Thursday, December 4, 2014


Two black men lost their lives in the American street.  Twice the police have been accused of brutality, and twice a Grand Jury decided there was no case for sanction.  In the first case the circumstances looked unclear. In the second Staten Island case the video leaves little room for doubt and it is difficult to deny what one sees.  Public opinion in the latter "incident" is almost unanimous in condemning what looks like the inexcusable taking of a person's life.

America has made extraordinary advances towards racial equality for many African-Americans who find themselves in a positive vortex. Their presence in the arts, entertainment, academia and liberal professions has grown exponentially.  Unfortunately, the ones who see their income stagnating or shrinking are stuck in a crime and drug infested hell. The "poor whites" are equally marginalized but seem to be able to maintain a more solid family structure and are less alienated from official or private assistance channels.

A lot is being said regarding race in America.  Some observations are to the point, but some "presentation" is immoral and unhelpful. Most of us, of all color, walking at night would prefer to avoid meeting a group of young blacks or whites coming in the opposite direction. Likewise in Europe the same happens when threatening whites or North Africans loom in the distance. It is unfortunately so that any grouping of well-dressed individuals of any race will seldom activate alarm bells. This might be regrettable but nevertheless it is sociologically normal. Racism and the chemistry of danger are different things.

It is equally undeniable that pockets of racism remain in the United States and elsewhere (I lived in China) and that a lot still needs to be done to heal bigotry and prejudice. American blacks find it often difficult to climb the social ladder in a society where inequality is growing and better education becomes unaffordable. The so-called Obama-effect has had no lasting power and the President is more often seen by black Americans as one of "the privileged", vacationing in the Vineyard, rather than one of them. The former have few role models to look up to and are too often manipulated by demagogues. 

The moral/intellectual voices are few.  Since the "difficult" message from Daniel Patrick Moynihan regarding situation statutes or social divide in the North, little has been said which could uplift the conversation. It is indeed time to consider one's own facts again rather than spin one's own opinion.

The President still has a unique opportunity to leave the trenches of the usual arguments and come forward with measures which go further than the former Great Society ambitions of President Johnson. They should open the path for individuals so that they can feel as being more on the participating end than on the receiving end. Those marginalized individuals need to feel wanted, besides being (hardly) fed. They should be convinced that trust, education and respect are achievable. Hence, new avenues must be provided with enough ramps for people to climb the distance. The black elite has a responsibility too. Instead of glamorizing a video game culture of short-term satisfaction, they could choose to make some room for dignity which  too seldom figures in considerations that are often exclusively mercenary.

Exploitation as we have seen in Ferguson (not yet in Staten Island, as of today) should not be repeated.  One victim stole cigars, the other sold cigarettes.  Smoking is not only bad for your life, it might lead to one's death, as soon as the brain of the policeman/woman starts its chemical race to the darker impulse.

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