Black comedian Byron Allen owns a company called Entertainment Studios Network (ESN), in partnership with National Association of African American-Owned Media.
Since it’s his own business, clearly he thinks it’s the shit. However, Comcast, didn’t think it was THE shit, they just thought it was shit. As such, they declined to carry the network on their platform. Let’s assume that Byron and his peeps didn’t offer it up for free, the bigger issue for Comcast was probably that they thought he was asking for too much money.
It’s worth noting that Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, and AT&T also declined to carry ESN. Clearly, several providers are not seeing the value in it.
But Byron Allen, having invested all this effort and money into this venture wasn’t going to take his rejection lying down. Instead, he decided to play the race card, and accuse Comcast of not wanting to carry ESN because there were no white people on staff, which is mildly ironic is it not? In case you don’t follow, he’s accusing Comcast of being racist, while owning a company that only hires black people.
But anyway, the United States has laws against commercial racism, 42 U.S. Code§ 1981being what was cited here, and if he can prove that Comcast decided not to carry his network for racist reasons, he may be able to sue Comcast for damages.
The question SCOTUS is being asked to resolve, is whether racism has to be the main reason for the choice not to carry ESN, or if merely a bit of racism played into it, that’s sufficient cause for suing them.
Also, another mildly ironic fact—the respondent’s lawyer was whiter than white.
SCOTUS handed down a unanimous decision for Comcast. You can’t just sue because you think race was a factor. It has to be the sole and deciding factor. Byron Allen and his lame-ass network can go pound sand. The world owes him nothing, including Comcast. If they don’t want your fucking network, you don’t have a right to demand it. I personally find his “civil rights” argument perverse and disgusting. If his network were amazing, Comcast would have killed to have it. Clearly, it’s shit.
Back in 1996, there was an armed robbery at the Tardy Furniture Store, and four people were killed. The petitioner in this case, and all around asshole Flowers was eventually tried in Mississippi and convicted for the robbery/homicide of one of the people, and sentences to death. Seriously, fuck that guy.
The court had allowed evidence the Mississippi Supreme Court (SCOM) felt was inadmissible related to the murder of the other three people, and dismissed the case.
So Mississippi tried him for the murder of a second victim, and did the same dumb shit, and the SCOM again dismissed on the same grounds, but those persistent prosecutors in Mississippi weren’t about to let this douchebag get off for murder, and went after him again a third time. They prosecuted him for the murder of all four, again found him guilty a third time, and again sentenced this mortherfucker to death.
We all know Mississippi has some race problems, and even if this motherfucker was guilty, these inept motherfuckers could fuck up a wet dream. The assholes in Mississippi went out of their way to exclude black jurors, since Flowers was black, and they thought black jurors might acquit, over recent racial tensions.
There were mistrials multiple times, and it wasn’t until the sixth trial this motherfucker AGAIN was convicted and sentenced to death. But of course you know, that isn’t the end of this shit.
Flowers was like, “these racist motherfuckers in Mississippi kept striking my brothers and sisters from the jury, denying me the right to a fair trial, and equal protection under the law. 6th and 14th amendments, y’all!”
So Flowers asked SCOM to step in, but they upheld the conviction. But then SCOTUS was like, “Wait a fucking minute. You’re joking, right SCOM? Look again, assholes. We already ruled on this shit in Batson v Kentucky. Maybe you’ve heard of it? You can’t just strike jurors because they’re fucking black.”
But SCOM was like, “Fuck you SCOTUS, this is a good conviction. The state fucking told you we had other reasons for striking those black jurors. This was a small ass town, and all those people knew either the defendant or the victims.”
While the lone black SCOTUS justice was one of two who dissented, (along with Gorsuch), and felt the non-race-based reasons were reasonable and potentially a legit reason for the state striking those jurors, the other seven justices sided with Flowers in ruling this was some racist bullshit. Judgement for Flowers.
There’s this thing some politicians do called Gerrymandering, where they draw election districts in really weird ways so as to help their side win elections. It’s often reffered to as “stacking and cracking,” but here’s how it can work.
Let’s say the government awards every 2,000 constituents with a congressional representative, and you have a state with a population of 10,000, so you get five congressional reps as a result.
Now, let’s assume your state is evenly divided, 5,000 Republicans, and 5,000 Democrats. If you divided your state up in very equal ways, you’d potentially have five districts where 1,000 are Democrats and 1,000 are Republicans each—a fair division.
Now let’s imagine Democrats control congress at the time when districts are redrawn. So what they do, is draw the districts in such a way that two of those districts have 2,000 Democrats and zero Republicans (that’s “stacking”), then the remaining 1,000 (333ish) Democrats are divided up into three districts which have the remaining 5,000 Republicans (1,666ish). That’s an example of “cracking.”
You see what just happened right? What should have been a tight race is now always going to be a state which picks three Democrats and two Republicans, and therefore Republicans will always lose.
Now, about these assholes at the Virginia House of Delegates.
The 14th amendment says:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Back in 2014, twelve voters, presumably black, citing the 14th amendment, argued they were not getting equal protection under the law, because their state was being gerrymandered along racial lines, and therefore, their votes were being minimized unfairly.
