families but also of their racial identity? No. That lesson was for another day and from another teacher. The fact of their ambassadorship was already an unspoken factor in their existence. It was part of why their parents scolded and chided when something about them didn’t measure up to the socially acceptable standard.

It was important to have that lesson in those early years so that it became part of their psyche. It was supposed to become the driving force for those young minds. She wanted all of them to strive to earn more than 90% on each of their tests. She wanted them to absorb all of the knowledge available and then use that knowledge to reach for even greater accomplishments. With that, it would be possible to develop new ideas and techniques. They would be burgeoning founders of many innovations, examples to others of the good work that could be expected of them, as well as those who would be known as “first”s to achieve.

Humility was not part of the lesson that day. Perhaps the talk about humility wasn’t necessary. Perhaps, that also was a lesson for another day and from another teacher. After all, it was a classroom of young coloreds. Being subservient was part of one’s expected deportment no matter where they were. But they were also expected to have dignity, self esteem. Those characteristics did not need apology; they were expected as part of the embodiment of any healthy personality. Dignity, or self esteem, was a quality that came from within and accompanied everything that was done, from the trivial to the grand, and as part of any task that was being performed in any position. Being, even feeling, servile simply was not part of the formula in execution. Being excellent was simply a part of their identity; conversation about it was unnecessary.

That lesson never happened again in any form. There was only one lecture about the new math nor about any related subjects. For some, the lesson was indelible. For others, some of that lesson in foreign language seeped in later comprehension. That was 1955. The landscape has changed. There are more of the coloreds who are allowed to vie for opportunities. A larger percentage of those who dare are not only pushing their way through the door to positions other than in the servile range. The number of those who are of color in leadership positions are no longer the exceptions. We expect them to have all the characteristics that are part of being a leader. If lacking in any of them, the representative is allowed to linger until a suitable replacement is identified and installed. It is a death knell to have less than the best as part of the overall framework.

The Door of Opportunity is now being opened more frequently to those of color. There are times when the formula for that new math is forgotten and the struggle to prevent the Door from closing must begin anew. That’s the danger of forgetting the new math. Now what was that formula again? Let’s see. “3 x 1 = 1/2”. No, it isn’t about inflated ego; it’s actualization of the survival of the fittest in terms of achievement.

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Oscar and Minorities


Hollywood California USA. World Famous Hollywood Sign Concept.

Not the first time in their history, the Oscar Awards ceremony has a boycott in store this year. Started by Jada Pinkett Smith, it didn’t take long for the boycott of the Oscars ceremony (announced the day after the nominations were revealed) would take place. And the announcement was close on the heels of another protest in Hollywood – women’s salaries compared with those of men.

The complaint is there are far too few roles for Blacks on the big screen that result in far too few who are eligible for nomination for having done exceptional work. Some of Hollywood argues back that there aren’t enough stories to be told. In the alternative, the viewing public only identifies with White faces and characters, thus the casting of the parts. But the Oscars acknowledge the work of more than just those on the screen. There are also writers, directors, composers, designers, and more who comprise the entertainment experience. This year none of color were among those nominated. Protests regarding the good ole boys club atmosphere among those who can nominate and vote for Oscar recipients grew with such intensity that protocols were immediately changed and implemented – but too late for this year’s nominees. As long ago as 1970, George C. Scott was noted as having expressed his disdain for the Oscars. “George C. Scott held nothing but contempt for the Oscar organization. He called it a ‘2 hour meat parade’. He said the whole thing was offensive, barbarous, and innately corrupt.”

It was complained that only movies about slaves and slavery or racism are put forward as examples of Blacks who have done superlative work as actors. What about the other portrayals that could have been available? There are far too few. Why is that? It seems one of the complaints expressed during this year’s protest are accurate. It isn’t so much that the parts aren’t available so much as a matter of the parts for Black characters are converted to being played by White actors. This fact was memorialized in a book I happened to discover circa 2007 while at a Los Angeles branch library that dealt with the subject of Black Hollywood. A random opening of the book brought me to a section about the Western, “The Searchers” in which the scout is portrayed as a White man. According to the book, the scout was actually Negro but Hollywood didn’t find it appropriate to portray that fact.

