Media Mind Control

I once had a colleague who shared a similar interest in politics and public affairs.  One morning I popped over to chat with him.  I had a something on my mind and I shared my thoughts with him.  Oddly, where I thought we had similar views on this topic, I saw a nearly blank stare back at me.  He had no verbal response to what I had said.  He either did not agree with my assessment or was indifferent to my take on the issue.

Two days later, the same colleague came over for a visit and spoke to me about the same topic I had shared with him two days earlier.  There was an enthusiasm in his voice and body language.  He recited to me almost the same points I had raised.  It was almost as if we had not had the original conversation, but he did reference the fact that I had spoken about the issue with him.  I discovered that his newly-found interest in the topic was the result of listening to radio talk show host, Mark Levin.  Turns out, Levin was reacting to the news of the day as I was and brought the same issue up on his daily talk show.  Mark Levin shares my view on this topic and it is no surprise that he raised the same legal and historical arguments that I shared with my colleague.

The difference in my colleague’s level of interest – from zero to interested in two days – had to do with who gave voice to the issue: Mark Levin was a trusted source.  It was not that he did not believe what I was saying to him – he was aware of my knowledge of legal and constitutional matters.  He just did not understand the level of importance I placed on the issue; or just did not see me as a figure of authority.  He is a consumer of talk radio and the Drudge Report.  If he did not get it from either source, it simply was not news to him.  I was not his trusted source of news and analysis.

Over recent years, when I share with family or friends my thoughts on issues that I find important, I get similar non-responses.  I often bring up topics that I feel get ignored by mainstream media sources.  While I rarely get any disagreement with what I am sharing, I do not anywhere near the enthusiasm I feel, if I get a reaction at all — unless Wolf Blitzer or George Stephanopoulos is reporting it, it’s not news.

The media has lots of control over what we discuss with friends and family, how important an issue is, and, very often, what we think.  The media – television especially – shapes public opinion.  To the extent that there is a political bias in how an issue is presented, the media can greatly affect how we vote.

In recent days, we have heard and read a lot about the separation of families at the border.  Specifically, young children are taken from illegal alien parents, who cross the southern border of the United States.  When U.S. authorities arrest parents with children for unlawfully entering the country, the children are placed into detention centers.

It is unfortunate when children, especially young children, are separated from their parents.  U.S. border officials are enforcing the law.  The adult foreign nationals are violating the law.  They are aware that they are violating U.S. sovereignty when they enter the country without permission.  If adult illegal aliens want to keep their families intact, they should not enter this country unlawfully.  This is a problem of the illegal alien’s own making.  Apparently, the fact the U.S. officials have not been very serious about securing the border over the past few decades has inspired foreign nationals to feel that coming to the U.S. to live is an entitlement.  There is no doubt that some come here for a better life (jobs, personal safety, etc.), but that does not entitle anyone to come here without the permission of the U.S. government.  They make matters worse by involving children in their decision to trespass into the United States.  Each of these acts is an abuse of children.

Our media does not report this violation of U.S. sovereignty.  Reporters simply report on the “inhumanity” of the family separation and our country’s role in that inhumanity.  Former First Lady Laura Bush calls the policy cruel and immoral.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also a former First Lady as well as a U.S. Senator, calls the border situation a moral and humanitarian crisis.  Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele compares detention centers to concentration camps.

This story will continue to be covered.  It will be covered to paint President Donald Trump and his administration as evil.  Many in the media find Trump’s presidency an offense.  This story, among others, is a way to fight back.  They will use their platform to shape public opinion in the runup to the mid-term Congressional elections in November.

The fact that some Americans are killed by some illegal aliens, including MS-13 gang members, gets very little media coverage.  The fact that many Americans, even young children, in urban centers are victims of violence is virtually never discussed on cable news shows.  The fact that American children are separated daily from their law-breaking American parents does not create the same level of outrage.

Our media today has created noble victims at our southern border.

The question remains whether the American people will continue to be the gullible dupes of television anchors.

Black Identity: Out with the Old . . .

