Monday, August 18, 2014

Racial Injustice and Inequality

"All men are created equal."

To be honest, I have never really fully appreciated that phrase.  First of all it excludes women.  I am pretty sure the word "human" existed back then, so why did they use the term "men"...?  It is because they were men, who had power, who were literally otherizing anyone who was not them.  Black men, weren't, and neither were women.  They never have been, and today they still are not equal to men.

White men don't normally get shot while they are unarmed in the street.  They are usually arrested, taken to jail, where they bond out before going to court to resolve the issue.  In Ferguson, Missouri protesters weren't arrested, they are driven away with tear gas and rubber bullets.  Instead of peacefully arresting protestors who violated curfew, they were physically assaulted by SWAT teams.

The problem is that this is not a peacefully sit-in styled protest.  A few of these protesters have used this as an opportunity to cause chaos and violence.  This gives state officials reason to use excessive force, only raising the levels of tension and anger between citizens and their government.

The problem seems to be that the the people of Ferguson do not feel adequately represented by their officials.  Moreover, the escalation of violence on both sides does not seem to be easing tensions.

What is needed is for cooler heads to prevail, for those willing to be arrested for civil disobedience, to do so peacefully, so that their cases are heard in court.

My biggest questions are for those who have previous railed against government violence against citizens, and stoking fears of martial law.  Well, we have it in Ferguson Missouri.  People are not fee to roam the streets of their own town, under the threat of physical violence and arrest.  So, why aren't Tea Party Loyalists supporting the rights of these protesters!?  They are actually under threat of real physical violence and fully enforced martial law.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Justice for Kevin Ward Jr.

"Tony Stewart's car hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a yellow flag on a dirt track."

As a criminal justice student I was utterly shocked that Tony Stewart was not arrested, and his on-board camera and audio equipment cataloged as evidence.  As a person raised in the South, and a race fan, I am disappointed that yellow flag rules were not recognized:

Yellow Flag:
  1. Single Waving: Indicates an area of immediate danger ahead. The driver is REQUIRED to exercise extreme caution in driving, including being prepared to slow, or stop if necessary. Drivers should raise their hand to alert race officials and other drivers of their intent to slow down. Passing is prohibited until safely past the cause(s) of the yellow flag.
Rather than extreme caution, and slow down, Tony Stewart 'accelerated' at or toward Kevin Ward Jr.  The video clear shows that Kevin Ward Jr. is signaling 'waving' and or 'pointing' at or toward Stewart's car, in an attempt to get him to slow down or stop...  At this point, Stewart made a choice, to not do so and instead to accelerate and move in the direction of Ward.

The only question for me is "Did Stewart follow track or race rules under the caution?"  If he did, then it is legal 'within a race' to cause and accident, then kill a driver exiting a vehicle in pursuit of your own win...  I would argue that Stewart 'broke' the track rules intended to keep drivers exiting dangerous situations safe, and that breaking this rule at this time was in fact a criminal act, and these actions led to another racer's death.

Sadly, I believe that when you have enough money, your freedom from a criminal can be bought.  In this case, Tony Stewart will not be charged, even if he has shown a pattern of violence toward other drivers, and a disregard for race rules intended to keep everyone safe, and who's action in fact killed Kevin Ward Jr.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Women's Equal Rights

"Women are now considered equal to Men, under the eyes of the law."

As a student new to Women's Studies, I was astounded to see the degree to which the laws, traditions, and general understandings have been skewed against women in every way, shape, form, and fashion.  A popular figure bantered about this year is the gathered fact that, "women make 77% of what men do for the same jobs."  Missing from this static is the fact that women gave birth to 100% of the babies.

This fact among all others, is the leading force dictating all of their lives, even if they never partake.  No where can one find a metric, for how much this process is 'worth' to the individual or to society as a whole.  How would one compare the ability to produce another person, to the ability to lead your team to an NBA Championship?  Clearly, our society 'values' these two abilities differently.  However, one thing is certain, one sex has more options, more freedoms, and more capitalistic opportunity than the other, in the world today.  Here in America it is no different.  It might be surprising to non-history students to learn that those who were slaves and freed were given the right to vote before women.

Today, besides being paid less to do the same jobs, women face standards and policies that are different than men, and these differences lead to outright biases, literally double standards, and then blatant sexism.  Jobs should have singular standards for that position.  Creating second class requirements for women, be the job firefighter, marine, or law enforcement officer, these 'gender norming standards' enlist subpar participants, and thus a valid reason to discriminate.

