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Young Bostonians Pleased With Counter-protester Turnout Against ‘Free Speech’ Rally

BOSTON — With her 2-year-old son perched on her shoulders, Tomiqua Williams, 30, carefully guided her 5-year-old daughter’s wheelchair to the edge of the sidewalk, making sure she had a good view as thousands of marchers carrying signs denouncing hate and promoting tolerance poured through her Lower Roxbury neighborhood.

New York Bureau“I live down the street and it’s very monumental to see all the people who’s coming out to counter-protest what’s going to happen at the Boston Common today,” Williams said. She wants her children to know how important it is to stand up against hatred and racism.

“I want them to see and enjoy this moment,” she added.

Bayou Cugma, 9, who lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, said he would normally spend the last few days of summer playing soccer or basketball but that he was happy to give up an afternoon of play to help stop hate.

“It makes me feel strong and I hope it makes people stop all the madness,” said Cugma, referring to recent police killings of black men and other acts of racial hatred. He starts fourth grade in a few weeks.

Nine-year-old Bayou Cugma relishes a moment in the sun at a march against white supremacy and hate in Boston on Aug. 19, 2017.

Officials estimate more than 40,000 counter-protesters descended on the Boston Common Saturday to denounce white supremacy and hate speech and to oppose a protest described by organizers as a “free speech” rally. Counter-protesters, as well as city officials, were alarmed by possible connections between organizers of the “free speech” rally and a demonstration held last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white supremacists and neo-Nazis carrying torches and rifles spread messages of hate. One woman was killed, two state troopers in a helicopter died in a crash and numerous others were injured during the protest.

Organizers of the Boston rally denied being affiliated with the Charlottesville protestors, but counter-protester organizers and marchers were not convinced.

"If this was really about free speech, we would have been invited from day one to speak and have a platform," said Angelina Camacho, who is the Black Lives Matter co-organizer for the Boston area, at a Friday morning press conference.

“People are using freedom of speech for the gathering on the Common but we all know what is behind it and we’re against it,” said Boston resident Nancy Huang, 22, who was marching with friends from Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Boston resident Nancy Huang (on right of three people in red), 22, marches from the Reggie Lewis Center to the Boston Common on Aug. 19, 2017.

Most counter-protesters rallied at the Reggie Lewis Center in the city’s historically black, but rapidly gentrifying, Roxbury neighborhood, then marched through Lower Roxbury and the South End on their way to the Boston Common.

Many said the march gave them an outlet to express their opposition to white supremacy and the political atmosphere that surrounds President Donald Trump, who is under fire for not immediately denouncing events in Charlottesville.

“I don’t think we should be staying silent while something this wrong is happening,” said Jocelyn Antonio, 27, as she marched with a group of young people down Tremont Street toward the Boston Common.

“It’s not like white supremacy hasn’t been happening all along,” Antonio said. “But when it’s so overt and in your face, you have to do something about it and if you don’t you’re just encouraging people and letting them know that it’s OK — and it’s not.”

The Boston organizers may have gotten that message.

Only about three dozen showed up, and the event ended after only about an hour. Those in attendance were escorted out by police shortly before the main group of counter-protesters reached the Common.

Counter-protesters put their hands up as they clash with police, who appear to be protecting “free speech” rally-goers on Aug. 19, 2017.

Initially, small groups of counter-protesters and police clashed when officers appeared to protect the small group of "free speech" rally-goers and counter-protesters were pushed back by a line of police in riot gear. Later in the afternoon, large crowds pushed their way across Tremont Street toward the city's downtown area as a small number of Trump supporters confronted counter-protesters.

But in spite of the clashes, the event was overwhelmingly peaceful. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh thanked counter-protesters at a late afternoon press conference.

“I want to thank all the people that came out to share ... that message of love, not hate, to fight back on racism, to fight back on anti-Semitism, to fight back on the white supremacists that are coming to our city — on the Nazis that were coming to our city,” he said.