On November 4, 2008, our country elected Senator Barack Obama President of the United States.  Every U.S. presidential election in recent decades gets worldwide news coverage but this one was especially newsworthy because the voters elected a black man to the office.  This had never happened before and many of the country’s residents — black and white — thought, given the nation’s racial history and the nation’s racial demographics, electing a black American to the highest office in the land would never happen.

It did happen.  On that election night, there was little to no news coverage about the issues of the campaign (Iraq, health insurance, the financial crisis).  The focus was on the fact that a racial barrier had just been broken.  One also saw videos from around the country of the American people.  There were cheers and tears.  It was a very emotional evening for the country.

In the wake of this event, I believe there was something more profound that happened; something that has gone virtually unnoticed or commented upon.  I wondered about the reaction to the election results, particularly the response of black Americans.  Television news showed many crying as it became clear that Obama would be the next president.  I felt, though, that there was something behind the tears that went beyond a reaction to a very pleasant surprise or even black pride.  It occurred to me that the tears represented something I believe that many black Americans crave but never had until that evening: acceptance.  It is like the child who wants approval from his parent and feels no matter what he achieves in life, he will never get it.  And then, one day he gets the approval he has so wanted all his life.  I suspect that for blacks, despite distrusting whites or disliking whites because of the country’s tragic history of racial oppression, want to be seen as fellow citizens without the tinge of condescension or contempt.  In many ways, the election of 2008 was a neon sign, a message from whites to blacks that said: WE REJECT WHITE SUPREMACY.

This symbolism of acceptance was, in my judgment, very moving for many black Americans.  It was as though white America finally extended the hand of friendship and sincerely said: welcome.

In the weeks and months ahead, as the euphoria of the election waned, I believe the shock of election set in.  There was talk in the media that the election of Obama could mean the beginning of a post-racial America.  I don’t believe anyone over six years of age believed that.  But it did mean that something in America had changed.  I believe that something was identity.  Since the beginning of the republic, blacks in this country knew something and that something connected all blacks in this country.  The common identity could be summed up as: WE ARE THE PEOPLE WHITE AMERICA HATES.  Having this common identity was not necessarily pleasant but it was something that defined black America.  Through that identity, a culture developed.  That culture produced, among other things, a great literature, music, television shows, and even, stand-up comedy.  That identity also produced a psychology.  It was a psychology that made blacks unsure of their place in American life.  Even after the victories of the Civil Rights Movement, there was distrust between the races, and given that blacks were a numerical minority (10% – 15% of the population throughout the 20th century), that distrust made many blacks feel that no matter how much they achieved, they would never be fully accepted as Americans by the white majority.

Suddenly, however, with the 2008 election, it appeared that blacks were fully accepted.  However, it was like the dog who, everyday, chases the car on the road and one day, the dog catches the car.  The reaction: now what?  Nearly all black Americans were very happy that Obama was elected.  They were also happy that white Americans helped make this happen.  But this historic election also meant that the identity that defined black American was a false one.  If blacks are not the people white America hates, then black America would have to ask: who are we?

That would be a difficult question to answer after centuries of having a particular identity.  Something would have to change, but how?

It turned out that not much, if anything, had changed.  Soon after Barack Obama took office, any perceived slight against the president would interpreted as racist.  The rise of the Tea Party and its opposition to liberal policies was interpreted as a negative reaction to the new black president.  Even referring to the president as Obama rather than President Obama was interpreted as a sign of racial disrespect.

This calls to mind a scene from the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption.  An elderly prisoner, a seemingly gentle figure, suddenly grabs a fellow prisoner and with a sharp object threatens to kill him.  What would make him do this?  He got the news that he made parole after a half century of being behind bars.  Turns out, oddly enough, he did not want to leave prison.  The thought of being on the outside was frightening; he would rather be convicted of another crime than to be set free.  After so many years behind bars, he had grown quite accustomed to prison life and freedom was of no interest to him.

