The first black trial judge In Louisville, KY Judge Olu Stevens was suspended for 90 days without pay for remarks that he made on facebook about prosecutor Tom Wine being a racist. For the past 2 years, Judge Stevens has been dismissing juries that haven't had enough African-American representation. In Jefferson County, there should be 21% percent of African-American people on the jury although that number rarely if ever gets there. In October of 2015, Tom Wine filed a motion to get Mr. Stevens removed from the bench because he thought this was unethical.
So for the past year, there has been a back and forth about this issue which resulted in Mr. Stevens agreeing to be suspended in April of 2016 with pay while the investigation concludes and in August of 2016 dropping his federal lawsuit against the state. The conclusion of the investigation has resulted in the judge accepting a 90-day suspension without pay also reading an written apology to prosecutor Tom Wine in the courtroom. Tom Wine did accept the apology and said he has no ill will towards Olu Stevens. I have paid attention to this story for the past year and honestly, I thought he would lose his job as a trial judge. I hope this case sheds some light on a serious issue of no diversity on the juries in courtrooms across the nation. What I realize is there is a price to pay whether directly or indirectly when you speak out against the system of racism white supremacy and we have a long way to go in solving this problem but to speak out against what is wrong is right. I commend Judge Olu Stevens for his courage and me for one will be glad to see him back on the bench after 90 days.
Is the question I ask when I hear the slogan of this country's presidential candidate Donald, Trump. His campaign is blatant racism is you ask me and there is no trying to hide it all, sadly to say I think the majority of people in this country agrees with a lot of what he's saying. Donald Trump's political rallies take us back to the days in America of civil rights clashes between black and white people. Protests and violence are the norms at his rallies yet he is still popular among the majority and I ask why that is? Why is there a push to make America great again?
I would never vote for Donald Trump in a million years but his rhetoric is very dangerous and he is empowering lots of white supremacists throughout the world. There was an incident on 8-19-16 of a man named Daniel Rowe just released from the Washington State Penitentiary stabbing an interracial couple after seeing them kiss at a bar in Olympia, Washington. The 47-year old black male victim that he stabbed in the hip chased him down and he was caught by the police, upon his capture, he admitted to being a white supremacist and talking about Donald Trump rallies. Daniel Rowe also spoke to the police about attacking people at the Black Lives Matter protest. Thankfully the couple survived the encounter and Daniel Rowe is off the streets but who is to stop the next person from attempting something like this?
As many of you have heard about the Stanford University swimmer named Brock Turner, 22, who only spent three months in jail out of a six-month sentence he received in June of 2016 for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, there have been numerous other cases similar to this in the past couple of years that the media has seemed to ignore. I was surprised by the ruling in the Turner case but especially by the language that Judge Aaron Persky used in saying "A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him" and "I think he will not be a danger to others." That is a very interesting thing for a judge to say to an accused rapist but I guess when you're white and you live in a system of white supremacy you get the benefit of the doubt.
So when I started to do more research about cases like this I came upon the story of David Becker, 18, who in April of 2016 sexually assaulted two unconscious women at a house party. Becker was a high school athlete in Massachusetts that in August of 2016 was only sentenced to two years of probation for his actions against these women. Once again there is language, in this case, that I know I wouldn't hear in a case where a black person was the defendant. Becker's attorney Thomas Rooke said after the ruling that "He can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender," and "The goal of this sentence was not to impede this individual from graduating high school and to go to the next step in his life, which is a college experience." I clearly believe that there are two different justice systems in the country, one for people of color and one for white people with money.
