Destroying stereotypes for a just society



In the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial and verdict, it’s abundantly clear that many people have chosen a side in this country. Justice prevailed or it didn’t, and those opinions are based upon whether or not racism played a role in the verdict. Even if Martin and Zimmerman had never met that fateful and fatal night on Feb. 26, 2012, there could be no doubt that racism is still alive and well in this country. But what keeps it alive — people filling the stereotype or people creating the stereotype to be filled?

In a perfect world, all human beings would be neutral — no one could or would be classified by race, gender, sexuality, education, status, religion, etc., at least based on appearances alone. People would be drawn, one to another, naturally by common activities, certain preferences, etc. But what kind of beings would we be if we didn’t have all these things that bring us together and separate us at the same time? Would humankind be better off? Maybe so. Maybe not. The situation at hand, at least for the time being, isn’t going to change, so what can be done?

One possible solution is placing education as the No. 1 priority in this country. While there are those who still decry teachers and public education as leeches on taxpayers, imagining a country with no educational system for all is a scarier prospect than what we already have. But providing a basic, yet enriching education for everyone and ensuring that no child, or even young adult, falls through the cracks is the first step to blurring the lines that have created division among us. In understanding where we come from, finding common ground on subjects that affect us all, respecting one another as a species struggling for understanding and peaceful living, education is the key to clarity about ourselves and how we are all connected.

As Utopian as this all may sound, it’s not unrealistic. The daunting situation at hand, though, remains: minorities, especially black people, remain disenfranchised compared to white people.

According to a 2011 American Civil Liberties Union study, the prison inmate population has exploded 700 percent from 1970 to 2005. And while one in every 106 white men is incarcerated, one in every 36 Hispanic men is incarcerated by comparison and, worse, one in every 15 African American men. Further, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one of every three black men can expect to go to jail in his lifetime. And blacks and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched during traffic stops than white motorists, based on a report by the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, this list of apparent racial profiling and discriminatory practices goes on and on.

So back to the original question: Have whites played a fundamental role in creating stereotypes that have placed minorities in a disadvantaged state in the first place or have they chosen to selectively look for only those characteristics? It’s a tough call, or perhaps not, depending on who you ask; but surely, as evolved creatures, we can find a way to break and dispense with stereotypes altogether, because what we have right now isn’t working. It’s inhumane. It’s despicable. If education isn’t the answer, then what?


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Watching the news feed online over the years, I am struck over and over how much Fox News contributes to race baiting, to stirring up anger against the president, who surely has his faults, but this has been agitprop 24/7 for years. Their headlines stand out in stark contrast to the other news outlets and I can distinguish them from others at a glance. Islamophobic fear mongering as well.

It is a political agenda, I think, and not genuine race/ethnic/other hatred on Murdoch's part. I suspect he uses this raw meat appeal to advance his political and economic preferences.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/25/13 @ 09:14 a.m.

As for disadvantaged groups--A recent study now incomplete aims to discover what parts of America actually produce upward mobility and which do not. I'd be interested in seeing the results but I can guess.

Very likely we will find something close to the red state deficit that occurs relative to health of the population. That study put Hawaii at the top. California did very well.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/25/13 @ 09:19 a.m.

Apropos of the editorial, I want to recommend the film "Fruitvale Station" which is now at the Ventura Cinema 10. The story involves a real event at the Oakland BART station in the title occurring a couple of years ago. It was an event recorded by scores of smart phone/cell phone videos and photos taken by other BART customers witnessing it. When it was reenacted, it was blow by blow.

A group of young black men are detained by the police who make unfounded assumptions about them They protest verbally. This leads to both verbal and physical abuse by the police, leading in turn to one of the group being fatally shot--while handcuffed.

The upshot was the loss to his family of a cherished member who was guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The police officer who killed him received a sentence of two years for "involuntary manslaughter" and served only 11 months.

The people of Oakland protested and when that accomplished nothing, rioted.

With excellent cinematic values, the film shows in minute detail the dead man's last day. Because real life is not plotted artfully, it drags a bit in parts, but the end is stunning even though the audience had already been shown a witness's video of it in the opening scene. Acting by everyone is first rate.

What comes across is the relationship between unemployment and the alternative of petty crime and the police's misperception of the threat posed by ordinary people who happen to be young and black.

posted by cassandra2 on 7/28/13 @ 03:54 p.m.

Sorry cass, it's not that simple .. nor it that that politically correct. The fact is we have stats that tell us who commits the crimes and in what per capita percentile. Your're a smart lady, you know where I'm going with this so please don't try to make this a "race" issue unless you are willing to admit the obvious. Rather than try to convince us that our judicial system is flawed and biased, let's be real and quantify who is committing the majority of crimes ... per capita. Which is to say certain social groups currently do more damage than others. If you are big enough (academically) to admit this then maybe we can agree to discuss why this statistical anomaly occurs. if you want to say the root cause is social inequality then we can agree at a workable baseline, and maybe from there we can discuss how to remedy the cause ... and that's a start

posted by Chilibreath on 8/19/13 @ 08:42 p.m.
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