Barack Obama’s election was documented proof that race was no longer a barrier in American life.  It was proof that black Americans were, in fact, free — and had been for some time.  This shock caused black America to figuratively rebuild the prison of racial oppression that they had lived under, even if it racial oppression was little to non-existent.  We see this most notably in the Black Lives Matter movement.  The movement began in the middle of Obama’s second term and it was borne out of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  Brown, among other things, attacked a police officer and the officer shot and killed him.  This episode was understood as “proof” that police brutality was alive and well in America and this brutality had its primary focus on young, unarmed black Americans.  The fact that Brown attacked the officer and the shooting was in self-defense did not matter.  Brown was made a martyr.  The level of racism in this country, especially racial violence, has dropped so dramatically in the last 50 years, many blacks, with the help of the media, must manufacture racism in situations where none exists.  The existence of significant amounts of racism, real or imagined, is the prison in which blacks are accustomed.

I have written this piece in response to an op-ed, “What else do we need to believe racism exists?”  Here is the piece.

For one thing, I know of no one who believes racism does not exist, so I do not know who the author’s intended audience is.  She attributes all inequities between blacks and whites, from school discipline to household income, to racism.  She does not allow for the fact that culture may have a little (or a lot) to do with racially disparate outcomes.  There are loads of opportunities for all Americans in this country.  Since the 1960s, through civil rights laws, affirmative action, diversity outreach, and just plain good manners, black Americans can fully participate in American life.  If you have any doubts about that, ask the nation’s 44th chief executive, President Barack Obama.  The author clings to the racism excuse in much the same way the Peanuts character, Linus, clings to his security blanket.  The author lives in that prison of racial oppression; if she did not contribute to its construction, she certainly helps to maintain it.

Bakers, Cakes, and Same-Sex Weddings

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Division.  The issue in this case is whether a baker is compelled by law to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony; or can the baker legally refuse to participate in a same-sex wedding because it violates his religious beliefs.

Some of the argument focused on First Amendment free speech and expression claims.  Does baking a cake for wedding constitute speech?  If so, can one compel another to engage in speech making, and to engage in speech making that communicates a message that the speech maker fundamentally disagrees with?  The argument also focused on the interpretation of anti-discrimination laws as applied to public accommodations.  Can a business open to the public refuse to sell a product to someone based on that person’s identity?

The back and forth between the justices and the attorneys was very interesting to listen to.

I think, however, the issues surrounding this case should be framed differently.  It seems to me that at the heart of this case is the notion of liberty.  A person who runs a business should not be compelled to conduct business with someone if he does not want to.  In this country, however, we now have anti-discrimination laws that apply to public accommodations, so there may be limits of the business owner’s liberty.  Let’s examine this a bit more closely.

The same-sex couple who wants the baker to provide a cake for their wedding claims that the baker’s refusal to do so is based on their homosexual identity.  This refusal, they claim, violates Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.  This is incorrect.  The baker did not refuse to bake the cake based on the couple’s sexual orientation.  We know this because the baker was happy to sell the couple other baked goods in the store.  Also, when couples plan a wedding, they often involve family and friends in the process.  Someone may be in charge of getting flowers.  Another may have the responsibility to find a DJ or a band for the reception.  It is possible that the married parents of, say, the bride may be asked to find a baker to provide the wedding cake.  In this case, the married parents of one of the men could have gone to the Masterpiece Bake Shop to order the cake.  The baker would have similarly told the parents that he would not provide the wedding cake.  It would be difficult to charge the baker with discrimination based on sexual orientation given that the ones in the bakery ordering the cake were a married man and woman.

The baker simply does not want to use his talents to design a cake used for a purpose that he finds violates his conscience, no matter who requests it.  The baker’s refusal does not amount to discrimination on account of sexual orientation.

The First Amendment protects the baker’s right to free exercise of his religion.  To coerce the baker to engage in activity that is counter to his beliefs violates his right to free exercise.

Let us assume, for the sake of this discussion, that the baker did refuse to provide the cake for the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation and said so.  That would violate the Colorado anti-discrimination law but it would not violate federal law.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not extend protections to individuals due to their sexual orientation.  Also, I am fairly certain that no one in Congress in 1866 voted to propose the Fourteenth Amendment thought they we were providing legal protection for homosexuals on account of being homosexual.  The same can be said of those in state legislatures who voted to ratify the Amendment.

