Days Black People Not Re-Enslaved By Trump

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ignorance is a Shameful Thing

From the NY Times

A senior member of the group, Abdulmuni Ibrahim Mohammed, told Reuters after his arrest in Kano state Monday: “We do not believe in Western education. It corrupts our ideas and beliefs. That is why we are standing up to defend our religion.”


Too bad their supposedly superior education model hasn't quite informed them that Islam is not "their" religion either. But I suppose it's easier to get people to burn and kill then to actually, you know, build something.

Monday, July 27, 2009

911 tapes from the Gates incident

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/28/us/28cambridge.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss


First we have Whalen's 911 call. She never claimed that there were two black men at the door. She did say that there was one large male and that she did not see the other male. Also it wasn't her that noticed the alleged B&E but rather another woman who alerted her. She indicated that she saw suitcases and not backpacks and that the men may live or work at the residence. We do not know the ID of the woman who initially saw Gates "Break into" his home but it appears from Whalen's call that the woman was there for some time observing the possible B&E.

When we listen to the recording of dispatchers and Crowley we hear Gates in the background clearly annoyed and at one point saying "I want..!" His full statements cannot be heard because they only can be heard when Crowley is radioing in. It is clear from the tape though that whatever transpired in the house started early into the incident. From the time Crowley radios that he is coming to the time they are calling in "The Wagon." is 4 min 38 Seconds. That's not a long time. In fact Crowley does not get to the residence until a minute in.

From the radio call, Gates was clearly making noise prior to Crowley having asked the dispatch to verify a "Henry Louis Gates." Not 30 seconds into the arrival at the home of Gates and he's apparently laying into officer Crowley. 30 seconds (2:50 left) and Crowley has already radioed that "the gentleman" is being uncooperative. Note that he clearly has not had the time to get or confirm the ID of Gates. 15 seconds later Crowley asks for Harvard police. 30 Seconds later we can hear Gates still going at it and it's the first time we hear the officer ask to confirm Gates ID (time 2:15).

Gates may have had "bronchitis" but he clearly had no problem raising his voice. In the last minute after asking for confirmation of Gates ID, we have radio silence from Crowley. This must be where He and Gates get into whatever verbal altercation. This also confirms Crowley's report where he claimed to try to leave the residence because he was having difficulty communicating over the radio due to Gates behavior and the "acoustics" of the hallway.

I think these tapes resuscitates the reputation of Whalen while casting doubt on the motives of the unnamed woman whom initially saw Gates.

Oh and apparently what police call a man with a PhD (at least in this instance) is "gentleman."

[update]

Various news outlets are trying to get the Cambridge police to comment on why the police report says that the caller identified 2 black men when the 911 call clearly shows that she made no such claim. If you go back to the police report you'll note that Crowley reports that the witness called to him as he walked up the steps to the home. He states:

She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of [redacted] Ware street


So that would explain why on the 911 call why we don't hear Whalen describing the race of the men as "black." So either Whalen (or her unidentified co-witness) made up their minds that the "burglar" was black or Crowley having possibly seen into the house (he reported that he could see clearly into the foyer) made the "black males" up. If it was the latter, then claims of profiling can possibly be leveled at Crowley at this point since Gates could "easily" be "mistook" for "Hispanic" which was what Whalen guessed and what we hear between dispatch and Crowley.

Ishmael Reed Gives Gates Yet another Proper Dress Down

This man is my frackin' hero. I wish upon 10 stars I could write as well as he does. I have my occasional disagreement with Mr. Reed, but Dammit I respect his steez.

Getting others to do his work. Mother Jones magazine accused him of exploiting those writers who helped to assemble his Encarta Africana, of running an academic sweat shop and even avoiding affirmative action goals by not hiring blacks. Julian Brookes of Mother Jones wrote:

“Henry Louis Gates Jr. has never been shy about speaking up for affirmative action. Indeed, the prominent Harvard professor insists that he wouldn't be where he is today without it. Odd, then, that when it came to assembling a staff to compile an encyclopedia of black history, Gates hired a group that was almost exclusively white. Of the up to 40 full-time writers and editors who worked to produce Encarta Africana only three were black. What's more, Gates and co-editor K. Anthony Appiah rejected several requests from white staffers to hire more black writers. Mother Jones turned to Gates for an explanation of this apparent inconsistency.

“Did the staff members who expressed concern that the Africana team was too white have a point?”

Gates responded:

“It's a disgusting notion that white people can't write on black history--some of the best scholars of Africa are white. People should feel free to criticize the quality of the encyclopedia, but I will not yield one millimeter[to people who criticize the makeup of the staff]. It's wrongheaded. Would I have liked there to be more African Americans in the pool? Sure. But we did the best we could given the time limits and budget.”


D'oh. Busted.

Skip Gates: The Ivy League Is Not Real Life

This Week in Blackness nails Gates proper:

He didn’t resent being identitified as Black; he resented being identified as that kind of Black, the kind of Black that can be hassled and pushed around by simpleton cops. How dare you hassle me? I’m Skip Gates: Harvard professor!

Skip has fallen victim to the Ivy League Effect. Check out his articles–you can definitely go to The Root–the website he is Editor-in-Chief of–if you want to see a repository for the whole masturbatory display. He all but says, “Do I look like that type of (Black) person? I was wearing a blazer and a polo shirt!” Gates is Ivy League pissed with a dash of Black anger. Not the other way around. Is this to say the police weren’t in the wrong? Hardly. As a person is familiar with the Cambridge/Boston PD, the prospect of some procedural malfeasance on their part is entirely believable if not an abject certainty.


