Feb 3, 2015

The Problems With the Differing Perceptions on Race Relations and How These Misunderstandings Get Us Nowhere

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The Fact of Biases

Many whites, by no means all, do not understand the Ferguson protest, largely because they do not see the larger context from which the protest has emerged.  Comments opposed to the protest are too focused on rioters behaving badly and completely neglect the decades old concerns of those that are against violence and engaged in peaceful protest for differences in treatment of some under the law .  Many whites are resistant to claims that race plays a role in the treatment of individuals by others, by society in general, or by government.  I think the scientific argument concerning life on another planet, serves as a great metaphor here.  While we may not be able to prove that life exists elsewhere outside of our solar system, it would be illogical to assume that in the vast expanse of space, that there is no other life.  Therefore, it is not a matter of "if", but "when".  Is it also illogical to assume that race rarely plays a role given our history?  Our Constitution, effective beginning 1789, is about 225 years old.  For one-third of that time, we enslaved people of color under the assumption that they had, nor deserved basic rights to life and liberty.  Although slavery ended in 1865, many states, both southern and northern, continued to deny basic rights to life and liberty, as well as political rights to blacks.  These denials came in the form of lynchings, all white juries, segregation, and requirements designed to make it nearly impossible for a black person to register to vote.  These policies only ended in the 1960s.  Therefore, for 75% of our history, an entire group of people who share a common skin color, have been denied basic freedoms and protections that many of us take for granted.  Moreover, it is often neglected that it was not the Southern racial majority that led the charge for change. Quite the opposite.  The South resisted.  Civil rights protections and an end to discriminatory policies such as segregated school and public accommodations were forced on the South by the courts, by protesters and by federal legislation enforcing compliance in the face of noncompliance.  Therefore, it is safe to argue that white perceptions of blacks inferiority did not disappear by 1970, 45 years ago.  Therefore, current generations alive today, that were also alive then, may continue to hold these perceptions; and may have passed them on to some extent to their children.  Racism is typically something that is taught.


White perceptions of inferiority of blacks, a perceptions that was fueled decades ago in order to support the enslavement and denial of other rights of blacks has now morphed into assumptions as to why such a large percentage of blacks live in poverty and why crime rates are much higher.
White feelings of black inferiority now are typically only seen in our "implicit biases", rather than manifested in more explicit ways as before.  In the decades following slavery, whites took on feelings of fear and intimidation.  Don't believe me?  If you are white, tune in to your gut reaction when you drive through a black community.  You say, "it is not because they are black, it is because the poor community also has a high crime rate".  That me be true, but the reaction continues to happen outside of black communities when coming across a young black man.   Many whites hold more sinister assumptions about a black man walking down the street, than they do about a white man.  Additionally, the same reaction does not tend to happen in poor white communities.  Many whites are more fearful of entering an impoverished black community, than they are of entering an impoverished white community, such as a run-down trailer park.  White feelings of fear and intimidation impact our responses to situations involving a black person.  We can debate the source of those feelings, but they exist nevertheless.  My comments are not an attempt to bash whites, only an attempt for us to be honest with ourselves so that we can progress further in our race relations.  Differences matter, whether we want them to or not.  We make assumptions of a group of a different color.  This goes for blacks towards white as well.  I had a black student inform me once that his mother, given the history of white treatment of blacks in this country, had a strong dislike for white people in general.  However, our assumptions due to differences are not isolated to differences in skin color (black, brown, white, etc.).  We make assumptions about people from other countries, and about the other gender.  It is human nature to try to determine facts based on the information we have first, which is how someone looks most of the time. 


There is a great deal of research, surveys, and other forms of data that support different outcomes overall between blacks and whites.  If you do not believe the data, or you do not want to see the significance and meaning of the data, you must stop reading here.  If you never believe the data, no matter the topic,  you are always right in your opinions, and as a consequence, can never be proven wrong.  For all others, the links below provide a small window into the world of data on race relations and civil rights.

Implicit Bias:

Recent research has found that differing treatment as a result of perceptions and subconscious biases begins as early as grade school:


Race Relations, Perceptions and Claims About Race in the Context of the Brown and Eric Garner Deaths

Back to the issue of the police.  Do Americans want a bigger police presence in areas of high crime?  Yes.  That is a shared feeling among whites and blacks. I would also argue that law abiding citizens living in impoverished areas where crime is high, being the group most victimized by that crime, would also want to see a greater police presence.  Surveys show that blacks, being most likely to be a victim of homicide, are much more likely to favor greater gun control.  What minorities in impoverished and crime ridden communities do not want is different treatment solely because of color or a stereotype.  In other words, stop and frisk itself is not unwanted in these areas.  Rather there is a desire to see that harassment is not common place when there is no evidence of a crime.  Or find that in place of "reasonable suspicion", there is only a preconceived idea that this person must be a criminal because they are black and wearing a hooded jacket, or that they must be an undocumented immigrant because they are Latino.  This would be similar to stereotyping individuals with tattoos as uneducated, unsophisticated and "up to no good".  Only, in addition to tattoos, having a dark skin color is a signal of potential wrongdoing and "thuggery".

