I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest area, but I’ve heard a great deal of praise for the region, especially Seattle. Aside from the weather (I’ve been told it’s quite a rainy region), it is apparently a great place to live. At least if you lean left. The city is viewed by many as a bastion of liberal progressivism where forward thinking people from all walks of life are welcome. Seattle is a ‘Welcoming City‘, where immigrants, refugees, and Muslims are accepted and embraced. It was voted one of the top 5 liberal cities in the country in 2014 and given that recreational marijuana is legal there, it’s not hard to understand why. Unlike the Southern U.S. where I dwell (and most of the country, for that matter), Seattle also has extensive public transit and [Hot Damn!] they were one of the first cities in the US to approve a $15/hour minimum wage. Anecdotally, I’ve been told the city is very friendly to transgender people, and with 9 top-rated HRC employers in Seattle, I can see why.
$15/hour, queer friendly businesses, and legal weed? Sounds good to me. There’s just one problem (well, there’s probably more, but for the purposes of this post, I’m focusing on just one). A problem that has existed in the Pacific Northwest dating back to its beginning. It’s a 500-lb. elephant in the room and is a blight on the liberal reputation of Seattle (as well as the greater Pacific Northwest). If you guessed racism, you are correct. To make matters worse, it appears as if many white liberals were tired of conservatives hogging the “I’m a racist asshole” Spotlight, and wanted their turn. It may surprise some to hear accusations of racism lobbed at liberals, but racial biases and prejudices are not limited solely to those on one end of the political spectrum. And while overt examples of individual race-based public or political* discrimination has diminished significantly** over the last half century or so, more subtle forms of racism, such as racial biases and prejudices, continue to thrive.
Such biases turned out to be quite at home among many of Seattle’s white liberals in the wake of a Black Lives Matter event last year. Conceived of by teachers across Seattle, the event–which was little more than teachers wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts to school–hurt the fragile sensibilities of many liberal parents leading to a White Whine backlash.
Across the United States, more than 800,000 people serve as local and state law enforcement officials (LEO). These LEOs are charged with upholding and enforcing the law, maintaining order, and providing general services. To carry out these duties, police officers possess certain powers, granted by the state. If the situation calls for it, police officers can frisk, detain, and arrest civilians, as well as seize property. In addition, depending upon the situation, police officers are empowered to use force to defend themselves or civilians (the amount of force extends along a spectrum from police presence through deadly force). Given the powers that police officers have, it is incumbent upon them to maintain a level of professionalism in the course of their duties and to wield their powers responsibly and ethically. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of cops engaging in a range of irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activities from bribery and unjustified arrests to illegal search and seizure and the use of excessive force. Here are five such examples:
Civil unrest has once more broken out in a USAmerican city; this time in Milwaukee, following the execution by police of a 23-year-old armed suspect (who apparently committed the heinous, only-recourse-is-lethal-force crime of fleeing from cops after a traffic stop).
A gas station and an auto-parts store were set on fire.
Bricks were hurled at law enforcement officers (resulting in the injury of one officer).
Police have apparently said that shots were fired (it should be point out that currently, the only firearm-related casualty has been the execution of the suspect at the hands of the police).
As I’ve seen several times when civil unrest engulfs a city in the wake of state sanctioned brutality or extrajudicial execution by cop, it is inevitable that some people will criticize the actions of those involved in the unrest (curiously, these people never aim their criticism at the actions of police that precipitate such events; it’s almost like they don’t take issue with the behavior of law enforcement officials).
Content Note: Racial slurs
I really need more hours in the day, days in the week, and weeks in the year. I am a wee bit behind on reading my ‘saved links’ on Facebook. The sidebar says I currently have 11 saved links, but I think that number might be a wee bit higher.
::goes off to check::
Oooooooooh yeah. Way more than 11. That figure reflects what I’ve saved today and *part* of last week. I just scrolled down and I have at least 84 saved links to be read. I say at least bc I got to the bottom of the page and FB did that loading bit where it says ‘please wait while we load the five gajillion links you have saved and if you read these darn things in a timely manner, it might not take so long to load them all‘ (it really says that on my page; wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn or some swampland in Florida?).
Amid all those links are a host of articles that I have thoughts and opinions about. In more than a few cases, the content of those articles elicits strong opinions from me (and I’ve shared some brief thoughts about them on FB). Other pieces are logged away in a mental “to write about” file that is so huge it almost eclipses Donald Trump’s ego. While I was going through the links, one really stood out to me-a clip from the May 5 episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert featuring guest W. Kamau Bell:
She was a passionate suffragist.
She created a nursing home for African-Americans.
At one point, the reward for her capture reached $40,000.
She earned $20/month in pension following the end of the Civil War.
She was often behind enemy lines, operating as a scout for the Union.
She is credited with aiding in the liberation of over 3,000 enslaved Africans.
She was an ardent anti-slavery advocate who dedicated her life to the abolition of the “peculiar institution”.
And she’ll be the first woman to be featured on a United States banknote in more than a century.
If you guessed Harriet Tubman, then you win $20!
Yesterday I discussed how much I want to take a certain phrase out back, put a stake through its heart, chop its head off, and burn the body. Today I’m going to share another one that irritates the holy heck out of me. This time though, I’ll skip the guessing game and get down to it.
I hate reading or hearing “I don’t see race”
On the one year anniversary of the execution of Michael Brown, Jr. an article at CNN takes a look at the views of several residents of Ferguson, Missouri. The perspectives on display are intriguing, and I think the article is worth reading just to get inside the heads of Ferguson residents. But one of those residents was a police officer who said she “doesn’t see race”:
In the last year I’ve been thinking a lot about the criminal justice system in the United States. I’ve been thinking how unfair it is to People of Color-especially black people. In the wake of Michael Brown, Jr’s death at the hands of ex-police officer Darren Wilson, I found my reality turned upside down. The world that I knew-a world where law enforcement officials were good, honest, and treated all citizens with fairness and equality-that world quickly began crumbling. As I read more about Michael Brown, Jr. and the circumstances surrounding his death, I found myself despairing. The whole situation seemed unjust. It looked like the deck was stacked against him. And then I saw the support pour in for Darren Wilson. I saw the money people were raising in his name. I saw the supportive comments from cops. I saw the racist commentary from civilians in the comments sections of news articles. And I felt my anger rise. I thought “How is this right? This cop killed Michael Brown, Jr. He judged this young man to be guilty and he gave him the death penalty.” Brown was never given access to due process (but Wilson was). If I thought my frustration at Brown’s death was bad, I would soon discover that was only the tip of the iceberg.