Tag Archives: Ferguson

Why Waco And Baltimore Are Different

Race Relations

I recently read an op-ed over at CNN.  In it the author, Sally Kohn tries to make the point that one of the reason we are still struggling in America when it comes to race relations is that we  have yet to break the ‘white privilege’ that exists here.

She may be right – I don’t know – but I am pretty sure that the examples of Waco and Baltimore [and Ferguson] aren’t examples of what’s wrong.

Her story and my comments:

(CNN)On Sunday, just after news broke of a shootout in Waco, Texas, involving “rival biker gangs” as The New York Times alert phrased it, the political activist Shaun King wrote on Twitter:

“I’ll wait (and wait and wait and wait) to hear someone on the news call what just happened in Waco ‘white on white’ violence.”

When reporter Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times responded, “do we even know the race of the bikers yet?” activist Deray Mckesson tweeted:

“If they were black gangs, we’d certainly know by now. That’s the point. Waco.”

So, I live in North Carolina, a ‘Confederate’ state, and we have news stories all the time describing rapes, murders, robberies and all manner of crimes and I never hear mention of the race of the suspect. 

Race is rarely reported.

One of the most distinct characteristics of white privilege is the privilege to be unique. When white people commit violent acts, they are treated as aberrations, slips described with adjectives that show they are unusual and in no way representative of the broader racial group to which they belong.

One of the distinct characteristics of being white is that I don’t identify with being white.  Now, and I admit, this might be due to the fact that the world doesn’t SEE me as white, so I get that.  But my point is that I don’t feel any sense of “community” with other white people.  So, to me, a white person committing crimes isn’t an indictment of “my people”.  In fact, the concept of “my people” is foreign to me.

In fact, in much of the coverage of the Waco shootings, the race of the gang members isn’t even mentioned, although pictures of the aftermath show groups of white bikers being held by police. By comparison, the day after Freddie Gray died in the custody of police officers in Baltimore, not only did most coverage mention that Gray was black, but also included a quote from the deputy police commissioner noting Gray was arrested in “a high-crime area known to have high narcotic incidents,” implicitly smearing Gray and the entire community.

I don’t think that this is true.  The actual news coverage of Freddy Gray being arrested and then having died is remarkably void of race mention.  The ensuing RIOTS and their source of anger IS mention repeatedly.

The crime and tragedy of Freddy is not about race – the violence that followed is.

How did press reports quote the police in Waco? “We’ve been made aware in the past few months of rival biker gangs … being here and causing issues,” Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said. Causing issues? Cops were reportedly so worried about the bikers gathering in the Waco strip mall that they had 12 officers as well as officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety stationed outside the restaurant.

I fail to understand her point here.  Yes, local cops had reason to believe that criminal activity was possible and stationed forces accordingly.  Nothing to see here.

Now there’s word that the biker gangs have issued repeated threats against the police in the aftermath of the Waco “melee” as The New York Times headline called it. During the uprisings in Baltimore, I saw a flurry of tweets about black people disrespecting property and throwing rocks at police. Now that these biker gangs have issued actual death threats, why am I not now seeing tons of Twitter posts about white people disrespecting the lives of police?

Again, the author is missing he comparison.  The arrest of Freddy Gray was not the national spectacle – the “uprisings” were.  Now, if white Waco began to riot because the local police department officials were targeting “white gang members” that would be different.

But that’s not happening here.  I suspect that white people in Waco SUPPORT their cops targeting white gang members.

In the comments on one news website, someone — presumably sarcastically — wrote, “More white thuggery. When will whites take responsibility for their decaying culture?”

As it pertains to Freddy Gray, the verdict is still literally out, but the events in Ferguson have been adjudicated.  Michael Brown robbed a store and then assaulted a cop. 

If there were such a feeling among whites as to label us a community, we might say, “We don’t condone the violence or criminal activity of one of our own”.

If the white people of Waco protested that white gang members were arrested not because they were innocent but because they were white, THEN her arguments would make more contextual sense.

“Race literally has nothing to do with this situation,” another commenter replied. Exactly.

So why is it that in cases such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray — and so many others — race is made central to the story, even in instances where the black and brown people involved are victims of police violence?

The answer is that in Brown and Gray race ISN’T an issue UNTIL the protests and riots occur.

Research shows that implicit bias against black and brown people is real, as is white privilege. And studies show that white people greatly overestimate the share of crimes committed by black people. Is it any wonder, given the racialized nature with which we cover crime? According to one study, television stations covered crimes committed by black people in greater proportion than their actual share of criminal acts in the city.

Here the author is confusing pronouns, she was ‘we’ confused with ‘I’.

On some level, the commenter is right: Race has nothing to do with crime. We know that people of all races commit crimes and are victims of crimes in America and the most sensible among us know such cause or effect has nothing to do with skin color. And yet our perceptions and attitudes about criminality have absolutely everything to do with race.