In 2017, they made it to SCOTUS, and SCOTUS said 11 out of 12 looked shady AF, but one seemed fair enough. Basically, in those 11 districts, Virginia Republicans drew that map with a standard of having at least 55% black voting-age people in them. They argued this was because those districts were predominantly black, and thus, represented them all fairly, which is required in the federal Voting Rights Act.
But the opposition argued that basically, they “packed” those 11 districts with black voters, so that several of the other 129 of 140 districts could be favorable to Republicans. If this was their motive, versus complying with federal law, then it’s some racist bullshit.
SCOTUS wasn’t having that 55% bullshit as a fair test for redistricting. So they sent it back to the lower court and told them to they fucked up reviewing it previously, allowing that 55% number to slide, so try again, fix it, and quit bothering us.
The lower court agreed, it was some racist gerrymandering bullshit and said those 11 districts were unconstitutional and ordered them to be redone.
So then, the assholes from the Virginia House of Delegates were like, “Listen, SCOTUS! This is bullshit. We did this right and we want another bite of this fucking apple.”
SCOTUS was asked to rule on several aspects.
Were those 11 districts fucked up?
Did the lower court fuck up in adjudicating the Virginia House of Delegates work?
And should the Virginia Delegates even have a right to sue in the first place since the state of Virginia didn’t challenge the lower court, nor the people who started the civil action. The Virginia Delegates are just people who might lose some votes as a result.
SCOTUS decided 5:4 to dismiss. They told the Virginia delegates to go eat a bag of dicks. You’ve got no business here, and we’re not even going to bother answering your other two questions. If Virginia doesn’t have a problem with the decision, it’s not your fight to fight. Capiche? Now fuck off.
By now, unless you live under a rock, you’ve no doubt seen the backlash of these tweets from Donald Trump.
But how did we get here?
Most know it started with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who decided during the 2016 NFL preseason to kneel for the following reasons, as cited here on the NFL website.
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
If you are reasonably familiar with the situation, and on social media, you’ve no doubt noticed most people have an opinion on one side or the other, and it’s nearly as heated and divided as religion and politics infamously are.
Since most opinions I’ve read are pretty passionate instead of objective, I felt it was worth exploring the subject from a skeptic’s point of view. As an issue, between Trump’s position and Kaepernick’s, it’s pretty complicated with a lot of facets worth considering individually.
If we start from the beginning, Kaepernick opted to do this in the wake of a number of police involved shootings of young “black” men, some of which, were unarmed. It appeared to be excessive force by many, and potentially even manslaughter or murder. Yet no charges against said officers were filed in the immediate aftermath. (I’m not aware of whether charges were filed later.)
While I believe the deliberately hateful racists, whether they be white-on-black or vice versa, are an incredibly small minority; many more biases are simply ingrained, and a product of conditioning versus a deliberate intention to demean someone.
Respectful discussions between the two sides can help overcome both, if we’re willing to have them. So I encourage all people, no matter what their skin tone may be, to be open to such discussions. It’s surely the only way tensions will improve.
But moving on from whether Colin has a point or not, let’s discuss his tactics, since they’ve now overshadowed his initial concern he was trying to bring awareness to, which for him, is almost assuredly a tragedy.
Is Kneeling Effective Towards His Goal?
Since this started over a year ago, can we honestly say that racism has gotten any better?
It should be noted that it’s virtually impossible to quantify racism, but it is possible to quantify how many police shootings of unarmed black men who weren’t directly witnessed to have committed a crime.
Nonetheless, those parameters aren’t part of any FBI data I’ve seen. So there’s little way to determine if he’s been effective in reducing them.
As such, no claims one way or the other, can be considered anything other than speculation until that data is available. But I will say that it does seem like there have been fewer of these in the news since these protests began.
I think it’s also safe to say that racism is part of many discussions in a meaningful way at a number that’s probably as high as it has been since the civil rights movement.
The media’s coverage of Colin’s actions and their coverage of the police shootings which instigated his actions are largely to blame for this. So it is fair to say that he’s at least helped start the discussions that needed to happen, and are hopefully helping to achieve his end goal.
Are His Actions Congruent With His Goal
On this issue, I have to say I feel Colin missed his mark.
The U.S. flag is generally something that’s attributed to represent our nation, and also the men and women who served our military to defend it. But Colin never insinuated he was mad at those people.
He directed his anger at what he felt were several corrupt law enforcement officers, and the system that seemed to defend that.
So yes, he created awareness, but the people he offended doing it, were largely not the people he was mad at in the first place.
Is Colin Kaepernick a Racist
I cringe when anyone tries to make claims about what’s in someone’s heart. You just can’t know that. So you often have to take people at their word or their actions.
I don’t recall seeing one instance where Colin said anything negative about Caucasians. It’s also important to note that Colin has a biological mother who is “white,” presumably a “black” father, and adoptive “white” parents who took him in and raised him.
The idea that he’s racist, seems pretty far-fetched, and not supported by any evidence I saw. But feel free to comment below, citing sources, if you’ve seen any statements he uttered against Caucasians in general.
Could He Have Chosen a Better Tactic?
