Black History Month recognized
After being disappointed by the apparent lack of recognition by the City of Dallas of Black History Month, I was pleased to learn that recognition of this important time was indeed underway. In spite of many bureaucratic obstacles, Dallas may finally have a banner downtown signaling recognition of this time to remind ourselves of the historic inequities visited upon, and contributions of people of African descent. When we see it, we have a group of dedicated citizens and our Dallas library staff to thank for making this happen. Our city manager has also been working diligently with some of the bureaucratic obstacles. It’s my understanding that the library hopes to be open by the middle of February, and will have a display and materials available to help us educate ourselves. These actions reinforce my belief that a library is the heart of the community.
Enforce safe protests
Within hours of the protests in Washington D.C. becoming violent, the National Guard was called in, barriers were put up, 90+ people were arrested and both Democrats and Republicans denounced the storming of the U.S. Capital calling it anything from rioting to insurrection. Thankfully, the damage to the Capital Building was minor. Sadly, three people died from physical wounds and two from medical issues.
The BLM protests have been ongoing for months, resulting in dozens of deaths, thousands of injuries and billions of dollars in damage and private property. Although statistics are hard to come by because the U.S. Justice Department keeps no figures on injuries or property damage for civil disturbances and the FBI says “no comment,” I did find some information.
Axios reported Sept. 16 that there was $1-2 billion of paid insurance claims with more expected.
In October, the Major Cities Chiefs Association released: Report on the 2020 Protests and Civil Unrest. The data is from May 25 – July 31 from 68 major cities and counties. Of the 8,700 protests, 51% (4,434) were peaceful and lawful, 42% (3,692) involved unlawful but non-violent civil disobedience, and 7% (574) were violent. Please note that 62% of the protests in Portland during this time involved violence. Attacks on police included 2,385 lootings, 624 arsons, 97 burned police cars and 2,037 police officers injure.
Where was the National Guard? Where was the outcry from the media? Why didn’t local officials do more to stop the violence? Many city officials enabled or encouraged the rioting, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler who joined the rioters downtown.
Americans have the right to assemble peacefully to protect anything they feel is wrong. They do not have the right to harm other people and property. Our government officials need to protect all citizens and their property from protesters, no matter what is being protested!
Understanding white privilege
We cannot use Black people’s achievement to dismiss/excuse the impact of white privilege. Oppressed people have always shown brilliance throughout history. White privilege is a system establishing preference for people with white skin while creating barriers to keep out nonwhite people. Therefore, ending white privilege should not be considered “government intervention and progressive politics.” One clear example of white privilege is government subsidized home loans. For 80 years, we’ve known that homeownership is important for families’ financial stability and for parents passing on wealth to their children. To support this, government intervention has provided subsidized FHA loans for veterans to buy homes. After WWII and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, these subsidized loans were nearly exclusively given to white families. This helped make today’s strong white middle class, since “many white families sent their children to college using their home equities” (see NPR’s article, May 3, 2017). Black veterans, however, were denied this financial support because essentially FHA only subsidized loans for white people. It’s one reason for today’s wealth gap where white families have ten times more wealth than black families. The effect of past and present racist banking practices continues to devalue homes in nonwhite neighborhoods, which impacts property taxes. This in turn creates school districts with fewer financial resources; today’s white school districts receive $2,226 per student more than nonwhite districts. And when people look for jobs, studies found that applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to get called for an interview than those with black sounding names (think Emily and Lakisha). So it should not be “progressive politics” to end white privilege. Instead of using preference for a person’s skin color, people’s hard work should be the means by which they acquire wealth and get hired. Isn’t that an American ideal?
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