When one Muslim person even threatens violence in the United States, it’s treated as terrorism of crisis-like proportions. As we saw in the case of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, even when black men are the victims of violence, the burden of proof is placed upon them and their families to show that they didn’t deserve it.

When a crime occurs and the suspect is Muslim NO mention of terrorism is mentioned, but when the suspects admit to being members of terrorist organizations and those organizations claim they have ‘soldiers’ in multiple states – yes, they are reported differently.

A counter example might be the murders of the three Muslim students in North Carolina.  The suspect sounds like an equal opportunity asshole to me but he’s immediately made out to be the perp of a hate crime for the only reason that his victims were Muslim.

When was the last time you saw an incident of a white guy going on a shooting rampage produce calls for soul searching and recrimination on the part of the white male community? Maybe it should. But how can that happen when even after nine people are dead and 170 arrested in a shooting rampage by a criminal gang of bikers, we’d rather not mention that they are white?


We teach our kids that such activity is bad.  Joining a motorcycle gang is bad, getting tattoos and dropping out of school is bad.  Dressing like an asshole is bad.  We teach our kids that if you do those things bad things will happen

We use the incident as proof positive that mom and dad are right.  We do NOT riot when biker gangs are arrested.

Musings On Ferguson

smut and sensibilityThe dominating theme for the past week has been and is Ferguson.

I think it’s fair to say that most rational minded Americans are trying to make sense out of the events that occurred this summer and then the recent Grand Jury’s decision this past week.

I was recently pointed to this post over at Smut and Sensibility as a response to that decision.  Below my response:

The only kind of bombs I fully support are truth-bombs, and that’s why I’ve come together with a group of POC and select White allies to write this post. We feel it’s critical to have conversations about social justice loudly, noticeably, personally as well as systemically, and eloquently*—in this case, specifically around Ferguson, #stoptheparade, #BlackLivesMatter, #IndictAmerica, and all the myriad things happening right now around police brutality and the devaluing of Black lives.

I’m immediately put off by the reference o=to POC and ‘select white allies’.  This smacks as dog whistle for that group of people who preaches tolerance save for positions other than their own.

That being said, I am fearful of an ever growing and tyrannical state.  A police force being part of that state I am ever watchful.

However, the goodwill generated in the very real condition of big government = bad [ i don’t believe the author actually thinks big government is bad, only big government that doesn’t fit her paradigm ] is lost with #BlackLivesMatter.  Not one single individual I know feels that black lives don’t matter.  Further, given that black lives matter – there seems to be lower hanging fruit that can be harvested rather than heap on this case.

American Racial Incident Bingo

This. Is. Insulting.

The author is treating the incident as a game.  More than that, the very real arguments that challenge her point  of view are being marginalized to that of a common parlor game.

But Mike Brown robbed a convenience store!

Yes.  He did.

No one thinks that the punishment for felony strong armed robbery is the death penalty.  No one is making that case.  Rather, the point is that Mr. Brown state of mind at the time of the encounter was that of a felon – not that of a child seeking the company of his granny.

Mike Brown was a giant demon who charged at Darren Wilson, who had no recourse but to fear for his life and use lethal force.

It has been established that Mr. Brown not only charged Mr.s Wilson but that he assaulted him in the cruiser and attempted to take Mr. Wilson’s gun.

I’m white.  Anglo Saxon.  Protestant.  Male.  Upper Class.  If I try to steal a cop’s gun and then charge said cop I get shot too.

And, more importantly, this is what I teach my son.

Mike Brown smoked pot regularly and/or was high during his interaction with Wilson.

Smoking pot should be legal.  Pot smokers are more calm than alcohol drinkers.  I resonate with the author on this point.

Mike Brown was reaching for a gun when killed.

Mr. Brown was unarmed – but I’ve not heard the defense that he was reaching for a gun.  He simply was presenting a threat to Mr. Wilson.

Mike Brown was a threat and could not be taken into custody alive.

She had me at ‘threat’.

Why are you making this about race?

Serious.  Please check the data that suggests cops kill white people too.

What did riots ever solve? Why are people getting violent?

Wait.  No one is saying not to protest injustices or wrongs committed by the government.  DO!  I’m just saying that evidence suggests justice was served here.

Why riot?

The rest of the post degenerates into mostly straw man arguments save for the interesting:

Do you think you know better than the grand jury? Did you study state law?

I am not an attorney – neither is the author.  I am compelled by the evidence that the Grand Jury was provided all relevant evidence.  I cannot get into an argument regarding the Grand Jury.

Personally I think that the DA reviewed the evidence and came to the conclusion there was no case.  However, because of the political nature surrounding the events, decided that he was going to go forward with a Grand Jury.

It should not be surprising that a group of reasonable and rational people came to that same conclusion.