The refusal of Hollywood to cast Black actors in positive roles has been cited as one of the reasons there is still a struggle for Blacks to rise into being viewed as a population other than suspect and available for exploitation. The outcries of 2016 are merely echoes of what was openly expressed in a 1999 paper on ethics wherein the three authors state:

Forcibly brought here as slaves to the white man, blacks have never been treated as completely equal to whites. Stereotypes of blacks as lazy, stupid, foolish, cowardly, submissive, irresponsible, childish, violent, sub-human, and animal-like, are rampant in today’s society. These degrading stereotypes are reinforced and enhanced by the negative portrayal of blacks in the media. Black characters have appeared in American films since the beginning of the industry in 1 888. But blacks weren’t even hired to portray blacks in early works. Instead, white actors and actresses were hired to portray the characters while in “blackface.” (http:/www.moderntimes.com/palace/black/open.htm). By refusing to hire black actors to portray black characters, demeaning stereotypes were being created as blacks were presented in an unfavorable light. In addition, blacks were purposely portrayed in films with negative stereotypes that reinforced white supremacy over blacks. This has had a tremendous effect on our society’s view of blacks since motion pictures have had more of an impact on the public mind than any other entertainment medium in the last ninety years.

Add to that representation the unstated but very prevalent attitude that Blacks are an exotic race that is more for the appeasement of sexual gratification and stimulation, not for critical thinking and stubborn business aptitude.

The reference librarian who attempted to help me relocate that book from 2007 found a list of titles that may be helpful to your further inquiry on the subject of Hollywood and accurate portrayal of race. He never found the book. He explained that it may have been removed from the shelves. However, the list of titles he did find is provocative and can be found at the bottom of this post. To get more information about any of the titles, you may visit the page of your favorite book seller or put the title into your favorite search engine.

This boycott and protest is not new to Oscar. The civil rights of a pantheon of actors of all colors and genders, of every sexual preference, has endured throughout the ages. The question, then, is whether this latest wave will be effective in bringing about positive, enduring change.


Other References:

  • Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era by Ellen C. Scott
  • Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood’s Construction of Afro-American Culture by Vincent F. Rocchio
  • Race Results: Hollywood vs. Supreme Court ; ten decades of racial decisions and film by Eileen C. Moore
  • Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle by Allison Schoen
  • The subject of film and race : retheorizing politics, ideology, and cinema by Gerald Sim

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Making Sense of Senselessness

Facebook’s prompt on one’s profile is “What’s on your mind?” I wrote what was on my mind but the thoughts didn’t stop. Realizing how temporal the feed (even on one’s personal profile) tends to be, I wanted to put those thoughts in a place that has more permanence.

What provoked all of this exercise was the news of the shootings that occurred yesterday in quiet Redlands, California. The day after the Paris shootings, I was awakened to reportage of the incident and its horror. It was then that I posted to Facebook’s prompt that I envisioned this was the beginning of warfare on various parts of United States soil. It appears that day is dawning.

For a time, there were several who read this blog (and my others) who pleasantly encouraged me to add graphics in order to make the content “pop.” I’ve been following the suggestion. However, searching for the appropriate graphic takes a huge amount of time and sometimes the actual writing of the thoughts is deferred. There must be a good balance.

Nevertheless, I searched for a graphic for this post. My search term was “gun.” The results were astounding but also a reflection of how guns, danger, threats, and intrigue have overtaken our society in any location. What the images said to me is that guns are sexy. That was the predominant theme. Guns represent power. They can constrain action and inflict fear. They set the one who has the gun in a position of authority. They represent an “anything goes” environment similar to the Wild West. They (and their holder) create a sense of intrigue. Yet we feed on these subliminals each time we watch a TV drama or subscribe to the ticket for the next James Bond-type movie.

We feed on the danger and intrigue.

Young thug with gun isolated on white

It wasn’t until last night that I learned of the shooting in Redlands. So sad. So tragic. So senseless.

Now I’m remembering the counsel of the Parisian father to his young son. And as I sit here recuperating from yesterday’s illness, I’m also remembering the lyrics from a Nat Cole song,

“The greatest thing,
you’ll ever learn
is just to love
and be loved
in return.”
[From Nature Boy]

Perhaps that’s the reason why we have the superficial relationships that we do.