Nevertheless, implied bias and stereotypes are not excuses to neglect fact and to run to the opposite corner, seeing nothing other than discrimination and racism.  This is unfair is the same way that it is unfair to attack anyone and anytime a claim is made that there is a racial component in an event or issue.  When the data says 60% face a certain kind of treatment, one side converts that to 100% and the other side converts that number to 0% in their underlying assumptions.  Both mistakenly, as a result, are going to neglect data, additional variables, facts, and context in their limited analysis of the issue or event. 

Calls for Action and Policy Prescriptions Based in Strategic Thinking, Reality and Objectivity

There are broader concerns, both racial and non racial, that are brought up by the recent deaths of unarmed citizens in incidents involving law enforcement .  Additionally, there are many concerns with policy that are not racially driven policies, but if addressed, would reduce a lot of the disproportionate mistreatment handed to black citizens.  For example: 1.  Better training of officers in perceiving threats 2. Body cameras.  3. Rethinking stand your ground laws so citizens do not see them as permission to take the law and public safety into their own hands when a threat does not exist or as a reason to shoot down anyone that steps on their property under any circumstances.  Perhaps murder convictions, like that of the white man who shot a young black women in the face through his front door when she was seeking help after a car accident, will help with this latter point.  So called "Stand Your Ground" laws of some states appear, according to coverage, to be particularly problematic for blacks.  To be objective, there is not much data on this, likely due to the newness of these laws.  

In thinking about incidents of deaths at the hands of law enforcement, we must take an objective and sensible approach.  Cops cannot always be held to the same standard as an individual.  If a cop does willfully kill someone out of malice, or extreme abuse, then yes, they must be punished the same as others.  However, we do not immediately throw murder convictions on cops every time they fire their gun and suspect dies, even when the suspect is unarmed.  When a suspect is running, perhaps towards law enforcement, whether they are armed or not, but they do not stop as instructed, don't we understand the need for law enforcement to shoot?  Police must make split second decisions in situations where they have a great deal of uncertainty.  Furthermore, don't we all understand that law enforcement rules of engagement must be different than that of an average citizen given the job and responsibility of the police?

I caution those that immediately jump to Michael Brown's defense, in the same way that I cautioned others not to re-actively take the side of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.  Those defending Brown at all cost and no matter the circumstances need to understand that the facts of Brown's case are detracting from the cause.  The Michael Brown case is not the best case to present the argument of disproportionate and discriminatory treatment of blacks by the police.  However, Brown is not Trayvon Martin and, and for that reason, it is unfair and lacking in objectivity to all on both sides to portray these cases as the same.  But it is hard to contain a ground swell of public opinion and community action once it has started; neither is it a good idea to waste the opportunity presented by the overwhelming reaction of the public to the Brown, and then to the Eric Garner case, among others.  It is very important that the political and community leaders educate the public on their perception, their concerns and their goals, being sure to separate this from the Brown case.  Bring up the Trayvon martin case, but educate followers in the complexities of the Brown case, openly acknowledging the possibility that Brown was a legitimate threat. Community leaders can do this while still point to a problem that should be addressed.   When using the hands up gesture be clear that it is representative of a larger problem, and be clear that there is an understanding that Brown may not, mostly likely did not, have his hands up.  He was unarmed but nonetheless he felt big and strong and unstoppable, something that he portrayed in the convenience store video of the robbery where he felt no need to have a gun in assaulting someone and taking what he wanted.  Brown felt empowered.  In summation, this movement cannot be all hear; it must be strategic and political as well.  Only that way will there be success in the long-run.

Political and community leaders cannot be angry at small gains, nor allow anger of their followers to go unnoticed.  They must educate the community about the legislative and democratic process.  Seemingly small gains, such as body cameras or others listed above, are indeed significant and meaningful gains. Democracy, especially within a federal structure such as ours with multiple governments enacting policy, is a big ship that moves slowly and cautiously.  Leaders and followers of both sides do all an injustice by perpetuating a narrative that is unrealistic and unfair.  Let's have a discussion because we need one, but let it be an honest and productive discussion.

