Profiling: Why We Should Care Even if We Don’t Care (or Don’t Believe it’s Real)

I’ve been hanging out on Black Twitter.

On Black Twitter, people are speaking out, making their voices heard. In the midst of  the amazing writers, business people, professionals, artists, entertainers, and great thinkers, there are fighters, talkers, MLK-followers, activists, marchers, rally-ers, and those on rally-watch. They sit/stand/act at the precipice of change for Black America.

Nonetheless, many of the non-black people I see trolling Black Twitter are dissenters spewing racism, laughing over Mike Brown’s dead body, and threatening those who are speaking out, trying (and failing) to send them into silence. Sadly, according to the Twitter user who goes by West Florissant Ave. and can be found on Twitter @ThatsRacistAF, “Fake accounts/avis are the digital equivalent of the cloaks of the KKK, so they can be racist w/o persecution.” So basically, there are also people who appear in their avatars to be people of color, but are actually more trolls, there to spew vitriol.

Despite these dissenters, the good people of Black Twitter also sit/stand/act at the precipice of change for non-black America. And that’s why, whether we are a silent supporter of equality who sits (silently) in opposition to racism, or a person who just can’t or won’t, or simply doesn’t want to connect with the struggles of black America, it benefits each of us to support the issues flying around Black Twitter too.

What is happening to black America can happen to anyone if we let it. And we are letting it.

So, as Michelle M. Hughes, adoption attorney with the Law Offices of Michelle M. Hughes and adoption educator with Bridge Communications, inspired a social media group for transracial adoption to consider, if we can’t convince you to stand up with activists like those on Black Twitter because it is the right, humanitarian thing to do in the face of such rampant, overt racism and violent bigotry, perhaps activists like those on Black Twitter can convince you to listen because your rights and resources are also on the chopping block.

A loss of rights for any population can easily translate into a loss of rights for any other population.

When we passively accept something like the shooting and killing of unarmed black men,

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by the police — without repercussion — and blame the victims based upon their (often alleged, often minor), unrelated violations, we open the door for atrocities like Captain George Brown’s assertion that the way for women (all women, of any race) to avoid being raped by the police is to not get pulled over in the first place.

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We create an environment where police officers can beat a woman, even a white one, for talking on her cell phone while driving (her minor violation) and then fist bump over it;

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MMIracismMIteenshotWhen we are not appalled and moved to action by the merciless killing by police officers of a 14 year old boy doing what teens do (in this case, hanging out in an abandoned home, a favorite pastime of my brothers when they were teens), we normalize police officers using excessive and unnecessary force to subdue developmentally delayed, learning challenged, or intellectually disabled children and teenagers who might not be able to control their emotions or bodies. We acquiesce to police officers shooting mentally ill teens to control them.

2.  When we over-criminalize one population of people, we under-criminalize other populations, causing an imbalance in the use of resources and the spending of tax-dollars.

The fact is that black people are disproportionately criminalized and imprisoned. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), while five times more white people than black people use illegal substances, black people are sent to prison for the use of illegal substances at a rate ten times that of white people. Regarding cocaine use alone, “In 2002, blacks constituted more than 80% of the people sentenced under the federal crack cocaine laws and served substantially more time in prison for drug offenses than did whites, despite that (sic) fact that more than 2/3 of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are white or Hispanic.”

Tim Wise, a anti-racist essayist, author, and educator, states the following facts about violent crime on his blog:

* Only about 1 percent of African Americans — and no more than 2 percent of black males — will commit a violent crime in a given year;

* Even though there are more black-on-white interracial crimes than white-on-black interracial crimes, this fact is not evidence of anti-white racial targeting by black offenders. Rather, it is completely explained by two factors having nothing to do with anti-white bias: namely, the general differences in rates of criminal offending, and the rates at which whites and blacks encounter one another (and thus, have the opportunity to victimize one another). Once these two factors are “controlled for” in social science terms, the actual rates of black-on-white crime are lower than random chance would predict;

* No more than 0.7 percent (seven-tenths of one percent) of African Americans will commit a violent crime against a white person in a given year, and fewer than 0.3 (three-tenths of one percent) of whites will be victimized by a black person in a given year;

* Whites are 6 times as likely to be murdered by another white person as by a black person; and overall, the percentage of white Americans who will be murdered by a black offender in a given year is only 2/10,000ths of 1 percent (0.0002).