And as I reflect on the actions of some (and actions I struggle with myself, at times) there is envy and resentment of one who has succeeded in their own endeavors.

We forget that our Life agenda is completely different from anyone else’s. And we forget that their successes have been accompanied by numerous attempts that failed. Yet they turned their faces to the sun with the determination to press forward and find a way to succeed. Their persistence and creativity to find alternatives to the well beaten path were the factors that got them to that particular plateau.

Finally, we forget that those who announce their successes not only need the cheering section to boost them to the next attainment. What we also forget is that the announcement is the exposure to a model for the rest of us who aspire to something similar but part of our own agenda.

I’m glad that the neighbors did not report the activities of the shooters. The reportage was they did not want it to appear that there was racial profiling because their community is very inclusive. How many communities can genuinely say that? In light of the pronouncements of those vying for the Republican Presidential candidate nomination, it seems few of them can step up to the plate. Yes, it’s time for us to speak of many things, fools and kings, and who can competently lead.

Yes, Nat, the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. But that, in turn, requires communication: actual listening to what someone else is saying and actually being heard through not just words but also through actions (because the words have proven to be unheard).

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The Inclusive Continuum

Today my church voted to allow same sex marriages to be performed by the clergy, whether in the sanctuary or at any other location. The point of the matter is that the LGBT population has as many rights as any other part of our society. This is a good thing. However, it’s a subject that has been visited by this congregation at least one other time within the last three months.

A few years ago there was a similar vote with regard to allowing women into the clergy and standing in their own right as preachers of the gospel and ministers of The Word. We won’t stop to consider that women before the turn of the century were respected prophets. But here we are in an aging Second Millennium and trying to get back to allowing women to be an integral part of society in a function more than merely bearing children and keeping house.

There's beauty in each of us.

There’s beauty in each of us.

There are so many things that are troubling about our “modern” times that it is very difficult to contain this lively voice. I explode. So on reading on Facebook about this major progressive vote, my sensibilities exploded. I have full realization that my words in response to the notice will be deleted. So I copied them and share my thoughts about some of the protected classes that are part of the congregation and how the church’s welcoming attitude needs to become genuine with regard to all of those who pass through those doors and desire to be useful in living a fulfilling, Christian life.

So how much longer will it be until more faces of color, Black faces, Mocha faces, are acknowledged in *any* of the notices or in memoriam updates? How much longer will they continue to be the ones who are counted as the, “Yes, we have that too” population? When will they become the many hands and voices and minds that constitute the elements of Joseph’s coat of many colors that lead to the positive growth that is possible?

GLBT is now acknowledged and served. Substance abusers are quietly respected and supported.

The homeless are pitied and taught to become increasingly dependent so that they can continue to be pitied. Unfortunately, little thought is given to the fact that any type of disaster could happen and change the comfort and condition of a person so that they are in need of the kindness and respect of the Samaritan – one who will aid in getting up again in order to continue the very valid journey and business to be fulfilled.

The homeless have humanity. People of color have humanity and deserve respect. Just as women have humanity and deserve respect. Just as women are capable of being ministerial servants and preachers of The Word.

Likewise, we also need to be respectful and supportive of those who have disabilities. There needs to be education about conditions that can be exacerbated with inordinate and whimsical requirements in order to qualify to do some type of volunteerism. People have a need to believe they are valued and that their value is welcome, not merely a passing thought. People need to be able to have confidence in the Church that they enter at their peril lest their impairment is turned into their moment of being Samson.

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Execution of One’s Duties

A new furor in the civil rights landscape has hit Kentucky with the County Clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to anyone but especially to gays and lesbians. After repeated attempts to reason with Clerk Kim Davis, the matter was taken to lawyers with American Civil Liberties Union in order to seek redress. Ms. Davis was stalwart and entrenched in her position, even willing to go to jail rather than violate her religious convictions. The situation calls to mind several similar standoffs from the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.

