How Can Local Government Address Systemic Racism?
Peniel Joseph, one of the nation’s leading civil rights scholars, has studied and written about the history of race and democracy. He has some ideas on how cities and urban areas can begin to dismantle racism.
[OCS: I would first posit that governance should be wrested from the corrupt party of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, anti-civil-rights, and the KKK. The party that is most aligned with “the system” and has misused trillions of dollars that were allocated to improve infrastructure and the general welfare of the people. History has demonstrated that continued political power for this cohort is unlikely to produce beneficial change and continue the practice of political corruption -- where waste, fraud, and abuse is routinely accepted by those who are spending other people’s money.]
Have we reached a moment when we could start to dismantle systemic racism?
[OCS: I would also posit that there is no such thing as “systemic racism” because all political actions are the sum total of the actions of self-interested individuals being directed by those granted the power to govern. To believe in systemic racism is to believe a municipality with an administration governed by people of color would find it necessary to attribute racism to the black leadership, black police, black prosecutors, black judges, and black jurors. Or that some outside agency is forcing them to act in a racist manner.]
I hope we have. I do think we’re asking the right questions about wealth inequality, racial disparity, white supremacy, white privilege. These questions, along with defunding the police and prison abolition, are all the right takes in terms of policy.
[OCS: In the history of nations, there has always been wealth inequality, a condition that will prevail far into the future. Racial disparity is an artificial construct to excuse the disparity in performance between the races. One sees true African-Americans, as well as other immigrants, enter the United States and prosper and thrive. Of, course they have a different mindset from the majority of inner cities blacks, one of individualism and opportunity that is divorced from political control and handouts.
White supremacy is to be condemned as it promotes an artificial division of the races. There is no such thing as white privilege unless you also consider the privilege of being born in the United States as opposed to being born in a third-world nation. White privilege is another political construct that is used to divide rather than unite Americans. All following the socialist principles of fomenting the type of revolution that leads to perpetual control over the population by authoritarians.
As for defunding the police and abolishing prisons, that is sheer lunacy. There are those walking among us that do not wish us well. Ranging from psychopaths without any inherent sense of morality to the opportunism of the strong preying on the weak.
Removing law enforcement is little more than empowering anarchy, thuggery, and creating a larger pool of potential victims. Especially if you disarm the law-abiding citizens and remove their God-given right to self-defense after noting that even the police do not have a legal duty to any particular citizen to protect life and property.]
If you’re going to dismantle systemic racism, you have to understand the pipeline and why and how it keeps reproducing inequality and marginalization, unemployment, mass incarceration, poverty and racial segregation.
[OCS: This is a “pipeline” that is created by the political class and their special interests to exploit others. The so-called pipeline is not redressed by changing policy, it is redressed by changing politicians – especially the corrupt radical progressive socialist democrats. Rather than teaching collectivism, hate, and victimhood, the emphasis needs to be redirected, especially by the academy, to individualism, responsibility, motivation, and the creation of your own opportunities. We should always make provisions for the less-abled, but we should not give a pass to any segment of the population that exempts themselves from the consequences of their actions.]
You’re a historian of Black protest movements. How unusual is what we’re seeing lately?
[One might ask, why is that the black protest movements always seem to have their roots in collectivism, socialism, and communism? Why is it that the so-called black leadership can be so easily bought off in return for a little personal power, recognition, and the proverbial thirty pieces of silver?]
A multiplicity of events led to the fact that this time is different. We’ve seen other videos of Black men being killed by the police, but we’ve never seen this kind of cascading series of events.
There was one protest within 24 hours. The New York Times had a breakdown of how that turned into over 4,700 separate protests, including many areas that are overwhelmingly white, where there are no Black people. States like Washington, Utah, Oregon, which we don’t typically associate as headquarters or bastions for Black demographics; or Vermont or Maine, that have all taken to the streets in terms of these demonstrations.
During the largest days of protesting, you had 50,000 to 80,000 people in Philadelphia. It was just truly amazing. Unbelievable.
[OCS: No it is not amazing and it is not unbelievable. Especially when you consider the following factors.
One, the “peaceful” protests were infiltrated by hard-core, radical, well-trained, and well-funded “professional” activists and agitators that used well-known mob dynamics to create events which were then mischaracterized and amplified by the corrupt progressive mainstream media -- and the tacit acceptance by corrupt politicians who ordered law enforcement to stand-down.