The reason we have the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment is because we wanted to protect the rights of people of African descent in the United States.  Blacks were first brought to America nearly 400 years ago.  They were brought here against their will and sold as slaves when they arrived.  By the time of the 1860s, this would be the only home their descendants had ever known.  By the 1960s, those descendants would be fully Americanized Americans.  The primary goal of civil rights legislation of the 1960s was to integrate blacks into the fullness of American life.  This included guaranteeing access to public accommodations.  This guarantee is at odds with the liberty of those who own businesses.  However, given the history of racial oppression and the potential of creating two tiers of citizenship by denying access to public accommodations, an exception to the liberty interest was made.  Homosexuals do not have the same claim to this exception.

This brings us to June 26, 2015.  On that day, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.  This decision compelled states to recognize marriages between people of the same sex.  This decision was not based on anything written or implied in the Constitution.  This decision is why the Court is grappling with this issue of religious liberty and the “civil rights” of homosexuals today.  Today the Supreme Court is dealing with a mess of its own creation.  The can of worms the Court has opened could have and should have been avoided.  The five members of the Court, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, should never have voted to inflict the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion on the nation.

National Identity

In 1980, I got into a conversation with the student sitting next to me in freshman English class.  I noticed that he had a T-square in his knapsack.  I asked Patrick if it belonged to him.  That may seem like an odd question – and it was, given that the T-square’s cover had his name on it – but the cover contained additional information: Jamaica, West Indies.  Given that we were attending school in New York, I would not have expected to see a Caribbean island address.  However, that was not what I found most unexpected.  If he were to claim a home outside of the United States, I would have expected to see People’s Republic of China.

Patrick assured me that despite his Asian appearance, he was, in fact, Jamaican.  He refused to speak in a Jamaican dialect when I requested that he do so because I was not Jamaican.  Several months later, I did hear him speak in that dialect with other Jamaican immigrants.  As a 13-year-old, I found this puzzling because I had always “known” that Jamaica was populated with people who descended from Africa.  I had no idea that ethnic Chinese lived on the island.

I thought of this high school experience recently in light of our current national debate on immigration.  I offer the following thought experiment.  Let’s say that in the year 2000 the Jamaican and Chinese governments had agreed on a particular arrangement.  Among the terms of the agreement was that each year 125,000 Chinese citizens (men, women, and children) would emigrate from China to Jamaica.  Given that China is a country of well over one billion people, this migration would have negligible effect on its population.  However, Jamaica, an island with three million people, would be greatly affected by such a migration.  If this agreement had gone into effect in 2000, there would likely be approximate parity between the Chinese and African populations on the island by now.

Let us assume that, like Patrick, the Chinese migrants would assimilate into Jamaican culture: learn English and the Jamaica dialect; learn Jamaican history; eat the same foods; and listen to the same music.  The children, and some of the adults, would, by 2017, be fairly close to being culturally Jamaican.  I wonder about reactions of a black Jamaica-born person, who has lived in the U.S. since the 1990s, visiting Jamaica for the first time since leaving the island?  I suspect he would feel that he was visiting a country he did not recognize.  Jamaica would still have much of the same architecture and infrastructure.  The music on the radio and the streets would be the same.  The food would be much like he remembered.  The language and culture would largely be unchanged.  Still, the island with a 50% Asian population would not look like the home he left two decades ago.  The fact that the ethnic mix of the island had radically changed, would likely make him question whether or not he was actually visiting Jamaica.  “Where did my country go?”

Jamaica has a particular climate (tropical) and terrain (mountains inland and beaches on the coast).  It has a diverse economy (coffee, sugar, bananas, fishing, mining, tourism, etc.).  Most of its residents are Christians with their own dialect and cuisine.  Those things help define the country.  However, a key characteristic of what makes Jamaica Jamaica is the fact that Africans populate and run the place.  Without that characteristic, the island would lose an important trait of what defines it as a nation.