Because Colin is famous, I believe he’d have done far more to improve these relations between the police and young urban minorities by doing community outreach with police. Maybe trying to start a ride-along program with NFL stars, for instance.
Urging NFL players, especially those who were once urban minorities themselves, to go out with officers and start dialogues with them based on mutual respect between the police and many of the NFL players who were former at-risk kids themselves, would certainly help achieve his goal.
If police hear these stories from some of the NFL’s best, maybe it would make the officers see the young men in their community as potential greatness instead of potential criminal young men.
I also believe that if a cop car rolls up in a bad neighborhood with a superstar like Colin riding along with them, it might incite those kids to get to know their local police; building better relationships in the process.
If you’re one of those kids, you’d love to meet an NFL star. And if you meet one thanks to a police officer who brought him to you, all of a sudden that police officer is more likely to be seen as a friend instead of a foe.
Is Colin Trying To Create Unity
On the face of it, a peaceful protest is certainly what Martin Luther King is famous for. And his kneeling is not that different from Rosa Parks sitting on a front bus seat.
Yet once Colin knelt, many took offense, and sadly didn’t see it that way, if that’s how he meant it.
Even if he justifies it by saying that it was only directed at bad cops, I’ve heard multiple racist “white” people justify hateful speech by saying, “There’s black people, and then there’s n*****s”?
They assume because I’m white, I want to hear that nonsense. I assure you, I really REALLY don’t appreciate it. And I usually tell them so if I’m not in a position where I think I’ll be physically attacked for doing it. And Colin’s excuse for wearing those socks is pretty similar, in my opinion.
If rational people like me were apt to side with his peaceful protests, assuming he had nothing but the best intentions in his heart for all parties involved, this went a long way to burn that.
But nonetheless, I try to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was just angry, and did something ill-advised in his enraged state. Haven’t we all, in a moment of anger, said or done things we regret later?
Now let’s discuss Donald Trump’s actions.
Love him or hate him, I think it’s fair to admit that Trump is open and honest about his opinions. His Twitter feed is laden with unrehearsed, unpolished, and uncensored opinions that clearly seem to be what he actually feels.
So let’s take a skeptical look at those.
Were Trump’s Tweets Divisive When We All Tend To Agree Unity is Needed?
Yes Trump’s comments were divisive. I frankly wish he’d just stop. But so were the people opting to kneel.
You cannot fairly condemn Trump for being divisive, if you won’t equally condemn the players who know it’s upsetting a very large portion of the country, without being hypocritical.
Should Trump Have Said What He Said and Tweeted What He Tweeted?
Trump is effectively two people. He’s a president, and an American citizen.
As president, I want him to be involved in Colin’s (and the NFL’s) actions absolutely zero.
Instead, I’d want to see him order the FBI to investigate police shootings to make sure local police aren’t effectively protecting their own during the investigations of officer shootings. Clearly, letting the San Francisco PD investigate one of their own is as big of a conflict of interest as one could imagine.
I’d also want federal prosecutors to handle any disciplinary actions, up to and including criminal trials.
As for Trump tweeting an official position on the kneeling, he should simply say it’s a private matter for the free market to sort out.
If it kills NFL ratings, then they’ll react accordingly. This is not the business of a government who’s first amendment guarantees free speech.
As an American citizen, he has a right to an opinion on anything, including this. In my opinion, he should have two different Twitter accounts: one for “the president” and one for “the citizen,” which he does (@POTUS and @realDonaldTrump). Then, keep his official positions on one, and his personal opinions on the other.
On this issue, he largely did exactly that. His @POTUS account retweeted the personal account’s tweet below, and that’s all I’ve found. The rest were on his personal account.
In general, I don’t feel Donald Trump has done a remotely admiral job at unifying a divided nation—quite the contrary. His business acumen is about winning, which means he’s often competitive by nature. That aggressiveness comes out in his behavior often, and I suspect it’s not likely to change.
He’s arguably the most divisive president in history, but it’s not like we didn’t know this prior to the election, and yet he still won. So this isn’t exactly an overpromise/underdeliver situation; no bait-and-switch transpired here.
But as much as I disagree with him on significant policy issues, I at least prefer his unfiltered nature. I find it far better than people who are polished and rehearsed yet come off as obviously fake. I’d just prefer to know instead of wonder where you stand, and whether you’re a person I wouldn’t like in real life or not.
Should The NFL/Team Owners Fire Players?
Well, the players work for the teams (franchises), not the NFL. The only people firing them will be the team owners.
The NFL has code-of-conduct policies, which they seem to strictly enforce. For instance, the Cowboys wanted to have a simple sticker in support of a slain officer, and the NFL specifically forbade it.
One can certainly argue that this is somewhat hypocritical to forbid a helmet like this, while allowing some other form of protest on the field, like kneeling for the national anthem.
But nonetheless, the NFL is a private company, and they have every right to be hypocrites if they so desire, and the free market will sort it out accordingly.
As for the teams, if they want to fire the players for representing their brand in a way that’s inconsistent with their team owner’s values, then they have a right to do so. One caveat though: only if they drafted a code-of-conduct clause is in the contract they have with that player, which specifically forbids such actions.
