Monday, October 31, 2016

I'm black and I'm afraid of black men By Issac Bailey

I've braced myself in the presence of unknown black men, felt myself ready for a potential attack even as all they threw my way was a head bob and a "What's up, brother?"

That's why I attended the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., in 1995. I needed to immerse myself in a sea of black men gathered for a cause of uplift so that I could alleviate dark thoughts I'd secretly harbored about men who wear dark skin -- because I've been afraid of black men.
Because I'm a man who has feared black men, despite the gaggle of black brothers and cousins and black father and stepfather who lived in the same house I did and loved me -- despite the dark skin I've worn since birth.
That's why I know that the skin color of the police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte in a still-disputed shooting is largely irrelevant, just as it is in most such incidents, no matter what media critics such as Howard Kurtz think.
"Since the anger in North Carolina's largest city is driven by outrage over a high-profile series of deaths of black men in confrontations with white officers, this would seem to be a highly relevant part of the story," Kurtz wrote.
 know Kurtz is mistaken because I've battled an irrational fear of black men that has, misleadingly, been only attributed to white or other non-black people: Scott was in fact killed by a black officer in Charlotte last week. And a couple of days of violent protests in Milwaukee followed the August shooting of a black man by a black cop in that city.

My own score on the Implicit Association test (a test developed by researchers to test for unconscious racial bias) showed that I found it slightly easier to associate negative things with dark skin -- like nearly 90% of white people and almost half of black people.
This is a key aspect of our ongoing national discussion about race that is too frequently ignored.
But it is because I'm aware of my own fear that I know that even "good" cops can kill unarmed black men and millions of non-deplorable people can find ways to rationalize every such shooting. Because the kind of bias that is most pernicious is the subconscious kind. It can seduce us into believing that as long as we think the right thing or try to do the right thing or be the right kind of person, our actions would never be negatively influenced by racist stereotypes.
I'm not a racist. I love people who wear dark skin like I do. I'm married to a black woman who chopped off her long dreadlocks for a short natural hair look, and am the father of a 14-year-old black son and a 12-year-old black daughter. I've studied the ugly history of race in this country to teach others. I've unflinchingly stood against bigotry and bias and racism in all their forms.
And, still, I've struggled with this self-knowledge.
That's why I know it isn't something you can pray away or think away or effectively corral without deliberative, purposeful action that must become second nature.
Anything less means that this type of bias won't be defeated and will continue playing an important role in ugly confrontations between black people and police, no matter how perfectly the black man complies with commands or how closely the cop follows strict training guidelines.

Our country was founded in part on the belief that dark skin denoted inferiority and danger, a message with roots that are now centuries deep. Without systemic reforms designed to specifically combat implicit bias we will continue running in these circles, forever lamenting our fate.
Airbnb, though it is far from the finish line, is beginning to take such steps to fight the bias among some hosts that participate in the home-sharing service. The company is restructuring the way reservations are made and requests accepted. Orchestras combated gender bias in a similar way by switching to blind auditions.

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NAACP demands federal probe after noose allegedly put on black student

JACKSON, Miss. -- The president of the Mississippi NAACP is demanding a federal hate crime investigation after the parents of a black high school student said as many as four white students put a noose around their son’s neck at school.
“No child should be walking down the hall or in a locker room and be accosted with a noose around their neck,” president Derrick Johnson said Monday during a news conference in Wiggins. “This is 2016, not 1916. This is America. This is a place where children should go to school and feel safe in their environment.”

Johnson said the incident happened Oct. 13 near a locker room at Stone High School in Wiggins.
The group said in a statement that officials have mishandled the situation. The NAACP said no one has been charged with a crime, and the black student’s parents have not told of any punishment for the other students involved.
“They failed to protect this student throughout this ordeal,” the NAACP said. “Allowing students to commit blatant hate crimes without severe consequences, sends a message to students that their safety and well-being are not valuable enough to be protected.”
CBS Biloxi affiliate WLOX reports that, according to the Stone High Student Handbook, the superintendent has the authority to expel any students who commits an act of violence on campus.
The NAACP claims school officials told the victim’s mother they could not tell her about disciplinary actions because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Mississippi has struggled with a history of racial division. It is the last state that still incorporates the Confederate battle emblem on its state flag. In 2014, two out-of-state students at the University of Mississippi placed a noose on the campus’ statue of James Meredith, the black student who integrated Ole Miss in 1962. Both pleaded guilty to using a threat of force to intimidate African-American students and employees. Neither attends the school anymore.
Names and ages of the students involved in the Stone County incident weren’t immediately released. The Stone County NAACP president, Robert James, said the black student is a football player.
According to a statement from the black student’s family, he returned to practice after the incident, Ayana Kinnel, spokeswoman for the civil rights group, said. 
The Stone County Sheriff’s Department provides officers at local schools and typically is the first to respond to incidents. Sheriff Mike Farmer didn’t immediately respond to a phone message and an email. Wiggins Police Chief Matt Barnett said his agency wasn’t notified.
Stone County High School Principal Adam Stone referred comment to Superintendent Inita Owen. She and school board attorney Sean Courtney didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
State Department of Education spokeswoman Patrice Guilfoyle said the state usually lets local districts handle student discipline.

Why US inmates launched a nationwide strike By Max Blau and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

Last month, on the 45th anniversary of the infamous Attica Prison uprising, tens of thousands of US inmates launched a nationwide protest that continues today, according to advocates who helped organize the effort.
The inmates' grievances are as varied as the states they came from: Pennies for labor in South Carolina, racial discrimination in California, excessive force in Michigan. However, they share an overarching goal: End legalized slavery inside American correctional facilities.
Jails and prisons don't have to be luxurious -- or comfortable, for that matter -- but the US Supreme Court has said they're not supposed to be dangerous or dehumanizing. Yet the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, while banning slavery, allows prisoners to work for little to no pay, in what inmate advocates say crosses the limits of human decency, amounting to modern-day servitude.
"I used to think, 'Nah, that ain't America, that's China and Cuba,' " South Carolina inmate Harold Sasa told CNN from a contraband phone. "It's a system that's neither benefiting us nor the citizens outside."
Even the American Correctional Association, the country's largest trade organization for prisons and jails, this year passed a resolution urging the repeal of the amendment's "exclusion clause," which allows for such labor. It has also called on prison work programs to "aspire" to offer wages based on inmate productivity. But many corrections officials say there's nothing punitive about withholding wages from inmates. Often, the funds are used to offset operating costs or pay off inmates' court-ordered restitution while providing them with job training.
Since September 9, the Incarcerated Workers' Organizing Committee, a prisoner rights advocacy group, estimates as many as 50,000 inmates have taken part in coordinated strikes planned through social media on cell phones and snail mail across nearly two-dozen states. That number is impossible to independently verify. Some individual inmates are still protesting, IWOC said.

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