Yes, I called Gates on that early on when he made the remark about not being some militant nationalist. A sentiment he's repeated. Then we have his "He should watch my PBS special and the comment about what he can teach Crowley. Him Him Him. Sounds like Agent Smith from the Matrix. I bet Gates has no clue who Wise Intelligent is and certainly has no clue what happened to him. Yeah. This Week in Blackness nails Gates proper.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lyrics to "Whip It Like a Slave"

via metrolyrics.com
hook:
See i wake up in the mornin take a shit shower shave stand
over the stove and whip it like a slave

Okay new day new yay bet i whip it like kutac kentay im
talkin sugar talkin dough like a benyay i take a brick karate
chop it like a sensai i does it the YM way a bunch of drugs
bunch of money bunch of templates bunch of ice bunch of guns bunch of switchblades fuck with my bunch of bunch of
niggas up in his face
check my pockets more money then lint check my kitchen
every spoon in there bent check my dishes residue like a
bitch big boy weight my residue like half a brick

hook

I;m talkin 36 ounces buildin snow mountains more bricks than 24 houses

hook


Well I've lived long enough to see Hip Hop go from 'My Philosophy", "You Must Learn" and "T'cha T'cha" to "Whip it like a slave." clearly showing that there's a Market 4 Niggas

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the Obama "Expression of Regret"

Obama did the right thing when he "expressed regret" to the officer today. Yes that's right. Before the exploding heads go off foaming at the mouth I'd like to point out a few things:

Anyone who has followed this blog, and I've been at it since December of 2003, knows that I am a HUGE supporter of Cynthia McKinney. Now you're wondering what this has to do with anything. Hold your horses there. As we all know, or should know, is about her incident with the DC police. Although I love the sister dearly, I wrote then:

Unfortunately, when she hit the officer, she found herself on the wrong side of the law. She knew it and I'm sure her lawyer reminded her of the fact...

Here's the problem: regardless to whether 3 or 4 happened, an police officer has the right to physically stop any person from entering a secured zone. It doesn't matter if they recognize the person or not. Of course it is courtesy that congresspersons are allowed to go by, but that courtesy does not negate police power (right or wrong). Citizens, do not have the option of ignoring a police request to stop, be it at the capitol building or on a highway.


I had to side with the police officer because regardless of the trouble they had given her:

1) It is there job to ID everyone entering the capitol building
2) It was wrong for her to hit the man.

So it should be clear here that I am capable of both supporting our black leaders (the ones made by us, not those foisted upon us) while at the same time pointing out where they are wrong. Unfortunately such talents are lacking in large quarters of the black community. Now lets get back to Obama.

When Obama was asked the question regarding Gates, he should have seen it for what it was: a set up. He started out correctly by pointing out his own bias towards Gates as well as the fact that he did not have all the facts. At which point he could have said the following:

1) I'm going to withhold commentary but we should know that profiling happens and should be something we should be aware of and combat.

or

2) I believe that both parties were at fault. I believe that the officer did not need to arrest Mr. Gates and that Mr. Gates was wrong to berate the officer who was simply doing his job. Racial profiling is a problem in America but it does not excuse rude behavior by citizens. That's all. Goodnight.

Had Obama done either of the above the headlines would have been either:

1) Obama refuses to comment on Gates situation.

or

2) Obama feels both parties were at fault.

Obama would have been in the clear because the facts of the situation as they are known point to the latter. When Obama took sides with his buddy, he opened himself up for accusations of favoritism and bias. And this is particularly damaging because he admitted he didn't know the facts of the case.

The next thing I'm going to give Obama props for, was for calling the officer and "expressing regret" (apologizing) to him. It is entirely possible, that Obama's statement to the national press was slanderous. Obama by saying that the police acted "stupidly" could be seen as a false statement that Obama knew to be false because he admitted he didn't know what he was talking about. It's unlikely that a suit would have gone anywhere, but still, it was a potential and I'm sure somebody in the White House mentioned it. I say that because this statement made by Obama:

“the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.”


Is an entirely FALSE description of what happened. It is not supported by the police report. It is not supported by Gates' lawyer's statement. It is not supported by any public statement made by Gates himself of what actually transpired (as opposed to what he FEELS was the case).

So, this is my rare "big up" to Obama for having the balls to go against the current orthodoxy and doing the right thing. Now he can earn a few more props for getting the justice department on the Sean Bell case, to follow up on Wise Intelligent's situation, Paradise Grey's situation and on what happened to Amy Goodman at the RNC.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An addendum to: Did White People Build This Country? A False Assertion Gets Corrected

Davey D has posted an excellent piece entitled: Did White People Build This Country? A False Assertion Gets Corrected:

The challenge we have with today’s news media is that far too often it is driven by ‘expert’ punditry. We see this all the time where people holding lofty titles like ‘Professor’, ‘journalist’ and ‘doctor’ are invited onto shows as pundits and are assumed to be the definitive expert in the topics being discussed. As a result anything they say is taken as fact and hence gets repeated and passed along to others as gospel.

I would add that we ought to include the blogosphere in this equation (which is probably implied in the article). And I'll go further and say that many of the people generally excluded from the "mainstream" punditry, themselves suffer from the idea that they have definitive assertions on subjects and that they themselves will act as if they are beyond correction because "it's their blog" and they'll write what they want. How often do you see a blog owner own up to an incorrect assertion and post a retraction?

How many popular black bloggers do you see who actually write long form, researched pieces with either footnotes or inline references on whatever subject they are discussing? What about direct quotes from primary sources? What about direct quotes from primary sources who are neutral? That is a source that is not trying to prove one side or the other is "right"? I don't see it too often. often what I see are bloggers who repost other peoples blog posts or summarize other people's blog posts, and those blog posts are summaries of a summary of some news agency who probably has the wrong story anyway.

Let me take on one issue with Davey's post:
I am still hearing handpicked Black pundits pushing outdated assertions like; Black people from the hood don’t do well in school because they are afraid of appearing to ‘act white’ . Can we please require this myth which first emerged in the late 80s when during an interview with film maker Spike Lee?


I haven't seen the interview in question, but I do know that the idea was researched by a John Ogbu who discussed it in terms of being voluntary outsiders. His assertions have been challenged I discussed this in two places on my blog (1)(2). I believe that both discussion do in fact show that there is some veracity to the concept of "acting white." and that the only real question in regards to the phenomenon is how widespread is it, particularly among low academic achievers.

Again this is an example of what Davey D is discussing. Why is it "outdated" to discuss something that simply isn't settled? Who determines whether something is "outdated" or "wrong"? If it's anything other than the evidence than I'm suspect of the claim.

About a year ago I was talking with a professor who was lamenting about a white student in her class that claimed that black people could dance better than everyone because of their genes. She couldn't figure out how to handle it. I told her that I have a new way of dealing with people who make such claims. It's not for me to disprove it it's for them to prove it. I told her to wager the student your $1000 to his $10. If he could document the genes that black people have that makes them innately superior dancers, he could have $1000. If he could not then he would lose $10. Clearly if the student had proof of this assertion then he had all the incentive to bring it in and collect the money. Failure to take the "certain" prize was indicative that he was full of manure. No need to get into an argument about the subject because his silence was all the "proof" that was needed.