The heroin epidemic is a real crisis right now but the way it is being handled by this country is very interesting to me. There has been a drastic shift in the treatment of this problem and the way that society views the addicts. I believe the reason for such a sudden change in attitude about this epidemic is because the face of heroin has changed, it is predominantly a white problem now. Nearly 90 percent of the people who have tried heroin for the first time in the past decade are Caucasian, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in July of 2014. I have never seen so many politicians with the help of the government change laws so quickly and be so lenient when it comes to an illegal drug. Now I do agree that you should treat a drug epidemic like a disease and not a crime but isn't that what the government did when it came to crack cocaine? Naxolone is a medication that is used to treat people who have overdosed on heroin and people used to have to get a prescription from a physician to get it, but now more than half of the states in this country have passed legislation where you can buy this medication at your local store with no prescription at all. Some police departments even mandate their officers to carry this medication on them so they can treat overdose victims.
In Seattle, Washington there is a plan in place to open government-financed clinics where addicts can shoot up heroin legally. These clinics are going to be named "safe sites" and addicts will be monitored by a medical staff that can administer aid or call 911 if needed. Now could you imagine the government financing a crack house where addicts could smoke crack cocaine legally at the height of that epidemic in the 1980's? That never would happen because the crack epidemic of the 1980's, which was affectionately termed the "war on drugs” by the government, predominantly affected black people. Politicians never tried to change any laws or be lenient with crack cocaine addicts. Instead, in 1986 the U.S. Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act which was a law that included much harsher drug sentences for crack cocaine offenders, but lighter sentences for powder cocaine users which were mainly white people. There was the story that came out in March of 2016 about former president Richard Nixon's aide John Ehrlichman admitting in an interview that in 1969, Nixon's presidential campaign that focused on the war on drugs targeted black people. They wanted to deliberately criminalize black people so my question is why would people think this tactic is not going on right now?
First of all, the list of unarmed black men that have been killed at the hands of law enforcement in this country is too long to name and I will not even attempt to try, but even though there have been many high-profile cases in the past couple of years that have made national news, in the black community this is nothing new and we have been dealing with this problem even before I was born. This issue has been getting a lot of attention now because everybody has a camera on their phone now due to the technology of today and when it's visible to the naked eye it paints more of a brutal picture than if somebody was to tell you someone got shot by a police officer. What baffles me though is that our own government doesn't even track statistics of police involved killings. A news organization from the United Kingdom named The Guardian has more accurate statistics than our own country. The director of the F.B.I. James Comey even said in October of 2015 that "it was embarrassing and ridiculous" that the government did not hold comprehensive statistics, and that it was "unacceptable" the Guardian and the Washington Post held better records.
There is a website called Mapping Police Violence co-founded by Sam Sinyangwe that has vital information about black people being killed by the police in this country that I recommend people take a look at. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white people. There were 346 black people killed by the police in 2015 and already in 2016 there have been 230 black people killed. Police violence against black people has to stop but I feel like since they don't get punished and in some cases even rewarded for killing they continue to do it. In 2015 ninety-seven percent of police involved shootings did not result in an officer being charged with a crime. I also believe some of these powerful police unions need to be investigated as well because even in the rare event that an officer does get indicted for murder, they are out on bail in a couple of hours. I get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again and I know I'm not alone.
Many are aware of the recent national anthem protests recently sparked by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and it got me to thinking, Why is it when a black athlete speaks up about anything pertaining to his or her race they get vilified? I don't think there should be a problem with expressing your feelings about the issue of police brutality and racial inequality that is currently dividing this country down the middle. Yet the only attention he's getting is about disrespecting the military veterans and the American flag.
I have gained a lot of respect for Mr. Kaepernick because he has started a public movement and stood up for something in a day and age when a lot of other black athletes are too worried about their brand. His style of protest has crossed over to other sports and now kneeling for the national anthem is something that has at least started a conversation nationally. I also look at the fact that the NFL and the NBA are at least seventy percent black respectively so this issue is affecting the most popular athletes in the world, but the white owners and coaches of these teams that get paid off these athletes seem reluctant to speak up. To me, it seems like that the owners, coaches and even some of the fans to a certain extent are fine with their favorite player when they are entertaining them on the football field or on the basketball court, but the moment they want to speak up about any kind of injustices they want them to just shut up and play the game.