The problem is that many view women as different than men, and rightfully so.  However, different here, does not mean the same thing as separate from Brown v Board of Education.  Women are capable of giving birth, but this should not mean they are unequal to men, they are simply different.  The solution is for women to demand to be held to the same standards as men.  They should demand to compete against them head to head in sports events.  We should stop holding women to lower standards and begin treating the sexes as true equals.

Until women rewarded for their choice to give birth, rather than penalized for it, and are allowed to compete equally then inequality may well rule the day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Forty Acres and a Mule

"There is no longer any need for affirmative action."

In order to build the wealth of our nation, or rather, in order to allow individuals to build vast sums of wealth, Americans, specifically white ones, enslaved those of the African continent.  After a long bloody civil war, justice *cough* prevailed, and those who were removed from their homeland and forced to toil under the whips of their ever wealthier white counterparts for generations were freed.  They were, for this crime against humanity promised "forty ares and a mule," except not exactly…

This was never a Congressional act, but rather just a promise made by General Sherman- Special Field Order #15, that some 400,000 acres be allocated to some 40,000 freedpeople.  The mule was never actually mentioned.  By 1866 Congress had debated, passed and had vetoed one version of the Southern Homestead Act.  Later they amended it and passed, then over-road Johnson's veto.  This bill opened some 46 million acres of Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and Florida in 80-acre parcels to homesteading.  Few in the South advertised the bill, resulting in only some 6,500 applicants.  In the end, some 1,000 received actual and grants.  So, as payment for having been uprooted, dehumanized, and enslaved, most were turned away empty handed.

Instead, they faced sharecropping, and today guess how many tobacco companies are black owned?

Money, according to the Supreme Court is both speech, and thus influence.  Ultimate power is found in wealth, not the piddly musing of mere earnings.  You can be a valedictorian, become a doctor, and even get to be the surgeon general, but don't expect to pull down more than a few million a year, unless you write a book that lands on the best seller that nets you $10 or $20 million.  Still, there are those in this country to inherit billions.  How is an individual who starts the game with zero dollars and no land supposed to compete with those who inherit both lands and holdings?

In Brown v Board of Education, we were told that, 'separate is not equal.'  All public high schools, rural to the inner city are supposed to be equal.  So if African-Americans make up 12-14%, shouldn't this number be reflected in higher learning admissions?  When it does not, shouldn't we enact policies to fix it, especially given this historical 'short' America has offered these forced immigrants?

This is to say nothing of the clear and present racism that permeates America today.  Don't we owe the children of those we forced to be here, an opportunity to become educated?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Purpose of a Minimum Wage

"When we increase minimum wages by legislative fiat, we kill jobs."

So, what is the purpose of a job, if not to provide for that which life requires?  When the minimum wage was conceived the idea was to provide a full-time worker with the ability to access food, clothing, shelter, health and dental care without relying on government relief programs.  Why shouldn't a person working full time be afforded mere existence?  What we need to understand is that by not paying a true living wage to full time workers, corporations are being subsidized by government.

Minimum wage affords a worker now, very little in the way of a living.  Depending on the cost of living in your area, in America, $7.25 an hour is less than $14,000 after taxes.  The average apartment rental rate across the U.S. is around $1,100 a month, so this often leaves those at the bottom of the capitalistic food chain at the door steps of the welfare and food stamp offices.  Why should government, i.e. we the taxpayer be subsidizing businesses?  Shouldn't businesses 'still' be required to pay a living wage?

So, imagine the high school couple who gets pregnant.  Should they be able to make it, as a three-person family, on one full time job?  Is that the standard, because if it is, we are well below it now.  The food alone for the average family of three is $800 a month.  This is to say nothing of clothes, water, and heat or outside communication, another $400 a month, and that's if he can get a job within walking distance of their 2 bedroom apartment.  To pay for all this, he'll need a job that can pay him overtime, or he'll need to get a second job, which means more time away from home, not helping to raise his child.  How much time should be spent away from your family, to pay for their existence? Does the term full-time mean anything?  What is the minimum wage intended to cover?

The biggest question this issue raises is, why should government do, what businesses were supposed to do?  If you are working a full time job, why should you also qualify for government aid?