So that's how I think we should approach blogging and punditry. Be so sure of your postings that you'd put up $1000 bucks to back up what you said. If you can't do that then either clearly indicate that what you wrote is non-verifiable or simply don't write or say it.

Let's step up our games. Lets not only be critical of those that we disagree with, but let us also be critical of our own thoughts and assumptions.

Gates Takes a knock at "Nationalists"

From his audio interview at the Boston Globe:

first of all I'm half white myself. 56% white in my DNA. My father is 75% white. My wife of 25 years is white and my children are half white..." Nobody knows me as some lunatic black nationalist who's walking around beating up on white people



Hmmmm.. I see, So you and your family are not all that black and black nationalists merely beat up on white people. I see. And people are going to bat for this man? I'm done.

KKK & Neo Nazi’s Square Off Against Black Panthers in Paris, Texas

From Davey D:
Madness went down in Paris, Texas today as members of the New Black Panther Party and White Supremacists squared off. The trouble took place when skin heads descended upon a rally held by members of the Black community to protest the jasper style-dragging death of Brandon McClelland last september by two white men.

Gates' Story is fishy


Seriously. Folks. Full of shit. First off, the interview he gave The Root is no more or less prejudicial than the police report. Why? Gates is the editor in chief of that publication. As if he is going to publish something in his own organ that reflects badly on him. But let me get to why the whole thing is suspect:


My driver and I carried several bags up to the porch, and we fiddled with the door and it was jammed. I thought, well, maybe the door’s latched. So I walked back to the kitchen porch, unlocked the door and came into the house. And I unlatched the door, but it was still jammed.



My driver is a large black man. But from afar you and I would not have seen he was black. He has black hair and was dressed in a two-piece black suit, and I was dressed in a navy blue blazer with gray trousers and, you know, my shoes. And I love that the 911 report said that two big black men were trying to break in with backpacks on. Now that is the worst racial profiling I’ve ever heard of in my life. (Laughs.) I’m not exactly a big black man. I thought that was hilarious when I found that out, which was yesterday.



It looked like someone’s footprint was there. So it’s possible that the door had been jimmied, that someone had tried to get in while I was in China. But for whatever reason, the lock was damaged. My driver hit the door with his shoulder and the door popped open. But the lock was permanently disfigured.



So understand the police report from Carlos Figuroa said that the woman who called in the 911 call, Lucia, Whalen, claimed that she saw a large black man trying to push in the door of Gate's house. Now Gates clearly coraborates her story by admitting that the taxi driver was in fact large and was in fact trying to push in the door. Forget who Gates is for a moment: Since the witness does not claim to have seen anything prior to the "big black man wedging the door." Gates cannot infer any malice in her 911 call. Particularly since as he states:


. If I was on Martha’s Vineyard like I am now and someone was trying to break into my house, I would hope that someone called the police and that they would respond. But I would hope that the police wouldn’t arrest the first black man that they saw


So on the one hand Gates would like for the police to respond to 911 break-in's calls so long as the person doing the "breaking in" isn't Gates. How contradictory. Secondly, the officer did not arrest the first black man they saw, they:


1) Arrested the black man giving them grief. A very questionable move.


2) Questioned the man that was in the home that was the location of a reported break in, whom the 911 caller was standing in front of.


So Gates' implication that the Cambridge police randomly decided to go after the "first black man they saw." simply is not supported by the actual events as admitted to by all involved parties.


Gates says:


’ All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’



My lawyers later told me that that was a good move and had I walked out onto the porch he could have arrested me for breaking and entering.


Hmmm. Generally it's a bad idea to refuse a police officer's instruction. I think the lawyer's after the fact commentary that Gates would have been arrested had he left the premises is faulty. Since it had not been established that Gates had in fact broken into the property the officer could not have arrested him. Furthermore an officer does not need a break in suspect to leave the property in which he is alleged to have broken into in order to arrest him. What an officer needs to establish is probable cause. A 911 call is probable cause to ask for ID, it is NOT probable cause for an arrest on sight. Ogletree ought to know this.


But here's where it gets interesting:


He said ‘I’m here to investigate a 911 call for breaking and entering into this house.’ And I said ‘That’s ridiculous because this happens to be my house. And I’m a Harvard professor.’ He says ‘Can you prove that you’re a Harvard professor?’ I said yes, I turned and closed the front door to the kitchen where I’d left my wallet, and I got out my Harvard ID and my Massachusetts driver’s license which includes my address and I handed them to him. And he’s sitting there looking at them.


Compare this to the police report of the responding officer:


I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of Ware street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door...I asked if he could step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied "no I will not."


Let me stop here for a minute. Gates has confirmed this part. He refused a request by a police officer to speak with him. I don't know about you but in my experience police don't just show up at my door willy nilly, looking to take me out. I don't know about you, but if an officer comes to my door (it's happened), it's usually because they were called there. Particularly since I don't sell drugs, run a prostitution ring, etc. So really there is no reason for me to be difficult. Why does Gates think he's so special? Secondly and most importantly, the officer is asking you to leave the residence in order that he/she isn't shot at by someone out of view. Continuing:


He then demanded to know who I was. I told him I was Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge police" and that I was "Investigating a report of a break in progress" at the residence. While I was making this statement Gates opened the front door and exclaimed " why, because I'm a black man in America?" I then asked Gates if there was someone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer."


Let me stop here again. This is where the story starts to diverge, though the basics seem to be in line. Gates claims that his exclamation that he as a "black man in America" happened after furnishing his ID. The officer's account states that the exclamation happened before the ID was furnished. This is significant because if Gates started his mouth prior to furnishing ID, then he gave the officer more of a reason to think that something was wrong at the scene. But lets look at Gate's explanation of this part:


So he’s looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer. And I said I want your name and your badge number because I want to file a complaint because of the way he had treated me at the front door. He didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?’—he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white person.


See how the stories diverge here: In Gates' account he admits that he was not paying attention to what the police officer was asking him (the "He asked me another question"). But that also confirms the account of the responding officer who does say that he asked gates another question after asking him to step out on the porch. Now here's where it gets interesting, in Gates' account, the officer has already seen Gate's ID and is then asking Gates "excuse me sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?" So at this point we may conclude that someone is not telling the story correctly. Why would the officer ask the question if he already has the ID in hand. In fact the responding officer's report notes:


While I was lead to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence. I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me. I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at Ware Street and that I could radio my findings to the ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.



