Why Does Race Matter?
Trick question. Most of the time, it doesn't.
Above: Tony Timpa cries for help and says he is going to die as Dallas police slowly kill him.
I have questions.
First of all, why is the word “black” capitalized and not “brown”? Second, doesn’t he know that the preferred term amongst Those In The Know is “Latinx”? (The term amuses me, mainly because actual Latinos never use it; it’s almost exclusively restricted to the hyper-woke white crowd.) Third of all, and most important: why should the race of the children matter? If you’re going to march to get kids back in school — not an unworthy cause — why restrict your concern to black or brown kids? It’s as if there is an unspoken sentence in Brooks’s tweet: “And to hell with the white kids.”
Brooks goes into this in more depth in his column:
The fourth fact is that this situation is especially devastating to poorer Black and brown students. Many affluent kids have fled the public school disaster for private schools. It’s Black and brown kids who live in cities with progressive mayors and powerful unions, and those are the places where in-school learning has been closed down.
A study by Michael T. Hartney and Leslie Finger found that political partisanship and teacher union strength explain how school boards approached reopening. Another survey, conducted last year by Chalkbeat and The Associated Press, found that roughly half of white students had access to in-person learning, compared with a quarter of Black and Hispanic kids.
Readers, many of us got involved in the Black Lives Matter marches last summer. I guess I would ask you, do Black lives matter to you only when they serve your political purpose? If not, shouldn’t we all be marching to get Black and brown children back safely into schools right now?
(Honestly, repeatedly seeing the word “black” capitalized next to a lower-case “brown” over and over is jarring to my eye, just as someone who naturally reads text with the eye of an editor.)
The answer to Brooks’s question is: “No.” We should not be “marching to get Black and brown children back safely into schools right now.” We should be advocating (sorry, I’m not personally into marching) for children to get back into school. Children of any race.
Now, if I were going to give Brooks the benefit of the doubt, I would say he is emphasizing the race and ethnicity of many of the students harmed by the policies of progressive mayors and teachers’ unions in order to tweak the left, which claims to stand for the downtrodden but which often enacts policies that hurt those same downtrodden.
That’s not a good enough reason to bring race into it. There are plenty of white children suffering from closed schools. The problem is not one of racism, but of the left caving to teachers’ unions, who are unwilling to step up and do the jobs that other essential workers do every day in the country. Introducing race into the picture clouds our vision and hinders the effort to find real solutions, by causing us to focus on the wrong problem.
We need to get past this endless emphasis on the color of people’s skin. It causes all sorts of errors and distortions. In fact, it can even cause riots and cost lives.
We appropriately hear a great deal from Big Media about the endless stream of lies that helped foment a riot at the Capitol building. But when does Big Media ever apologize for fomenting riots on the streets due to overhyping police incidents and playing them up as racist? Riots in Kenosha ended in two dead after Jacob Blake was shot in the back in what Big Media told everyone was a completely unjustified shooting of an unarmed black man. Rav Arora sets the scene:
When Officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back last year, the media wasted no time establishing the standard narrative: another unarmed African American shot by racist police.
In a CNN segment on Aug. 25, anchor Jake Tapper said, “Video shows police shoot unarmed black man.” The Washington Post, CNN, PBS, BuzzFeed, Vogue and several other outlets referred to Blake as “unarmed.” The day after the shooting, David A. Graham, a staff writer at The Atlantic, asserted, “It’s nearly impossible to imagine any way that his shooting was justified.”
I got into a lot of fights on Twitter with people I generally like, because I could easily imagine several ways that the shooting could be justified. These people assured me that I was wrong, and there was no possible justification. They told me that reports of Blake having a knife were obviously manufactured pro-police propaganda. I don’t mean to pick on this guy because he’s not the only one who said these things, but he sums up the prevailing wisdom at the time pretty well:
Just one leetle problem. Blake has now admitted he had a knife. Rav Arora:
[A]s Blake himself admitted in an interview with ABC News last week, he wasn’t, in fact, unarmed. “I realized I had dropped my knife, I had a little pocketknife, so I picked it up,” Blake told Michael Strahan on “Good Morning America.” More critically, Blake admitted his actions at the time were wrong: “I shouldn’t have picked it up . . . considering what was going on. . . . At that time, I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
Oh, and the “little pocketknife”? Here is an image from the video:
Yeah, it doesn’t look that little to me. And it’s not that shocking to me that the shooting has been ruled to be justified “because Blake consistently didn’t comply with the officer’s orders and motioned toward him with his knife.”
Without Big Media assuring us that Blake was unarmed and that the shooting had no possible justification, maybe there would have been no riots in Kenosha. Maybe Kyle Rittenhouse would not have gone there and shot and killed people. A firefighter and a police officer likely would not have ended up in the hospital. Dozens of businesses that were burned to the ground would still exist.
Where is the after-action report on that? As far as I can tell, it’s in a single piece in the New York Post. I don’t hear Jake Tapper talking about how the media got this wrong on the Sunday shows. In fact, I never hear that kind of introspection by Big Media when a police shooting proves to be justified, after initially being reported to be an indefensible slaughter of a black man.
Even the George Floyd murder — and it was a murder, in my view — is commonly assumed to have been an event that occurred solely because of the color of George Floyd’s skin. Why, police officers would never get on top of a prone, helpless white guy and squeeze the breath out of him until he died! If that happened, surely Big Media would bring it to our attention!
Except . . . they don’t. After all, have you ever heard of Tony Timpa? It’s likely you haven’t. Here is a Dallas newspaper’s report on the incident:
Tony Timpa wailed and pleaded for help more than 30 times as Dallas police officers pinned his shoulders, knees and neck to the ground.
“You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me!”
After Timpa fell unconscious, the officers who had him in handcuffs assumed he was asleep and didn’t confirm that he was breathing or feel for a pulse.
As precious minutes passed, the officers laughed and joked about waking Timpa up for school and making him waffles for breakfast.
If you can bear to watch it, the bodycam footage is below.
How long did Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd? You don’t have to look it up. You already know the answer, down to the second. Eight minutes and 46 seconds. George Floyd, say his name! But chances are, you have no idea how long Dallas police sat on Tony Timpa. Why can’t we say his name too? And given that (as far as I am aware — please correct me if I’m wrong in comments or with an email) there is no specific evidence that Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd because of the color of his skin, maybe we could use the Tony Timpa episode to stop focusing on race, and start focusing on the real issue: the deficient training of cops in far too many departments.
This email started out discussing David Brooks and getting children back to school, and ended discussing the ways in which police departments end up killing citizens unnecessarily, for a host of reasons including poor training. The one thing that ties these disparate issues together is that a focus on race has caused society to misdiagnose the problems and get caught up in a divisive, never-ending debate that won’t solve anything.
Unless we can get past our hyper-focus on skin color, we won’t be able to solve our real problems.
I’ll be revisiting this theme in the future (assuming I don’t canceled in the meantime for addressing it in the first place and saying unapproved things). Thanks for reading, and feel free to forward this to a friend or share it on social media.
Until next time . . .