Although 33 people were arrested when scuffles broke out between small groups of counter-protesters and the police, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans also praised attendees.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people here were here for the right reason, and that is to fight bigotry and hate,” said Evans at the press conference.

As the last of the marchers passed her corner, Willams prepared to walk the few blocks back to her apartment. She said she was inspired by the overwhelming number of counter-protesters, but wonders if her kids will still be marching against racism and white supremacy when they have their own children.

“I hope that we don’t have to continue to keep marching,” she said. “We keep having to demonstrate for the same reasons that our grandparents did and we have to show we’re tired of this and move forward.”


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Implicit Bias: More Than Just a Few Bad Apples

content-sidebar-weddingYouth of color experience the worst outcomes in every youth-serving system, including law enforcement, child welfare and education, the data show conclusively. This is due in part to unconscious or implicit biases that affect our understanding of individuals, based on their race and ethnicity, and cause us to alter our decision-making accordingly.

As decision-makers we are often oblivious to our own biases and the pervasive patterns of discrimination that exist within our agencies and institutions.

Many people reject the idea that race and ethnic disparities in youth-serving systems are caused by racism or bias. That’s because they think of racism only in terms of blatant acts of discrimination such as lynching, cross-burning and Jim Crow segregation.

For more information, visit the JJIE Resource Hub

In the absence of those more blatant and incontrovertible examples of racism, many people think that the racism that may exist is the result of the random acts of a few bad apples.

But in this post-civil rights era racism has not disappeared. It has merely been transformed by colorblind practices that preclude us from noticing or talking explicitly about racism. By making conversations about race and racism taboo, colorblindness can mask the myriad ways that race and racism function today.

Modern racism is reflected in everyday behaviors in the form of microaggressions, e.g., verbal, nonverbal and environmental slights, snubs, insults, intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages that can have a detrimental racial effect and can remain virtually invisible in a colorblind society.

Such behaviors can go undetected in part because of their subtlety. They allow the modern racist to argue they have no bearing on race whatsoever.

When one juvenile court judge stated he wouldn’t tolerate discrimination from anyone in his court, he was clearly expecting the racism would be tangible, easy to detect, not everyday behaviors from everyone in juvenile court, reflected in the differential application of policies and procedures and passed from one decision-point to the next.

In this way bias that is deeply entrenched in cultural norms of the agency and society can persist, virtually without notice.

Racism reflected in patterns of racial discrimination in every social institution is caused by more than the random acts of a few “bad apples.” Instead, it comes from the collective acts of individuals whose decisions are consistent with biases that are widely held throughout society, even by well-meaning people.

What is implicit bias?

According to the National Center for State Courts, “implicit bias is the bias in judgment and/or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes (e.g., implicit attitudes and implicit stereotypes) that often operate below conscious awareness and without intention.” Explicit bias “reflects the attitudes or beliefs that one endorses at a conscious level.”

People make automatic associations between individuals and their stereotypical group characteristics due to implicit biases. We are inundated daily by messages throughout popular culture, e.g., news media, talk shows, reality TV, political speeches, comedy acts, movies, textbooks and jokes, that promote stereotypical images of all race and ethnic groups.

When I ask practitioners across the country about stereotypes, regardless of whether they live in Orange County, California, or Memphis, Tennessee, they recite the same stereotypes: Native Americans are alcoholics, blacks are criminals, Asians are smart and Mexicans are undocumented.

On a conscious level, we would avoid generalizing about groups in this way, but because implicit biases operate on an unconscious level, we can be caught off-guard by these stereotypes, which affect our daily decision-making.

The reason disparities in decision-making can go unnoticed is because biased decision-making creates a vicious cycle: In youth-serving systems, the more consistently decisions match the stereotypes, the more they are replicated within the agency and society in general; the more correct and natural the decisions appear; the less scrutiny they will undergo, and the more likely the outcomes — good or bad — will be used as the basis for later decisions.

Biases in decision-making have the potential to inform and therefore distort decisions at each step along the way. In this way biases and corresponding decisions become a normal aspect of agency and societal culture. The stereotypes that associate blacks with criminality and whites as basically neutral or good cause us not to notice or question the overrepresentation of blacks in juvenile justice and the relative underrepresentation of whites.