Now that we’ve covered the two actors in this play, let’s discuss the issue in general. Because there’s a lot of hypocritical and/or illogical behavior from the professional media and the John Q Pissed-Offs on social media.
Is This a Free Speech Issue?
This one’s pretty easy:
Is government stifling the action? – Free Speech Issue
Is private enterprise (NFL or team owners) stifling the action? – Not a Free Speech Issue
Since no one is proposing a law to prevent this, or that government intervene to stifle free speech, it’s not a free speech issue. It’s that simple. When such a law or government action is proposed, only then will it become a free speech issue.
Is It About Disrespecting The Flag
Many argue that it’s just a flag, and we shouldn’t get so worked up about it. But here’s the rub with that argument.
Colin and his fellow kneelers aren’t attacking the idea that there’s too many stars and stripes on it, nor are they complaining the colors clash. They’re mad at a country that seems to allow racism and permit cops to kill “black” kids without recourse. The flag is just a representative icon of the country this occurs in, from their perspective.
Coincidentally, the people who are mad at disrespecting the flag aren’t really passionate about “the flag” either.
They’re passionate about all that the flag represents to them.
A country founded on liberty
A soldier who fought and died to protect them
A country they fought for if they are a soldier
The freedom it represents that they don’t have in other countries
That list goes on and on.
No different from you not caring about a piece of celluloid until there’s a picture of someone you love on it, the flag, as a piece of fabric, was never what anyone really cared about.
So when you make an argument that it’s “just a flag” to defend such actions, know that this argument isn’t relevant to this issue, since it wasn’t “just a flag” to either party. All sides would do well to understand that.
As a libertarian, I’m also fervent on the idea that thought-policing has absolutely no place in a free country. If it did, let’s be honest, Colin would be in jail, or worse, murdered by the state. Just ask many Iraqis who lived under the Hussein regime, North Koreans under the Kim Jong regime, or other dictator-run nations, who lost loved ones due to a government that didn’t take kindly to a lack of respect from its citizenry.
So to me, Colin should love America for the freedom it gives him to do these protests, and instead, direct his ire at the individual officers that commit heinous acts, a legal system that doesn’t seem to effectively prosecute them, and the racists who think it’s OK for officers to avoid prosecution for manslaughter of an innocent young man. Not the flag, and all the things that the flag represents to most Americans.
The Peaceful Protest
One of the most shining examples of hypocrisy in this is the people who lashed out at all the rioters after some of these controversial shootings (rightly so), and called for people to peacefully protest, then got mad at Colin and his peers for peacefully protesting.
They did what you asked, and they did it in a forum where they’d get the most attention for doing it. If the NFL allows it, you don’t have to agree with it, but you should at least give them credit for being peaceful, even if you agree with me that it’s misguided and ill-advised.
Again, we have to stop with all the hypocrisy.
All parties in this have good intentions, even if their tactics are poor. Throughout all of it, most people are calling for unity and peace. So let’s do the things that have a proven record of achieving those goals.
I’m willing to have a respectful discussion, give benefit of the doubt to those with good intentions, even if they aren’t acting like it, and show respect to those I disagree with.
I’d also suggest instead of standing with Trump or Kaepernick, you form your own opinions, while being your own worst critic. Come to a conclusion that you think is fair to both sides, and be honest when it’s obvious you’re being hypocritical. You have no right to demand others be better if you refuse to be better yourself.
One of the biggest false narratives coming from people on the right, are that those on the left are trying to ruin America. Whether it be political correctness, socialized health care (Single-payer) and/or retirement planning (Social Security), business regulations, social engineering, anti-discrimination laws…the list is a mile long of ways that these folks want to improve America in a very meaningful and altruistic way.
It’s easy to just attack their positions if you look at it from the view of the people they’re trying to change. Political correctness stifles free speech. Socialized health care and retirement planning takes money involuntarily and by force from the earner, and often gives to someone who didn’t earn it. Business regulations cost entrepreneurs money, making it difficult for small businesses to compete when their funds are diverted from inventory, research, and development to compliance attorneys who do absolutely zero, from a return-on-investment scenario.
I’ve always staunchly argued that for something to be fairly deemed moral, one person cannot be remedied by wronging another, especially through force. So while I applaud the left for wanting to help promote compassion, tolerance, and general well-being for all Americans, it is my firm opinion, they’re severely misguided in many of their arguments.
While I could speak about the issues above ad nauseam, I want to discuss the anti-discrimination efforts specifically in this post.
From a scientific perspective, diversity (specifically genetic diversity) is paramount to our ecosystem. Having organisms with different genetic makeup insures that natural selection will continue to evolve past challenges that face all life on Earth. So attacking our differences as if they’re a flaw, is quite the fallacious argument. As such, I would never argue that somehow discrimination is a good or productive thing.
But that being said, there are varying types of discrimination. Instinctive discrimination for instance, is where a person subconsciously puts one person over another without even thinking about it, and with no ill will meant towards the person being discriminated against.
There’s also conscious discrimination, where people purposefully segregate themselves or others, but not through hate, just through a desire to associate with others like themselves. For instance an exercise club that’s only for women, or a golf club that only allows men. While I think there’s no benefit that really comes from that, it’s wrong for someone else to impose upon you that you may not do it.