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23 comments:

  1. I love how this blog encourages a greater “open minded” thinking. The author addresses racism through “implicit bias” and assumptions. While I originally questioned the implicit bias, the links for more data provided validity and helped my realization. I fully agreed with the statement, “Racism is typically something that is taught.” Unfortunately, racial discrimination is a lesson continuing to be passed down. However, I believe no situation is the same, and not all families pass down such thinking or tense up while driving through a black poverty community, and I think this blog captured that idea perfectly.
    The author encourages readers not to mistake Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown’s case as the same. I think a large issue is also that citizen’s don’t always do complete research before making accusations or false statements. If we continue to stay educated on subjects we are less likely to offend or make matters worse. The author also gave the public more realistic changes to focus on such as more intense training for officers, body cameras, and reconsideration of Stand Your Ground laws. All three are great suggestions and provide the public with perhaps more influential opportunities for change instead of symbolically raising their hands.
    GraceAnne Dukes

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  2. Prior to reading this blog, I possessed the notion that the state of this nation's problem with discrimination was majorly behind us and the current happenings were over-exaggerated by press and ignorant people looking for a reason to be angry. However, the author's explanation of implicit bias, the brief timeline of civil rights-- especially the, "for 75% of our history, an entire group of people who share a common skin color, have been denied basic freedoms and protections" statement, and the data and examples of today's inferior treatment of blacks because of discriminatory assumptions has opened my eyes to the real problem that still exists today. The simple fact that 1.9% of a city's population can make up 25.6% of a city's stop and frisks is grossly disturbing. However, the truly disturbing fact is that even reading that statistic, I seemed to mentally picture all white cops stopping all black civilians. I believe these discriminatory problems will persist until humans can think above the natural impulse to wholly generalize and can do so in a calm and objective manner. This blog communicated that to me.
    The author emphasize's the need for people to think through their generalizations, and propose's solutions through educating the public. I wholly agree. Progress cannot be made while ignorance is fueling anger. Though a degree of anger is important to persist action, it should come from an educated understanding and passion of the public. She write's, "Brown is not Trayvon Martin." I'm glad she points this out. I agree that in presenting these cases in light of the racial discrimination issue is important, but presenting them as the same is incorrect. The author's suggestions to train law enforcement better, require body cameras, and reconsider the Stand Your Ground laws are more proactive than simply symbolically raising hands, and when paired with the bettered education of the public may have the ability to push our country off the last slopes of racial discrimination and implicit bias.
    Meagan Moss

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    1. I strongly agree with the motive to add body cameras. It is not a matter of catching police interactions on film, because obviously that means nothing, but a matter of informing the officer that they are always being watched. Looking back at previous incidents like Eric Garner and Walter Scott, I've noticed that officers weren't aware of the fact that they were being filmed. Not being filmed gives them the perception that they can seemingly cover up procedures against protocol.

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  3. Ajah Ochoa GPC

    The first thing that comes to mind when reading this article is an essay titled "Black Men and Public Space" by Brent Staples. In the essay, the author gives numerous accounts in which he noticed that people, mainly women but also men, regardless of race, are fearful of him in public places. He notices their nervous expressions. They call security, get their dogs, police have held him at gunpoint and pull him over. The stereotype of black men is something that follows him everywhere despite the fact that he is not what people assume. He explains, "I now take precautions to make myself less threatening.” To make people feel at ease around him he whistles classical music, gives nervous people their space, and remains calm and congenial when he is pulled over. This essay is a great example of implicit bias. No matter what race or gender we all have implicit biases toward people in general, whether good or bad.
    While the fear and reactions are justified, the stereotypical assumptions are not. It is normal to be cautious when you feel threatened under reasonable suspicion or to take action when it is clear that unequal treatment is present; it is not normal to be cautious because you choose to judge a book by its cover or to assume that because something didn’t happen in your favor it’s because you’re black and all whites want to mistreat you.
    People often look at one end of the spectrum and neglect to consider the situation from all sides. When it comes to implicit bias we must remember that even blacks have implicit biases about each other and about whites. We must also remember that assumptions do not just magically appear. Although everyone who fits a certain description is not the stereotype, there is a reason people are categorized based on appearance. While not everyone is what their stereotype suggests, some serve as the verification of why the stereotype exists in the first place. Blacks are often portrayed as the stereotype in movies, TV shows, and music; therefor when they resemble these portrayals in real life, they are assumed to be the stereotype. This does not mean that people should be stereotyped, it just examines the reasons stereotypes exist.
    On one hand people are raised and taught to have certain biases and their environment has an effect on how they perceive this issue. On the other, just as some whites are often fearful of black men because they assume they are muggers, thugs, robbers, rapists, etc due to the fact that some blacks are criminals and that is how they are often portrayed, some blacks often assume that all white people think they are superior and treat blacks unequally in all situations as a result of past and present situations such as slavery, segregation, and racial disparities in school discipline.
    Commenting on the perceptions of race relations, the facts show, whether people want to acknowledge them or not, that there is unequal treatment for people of different races. Take a look at history, unequal treatment has existed for years. Although changes have been made, the issue is still present. History has showcased that this issue cannot simply be resolved in a day; it takes time to make progress. It took time to end slavery, to rule segregation as unconstitutional- it will take time to deal with the ongoing presence of unequal treatment of people of many different races, this is just the next phase.
    Due to our history we all have differing perceptions based on race and biases whether implicit or explicit, both of which are influenced today by our experiences and our environment. This country was built on these things, now they have become the foundation of the mindset of the country as a whole, the root of many issues. It is ignorant, in the sense of lacking awareness, to think that inequality based on race is not an ever present issue.

