Are Discussions About Race Productive?

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  1. profile image0
    pgrundyposted 13 years ago

    Now that Gates and the Boston police officer and Obama have all had their beer at the White House, there's lots of talk about 'teachable moments' and how this could be an opportunity to "open discussions on race across the U.S."

    Do you think racial discussion are productive? I personally do not. I have been involved in many, and have come to the conclusion that the only thing that is productive is living and working side by side with the people we fear most and getting to know them. This means enforcing equal rights under the law and prohibiting discrimination and profiling.

    Bob Herbert wrote a good NYT piece today on it: … rbert.html

    What say you?

    1. ledefensetech profile image67
      ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      You're never going to change anyone's mind if they decide to believe stereotypes.  Familiarity breeds contempt or so they say and it's that very thing that defuses tensions between different groups in a society.   

      If anything failure to assimilate is what causes tension between ethnic groups. Look at the Irish in the US for example. They were once feared and hated as a destabilizing influence here. Yet over the last century, they have assimilated to the point where everyone is Irish on St. Paddy's Day and there is a strong Irish presence in groups like the police and fire departments. Germans actually make up the largest ethnic group in the US at about 22% of the population. Few people now remember the Hun or the Bund of WW I and II notoriety, but today, you can find people of German decent assimilated totally in the US. And they started with a different language, customs and religion than "natural" Americans.

      Even historically "closed" societies like Jews have been able to live here in peace and plenty. Indeed, while there are some orthodox groups that maintain strict separation from outsiders, even the Jews have assimilated somewhat into mainstream American life. The same could be true of Muslims, but as with most things, they would be influenced by American life, just as they would influence us.

      It's this emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity that actually causes tension between different groups and exacerbates the situation by focusing our attention on what makes us different, rather than what makes us the same.

    2. tksensei profile image61
      tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Do you equate discrimination and profiling?

    3. BudHasherdashery profile image60
      BudHasherdasheryposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Discussion on race relations is a waste of time when those in the Black Community refuse to admit to their own prejudices and bigotted attitudes.

  2. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 13 years ago

    Hmmm.  I am sure that Obama is being PR in his approach to what happened, but I have an inkling that he knows who was in the right and who was in the wrong in black professor incident.

    And absolutely, I agree with the NY Times Op Ed.  In example, in Iowa City, IA (a very liberal and activist oriented university town) when I lived there, a similar incident happened.  Only the police officer made the mistake of shooting the 'trespasser' dead.  The community surrounded the family and called out the injustice; the police officer (and of his own will...I will give him that credit) resigned.

    As far as living and working among the minorities we 'fear most,' I don't think it always solves the problem, either.  The issues of race and prejudice are complex.  For some (those who are open to it), it will help.  For others, not so much.  And police brutality...for that is what it is, although very skewed, yes, to racial profiling, is rampant.  It is almost a separate issue.  Oh, I can tell you a tale or two about the police state of AZ (and not saying all cops are like this, either).  It is just assumed officers have 'authority' over private citizens. 

    I was once accused here in AZ by a store employee, ie, of 'stealing,' because I was changing clothes in their bathroom (I'd just bought something to drink) so I could go work out.  She said she heard 'packages' being opened.  ?  So the police were called, and I was interrogated.  It was a comedy, lol, but I was also incensed.  When dealing with the cops here, you need to learn to keep your cool.  If I had shown a little too much outrage at the situation, I'm sure things would have escalated.  So, I produced my receipt for my bottled water (thankfully I still had it) and they all cooled down.

    Hillarious.  But no it isn't, not really.

    1. tksensei profile image61
      tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      That's because they do.

  3. profile image0
    pgrundyposted 13 years ago

    Yes, I've only been stopped by the cops twice, for traffic violations, and both times it was totally warranted. That is, I was in the wrong and I admitted it. Even so, both cops were very unpleasant and I suppose the point was to make an impression (I have a lead foot) but it's hard to overstate how upsetting and stressful it is to be on the receiving end, even when you're totally in the wrong.

    To get that treatment when you've done NOTHING wrong is messed up beyond words.

    I kind of feel like Obama smoother the waters too fast on this one, but I understand why he did that. Still, I don't see "talking it out over a beer" as a reasonable solution.

    You are one cool lady to stay calm during that clothes changing incident. I'd probably have gone batshit pretty fast.

  4. profile image0
    pgrundyposted 13 years ago

    "It's this emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity that actually causes tension between different groups and exacerbates the situation by focusing our attention on what makes us different, rather than what makes us the same."

    I actually agree with that. smile

    1. ledefensetech profile image67
      ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      See, we do agree on things.  big_smile

      1. profile image0
        pgrundyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        A few! smile

  5. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 13 years ago

    Oh, wow.  Yeah, Pam.  I have stories...

    There was the incident of the black school teacher here driving home in the dark who was pulled over by an AZ cop for speeding.  She didn't want to stop, because she was scared--the desert roads are very dark and isolated.

    So, the cop said he had to 'pursue' her...  And she did go batshit, as she explained she was scared and that's why she continued driving on.  The officer cuffed her and arrested her in a scuffle.  Her response:  "I cannot believe you are doing this to me." 

    This was a huge, huge case locally.  Made all the papers.  Went to court.  NAACP, I think, called.  Guess which side won?  wink  Police state.

    Then there is the death of a 105 lb woman in our Sky Harbor airport last year.  Carol Gautbaum?  Maybe some have heard of it.  They basically used excessive force in arresting her (she had been drinking, I guess, and was upset at the treatment by the cops...6 men surrounded her) and they shackled her to a holding cell.  Left her there.  She somehow 'strangled' herself with the shackles.  Big lawsuit currently pending against the city of Phoenix.  And I think they messed with the wrong family....Betsy Gotbaum is the victim's rights advocate for the City of New York.  LOL...I am SO happy to see the situation got national coverage and hope it brings about some change.