[Related: OP-ED: We All Have Responsibility to End Institutionalized Racism In Juvenile Justice Systems]

Decision-makers often don’t notice the discrepancies in their decisions because they think of themselves as well-meaning people who do not have racial animosity toward others.

But decision-makers in every youth-serving system are susceptible to bias that contributes to disproportionality because:

  1. racism doesn’t (necessarily) show malice;
  2. racist attitudes and actions are often unintended;
  3. racist attitudes can be unconscious, and
  4. modern racism occurs in the form of microaggressions.

Racism doesn’t show malice

Individuals think that because they don’t feel any racial animosity toward another group, they are not biased. The assumption that teachers, social workers, judges, police and probation officers are unbiased must be challenged because even individuals who “claim no prejudice” against blacks (or people of color in general) “discriminate in subtle but consequential ways.”

Racist attitudes can be unintended

According to colorblind ideology, the litmus test for racism is intentionality. Asserting that statements or actions can’t be racist unless they were “intended” as such will protect even the most obvious racist actions. In fact even though people don’t intend to be racist or are unaware of their biases, their actions can have a racial effect.

We all have unconscious biases

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of contemporary racism is unconscious or implicit bias. Our implicit biases will affect our decision-making whether we realize it or not. It affects our perceptions, the way we interpret the facts and the language we use to describe the “facts.” Anyone can be affected by bias; teachers, judges, law enforcement, probation officers, hospital staff, etc. Despite our best intentions, “few can escape the cultural and cognitive forces that promote racial bias.”

Racism in institutions occurs in the form of microaggressions and rarely as blatant and incontrovertible acts of discrimination.

How implicit bias can preserve systems of inequality

Race and ethnic stratification that existed prior to the civil rights movement persists today, more than 30 years after the historic laws of racial exclusion were ostensibly eliminated. This is true in part because implicit bias distorts how facts are interpreted, resulting in vastly dissimilar outcomes in identical circumstances.

Implicit biases can distort the assessment of a youth’s delinquency, dangerousness and their risk of reoffending. That can result in the detention of one youth for the identical offense for which another was released. In child welfare, white and black children with identical risk factors have different outcomes: White children are more likely to receive family in-home services and black children are more likely to be removed and placed in foster care.

In hospitals and emergency rooms, the attitude of the mother can be perceived as evidence of risk to the child. White families are expected to advocate on behalf of their children but advocacy by black parents can easily be perceived according to stereotypes, e.g., aggressive, hostile and “poor parenting skills.”

These stereotypes and corresponding implicit biases can cause child welfare and hospital staff to judge black parents as uncooperative with decision-makers and therefore working against the best interest of their children. When decision-makers perceive families or youth as uncooperative, that perception is likely to be encoded into case notes, affidavits and court records.

Racially coded language recorded in reports are shared and passed from one decision point to another within and between systems. Judges have stated that as they became more aware of implicit bias they could identify how language in court reports signify race.

For example, in cases where decision-makers can use the benefit of the doubt to render a decision involving drug use, a white mother is often reported as having “no drug involvement,” whereas a black mother is reported as “mother alleges” or “mother reports no drug involvement.” It is easy to see how the use of racially coded language creates bias at one decision point that gets passed to another.

Based upon the choice of words, one mother has essentially been cleared of suspicion of drug involvement while another is placed under greater scrutiny and will have a hurdle to overcome. Bias encoded in language becomes the baseline for decision-making at every subsequent decision point and will impact how children and their families are perceived and therefore how they are served within systems.

Because implicit bias can easily go undetected, usual practices that appear neutral to race must be examined for their potential to promote and mask biases.

