Tag Archives: Crime

Learn to Live and Let Us Live: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

Learn to Live and Let Us Live: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

For a long time in America, black people have represented a clear and present danger to people of other races. When this occurs, some people chose to overreact, rather than learning to live and let us live. In 2018 alone, we have seen people calling the police on black people who:

  • slept in a common area at a college
  • sold water in front of a stoop
  • went canvassing door-to-door to gather information
  • attended a local pool
  • left a Airbnb property
  • barbequed in a public park
  • waited for a colleague in a coffee shop
  • mowed a lawn
  • collected money for a youth sports team

We have to remember that these incidents ARE NOT on the rise. Instead, they are being filmed now. Can you imagine how many black people had the cops called on them, got arrested, or worse, when there were no camera phones around to record these incidents? Let’s face it: some people, whether it is 1818 or 2018, chose not to mind their own business. They choose to get involved when it might not be necessary. They choose to call the police and expect them to take action. If this is you, learn to live and let us live.

Who exactly are these people? They are the people who, for some strange reason, want greater control in certain situations. If they cannot be in control, they have to get someone who can. They also possess a certain level of paranoia that makes them perceive “threats” and dangers that do not exist. They want to feel comfortable, and they will do whatever it takes to ensure their comfort is secured. Most of the time, their method of control and security is to call the police. Learn to live and let us live.

What do these people think will happen when the police arrive? Whether justified or not, the person who makes the call has to know the potential outcome of their actions. The potential “threat” could, at minimum, be questioned by the police and/or arrested. Does the punishment fit the crime? The potential “threat” could be in a life-or-death situation if they, or the cops who approach them, become overzealous or irate. This is a not a concern for someone who seeks comfort in these situations. Learn to live and let us live.

I wonder why some people can’t live and let live. If you witness an obvious crime, then by all means call the police. On the other hand, if you witness something that bothers you, but does not jeopardize your safety, then go on about your business. I guess it is empowering to be able to call the police on someone and watch them get “put in their place” or even arrested. Where is the enjoyment in that? Learn to live and let us live.

I have never thought of calling the police on anyone who is not a clear and present danger. Perhaps this is where we should draw the line: by defining a “clear and present danger”…

  • A clear and present danger is threatening to get or use a weapon.
  • A clear and present danger is menacing, or causing a public disturbance.
  • A clear and present danger is intimidating, harassing, or bullying another person.
  • A clear and present danger is destroying property.
  • A clear and present danger is committing a crime or violating someone else’s rights.
  • A clear and present danger is acting with clear intent to do wrong or harm another person.

Call Police

Here’s a tip: If you don’t see things that present a clear and present danger, then chances are the situation does not warrant calling the police. This does not mean we should not be aware of our surroundings or watch for unlawful activities. On the other hand, it does mean that we need to improve our discernment as it relates to other people. Learn how to tell the difference between a “normal” black person engaged in a regular activity and a black person (or any other race) about to commit a crime (I have several of my own alive while black experiences to share). If you can’t tell the difference, then maybe you should learn how to use better judgment. Learn to live and let us live.

Black people should be able to do things anyone else can do without fear of being thought of as a criminal, especially in public places where people of other races conduct the same activities. We should be able to catch a nap in a common area, if students of other races also do it. We should be allowed to swim at a pool, if residents of other races also do it. We should be allowed to rent an Airbnb, if vacationers of other races do it. Learn to live and let us live.

Let’s move on to activities that could be considered unique to the black experience. We should be able to barbeque in a public park. We should be able to sell water on a hot day. We should be able to collect money for a youth team or organization. If any of these situations violate any local laws or create unsafe environments, then let the affected property owner or local police patrols handle it. We don’t need an “outsider” who feels violated calling the police and overstating the level of the danger or perceived threat. Sooner or later someone will get hurt because of it. We don’t need any more of that!

Learn to live and let us live.

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Mass Incarceration: Maybe the Last of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

jail-bars-and-cuffs

Mass incarceration has affected millions of people across all races, and the result is many of these people become a part of a permanent underclass who will struggle to live a normal life. Of course, many of the people who are incarcerated committed heinous crimes that need to be punished. These are not the people this is meant to address. Instead, we must take a closer look at people who were sentenced for minor crimes and misdemeanors, either justly or unjustly. In these cases, incarceration causes an enduring legacy that disqualifies millions of American citizens from returning to a normal life. Far too often, these people are poor, uneducated, and minorities. This is why along with  credit, education, and voting rights, mass incarceration might be the last of the remaining great disqualifiers.

Mass incarceration is a great disqualifier because a criminal record will follow and ex-offender even though they may have paid their debt to society. Although prison is supposed to rehabilitate its offenders, we know it does not do a good job of rehabilitation. Upon release, “reformed” criminals who try to straighten up their lives have a hard time erasing the stain of their criminal record. It follows them as they seek employment, housing, and voting rights. This is due to the requirement to disclose prior convictions on applications to “determine” eligibility. We know the deal here: this disclosure is more likely to disqualify people from a proper evaluation and consideration. Who gets caught in this trap: primarily minorities, immigrants, and poor people who get incarcerated.

Recently I had to look for a job, and I was surprised at the new levels of questions that ex-offenders have to answer. Basically, these questions ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. Depending on the organization or company, a “yes” answer leads to a series of additional questions. The most important of these questions is probably whether the crime was a felony or misdemeanor. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for employment than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for employment post-incarceration. When seeking employment, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

Ex-offenders are also left way behind when seeking housing opportunities. Once again, an application will probably ask if a person has been convicted of a crime. This time, a potential landlord has the power to determine whether or not the answer to this question will disqualify a person from obtaining housing. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for housing than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking for housing post-incarceration. When seeking employment and housing, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

We have seen wave after wave of challenges to voting rights in America. Perhaps nowhere is this challenge stronger than establishing, or reestablishing the right to vote for ex-convicts. Some states allow ex-felons to return to voting rolls once they are released from prison. Other states do not allow them to vote. The recent trend is to either prevent ex-offenders from voting, or to strike them from voting lists. Once again, ex-offenders are required to disclose their convictions upon reapplying for the right to vote. I do not have statistics, but I am willing to bet that people who disclose their felony conviction are far less likely to be considered for voting than those who commit misdemeanors. Factor in those who have not committed crimes, and you can see how far behind ex-offenders are when looking to reestablish their voting rights post-incarceration. When seeking employment, housing and voting rights, ex-offenders can easily be disqualified. Mass incarceration is one of the last remaining disqualifiers for them even though they have paid their debt to society.

I have provided just a few examples of how mass incarceration is one of the remaining great disqualifiers for minorities, immigrants, and poor people. Simply put, being incarcerated can disqualify a person for life because their rights post-incarceration are never fully restored. These people will find it difficult to get employment. They will find it difficult to find decent housing. They will find it difficult to vote. It is not a pretty picture, especially for those people who get entangled in the criminal justice system for “minor” offenses. For these people and millions of others, mass incarceration will remain one of the last remaining great disqualifiers. We need to ask some questions…

Is there something sinister at work that is designed to ensnare certain group of people into the web of the criminal justice system?

Is there a secret “system” in place to create a permanent underclass based on mass incarceration?

Is mass incarceration another disqualifier on the same level as credit mismanagement, a lack of education, and denial of voting rights?

 

We need to find answers. What do you think is the cause of mass incarceration: the last remaining great disqualifier?

 

This is a follow-up to my original posts:

Credit: One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Education: Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers

Voting Rights: Yet Another One of the Remaining Great Disqualifiers