American justice is NOT the same for everyone

Don’t think so?  Ask Chris Hayes, who recently said this about his experience with drugs and law enforcement officials

“I can tell you as sure as I’m sitting here before you that if I was a black kid with cornrows instead of a white kid with glasses, my ass would’ve been in the back of a squad car faster than you can say George W. Bush.

It’s not just with drugs, however that this disparity in justice between black and white is evident, it’s also about perception.  There is this notion that crime is only committed by people of color and only they deserve the attention of the justice system.

On April 29, 2012, I put on a suit and tie and took the No. 3 subway line to the Junius Avenue stop in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. At the time, the blocks around this stop were a well-known battleground in the stop-and-frisk wars: Police had stopped 14,000 residents 52,000 times in four years. I figured this frequency would increase my chances of getting to see the system in action, but I faced a significant hurdle: Though I’ve spent years living and working in neighborhoods like Brownsville, as a white professional, the police have never eyed me suspiciously or stopped me for routine questioning. I would have to do something creative to get their attention.

As I walked around that day, I held a chipboard graffiti stencil the size of a piece of poster board and two cans of spray paint. Simply carrying those items qualified as a class B misdemeanor pursuant to New York Penal Law 145.65. If police officers were doing their jobs, they would have no choice but to stop and question me.

I kept walking and reached a bodega near the Rockaway Avenue subway station. Suddenly, a young black man started yelling at me to get out of Brownsville, presumably concluding from my skin color and my suit that I did not belong there. Three police officers heard the commotion and came running down the stairs. They reached me and stopped.

“What’s going on?” one asked.

“Nothing,” I told them.

“What does that say?” the officer interrupted me, incredulously, as the other two gathered around. I held the stencil up for them to read.

“What are you, some kind of asshole?” he asked.

I stood quietly, wondering whether they would arrest me or write a summons. The officers grumbled a few choice curse words and then ran down the stairs in pursuit of the young man. Though I was the one clearly breaking a law, they went after him.

Eventually the writer of the piece above was arrested and inordinately punished for bringing attention to the differences people of color face when confronted by America’s judicial system.  But this isn’t news….merely an affirmation of what has been said repeatedly and unfortunately hasn’t changed very much since.


Immigration and America

joe-bidenI read this quote from Joe Biden and fell in love with him immediately because he has a sense of history and where he comes from

Vice President Joe Biden says Congress has a moral and economic imperative to offer a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

Many of them, he says, “are already Americans,” whether they’re here legally or not. He says immigrants simply want a decent life for themselves and their children, just as his great grandparents did.

He probably knows how the economic impact immigration reform can have for America.

America’s economic growth is hovering around 2 percent, public debt is $16 trillion and rising, and job creation and labor market participation remain low. Embracing a more flexible legal immigration system can dramatically improve this situation…..Immigrants increase economic efficiency by reducing labor shortages in low- and high-skilled markets because their educational backgrounds fill holes in the native-born labor market. However, the share of immigrants in the U.S. workforce has declined since its 1991 peak. Increased immigration would expand the American work-force, and encourage more business start-ups.

America is a country of immigrants….immigration has been nothing but a positive for this country…unless you count the experience native Americans have had at the expense of immigration, then you might be able to understand the hesitation some, especially white Americans, have about the idea, but Biden gets it and relating to his own experience contributes to his appreciation for immigration reform.  The fact that he is the grandson of immigrants and serves as the vice president to the son of immigrants is a testament to the value immigration has for America.  So what’s taking us so long?

The American woman of today

I was thinking when I first saw this video it was a college student…..little did I know then that it was a married mother of three sons who was behaving like an inebriated, emotionally disturbed college coed just a little excited about the game she was watching.  However it leads me to ask what has happened to the American woman and why has she become so vulgar.

…and if you think this is bad, which I would agree with you it is, there’s this bit of news of a young woman sentenced for dancing provocatively at the Martin Luther King gravesite in Atlanta.  Twerking is what it’s called today and where it was seen in seedy, dimly lit clubs off the beaten path in cities across the country it seems it’s becoming more prevalent as a form of social expression.

twerkingOf course the haters came out to weigh in on this last piece of news, accusing President Obama of all people.  When and where does it all end?  What’s next America?!?!