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Profiling of a Professor’s Pigment

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By Gary L. Flowers, NNPA Columnist --

Professor Henry Louis Gates has arguably learned and taught his most profound lesson of his academically acclaimed career - in handcuffs. Dr. Gates’ arrest last week by the Cambridge, Mass. Police Department has generated a renewed national discussion relative to the issue of racial profiling of people of color. Although Dr. Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, have conflicting accounts of what was said by whom, the essential facts are not in dispute. Officer Crowley responded to a call from one of Dr. Gates’ neighbors who reported a possible break-in occurring by two Black men at Dr. Gates’ home. Upon arrival of the officers, Dr. Gates was in his home and produced his driver’s license bearing his home address and a Harvard University faculty identification card. Dr. Gates asked for officer Crowley’s name and badge number and was told to step out of the house to receive the information. Upon stepping on to the porch Dr. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct. Under Massachusetts law, an individual cannot be charged with disorderly conduct inside of his home (thus officer Crowley conditioned the provision of his name and badge number on Dr. Gates’ exiting his house only to arrest him).

Therein lies the central issue: officer Crowley acted improperly (I agree with “stupidly” as President Obama opined) by luring Dr. Gates into custody on an unrelated charge to the original call to police of a possible break-in of Dr. Gates’ home.

Once Dr. Gates produced his identification the officer should have left the home (or at least asked nicely to search the home for any burglars). Instead officer Crowley racially profiled the professor’s pigment and made yet another unnecessary arrest of a Black man. Racial profiling of Black and Brown people in the United States has been - and is - a daily occurrence by police and private citizens. During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Africans were racially profiled and subjected to the most atrocious dehumanization in world history. Following the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing slavery, southern corporations seeking cheap labor racially profiled African Americans into virtual enslavement in the form of sharecropping and actual neo-slavery. Corporations such as U.S. Steel, 1st National Bank (Sun Trust), Alabama Coal Company, and Southern Brick Company worked with southern sheriffs to enforce “vagrancy” laws on Black men alone on street and roads in the South. Black men would be bonded to White executives and worked for free until the “bond” was paid (determined arbitrarily by the sheriff). Such practices are exposed in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name (Blackmon). According to the National Black Police Association (member of the Black Leadership Forum), Black men have a far greater chance of being racially profiled and arrested than any other ethnic demographic.

According to Amnesty International, approximately 32 million people (near the population of Canada) are victims of racial profiling, and excessive force by police officers, which actually undermines law enforcement efforts. Moreover, racial profiling is a human rights violation of the Standards Against Non-Discrimination in treaties signed by the United States. Among them are the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) In the case of Dr. Gates, and although the preponderance of blame should be shouldered by the officer Crowley, he is not the lone culprit.

Dr. Gates exacerbated the situation by exclaiming, “Do you know who I am?” Was he serious? Such a statement implies that, if officer Crowley “knew” of his cerebral celebrity, he should have treated him with more respect. No! If professor Gates is a true advocate for the victories of racial oppression then it should not matter “who [he] is.” All citizens of the United States of America-regardless of race or resources- should not be subject to racial profiling. No one!

The biggest lesson learned by Dr. Gates may well be that he was misinterpreted Dr. W.E.B. Dubois’ view of a “talented tenth” within Black America. Dr. Dubois suggested that the Black intelligence should lead the masses in fighting oppression, not that the Black elite should expect a “pigment pass” due to their academic acumen. But, in the final analysis, how far down the “post racial” road is American society when today there are racially charged placards planted in front of Dr. Gates’ home. Hmm….

Gary L. Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.

Letter to the Editor: An Urgent Plea

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There have been some hot days in San Bernardino! 107, 108, 105, 106. It sounds better in Centrigrade: 41, 42, 40, 41.

