Monday, December 1, 2014

Following Up and Furthering On

I've written before that juveniles who commit crimes need to be tried with juvenile-oriented justice, and that in general, we need a more restorative approach to crime. Minnesota recently had a perfect example of how to do that, in the case of Mark Andrew and Deea LeShawn Elliot.

Elliot, who was 17 at the time, beat Andrew with a metal stick when he tried to chase Elliot's friend, who had just stolen Andrew's cell phone at a coffee shop in the Mall of America. Andrew, now 64, is a past Hennepin County Commissioner and candidate for mayor of Minneapolis. His injuries from the attack were significant and he still is dealing with damage to his back. He also had head injuries, broken teeth and a concussion.

Despite all of that, he asked that the sentence for Elliot and another young woman who was 18 at the time of the assault require them to "undergo mandatory counseling, anger management and family counseling. He also sought mandatory high school graduation at grade level" and a year-long art immersion program of their choice.

In court on Tuesday, he met face-to-face with Elliot, who repeatedly told him she was sorry. He was deeply moved by the experience.

"She came over to me and apologized, and I hugged her, and she just broke down in my arms," Andrew said. "To me, it was a beautiful moment, because I could see how badly she felt. It was very, very healing."

The evidence mounts that racism isn't only the intentional application of prejudice. Mother Jones today published an extensive examination of how implicit bias works. The article is full of heart-rending stats and a little hope about how we as a society could work to overcome our brains' need for essentialism and tribalism.

The levels of implicit bias are impervious to education level:

Bias decreases a bit among people who consider themselves strongly liberal, but I wonder what percent of those people are black, which would automatically pull the average toward the lower end?

The article gives more background on the shoot/don't shoot tests I mentioned in a recent post. When you see the graphs Mother Jones shows for this research, I think you'll be shocked at how much more likely people are to say "shoot the black guy" than they are to say "shoot the white guy"... and that clearly, police are less likely to make the mistake, although they still make it way too much.

You can take the implicit bias test yourself here.


After all of that, I found it helpful to read this interview with comedian Chris Rock (by Frank Rich). I haven't followed Rock's career closely, but this article makes me realize I've been missing out.

When asked about Robin Williams's death:
Comedians kill themselves. Talk to 100 comedians this week, everybody knows somebody who killed themselves. I mean, we always say ignorance is bliss. Well, if so, what’s the opposite? Some form of misery. Being a comedian, 80 percent of the job is just you notice shit, which is a trait of schizophrenics too. You notice things people don’t notice.
On Obama:
The president should be graded on jobs and peace, and the other stuff is debatable. Do more people have jobs, and is there more peace? I guess there’s a little more peace. Not as much peace as we’d like, but I mean, that’s kind of the gig. I don’t recall anybody leaving on an up. It’s just that kind of job. I mean, the liberals that are against him feel let down because he’s not Bush. And the thing about George Bush is that the kid revolutionized the presidency. How? He was the first president who only served the people who voted for him. He literally operated like a cable network. You know what I mean?

[Rich]: He pandered to his target audience.

He’s the first cable-television president, and the thing liberals don’t like about Obama is that he’s a network guy. He’s kind of Les Moonves [longtime head of CBS]. He’s trying to get everybody. And I think he’s figured out, and maybe a little late, that there’s some people he’s never going to get.
On whether there has been progress for racial equality:
We still have some white people...[who] want to “take back the country” — and we know from whom. I find it depressing. The increments of change seem to be so much tinier than we wanted to believe when the Civil Rights Act passed 50 years ago, or when Obama was elected in 2008.

Yeah. The stuff you’re talking about is pockets though. There’s always going to be people that don’t know that the war’s over. I’m more optimistic than you, but maybe it’s because I live the way I do. I just have a great life, so it’s easier for me to say things are great. But not even me. My brothers drive trucks and stock shelves. They live in a much better world than my father did. My mother tells stories of growing up in Andrews, South Carolina, and the black people had to go to the vet to get their teeth pulled out. And you still had to go to the back door, because if the white people knew the vet had used his instruments on black people, they wouldn’t take their pets to the vet. This is not some person I read about. This is my mother.
On the speed with which things have changed for same-sex marriage:
Do you think gay-rights progress has more to do with the shaming of people or the education of people?

Both. I always call Ellen DeGeneres the gay Rosa Parks. If Rosa Parks had one of the most popular daytime TV shows, I’m sure the civil-rights movement would’ve moved a little bit faster too.
On the very concept of "racial progress":
When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

It’s about white people adjusting to a new reality?

Owning their actions. Not even their actions. The actions of your dad. Yeah, it’s unfair that you can get judged by something you didn’t do, but it’s also unfair that you can inherit money that you didn’t work for.
"To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before."

"Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people."

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