This thought experiment could help shed some light on how we in the United States view ourselves.  We have in our country people who descend from all over the planet.  A person from anywhere in the world can come to America and become a good American.  This includes the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  We, as Americans, should proceed with caution with the question of legalizing the status of those here in this country illegally.  DACA recipients total about 800,000.  If we legalize them, there will be political pressure to legalize their relatives (parents, siblings, etc.).  If we legalize the relatives, the number will easily be in the millions.  There will be further pressure to give amnesty to just about anyone who is in the country unlawfully, which may total tens of millions.  If we do this – and I believe we should not – we will live in a different country from the one I grew up in.  In the United States, we already have bi-lingual education in some jurisdictions, affirmative action for Hispanics in college admissions, Congressional voting districts designed to guarantee a plurality of Spanish speakers.  We have “press-one-for-English”.  If we accommodate the migrants who did not come here legally, we will have a separate people living here who are unconnected to the founding of the nation.  These are people whose ancestors were not present in significant numbers to fight in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, or World War II.  They were not here during the Great Depression.  In short, these are people who are absent from our cultural memory.  If they are here in significant numbers, the culture will change, the language we speak will change, and the politics will change.  Given their higher birth rates, they will be in a position to take the majority of leadership positions in our government, and possibly change the direction or the future of the country.

This does not have to happen.

Can the citizens of a nation decide what it wants to be?  Can we as a nation decide who we want in the country?  Can Jamaicans decide that they want an African supermajority?  Can the Japanese decide what kind of population it wants?  Can the people of Iceland decide its ethnic character?  Can Americans decide that we do not want to radically change the demographics of our nation?  Can we do so without charges of being racist, xenophobic, or nativist hurled at us?

The charge of racism is a powerful weapon.  The source of this power is the shame felt by white Americans over the historical mistreatment of blacks.  While the history of this mistreatment is ugly and the resulting shame is appropriate, it is a unique circumstance having to do with whites and blacks.  Africans were brought here against their will.  By the time the U.S. abolished slavery in 1865, Africans in this country had no connection to Africa, especially those whose family members had been here legally since the early 1600s.  Blacks were here to stay.  America owed something to blacks and amended the U.S. Constitution and enacted civil rights laws to correct the situation.  Blacks who descend from slaves in America have a legitimate claim to be in the United States.  Discrimination against blacks on account of being black constitutes what we all know to be racism.  America owes nothing to foreigners who come to live here of their own volition, especially those who enter the country unlawfully.  And if the immigrant is of an ethnicity different from those who have occupied this land since the 1600s, Americans have the legitimate authority to limit the number of people of that ethnic group from entering the country.  The stigma of racism in the U.S. should not apply to its immigration policy.

The United States, like other nations, has a cultural identity.  Religiously, we are a nation where the majority of the population practices some form of Christianity, from which our general sense of right and wrong come, which makes its way into our laws.  Linguistically, we are an English-speaking nation, though many speak different languages at home.  Ethnically, we are an Afro-European nation, though throughout much of American history we’ve had other groups smaller in number.  That other has grown to the point in recent years that it should concern us about how it will change America.


Here is a joint statement from two former presidents.

 “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms.  As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights.  We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.”

The message of President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush is in response to the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017.  The words are nice and make us feel good but the words of our two former leaders miss the point.

The fundamental question is do we believe in the freedom of speech and freedom to peaceably assemble?  These rights are protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment.  Freedom of speech is not enshrined in the Constitution to protect someone’s right to recite nursery rhymes.  It is in place to protect the rights of those engaging potentially offensive commentary.  Similarly, the right to peaceably assemble is in place to protect those members of society who may want gather to protest against something that is popular and this right also protects those who may, themselves, be politically unpopular.