How implicit bias interacts, compounds within, across youth-serving systems

Implicit bias can:

  1. Inform discretionary decision-making, assessments of risk and reoffending, and how sentences and adjudication are determined.
  2. Result in the differential application of policies and procedures; for example, identical offenses can be perceived and managed differently due to differences in perception caused by implicit biases.
  3. Contribute to how discretionary laws and policies are applied and enforced, such as arresting preschool children who are having tantrums and labeling their age-appropriate behaviors “outbursts of violence.”
  4. Affect the language we “choose” and language we read in reports and affidavits, e.g., labeling white mothers as “upset” and black mothers as “angry” in identical circumstances. Bias in the use of language can affect decisions resulting in detention in juvenile justice or removal or reunification in child welfare.
  5. Inform ambiguous charges of delinquency such as willful defiance (bad attitude, rolling eyes, using profanity), or discretionary charges of low-level offenses like jaywalking or indecent exposure (e.g., sagging pants), which can be the reason some youth have increased contact with the system while others who commit similar offenses do not.

Rita Cameron Wedding, Ph.D., is the chair of the department of Women’s Studies and a professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at Sacramento State University. Her curriculum “Implicit Bias: Impact on Decision-Making,” has been used to train judges, public defenders, practitioners in child welfare, juvenile justice, law enforcement and educators since 2005. As faculty member for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, she has trained judges at court improvement initiatives in 40-plus states. She has provided expert testimony before the U.S. Commission on Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Email her at drrcamwed@aol.com.

More related articles:

OP-ED: Systemic Racism Overwhelms Our Culture

OP-ED: Fraternity Chant Shows How Racism Infects Organization

Listen to the White Southerner: Zero Tolerance in Schools Is Racist

NAACP Blasts Mace in Birmingham Schools

The NAACP launched an online petition this week, inviting people to lend their names to a campaign to end the use of pepper spray on students in Birmingham, Al. public schools.

“As long as we continue to treat students like criminals, they will grow up to become criminals,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a written statement.

The NAACP argues that Mace and pepper spray may be legitimate parts of an adult or crowd policing strategy, but are not acceptable for use on school children. Birmingham’s public school population is overwhelmingly African-American.

The petition comes as wrangling in U.S. District Court over the practice reaches nearly the two-year mark. In December, 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit for damages on behalf of six defendants, and also asked for pepper sprays to be banned. They alleged that Birmingham police officers in the school used the chemical as a first resort and as punishment, among other charges.

“Mace is used so frequently and so indiscriminately in Birmingham’s public high schools that each Class Representative [defendant] — and all BCS students — faces a real and substantial risk of future and repeated injury,” the original complaint read.

Birmingham’s Board of Education and schools superintendent have been dismissed from the case, though six city police officers, the police chief and a high school assistant principal are still on the docket.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Schools declined comment.

Police carry the mace because it its part of their “daily equipment,” a police spokesman is quoted in Birmingham media.

The Birmingham police spokesman could not immediately be reached for any further comment.

In a written statement, Hezekiah Jackson IV, Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP president said, “we as a community must end this form of archaic police disciplinary response, implement alternative strategies and create an atmosphere in which all children of Birmingham can feel protected and comfortable.”

Photo source: http://justmytruth.wordpress.com/

One Kid’s View of Corporate Irresponsibility

Urban Outfitters Inc. owns the popular indie stores Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. The company runs roughly 2,000 of these stores around the globe, employs thousands of people and has received several awards for efforts to preserve history through their products.

Who could have a problem with such a great corporation? Well, many people could, and many people do. Urban Outfitters managed to upset the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, LGBT advocacy groups and women advocacy groups.

The earliest social upset occurred in 2003, when Urban Outfitters started selling Ghettopoly, a parody of the popular family board game, Monopoly. The parody board game replaces the four railroads on the original Monopoly board with four liquor stores, while “Ghetto Stash” and “Hustle” substitute for the original “Community Treasure” and “Chance” squares.