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  4. Caitlin Strawn GPCMarch 28, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    When I read this blog, one idea I perceived was that to solve this problem of police interaction and racial issues, you cannot be biased. You must see each side equally and justly. Many whites, whether they realize it or not, are implicitly biased. When the case of Treyvon Martin, Brown, and Garner surfaced, they saw what they claim to be a “thug” and say that the deaths were deserved. They do not take the time to analyze the situation and look at both sides of the argument. Same for blacks. Many, not all, think that because blacks were slaves in the past, the whites are still very racist and degrading. Therefore any white police officer who takes down a black suspect is in the wrong.
    Any situation like this is very touchy, and when it comes to deciding on who was right/wrong, instead of people taking sides because of the evidence, they take sides because of color. That settles nothing other than proving that racism is still a huge issue in this country. Like stated in the article, the fear coming from “implicit bias”. Whites are very uncomfortable when driving through an impoverished black community rather than a white impoverished. Each race holds the idea that the opposite race has something against them.
    With that being said, there is the issue of if more police surveillance is needed. Like the article said, people living in areas with high crime rates DO feel the need for more police presence. Some though, mainly blacks, fear that police would abuse their authority by doing unnecessary frisking, or searching a body or house because of “reasonable suspicion”. If more police are going to be distributed to those areas, they must understand that there HAS to be reasonable cause to check someone. Their race, clothing, accent, body piercings/tattoos should have no influence on whether or not someone is suspicious. To make sure police are just, for example like the article says, body cameras could be used. This provides one, evidence if anything were to ever happen that is unjust, and two, since the police themselves are being surveyed they would know they have to do all procedures by the book, not by their biased mind.

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  5. Shelby Gurrera- GPC NewtonApril 8, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    When I first read this, I immediately thought of the case that just happened in South Carolina. A police officer shot a man trying to run away from him eight times. A bystander caught the whole incident on camera. Not to make race a big part of the case but the police officer was white and the man was black. This is definitely a case where the police clearly had no right to shoot the unarmed man. It was murder and the police officer is now facing murder charges. This is a case that people should be upset about, not the Michael Brown case. Clearly, there was some form of racial discrimination in the mind of the police officer because he had no right to shoot the man. He was running away. That does not give anyone, police officer or not, the right to shoot someone. That is where you run after them.
    This case goes hand in hand with what you are talking about in this blog post. Racism is a big part of this country still today. It is evident all around us. The media does not help this situation however. I think when they report on case, like the Brown case, they make matters worse. When you see “white officer killed black man” in the news media that is obviously going to stir up some feelings. People are going to get mad. Blacks will begin to protest because of their history of not being treated equally, which is understandable. Any black person who sees that in the media will most likely get mad or have some type of feeling towards it. The only problem is a lot of people did not take the time to learn the facts about the case. Like the post stated, Brown did not have his hands up and there are facts to prove that. I do think that the “hands up don’t shoot” saying that came from the case is something that can be used for the future. I am not sure how this should be used to prevent disproportionate and discriminatory treatment of blacks but I do think it will help get the point across to all Americans. To help combat disproportionate and discriminatory treatment of blacks, I think that better training of officers in perceiving threats, body cameras, and rethinking stand your ground laws are three really good ways to start. It will take time but I think that America can get there eventually. It starts by changing the mind of others.

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  6. Elizabeth Butler

    The United States has far to go in terms of racial equality. I am encouraged that my generation seems more aware than the ones before of the gross injustices of our society. Before reading this article, I began to understand the plight of modern-day African Americans through social media. During the Ferguson protests, I learned much more details from scrolling through Twitter than I did from the mainstream cable news playing in my living room. Racism is a huge discussion topic among today’s youth; implicit racism isn’t a secret anymore, if it ever was.
    The article link to Mintpress News was extremely relevant to me. I see racial profiling at my high school every day. I often walk the halls without a pass, and have never been stopped by the teachers on duty. I see black and Hispanic students questioned frequently, although there may be more underlying factors. Your article helped me understand the recent events with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown from a more objective viewpoint. I often see them grouped together as very similar cases, but I was reminded of the many differences.