With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave.


So the officer was already convinced that Gates was the lawful resident of his home. Gates, apparently was too beside himself to even realize that the situation was just about resolved. Also, anyone who has been stopped for a traffic infraction knows full well that you get your license run through the system to make sure you are who you say you are. Secondly, the officer is required to radio is findings back to the station as he had no expectation of having to do any paperwork.


You'll notice in the officer's report that the ID was furnished towards the end of the initial confrontation rather than how Gates recalls it where he says he will not, then immediately supplies ID and then starts with the accusations. But here's the other interesting thing. Anyone who's had incidents with police know full well you can hear the two way radios very clearly. What was Gates doing where he didn't realize that the Harvard police had not been contacted?


It looked like an ocean of police had gathered on my front porch. There were probably half a dozen police officers at this point. The mistake I made was I stepped onto the front porch and asked one of his colleagues for his name and badge number. And when I did, the same officer said, ‘Thank you for accommodating our request. You are under arrest.’ And he handcuffed me right there. It was outrageous.


So yeah, the ocean of police were in fact the second responding officer and the Harvard PD. Now you'll note in Gates' piece that does not discuss or refute the comment by the responding officer about how he would "speak with his mama." Nor does the supposed interviewer at The Root appear to even ask about it. Even more damning to me is that while Gates makes the claim that the officer claimed that the officer said "Thanks for accommodating my request." There is no discussion that the officer had been walking away from Gates, and had "warned' Gates that he would be arrested for the continued public outburst. In case the reader is unawares, you yell out your window or door at people or play loud music out your window, you're legally creating a public disturbance. And yes, that can get you arrested if you refuse to cease and desist.


So lets understand the facts here: Gates was not arrested because he was mistaken for a burglar, He was arrested for public disturbance and from the report and Gates' own admitted behavior he could have been charged with impeding a police investigation as well.


Secondly, It's pretty disappointing how otherwise intelligent bloggers and academics have reported this incident. Anyone who has been involved with court cases know full well that until someone is under oath and a cross examination has happened, you really don't know the facts. The police have their side, which any reasonable person will suspect and the suspect has a story that should also be viewed with a critical eye. There are a lot of people writing out there who have failed to do any due diligence. HOw does a Princeton professor write a piece on this incident, more than half of which is about Gate's work and accomplishments? It's irrelevant. Seriously. Why should his status have any effect on his treatment? Haven't we been advocating for people to be treated equally and fairly regardless of status? Or is it that it's OK to assail status when the status holder is white but when the status holder is black then...


And what is it with people who think that somehow being cooperative with police is somehow akin to bucking under an overseer's whip? WTF? Some blogger said that Gates' other option was to apologize for being black and in the house. No, no need to apologize to a police officer. Simply take control of the situation by understanding that most police are not corrupt and looking to give you a hard time. They have a job to do and that the calmer you are, the faster it will end. Let me explain how this whole thing could have been resolved:


(Gates at door): Excuse me officer what's the problem? (hand in clear view).

Officer: There was a report of a break in progress.

Gates: Oh I see, probably someone saw me having difficulty with my door. Hold on while I get my ID for you.

Officer: Ok sir. Is there anyone else here?

Gates: Yeah the cab driver who was helping me out. (goes and gets the ID)

Gates: Here you go [hand over ID]. Thanks for looking out for the neighborhood. Anything else I can help you with.

Officer: I need to call this in on the radio.

Gates: No problem. I'm on the phone with Harvard, if you need anything else give me a shout.

Officer: Thanks.


[after the officer leaves]


Gates on phone with Cornell West: Some cracker called the police on me! They still hate that I'm HNIC in here.


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Monday, July 20, 2009

911 is Joke in Your Town


So news has it that Skip Gates, Dude from Harvard was arrested for disorderly conduct. Sounds bad doesn't it. To read the local twits on the matter you'd think he was unfairly accosted in the manner that Wise Intelligent or Paradise Grey was. But no, that's not apparently the case.

According to the Google report on the matter:


Cambridge police were called to the home Thursday afternoon after a woman reported seeing a man "wedging his shoulder into the front door as to pry the door open," according to a police report.



An officer ordered the man to identify himself, and Gates refused, according to the report. Gates began calling the officer a racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America."



Officers said they tried to calm down the 58-year-old academic, who responded, "You don't know who you're messing with," according to the police report.



Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance and arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26.


Let me put this in perspective for a minute. Long ago I had a 1995 Dodge Neon. Unfortunately I was able to lock the car door without removing the keys from the ignition. And so I was locked out. It took me a while to realize that I could actually get into the vehicle without breaking the glass as that model did not have fill door frames and one could pull the glass outwards and slip a clothes hangar into the window and pull on the door handle to open the door. It did bother me that here I was in broad day light committing a class 2 felony and nobody cared. I suppose that if I was a thief, I would have had a nice night.


So going back to Gates, would you actually like to have the police NOT respond to a call from a citizen who believes that your property is being broken into? Strains of PE's 911 is a joke, go through my head. Particularly the part about 911 not showing up. Now I think Mr. Gates suffered here from big head syndrome. As if he was supposed to be recognized on sight by police. But then again, I don't know the area. For all I know there are very few people who live in that area, negroes and all known on sight and the police have been instructed on how to recognize them on sight. Sure.


In my opinion, Gates should have thanked the officers for looking out for his property, explained that his ID was in the house (assuming it was) and that he's gladly show it to them when he got in his house. In the meanwhile, I'm sure that one or more of his neighbors were home and he could have walked over to one of them and had them tell the officer that he did in fact live at that location.


I don't know about you but I like the idea of police (or other emergency service people) showing up promptly when an emergency call is placed.


Now if anything Gates ought to have a potential problem with the woman who called in on him. Did she live in the area? Perhaps she was motivated by seeing an "African-American" breaking into a house. Or maybe Gates was seriously looking like a person doing a home invasion.


One can suppose that the police ought not to have arrested Mr. Gates. But then again that assumes that the police ought not investigate potential felonies when called, ought not try to establish the identity of the home owner. You'll note that there is no mention of abusive language by the officers. I'm sure Gates would have mentioned that. No racial slurs. No Sean Bell type, shoot first investigate after. Seems to be police procedure vs. large ego. Which was clearly not the case with Wise Intelligence or Paradise Grey.


[update]

According to the NY Times

He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes when Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department appeared at his door and asked him to step outside...