    And yes, I agree about Obama...and also am sorry he feels he has to approach the situation in something of a cop out-like manner.  But perhaps the approach was about not further inciting racial tensions.  Lots of white racists, still, after all.  And militant rightist groups stirring.

  6. ledefensetech profile image67
    ledefensetechposted 13 years ago

    The problem isn't so much one of race, but one of interference of authority in our lives.  Mr. Gates was incensed at being interrogated in his own home.  Yet, on the other hand, he might have been grateful that the police were patrolling the neighborhood keeping his home and property safe. Obviously he felt he should not have to be forced to answer questions about his being in his own home.  Neighborhood-based policing would cut down on this nonsense pretty quick.  At least then the police would know who lived where.

    By making this about racial tensions, people are diverted from the real debate.  How much should government be allowed to interfere in our personal lives.  I don't care what color, creed, sex, religion, etc. you are; that is a discussion we all sorely need to talk about.

    1. profile image0
      Leta Sposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I believe it is a bit about both racial tensions (they are targeted and profiled more) and police brutality/assumed authority.  I mean, these were actual cases.  And I have seen the video of 5-6 police officers taking down this very frail woman in the Sky Harbor airport.  The whole thing was unbelievable.  I was outraged and was following the story for weeks, as I could very well, with all the 'security' in the airports these days, see myself in the same situation.

      1. profile image0
        pgrundyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah, I think it's about race and abuse of power, I just don't think that talking about it over a beer helps.

        I used to moderate these kinds of discussions when I taught college and I didn't see that much good ever came of them. I took part in a gazillion of these kinds of talks in the 60s and all it ever was was a bunch of people repeating their dumbest preconceptions and grievances.

        Right now it looks to me like there are a lot of white people who aren't handling the idea of a black president very gracefully, but whenever I point that out I get attacked from all sides. People are so hyper-sensitive about it that it's almost insane. I thought what the President said at the press conference was completely rationally and just common sense, but then half the country went nuts saying he was racist against white people. How nuts is that?

        Look at the way the Republicans tore into Sotomayor for her supposed racism. Jeff Sessions had the brass balls to accuse someone besides himself of racism. That's rich.

        I wish the President had stood by his remarks. He did, he stood by the substance and apologized for using the word 'stupidly' since it clearly made it all worse, but I do think 'stupidly' was the right word. It's sad he felt compelled to smooth that over at all.

        It's that old, "You can dish it out but you can't take it," thing. Obama can't say 'boo' about race or the press goes completely insane. It's ridiculous IMO.

        1. tksensei profile image61
          tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Upon what do you base that conclusion?

        2. tksensei profile image61
          tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          You thought it was completely rational to call the police stupid before he even knew the details of the situation? Did you think that was a responsible thing for the top law enforcement official in the country to say to the entire nation?

        3. tksensei profile image61
          tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Is racism wrong or not?

        4. tksensei profile image61
          tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          He didn't actually apologize, of course. He did the typical politicial non apology apology, like the typical dissembling politician he is.

      2. ledefensetech profile image67
        ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        It makes a bit more sense when you look at it from a class perspective.  Blacks tend to be lower class much more than other groups like, say, Irish, Germans or Jews.  The Irish were once considered lower class trash too.  Over the generations they pulled themselves up until now they're considered solid Americans.  If you look at the early history of the Irish in this country you see a situation that is eerily similar to that of blacks today.

        Contrast that with the experiences of the Japanese and Jewish people.  Both have been very insistent that their children educate themselves so they will be better off than they are.  Look at the Italians.  Most of them arrived like the Irish and didn't educate themselves.  It's no surprise that organized crime in this country arose from such groups.  Still, it took longer, but the Italians too have assimilated into the mainstream of US life. 

        The great promise of America is not that we are all equal, such a thing is impossible.  The promise is, or was, that we have the freedom to become what we are capable of.

        1. profile image0
          Leta Sposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          That's all good, LDT, and I don't disagree, to some extent.

          However, it has little to do with police profiling and brutality when unwarranted, you know.  Like concerning black female school teachers on dark roads, or this professor in his own home.  Or me, or the Gotbaum woman in the airport, for that matter.  It is the police that need to be educated about their proper roles and deportment.

          smile  Enough of the forums for today though, I've been out of them a while, and need a break now.

          Nice to see you around, smile

          1. ledefensetech profile image67
            ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            Those are all examples of authority run amok.  Race and creed doesn't matter, the fact that we've given police the power to do these things does matter.  What happens is that police start to separate people out and target them unfairly.  The problem is not the group targeted, but that groups of people are targeted.

            At any rate, it's always good talking to you.  Have a good day.  smile

        2. tksensei profile image61
          tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          Japanese, Jewish, and Irish (and about everyone else for that matter) got involved in organized crime as well. It's not something in any way exclusive to Italians.

  7. Lady_E profile image66
    Lady_Eposted 13 years ago

    Are Discussions about Race Productive?

    No. It just brings about Tension.

  8. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 13 years ago

    As you stated once well, Pam, on your Sarah Palin hub:  One cannot underestimate the 'stupidity,' lol of the American public.  Unfortunate, but true.  sad

    It is all insane.  But then shackling and enslaving human beings in America just a mere century and a few odd years ago was also insane, but existed.

    1. tksensei profile image61
      tksenseiposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Still exists in parts of the world. Human failings are not and never have been exclusive to any race, region, or nation.


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