Here are a few things we know:

  • There were a group of Americans, many of whom were white nationalists (and those with similar ideologies), who gathered under the banner of “Unite the Right” to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
  • This group received a permit to gather
  • The statue of Lee had been located at Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park, and the Unite the Right rally took place at this location
  • Among those who marched in opposition to the rally were Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the Democratic Socialists of America
  • Those who marched in opposition to Unite the Right had no permit to gather
  • The two groups confronted each other and created a disturbance with violence against the other
  • A young man, who would later be identified as James Fields, a man fascinated by Nazis, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, which resulted in the death of one woman

Many of the white nationalists were armed, largely because they felt that they could not rely on law enforcement to protect them.  The fact that the Unite the Right rally members were armed does not imply that they were not there to peaceably assemble.

To discuss this event is not easy in today’s America.  Discussion of this is loaded with landmines.  Understandably, one does not want to be seen as defending white supremacist or the KKK.  The question, however, is this: Does the Constitution protect those whom we find offensive, evil, or disgusting?  The answer is yes.  For many American however, it is not an unequivocal yes, and for others, the answer appears to be no.  Like the Bushes, media personalities, politicians, and many in the public at large are focused on the shiny object of racism.  As a result, it is difficult for them to focus on what actually happened.  Being against racism is clearly good, but in recent years it has risen to the level of national religion.  Many Americans, whenever they witness racism or racists, reflexively want to tell everyone one within earshot how much they detest it or detest them.  Again, detesting racism is a good thing, especially given some aspects of American history — but are we really willing to shred our Constitution just so that everyone can see that we are good people?

The right for the Unite the Right rally members to assemble peaceably is protected by the First Amendment.  Their speech is protected by the First Amendment.  Most importantly, the members of the rally, themselves, are protected by the First Amendment.  Their ideology does not exempt them from Constitutional protection, however we may feel about the sentiments some among them may spew.  It is worth repeating though that the reason for the rally was to protest the removal the statue of Robert E. Lee and the renaming of the park.

Had the counter-protesters not shown up to confront the Unite the Right members, there would have been no violence.  Fields driving his car into the crowd complicates matters but he likely would not have driven his car into crowd of counter-protesters had the counter-protesters not been there.  The woman who lost her life would likely still be among the living.

The way to deal with such an event is to give them as little attention as possible.  Less attention would send the message that they’re a dying breed and they will have less ability to inspire other to join their cause.  I suspect (and fear) that because of the commotion in Charlottesville, the rally members may gain more support for their cause.

President Trump has received much criticism due to his saying that both sides had a hand in the violence on Saturday, August 12.  Many feel that he is wrong to create an equivalence between the white nationalists on the one side and the coalition of groups that formed the counter-protesters on the other.  I agree that he was wrong.  The lion’s share of the blame rests with the trouble-seeking counter-protesters.

Black Lives

Just over thirty years ago, many of my fellow students were protesting the against the apartheid government in South Africa, which implemented a system of racial segregation and discrimination.  There was a movement at Penn State, as with other colleges and universities nationwide, led by the organization Black Student Coalition Against Racism (BSCAR), to demonstrate against university’s investment holdings in South Africa.  From the building of a shantytown on campus to sit-ins, the students involved were serious about pressuring the administration to divest.  Others in the student body, to show their solidarity with the oppressed blacks in South Africa, refused to drink Coca-Cola due to the soft drink company’s sizable presence in the country’s economy.

Today in Africa, there are a number of countries such as Sudan and Mauritania that have enslaved black populations.  It is true that the enslaved populations are a minority in these countries and it is also true that the governments of these countries are not actively promoting slavery but the slavery that exists cannot be described as insignificant.  Human trafficking in these countries leads to women and, sometimes, young girls being sexually exploited.  Often, those doing the enslaving are Arab Muslims.  The fact that there is slavery in Africa today is rarely mentioned on television news.  Politicians holding or seeking federal offices rarely, if ever, speak about this issue; I have only heard Sarah Palin speak about this.  And I know of no movement on a college or university campus that is devoted to ridding slavery from these countries.

However bad South African apartheid was, it was certainly no worse than slavery.