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  7. There is one thing that stands out in my mind about a high school lunchroom - it's segregated. People tend to sit with other students of the same race. I'm not sure if this happens at every high school, but at mine it is evident. This tells me that Americans are not unified. People are still seeing other people as the color of their skin. I feel like the only way to get through racism is through education and forgiveness. Through those two things racism will slowly dissolve away from our society. I recently watched a show about the Rwandan genocide; for Rwanda to recover, post genocide, the people had to come together and forgive. Now parents in Rwanda focus on educating their children not to hate other groups. I saw this as inspiration for our situation here in America.
    In the case of Michael Brown the media had a very powerful role, and unfortunately I don't think they used their power justly. They were supposed to educate the public , but instead I felt like different stations picked different sides of the argument. Before any facts came out people already knew who was innocent and who was guilty. I agree that we need to be more open to the facts. Through education we will begin to become a more unified country.

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  8. The reason for whites misunderstanding of the Ferguson situation, and other situations involving African Americans, is that they never experienced the hardship and struggles that Blacks went through. Yes, it is true that slavery has been abolished for over 100 years, but Blacks still had to fight for equality and justice. Whenever there is a question about whether or not race played a role in the mistreatment of a person, African Americans are the ones who mainly believe that race was a contributing to factor in the situation. This is due to there past experiences of not having any freedom or rights. As I look through the data table, I notice that 53% of Blacks and 17% of whites agree that new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination amongst blacks. This is interesting because although the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement helped Blacks gain equality, a majority of African Americans in 2013 still believe that there are not enough laws to ensure that they won’t be discriminated against because of there color.

    As I think back to when I first heard about the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown case, I was in disbelief. The only information that the media portrayed was that these two young men were shot unlawfully by white men. As I did more research and looked into both cases, I noticed that these incidents were very different from each other. Trayvon Martin was wrongfully shot because he looked “suspicious,” while Mike Brown was shot after he stole something from the store. Although Mike Brown was in the wrong, he did not deserve his death. People can’t compare Brown’s case to Martin’s case just for the simple fact that one committed a crime and the other did not.

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  9. I totally agree, Professor Robertson, that political and community leaders need to educate the public about the legislative and democratic process . I was totally ignorant prior to enrolling in your course. So thank you for your part in generating more political awareness.

    Blacks are perceived as dangerous or vicious. As you stated, Whites are more uncomfortable walking in an impoverished Black community verses an impoverished White community. I am honestly equally fearful of both. LOL So my bias is more so economic prejudice, verses race prejudice (which isn't good either).
    But anyway, being an African American, I admit that many African Americans are dangerous, they commit senseless crimes, they don't use their resources for good, and many aren't interested in pursuing higher education. I am just as mad at Blacks as Whites are. But who is to blame for all of this? White ancestors. Whites orchestrated all of this. Historically, Blacks had feelings of inadequacy, feelings of hopelessness. They raised their children to believe it is pointless to strive for excellence. I have personally witnessed White families raising their children that they can rule the world and even discuss college with them at the age of 9. Black families raise their kids to be independent, move out at the age of 18, get a job at Burger King, just as long as you are out of my house. College isn't even a discussion in many Black households. Their parents don't mention it, because their parents didn't mention it so on and so forth. I've seen Black moms tell their teenage sons "I'm not buying you nothing, you better go out and get it on your own!" At that point, what happens? The Black teen goes out and robs and steals, ultimately becoming a criminal. Their mom clearly encouraged them to steal. I doubt a White mom would say this to her child. The point of my rant is - Whites are biased against Blacks because of blacks' perceived wreck less behavior. I totally understand their fear. They wish Blacks would be more like them, but how? when the odds are stacked against them?! How can Blacks do ANY better, when almost 70% of Black men in GA have records with the law or felonies? They can't get a job! They can't go to most secondary schools (if any). What do you expect them to do? The bias will continue. And if ill-treatment towards Blacks continues, NOTHING will change for the better.
    I am not blaming Whites for all of Blacks problems, but historically Whites have negatively affected Blacks, causing them to grow up with the belief that there's is nothing they can do-they are forever doomed.

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  10. Ok, so are we all just going to forget that police brutality and murders of unarmed black men and women have been around for decades now? The only reason why officers are now getting caught is, because technology is so advanced these days and incidents are now being caught on cameras and cell phones. Let us not forget during, before and after the Civil Right Movement of 1960 some police officers were members of the hate mob, Klu Klux Kan and recently two Fruitland Park , Florida cops were discovered being members of the KKK. Police officers have brainwash society so much, to make us feel that they were actually designed to protect and save the lives of the people. No, I’m not saying all cops are bad, I have met some great woman and man police officers; however, I will say there aren't a lot of good cops either. The killing in Ferguson was one of many such cases, the pattern of unarmed black people being killed is at an all time high rate and it must come to end. How many times has an officer come up with an excuse of why he or she killed an unarmed black suspect? Oscar Grant an unarmed black male was shot and killed by a white officer, because the officer "mistaken" his weapon for a taser and accidentally killed him. Officers have been and are killing our black men and women and somehow that's still going unnoticed in the law enforcement department. Police take an oath to serve and protect the people, ALL people, not to target and kill innocent citizens. Honestly the people wouldn't be so bias of officers if the media will stop over hyping situations. I do agree that civil rights activists and black community leaders need to educate the community about the legislative and democratic process and be more informative about run ins with police officers. Black people have been peaceful protesting for years and then when we riot out outrage then, we are considered "animals" or "thugs". There is ABSOLUTELY no excuse why our black men are being killed by police officers and they have no remorse over it. The "hands up" gesture, is something that a witness had claimed he saw Michael Brown do, that's why people have been using that as a symbol of what Michael Brown did and he still ended up murdered. I think police officers should be more trained and educated when they use lethal force. Black communities already have it hard enough when black on black violence is factor, and to make it worse when we have police officers increasing the number of the black men and women being murdered.

