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Racism in the Arizona Community
Do members of the community look like you? In what ways do they look the same or different?
I remember once sitting in a Chris Rock open mike when he cracked a joke about how he viewed the U.S. To be the rich relative in his family who financed your education after assaulting you for years. Even though I couldn't stop laughing at that; in hindsight however, living in Arizona for over 20 years and in light of the new immigration law I cannot help but agree with that completely. Even though I have gotten the best out of the best and yet I have been slapped down all my life too. I grew up in the pre-civil rights movements when my neighbourhood was the home of jazz and blue centres and breakthrough entrepreneurs who paved the way to better lifestyles making in-roads for the black community back when it was viewed as activities of revolt. The overall ratio of blacks and Hispanics in the community I live in is more or less equal with not white people.
How do leaders within the community treat people who are like you? How do they treat people who are different?
President Barack Obama condemns the latest immigration bill being implemented in Arizona by saying: "Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others, and that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe. In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil-rights and other implications of this legislation" (Horsley, 2010).
Police agencies have always been expected to collaborate with other government bodies to secure and protect American citizens. For instance, Pre 9-11, the intelligence agencies had been responsible for gathering, analyzing and using intelligence information. However, they are now compelled to share their data with the local police departments all across America. Furthermore, police agencies are also working with the fire department, healthcare agencies and other public organizations in order to develop and execute a practical and comprehensive counter-terrorism policy (Fitzpatrick, 2006). All these collaborations mean that the police have got to be more careful and lucid in their approach especially against the minorities but I barely see that happening in my neighbourhood.
When talking about the significance of values in the actions and decision of the police, it is obvious that the values held commonly as morally right or wrong are ingrained in the decision making structure for the police. I do feel that over the years, however, the importance of values in decision making seem to have diminished when dealing with ethical dilemmas as values seem to be taken as vague moral guidelines for actions. This is the reason why we see a new process of "values clarification" exist wand sustain within the decision making structures for police discretion and activities.
DeLattre in his study (1996) explains the values clarification process in the domain of police discretion by quoting Lawrence W. Sherman who asserted: "Such methods are intended to enable people to discover what they already consider good and right, not to ask what we ought to consider good and right. They reduce the inquiry to questions of what individuals happen to like or want- a far different matter from what is worthy of our aspiration and respect. Thus, by discovering that they enjoy seeing discrimination against a certain race or sex or religion, they 'clarify' their values." (Delattre, 1996)
I know that morals should be extremely important facets for the police when they make ethically sound decisions, the question is -- do they know it? They regard morals as the guidelines for explaining what is in fact right and differentiating it form what is wrong. Furthermore, the morals help in the decision making process of what needs to be done and how it needs to implemented practically hence, the importance of morals is huge for the police authorities. Lashley in his study (1995) writes when asserting the significance that the police pay to the moral righteousness:
"Whether on the level of the individual police officer or the organization, values and moral judgments are intrinsic to the police process and cannot be separated from the decisions and policies of law enforcement and its professionals. Morality is, therefore, inescapably part of a police officer's role. It imposes on the process of law enforcement and cannot be discounted or ignored" (Lashley, 1995).
Despite all of this it still bothers me that the immigration bill was passed and is being implemented. When the ones who are given the responsibility to uphold the law, i.e. The government and the police, and even they cannot manage to keep something that is clearly an expansion of racial profiling, then how can I expect the treatment of my race to be any better in the coming years. Yes, there is a social etiquette now when dealing with people of colour, I don't deny that; surprisingly, some of us have even managed to win an Oscar or two but I know that its bills like this immigration one that serve as a rude awakening to the role of the leaders and the police in dealing with coloured people.
How do other members of your community treat people who are like you? How do they treat people who are different?
One of the boys in my neighbourhood was caught whistling at a white woman. His punishment -- he was found on the side of river, completely bleached and overwhelmingly bloated as seen in the local newspapers distributed in our community. My family kept a photo of that news story to remind us all of the dangers out there is we transgress from what is acceptable. My family has taught me to always be on guard, and to believe that everything is a judgement for people of colour or amongst the minorities; hence every move must be though-through ten steps ahead. I don't know anyone else in my neighbourhood who thinks like that unless they are of colour.
Do your texts or work manuals contain information by or about people like you?
There are countless textbooks included in one's curriculum that focuses on the challenges that minorities face in the U.S. society today. The biggest example of this is the U.S. ethics subject on "Racism -- Law and Attitude" which allows students to differentiate between the de facto and de jure formats of discrimination that exists in the U.S. today as well as highlights the racist activities that exist in the law enforcement agencies.
Do the local media represent people like you? If so, in what ways?
Over the years, the media outlets focusing on the role of police in a community have been concerned with the relationship that the police authorities have with the racial minorities. Alongside the media, many government bodies, policy makers and the societies in general have been affected by the relationship that has existed between the police and racial minorities. There have been inroads made on social media websites to understand the relationship from a purely unbiased viewpoint in spite of the role that the racial minorities have played in the history of the police department, the principles or laws implemented as well as the criminal justice strategies and policies.
Nowadays the focus on the media is on the role of the police, its development with special focus on the dynamic and irregular relationship between policing and minorities in the U.S. particularly in Arizona after the passing of the immigration bill. The fact of the matter as depicted in the media is this: the role of the police and its historical interactions with the minorities has been the primary determinants of the format of social control used for the minorities within the United States. Not only have the policing strategies been influenced by this relationship but also the general public policies and reactions. If one was to describe the relationship of the police and the minorities in three words, it would be disciplinary, authoritarian and rigid in most cases. Even though, with the passage of time, the de jure isolation and prejudice against the minorities has diminished considerably, I still feel that there is a heavy influence of de facto discriminatory strategies and laws that control the policing authorities with the U.S. Some of modern day struggles, which have survived since the earliest of days, between the police and minorities include drug wars, intolerance violence as well as the overall discrimination or differences in the quality of life.
The modern day America, as recorded in the media, is paying fair share of attention to the dynamic and ever-evolving relationship that has exists between the police and racial minorities. For instance, taking it back to the earliest days, the administration and control over…[continue]
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