Equality and Equal Justice


Daniel McNeet

Diversity is the condition of being different or having differences. People use the word diversity incorrectly when they mean discrimination. It is bias and bigotry at its worst. What we want are equality and equal justice for all.

All lives matter and the Black Lives Matter movement started after the killing of Mike Brown. It has grown incredibly as an idea. There has been the formal structure of it which are chapters. But there also people who just sympathize. It makes it kind of tricky because people in the media will say this is a Black Lives Matter message. Sometimes people just show up and say I am supporting this idea. I think they are having an incredible impact. The activists have grabbed the conversation. They are directing part of the conversation.

You have to think about three or four years ago who was advocating for these ideas as police restraint, improving the poor-black communities on a national scale that could mobilize people to get into the streets. The activists, white, black and brown people who care, have been able to in a very short period move tremendous numbers of people into action. That should not go without notice.

Black lives matter tears at the fabric of our nation. When we see one more story about a minority person being shot by the police, we say, “Why what’s wrong? What do we need?” And then we see violence against the police; we say “How can the people do that?” The vast majority of police is trying to protect and serve us.

Two things are happening simultaneously. First, what you and I may share back and forth are whatever biases we may have whether we are aware of them or not. And that is a real conflict in people coming in contact with each other particularly in high gain situations of stress which could turn into a police matter.

Second, there is another conversation about the systemic forces of white bigotry and racism. The kind of racism that does not require any active participation by any particular person. And, those are the forces, structures, that push these two populations in contact in the first place. Having both those conversations simultaneously are incredibly important.

Laws have changed for the benefit of racial progress. Maybe, you can argue that has not taken place. But in addition to that, we have to think about all the things that have happened after slavery. All the structural jeopardize that we as a society put into place by state and federal municipalities that created the kind of concentrated poverty that we have now that we call the American ghetto. The structure is everything from housing policies, loan and banking policies, infrastructure decisions as to where we put our highways and where we put our streets, and the way we put our ways in and out of our cities. All of those are systemic structural things. We did as a society that created powder kegs, and then whites say, “Oh these are personal choices that people have made to live in the toughest, most violent, poorest parts of our cities. They have made a choice.” But in fact, they have not made any choices. The white decision makers have.

We have a giant system that has created this, those places. And then we say, “Well there is violence bubbling up out of these places, and that is why the police are there.” No, we have to take responsibility that we white Americans, in fact, created those places. White decision makers have to take responsibility because of their corruption to deal with untangling all of that. So, I think all of the above has to be dealt with simultaneously.

Part of dealing with it means legislative. There are facts to face in dealing with police. We make decisions about policing. Whether it is Stop and Frisk in New York City or whether or not it is the colossal disaster that was the war on drugs. Whites made cultural decisions as to how we were going to deal with particular problems. And, dealing with those problems had incredible racial imbalances embedded. So, we can take legislative steps to change our policies. That is important. The law may not make you love me, but it can stop you from lynching me. The idea that we can do things that will limit adverse impact on particular populations is a real thing.

Whites separate from the moral argument that must be the one that says they are not populations. White use the excuse minorities are genetical and prone to violence. There are conditions under which human beings behave in certain ways. And, white decision makers have attributed to making conditions ripe for certain populations in this country. We have to as a country figure out ways to back off from the idea the minorities are not Americans with equal rights and equal justice.

I think it takes strong leadership, presidential and grass roots. The president must set the proper tone for how to overcome the complications. Americans are voicing their opinions in protest to the mistreatment of poor minorities.

Policing is local, not federal. The president can talk, but there is little the federal government can do about local policing. What we have to do is change hearts, and minds of the people who believe they are not part of this discussion, the white bigots, and racists. These white people who look at this and say this is a conflict between the people who wear blue and the people who are born with brown and black skin are blind to their biases and bigotry. Not let this happen separately from you and me. Separation is not acceptable conduct. Whites are complicit in whatever police do in this country because the police are simply articulations of the desires, mores, and laws passed by the corrupt white decision makers.

Whites are complicit in all of the architecture that pushes more and more of these people together. It increases the number of interactions and then when you increase the numbers of interactions invariably some person will do some one thing wrong, and that will be the result of what we have done as a society to push them together in the first place.

I do believe that these sorts of changes are generational changes. If you look at all of the kind of civil rights movements of our times, they have all been generational. It looks likes it happens in a couple of years, but a lot of ground work went into it. The Civil Rights Movement, the Gay Rights Movement, The Women’s Movement.

Strangely enough, I am optimistic always. I believe there is an awakening of young people to be able to connect the dots, historical, cultural and present about what this system has done to the minorities and how they do not make matrices of it. I believe that sort of enlightenment is a positive chance for change. Whether or not it immediately leads to some peace and harmony, I have no way to measure the success or failure. I believe however strongly in the long-term effect that knowledge, in fact, is a transformative thing. And, coming into knowledge itself coming into the knowledge of the system is a transformative thing. In the long run, this will look like with all of the ups and downs and all of the strain that it was part of a pattern.

It is a fascinating deflection to say, “People who point out that there are people who are racially oppressed and want to lift these people out of that racial oppression and repression.”

Centering them in the conversation and elevating it to a position where you pay attention to the oppression and repression that they suffered become people who you call racists. Incredible, incredible thing. And, amazing rhetorical sleight of hand that you see all the time now.

Regarding this idea that blacks and minorities are inherently violent and white people are saving black people from killing themselves. That argument is inherently biased and racist. It says at its base that there is something deficient and defective about you that we must save you from yourselves.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King, Jr.