New York Law School

Archive for 2016

A poem about my frustration over racial injustice and the lack of empathy.

I’m so Tired
By Linda Valdez

I’m so tired.
I’m so tired of turning on my television, or opening my Social Media pages and seeing the killing of another Black Man!
I’m so tired of reading the posts of people disparaging the Black Community for their outrage, and for the way they protest…whether silently taking a knee, marching, or downright civil disobedience.
Civil Disobedience is a huge part of American History! Many of the gains that have been achieved, happened, in part, because of Civil Disobedience.
I’m so tired that on my Social Media feed there is nothing but silence when another unarmed or licensed to carry Black Man, or even a child, is killed. Just once, I was hoping that maybe someone would say, how awful, would question what’s going on, would offer sympathy to a family or a community. But none of that.
I’m so tired.
I’m so tired of their use of the word “ignorant” leveled towards protesters and those that have been killed!
I’m so tired that they think they can tell Black people in America how we should be responding to an outrage, that hasn’t manifested itself in their communities!
I’m so tired that these educated people so freely espouse their opinions, disguised as facts.
I’m so tired that so many think it’s ok to say whatever they want, without regard to others, yet let the reverse happen, and they lose their minds!
I’m so tired of hearing folks say that violence is not American, and not the way to get results, yet that’s what this America was founded on.
I’m so tired.
I wish they would take their blinders and rose colored glasses off, and see The Truth!
I took my rose colored glasses off a long time ago, and what I opened my eyes to, is reality; an ugly, but true, reality in America!
I am so tired.
I am so tired of smiling when I feel like yelling.
I am so tired of being the go to Black friend, when an associate calls them out on their racist views!
I am so tired of being silent!
My silence ends today.
The truth is, the New World, this United States of America, was formed out of ethnic and racial violence from the first time European settlers stepped foot on this land! A land that was already occupied by existing Native Americans! Yet, through violence, amounting to genocide, nearly an entire population of people was killed, and the land was suddenly “discovered” by someone else!
This violence is a part of America’s democratic history.
I am so tired!
The narrative that was spoon fed to all of us as children about the nice Pilgrims, helping the savage “Indians” and the wonderful celebratory Thanksgiving Dinner, is a fallacy perpetuated to maintain someone else’s supremacy.
I am so tired!
Violence in America is not the democratic way. Huh! That’s funny. Tell that to the many Black people dragged to this country in inhumane conditions in the belly of ships, forced to live and work as slaves! Slavery was violence.
That is a part of America’s violent democratic history!
I am so tired!
The origins of America’s own original homegrown terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, the night riders who threatened, maimed, hung, shot, killed, and burned Black people, basically for sport, while a blind eye was turned, is all a part of America’s violent democratic history.
I am so tired.
This country was built on violence, savagery and racism. Its gains were secured off the backs of those who they controlled through violence.
I am so tired!
I could mention the violence and Internment of innocent Asians, but I won’t, because, well at least there was an acknowledgment of a wrong, and reparations paid.
I am so tired.
I am so tired of folks talking about the low percentage of Black people owning property, yet they forget that blacks were shut out of that process for decades, through the systemic racism written into FHA and other documents.
I am so tired.
I am so tired of folks talking about the number of Black people in prisons, and the number of Black people residing in ghettos, yet they fail to talk about how the mass incarceration of non violent minor drug offenses sent millions of black men and women to prison, destroyed their families and eviscerated their communities, yet whites who did the same thing were not arrested or imprisoned at the same rate, or for the same length of time!
I am so tired.
I am so tired of hearing how Black people should get over slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and Jim Crow! That’s funny, because the fallout of all of that still exists today! Just because you don’t talk about it, or because you are not personally affected by it, doesn’t meant that it does not exist!
I am so tired!
I am so tired of reminding my sons of what to do to hopefully stay alive in this post Civil Rights America. But I still have to, because someone who carries fear, ignorance, or racism within them, may not see my sons for the well raised, well educated, young men that they are!
I am so tired.
This Southern born, 60’s child, with a radical spirit, is tired.
If you didn’t watch your Grandmother, who worked as a domestic, go in the back door of a home and hear the young child call her by first name, while she referred to him as Mister, then you can’t tell me how to act, react, or feel about anything!
If you haven’t been followed in a store and watched while shopping, you don’t have a right to tell me how to feel.
If you haven’t had the police watch you in a parking lot after your sons basketball game ended, for ten whole minutes, and as soon as the last white child left, zoom his car so close to you, that you thought he was going to run down your child, only to ask you, “what are you folks doing over here”, and interrogate you like you were a criminal, then you can’t tell me how to react to the police.
If you haven’t had to remind your kids that just because of the color of their skin, they may be perceived a certain way by some people, and that they can’t do the same things as their friends, because somehow if they do it, it’s criminal, though if their friends do it, it’s kids being kids, then you can not tell me how to raise my children!
If you never had a well-meaning friend tell you that her parent doesn’t like black people because of an incident that they encountered once with a black person, but he likes you, and somehow make that okay, then you can’t tell me about racism; you don’t hold an entire race of people in contempt because of the action of one.
If you haven’t had a supervisor on a work outing to the beach, try to reassure you that it’s okay that you can’t swim, because she read in a book that blacks can’t swim because of how they’re built, then you don’t have the right to tell me what is ignorant!
I am so tired!
I am so tired of the ignorance spewed by people who are more outraged at an athlete for failing to stand for an anthem, than they are when a person is killed!
I am so tired that they haven’t removed their blinders!
I can no longer remain silent!
Silence is blind acceptance, and I removed my blinders a long time again!

