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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The police are racist.

Edit: I can't believe I forgot to include anything about racial profiling. It exists. That's why all cops are racist. They're required to be.

All I want for Chanukah is an end to white supremacy. #Chanukah Action to End Police Violence


The following is in response to comments on my Facebook post calling for a protest against systemic racism. Check them out to understand the context.


If what you are using is free then you are the product. For example Google and Facebook make money by selling its users' data to corporations who buy advertising space. We the readers of the news are in fact the product that the news networks sell to the corporations that buy advertising space in the news. Basic laws of supply and demand say that the news will fit the demands of the corporations who are buying the product. This Propaganda Model implies corporate interest, making the media biased towards such power that is "protected and served" by the cops (Manufacturing Consent, Herman and Chomsky). Take for example The Guardian, which I cite a lot. It is critical of the United States and is losing money. Given that politicians cannot get elected without corporate money, it is safe to say corporations effectively control both the media and the government, which also controls the police. That's the theory, empirically confirmed by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting that the media is biased against blacks, not cops.

This does not contradict the distraction and sensationalism in the media but rather reinterprets it. Electronic media, being cheap, instantaneous and worldwide, inherently leads to sensationalism as information competes for viewers. Corporations capitalize on our attention, profit from our procrastination, institutionalize a rhetoric over logic, sound-bite driven media conducive to bad argumentation and uncritical thinking, exclude rational content, isolate news out of its context, and trap us into addictive spirals of distraction. In a deluge of infotainment, we become passive receptacles of trivial information incapable of active participation in democracy. (Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman)

Media coverage of the incidents of the past few months focused on the particular dead black person and the cop who shot him. Not much on the militarization of American police, or the fact that black people get wasted every day in America. Or that they have been shut out of the economy and are desperate. No, just focus this single killing. Have bullshit commentary from cops about whether or not lethal force was necessary. Distraction, in other words.

There's no historicity in the reporting. Just an individualization of the case. Which, like the expectation of violence after the verdict, is a red herring. When people's first move is to criticize looting, which has been minimal, they deliberately avoid the talk about both the criminalization of blackness and militarization of the police. Put differently, they position capital above human lives.

A common refrain is that the media has a liberal bias -- yet this is a myth. The logic goes that violence gets sensationalized to make us think that we live in a very violent society, which is fear mongering that will be used as an excuse for more government regulations to keep us safe, as if these encroaches on our freedoms and will lead towards a totalitarian government. While it is true the media sensationalizes violence, what's wrong with this argument is that it ignores the kind of violence sensationalized: black on white crime, to make us fear black people.

Thus the media is a part of systemic racism that permeates throughout all societal institutions like education, capitalist industry, academia, law, and, of course, the police, all of which which are what these protests are about. In fact, there is this concept among activists called “intersectionality” that connects all these different axes of oppression under the same root cause and analyzes their relations to each other, like how many cops oppressed as working-class does not excuse the police as an institution. It is not the protesters that ignore the context and focus on the police but rather the culprit is the media and its representation of protesters.

Meanwhile, you claimed that the media "inundates black youth with the message that cops are out to get them" as a distraction from the real source of oppression, the "tremendous socioeconomic injustice that keeps the black population in poverty." If this were true that blacks follow what the media tells them then they would largely trust the media. However, 75% of blacks think the media does not accurately cover their community, which negates your claim. Blacks distrust the police significantly more than whites do, so if their views aren't coming from the media then that leaves their lived experiences for us to listen to, which is more accurate than the bias coming from whites and the media.

Why, then, are blacks violent towards cops? Let's go back to your original rebuttal.


Your first paragraph

Adjusted for crime rates, black teens are still vastly more likely to be killed by police than whites, however the data is incomplete since some police departments do not bother recording such killings, as if black lives don't matter. Nonetheless, a single scientific study doesn't have to account for the context of each situation, nor should it. That requires other studies, not better science, like the ones that show violence is a symptom of poverty, thanks to the decades of dedicated study from the likes of W.E.B. du Bois a hundred years ago and up through to today. And poverty, like slavery, is not an accident (Nelson Mandela). It is the manifestation of capitalist exploitation of labor and oppression of workers.