* any given black person is 2.75 times as likely to be murdered by a white person as any given white person is to be murdered by an African American.

(asterisks and highlights — mine)

According to a study by The Vera Institute (summary here), tax payers pay on average $31, 286 per prisoner — whether that prisoner is a serial killer or a college student caught with a few ounces of weed. All those people of color who go to prison for a minor offense (the kind that does not lead to the imprisonment of white people nearly as often) are costing us taxpayers unnecessary taxes (much of it going to private, for-profit prisons).

Furthermore, when we go about our business while someone like Jonathon Fleming

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sits in a prison to which he should never have gone,

* the real perpetrator goes free,

* we waste money and resources (on imprisonment, investigations, trials, re-trials) that could have been used to solve other crimes, and

* we potentially lose money to compensate and/or rehabilitate innocent people upon release.

Hughes summed this struggle up this way,

“These wrongful arrests, prosecutions, and convictions do 2 things that effect [us] negatively 1) [our] tax dollars to support a system that isn’t working correctly in combating crime & wasting money and 2) when they waste time and money on getting the wrong guy (even the wrong Black guy), the real criminal is still out there to hurt again. It would benefit all of America- not just Black America- if the system actually was operated with true justice and effort was made to lock up only those who truly should be locked up.

I am tired of all these huge settlements a broke city has to pay out for wrongful convictions and or more recently false tortured confessions over a 20 year period.”

My hope is that virtual hang-outs like Black Twitter will move both silent supporters and the silent and vocal opposition to reconsider their stances and responses regarding the issues facing black America at this time. In the absence of that ideal, though, it might just help people recognize what all of us lose by allowing the atrocities facing black America to continue.

Here are some places to start on Black Twitter:

@ShaunKing (Tagline: Family Man; Author; Activist; Techie; Entrepreneur; Teacher; Humanitarian; Fighter; Mountaineer; Organizer; Web Developer; Soccer Coach; Citizen of the world; Mommy Means It’s note: Shaun King has been amazingly sleuthing up some vital information on Ferguson and other cases involving race.)

@MusicOverPeople (Tagline: I SPENT MORE TIME IN JAIL THAN DARREN WILSON.)

@ThatsRacistAF (Tagline:  mixed with &. Born & Raised in.)

@OpFerguson (Tagline: Anonymous Operation Ferguson)

@OBS_StL (Tagline: OBS fights for political empowerment, economic justice & the cultural dignity of African-Americans, especially the Black working class.)

@chescaleigh (graphic designer, natural hair lover, curator & video blogger in NYC. Constantly going over heads & stepping on toes.)

@akacharleswade (Tagline: Adjectives and emotions.)

@JennMJack (Tagline: Writer. Activist. Educator. Dope chick. Momx3. Misanthrope. Rising PhD. Six foota.)

@ebonyMAG (Tagline: It’s more than a magazine, it’s a movement.)

@TheRoot (Tagline: The Root is a digital magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary and news from a variety of black perspectives.)

@NAACP (Tagline: Founded February 12, 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots–based civil rights organization.)

@Colorlines (Colorlines is a daily news site where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis.)

@RaceForward (Tagline: We advance racial justice through research, media and practice. We publish and present Facing Race.)

@rebel19 (Tagline: Writer/Editor. Black in America.)

@blackenterprise (Tagline: The Official Black Enterprise Twitter Page! Print | TV | Events | Online)

@ProfessorCrunk (Tagline: Thinker. Teacher. CrunkFeminist. Salon Contributor.

@BlackGirlNerds (Tagline: An online community devoted to promoting nerdiness among Black women & people of color. Live tweeter. Ranter. Raver. Geeker Outer.

@CornelWest (Tagline: 1 of America’s most provocative public intellectuals; a champion for racial justice through the traditions of the black Church, progressive politics, & jazz.)

Please feel free to add more in the comments section.


 

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