The Race is On

by: Jeff Spector

July 19, 2013

JAPAN IAAF ATHLETICS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPSFirstly, let me give you my take on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. An unfortunate tragedy that should have been avoided. It’s a woulda, shoulda, coulda situation that ultimately cost a young man his life.  However, based on the case presented, a not guilty verdict was inevitable.  The prosecution had nothing to present that showed that George Zimmerman was the aggressor outside of his stupid decisions to pursue Trayvon, which were not illegal and not considered a legally contributing factor to a crime. It does appear from the evidence that at some point, Trayvon became the aggressor and that led up to the fatal shot.  What we do not know is what, if anything, George did to provoke that confrontation. However, because there was no evidence or witness to testify to that, and because George was the only one injured (other than the fatal shot), the evidence pointed to a confrontation by Trayvon that lead to the shot.  And, the not guilty verdict. Like it or not, this was a legal case decided on legal grounds, not a moral case and, in spite of all the rhetoric, not a race case.

My thinking is that George Zimmerman would have done the same thing to anyone he did not recognize in his neighborhood, not just a black teenager with a hoodie. The fact that other black young men had already been caught in the neighborhood, stealing from homes, is an interesting fact, but not necessarily the only causation to George’s actions.

Unfortunately, the grief-stricken parents, fueled by the usual race-baiting professionals and opportunistic lawyers, tried to promote the case as strictly a race case and were aided by the news media in that effort. I do not blame the parents. They lost a son in a horrible way, wanted justice, and so allowed these professionals to co-opt the situation for their own benefit.  There was even an attempt to show that George Zimmerman used the N-word on one of the 911 tapes but that quickly fell by the wayside as it was a bogus claim. And, NBC altered those same tapes to make it sound as though George Zimmerman told the 911 operator Trayvon was black when he was just answering a question from him and even said he wasn’t sure at the time.

Again a sad case unto itself and a clear demonstration that there continues to be a race problem in America.  However, what exactly is the problem of which we speak?

The Justice System

Clearly, the justice system has a race problem from the police to the prosecutors to the jurors.  Young black men are more likely to go to jail and for longer terms than any other group.  Our jails and prisons are disproportionately filled with African-American males. Now, do they commit a disproportionate number of crimes? They might, but it is probably more of an economic problem than a race problem. Because the great majority of crime is committed by those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Nevertheless, there appears to be a prejudice against blacks in our justice system.  Check out the case of Melissa  Alexander of Florida here. She got 20 years and she didn’t even kill anyone.

The Economic System

Clearly, the economic system in this country favors those with money, those with education and those with initiative. So part of the problem is focused on what to do to help those at the lower end improve themselves to the point where crime is not an answer to an economic problem? It’s a chicken and the egg scenario.  The jobless rate among African-American young man is 3 or 4 times the national rate because they lack the skills to get a job or they are discriminated against. Sure, we are all heart-warmed by the poor, disadvantaged person, regardless of color, who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, overcomes all odds and becomes successful in spite of everything.  We ask ourselves, “Why can’t others do that?”  Well, some do, but it just isn’t that easy. Generations of being poor does something to most people’s drive and initiative.

On the other hand, some will say we’ve created a generation of takers with government handouts and little to no requirement to improve oneself.  And, in some cases, we have. But I was always of the belief that no one really wants to live like that, They just cannot see a way out.  The rich just keep getting richer, the poor, poorer.

The African-American Community

I think that with the all finger pointing to white America as the source of the race problem by the professional race baiters, they cannot see that some of the blame lies within the African-American community itself.  The problem of the breakup of the family, out of wedlock births, no fathers in the home, and overall lack of morality (which is an issue in all ethnic groups) has  hit the African-American community especially hard.  And those same leaders not only seem to ignore the problem, they both do nothing about it and criticize anyone who points it out.   Young black boys and girls need positive role models, who don’t drink and do drugs, commit crimes, just hang out, play sports, or perform music with objectionable lyrics to show them and teach them to become a positive force in their own communities.The other thing missing is the influence of the churches, not only in the Black community, but all communities. There was a time when spiritual leaders were an aid to the family in helping teach moral principles. Either the breakdown of the family or the turn away from religion has rendered that now pretty useless.

The cycle must be broken.  Ironically, in the era of segregation, families were stronger, fathers were around and leading their families and, while they were treated deplorably by some white communities, in some ways they were better off. Now that things are supposed to be better, some appear worse off.

So if it takes the Zimmerman case to finally have a reasonable conversation about race relations, then maybe it is a good thing. To hang all the problems on this one case is a mistake. It may be a problem with the laws in Florida.

However, all sides must come to the conversation with equal culpability and equal responsibility to try to solve the problems.  Finger pointing and blame will not get us anywhere.

23 Responses to The Race is On

  1. Will on July 19, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    “Again a sad case unto itself and a clear demonstration that there continues to be a race problem in America”

    Baloney.