According to his lawyer, Prof. Gates told the sergeant that he lived there and showed his Massachusetts driver’s license and his Harvard identification card but Sergeant Crowley still did not seem to believe that Professor Gates lived in the home, a few blocks from Harvard Square. At that point, his lawyer, Professor Gates grew frustrated and asked for the officer’s name and badge number.


Ogletree is giving hearsay so his story isn't admissible. But it doesn't square with the original story on Google, where there is a refusal to ID first and no mention of ID being produced. Oddly, Gates, having returned from China, ought to have had his passport with him, Odd that he isn't reported to have offered that as ID as well (Not that he should have had to). Is it unreasonable for an officer who gets a report of 3 men looking like they are breaking in to a house to ask the person who is in the house to step outside?

[update2] Charges dropped against Gates. Expected: Story still in flux:
Police said the 58-year-old Gates was arrested after he yelled at an officer, accused him of racial bias and refused to calm down after the officer demanded Gates show him identification to prove he lived in the home.


I suppose we'll never know whether the accusation of bias happened before or after the demand for ID and production of ID which is the pivot point here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And Who's Fault Is That?

From the Detroit News:

"We're black and he got our vote quite frankly because many of us voted for him because he is black," said Karsem McCurtis on Tuesday, whose family owns Conner's Food, just a stone's throw from the Wayne County Community College campus on Detroit's east side. As it happened, Obama chose Macomb Community College in Warren to unveil a national education initiative.

"It would have been good for him to come," said McCurtis, whose building is painted with an Obama mural. "But he's got our vote locked up, and he's not going to get much play coming to a black city full of corrupt politicians."


So you voted for the man because he was black rather than because he wooed your vote with policy promises and the like, and now you feel bad? Who's fault is that?

Speak The Truth, Shame The Left:


It makes for good speechifying to act as though all criminality began with Bush and -- particularly these days -- Cheney, but that is extreme intellectual dishonesty. The fact is that many of Bush's worst policies (now being highlighted by leading Democrats) were based in some form or another in a Clinton-initiated policy, or were supported by the Democrats in Congress with their votes.


Via Alternet

Obama Has Sympathy For Shot Police Officers

Stated on TV in the aftermath of today's Jersey City shooting. No such commentary for slain civilians at the hands of police though. I suppose I'm the only person who cares about such things though.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RE:Light, Bright and Still Black (Unconventional Wisdom)

On occasion people write about being a "light skinned" black person or about not being an "African-American". They usually all make the same mistake of confusing the sociological and region specific definition of "race" with it's genetic counterpart which is better referred to as "breed." The most annoying part is when people who are otherwise extremely observant and intelligent, lose their cool when confronted with the clear contradictions used in their discussion of the subject matter. The latest of this would be the Black Snob.

Black Snob posted a piece entitled: Light, Bright and Still Black (Unconventional Wisdom) . It starts badly:

I didn't know I was "light-skinned."

Or should I say, I'm not light-skinned but people have informed me one way or another of what I am based on what they are. I am, in fact, not lighter than a paper bag. I am not cafe au latte. I'm a rich, reddish brown that's lighter than most black people, but too dark to be truly considered among the what traditionally was viewed as light-skinned -- which for me is damn near white.


Now the first and major contradiction of the post is that if you've seen her Twitter icon, she is in fact light skinned. How she looks herself dead in the face and comes away with such a clear contradictory conclusion is not for me to explain. BUt her explanation does clue the reader in to how this tortured thinking manages to surface.

The Snob doesn't give us an age range for the "I didn't know" declaration but given the relatively brief experience I've had with child raising in which the child was quite a bit lighter than both of us (his father is light, his mother is not), at 4 he was very much aware that he was light skinned, and made a point of stating that he wished he was darker. I point this out to really put a lie to the oft repeated notion that kids don't notice skin color (among other things). They may not make commentary on it, but they do notice these things. And yes, people (and kids) will gladly point out your differences to you if the situation calls for it (teasing etc.) irrespective of color since for every "yella" joke, there are multiple "You-so-black" jokes, the contradiction of which ought to be a study in and of itself. For the life of me I cannot understand the logic of dissing a black person by saying their momma is so black as if a black person's momma was not supposed to be black. But that's not the point here. What The Snob sets out in this paragraph is to define "black" as some amorphous thing all of which is relative to "white". Note her references to paper bags, the milky coffee, the "too dark to be" references. They all define "blackness" as a thing relative to whiteness. Ergo she is black because she fails to fall into the category of whiteness.

By doing this she simply re-affirms the concept of a white pureness, untainted by blackness, and of a blackness that is a mix of everything. Something that could easily be written by a Grand Wizard of the Klan. Not that she's Klanish, but the sentiment is almost as old as the country itself: blackness as a "mongrellzed" and "bastardized" and "unrefined" group wholly apart from pure whiteness (of Teutonic, Aryan or Saxon descent). As if to re-enforce her commitment to this white supremacist definition of whiteness The Snob continues:

All of this though is irrelevant as no matter what you look like, in America, if you're black you are black. This isn't Brazil or some other South American country where there are a billion color based delineations to separate the blue black Wesley Snipes-ish brothers and sisters from the Wentworth Miller-Grady Sizemore's of the world. This is America, where Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an unapologetically black man, is a dead ringer for white man and former Republican Bob Barr. Did Wright get any sort of pass for his negrotude because he was two steps from passing? Or for that matter, does any black person?


Lets take the initial sentence:
All of this though is irrelevant as no matter what you look like, in America, if you're black you are black.


Well in America as oppose to Brazil, which she contrasts, there is the idiotic and thoroughly white supremacist idea of the "One Drop Rule". The entire purpose of the One Drop Rule is to re-enforce the concept of white purity and prior to the passage of the 14th Amendment, to ensure that white peoples bred property (that being the babies the 'masters" created) were still property, capable of being bought and sold. The One Drop Rule was not created by black folk for their own benefit. It wasn't created to create some manner of black unity. No it was simply a means of legally enforcing a racial caste system. A system that exist until this very day and remains unchallenged by the very people it has been created to marginalize. Let's look at the Brazilian system:

The Brazilian system was motivated by the ideas as the American one. However because of the vast numbers of Native Americans in that area of the world and the relatively small numbers of whites, that area of the world had to develop a system that included natives and the varied "breeds" you'd come across. Also, Portugal and spain has a history with black folk prior to the slave trade that reflected in varied "kinds" of white people there that are clearly mixed. So it is unsurprising that they would institute a system that placed higher value on those who were higher up the "white scale" and that recognized varying levels of mixture. The motive was still the same: white on top and black on the bottom. except in this case there is a significant incentive to "move up." by "breeding up" as it is put, because it had (and has) a direct relationship to one and one's children's ability to move up in society.