Resistance to acceptance

An old concept put in a new age

Davis isn’t trying to fend off offensive overtures. Some would say she’s just being obnoxious and it appears she’s trying to gain some traction from the events she’s set in motion. I don’t think she should be rewarded for that. Given that she still has her paycheck of $80,000 while she sits in jail and the storm passes over the country, and given that she’s soliciting funds for her cause from supporters and co-workers (through county office messages), she is definitely being rewarded financially. She has essentially buffered her determination to stand her ground.

Actually (and I can’t remember which class addressed this, Ethics or Civil Procedure or maybe it was Criminal Procedure), if a lawyer has personal issues with representing a person because the lawyer’s beliefs or the crime is in apposition to the lawyer’s to the point that the lawyer cannot provide a zealous defense of the client, the lawyer is allowed to recuse theirself from taking the case. Indeed, one editorialist suggests that the best move for Davis, in light of the fact that she finds herself unable to carry out the duties of her job, is to step down from the position. That doesn’t necessarily mean quit working for the county. It simply means take a change in position so that someone who can fulfill the needs and requirements of the position can do so without undue distress and financial hardship to the constituency.

Similarly, in employment and contract law, a person is not required to do business with someone when there is a misalignment. Now when it comes to the denial becoming viral to the point of discrimination, we have another situation on our hands.

But if we have a Charles Manson or a Jim Jones (mass murders) or a known rapist who has no remorse for his crimes, how much fault could be leveled at having difficulty with bringing full and zealous defense to their case? It would take a judge’s order directing the last-straw lawyer or assistant DA to take the case and put forth their best efforts on behalf of the person.

As phrased in that quote, we see the schizophrenic nature (forgive the editorialization) of Davis’s posture. She has wed church and state by imposing her personal beliefs onto her discharging the duties of her job. And one of the founding principles of this country was based on the strong need for a separation of church and state, that is to say the church cannot rule what is done to the king’s property nor the people in it. It would be the same as having two masters and then attempting to determine which one is the more deserving of obedience. According to recent reportage, she intends to stay in jail until a compromise can be reached in the judge’s ruling compared with her stance. Embodied in that compromise is that she will not resign her position but issue licenses if her name and title were not on them. That stipulation can easily be resolved. Remove her name and change her title to something that does not encompass being a person who has authority to issue a license – of any type. Needless to say, the job description would have to match the duties that she is allowed to fulfill. Ryan Anderson, a research fellow for Heritage Foundation, suggests yet another work accommodation for a religion conscientious objector that is of a similar nature.

There was an article in Thursday’s Yahoo news about Davis’s options and it put forth something that other jurisdictions are using – have the objector step away from that part of their duties and have another take over that desk. A judge asked Davis’s six deputies whether they could put aside their personal beliefs in order to fulfill the duties of their job due to a conflict of interest or a matter of lack of competence in the ability to do the job [without prejudice]. According to one newspaper account, “After ordering her to jail, the judge told her six deputy clerks that they too faced potential fines or jail time if they similarly refuse. All but one – the clerk’s son, Nathan Davis – agreed to end her church-state standoff.”

As for Kentucky and the necessity of a clerk’s signature in order to make a marriage license valid, changes in the state’s civil code will need to be made in order to comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling, as will need to happen in all other states. (See Jailed Clerk’s Attorney wherein it is noted, “Kentucky lawmakers won’t meet until January, unless the governor calls a costly special session, and when they do, they say they will have many changes to make to adapt the state’s civil code to the Supreme Court’s ruling.”)

Another interesting perspective on this situation is whether Davis’s refusal is based on religious convictions or identity objections. If based on religion, again, discrimination based on one’s religion is a First Amendment freedom that cannot be usurped. If the objection is based on identity, we have only to look at the trend toward acceptance and inclusion to see that it will soon be part of our civil rights umbrella.

This situation calls into question the matter of interviewing and screening candidates for a sensitive position. Perhaps one of the questions should be related to whether the person can put aside their personal convictions in order to fulfill the requirements of the job. Another would be whether they fully understand what the duties entail, and then require a discussion of the interpretation of those duties. This should be done in the conversations with the hiring manager. But this type of screening should also take place with the recruiter who is chosen to do the search for qualified candidates.

