Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Different Kind of Racial Equation

When news analyst, Juan Williams, spoke yesterday on NPR's "All Things Considered" about the President's criticism of the Cambridge police officer who arrested Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Williams didn't downplay the history of racial profiling and the statistics that show that blacks are stopped by police more often.

He indicated that this case may not be the traditional case of discrimination against an African-American because of his race. In his view, class and race may be an issue in the Gates arrest, but not in the traditional way. Williams points out the class issue by indicating the elite-status conferred upon Gates by his professorship at Harvard, and his attempt to demonstrate it by displaying his Harvard ID to the police officer. Williams then describes how the racial component is different.
[R]emember, the governor in Massachusetts is black. The mayor of Cambridge is black. The president of the United States is black. So all of a sudden you have a different kind of racial equation where the power and upper class status attaches to the black man, not to the white man.
Perhaps this is why there isn't much of an outpouring of vocal support for Gates even among black community leaders.

The civil rights struggle has traditionally been centered on racial divisions. By focusing on divisions of power and class, the racial divisions break down.

Our President is walking a fine line emphasizing the racial divisions while ignoring on which side of the "different" racial equation he stands.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Are we post-racial yet?

How are we doing in when it comes to race relations? As a nation, we are struggling to overcome a history of slavery, civil rights abuses, and institutionalized racial discrimination. Our current President sits at the crossroads of history and infamy, when many who celebrated his election remember the struggles of the civil rights movement to end racial segregation in the South and elsewhere. However, it seems that in some cases, we may be too quick to see racism where it may not exist.

After Summerlin residents were shocked by the drive-by shooting of Christopher Privett near Palo Verde High School, the media attempted to highlight the racial undertones of the shooting. Privett was white; the suspects were both black. An article published in the Las Vegas Sun tried to paint Summerlin as a racist neighborhood by attributing racist-tinged anonymous Internet comments on a web site to residents of Summerlin. The newspaper had to print a lengthy correction as many of the "facts" cited to support the writer's idea that Summerlin is a bastion of racism were inaccurate. In the end, based on the facts from the Clark County DA's prosecution of the case, the shooting was an example of gang violence spilling into the suburbs. I admit that a lot of gang violence is racially motivated. Ezekiel Williams, 19, handed the gun to Gerald Davidson, 17, who shot at a crowd walking home from school because someone flashed gang signs at the pair. Privett was killed as a result.

On the national scene, when President Obama announced his support for Professor Louis Henry Gates, Jr. without hearing all the facts of his arrest, saying "the police acted stupidly" in arresting Gates for disorderly conduct. Then he was surprised at the response his comments received. Now, as more details of the incident unfold, it seems that Gates was more of the instigator, refusing to cooperate with the police officer on the scene, and claiming from the beginning that he was a target of racial bias. Meanwhile, colleagues of the arresting officer, including the black officer who assisted the arresting officer at Gates' house, fully support him and express their disappointment that President Obama would blindly support a charge of racism against the Cambridge police officer.

So, do we still have a problem with racism in America? Has it grown?

How can we move beyond race when the media and others are so quick to call someone racist, even when there is no evidence to support such a charge? How can we foster cooperation and bridge the gap, if one group is afraid to act for fear of being labeled a racist, like police officers?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gun Control in Las Vegas

Keeping guns in the hands of responsible gun owners, and out of the hands of children.

First, it was the self-inflicted shooting of 5 year-old Giovanni Kopystenski on Monday, July 20 that shocked the Las Vegas valley. The boy's father, Alex Kopystenski, was waiting in Walgreens drive through with his son in the car, when, according to the police report, the boy found a pistol on the center console, and fired one fatal shot. The father is being charged with felony child endangerment, but the death of his son in such a tragic way is probably worse for him.

Now, there are reports of a shooting in a home near Jones and Oakey, where, according to KVBC's website, a 4 year-old found a gun and shot a 2 year-old. The Review-Journal confirms that the 2 year-old girl died on Sunday, July 26 from her injuries.

When it comes to firearms, our state sides very heavily with gun-owners and their right to keep and bear arms individually. In fact, Nevada scored just 11 out of 100 points on the Brady Campaign 2008 scorecard. Until recently, cities and counties have had the ability to have stricter gun controls. The state legislature put an end to that, however, by enacting NRS 244.364. This so-called "State Pre-emption" law says that no county or city can pass a gun law unless the Legislature passes a statute that first allows it. There is a provision that allows counties with larger populations to require gun registration, so Clark County's requirement to register your handgun still stands.

The tragedy of the recent shootings of local children emphasize the need for all gun owners to exercise the caution and responsibility that goes along with the right to own a gun. Unfortunately, the recent Las Vegas cases will certainly give more ammunition to the supporters of stricter gun control laws.

What do you think about gun control in Las Vegas?

Are our relaxed state laws partly to blame for the recent tragedies? Does last year's drive-by shooting death of a Palo Verde High School student indicate the need to regulate guns tighter like our neighbors to the west? Or, does it show that criminals will have and use guns regardless of the laws against such behavior, and citizens should be allowed to own their guns to protect themselves and take responsibility for the consequences of owning their guns?

UPDATE: Updated to report the death of the 2 year-old girl as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RedRockView - Now on Twitter!

I anticipate most content will be Twitter-based for now, but I am working on some posts for the future as I have time.

In the meantime, follow us as RedRockView on Twitter for frequent updates. Or send us a message @RedRockView to let us know what's happening and what's important to you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's this all about?

I grew up in a small town and I miss the sense of community: everyone knew or knew of everyone else. You could rely on your neighbors for help, most kids couldn't get away with much, because news traveled fast, and good things were promoted while bad things were discouraged.

If someone knew of a good place to eat, a good deal at a grocery store, or a good business to patronize, word got around.

If something were going on that the rest of the community needed to be aware of, word got around.

Why Blog?

I'm old enough to remember life before the Web, but young enough to have a hard time remembering life before personal computers.

I'm young enough to be able to recognize the value in collaborative internet technologies, and naïve enough to think that it can make a difference where I live.

I'm from a small town where community matters, but have lived in "the big city" enough to know that it's difficult to get neighborhoods together sometimes.

My hope is that this becomes a resource for the members of the community to share what's important to you: your views, your news, your faith, your activities, your neighborhood.