Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reverse Discrimination...maybe, but probably not.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case invloving what has been labeled reverse discrimination. In an effort to 'level' the playing field, Some companies and municipalities have become gun-shy about issuing promotions to desertving (white)individuals in order to avoid either the appearance of discrimination, or lawsuits by minorities. Oddly in the case presented, I believe the City of New Haven acted imprudently. They had every right to promote the number one position from the test. Performance based exams are the crux of equality. The problem of discrimnation in hiring practice has the best chance of disappearing when performanced based tests are used, but New Haven takes it a step further. They have to "see you" and hear you speak. It is this part of the "test" that presents the opportunity for discrimnation. Two people, one black, one white, can give the exact same answers, word for word, and be perceived differently. It is FACT that even the most liberal among us, including some blacks as well, harbor hidden racist attitudes towards minorities. Until that FACT changes, we are doomed to trying to legislate fairness. It is through legislation of fairness that a cyclical unfairness becomes self-perpetuating.

Before my brothers and sisters drop their jaws in disbelief, please understand that the goal is not to promote black over all as some form of retribution or restitution. Our goal should always be an equal opportunity based on fair practice and merit. We don't want to use laws to prove we are just as good or better than our white counterparts. The 'system' has made it that way. So until the underlying attitudes that shape our percptions are either changed or completely removed from the process, for some, the law will be the only chance for fairness. As for whites that find themselves on the downside of this equation, make it your business to point out and correct issues of discrimination that regularly take place in oother parts of the department. Nepitism continues to prevail throughout many companies and municipalities. It is a cycle that can only be broken from the inside.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A guilty verdict does NOT mean justice

Some of my more militant brothers are celebrating the conviction of former police officer Raphael Lora for manslaughter in the death of Fermin Arzu.

The account, according to the only survivor, went something like this. Mr. Lora heard a crash outside his home. Though off duty, rather than go to assist the driver, he armed himself and proceeded to ask for the license of Mr. Arzu. He goes so far as to admit that Mr. Arzu was in a drunken stupor. For whatever reason, Mr. Arzu did not comply, according to Mr. Lora, and proceeded to drive off. Mr. Lora claims his arm was in the window and that he sought to protect the rest of the neighborhood from this drunk driver, so he shot Mr. Arzu... in the back... as he the back....did I say in the back?

Well, the police have a tactic they often use to escape the scrutiny of their "peers". They choose a bench trial as is their legal right. In a bench trial the judge is the only jury member...logically, if a judge sees criminals all day long, and understands the difficulties police have to deal with, not to mention the fact that they are painfully aware of how plea deals and technicalities often skew justice towards the undeserving, then surely that judge will be more lenient/understanding towards a officer of the courts. NOT THIS TIME, Bronx Supreme Court Judge Margaret Clancy applied the law, and fairly adjudicated the case. Of course the police are not happy. Of course the family of Mr. Arzu is not exactly on cloud nine, they stated no verdict can bring back their father.

Now here is the cautionary portion of this sordid mess. A guilty verdict, does not mean justice. We, the public, cannot determine justice until sentencing. Many cases have been won at trial only to be given a sentence so trivial as to liken a murder to stealing a candy bar. While we should never celebrate the downfall of anyone, we should be reassured each time a proper punishment, suiting the crime, is meted out. This is what tells us the system that still treats us unfairly is not totally corrupt. Wait for the sentence in this case...with any luck, justice may very well be served after all.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This one hurts...

I am not generally known as a sensitive person. In my blogs, I often express anger, frustration, bewilderment, and sadness. Often I am moved to pray for those involved, and occaisionally I am moved to shed a tear. This is such a story that has moved me.

N.Y. Daily News - A Brooklyn-raised Marine sergeant and his new bride were tortured and killed execution-style in their California home - allegedly by four other Marines under his command.

Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak, who was raised in Bensonhurst, and his wife, Quiana, were found bound and gagged in the ransacked house, each shot in the head.

Pietrzak’s mother, Henryka Pietrzak-Varga, said she had prepared herself “for the possibility that my son could die in Iraq.”

“But to die like this, in their own home?” she told The News. “They were good kids. They didn’t deserve to die like this.”

Investigators said the motive for murder was “financial gain.” Neither mother believes that.

A spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney’s office would not comment on reports that Pietrzak was killed by his own men.

Detectives also did not divulge what the accused Marines were looking for, but the suspects were tied to the crime by items found in their homes and on the military base.

A mechanic who worked on helicopters, Pietrzak, 24, met his wife three years ago at a party for Marines being deployed to Iraq.

Quiana Jenkins-Pietrzak, 26, who worked for the county’s Black Infant Care Center, was reluctant to date a Marine. But Pietrzak wooed her, and they were married in August.

“They were in love,” her mother-in-law said. “It didn’t matter to them that they had different skin colors.”

The bride wore her favorite white Converse sneakers, and she was still in the process of writing thank-you cards when she was killed.

On Oct. 15, deputies were dispatched to the Pietrzak home in Winchester, an exurb of San Diego, when the Marine did not show up for work.

When they arrived, the deputies found the Pietrzaks in the living room and evidence that the robbers had tried to cover their tracks by torching the house.

Charged with murder and other crimes are Pvt. Emrys John, 18, of Maryland; Lance Cpl. Tyrone Miller, 20, of North Carolina; Pvt. Kevin Darnell Cox, 20, of Tennessee, and Pvt. Kesuan Sykes, 21, of California.

Lawyers for the men could not be reached for comment.

Everyone has an opinion, and we all offer them, often without being asked. I don't need all the facts to see that this was much more than a robbery. While the details may be short right now, before this story is over, we will likely hear facts that will turn our stomachs. We have a right to be angry about the treatment Black people often recieve. we have a right to be outraged when one of our innocent men, women, or children is gunned down senslessly by overzealous police. We have a right to march, to speak out, to vote and to let our voices be heard whether collectively or individually. We do not have a right to exact revenge or to manifest our displeasure with violence.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How to minimize the truth, without too much effort...

The biggest story on Staten Island, receiving suddenly less 'airtime' is the incident that occurred on the campus of Wagner College. The college has offered a reward for naming the individuals that racially vandalized posters and drew a noose around the neck of a fellow student, but what about the future? How is that going to preempt and prevent another incident? Now I'm not privy to the goings on at Wagner, but it is an institution of 'higher' learning, and as such a certain level of civility and mutual respect is expected. So how did this outrageous transgression fall so quickly from the headlines? Well, our Island is now abuzz about a cell tower that was installed months ago. Once again, crimes against people of color take a back seat (not even funny), to the fears of a few. The vandalism is the smaller part of this story, the meat of the story lies in racial division among the student populace. I realize that these few 'bad seeds' do not speak to the state of race relations across the entire student body, but that doesn't make their behavior any less egregious. While the tolerant portion of the student body sleeps, the intolerant portion is hard at work, gathering resources, injecting their twisted views into conversations and lesson answers, and growing. Not unlike the adult community surrounding the college (all neighborhoods). When we "just let it go" we empower those that hate us to gain support and strength for their cause. We all share a very small corner of this planet, without bridges and boats, we really would be 'in this together'. When will we begin to show the haters that their brand of protest is not wanted on OUR island?