Value Statement: "Racial Hatred has no Color"
I've been thinking a lot lately about education and our schools and some of the actions we could take as individuals and as a community to improve the future for our young people. Perhaps we might begin with teaching a few values or self-evident verifiable truths. Value statements are beliefs which can be guidelines for behavior: "this is ok but that is not."
I thought about that this morning when I saw this post on my FaceBook:
"St. Lawrence County, NY — Thirteen people were recently arrested for defrauding the Department of Social Services out of more than $104,000, which is considered the largest welfare fraud sweep in the county’s history. All of those arrested were reportedly white and not a single Black person was involved."
When I read something like this, I always ask myself: Is there an underlying, the unspoken message here? In this case the underlying message seems to be: "White people commit more crimes than black people. Thus white people are worse than black people." But is this an accurate conclusion to draw based on the evidence offered in story? I don't think so.
Before taking the obvious bait of indignant self-righteous racial hatred (White people are worse than black people) I remember my value belief that hatred has no color. A black person is just as capable of hatred as a white person.
So I looked at the facts: 1) all these people were women--perhaps a case could be made that this story illustrates discrimination against women in the USA. Then I notice that this event took place in St. Lawrence County New York--never heard of it so I googled its demographics (only took a few seconds)
and this is what I found:
The population of St. Lawrence County, NY is 92.1% White Alone, 2.28% Hispanic or Latino, and 2.23% Black or African American. The poverty rate in St. Lawrence County is 19.4%. (National poverty rate is at about 12.3%.)
With only 2.23% of their population being black (compared to 13.4% nation wide), it's no surprise that no blacks showed up in this photo. Their poverty rate is high in their community and its highly likely these women were desperate (not an excuse) but certainly suggesting extenuating circumstances.
PERHAPS THIS IS A STORY OF WHAT HAPPENS TO THE POOR WHEN THEY BREAK THE LAW AS OPPOSED TO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE RICH WHO BEND THE LAW IN THEIR FAVOR
When you average their thefts out, they amount to $8,800 per woman. I look at these faces and I think: How many men on Wall Street are bilking Americans of millions of dollars every year and getting away with it? You can put Amazon at the top of the list--a multibillion dollar corporation that paid $0 in income tax last year.
I don't condone crime yet I do believe in compassion for others regardless their color and I do believe in compassion and understanding that encompasses more than "rule of law." Regardless, the fact that these women were white had nothing to do with their crime and should not be generalized to a statement regarding all white women--any more than it would have if they had been black. Thus the statement "None of them were Black", even though true steers readers into making an erroneous conclusion based on racial bias.
ADDENDUM: MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN PRISON IN THE UNITED STATES ARE, LIKE THE WOMEN SHOWN ABOVE, POOR--REGARDLESS THEIR RACE OR ETHNICITY
Year after year, the United States beats out much larger countries -- India, China -- and more totalitarian ones --Russia and the Philippines -- for the distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nearly 2.2 million adults were held in America's prisons and jails at the end of 2016.
Another way to put America's love of prisons in a global perspective: While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners. The American criminal justice system’s glaring racial disparities are well known: Black people make up nearly 40 percent of America’s incarcerated population and are more than five times as likely as whites to be behind bars.
The American prison system is bursting at the seams with people who have been shut out of the economy and who had neither a quality education
, Becky Pettit finds that while the overall educational attainment of Americans has grown since 1980, the fraction of the incarcerated with less than a high school diploma grew over this same period. See Becky Pettit, Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress
(New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2012), p 16.
"> nor access to good jobs.Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park," The Right Investment? Corrections Spending in Baltimore City, February 2015.
"> In 2014 dollars, incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration, which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.
Our jails and prisons are mostly filled with America’s poor. Since black people are far likelier to be impoverished or low-income, they’re also far likelier to be locked up. The probability that a low-income black man has been jailed is around 52 percent; for an upper-income black man it’s 14 percent.