Two, to believe that the majority of protestors outside of the United States even knew of George Floyd is doubtful. If you scan the crowd, most of the participants were white college participants out to participate in a historic cultural event. Of course, the anarchists and looters had their own reasons for participation.
And three, let us not forget that Oregon seems to be the domestic domicile of Antifa, mostly comprised of violent anarchists who think nothing of inciting violence and then fading into the mob.]
What’s behind a response on this scale?
It’s a confluence, a cascade of events. Obviously, 1963 and 1968 are important, but also the election of Barack Obama. The first Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 and 2014 after Trayvon Martin, after Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The election of the current president. The racial disparities that the pandemics amplify, including unemployment, are very important. The easing of shelter in place at the precise time that the Amy Cooper and George Floyd videos went viral.
[OCS: Barack Obama was perhaps the first communist president of the United States, a corrupt man who sought to divide rather than unite, a man who openly disparaged America and promoted identity politics. As for Trayvon Martin and Martin Brown – they were criminals and not martyrs. In fact, Trayvon Martin appears to be an accidental martyr because the mainstream media did not immediately recognize that George Zimmerman was a man of color and whipped up a frenzy of racist allegations.
Black Lives Matter is a communist front organization led by self-described “trained Marxists and community organizers.”]
The women’s marches, the March for Our Lives and the various mobilizations that we’ve seen are part of it, other iterations of marches and social movements that primed young people to come to the fore. Another thing that’s primed people is DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], or DAPA [Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents], people wanting immigrants and undocumented people to be treated well. The cruelty of the treatment of families being detained by ICE definitely struck a chord.
[OCS: These are all far-left events and the talking points are provided by the progressive socialist democrats. Let us not forget that we are speaking of illegal aliens with no right to be in the country. Bringing your children over the border is an act of child abuse while engaged in criminal behavior.]
There are also veterans and true believers, marathon runners who’ve been part of protests and demonstrations and antiracist movements for many decades.
[OCS: So? You can always find a fringe element in any group.]
How much are young people helping to move things forward?
Young people are taking the lead. They’re out on the streets, they’re very excited and inspired. It’s definitely something to see. They’re making history.
You saw this in the ’60s too, with the sit-in movements and the movement against racial segregation. Young people are a big, big part of it.
[OCS: Young people are not taking the lead … they are being lead by a hard-core cadre of socialists and communists – and being feted in the corrupt mainstream media.]
What’s the current dynamic between federal and local leadership?
The federal level is important, but states and local municipalities are going to have more room for leadership immediately. We’ve already seen it with New York taking a billion dollars of its police budget to go into anti-poverty programs and communities of color.
[OCS: The communist Mayor of New York has virtually destroyed much of the city and encouraged most of the violence. Look closely at those poverty programs and you will find that they mostly benefit corrupt special interests and are little more than vote-producing machines for the progressive socialist democrats.]
You’ve seen L.A. say $150 million. You’ve seen municipalities like Austin agree to do different things immediately to stop anti-Black violence. At the symbolic level, we see the monuments, the flags, NASCAR and the NFL saying “Black Lives Matter.”
[OCS: Saying black lives matter instead of ALL lives matter is overt racism.]
Hundreds and thousands of corporations are saying for the first time in history that they’re committed to anti-racism. We’ll now see through their actions, but even the public statements are important.
[OCS: Can you say virtue signaling so that executives keep their jobs and revenues keep flowing?]
What’s the power of such statements?
[OCS: Warning anti-Trump rhetoric below.]
We’ve seen with this presidential administration that rhetoric matters. Saying you’re pro-women, pro-immigration, pro-racial justice or economic justice matters. It gives people at the grassroots level a unifying vision if there are disparities between the rhetoric and the reality.
The Confederate flag matters in that sense. Racist monuments matter because they are reflecting a kind of dehumanization that is systematically embroidered into our public policy. They reflect larger policy decisions that have real impact on the way in which we all live.
The president calling nations “shithole countries,” the president saying people from Mexico are rapists, actually ends up mattering. It matters because once the president says that, it unleashes racial and other kinds of hatred and division that get amplified because the president of the United States said it.
We’re living through probably the first time in modern history where you have a White House where the shared values, the rhetorical values that have been embedded through the second World War and the civil rights movement really came tumbling down.
You had different interpretations of those shared values between, say, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan, or Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. But when you look at that timeline, that continuum rhetorically, there’s a shared vision.
Public consensus is unbelievably important. What we’re seeing is that you have public consensus around human rights or civil rights or voting rights, rights for women, or gay marriage.
