SEMI-REGULAR MUSINGS FROM THE SEMI-REGULAR MIND OF WRITER J.M. DeMATTEIS
...You may have seen a story about Flint cops marvhing with protestors. It went viral.What was less well known was that during the first day of protests in Detroit, a group (mostly from other parts of the state and Ohio) tried to start a riot in Motown.The vast majority of protestors pointed out the ones that tried to get violent, and continued their protests. In fact, they continued until a couple of days ago when a list of demands was given to the city government.Now, there were some issues in the Detroit protests, but it was all the cops with protestors remaining peaceful.The reason for these two cities had a better situation than some cities is most likely because both have spent the past 20 years requiring officers to work with community groups.Protests even made it into the suburbs. All of which received acclaim overwhelming support from the community.SO... let's now talk about Farmington Hills Michigan.Farmington Hills is a suburb of Detroit. Its population is about 20-25% Black. It also has a decent sized Indian (from India) and Asian population. even among the White majority, there there is a significant Jewish population. You could not have a more melting pot area unless you planned it as such.It also has a lot of lawyers, doctors, and engineers. no underlying economic issues is my point.Now, I have never lived there, but I have known people who do. There are places I go in the city on occasion. There is no real vibe of racial tension, people get along as well as people do anywhere.Then there are the police. To be fair, before I get to the point, the police in the city are really corrupt to people of ALL races.Yeah, my guess is that you get where I am going now. For all the larger corruption, it is far worse for Black people. A lot of Black people in Metro Detroit, have stories about the police in that city.There is a notable higher rate stops and tickets, and remember that it is almost 1/4 Black, which means thee tops have to make up at least 30% of the whole. I believe it is higher.Then, there are the stories of cops getting overly aggressive, frisked for a "routine stop," or so on and so forth.Detroit in '67. Most of you think it was a race riot. It was a riot against the police. The cops had been out of control for a while, and again Black citizens were getting it worse. Then on a very hot night, a blind pig is shut down and people are just sick of taking it.A lot of cops were also on strike that week. Starting the day of the riots and ending the day before the riots did.Anyway, not long before, Black based publications wrote about why Detroit was one of the best places to be Black in America. Cited were the high employment-rate, education, home-ownership, business ownership, and salary in Black residents compared to the rest of the country. All those things were accurate.George Romney was even elected because of his strong PRO-Civil Rights stance earlier in the decade.continued...
For that matter Minneapolis isn't exactly on the list of most likely cities for racial tension.The point is, I think that when a lot of things look good for the Black population of an area, it is easier for some white people to look away. That if so much of the community is heading in the right direction, it is easy to think that the part with the most power over life and death does not.Especially as they get older, and Black friends and colleagues may not want to talk about indignities from the cops as much.I have had my share of cops hassling me for no reason. I have had them very much overstep their bounds and do things that are not okay.However, when a New York cop said that begin from Detroit made me "Black by association," it hammered in something I already knew just from talking to people in my life. Despite every cop who was an asshole to me, and abusing authority, it was not a life or death scenario... which it very well could have been if my skin was a few shades darker.OF course, none of this is news to you. You work in comics, where superheroes are the dominate presence. Idiots online call them fascist and authoritarian (probably because they don;t know what either word means), but really it is there for a very real reason... a fantasy were responsibility comes with power. A counter-action to a world whee the authorities that are supposed to protect you often don'tSuperman started with fighting corruption. Do you really think that it was a coincidence the Silver Age started about the same time TVs were showing Civil Rights protestors being attacked? That Hippies and protestors of the 60s and 70s, who got beaten by cops, loved Marvel comics? That Spider-man and the X-Men became the most popular characters, and the authorities hate them?Just look at the TV. The protests are over police brutality... being met with police brutality.The good news is the outrage goes past color, or geography, or political lines. So I guess the country hasn't quite lost its soul just yet.Jack
No, we haven't, Jack. In many ways, we're just finding it.Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very much appreciated.
"In many ways we're just finding it."So true. --David
It is a wanting to believe the status quo is good for everyone if it is good for you. It is naive. It is wishful thinking. Maybe even delusional. I don't think it is a lack of connection to one's soul.Jack
I think I can best explain this with an anecdote that highlights my personal ignorance.Last year (maybe the year before) several states passed legislation making it illegal to discriminate against Black Women in the workplace because of their natural hair i.e. not straightened.This is undoubtedly a good thing. But when I heard about it I was dumbfounded. Definitely NOT because I disagreed with such legislation, not because I lacked stories of bad bosses who screwed me over or didn't like me for some dumb reason.No, I just assumed that would be included in other, older Civil Rights legislation. My guess is that I am not the only one.Jack
I will say, it is an odd note on the psychology of people who counter Black Lives Matter with All Lives Matter.I am not sure why their brains add a descriptor to separate. If I say my girlfriend matters, it doesn't mean my other relationships don't.Even stranger of they don't make the same leap with "Blue Lives Matter."Jack
I very much disagree. That makes it sound like until recently the majority of Americans were okay with police brutality and misconduct until recently.It is said that the battle for civil rights is a battle against ignorance. That is true, however this time it is not prejudices or stereotypes this time, it is naivete. The fact is, Denny O'Neil (R.I.P.) was right way back in 1972, with his first issue of Green Lantern/Green Arrow.Hal Jordan wasn't racist. He didn't hate or distrust Black people. He just didn't get the situation. When goodhearted or right-minded people have always had the system work for them, it is easy to believe that it does for everyone. That those issues are part of teh past.2015, 1992, 1967, 1942, late 1910s, all had some matter of similar iaaues. From at least 1942 on, and especially after the Long Hot Summer, people just believed things would be fixed. Of course, it was logical... just not realistic.I could point out that until WWII cops were not particularly trusted, with them representing strike breakers and harassing of the poor and homeless, along with notably brutal police tactics of the 30s. But it isn't the point.All of these problems come from the fact that people don;t know much about the police.What is their role? Protect ans serve, right? Wrong. the cops actually have no legal obligation to protect anyone.A few years ago a guy was stabbed on the NYC subway, as a cop watched, and the culprit wasn't even arrested. This actually coincides with the 1981 case Warren v. District of Columbia stated that it wasn't necessary for cops to prevent crimes from happening.You have the constitutional right to not allow law enforcement search your car or home, but they re taught if you don't let them it is only because you are hiding something.They can also legally take your property and any cash on you i many states. Including New York I believe. With very little oversight.Many times, if they shoot someone, and it is questionable, "I was afraid for my life" is justification with little follow up.I am not trying to paint America as some totalitarian regime, but the fact hat people don't know these things show a complacency. A complacency that can allow a lot of things to happen in the shadows.It isn't people being out of touch with their souls, it is arguably being to connected with it, giving too much of a benefit of a doubt.Jack
Thanks, as always, for sharing your thoughts, Jack.