Our walk-in refrigerator/freezer –now ten years old – has been working overtime: freezing ice, keeping donated meats at safe temperatures, keeping those squash and tomatoes from our community garden fresh and useable. All the food we serve –over 85,000 meals last year – pass through that refrigerator/ freezer. Its aging compressor is grinding and churning and grunting as it keeps doing its work. A recent repair visit revealed to us that it is in urgent need of new parts and repair work. The cost: $3,200! This is not something we have had in our food budget. And with requests for food up 204%, it will not be easy to find.

So I am turning to you, Mission Friends, who have been so supportive over the last 13 years in our efforts to build the Mission and to keep it open to serve the poorest of the poor.

We need to raise $3,200 within 30 days so that we can have this needed work done on the compressor and keep our foods safe for summer use. Please send your donation directly to CCLM and note on your check “freezer.” Central City Lutheran Mission 1354 N. “G” Street, San Bernardino, CA 92405 Thank you for your generosity during this time of urgent need!

Rev. David J. Kalke

Inferior Health Care in America: A Shameful Reality

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By A. Barry Rand, NNPA Special Commentary --

For all the reasons to fix the health care system, one of the most critical has been overlooked in the national debate: The shameful reality that African-Americans and other minorities often receive less care and inferior care than other Americans - and suffer worse health as a result. The disparities begin even before birth, as Black women too often receive inadequate prenatal care. Their babies too often are born prematurely and with low birth weight.

The odds of an African-American child dying during infancy are more than double those of Whites.

Disparities continue through life, with Blacks suffering higher rates of chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes, and cancer, more HIV, and higher rates of obesity than the U.S. population overall.

These problems are made worse by obstacles to care, such as unaffordable insurance. And they last until death, which often arrives years earlier for Blacks than for Whites. America should not be a nation of health-care haves and have-nots. Fortunately, health care reform can provide much of the answer. AARP is urging Congress to approve comprehensive health reforms that will:

· Guarantee quality, affordable care for all Americans. Insurers should not be allowed to charge extra or reject people based on age or health history.

· Lower prescription drug

costs. This can be achieved by making low-cost generic drugs more widely available, and strengthening prescription drug benefits under Medicare.

· Improve care for all.

People should get the right treatment at the right time. Yet too often this does not happen. By certain measures, the quality gap for African-Americans and Hispanics has actually worsened.

Elderly Blacks are less likely than elderly whites to get a pneumonia vaccine, and this gap has widened. African Americans with diabetes are more likely than Whites to end up with a foot or leg amputated, another disparity that has grown worse. Blacks and Hispanics get screened less frequently than Whites for colorectal and other cancers. They also have lower rates of treatment for depression. Black women are less likely than white women to have breast cancer diagnosed from a mammogram or a clinical breast exam.

(See http://www.kff.org/minorityhealth/7 633.cfm for state data).

Make no mistake: Individuals should do what they can to help themselves. People should maintain healthy lifestyles and make responsible personal choices. But the problem of disparities goes deeper.

Fixing it will require significant policy changes.

Expensive insurance is a towering barrier to good care. About one in five African-Americans does not have health insurance. For Whites, the statistic is one out of eight. The lack of insurance is not the only barrier that minorities must contend with. Traditional doctors’ offices have vanished from many urban and rural areas, prompting residents to seek basic care in chaotic emergency rooms. Wouldn’t they be better off with a doctor who actually knows them and is set up to provide non-emergency care?

AARP believes that everyone should have affordable, quality health care choices.

The federal government should issue comprehensive requirements to collect more health care data on race and ethnicity, so experts can get the clearest possible sense of the disparities and strategies needed to address them. Congress can help by strengthening Medicare’s safety net programs to ease the cost burden of low-income seniors.

We also support payment policies aimed at increasing financial rewards for doctors who provide routine, primary care and for efforts to prevent illness, rather than wait until problems emerge.