Mind you, in America the same thing operates, but on an largely unspoken level, an idea that occasionally breaks cover in Hip Hop interviews and songs disrespecting black women and such "sly" references to the innate beauty of light skinned babies. The relatively high premium placed on light skinned African-American women is undeniable. The common wish of African-American women to have girl children with "good hair" (you know, for combing) is well known. So is the common hope that the babies aren't too dark (whatever that means). But I digress and besides The Snob does cover some of this ground in her piece.

This is America, where Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an unapologetically black man, is a dead ringer for white man and former Republican Bob Barr.


Well Rev. Wright, isn't black. No offense intended and he knows it and has commented upon it which has been aired a number of times. But what is more important is that it is entirely possible that Bob Barr isn't exactly all that "white" either since we do know that every now and then those able to pass, did so, in which case their children would be labelled "white" upon birth. And there are a lot of white families with cases like that. Many simply do not know it.

it's just an assumption that light made right for you, even if in the eyes of most racists you were no different from your darker brethren.


Well actually recent research underscores that which we've known for a long time: Light skinned "African-Americans" are assumed to be more intelligent than dark skinned African-Americans. That includes racist, who have always enjoyed pointing out that the brightest "negroes" were mixed, as well as other black people. I won't even get into the fact that aside from sports, most of the earliest black "firsts" were those who were not so black. Think that an accident and I know a couple of bridges across the East River I'd like to interest you in. Even Good Morning America's latest Doll Experiment showed how early the ideas of negative references to blackness develop in children.

But in any case let me get at the heart of the problem with The Snob's piece: After spending so much time delineating the issue of colorism in African-American communities she still doesn't get it:

I've had arguments with people who did not believe I could be "fully black" with hair as long as mine.


Well see I'm not going to get into singular phenotypes, but the long relatively straight hair is, generally a dead giveaway that one is mixed. You'll note I said "relatively straight" not "relatively curly." had I used the latter term then I would have made straight hair "normative". Other dead giveaways are hazel eyes, green eyes and light skin and generally...generally, narrow noses. It's not hard to tell. Look, the fact is that the vast majority of African-Americans originate from West Africa, from the Ngola region (current Angola) up through Senegal. We know what these people look like. Those are the originals. You wanna know how far off the mark you are, just do a quick comparison (and pay no attention to body shape or height). The fact of the matter is that while all black people are African-American (generally speaking), not all African-Americans are black. African-Americans are in a sense an ethnic group in America which I think directly contradicts the claim made be The Snob. It has a shared history and a general shared sub-culture in America. That is the reason why a Rev. Wright, Adam Clayton Powell, and Thurgood Marshall can be considered "black" as in African-American just the same as Clarence Thomas, even though many of us would prefer to relieve ourselves of him.

Unlike the claim made by The Snob, that "lightness" is some random scale, it isn't. There are clear genetic codings that are responsible for it that are directly tied to ones parentage and lineage. What is random and mutable are the attitudes that The Snob discusses. These attitudes are also my reasoning for being more and more clear about who and what is "black" and "white". Had those things been clear, such thing The Snob experienced would never have happened. Why compare skin color with a white classmate if you both understand and acknowledge that you both share common and recent ancestors? But The Snob doesn't quite get it. If she had instead of writing:

Trapped by my own fate of being born black and loathed by some for it. There is no better. There's only different.


she would have written: Trapped of my own fate of being born mixed and loathed by some for it. There is no better. there's only different.

That 4 year old who wished he was dark? I never fell into telling him he was black. That would have been telling him to lie to himself. Rather I let him know that there was nothing wrong with him. He's different and that it was OK. We loved him just as much. Hopefully he'll not be writing a piece like The Snob. Or if he does it won't get defensive about what people rightfully observe but instead simply state what it is, is what it is. He wont add to the confusion, rather he'll just tell it like it is. And we'd all be better off.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Skirt Wearing Boys


You know I saw this sight yesterday that really bothered me. By now I've become somewhat and unfortunately accustomed to seeing young (and some not so young) black men walking around with their pants in various states of falling. Adding insult to injury is the fact that a lot of these "men" are wearing belts. Belts. The purpose of belts is to keep one's pants at one's hips. So it's bad enough that the pants are in many cases completely off the wearers ass but in addition, they are wearing a belt.


But that's not really what bothered me. No, this time this boy walked past me as I was waiting to get onto a street. There was something odd about his gait. I couldn't place it at first. But as he passed my windshield it hit me. His pants (with belt of course) would not stay up and so he was holding the fronts of the legs up. You know what that looks like? This:


Cv01 Tcm18-64735


Notice how the woman is holding up the front of her dress. This is exactly how this "man" was walking. I suppose at some point in the future they'll be walking around like this:


Picsmallgirl-759812



This needs to stop.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Ye Old "No Blacks in The Pool" Show

And so I see a twit regarding black children booted from a private pool at The Valley Swim Club.

Now I understand that the club is a private club and therefore is legally free to accept whomever they want on whatever grounds they want. So I'm not going to be calling for lawsuits etc. In fact I'm not as bothered by the policy as I am by the following:

"When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool," Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. "The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately."


Now assuming that the above is true one has to ask what part of swim class includes the "negro in the pool" evacuation technique? Does this club actually spend time teaching these kids of the dangers of Negroes in pools and how to make an effective escape lest the Negro dirt (you know that special Negro dirt that many a public pool had to be drained of back in the not so long day) get on them?

I wonder if the kids were also taught to immediately make for the showers for decontamination.

As a swimmer, I really want to know, because I can tell you that when people get into the pool one does not naturally have an urge to exit the pool. Heck even if people are doing belly flops and having splash fights, I've never felt the urge to evacuate the pool.