This makes me wonder how candidates for the position of carrying out death penalties are chosen. It also makes me wonder about the types of values executioners have and whether gang members would actually be ideal candidates for the position of executioner, one who unquestioningly carries out orders without qualms for the consequences. Mind you, that last statement carries a lot of presumption and little to no research; it was editorial in nature.


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Land of the Free

July 21 is my birthday. I enjoyed it by reading and responding to the greetings that were posted to my Facebook wall. There was humor, there were faces that turned up from the distant past, there were suggestions about having fun and enjoyable activities, and there were recommendations about making the joy endure. I was humbled by the fact that so many remembered me.

And then there was the surprise phone call from one who grew up with me in my neighborhood. We share many of the same lessons about etiquette and protocols, values, education, and respect. It’s good to have traditions and steadfastness rooted in a reliable system of values and ethics.

Yes, I also read items in the news and I read things that were being posted by colleagues about various matters of the day and season that had nothing to do with me or my birthday. But there was one post that yanked at my attention. It haunts me even now, so I write in order to share the experience. The reason I write is because the item was a video of Dylan Roof’s arrest. Roof is the young man accused of going to a Bible study at an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church with a concealed weapon and the intent to kill the attendees. He spent an hour with the group. At the close of the study, he began shooting and killing nine of the attendees, firing into bodies multiple times to make certain they were dead. The video shows how he was treated by South Carolina police.

That arrest is in sharp contrast to recent videos of others that have been published on Facebook wherein minorities have a confrontation with police and are treated with a great deal of brutal hostility even though they appear to be complying with orders and threats from the officers. The ones who are stopped do not have any weapons nor are suspected of having any.

Especially glaring is the difference in treatment of Roof during his arrest contrasted with the video that captured the arrest of Sandra Bland and dashcam footage of the incident that ensued. The reason for the footage was because Bland failed to make a proper lane change signal.

Roof’s car was approached by five officers who spoke to him in a civil manner. The entire scene was quiet. It was reported he was asked if he was hungry and someone went to Burger King to get food for him. On the other hand, the video footage of Bland shows her being forcibly dragged from her car, threatened, thrown to the ground wherein the trauma to her head was so great that she complained she could not hear, held to the ground under the knee of the officer, handcuffed to the point that she complained it felt as though her wrist was going to break. Was she examined or treated for possible injuries after she was taken to jail? No word. Do we see Roof being treated in a similar fashion? After all, he had just massacred nine people and was fleeing justice.

Roof is still alive and facing prosecution. On the other hand, Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after her arrest. According to police, she hung herself. Later reportage claims a plastic bag was found over her head and tied about her neck which caused the asphyxiation.

This is in sharp contrast to the other arrests we’ve recently seen where the arrestee is slammed to the ground, pinned to the ground, and brutalized. The difference in behavior can partly be attributed to a different location and different training of officers. But the other videos are of minorities who are suffering abuse and are not being hunted down for mass murders or terrorism.

Someone posted a comment to the video. After reading the incendiary words of the comment, I had an epiphany. It became clear that there is a reason why I sing my song of freedom and equality in my own small space. It’s because it is absolutely mandatory that each one of us sing that song and for all the right reasons. It was clear that this is not a solo. It’s simply a matter of the choir is presently scattered across the nation. Some sing the song of freedom as a solo while others form protests and marches. Some urge action from the Department of Justice through petitions or civil action groups. And although becoming more sparse with each new incident, there are small numbers who resort to rioting. Rioting is not the answer.

July 21 was my birthday and many posted on my Facebook wall with wishes that this be a day filled with joy and the beginning of a promising and fruitful new year of life.

With the number of incidents like Bland and other minorities on the rise, and the more publicity about how these unarmed, minority citizens attempting to conduct themselves in a responsible manner while carrying out normal business affairs, I cannot truly have joy. It won’t happen until I can feel certain that anyone can travel the streets of any town or city without fear for life or limb unless it is an area that is known for its violence.

Even then, I cannot find joy and happiness when there are areas that are so unsafe that you go there at your own risk while also realizing that if you call for police assistance, they will not come. If they do show up, it will be long after the fact of harm having meted out its consequences on your flesh. Or in the alternative, the police will show up promptly in order to protect the one who is causing the harm and peril.