Education and training are another part of the answer. We encourage efforts to increase cultural awareness and racial diversity in the health care workforce. Health care providers need the best possible understanding of what’s going on with their patients if they are to provide the excellent care everyone deserves. Disparities in care are more than unfair. They undermine health and erode productivity in our economy. By allowing ailments to worsen, they raise costs for everyone. They are an invisible divide that weakens all of society.

If you agree, please go to www.HEALTHACTIONNOW.org and join AARP’s campaign to transform health care. It’s time for action to fix these inequities. It’s time to create a better system for everyone.

A. Barry Rand is the CEO of AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.

The NAACP at 100!

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By Nicole C. Lee, NNPA Columnist --

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) celebrates its centennial this year with activities culminating this month at the annual convention. Meeting in New York City, convention members met under the banner “Bold Dreams, Big Victories.” The convention included a 100 year retrospective of the organizations’ century long relationship with the continent of Africa, the focus of an afternoon International mass meeting on July 15th.

As TransAfrica Forum’s executive director, I am deeply mindful of this important historic relationship; NAACP leaders were pivotal in the founding of my own organization, they were members of the small group of civil rights and social justice leaders that came together to create TransAfrica and TransAfrica Forum.

NAACP staff and members have been an important partner in many of our international public education campaigns and legislative advocacy activities. Today we work closely with the NAACP on international issues of race and justice.

The mass meeting included high level dignitaries, including Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, rapper Akon, and singer Baaba Mal. The conversation was an important opportunity to remind members and our community of the deep historical relationship that has existed and to begin to think about the shape and contours of the next 100 years between African Americans and Africa.

Wade and other speakers noted the double impact of the NAACP. First the concrete impact of internationalists within the organization. Bold leaders like Ralphe Bunche who assisted in writing the charter of the United Nations,and Thurgood Marshall who lent his legal expertise to the drafters of the Kenyan constitution. W.E.B. DuBois, one of America’s leading scholars, was an ardent Pan-Africanist and one of the founders of the NAACP. DuBois eventually made Ghana his home, providing support to the anti-colonial movement there. From 1910 to 1934 DuBois served as the organization’s director of publicity and research, member of the board of directors, and editor of the Crisis Magazine. As important, the NAACP and the broader civil rights movement have had an profound impact on Africa and its people. Ideas of justice and equality have had a deep impact on the development of West Africa, energizing and inspiring anti-colonial efforts. The NAACP has been a leader in understanding that the struggles here in the United States are connected to the struggles on the continent of Africa. It has embraced the fact that the issues that face Africans on this continent are felt triple fold in Africa. The same racist, imperialist policies that suppress human growth in Africa suppress it here.

Non-violence in support of civil rights has had a tremendous impact on the human rights struggles throughout Africa. In Southern Africa, the influential African National Congress, was formed one year after the NAACP, inspired inpart by the new organization.

The symbiotic relationship between African and African-American liberation movements has served both continents and thus the world. Civil rights movements here and in Africa voiced the same sentiment. Both continents have found support through the leaders of the NAACP.

NAACP national and field leadership were important partners in the fight against apartheid South Africa. In 1988, the organization included a protest at the South African Embassy in the annual convention, its leadership marching along side TransAfrica’s Founder and President, Randall Robinson and hundreds of other activists.

The NAACP’s history also includes Earl Shinholster, regional director for the Southeast was killed in a car accident while carrying out public education activities on behalf of war-torn Liberia.

In his speech, Akon laid the framework by noting that the ancestors and leaders paid our dues for freedom and that their sacrifice created a world in which many of us can be comfortable.

This is true not only in the United States but in Africa as well. So, we join our brothers and sisters in Africa and throughout the Diaspora in saluting the work and partnership of the NAACP. We look forward to next 100 years! Happy Birthday!

Nicole C. Lee is the executive director of TransAfrica Forum.

An Open Letter to President Bush on Affirmative Action

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By Hugh B. Price
National Urban League

Dear President Bush:

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review two University of Michigan cases challenging the constitutionality of institutions of higher learning including race as one among many factors in admissions decisions.

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