There’s altruistic discrimination, such as organizations that help a particular race, sex, religion, etc., like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The National Organization for Women (NOW), or a myriad of different religious organizations. Such groups aim to help advance their own cause, while not working to degrade anyone else doing so. Typically, they argue that they’re not given the same opportunities as others, and therefore only want to level the playing field, not put themselves above anyone.
Then of course, there’s the ugly side—hateful discrimination like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Westboro Baptist Church, and other groups whose intent is to advance their own kind at the expense of another. While all forms of discrimination can have unintended bad consequences, this one is by far the worst. Its negative consequences are precisely intended—being the only one specifically intended to denigrate others.
While there can be no doubt that hateful discrimination should be quashed in all it’s forms to the betterment of society, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
When you try to force someone out of that mindset, you may publicly suppress it, but you’re also quite likely to just make those folks even more hateful deep down inside. Occasionally, such oppression drives those with little self-control into a rage that leads to an act of violence. Such unintended consequences are the worst possible outcome, and the polar opposite of what helps the cause.
The other issue this often brings up, is that if it’s not your cross to bear, maybe those you’re trying to help don’t want your help. You have no right to dictate when someone else should be offended, nor to anoint yourself the arbiter of what is offensive to others.
For instance, several years ago, a movement to get the Washington Redskins NFL football team to change their name started brewing. Many people were altruistically trying to help end an example of what they saw as racism. But as it turned out, as shown in this poll published in the Washington Post, nearly 90% of the people these caring crusaders were fighting for felt it was much ado about nothing. If they aren’t bothered by it, then no one outside their community should be dictating that somehow they should be.
On a side note, I’d also like to argue that something meant as a compliment should not be considered an insult. The Redskins organization has never shown an ounce of ill will towards the Native American community. While those tribes certainly have a right to not like the name, and even speak out if they find it offensive, one should at least draw a distinction between something that might offend someone versus something that was meant to be an insult. It’s like the difference between manslaughter and murder.
While ending discrimination is a lofty goal to pursue, there are a couple of points people should keep in the back of their mind.
First: Are you the one being discriminated against? If not, feel free to support those who are. However, if they don’t ask you to fight alongside them, fighting for them anyway, is disrespectful instead of helpful. It effectively argues, “You don’t know what’s best for you, but I do.”
Most people neither appreciate, nor respect that. So you’re not helping anyone. Although your intentions are good, it’s discriminatory and disrespectful nonetheless to be a busybody fighting someone’s battle for them when they didn’t ask you to, nor want you to.
Second: Was the person doing the discriminating trying to harm someone else at the expense of helping themselves? If not, then it’s not worth starting a fight over. You can certainly engage in a conversation about why you think it might be a bad thing to do, but it’s important to remember that the reason we try to prevent discrimination is to prevent someone being harmed. So if no one is in fact harmed or feels like they were wronged, then there’s no reason to go on the attack.
Three: Gauge whether the person that said or did something you might find offensive actually meant offense. If you’re not sure, ask questions instead of assuming the worst. You might find that they just misspoke, meant well, or are just asking questions. Being easily offended isn’t helping anyone.
Decades ago, I remember reading a story about an older teacher in her sixties (light-skinned) who was supervising her elementary school class on recess. The playground had a jungle gym, and the kids were playing on it. The teacher, engaging with one of the kids who was dark-skinned, commented to that child that the child was “swinging on the jungle gym like a little monkey.”
Word of this got to the parent, and offense was taken. It was assumed the teacher was using a racial slur against the child. While we cannot know what was in the teacher’s heart, the fact is, swinging from trees is a pretty common practice for monkeys, and the comparison made by the teacher could have been 100% about what the kid was doing, and 0% about what the kid looked like. She may have said the same thing to a light-skinned child and this would have never been a story. If so, it wasn’t discriminatory in any way, and now the teacher being made to look bad, is the only victim in the above scenario.
To be fair, it could also be true, the teacher was an incredibly racist person. I’ve met more than one sweet old lady, that felt comfortable saying some awful racist things because we shared a common skin tone. So I’m not arguing it wasn’t possible the teacher didn’t mean anything bad, I’m only arguing she could have meant nothing bad, and maybe asking questions about her intentions were more in order than assuming the worst of her.
(I tried to find a link to the story, but I think it’s too old, and not living on the internet. But as I recall, she was not noted as having any history of bigoted actions.)
We should all want to end discrimination, but it should be done through education, reasonable discussion, and sometimes, maybe even public shaming if combatting intentionally offensive behavior. But always remember that fighting for someone else must be done at the request of, or along side of the person being discriminated against. You may mean well for taking on the cause yourself, but you’re often being bigoted doing so, and don’t even know it.
As police shootings of black men under dubious circumstances continue to make headlines, along with peaceful protests among several professional athletes, opinions on racism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement abound.
I do not have any affiliation with the group, and being Caucasian, cannot genuinely identify with their specific plight.
But I can apply some pretty basic critical thinking to understand their message, instead of dismissing it outright as divisive.