Mr. Kaepernick has given the black athlete of today the courage to speak up or demonstrate if they so choose to but what he is doing is nothing new to sports, the black athlete has been protesting since way back in the 1960's. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were two black track and field athletes who were kicked out of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics for raising their gloved fists on the podium in protest to racial inequality as they received their medals. These two brave men also came out recently and gave their support to Colin Kaepernick and all the other athletes that are protesting by stating in their own words that they are "backing Kaepernick because the quarterback's protest is proactive", and "there's no better platform than sports to stand up for something, even if it brings criticism". And a lot of criticism and backlash it has brought, but it also has created positive dialogue and hopefully a starting point for solutions to help in solving these problems. If we can't even talk about the issues that are going on then we aren't going to progress anywhere as a country.
The win by president-elect Donald Trump on election night didn't surprise me like it might have others if anything it just reinforced what I already thought about most of the citizens in America. This is one of if not the most racist country in the world. For people to put their future in the hands of a man that clearly has white supremacist views, blatantly disrespects women and even belittles the disabled spoke volumes to me. During his presidential campaign, his political rallies might as well been KKK meetings with all the violence that they provoked and instead of trying to calm his supporters it seemed to me that all he wanted to do was keep fanning the flames of hate. Donald Trump has taken the sheet off of open white supremacy in this country while in the meantime making it comfortable for people that think like him to say and act like they really want to. As evidenced by the rise in hate crimes that the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported right after the election win of Donald Trump.
What I observed about this election is that white people are very deceitful because there was a lot of Trump bashing in public but in private he really had more supporters than everybody thought. And the numbers in the exit polls back that up. For a man to disrespect women the way he did in those tape recordings that came out, there were still a lot of women who wanted him to run this country. Fifty-three percent of white women voted for Trump and that was probably the most surprising thing to me. Also with the way he was openly talking about building a wall to keep immigrants and refugees out of this country, you would think he wouldn't have received a single vote from a minority citizen in this country but he got a little over twenty percent of votes from minorities.
When most non-white people think of white supremacy I don't think the image of a white woman is the first thing that comes to mind, but when I found out that fifty-three percent of white women voted for Donald Trump it made me very curious. I think the role the white woman plays in maintaining the system of white supremacy gets a pass among a lot of people.
One of the major places I believe that this takes place is in the public education system. The last report in 2011 indicates that white women make up at least sixty-two percent of all K-12 teachers in the United States and eighty percent of all teachers are white. This figure has not really changed since the 1980's and I believe this is a direct correlation to black students being four times as likely to be suspended as their white classmates. When you have a majority of the student body that is non-white but all of the people teaching them are white you are bound to have a culture clash. There is a need for more teachers of color in the school system. They would be able to relate to one another better and also sympathize with students about what's going on outside of the classroom.
The mainstream media is a very powerful tool that can be used to shape how people think and feel about other groups of people. When you have a lack of diversity by the people who give you the news there will ultimately be a one-sided view of everything you see. In 2015 according to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, there were 77 percent of white people working in television newsrooms and 90 percent of white people working in radio newsrooms. That's a huge disparity and it makes more sense to me now why every time I see a person that looks like me on the news they are usually portrayed in a negative light.
I believe the mainstream media is a tool used by white supremacy to portray negative stereotypes about anybody that is non-white. When I see a reality show or any show for that matter with an all-black cast there is usually always dysfunction. Fighting, and bickering or throwing drinks in each other's faces. I never see anything on television that is predominantly black where there is positivity. They start working on us when we're little kids. There was a study in 2012 by an Indiana University professor named Nicole Martins that concluded TV can decrease self-esteem in all children, except white boys. Now, do you think this is a coincidence? And black people consume 200 hours of television a month, more than every ethnic group in this country.
I wanted to write a brief post about my first time being summoned for jury duty. It was a two-week process and the experience was very interesting. I got called for a total of three cases but I never got selected to be a juror for any of them. However, I still went through the process that they call voir dire. This consists of a lot of questions from the judge and both lawyers. They use this process to eliminate unconscious bias that people might not no they have and to see if any potential jurors know any of the participants in the case.
