One evening coming home from work, I was ‘pulled over’ by NYPD officers on my own block in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn NY. When the ‘guns drawn’ officer on the driver’s side of the car saw my dashboard NYCBOE Principal’s Parking Permit, my NYPD ‘Family member badge and card’ (gift from the police precinct near my school), me in a suit and tie, my license/registration in my left hand and both hands on the steering wheel, the interior car lights on revealing my ‘backseat office’ of books and papers, he apologized by saying: “Sorry, but we pulled you over because we saw an expensive car in this neighborhood.” What’s true is, that type of painful dehumanizing experience is one I have known since childhood, and will probably only end when I am dead, or with the 2nd coming of Wakanda! However, what is also true is that if I were to ever irresponsibly drive drunk and endanger my fellow citizens, the police should absolutely pull me over; not for driving an “expensive car in that (Black?) neighborhood”, but for dangerously driving drunk! Both of those realities, painfully demeaning treatment, and properly executed procedures, can both exist in the same world; and they essentially capture the complicated reality of Black life in America.
And now to Ms. Taraji Henson and her R. Kelly Posting:
“Henson shared videos of searches for the #MuteRKelly hashtag on Instagram and compared those high number of hashtag hits to the low number of posts containing #MuteWeinstein or #MuteHarveyWeinstein hashtags… “HMMMMM,” Henson wrote on Instagram.”
I can’t believe that so many Black folks still employ this faulty and amoral logic approach to assessing bad black behavior. I’ve seen this same failed thinking with the defense of everyone from Bill Cosby to Black murderers who may have received more jail time than their White criminal colleagues. Some of the reasons this anti-reasoning movement (that is unfortunately perpetuated by many ‘well-educated’ Black Americans) continues to flourish, is the presence of intellectual deficiencies created in the K-12 education-world. This is the example of the diminished demand from schools generally, to ask K-12 students to address more ‘open-ended’ and thought-provoking questions. Another villain: ‘Multiple choice’ Q&A, which can too often remove the complexity and subtle nuances that make up ‘real life’ and the real challenges we face in the world. Histography (like math and science) should be more complex and analytical as a student moves from elementary to high school; students need to learn to be more comfortable studying in the ‘grey complex areas’ of curriculum topics (e.g. George Washington as POTUS, and his role as an evil slave owner) In middle and high school science classes, students need to engage in more real scientific methodological (problem-posing-solving) inquisitive driving science labs; let students experience the intelligence growing practice of having to search for the most ‘revelatory’, appropriate, applicable and logical answer, rather than the easy and obvious ‘right’ answer (which is what real scientific inquiry is really about).
Here is my assignment Ms. Henson:
Two seemingly opposed, conflicting and/or connected or totally disconnected ideas can both be true; and so, one does not necessarily cancel out the other. And we enable the ability of evil people to inflict greater suffering, create more victims, by falsely anointing them as (racial-political) “victims”.
X is true: America is fundamentally racially discriminatory in all aspects of US life; including the differences in the: ‘area of suspicion of being a criminal’, arrest, convictions, sentencing and in many cases the extralegal summary execution of Black Americans by either a white citizen or a law enforcement agent. There is a collective unconscious or conscious belief, that the police can be called on any Black person by any ‘deputize’ white citizen for doing the most innocent of normal daily activities e.g. shopping in an ‘expensive’ store, entering their own house or putting groceries into their own car (not making this stuff up!) There is a major national ‘racial punishment gap’ in our K-12 schools. A dramatic difference in how real or alleged criminal activity and/or any ‘bad’ behaviors perpetuated by Black or White citizens is treated. This is why the society has wrapped its collective arms of protection around the Trump-MAGA “child” from Covington Catholic High School; and when an innocent unarmed Black child is killed by the police there is a different collective effort to first ‘de-child’ the victim, and then exonerate the officer(s) at any cost: “The victims candy bar looked like a weapon” or “The teenager was prone to criminality because they were sent to In School Suspension for a day in the 3rd grade!” Spoiler Alert (not): Black life in America is subject to unfairness and discrimination!
Y is true: Black people who engage in sexual-predatory-criminal behavior (more likely than not against other Black people), are sexual-predatory-criminals. White people getting away with the same acts, or who are penalized less harshly, or who get the news media’s entitlement: “benefit-of-the-doubt” and/or ‘soft-treatment’ for engaging in the same level of criminal pathological behavior, does not excuse or exonerate Black criminals who are sexual-predators; and it surely does not help the Black victims of those Black criminals to feel or heal better.
Z is what I want to be true: (1) That we fight (not request) without ceasing, for equal treatment under the law and social/legal justice. (2) That our (Black people) standards for acceptable behavior in our community should not be based on the fundamental racially discriminatory practices of American society; neither should our standards be driven by some ridiculous ‘rule’ that says: Unless every White sexual-predator-criminal is treated by the US criminal justice system, American society at large and/or the news media; in the same exact way that every Black sexual-predator-criminal is treated; then we must give a life-time ‘pass’ to Black sexual-predator-criminals, especially when they achieve ‘celebrity’ status!
X + Y = Z… Not: Because of X we should ignore or justify Y!
The other ‘discrimination’ question I would like to see explored in the context of this phenomena is: Why do Black victims always have less value and receive less sympathy then White victims? And in the face of that political reality, perhaps we (Black people) should have less sympathy for Black sexual-perpetrator-predators and a lot more sympathy and compassion for their Black victims.
Michael A. Johnson has served as a public school teacher, Science Skills Center director, principal, and a school district superintendent. He writes a bi-weekly column: “On Education” for Brooklyn’s: Our Time Press. He recently completed a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/