But before we get into the opinion portion, let’s take a look at the science and psychology of race and racism in general.
First we must understand that there is no black or white gene. I think we all understand we’re not literally black and white. But moving past that, the term “black and white” supposes there is a binary system with only two options. But with the multitude of skin colors around the globe, this clearly isn’t the case.
Carotene: which is rather uncommon, and is typically only a factor if people overeat things with carotene in it—like carrots. It causes the skin to take on a yellowish shade.
Hemoglobin: This molecule is contained in our blood for facilitation of oxygenation of the blood. It takes on a reddish hue, unless you’re oxygen-deficient, in which case it will be purplish.
Melanin: The component responsible for the “black” and “white” we refer to, is a severely dark brown color typically. The higher the concentration of this molecule in your skin, the darker your skin tone will be.
These three variables to one’s skin color have a default value they would inherit from their parents. But as you might expect, there are environmental factors that can change them such as the aforementioned carrot eating or tanning which increases melanin production. Since we’re talking about genetics, we’ll ignore the environmental factors for this post.
Because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis, seasons are reversed depending on which side of the equator you’re on. For instance, winter in the northern hemisphere coincides with summer in the southern.
But also, Earth’s path around the sun is elliptical—not a perfect circle. Therefore, those of us in the northern hemisphere are actually closest to the sun (perihelion) in January, and furthest from the sun (aphelion) in July—the difference being about 3%.
As a result, the Southern hemisphere being tilted towards the sun when they’re closer to it means the southern hemisphere’s summers will receive slightly more solar radiation than their northern counterparts.
In theory, this would mean the climate variation in the northern hemisphere would be less severe than in the southern hemisphere, but the increased water-surface to land-surface ratio of the southern hemisphere mitigates the variance for them, as explained in the video below.
The excess melanin in one’s skin helps absorb ultraviolet (UV) radiation, protecting the skin from potential harm such as skin cancer. So people living closer to the equator, being exposed to more solar radiation, have better survived due to the protection melanin provides their skin.
However, solar radiation is the only natural way your body gets the vitamin D it needs, and that UV blocking melanin inhibits vitamin D’s production in the process. So those further from the equator would naturally select for lighter skin to maximize the vitamin D production from the lesser amount of solar radiation they receive.
The reason this is important when discussing race, is to make the simple point that variances in our skin color, through natural selection from our ancestor’s environments, have dictated how dark our skin tone is based on how far our recent ancestors were from the equator. And any other reasoning one might attribute to our different skin tones is largely ignorant and false.
While race is identified by skin color, it’s typically understood to be more about someone’s ancestry, than the actual color of their skin. But our desire to stick to a binary system of black and white, is entirely unfair to a large group of people who have mixed ancestry.
For instance, someone with a medium skin tone of mixed heritage is often just as closely related to someone referred to as black as they are to someone who is thought of as white, or any other different race. Therefore, referring to them as a light-skinned black person, wrongly puts them in one racial bucket when they really belong to both; or more correctly, a third bucket in between.
Tiger Woods for instance, is often referred to as being black, when his mother Kutilda Woods is actually Asian.
President Obama, also often referred to as black, has a Caucasian mother, Ann Dunham.
The whole concept of race in general is simply a man-made construct held over from our ignorant past. We used it to differentiate ourselves from one another, long before we understood genetics or biological species.
As this Nature.com report shows, “approximately 85−90% of genetic variation is found within these continental groups,” referring to Africa, Asia, and Europe, “and only an additional 10−15% of variation is found between them.” This illustrates that our fundamental differences lie in things other than our skin color.
As you hopefully already know, humans are typically social in nature, sociopaths, also known as people with Antisocial Personality Disorder, make up a mere 4% of the population. This means the desire to bond with other people is ingrained in about 96% of us as a result.
One way people bond is by finding commonalities with each other.
Imagine the person next to you, talking to a friend, says they just “pahked the kah.” If you’re a Bostonian in Boston, this won’t even get your attention. But if you were a Bostonian in the UK for instance, you’ll almost assuredly at least say, “Hey, I’m from Boston too.”
This is because the two of you have something unique for the location you’re in, that you share, and therefore can bond over.
In that example, you had to overhear the person say it though. With race, you can plainly see that you share that trait with another from across the room, and therefore immediately make an instinctive connection with that person. This is fairly natural, and not an inherently hateful form of racism.
Racism can be good if it’s simply a way to bond with others as illustrated above. But also with cases like the NAACP, where segregating by race is simply a way to focus your efforts on helping those who are discriminated against, such as “colored” people (the C in NAACP) certainly were at the time the NAACP was founded.
But while individuals use racism to create strong bonds, it sadly has a more heinous side that’s often rooted in hate. Because just as we bond over our commonalities, an us-against-them mentality can kick in when two or more people are like each other and another party in the area is not.
The heinousness of hateful racism is so well-known and understood, that I really don’t care to go into that any further here. It’s an unpleasant topic, and there’s probably little I can say that would add anything new to the conversation anyway.
But it’s important to understand that some level of racism is instinctual and what an instinct actually is in the first place.