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  11. Yes it is very true that white people do not understand the reasons blacks feel the way we do. I don’t think they will ever fully understand to be honest. Talking about perception is important, because everybody reacts different to perception. If people have blinders over their eyes then the issues will never get fixed or addressed in the proper manner. Now to say there is no racism still around is crazy. Just because racism isn’t as prevalent to a certain group of people doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. To be honest I don’t see racism getting much better until certain generations die of. The older generations in some families are still teaching racism and to look down upon certain people. Going back to perception, if white people had a better perception of black people as equal it would raise the performance and moral of blacks. In some cases people are not influenced at all by the society but in most cases people are influenced highly by it. I say this to say if some white people didn’t have such a low perception of black, blacks would rise to the perception they are held at. This theory I’m getting at is called the Stereo Threat. Think of a box, if a certain group is put inside of a box so long all they know is the box and only that space. But once the are taken out of that box with no restraints they still only operate in those areas as if they were still in a box.

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  12. Angelique VirgleMay 4, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    After reading this article, so many thoughts come to mind abut the way people think when it comes to race. Prof. Robertson, I have to say that I totally agree with you about being educated and knowing the facts before taking action about a certain situation. In a lot of the events that has happened based on racial injustice, people have automatically taken the side of their own(race). My thing, though, is that just because it was your race that was the victim in the crime doesn't mean that he/she was the victim when the actual event that led up to the crime happened. Race sometimes has something to do with the event, but sometimes it's doesn't have anything to do with it. One of my aunts, who in my opinion is very wise, always takes the different she sees on the news to teach us lessons about how to do things right in a certain situation. For instance, when she saw the news report about the Brown case, she told her son that when he is given orders by a police officer, whether he is in the wrong or not, to just do what the police officer says and nothing will happen to him. With me, I'm not really one to point fingers when it comes down to race because I don't think that race is always the cause of an event, and if people would stop hating each other so much because of the past and just live for the present some things just wouldn't be. I'm going to give you an example of a black victim that was killed by police officers but it was because she was in the wrong. A black woman was being arrested for drug trafficking, and while a police officer, white, was walking her to the car, she slipped out of the handcuffs and opened fire with her gun trying to kill the police officer. So the police officer and his partner tried to stop her from shooting at them by shooting back , but she didn't stop until she got shot herself and died. Her family states on the news that they think the officers should be charged with murder because they don't think the young lady did anything wrong. Now, if that isn't about the craziest and dumbest thing I ever heard, I don't know what is. I mean she was literally trying to kill the police officer and probably would've succeeded if the other officer had not fired shots back at her. WHAT IN THAT SITUATION WAS SHE RIGHT FOR DOING????!!!!!!!! See, this is why people need to come out of the mindset of protecting and defending their own, and see who is on the right and wrong side of the situation, no matter who it is. In the world we live in, people have such a closed mind on how things should go, but they're not always right. We, as a nation, need to come together and destroy the hatred of the past so that we can live for the present on the now and not the then, meaning not to treat people a certain way because of how they were treated back in the day, or how they treated someone of the same color as you back in the day, but treat them as you would want to be treated.

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  13. Ben Gagnon
    I in no way believe that the war on racism in America is over. There are many things that people need to understand are not equal. While this is the case, every situation is not the product of racism. Stereotypes are built, often by the people who are being stereotyped. Many rap artists are known for association themselves, if only by songs, with gang activities, violence, and drug use. Outsiders looking in see that as a sign that the entire community acts like that. Moving past stereotypes and into solid statistics, whites have a higher chance of being above the poverty line than blacks. Education is often associated with being from a higher class, and crime is often associated with lower classes (not always, but generalized for simplicity.) This fact will point outsiders towards a distrust of that group of people (not agreeing with it, just saying.) When stories like this come up in the news, people who already have a pre-conditioned view of that group of people are likely to view the event in a certain way. Over time, people with hardened hearts towards others simply because of race will eventually go away. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I have faith that it will eventually.