    There is not a race problem in American. Are there racists? Yes, all races against all races. There is not a widespread problem. We have a black President.

    “African-American”

    They are blacks. This term “African-American” is balkanizing the country and is completely arrogant. It assumes they are all from Africa; and, it assumes they are all Americans. There are blacks that can trace their roots to South American as well as Africa. Also, there are Blacks that currently live in all countries – Canada, Mexico, England, etc.. It is a stupid term

    The problem with making race the key topic in the Zimmerman case is the real moral of the story is lost in all the baloney. The real moral is two-fold: 1) If you are going to carry a gun, be prepared to deal with the consequences of killing someone. Zimmerman has to deal with the fact he killed a man the rest of his life. 2) Don’t pick a fight with a guy with a gun, or a guy that could have a gun. The guy with the gun will win. Or, the guy that has better gun control.

    This is what I used as the teaching moment for my kids. Unfortunately, the race card is played and this message is lost.

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  2. Will on July 19, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Pushed send too soon…

    There is not a problem with the criminal justice system, there is a problem with blacks committing too many crimes.

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  3. alice on July 19, 2013 at 9:40 AM
  4. Heber13 on July 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    The news and media sure play it up and use hot buttons to make headlines…but only for things that people care about and react to. It would seem to me that race is still some kind of issue if it leads to people reacting the way they have in this case.

    I think our society has had progress, even significant progress, on race issues in our country compared to where we were even 15-20 years ago, clearly there is progress from the 50s and 60s.

    But I would not go as far as Will and say there is no problem, or that it is not a factor in this case or the justice system at all.

    That’s going too far and turning a blind eye to still existing problems of race in our society, even if there has been progress.

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  5. mark gibson on July 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Bernhard Goetz
    Tawana Brawley
    The Duke Lacrosse team
    Rodney King
    Orenthal James Simpson
    George Zimmerman

    The issue was never “justice” but getting a victory.

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  6. Jeff Spector on July 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    All:

    Will: It is easy to dismiss most of your ridiculous statements, but the Zimmerman was not about race, but was made about race by some.

    Alice: Some really good Photoshop work, not much else.

    Heber13: The newsmedia’s job is to inform and act in the public interest. However, they are about selling ads to eyeballs. Whatever gets them eyeballs, they will go with. Also, the race problem continues when fingers stop being pointed and the parties can converse to come to real solutions. We have made significant progress, but you’d never know it by how some people talk. OTOH, if that progress does not reach everyone, is it really progress?

    Mark: One of my main beefs about our justice system is that it is about who wins and who loses and not really aboutthe purcuit of truth. Guilty parties should plead guilty and not try to get off. Lawyers should be obligated to present the truth.

    Civil dialogue so far, hope it continues.

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  7. nate on July 19, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Jeff, I agree with a lot of what you say. Ads to eyeballs is what it’s about. People want to inject race into anything they can because we are obsessed: obsessed with being discriminated against, obsessed with proving how un-racist we are and how racist others are, obsessed with our hatred of being accused of racism. Why? That is the legacy of slavery. It is our curse to bear from the sins of our fathers.

    But this is not Apartaid, this is not Palestine. We’ve come a long long way. It would help to take a deep breath and reflect on all the progress we’ve made. This is a good country, better than its ever been as far as race is concerned. Our ability to stop pointing fingers rests upon our ability to see just how far we’ve come. It’s time to forgive each other and move on. Then we can discuss the future in practical ways that address chronic problems in ways that have nothing to do with punishment, reparation, guilt, and blame.

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  8. Brian on July 19, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Listening to white people about how there is no racism in America is pretty useless. If we had some inner-city blacks in the discussion, we might learn something. When I had two black college kids living with our family, I learned a lot. Whenever they were in charge of the tv and they weren’t watching sports it was on BET. It didn’t matter what was on that channel they watched it. They would rather have watched an old Jeffersons rerun than anything on our 300+ channels (however many directv has). It was almost to the point they would prefer a commercial with a black cast to something on another channel. I really wasn’t sure what to make of it. It let me know that their race is important to them.

    White people suggesting there is nothing to claims of racism and we need to move on sounds like Mark McGuire before Congress saying we need to move on and not discuss what he did or didn’t do.

    I totally agree things are light years ahead of when I grew up in the 60s. I just don’t think we can say it is gone

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  9. Jeff Spector on July 19, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Brian,

    Racism does indeed exist, but it cuts both ways. I remember a line from West Side Story “everyone of you hates everyone of us, and we hate you right back”

    Much racism is borne out of lack of exposure to others rather than a deep-seeded hatred (though it can be that too) or small negative incidents. the TV and media do not actual help the situation by showing more negative than positive sides of people.

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  10. Heber13 on July 19, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    ” if that progress does not reach everyone, is it really progress?”

    Yes, it is progress with opportunity for more.

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  11. Brian on July 19, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Jeff–sure agree about the media. Some of the things that get said make it seem the truth is irrelevant. Sensationalism is all that is important. .