Instincts are things we do subconsciously and uncontrollably without thinking about them. For instance, imagine someone were yelling hateful and vile insults at you—you will have no control over your instinct to punch them. But because you’re a responsible adult, and know violence should be avoided if possible, many of you will suppress that instinct.
Racism is not that different, and can only be suppressed through knowledge and understand of why we do it, and then a genuine desire to avoid acting on it maliciously.
Who’s A Racist?
Now moving on to the op-ed portion of this post. While I explained above why we are not in fact black or white, I will use the terms “black” and “white” going forward since the word black is in #BlackLivesMatter, and the terms are for the most part the social norm. It will help make this next part a little easier to read than using “light-skinned” or “dark-skinned.”
Let’s first state unequivocally, that racism isn’t exclusive to any one race. So while the discussion of people being racist is often assumed to be white-on-black, it can just as easily be black-on-white. It can oddly even be white-on-white (when white people attack others like them for their “white privilege” for instance), or black-on-black (when black people assume the worst from other black people but tend to be more trusting of whites).
I should also point out that it’s not just skin tone. I’ve met Japanese people who don’t like the Chinese, Brits who hate the French, Colombians who don’t like Mexicans…the list of racial animosity goes on endlessly.
So this problem isn’t uniquely black and white, and it certainly isn’t even uniquely American. It existed long before America did and will likely endure for as long as vastly different skin tones exist.
So when I talk about racism, I’m referring to all of it, not just white-on-black.
Now let’s get back to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Once the #BLM movement started, it launched a lot of counter movements like #PoliceLivesMatter or the more generic #AllLivesMatter. At first, you can understand the opposition’s concern that #BlackLivesMatter seems to be segregating in nature, but I believe that entirely overlooks their underlying point.
As troubling as it is, when a news story airs about a police shooting of a suspect, there seems to be an improperly common sentiment among the media and the people. That if the victim is a black man, it is more likely to be justifiable homicide by the police than if the person who was shot were white. They are assuming the black man must have been engaged in criminal activity, where a white shooting victim more often gets the benefit of doubt.
While all people officially have equal rights under the law; these days, this perceptive double-standard on the presumed innocent of two people, solely based on the color of their skin, is the darker side of racism that still remains in the hearts and minds of far too many, despite many of them feeling they’re not racist in any way.
While I don’t believe most people, black or white, make a conscious effort to be racist, almost everyone will have some instinctual racial bias based on the psychology aspect mentioned above, and their own life experiences with people of a different race. The better those experience were, the less likely they are to be hatefully racist.
The next few times you see a police shooting of black and white civilians, see if your initial reactions to those shootings are the same; regardless of skin color.
Also, do the media portray both incidents equally? Do the public seem to have the same concerns or outrage on social media or around the office? Sadly, if I’m truly being honest with myself, I have to say they’re often not.
Where the #BLM Opposition Goes Wrong
So why do I think people are misguided when they think the #BLM movement are arguing other lives don’t matter? Because they didn’t specifically say that. It’s a straw man argument—one of the most common logical fallacies.
The opposition’s argument is that by saying #BlackLivesMatter, the #BLM people are arguing that white lives, police lives, et al., do not. But the #BLM movement is made up of three simple words and a hashtag. It says nothing about anyone else. So if you assume they’re saying non-black lives don’t matter, that’s a assumption you added yourself.
The predominance of people supporting the #BLM movement acknowledge wholeheartedly that all lives matter. Their argument is that the rest of the public don’t seem to value black lives. If the #BLM movement has any fundamental flaw, it’s poor phrasing. The simple addition of the word “Too” at the end of #BlackLivesMatter could have went a long way.
While I don’t like the tactic of lashing out at our country, our flag, or our military as some professional athletes have chosen to do (I think community outreach programs, focusing on positive interaction, would better achieve their goal), we should also recognize that a peaceful and non-violent protest is exactly what most of us encouraged people to do when riots, vandalism, and looting by outraged people have broken out, and this is genuinely what those athlete’s are doing.
It’s easy to be mad at each other, but it’s better to be empathetic, and honest with ourselves that their concerns are often legitimate. Instead of getting angry, and pushing back, it’s not too much to ask to be skeptical of police who shoot someone.
Be A Skeptic, Even Of The Police
While the police by and large do a great job, and should always be given the utmost respect, on some occasions they exercise bad judgement, and in incredibly rare incidents, are would-be-felons willingly committing crimes.
If this weren’t true, there would be no Internal Affairs Bureau. So it is important to remember they’re not perfect, and may actually be the person in the wrong when they use their firearm against a civilian.
The shooting of pastor Terence Crutcher is one example of several, where many in the media and on social media initially assumed he had potentially done something to cause the officer to shoot him. That officer has since however been charged with first degree manslaughter, and Pastor Crutcher deserved the respect and outrage he sadly didn’t get from far too many people.
At the same time, it’s also important that the #BLM supporters wait for all the facts to come out when a black person is shot by police, because he may have indeed been engaged in a crime and was endangering others.
We should all let the facts come out, let the court system do it’s job, and if we’re not on the jury ourselves, try to accept the idea that the jury was given more evidence that’s credible and scientific, and therefore made a more educated decision than we could have.