And, what pray tell do these children do at public beaches, were all manner of Negroes can be found? I suppose they try to go to beaches in places like Cape May, NJ where the Negro count is low.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Honduras

Funny how people changed their twitter icons to green for alleged election fraud in Iran, but apparently have ad little if anything to say about Honduras. There's even a Boxee app "where is their vote" up, but yet to be seen is the "Where is their president" app. I won't hold my breath. A nice piece in Counterpunch in regards to our neighbor to the south:



The faithful media sows the seeds: in both Venezuela 2002 and Honduras 2009, the national and international media prepared the ground for an eventual coup by distorting the truth and calling into question the democratic credentials of the president. In Honduras, this has taken the form of misrepresenting Zelaya’s constitutional proposal as a re-election bid, a line which was and continues to be shamelessly pushed in the media, when the referendum question had nothing to do with re-election at all, but was instead a completely legal mandate to transforming the existing constitution (itself a holdover from the far-right governments of the 1980s). Some nominally of the left repeated this tasty morsel of misinformation, while Fox News’ Shep Smith argued today that not only had Zelaya sought to extend his term, but to do so would have been “treasonous” (an interesting perspective on constitutional amendments, to say the least).

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Some Other Points on Iran

From Counterpunch:

What is striking is that most of the postings were in English, not Persian, begging the question: who was the target audience of these tweets? Similarly, why were the protesters holding signs saying, “Where is my vote?” in English, rather than the language spoken by the voters of Iran?



I asked the same question in a comment at the NY Times website.


But a study by the website, www.chartingstocks.net, concluded that during three days after the election, the overwhelming majority of Tweets (over 30,000), were manipulated through a handful of accounts; all created within one day of the elections on June 13. It is interesting to note that only 0.6 percent of Twitter accounts are used by Iranians (as compared to 44 percent by Americans).


Interesting indeed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Pirates of the Mediterranean

Paul Craig Roberts hits one out the park again:

On June 30, the government of Israel committed an act of piracy when the Israeli Navy in international waters illegally boarded the “Spirit of Humanity,” kidnapped its 21-person crew from 11 countries, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead MaGuire, and confiscated the cargo of medical supplies, olive trees, reconstruction materials, and children’s toys that were on the way to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza. The “Spirit of Humanity,” along with the kidnapped 21 persons, is being towed to Israel as I write.

the question that immediately comes to mind is why did not the United States send sufficient US Navy escort to see the “Spirit of Humanity” safely through international waters to Gaza? We send ships against Somalian pirates, why not against Israeli ones?

Why The New Haven Decision is Good for Black Folk

I don't know about you, "you" being other black readers, but I cannot stand when people assume that because I'm black that I:

Grew up poor: I did but that's not really relevant.
Play Basketball: I don't.
Can Dance...Like MJ: I Don't. I "rent a tile" as a friend of mine put it.
Have a big extremity: Well, I don't want to brag...
Don't know what I'm doing: I'm a genius don't you know?


That last point is something I've had to deal with a number of times. I have had many instances where people simply assumed they knew more than I did on a particular thing with no other apparent reason being that I was black. I kid you not. Whether it's having my employment credentials questioned or a particular point of fact on a subject. To the look of surprise I get when I'm met, cause the "voice" didn't match the face. And this goes beyond the ever present: He's here because we needed a black face, attitude that many a black person can attest to. It's as if there is a biological blind spot that certain people have when there are clearly incompetent white people employed and who think they are The Shit (tm).

Anyway, the point being that as Dr. Bill Cosby pointed out a few years ago, people like to drape a number of negative associations with black people and then pander to them based on these associations. One of the most pernicious and insulting one is that black people can't do well on tests, particularly written exams. And I say "can't" because "cannot" denotes dome kind of innate ability rather than something that is acquired or the result of some mutable external influence, This is truly at the heart of the New Haven case. If you look at all the information presented there, you will note a couple of things:

1) The City of New Haven went to great lengths to make a "fair" test. From the decision:

After reviewing bids from various consultants, the City
hired Industrial/Organizational Solutions, Inc. (IOS) to
develop and administer the examinations, at a cost to the
City of $100,000. IOS is an Illinois company that special-
izes in designing entry-level and promotional examina-
tions for fire and police departments. In order to fit the
examinations to the New Haven Department, IOS began
the test-design process by performing job analyses to
identify the tasks, knowledge, skills, and abilities that are
essential for the lieutenant and captain positions. IOS
representatives interviewed incumbent captains and
lieutenants and their supervisors. They rode with and
observed other on-duty officers. Using information from
those interviews and ride-alongs, IOS wrote job-analysis
questionnaires and administered them to most of the
incumbent battalion chiefs, captains, and lieutenants in
the Department. At every stage of the job analyses, IOS,
by deliberate choice, oversampled minority firefighters to
ensure that the results—which IOS would use to develop
the examinations—would not unintentionally favor white
candidates.
With the job-analysis information in hand, IOS devel-
oped the written examinations to measure the candidates’
job-related knowledge. For each test, IOS compiled a list
of training manuals, Department procedures, and other
materials to use as sources for the test questions. IOS
presented the proposed sources to the New Haven fire
chief and assistant fire chief for their approval. Then,
using the approved sources, IOS drafted a multiple-choice
test for each position. Each test had 100 questions, as
required by CSB rules, and was written below a 10th-
grade reading level. After IOS prepared the tests, the City
opened a 3-month study period. It gave candidates a list
that identified the source material for the questions, in-
cluding the specific chapters from which the questions
were taken.
IOS developed the oral examinations as well. These
concentrated on job skills and abilities. Using the job-
analysis information, IOS wrote hypothetical situations to
test incident-command skills, firefighting tactics, interper-
sonal skills, leadership, and management ability, among
other things. Candidates would be presented with these
hypotheticals and asked to respond before a panel of three
assessors.
IOS assembled a pool of 30 assessors who were superior
in rank to the positions being tested. At the City’s insis-
tence (because of controversy surrounding previous ex-
aminations), all the assessors came from outside Connecti-
cut. IOS submitted the assessors’ resumes to City officials
for approval. They were battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs,
and chiefs from departments of similar sizes to New Ha-
ven’s throughout the country. Sixty-six percent of the
panelists were minorities, and each of the nine three-
member assessment panels contained two minority mem-
bers. IOS trained the panelists for several hours on the
day before it administered the examinations, teaching
them how to score the candidates’ responses consistently
using checklists of desired criteria.