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  14. Jesse Saldana AriasMay 5, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    To start off, I understand where African Americans are coming from. They have a mistrust of white people because of their past. There is no excuse that racism and discrimination still exist within our country. When it comes to the Brown and Marten cases, both were different, but African Americans can’t seem to understand that. All they see is a white man killing a black man. They're only seeing one side of the story, which is the side they want to see. I do agree that there is police brutality, which hinders police officers reputations.
    I do agree that there should be more regulations to avoid and prevent race issues. But, it hasn’t changed that much over the years and I don't really think it will for years to come. I strongly believe that education plays a role in one prejudice. People should be educated before making a claim. As for body camera, I do believe that they will stop police brutality to a certain extent. But, it won't stop it completely because people are going to act the way they were raised. Just because they're being recorded doesn't mean they won't be brutal or racially biased, it's something that comes natural to them.

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  15. Throughout the history of the United States, people of African decent have battled against the brutality of White Supremacy. Although we have come a long way in terms of how African Americans are treated in this country by eliminating some of the blatant effects of segregation in public places such as jobs and schools. However, the issue of racism is still strong and prevalent in society and these very same issues are still there in this modern day and age.This issue is still affecting the lives of black people not only in America but world wide. I must say that this blog is very "spot on" when it comes to pointing out the issues that African Americans are currently facing with the criminal justice system because of prejudice and racism. Many issues affect the mortality rate of young African American men in particular throughout time, such as the lack of education, job and career opportunities, stereotypes,and lack of knowing themselves and their culture.This is reflected by how they are treated, and how they are perceived by others and have internalized negativity about themselves to be part of their own beliefs. The way that society has been designed as being divided and dysfunctional all has to do with the collective mindset that ALL individuals have about themselves and others. The issue of racism has been a huge problem worldwide for many generations because of the indoctrination of white supremacy that is etched in the minds of the citizens of America and around the globe on a subconscious level. This has had a detrimental affect on society globally in many ways in terms of family life, social life, and economics as well. Sadly, most of us do not realize consciously or are aware that we are affected by this "disease of the mind" that has also damaged human beings on a spiritual level. The mental and physical genocide caused by racism will only end if people are forced to change their frame of mind from being primitive and hateful to being loving and peaceful so that racism can truly die and the human race can begin to truly evolve. This can only be done through changes to the laws, education of the right concepts to better society, and exposure to a better way of thinking. The change and overturn of racism is inevitable and it is happening now at this very moment!
    The process of eradicating the effects of racism will not attain results overnight. But with the decision to be proactive and change this reality into a better one, and hope for a brighter future, we can and will relentlessly strive to put racism to sleep worldwide, and in the United States of America for the greater good.
    In conclusion, the key to changing the state of the world is to first change the state of our minds!

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  16. Amelia Williams
    "Racism is something that is taught." I wrote this down while taking notes on the article, because it holds great truth. The opinions I have held for the majority of my life were never mine, they were my parents' opinions. I can remember my mother saying, "It's 2008, racism is a thing of the past." She believed that because the country had progressed so far with the issue of race, the issue hardly existed anymore. How I wish that was the case, and for a while, I believed it was. But we must not be ignorant. Although civil rights programs were enacted over 45 years ago, there are still deeply rooted feelings of hurt due to country's long history of injustice and oppression. Whites were never treated as inferior, so although we may sympathize with blacks, we can never fully understand the extent of their pain and we must keep that in mind. Even today, the issue of race is prevalent.
    The Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin cases were completely different, therefore, they must be analyzed differently. Both blacks and whites need to work together for change. Pitting sides against each other is not the best strategy for change. Body cameras and better training of officials is an important stride in seeking justice. As far as the police riots in Baltimore, MLK once said that violent protests are not to be condoned but need to be understood. It is the "language of the unheard" and speaks to great unrest. No gain is too small. Change will come steps at a time.

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  17. Racism is an ongoing epidemic. Blacks being discriminated against have been going on for far too long. For those who think that they are just over reacting and blaming every little thing that happens to black person "racism", well think again. If you look at some of these situations where black people have been in situations with police officers, have gotten shot and killed it is ridiculous. Not every case can be compared to the other. But how is it when a black person gets shot that there seems to never be any justice. The cop gets a paid leave. I never understood that. The evidence can be on video and there will still be no justice. I'm just curious as to what they call that because if it was a white person in the same situation getting beat by a cop for no apparent reason, justice will be served under no circumstances and I see that as wrong, and yes racist. I believe that no one is born racist. Racism is made! People will find any and everything to discriminate against. Every race of people has their own problems within their own race dealing with discrimination. This has to end. Everyone was made equal and that is how everyone should be treated. But we are not. I don't think we ever will be treated the same and it is disappointing. I do think African Americans have it the worse when it comes to racism because I feel like they have bared most hurt. Parents are out here having to bury their kids due to death by a police officer that gets paid leave. Police officers are beating African Americans to death and while doing so, breaking their spine and then saying that he broke his own spine. How can someone break their own spine? Some of these stories are so ridiculous and yet get so many questions over nonsense that the person’s death gets no justice. Not all police are out to get people, but I will say some of these situations could be taken differently. Every African American is not a threat, every white person is not a racist, and every police officer is not out to get you. But there is an issue and racism is alive and well in this society.

