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More on American race relations since the 2016  presidential elections

Friday, June 16, 2017
posted by Rita Handrich

This is a combination post of some of the ways race is coming up in 2017 (so far). It is easy to become numbed to how many shocking things are said on a regular basis now, but we agree with John Oliver in this NSFW video—this is not normal and we need to remember that! So today, here’s just a sampling of things that we need to pay attention to and not just accept as “normal”. These are not normal things. What is even more disturbing is these are stories all published within the past week.

A lawyer who stood up for what was right

Here’s a terrific example of an attorney (Christina Swarns) who stood up and refused to believe that race (being African-American in this case) should be used as an argument for future dangerousness. This NYT article includes an extended interview with her and comments on “Dr. Death”—an expert witness who “routinely would find the defendant posed a risk of future dangerousness, and thus should be executed” (because Black men are dangerous). It is a powerful read.

Being discriminated against can (literally) kill you

“A growing body of evidence suggests that racial and sexual discrimination is toxic to the cells, organs, and minds of those who experience it.” So says an article by Dhruv Khullar, MD that was recently published in the New York Times. For those who want “proof” rather than anecdotal evidence, this article is full of facts found through years of research.

Police are “less respectful” to Black drivers

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published a study showing police were less respectful to Black drivers than they were to White drivers. The studies were conducted using data from body cameras worn by 245 officers during 981 stops in April of 2014. This article is available open access on the web and here is a sentence from the abstract of the paper itself.

We find that officers speak with consistently less respect toward black versus white community members, even after controlling for the race of the officer, the severity of the infraction, the location of the stop, and the outcome of the stop.

Here are some quotes from the research article that were published on the Black Legal Issues website:

The paper included examples of remarks that were rated as disrespectful and respectful. “All right, my man. Do me a favor, just keep your hands on the steering wheel real quick,” was given a negative “respect score” of -0.51 partly because the driver was addressed informally and because of the directive on hand position.

Another phrase, “Sorry to stop you. My name’s Officer [name] with the Police Department,” received a score of 0.84, with the officer’s apology and introduction leading to the positive rating.

The study found that white motorists were 57 percent more likely to have heard one of the most respectful statements in the data set, while black community members were 61 percent more likely to have heard one of the least respectful.

That’s our word and you can’t have it back”

In this powerful video, Bill Maher gets schooled by Ice Cube over Maher’s use of a racist phrase on his HBO show. Since this is Ice Cube (the famous rapper and actor)—it is also NSFW (Not Safe For Work) due to coarse language. It is strongly emotional and touching as an explanation of why it is never okay for White people to use the N word. Symone Sanders (the activist and political commentator) also has some choice words for Mr. Maher about the lack of privilege experienced by the Black women he referred to so callously. Bill Maher, for a change, is speechless.

 

Rob Voigt, Nicholas P. Camp, Vinodkumar Prabhakaran, William L. Hamilton, Rebecca C. Hetey, Camilla M. Griffiths, David Jurgens, Dan Jurafsky, and Jennifer L. Eberhardt  (2017) Language from police body camera footage shows racial disparities in officer respect. PNAS 2017; published ahead of print June 5, 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1702413114

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