[OCS: How about public consensus around freedom, liberty, the right to be unmolested by the government, the right to a crime-free existence, and the God-given right of self-defense?
You punish individuals for specific transgressions, you do not kill a country and enslave its people.]
The only way a country can ever be what it proclaims to be is by saying those things, standing up those things, even if, because of imperfection, we find a thousand instances where the country is not living up to them.
What could be done at the local level to move toward ending systemic racism?
The first place to look is law enforcement and how much of your general revenue locally is going toward law enforcement, and reimagining public safety.
[OCS: Public safety is an absolute that does not need reimagining. You identify, prosecute and isolate criminals from their community. You continually strive to weed out the bad apples from any law enforcement organization while realizing that perfection only exists in the fevered minds of corrupt socialists and communists.
Remember, it is the socialist unions that hide and/or prevent the punishment of most public sector employees.]
It’s not saying you’re getting rid of cops. Many mayors already are investing and advocating for universal basic income for the poorest of their residents, mayors in California, across the country have said that.
I think that you start by looking at criminal justice, you start looking at your zoning, your density policies, where are those equitable and where are they not equitable. Look at voting access. Look at health care and health-care access.
[OCS: All progressive socialist democrat talking points that have nothing to do with holding an individual responsible for their own actions and to redress the greatest systemic failure in our history: political corruption.]
There are a lot of ways to think about equity, but ending systemic racism starts with criminal justice. It’s going to require a redistribution of power and resources in local municipalities. You would look to the federal government for leadership at some point to help accelerate that process but the leadership, as we see from the protests, is starting bottom up.
How does housing fit into this?
[OCS: The majority of homelessness is attributable to mental illness and/or drug addiction. But listen to the progressive talking points being spewed below.]
Homelessness is connected to all of this. One of the arguments that Black Lives Matter made in 2013 was that the criminal justice system in the United States was connected to a panoramic gateway of racial economic inequities and disparities that were connected to social welfare, housing, education, the environment, all these different things.
Housing is connected to criminal justice, when you think about the Clinton crime bill and the way the poor get criminalized. If you ever sold a dime bag of weed, you can never get public housing access again. And that real incalculable trauma that places on families and children whose parents are in prison in the United States.
Can you think of something that contributes to systemic racism that might seem innocuous, but is actually quite dangerous?
The cash bail system. It should be abolished. Money bail goes back to the convict lease system right after the Civil War, where Black men and women were arrested on questionable charges. They could not post bail because they were broke, and so they were leased out to private industries that paid local municipalities money per convict. That convict lease system continues all the way to this day with the cash bail system and its fines and fees.
[OCS: This is pure and utter bullshit. To immediately release a criminal back into the community to commit further crimes is immoral and insane.
You will note that the historical context, while true, has little or nothing to do with keeping the community safe today.]
The Justice Department published reports on Ferguson and Baltimore, how Black citizens were targeted with systemic racism to raise fines and fees so that the local government in Baltimore and then Ferguson wouldn’t have to raise taxes on white residents. It’s really extraordinary.
The whole criminal justice system has to be rethought. The reason why Black people are disproportionately represented in it is not because of pathology in the Black family, as popularly believed. It’s really because of white supremacy.
[OCS: This is the type of pure bullpucky that comes from progressive academics. Consider the moral basis of the family and its influence on the future success of children. Perhaps, nothing killed the nuclear family more than the democrat’s welfare policies. Even now, the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement wants to abolish the nuclear family – perhaps to make all individuals responsible to the state. Absolute tyranny, not freedom, and certainly not equality.]
[OCS: It appears to me that the professor has a major interests in demagoguery on behalf of the progressive socialist democrats. Perhaps he should heed the words of Booker T. Washington about those who profit from keeping racial division alive.]
Peniel E. Joseph, Ph.D., is the founder of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a joint professorship in the LBJ School of Public Affairs, as the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values, and in the History Department of the University’s College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. Joseph is the author of several award-winning books, including Waiting’ Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama, and Stokely: A Life. His most recent book is The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Sword and the Shield, was published in March. He also served as editor for The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era and Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level.
Joseph is recognized as the founder of the “Black Power Studies” subfield of American Civil Rights History. He founded the center to focus interdisciplinary research and scholarship investigating how issues around race and democracy impact the lives of Americans. In an interview with Governing, he offers thoughts on the current cultural moment and how local governments might begin to address systemic racism.