The game pieces include a block of crack cocaine, a pimp, a basketball, and a 40-oz.bottle of beer. In the center of the board, Ghettopoly is printed in large red letters with a large African American male wearing a red doorag emerging out of the “O” wielding a gun in his left hand and a large bottle of alcohol in his right. The Associated Press reported the game includes “Ghetto Stash” and “Hustle” cards reading, “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each playa,” and, “You’re a little short on loot, so you decided to stick up a bank. Collect $75.” The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was outraged. During an interview with The Baltimore Sun, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-10-11/news/0310110153_1_urban-outfitters-hasbro-games-monopoly  Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP announced he wrote to the original designer of the product regarding the racism present in the game and received a half-hearted response stating that the creator did not mean to offend anyone, but regardless will not change or stop selling the board game.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is an international organization that has attempted to prevent anti-Semitism since it’s formation in 1913. The ADL Press Center reported that they had their first dispute with Urban Outfitters in 2004 when the store released a T-Shirt that the ADL thought was promoting the stereotype of the so-called Jewish American Princess (JAP) and the other extremely popular stereotype that Jews are infatuated with money. The ADL Press Center described the shirt, reporting it originally contained graphics such as shopping bags and dollar signs surrounding the words “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl.” ADL announced that they were very happy with Urban Outfitters' decision to adjust the shirt to only include the words without the graphics. http://www.adl.org/PresRele/DiRaB_41/4438_41.htm

Urban Outfitters and ADL had no further controversy until April of 2012 when Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/adl-slams-urban-outfitters-over-holocaust-t-shirt-1.425695  reported that Urban Outfitters released a yellow shirt with a light blue emblem resembling the Star of David on the left breast pocket. ADL Press Center reported that ADL Regional Director Barry Morrison believed that Urban Outfitters had reached a new low. He claimed that the company was making a mockery of the Holocaust by retailing a shirt that used the identical yellow color of the Jewish Star which Jewish people were forced to wear in World War II.

In June of 2010, Urban Outfitters released a women’s shirt that had the words “Eat Less” scrawled in cursive on the torso, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Women advocacy groups were outraged, ordering Urban Outfitters to pull the shirt from shelves and take it off of their website. Urban removed the product from their website but not from their shelves. Reporters at The Huffington Post called stores in New York, one of which said that the shirt was in stock, but only large sizes were available. http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2010/06/urban_outfitters_stopped_selli.html

In February of this year Urban Outfitters released a line of St. Patrick’s Day themed apparel, which almost immediately grabbed the attention of the media. The collection included a women’s shirt with “Kiss Me. I’m Drunk Or Irish, Or Whatever” printed on the torso, a white women’s t-shirt with green lettering which spelled, “I’m a F[clover leaf]cking Leprechaun” on the torso, another women’s tank top which had “IRISH I Were DRUNK” printed on the torso, and a truckers hat with green mesh and a white front which had a graphic of a man on his hands and knees throwing up with the words “Irish Yoga” above and “downward facing upchuck” under the graphic according to an article in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2108948/St-Patricks-Day-Urban-Outfitters-T-shirts-Irish-Americans-fury-disrespectful-slogans.html.

Abolishing the word “tranny” from the public’s vocabulary --  a word with a typically negative connotation when used in conversation at present -- has been a goal of the gay community for years. LGBT activists have found numerous ways to inform society of how hurtful the word can be and have made progress in removing it from most of the population’s vocabulary. However, earlier this year, Urban Outfitters released a transphobic, or homophobic, greeting card imitating the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, which made an exceptionally offensive slur about closeted transgenders, as reported by The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/urban-outfitters-all-its-recent-controversies-explained/2012/03/29/gIQAP2lDjS_blog.html  Jill had gone up the hill and Jack followed to look up her skirt, but Jack is surprised to notice that “Jill was a closet tranny.”

In the past seven years Urban Outfitters Inc. has offended African Americans with their racist board games, Irish Americans, the Jewish population and women advocacy groups with their offensive apparel, and homosexuals with their unsuitable greeting cards.

They’ve not only offended homosexuals but also angered some who are offended by homosexuality, including One Million Moms. A picture of two girls kissing on a catalog was seen by the group as “promoting lesbianism," according to its website onemillionmoms.com.

The Washington Post reported that Navajo Nation has sued the company for stealing patented designs.