Every morning we had to report to a room and there were about three hundred of us which I thought was too many people. You had to practice patience because the process consists of a lot of waiting. There were more diverse ethnic groups than I thought it would be. Black, White, Indian, African, Asian and Arab people all filled the room. Of course, there was still a majority of white people, though. They even had everybody sign a form that asked what ethnicity you were.
In light of the recent news about the black girls that were reported missing in Washington D.C., it made me think why don't I see non-white kids on any Amber Alerts? It seems like it's only missing white kids who get national attention and when I dug deeper into the statistics that's exactly the case. According to the Black and Missing Foundation, black kids are 36% of the missing persons reported yet we are only 13% of the population. With so many black children that are reported missing on an annual basis, we rarely see any news coverage about this problem and that's because law enforcement usually classifies them as runaways. When you're considered a runaway you won't get an Amber Alert. A study on Amber Alert statistics from the year 2002-2015 reveals that 46% of all activations were for white kids while only 23% were black. The disparity isn't a surprise to me.
The late black PBS reporter Gwen Ifill has been recognized with coining the term "Missing White Girl Syndrome". When you‘re white and from a middle or upper-class environment, you will get plenty of attention from the media if you're a missing person. The 2005 Scripps Howard Study found that 67% of missing child cases covered by the media involved white children. The bottom line is that society treats black bodies like we are less valuable and they always have. The Rilya Alert is similar to the Amber Alert but it only focuses on children of color. I hadn't even heard about this system until recently but it's something that is needed in our community because the mainstream media doesn't acknowledge us.
You don't hear much about the targeting of black people for their organs in the mainstream media but it's a global business that's very lucrative. Organ harvesting might sound like something in a movie but it's a very real thing that has been going on for a long time. An article was written in 2006 by USA Today that stated more than 16,000 families had open lawsuits believing their loved ones had body parts stolen for profit over the past 19 years. Every ten minutes someone is added to the national transplant list and every day a person dies waiting for a transplant so the demand for organs is very high.
In recent years there have been black males found dead and targeted for their organs in this country but you haven't heard about in the news. Jason Smith was a 14-year-old from Louisiana whose body was found without any organs. He was found dead in a lake in 2011 but the authorities claimed it was an accidental drowning. Vance Anderson was a 51-year old painter from Philadelphia who died in 2012. Mr. Anderson had a lung condition and the hospital he died in stole his organs for education without consent from his family. His mother requested an autopsy on her son but all of his organs ended up missing. In 2013 there were two cases of black men found dead with missing organs. Kendrick Johnson was a 17-year old from Georgia that was found dead in his school gym rolled up in a mat without any organs. Once again the authorities claimed his death was accidental. Ryan Singleton was another man from Georgia found dead with missing organs. Authorities found his body in a California desert and still there has not been a cause of death announced to this day.
Environmental racism is a policy or practice that differentially affects or disadvantages individuals, groups or communities because of their race or class. But it's the black community mainly getting harmed by this practice. The lead in the water in Flint, Michigan has brought national attention to this problem. This is not an isolated incident, in fact, it's a worldwide epidemic. There was a study conducted titled Toxic Wastes and Race that stated black people were twice as likely as white people to live in a community with hazardous waste management facilities. Also, black people are three times as likely as white people to live where there are multiple toxic wastes sites. A person's race is the number one factor of where toxic facilities are located.
I believe the government chooses to put these toxic sites near black communities because as a collective we don't have the resources or the political clout to do anything about it. Warren County, North Carolina was the first time that environmental racism got national attention. In 1982 the state decided to dump contaminated soil in this black community without their permission so they protested. The people of this small town banded together and laid down in the street so trucks full of toxic waste couldn't get to the landfill. More than five hundred people were arrested and they eventually lost the battle but this was considered the start of the environmental justice movement.