Where the media often purposefully distort the facts for ratings, our legal system has safeguards to prevent such unfair biases in a court of law by excluding prejudicial evidence, and ensuring all witnesses can be cross-examined.
While you may not agree with the tactics of the #BLM movement and the peaceful protests of several black athletes, no fair person can argue there isn’t occasionally a double standard in TV and print media, social media, and public opinion as to how tragic the death of a black person is compared to anyone else.
If we want this racial divide to stop, we have to understand it, make an effort to change it, and more important than anything, exercise a little empathy and understanding for those on the other side of the issue.
Embrace that which makes us different—it makes us interesting to one another, it helps provide alternate perspectives, and most importantly from a science perspective, our diversity actually preserves our species (think of purebred animals which have much higher incidents of disease and genetic defect).
But know that the difference between any two of us, is basically the same, no matter what color we are, and therefore we should all have equal rights under the law, and equal rights to the presumption of innocence.
With all of the protests lately regarding the police killings of young black men, a lot of people are lashing out at the men and women in blue.
In New York City, protestors were heard chanting:
What do we want?
When do we want it?
While some may assume that being libertarian, I hate the police, the fact is that I don’t. I hate what government has made them become, and that’s a pretty big distinction.
First things first, I hate bad cops with a passion. If you’re given the honor of serving your community, you damn well should remember what an honor it is. If you did it for the money or the power, in my opinion, you’re likely a bad cop already.
I feel that police officers who commit crimes should receive more punitive sentencing than the average citizen. Not only do they know better, but they’re people we trust to enforce these laws, and they’ve abused that trust.
They should be held to a significantly higher standard. Instead, they’re often given an opportunity to resign sans any prosecution on things that might put the rest of us in jail. This often lax, or sometimes non-existent, prosecution of police officers who break the law breeds a massive amount of distrust.
But that being said, bad cops are like bad people—a very small minority of the community. Most selflessly put their lives on the line for us every day, and let’s be honest, don’t get much thanks for it. The days of little kids wanting to grow up to be Andy Griffith, Elliot Ness, or Wyatt Earp are long gone for the most part—which is pretty sad.
I am not one to argue that racism doesn’t exist in America, but I will vehemently argue that racism has both been marginalized and has become equalized.
I think that idealistic or fundamental racists like the KKK or New Black Panthers, as well as people who either publicly or secretly hold such hateful views, are easily a small minority. Furthermore, those people are generally pretty quiet about it because they know it’s no longer widely acceptable behavior as it might have been 40+ years ago or more. It’s not like there are polls asking people if they are bigots, so confirming my opinion is difficult.
But also, I believe that the percentage of black people who hate white people has equalized to the number of whites who hate blacks. While I’ve never attacked someone because of their race, I’ve been the victim of racism a couple of times, and I’m white. Only advancements in scientific understanding and critical thinking will eradicate these non-sensical views, and that just takes time.
With each decade, it is painfully obvious race relations improve, so there’s not much need to do anything different than what we are already doing.
Many of the black people protesting against cops however, are doing EXACTLY what they profess to be the wrong thing to do. Their argument, whether you agree or not, is that the police are bigoted against black people, yet in response, they are being bigoted against cops—a blaring hypocrisy.
Assuming a few of these people have been a victim of a crime, called the police, and had an officer respond to assist them, are they now willing to end the officer’s life who may have helped them previously just because he/she wears that uniform?
I get that these people are angry, but if the desired outcome is to be treated as respectable citizens, behaving in a supremely disrespectful way is not going to help that cause.
The second issue is that if these folks are ever the victim of a crime, are they renouncing their right to call 911? Because if they don’t, that’s also being entirely hypocritical.
Throughout all of these incidents, I’ve tried to use critical thought instead of arriving at some preconceived notion. While I admit that I’m a science geek, and therefore tend to think more analytically than most, asking people to exhibit critical thought as a general rule, should not be deemed an unreasonable request.
So where is all this police hatred coming from? While some believe it’s the actions of the police alone, I feel the issue is far deeper than that.
I see the issue as predominately one of an ever-growing policed state. People instinctively want to be free, just as our forefathers intended. Despite the fact that few identify as libertarian, most people tend to agree with the “no victim, no crime” mantra.
Since Libertarians rarely got more than 5% of the vote, it’s well-known that 95% of black people elected politicians who pass the laws they’re then mad at the police for enforcing. A majority are Democrats, but the GOP isn’t entirely innocent here either. They’re effectively their own worst enemy. But again, it’s entirely hypocritical to vote for politicians who promise to pass these laws, then lashing out at police when they’re charged with enforcing them.
So if we want better relationships between the citizenry and the police, I have four easy solutions:
Stop being bigoted against cops in an effort to stop them being bigoted.
Stop passing laws you wouldn’t support a cop killing someone over.
Don’t call 911 when you need a cop, then treat them like dirt when they respond.
Stop allowing police to evade prosecution by simply resigning. Pass laws that make it clear, government corruption of any type will be dealt with more severely, not less than that of the average citizen.
log·i·cal: capable of reasoning or of using reason in an orderly cogent fashion lib·er·tar·i·an: an advocate of the doctrine of free will; a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action