I cannot find joy and happiness when some people are treated as disgusting elements, not humans, and their possessions are treated with even less regard. I cannot find joy and happiness when people are insulted merely for the sake of the color of their skin or the uninformed, low opinion of someone with regard to their abilities, talents, potential, value to their own selves, let alone their community, no matter what the size or location.

The incidents of which I write today are just a sampling of things that have happened in the last six weeks. They repreent Life in America if you are a minority. This is a very sad state of affairs in The Land of the Free. It seems Bob Marley was a visionary when he composed and sang his Song of Freedom, the Redemption song

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Not Qualified Anyway

Sometime before 1989, I had the opportunity to read Flora Davis’s notable account of the women’s movement in her Moving the Mountain. She traced the origins of the fight for equality among women and then how it splintered (mostly out of necessity) into the flight attendants’ rights, inclusion of men in those ranks, the struggles of the gay (collective) communities, and then into ethnic identities. After a time, each group had to win their individual battles with their own resources and in their own time.

The battles for inclusion and acceptance are yielding ground. It seems the more air time that reaches the public at large regarding the circumstances, the more likely change evolves. It appears the sympathies of even the staunchest of those supporting closed doors are giving way because the myths are being dissolved.

These 12 months have evidenced accounts of many officer involved shootings (OIS) and deaths across the United States. There have been many charges of excessive force and brutality from citizens. There have been demonstrations across the nation in support of the outrage one community has experienced. Cell phone videos have captured incident after incident of senseless shoot first, then ask questions scenarios that are then concluded with no indictment by grand juries.

The names of victims grows on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, the 12-year old boy who had a plastic water gun (Tamir Rice), the unarmed man who was shot over 46 times are all victims of the mentality that if they are Black and male, they are armed and dangerous – even if they are not armed and are screaming that they can’t breathe. Furthermore, their lives have little value, if any, and they as people have little of any quality to offer society. Furthermore, they have little meaningful education and are incapable of strenuous, critical thinking. Therefore, they are not qualified for high ranking positions and commensurable remuneration.

Mind you, women are among those who have been involved in OIS deaths and injuries. However, the incidents aren’t as publicized and appear to not be as frequent. But there are still incidents such as the woman who was used as a punching bag as the officer straddled her on the freeway and the off duty officer who battered the woman in her car.

I sit here in my SOHO in Southern California wanting to believe that this is one of the equality meccas of the United States. Yet the 1991 memory of my law school dean telling me that the school’s special admissions program (minorities, students with various disabilities, older students, women, gays) was a waste of time because the students weren’t qualified in the first place persists. That attitude seems to be growing. And with it, the size of the disenfranchised population also seems to be growing in correlative size. It brings disappointment that so many believe that Blacks are not entitled to as many rights, access to so many services, and be extended courtesies and respect as any other group of people. There’s an assumption that Blacks are not well educated, sloth when it comes to reading, not capable of difficult thought or reasoning, and only deserving of second- or third-hand services. What they have is not deserving of being handled with care lest it be marred or damaged. They are questioned when it’s discovered they have in their possession items of great value and quality. What contributes to that type of psychology?

However, the Freddie Gray death that brought grand jury indictment of all six officers has offered a swell in the view of spokes people we don’t usually expect to see. Now within visibility are Mayors of cities across the nation who are Black women leading with a firm hand and dignity. The spokes person for the Baltimore Attorney General’s office is also a Black woman. In fact, the commander of the city where Tamir Rice was shot is a Black officer. He vehemently defends his officers and points out that they face great odds with regard to their safety in attempting to defend the populations that depend on them for law and order.

This dichotomy of perspectives is so much like America – inexplicably complex. There is a firm rooting in holding onto the standards of pre-1950 yet media portrayal of many ethnicities in responsible positions is helping to break down the barriers that once prevented representation in meaningful ways in many places.

Cell phone videos are helping to change the times and number of incidents. The move to use police body cameras has also helped in quelling the the cries of brutality because the full scenario of what the officer saw and precipitated their actions is captured.

These dynamics lead me to conclude that positive change is happening at a very slow pace. The spread of diversity and the happenstance of inclusion is not an accident. But it will only continue with the same grease that brought us to this point in history.


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