So let's summarize here:

a) To qualify for either captain or lieutenant one had to have a High School diploma but the test was written to a 10th grade reading level. In other words, sitting in that exam, the words used were at least three levels of education lower than the minimum requirement to be promoted. Yet there are people who, with a straight face, want to claim that there is something inherently unfair with expecting black folk to do well on such an exam. Instead grown black men ought to be given a chance to "demonstrate" their abilities by acting out scenarios. Clearly they are not expected to be able to imagine scenarios and imagine and translate that imagining into intelligible speech or writing like other people the world over. The old form of that argument was when teachers told Jr. that it was cute that he wanted to be an engineer but he should learn to "work with his hands."

b) The City of New Haven gave all the candidates a list of the source material for the questions including the specific chapters from which the questions would be taken. One witness testified that the books were either too expensive (~$500) and/or that the books were on back order and not available until about a month before the test. Furthermore that white firefighters were able to obtain books from family members who already had the source material. Now I would agree that this would be a particularly troublesome situation. However, the City, to my knowledge did not make such a claim when it tossed the test. Had the city said that the preparatory material was not available to all candidates and therefore those without the material were at a clear disadvantage to those who did have access to the material and had tossed the exam out on those grounds, I believe that they may have prevailed. So the question would be, how many of the black firefighters had access to the material? Did the Latino that made a high enough grade to be considered for immediate promotion have access to this material? These are valid questions which apparently were not addressed. And in the court, the argument not made is the argument not considered.

c) The panelists for the oral portions were specifically set up so that "minorities" were the majority of the panelists. Though it is now documented by the Academy of Management Journal, that "minorities" also have a tendency to rate white males higher on various scales of competence even when there is no difference in behavior, the odds are wildly against the results that occurred here. Furthermore; the city had gone out of its way to avoid problems from earlier exams by having panelists from outside the state who were of higher rank than those the tests were a screen for.

So we have to note that overall the city of New Haven made an extraordinary attempt to make an exam that fell within the collective agreement with the firefighters union and that went to address issues from the previous exam. Therefore on it's face the city had covered it's bases in terms of Title VII.


2) The results:

Candidates took the examinations in November and
December 2003. Seventy-seven candidates completed the
lieutenant examination—43 whites, 19 blacks, and 15
Hispanics. Of those, 34 candidates passed—25 whites, 6
blacks, and 3 Hispanics. 554 F. Supp. 2d, at 145. Eight
lieutenant positions were vacant at the time of the exami-
nation. As the rule of three operated, this meant that the
top 10 candidates were eligible for an immediate promo-
tion to lieutenant. All 10 were white. Ibid. Subsequent
vacancies would have allowed at least 3 black candidates
to be considered for promotion to lieutenant.

Forty-one candidates completed the captain examina-
tion—25 whites, 8 blacks, and 8 Hispanics. Of those, 22
candidates passed—16 whites, 3 blacks, and 3 Hispanics.
Ibid. Seven captain positions were vacant at the time of
the examination. Under the rule of three, 9 candidates
were eligible for an immediate promotion to captain—7
whites and 2 Hispanics. Ibid.
[emphasis mine]

You'll note in Ginsberg's dissent, she felt that the petitioners did not have a "right" to promotions. The highlighted text shows that 3 blacks who had passed the exam would have been considered for promotions for lieutenant the next time the position opened up. This is, in my view, significant. It is clear that there was a desired outcome (at least one black person in the "immediate promotion" group) and therefore an assumption that some black person has a "right" to promotion. After all, at least three blacks would have been promoted between the time of the exam and the SCOTUS decision yesterday (that assumes three lieutenant positions opened up). It is clear that had at least one black candidate existed then the court case would not exist. In other words, Ginsberg et al. is saying that blacks have the right to promotion above and beyond any other group. Now I'm flattered that Ginsberg thinks so highly of me, and I'd love to work for whatever company she happens to run. And I'm sure that along the lines of power advocates, that is a nice position to have, but legally, that position simply cannot fly. It's one thing entirely for an organization to have an affirmative action policy that seeks out qualified black candidates for a jobs and wants to make a diverse or "reflective" organization. Heck, The organization can want to make up for past discrimination, but to:

1) Change a test to make it easier for blacks to pass because well, you know, they can't do certain types of tests.
2) Give, toss, and re-give exams in order to get some kind of result (as Ginsberg suggested).

Is simply outrageous. I have no doubt that there are (and going to be) numerous opinion pieces with those with far more connects than I (and I haven't read them in order to not pollute this piece), which will say that the sky is falling for black people seeking employment. I disagree. The lesson here is pretty clear, Black organizations must continue to press for clear, disclosed and equal employment opportunities. Prospective black employees must make sure to meet those qualifications. Blacks seeking promotional opportunities, ought to do their due diligence. In this particular case, that means that those blacks who wanted to test to become Lieutenant ought to have started prepping for the exam long before the test dates were announced. That also means that black firefighter organizations ought to be at the forefront of mentoring their membership and securing study materials. These organizations and individuals could have easily pooled resources to purchase books and then photocopy them (though there are clear copyright concerns with this, it is done often in schools). They could have formed study groups.

For me, this comes down to expectations. Here's a retired Michigan captain:

Vincent Lewis, a fire program
specialist for the Department of Homeland Security and a
retired fire captain from Michigan. Lewis, who is black,
had looked “extensively” at the lieutenant exam and “a
little less extensively” at the captain exam. He stated that
the candidates “should know that material.” Id., at
A1048, A1052. In Lewis’s view, the “questions were rele-
vant for both exams,” and the New Haven candidates had
an advantage because the study materials identified the
particular book chapters from which the questions were
taken. In other departments, by contrast, “you had to
know basically the . . . entire book.”


I have to say, as someone who works at an institution of higher learning; I see students who simply do not put in the effort required. I know of teachers who simply do not study and expect to pass a test or depend upon a curved grade to pass. Students who have exams that have questions taken directly from study material and still give the wrong answer and due to the fact that the teacher often gives the "complementary" question (that is a question that is the same material but has the opposite answer such that if one knows the material one has basically been given a free point), which the student(s) also miss simply because they did not study or study properly. Ultimately, in my experience, the ones who pass the tests and score the highest are a combination of those who know the most and those who want it the most. Sometimes the ones who want it the most are not the brightest, but they compensate with effort (such as that dyslexic individual).

In the end then the message sent is clear: You have the right to equal opportunity not equal outcome. Opportunity is the employer's job, the outcome is yours. This is good for black folk because it underscores the old school mentality that we must put 100% into our efforts to our own success rather than expect people to dumb down, or make special preparations for us as if we are incapable of doing what others have done. The former leads to higher levels of respect, the latter leads only to disrespect.