The Color of Character

Race Relations Are Local

BLM March

As I’ve mentioned periodically, I receive daily Google Alerts on the subject of race relations. The vast number of articles that are forwarded as part of these alerts discuss the depth of systemic racism in America. They remind readers of the daily struggles faced by blacks in America of which most whites are unaware. There is particular emphasis on the unfair criminal justice system and about extra-judicial police killings of blacks.

In The Color of Character, Glen, the twelve-year-old protagonist believes in civil rights and social justice for all. Yet, at his own integrated, outstanding school, where blacks have an equal opportunity for an excellent education that could pave the way for success in life, Glen sees something very different. In spite of the high quality of the school, some of his black classmates and their parents complain about the racial injustices they perceive in the school system. Those same classmates come to school with a daily agenda of harassing and bullying white kids. Glen remains a believer in equal rights and social justice for all. He believes in judging others by their character, not their color. And he renders his judgement: He does not want to share his life with the type of classmates who claim oppression, while oppressing others, and turning a blind eye to the opportunities given to them.

Crime SceneThe Color of Local Crime Hurts Race Relations

In addition to the Google Alerts of widespread racism in America, I also receive emails and news from neighborhood newspapers, local political representatives, and community organizations. These include updates from aldermen, reports from our community policing outreach contact, and plain old weekly journals with news of events and advertisements for businesses within very delineated boundaries. Here is what I see all around my home, my place of business, and the neighborhoods in which I have family and friends: Crime is increasing at an alarming rate with no signs of abating. Armed assaults, beatings, robberies, and burglaries are skyrocketing. In EVERY case when a description of the assailant is given, it is a black person – either a man, a group of men, or men and women, usually aged between 18 and 35, according to victims and witnesses. In most cases the victim is white, as is the majority population in these neighborhoods. The police reports that are obtainable on line do not mention the race of the assailants, even though this would help citizens identify potential criminals. It is only the local and community news that gives a full description.

Hands Up, justice for Mike Brown sign

Restraining Police

This corresponds with a time when the local police are under intense pressure and scrutiny to improve relations with the black community. As a result, any preventative police work that could be considered racial profiling, is forbidden. And when the police do make a stop, the ACLU has provided the police force with a two page form, requiring at least 30 minutes to complete.  Police are resigning at an alarming rate, and our local government has resisted hiring even a replacement number of police because of budget constraints. This leads to a startling number of times when there are no police to respond immediately to 911 emergency calls.


And finally, with the number of blacks killing blacks in the city reaching unimaginable numbers (13 killed in the last two days of this Labor Day weekend, and 51 shot), the criminal justice system that is “unfair” to black citizens, is releasing convicted felons at high rates after they serve only a small part of their sentences. Read here. The black caucus of our city council and our county’s board president are against tougher laws for crimes committed with guns, because they will unfairly incarcerate a disproportionate number of blacks. Huh?

Solve The Problem that Affects Me First

While the residents of these victimized neighborhoods are demanding better police protection, circumstances dictate that it is unlikely to materialize any time soon. Like Glen, I suspect that many of these traumatized residents, white and black, who are affected by this growing black crime spree are for civil rights and social justice for all in principle, but right now they have more localized concerns. When even the most liberal person is assaulted by a group of young black men and women, has a gun at his head, and has just been beaten, all for his cell phone, it’s an unlikely proposition that he will reveal to his attackers that he understands their legitimate complaints about police and systemic racism, and attempt to work out a solution. Let’s acknowledge what is going on close to home. Get the streets safe so that everyone can pursue happiness (legally), and then I bet you’ll have a more receptive audience for the message of the need to eliminate systemic racism.



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