Consumer Racial Profiling: The Crime without Redress or Repercussions

America has a very long and documented history of racial profiling against people of color. Discriminatory practices like stop and frisk and poll taxes have been present in this country since the dawn of our government. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 aimed to outlaw these forms of discrimination, many of these practices simply morphed into much “subtler” versions of themselves. In particular, the unfair treatment of Blacks by law enforcement and the judicial system has been as present as ever. This continued stain of Black enslavement and repression is evidenced by disproportionately high arrest rates and stricter prison sentences for Blacks, as well as targeted efforts to vilify the Black population. Thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama, Black Lives Matter, Social Media, and activists throughout the country, many of these issues are now being brought to the political mainstream, yet there still is much to be done in the fight against racial injustice. This fight is especially challenging in the realm of retail and private businesses. You see, just as police and judicial abuse against Blacks represents a legacy of Black legal inequality, Consumer Racial Profiling represents a legacy of public and societal inequality.

Consumer Racial Profiling (CRP) is the act of storeowners and/or their employees following, harassing, or ignoring individuals while they shop in their stores simply due to the shopper’s apparent race. While CRP affects people of all colors and backgrounds, it is Blacks that are most frequently targeted. In a 2004 Gallup poll, 65% of Black respondents reported widespread racial profiling when shopping in malls and stores. Hence why CRP is also known as “shopping while Black”, drawing on the similarities to “driving while Black”. These racially charged interactions often lead to Black people being publicly embarrassed due to unfounded accusations of stealing, being searched for goods that they did not steal, or even being wrongly detained or apprehended by police officers.

Read more

Profiting off of Black Bodies: Racial Prejudice a Major Factor in Denying Pay to Elite Collegiate Athletes

College sports have become an extremely lucrative business. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA) is contracted to receive $7.3 billion from ESPN for game broadcast rights between 2014 and 2026, and $11 billion from CBS and Turner Sports to broadcast “March Madness” basketball games over the next 14 years. In 2013, NCAA Football revenue topped $3.4 billion dollars, making it one of the most profitable sports, college or professional, in North America. To put that into perspective, the revenue generated by NCAA football comes relatively close to the NHL ($3.7 billion), the NBA ($5 billion) and the NFL ($6 billion). With all of this money being generated by college sports, especially basketball and football, the way colleges compensate their athletes has also come under great scrutiny.

Although the revenue generated by college football rivals that of other professional sports, the difference is those leagues have unions, and their players get a large piece of the revenue, while collegiate athletes are “paid” with scholarships that cover tuition, room, and board. When you add up all of the time a collegiate athlete spends practicing, training, playing in games and participating in team events, it is evident that they “work” the equivalent of full-time hours for the universities they play for. The value of these scholarships, when compared to the hours worked and revenue generated, would be considered an insignificant compensation in any other industry or setting. Additionally, the opportunity to obtain a college degree for free, one of the major justifications for not paying collegiate athletes, often takes a back seat to the sport itself.

However, despite the above facts, there is still strong opposition against paying collegiate athletes wages comparable to their work and revenue generated. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 64% of people oppose paying collegiate athletes. To add insult to injury, the NCAA actually restricts athletes from receiving other forms of compensation (such as selling their own merchandise, working at a job that pays them more than $2,000 annually, and accepting monetary help from coaches). Yet this lack of adequate compensation is not considered exploitation in the eyes of the general public. So what could be the reason society feels that these dedicated and hardworking athletes should not receive all of the fruits of their labor? It turns out that reason just may be racial prejudice. Read more

The Flint Water Crisis

When my siblings and I were younger, we each imagined ourselves growing up and becoming someone important. We were always taught to dream big. My sister Syrita always pretended to be a doctor, always pretending to perform life saving surgery. Today she is one. I, on the other hand, imagined standing before a jury giving the closing statement of all closing statements. Today, I am months away from realizing my dream.

Despite the fact that the only black lawyers and doctors my sister and I saw growing up were on TV, Syrita and I, like our other three siblings held onto our dreams, refusing to be woken up or deterred. We relentlessly envisioned ourselves being that next great lawyer or that next great doctor. Little did I realize at that time how lucky my siblings and I were by having the ability just to dream because for the thousands of black children in Flint, Michigan, who for the past two years, have drank, bathed and consumed food cooked in water from their home’s pipes, and the thousands of children yet to be born, State and Local officials may have poisoned those dreams.

Let me shed some light on the situation. Over the past two years, due to the inaction of State and Local officials, children, along with all other residents living in Flint, have been exposed to toxic water. This situation has been coined The Flint Water Crisis. Read more