Floyd, Chauvin, and Race in America: Where Do We Go from Here?

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[My audio commentary here:

https://soundcloud.com/user-31492767/floyd-chauvin-race-relations-where-do-we-go-from-here-jttg-may-2021]

This article employs race relations as the backdrop for tackling some universal challenges we all face.

It’s less about politics than it is about exploring two skills that serve well in all walks:

1) A knack for asking the right questions. 

2) The ability to get others aligned with your way of thinking.

Through that prism, it’s an intriguing read for anyone.

I’ve fielded some questions about the Floyd/Chauvin case, now that the verdict has been handed down:

Where do we go from here? What are some of the implications surrounding race relations, public and personal accountability, and activism?

A few thoughts:

1) There are (visible) cracks in the Blue Wall.

John 3:20: “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light.”

Exposure to natural light dries up the conditions that allow bacteria to flourish.

Ditto for bad actors.

Public pressure, however misguided, is leading to important questions that are holding municipal departments accountable. It’s increasingly-difficult for police unions to sweep criminal malfeasance under the rug.

You’d like to see the public do more of this in other arenas, like public and private education, but independent, critical thinking is seldom found in the middle of a herd.

2) Will More Conversations About Race Lead to (Significant) Change?

Doubtful.

Setting aside the question of what the specific goal is for some of these movements, how often does “talk” actually lead to change?

Intentional, thoughtful action is what gets things done.

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement will struggle to produce meaningful, positive change for reasons I’ve outlined in the past:

Two problems facing the protest community:

1) Inability to Create Change

2) Sullied Reputation: “Protesters are Thugs.

“They only have one questionWhat’s in it for them?

Why should they invest the time and effort to help you, beyond offering empty gestures and lip service? It could be an emotional reason or a financial one.

It could be to create tranquility inside their own minds. You have to give people a reason to get off the sidelines.

Article: Freddie Gray, Dirty Cops, & The Problem With (Peaceful) Protests

As we’ve seen with many would-be revolutionaries of the past, how the spoils of early victories are divided reveals much about BLM’s long-term viability. Integrity of leadership is one of the canaries in the coal mine for spotting movements that can stand the test of time. Unchecked spending from BLM organizers has brought increased scrutiny over how donations are being managed.

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BLM leadership putting winning Monopoly strategy to good use.

Most campaigns sputter because they ignore one—or more—of the following tenets:

Three Steps to Producing Effective Community Organizing Campaigns:

1) Provide clear information on the problem, including reasons why people need to join the cause. Use incentives.

2) Present specific actions for participation that further the cause, including easy access to donation links and support for policies that actually move political and economic levers.

3) Routinely examine strategy and tactics, assessing how much progress has been made and whether the current course of action is appropriate for the scope of the problem. Adjust accordingly.

Article: Slacktivism: The Problem With Social Media Movements

Shaming people, especially when your own hands aren’t clean, isn’t going to get anything beyond nominal concessions.

Most of the old boy network—or, “The Man”, to put it more humorously—knows this. That’s why they can get on board most any cause, with little fear of any real loss. They know standards for change agents worth supporting have plummeted, so companies are happy to capitalize, picking up market share and goodwill in exchange for token displays of support.

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The biggest sports leagues in the world have gotten in on the act, hopping onto the protest bandwagon that first picked up steam a few years ago. A few commercials and planned anthem demonstrations are hollow gestures that will ultimately do nothing to help minority communities advance.

(Although the dollars that have been pledged to aid communities could do some good—if used properly.)

3) How do we avoid being killed by the police? 

Stay out of the line of fire.

Looking for a “safe” stance on police-related incidents that won’t get you “cancelled”?

Me neither. 🙂

But hey, this site doesn’t shy away from controversy.

If you live in an impoverished community, you’re more likely to have interactions with the police. When they’re not setting up speed traps to meet monthly quotas, they’re patrolling high-crime areas where illegal activity is fiercest.

The cops have mandates to hit areas where their efforts can register the biggest impact. Those tend to be areas with higher concentrations of minorities.

You’re much more likely to be hassled by police in East St. Louis than you are in East Hampton.

Although ongoing calls for change may lead to negative unintended consequences for those inner-city zones.

You can only campaign for reduced police presence so long before politicians start to listen. People respond to incentives: Shifts in policy come when jobs get threatened. Pushes to defund the police—an ill-conceived response to relatively-rare high-profile incidents—will lead to an increase in crime. Remove deterrents to crime—police presence, policies that punish quality-of-life infractions—and you’ll see anti-social behavior spike.

But if you’re paying attention, you already knew that.

That’s something to think about in the most vulnerable communities, where per capita income leaves residents least capable of defending themselves when the wolves are at the door.

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City life without cops.

So, how do we avoid fatal encounters with the police?

What’s the lesson here?

The onus is on the public to recognize that the police are human, subject to the same fears and frailties that we are. You’ve got to minimize your exposure to danger as much as you can.

Article: What We Learned from Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Ferguson

Do not resist arrest.

You may have been profiled or detained unlawfully—fair enough. If you’re still alive, you will have a chance to fight your case later.

We’ve got a lot of agency, ability to influence the world around us.

It’s up to you whether your run-in with the cops ends in a conversation, a citation, or a trip to the hospital.

And, unfortunately, nowadays one has to define what “resisting arrest” means:

Yelling at the police, attempting to wriggle out of handcuffs, running away, brandishing a knife—these are no-nos that could get you killed.

This is common sense and goes without saying among older generations. They understand you can be respectful without being obsequious.

But in a society where subtle messaging and normative cues are fed to individuals less-practiced in critical thinking, population manipulation is easier to achieve.

Be careful whom you accept marching orders from. 

The media has no stake in your individual well-being, so they’ll tell you whatever they think will get you agitated and ready to do what they want you to do: 

Support the right interests and buy products and services.

Emotional thinkers make great consumers.

I love feedback, so do share your thoughts.

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