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  12. Sinclair on July 19, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    That racism cuts both ways is true, and yet the same argument can be made for sexism. Either way, there remains a power imbalance, at least socially speaking, in large pockets of the U.S., and I live in one of them. To fault African American men and women for speaking out against racism is just silly; it exists and the flow of the current against them is much, much more difficult.

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  13. Jeff Spector on July 20, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Sinclair,

    It depends on their motivation for speaking out. They have the same obligation for speaking out on joblessness, crime, poverty, morality, education, etc. they don’t. At least some of the loudest don’t. They wait for these “racist” opportunities to bang the drum and get attention.

    The media is complicit in helping to promote racial stereotypes.

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  14. Sinclair on July 20, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    And yet you are perpetuating a stereotype of leaders in the black community.

    That the loudest seem to do so must be understandable since the media plays a role in promoting negative racial stereotypes. Yet I do not understand what someone seems to do, according to the media, to account for their full motivation nor do I consider “some” to be a fair or accurate representation of the whole.

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  15. Douglas on July 20, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Jeff – with both your OP and replies you’ve fairly much have stolen my thunder, sir. So if your reaction to the notion that on this subject we’re thinking with the same brain is to let out a primal scream, turn towards the hills, and run with abandon, leaving Jeff-shaped cutouts in parallel walls, then I can’t be held liable for damages.

    Will, I share your frustration on the term “African-American”. After all, are not those Americans whose origins are from Egypt, Lybia, Tunisia, Algeria (esp. Les “Pied-Niors”), and Morocco, as well as Afrikaaners (ex: Charlize Theron) also “African-American”? Yet, to avoid contention I use “African” depending on the audience. They are sufficient to decide what to term themselves and I see no issue with respect for feelings. Look, I’ve changed over the years.

    Alice: had Zimmerman shot some white kid that was giving him a beat-down, it would have been different indeed. There would be no charges or trial, no hue and cry in the media, and no breast-beating by our President effusing kinship even though he is as much white as he is black (or African-American).

    There ought to be a meaningful discussion on race relations in this country, but thanks to the liberally-dominated media giving the race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson center stage, and the temporary White House occupant’s (thanks to the framers of the 22nd Amendment) tacit admission of motive of bitterness and spite, there won’t be. Indeed, tragedies like this are a gold mine to these rabble rousers. Thanks to the guilt complex that so many white liberals seem to have over their own good fortune, the coffers of these race charlatans continue to swell.

    The most meaningful discussion is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Already since 1978 great works have been done, and the Savior, methinks, is just getting warmed up. I suspect that there is yet more good that will be wrought with Africans both in Africa, here in America, and wherever else they may be found. We LDS should thus focus our efforts.

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  16. Jeff Spector on July 20, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Sinclair,

    “And yet you are perpetuating a stereotype of leaders in the black community.”

    Actually, no, I am not. Most Black community leaders quietly go about their business trying to improve their community. it includes educators, religious leader, some politicians, law enforcement and parents.

    The grandstanders (you know who they are) chase every possible ambulance, go on TV, hold rallies, all the while getting paid to do it.

    That, my friend, is not a stereotype.

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  17. Sinclair on July 20, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Your last points read far more agreeably than the first which invited the claim of your having made black community leaders a stereotype when you stated, “They have the same obligation for speaking out on joblessness, crime, poverty, morality, education, etc. they don’t.”

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  18. [...] all know that racism exists.  Jeff (The Race is On) and I (The Black 14 of Wyoming) wrote about racism last week at Wheat and Tares.  But one [...]

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  19. skeptical sympathizer on July 22, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Have the “like this comment” buttons been reset? I was reading this last night and there were lots of likes for some of Will’s comments (not all). Now, strangely, 0. Just wondering how that works.

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  20. Jeff Spector on July 22, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Not that I am aware of. I know I did nothing to enable that reset. not sure it’s even possible.

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  21. skeptical sympathizer on July 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Okay, I must be imagining thing! Thanks!

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  22. wideopenspaces on July 26, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    It takes a lot of . . . something—to stand up in the room as a white guy and tell all the african americans that the racism they’ve experienced is their own fault. Because they don’t have fathers in the home? This argument makes no sense to me at all.

    And you claim there is lack of religion in the african american community-clearly you have never been in contact with it or you’d be aware that african americans are the most religious ethnicity in the US (just google the Pew Forum US Religious Landscape Forum if you question this).

    Then comes the kicker in which you assert that SEGREGATION was better for the african american community in some ways. Just because they had fathers in the home, they were better off? This is a horrifyingly ignorant post. Please, please sit back and just listen to what the african american community has to say about their experiences with racism, rather than spewing these offensive ideas into the world. This just makes mormons look bad.

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  23. sunnofabcrich on July 27, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    #22 I’m white and didnt have a father growing up and I turned out pretty good. Wills comments for the most part are pretty accurate. Everybody probably knows it but Will is the only one with the cajones to say it.

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