Not a black and white issue

“I have, indeed, been taking offense all my life because I enjoyed it and felt it was beautiful. It is not only pleasurable, it is also esthetically satisfying to feel offended.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Question: Do all those who cry out bloody murder over “systemic racism” understand that I, as a black man, can also face such discrimination?

I hope that everyone realizes I can’t hide behind my skin.

So I am very sensitive to this issue, I just don’t think we’re stuck in some 1960s time-warp when racism was still normative and where Black Americans and Canadians in certain areas, such as Nova Scotia, had almost zero opportunities for upward social mobility.

In The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, the illustrious liberal historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. references another luminary of the social sciences, Jamaican-born Orlando Patterson, to refute the claims of rampant systemic racism in America:

“The sociological truths,” writes Orlando Patterson, “are that America, while still flawed in its race relations…is now the least racist white-majority society in the world; has a better record of legal protection of minorities than any other society, white or black; offers more opportunities to a great number of black persons that any other society, including all those of Africa; and has gone through a dramatic change in its attitude toward miscegenation over the past 25 years.”

And this was in 1991, before the election of a non-white president and many other minorities to positions of political power, not to mention the commercial and academic accomplishments of countless people!

So perhaps the cop who shot Michael Brown was a rogue element, or even an operative of the KKK, as was the case in Florida. Or, maybe something else went down which warranted the shooting – we simply don’t know enough right now, other than the fact that Brown was a thief whose death has spurned a dual response of violent and peaceful protests.

Did he deserve to get killed? No. Was it an act of racism? No, with a touch of “let’s see”. Was the shooting an act of deadly force? Obviously. Was it a disproportionate response? Let’s see after the FBI, the White House investigator and other investigations conclude. I have taken the position that the shooting was not a disproportionate response, let’s see if I’m right about that. If I’m wrong, I will gladly admit it.

One of the major problems I have encountered with all this “discussion” over the shooting, the looting and the race baiting, is that there is no discussion at all…too bad…just a lot of Uncle Tom calling, the constant refrain of systemic racism and yeah…on and on…

Therefore, this will be my last post on this incident/issue, because I want to get back to what really matters for Ward 4.

By the way, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a historic museum in Dresden, Ontario (Chatham-Kent) and is named after Josiah Henson, a former slave that came to Canada on the Underground Railroad. I think he’d be proud of me if he were alive today for speaking out against the criminality of many young black males in the U.S. and some in Canada (Jane and Finch, Scarborough).

Why is it considered verboten for me to criticize the unlawful actions of young black males? Like I said, I’m black too, and want to see things improve, but how will that happen if the victim mentality reigns supreme?

Can I not be a role model for these young men by demonstrating tough love? Sometimes certain people need to be told straight up: You’re a thug. You’re an addict; how can I help you? For others, such words will be too much, and they may feel rejected. It’s really on a case by case basis. I feel safe to assume that Michael Brown needed a bit more coaxing. It is a tragedy that he never found the help that he needed.

The point is, white police racism – whether perceived or real – didn’t influence Mr. Brown to rob a store in his own community. And I used the word “deviant” because that’s what I learned in sociology at Western. Actually the gangsta mentality is a contra-culture in sociological terms. Why do I say that? Because despite 40 years of advances from the civil rights era there’s been a paradigm shift where many young black males are missing the mark, enamored by hip-hop culture that glorifies prison, drugs, denigration of women and negative lyrical music.

And as a black male I have a right to speak out about it. (Check out Adam Carolla speaking about the issue of too many black fathers not raising their families – Adam is white, by the way, and I have absolutely no problem with his comments, except some of the crass language).

There are no real black leaders of substance like Dr. Martin Luther King because he’s been replaced by the likes of Al Sharpton, a man who once incited days of rioting within Brooklyn’s Crown Heights Jewish community that led to the murder of a religious Jew and a non-Jewish man who was mistaken for being Jewish. Al will talk about the merits of MLK but then exacerbate an issue like this to the point to where it becomes incitement and lends credence to the violence that is going on in Ferguson.

I will discuss some of my ideas about effectively dealing with at-risk youth issues and deviant behaviour in the future – I don’t want Michael Brown’s death to be a launching pad for publicizing my goals.

It’s been an interesting 72-hours under “Twitter fire”. Thank you all for your comments, criticisms and even irrationality (I’m referring to someone who said that “all whites should be shamed right now”).

It helps me understand what’s going on with some people and how deeply certain people receive opinion as if it is fact, whether through CNN, blogs or the cultural zeitgeist.

Time for me to get back to business…

– Paul


2 thoughts on “Not a black and white issue

  1. Forrest Bivens

    Crucial afterthought here Paul.

    You write about the meaning of that negative term “Uncle Tom”. Although accurate in terms of what is located in Dresden, ON, your definition left out the context of what your detractors mean. In modern definitive terms, an “Uncle Tom” refers to someone who is actively involved in the suppression of their own race. As much as I LOATHE terms like this, you ARE (unwittingly I hope, but I’m not sure?) doing just that with the words you use and the derisive attitude you’re displaying towards members of your own race.

    ~Forrest Bivens

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