It appears that black exploitation will be tolerated so long as whites are not the ones causing it.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton, having just left office, was searching for a place for post-presidential foundation office.  After a political misstep, he ended up, with the help of U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), finding an office space in Harlem, a neighborhood in the northern part of Manhattan.  Throughout much of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, Harlem has had a black majority.  There was lots of excitement that a former president would move his office into this neighborhood.  However, I recall residents being interviewed about the prospect of Bill Clinton moving in and there was one business owner who was not pleased by this very real possibility.  He predicted that property values would go up and that the long-time residents and business owners would be forced to move.  This prediction did not require lots of insight as this was often result of gentrification.  And despite the anticipation of Clinton coming to town, that Harlem business owner was not alone in this prediction.

Gentrification of urban, largely black neighborhoods is not normally welcomed by the residents.  In addition to property values going up, the neighborhood itself would change.  With the nicer restaurants, health clubs, and bicycle paths, comes a highly-educated, higher income, younger, whiter population, and in most cases, is accompanied by the displacement of black residents.  The very character of the place, long-time residents called home for decades, changes into something they do not recognize.  This has taken place in a number of cities in the U.S., including Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.  The word gentrification has a negative connotation; largely due to the resulting displacing of a portion of the existing population, which is almost always a black population.  Despite its benefits, including lower crime rates, gentrification has a bad name in some circles.  There have been protests against gentrification in some cities around the country such as Brooklyn and Los Angeles.  And filmmaker Spike Lee has publicly spoken out against it.

There has been talk for the past decade about “reforming” the U.S. immigration system.  Part of that reformation is what to do with the millions of illegal aliens — mostly from Mexico — already in the country.  Most of the elected officials in the Democratic Party and sizable chunk of the Republican Party want to provide a path to citizenship for those here in the country unlawfully.  Providing citizenship to those illegally in the country will, among other things, cause increased unemployment in low-skilled professions as many of the new citizens will leave the underground economy and find work in the general economy, where there are normal hours with health & retirement benefits.  Among those who will find increased competition (and increased unemployment) will be black Americans, who are disproportionately in low-skilled professions.  Providing citizenship to those illegally in the country will also cause displacement of Americans, mostly black Americans as many formerly illegal aliens will come out of hiding and, with new, better-paying jobs, will move into neighborhoods with better housing.  One reason we can predict this is that this is already happening.  Many once largely black neighborhoods across the country are now less black and more Hispanic.  One hears about this on call-in shows on talk radio or you may hear this in casual conversation with blacks who have seen this displacement.  However, one will not hear about this in the mainstream media, nor will anyone among the black elites discuss this on television or radio.

This displacement trend will no doubt continue if we provide legal status to those in the country illegally.

It appears that black displacement from their communities will be tolerated so long as whites are not the ones causing it.

In recent years, there has been a great deal of focus on police departments and their relationship with black Americans.  This renewed focus is due to deaths of black men as a result of interactions with law enforcement.  The first of these was the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, who, incidentally, was not killed by a police officer but a night watchman in self-defense.  The second was the death of Michael Brown, who was shot by Officer Darren Wilson, after being attacked by Brown.  The third was Eric Garner, who was not shot but after resisting arrest, was wrestled to the ground by a police officer, after placing Garner in a chokehold; Garner died shortly afterwards, due to having had difficulty breathing from the encounter.  The Black Lives Matter movement came about and gained steam due to these three events.

Black homicide victims are killed by other black civilians over 90% of the time.  They are victims of police shootings about 4% of the time.  This is quite a disparity.  While it is true that the public holds law enforcement to a higher standard, the level of shooting deaths of blacks is not the result of cops.  Black commentators, the press, and, to a large extent, the public are focused on the wrong culprit.  It is blacks that are killing blacks, particularly young black males, at an alarming rate.  White police officers sometimes make mistakes in a split-second decision to shoot a suspect and, perhaps, there are a few rogue police officers who are indifferent to the value of black life, but it is young black men who are making life difficult for their many law-abiding black neighbors.

Few in the media comment on the criminality that exists within black America.

It appears that black murders will be tolerated so long as white are not the ones causing it.

It is time for black Americans to wake up.  It is time for black Americans to stop accepting this level of violence in their communities.  It is time for black Americans to recognize that those who claim that black lives matter do not give a damn about black lives.