It’s great that you asked the question “why,” why do police kill more blacks than whites, and discovered the reason is blacks are more violent than whites. But have you asked yourself why blacks are more violent than whites? If you're stepping on someone's neck and they are clawing at your ankle trying to get you off, are you going to get angry at them for clawing at you or step off their neck? This isn’t to justify violence against cops but to at least understand why it occurs, from then we can say the high rates of police killings are not justified.

I’m not going to criticize violence against the cops though because that can be used as fodder for further oppression of blacks. Activists from Gandhi to King follow this belief as well. “Gandhi made it clear that while he was opposed to murder under any circumstances, he also refused to denounce the murderer. ... It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all.” Moreover, growing up in a life that knows only violence one can expect that those suffering through it day to day will speak the same language of their oppressor, in a cathartic resistance that gives meaning to their existence (The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fannon).

Additionally, riots and looting have in fact worked for the oppressed throughout history. Blacks bodies used to be considered property, so the act of looting was literally liberation from oneself. Since property is theft (see end) that police protect in service to the capitalists then it makes sense to loot the white-owned chains that infest black communities, to take back what was stolen from them. If whites own most of the wealth due to a racist system then the police defending it are complicit. There’s just so many ideas in this essay, “In Defense of Looting,” read this if you are going to read one link I cite.

The police shootings are "justified" by a system that criminalizes black life reminiscent of the period that effectively made it a crime to be black in public between civil war to the civil rights era (Slavery by Another Name, Douglas Blackmon). Just a couple decades of freedom in the middle of the century gave way to a return of racial oppression as the white supremacy increased their usage of the police as their pawns. It's funny how tons of whites accept how absurd the almost half-century old drug war is yet turn a blind eye to how it's used for throwing blacks in prison or the grave despite similar drug use rates between blacks and whites (The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander; if there is just one book I would recommend it is this one because it caters specifically toward your privileged, progressively sheltered liberalism. Critics have called out its Eurocentrism, white-washing, and ignorance of black movements and capitalist white supremacy).

Consider that alcohol is far more lethal yet it is legal. Why are blacks dealing crack criminalized while Budweiser isn't? Answer: racism gives alcohol companies power and profit. Police protect the white-owned alcohol and tobacco industry and criminalize the drugs common among blacks.

This issue further intersects with the for-profit prison system in the United States that incarcerates more people per population than any other country in the world. Combined with the racist drug war that unfairly targets blacks, the prisons were filled with blacks. Now consider that many corporations employ prisoners at less than a dollar an hour wages, which is basically modern day slavery. These concentration camps provide free labor, subsidized by the state and our tax dollars, to corporations that crush small businesses (Are Prisons Obsolete?, Angela Davis).

Also, when so many blacks have prison on their records it's hard to get jobs and can no longer vote, so they have to resort to theft or selling drugs to make a living, i.e., survive. It's especially hard when so many blacks are in poverty, with school systems just as segregated now as they were fifty years ago (Savage Inequalities, Jonathan Kozol) and given far less than white and privileged schools. Consider that schools are funded by property taxes, so if a community has low property value then little money will go to their schools, ensuring that poor communities have poor schools.

And there's environmental racism, dumping toxins in low income neighborhoods of people of color, many of which lower IQ and lead to increased violence. Try resisting against the white-owned fossil fuel and chemical industry and the police will protect their masters.

To attribute the cause of their own violence [and poverty] to themselves is blaming the victim of an oppressive white supremacy. It is a talking point that has been used by racists over and over again throughout the centuries of colonization, whether the racists are aware they are being racist or not (Racism Without Racists, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva).