So when will we put a stop to Urban Outfitter’s immaturity? We have to, because the company obviously won’t learn a lesson.

We must put a stop to corporate irresponsibility and this should start with Urban Outfitters. Their clothes are cheaply made and cost you a lot of money. If you wish to start boycotting Urban Outfitters, why not turn to a few of these clothing companies with the same urban style that don’t feel a need to offend:

Levi’s (www.levi.com), Shop Robertson (shoprobertson.com), Bad Joan (www.badjoan.com), ASOS (asos.com), All Saints (us.allsaints.com)

 

 

The Myth of the Young, Black Male: A More Subtle Racism

John Last 1When I was a kid, around 10 or 11, I loved fantasy novels, especially The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I read these books over and over, and with my friend Michael would act out the various scenes of the books. We would run around the yard with toy swords and trash can lids for shields, battling monsters until it got too dark to play any longer.

One day we were pretending we were wizards, casting spells and dispensing vague wisdom to our imaginary comrades. As part of our costumes we made hoods out of pillow cases, and were blithely going about our business when my dad came home. He looked at us playing, and yelled for us to take those hoods off at once. Then he told Michael to go home, and he made me come inside and sit down for a lecture.

I was confused, and only became more so as he talked about prejudice and racism and the history of the South. He told me about his own upbringing, and about how blacks were treated in his small town. He told me about his time in the military, and how it changed his views of race. He was disturbed that Michael and I had been pretending we were in the Ku Klux Klan. I did not know what the Klan was, and was surprised to hear about it.

Before that, I did not really know what racism was, because it was not modeled for me by my parents. I was blissfully ignorant of how immersed I was in a society where race was a huge factor in how people were evaluated. The day I had that talk with my dad in a small south Georgia town was in the summer of 1977 or 1978. Racism was still a strong force there.

Now, in the spring of 2012, racism is still with us, though perhaps in a more subtle fashion. The case of Trayvon Martin is receiving a lot of scrutiny, and how it will play out is unknown. What is certain though is that many in our society view a young, black male as inherently suspect. As a class these youngsters are perceived as more prone to crime and other antisocial behaviors. He was suspected by his killer of being high on drugs and up to no good. There is debate about his appearance, and questions about the photos used to represent him in the media. But the bottom line is that how he was dressed, how tall he was, or whether he had gold teeth doesn’t matter.

This myth about young black men is not borne out by the facts though. As Mike Males, a researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, notes in a recent op-ed in Politico, “The latest figures from the FBI, Bureau of Justice Statistics and public health agencies show that among black youth, rates of robbery and serious property offenses are the lowest in more than 40 years. Rates of murder and rape are now lower than when nationwide crime statistics first appeared in 1965 — and those were far less complete than today’s. Assault rates are lower than when this crime statistic was expanded to include domestic violence and new offenses a quarter-century ago.”

No one argues that violence and crime are not problems in this segment of the population. They are still more likely to be victims of violence, and are definitely overrepresented in contact with law enforcement, convictions, and incarceration. But these facts do not make up the totality of their reality. By far the majority of these youngsters will not commit a crime, nor will they be victimized. Most of them are not drug dealers or addicts. Most of them are not anti social. Yet this is the stereotype that they live with, and that is perpetuated by the media and politicians.

As Males points out, it is not just conservatives who are painting this picture. The president himself, in a 2008 speech, “deplored African-Americans’ ‘epidemic of violence’ that he blamed on an ‘entire generation of young men in our society.’”

And it is not only Fox News that uses this image to titillate. CNN's show "Deadly Lessons," accused African-Americans of perpetrating “a growing culture of violence, especially among young people,” a culture described by one commentator as “a generation of folks that do not value life.” Even Geraldo Rivera’s recent comments about how dangerous it is to wear a hoodie are based on a twisted view of who young black men really are.

So, let’s take a deep breath and look at the facts. Let’s not greet each young black man that we meet with fear or suspicion. It is overwhelmingly likely that he is someone you will want to know. Let’s start making room for that in our lives. It is 2012, and far overdue.