    Lauren Bruce

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  18. Racism is an ongoing epidemic. Blacks being discriminated against have been going on for far too long. For those who think that they are just over reacting and blaming every little thing that happens to black person "racism", well think again. If you look at some of these situations where black people have been in situations with police officers, have gotten shot and killed it is ridiculous. Not every case can be compared to the other. But how is it when a black person gets shot that there seems to never be any justice. The cop gets a paid leave. I never understood that. The evidence can be on video and there will still be no justice. I'm just curious as to what they call that because if it was a white person in the same situation getting beat by a cop for no apparent reason, justice will be served under no circumstances and I see that as wrong, and yes racist. I believe that no one is born racist. Racism is made! People will find any and everything to discriminate against. Every race of people has their own problems within their own race dealing with discrimination. This has to end. Everyone was made equal and that is how everyone should be treated. But we are not. I don't think we ever will be treated the same and it is disappointing. I do think African Americans have it the worse when it comes to racism because I feel like they have bared most hurt. Parents are out here having to bury their kids due to death by a police officer that gets paid leave. Police officers are beating African Americans to death and while doing so, breaking their spine and then saying that he broke his own spine. How can someone break their own spine? Some of these stories are so ridiculous and yet get so many questions over nonsense that the person’s death gets no justice. Not all police are out to get people, but I will say some of these situations could be taken differently. Every African American is not a threat, every white person is not a racist, and every police officer is not out to get you. But there is an issue and racism is alive and well in this society.

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  19. Katherine SchmidtJune 24, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    I completely agree with this article. I think that all three of the solutions to helping the problems with the differing perceptions on race relations are extremely in need. There is an ugly history between the white and black races that keeps fueling these issues and spinning them out of context. Yes, I believe there are bad cops, but there are also good cops. They are not all robots out to ruin our lives. They're people with a job, not a very good paying job, and they're just doing what they can. I agree that there needs to be better training of officers, but due to government funding being down, there may not be enough training occuring. This is something officers cannot control, but it is something we should fight to have fixed in order to prevent further cases like that of the recent. I also 100% agree that officers need to wear body cameras at all times. This will eliminate the problem of people misconstruing situations and will also help to keep officers on good, honest behavior.
    I recently spoke with my aunt, who works in a police station, about this situation our country is facing. She brought up to me how there are some bad cops out there, but they are not all bad. She was very angry and passionate about how the public eye is making officers out to be these monsters in unfortunate situations when we may not know the full story. She told me this recent story of one of her friend’s who is a cop, and I was so shocked. When her friend was working, he was forced to detain a suspect and the suspect spit in his eye. The suspect ended up testing HIV positive. Currently the officer is on heavy daily medications, cannot have sexual relations with his wife, and cannot interact with his infant daughter like he should be able to. These are the type of things we do not know about or even think about. We do not always know the whole story, but if an officer needs to take measures to protect themselves, then they should. But again back to body cameras, I think these will help to fix a lot of the falsified and misconstrued stories.

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  20. There is no doubt that racism is something which doesn't exist naturally but is taught.It is the experiences generations go through and forward them to the up coming generations.If we look at our history racism has been brutal against the black American Africans and I believe it still is.History tells us how the officials tried so hard to introduce poll taxes and literacy test during the time of elections just so that the black American Africans couldn't vote and only the whites would get benefited and stay in power.Even segregation at schools and public transports was declared legal by the courts if equal facilities were provided.It changed in the 1960's, but to change the mind set of people is very difficult. Although the law protects us the civil liberties and civil rights and equal for all citizens but a major change will be seen as the literacy rate in the blacks rise and we see more professionals in the fields.Police officers killing young black kids out of scare is due to that few no of people who get involved in crime making the rest look bad and incorporating fear in all.I just hope that if more and more black American Africans get educated racism can decrease significantly.

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  21. I believe that whites feel the way they do towards blacks because, they know what they did to black people of past centuries and in current times is biased, wrong, and racist. Their so hostile towards blacks, because deep down they feel they have to look over there shoulder. In the back of their minds, i bet they wonder if black people will ever retaliate. which most likely will not happen, because of the control they have through television. Its like, they have this guilt lingering deep inside them, so they pretend to like black people, and tell everyone their not racist or biased. But when a person gets gunned down by a white person for no reason at all, they're quick to jump the gun and assume that the black kid deserved it. Nothing will ever change, because thats just the way it is. White people will always be afraid of blacks. Blacks will always be afraid of whites.

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