Racists are probably the last group of people to identify as racist since it requires a certain degree of self-awareness that racists do not have. Acting as a racist requires a lack of empathy for people of color and thus a lack of understanding of what one’s actions are doing. It is not an intentional act of evil but rather a manifestation of subconscious ideology. Not being racist is thus not an identity but rather a continuous process that requires self-reflection of one’s thoughts and behaviors. I for example try to check my privileges as a white, straight male by catching myself stereotyping and then analyzing how subconscious thoughts make me act and think in racist ways. Additionally, and more pertinent to this essay, I’m still learning about racism embedded within society’s legal and power structures. I am not “not racist” but rather I advocate “anti-racism.”

To extend this point, there is this concept in sociology called institutionalization of ideology. It is similar to how many Americans sincerely believed the US liberated Iraq and didn't care about the immense amounts of oil there. Or that people truly believe global warming is a myth despite copious evidence otherwise. Likewise, segregation was once considered "separate but equal." Legal and power structures propagate ideas throughout a system with it ultimately reinforcing itself. Delusion goes all the way to the top sometimes but that does not mean we should judge people only by their intents and excuse the effects. While you and many within the police force may not identify as racist you may just not realize the implicit and explicit racism that permeates throughout society and is internalized by both blacks and whites. And by defending the police you are defending a militant institution that defends a racist status quo whether the working class cops are aware of it or not.

Your second paragraph

Would you mind providing a source to any of this? Something besides the racist hosting, please?

I should point out that my source is not just another Guardian article. The author of the piece, Isabel Wilkerson, wrote The Warmth of Other Suns, a historical study about the black migrations out of the South and to the rest of the United States, which has won numerous awards for its historical accuracy and clarity. I personally messaged her asking her to back up the quote that I selected to which she responded, “The rate of police killings are in the links to the Guardian piece. The rate of lynchings during early decades of the 20th Century come from the 1933 book, The Tragedy of Lynching" by Arthur F. Raper, as cited in The Warmth of Other Suns.”

Regardless, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter if Darren Wilson is innocent or not. The recent killings however were the straw that broke the camel’s back after decades of racism coming from the police and multiple other angles. I’m deliberately ignoring the specifics of Ferguson here in order to emphasize the systemic oppression throughout society that the mass media leaves out. Perhaps you would benefit from reading up on what sociologists have to say about all this or at least read the letter signed by almost two thousand sociologists condemning the law enforcement, proposing a call to action and supporting Black Lives Matter, an activist group behind much of the organized resistance.

Your third paragraph

Iceland is well over 90% white and has a lower poverty rate than the United States, so it is not surprising that cops have only shot one person in their entire history. But even if they did have a higher crime rate it would not justify police killings. There are better tactics police can use to help their communities besides the violent methods of which they are trained, like using their words. Police in America used to do that to great effect but today are increasingly militarized as violence replaces argumentation as a tactic and so they are more likely to kill for trivial crimes. For example, Eric Garner, they guy who was choked to death in Staten Island for selling loose cigarettes could have been dealt with through rational discourse without resort to physicality. Too bad police aren’t trained in conversation, I imagine that creates a huge gap in the ability for police to empathize with their community.

Perhaps that is connected with the barring of people with high IQ’s from entering the police force. Stupid cops obey commands, don’t question what they are told, and don’t have as much capacity for using their words to deal with crime.

Finally, in regard to this study you shared that suggests police delay shooting at black people, well, that's all it is. Police delay shooting at blacks, so what? It does not mean the police as an institution are not racist, or do not have racist policies like racial profiling.

I hope I have made clear why the police are racist in the above paragraphs. Racism is a conversation that must continuous since it effects everybody and harms so many. I’m glad to have this civil conversation with you. Thank you for reading.

PS: other news I found.

Thought crime.

Domestic abuse among the police is horrifying, far worse than the NFL player abuses the media distracts us with.


1) "Property is theft" requires some background.

Capitalism, defined, is the private ownership of the means of production, a phrase that means one person or a small group of people owns and controls everything that goes into producing a product including the machines, mechanical processes, the land, and the labor of the workers. This manifests as the trio of capitalism: landowner, capitalist who pays the rent to the landowner, and the workers who sell their labor to the capitalist. Since the property the workers work on isn't theirs despite their labor it is effectively stolen from them.