US Black professor: My hope for my students in fight for racial justice (Opinion)
At Apple WWDC, Tim Cook takes a moment to talk about Black Lives Matter and coronavirus
Cook acknowledged the massive events affecting the world in society before digging into the tech.He said it was time for the US to "aim higher to build a future that lives up to our ideals" of equality. And he said it was time to take action. He highlighted Apple's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, which will distribute $100 million to "challenge systemic barriers that limit opportunity for communities of color in the critical areas of education, economic equality and criminal justice.
Heading home with groceries recently in Gainesville, Florida, I darted my car onto a street in front of an oncoming SUV. A second later, there was a sheriff's deputy behind me. No reason to believe he even noticed me, but yet my back stiffened in fright.more likely than whites to be killed by police, seeing a marked car on the road makes my heart race.
Long before smartphones began recording instances of excessive force, I, like so many other young Black men, had run-ins with police. When I was 17, they accosted me and two of my brothers in a shopping mall parking lot near our native Camden, New Jersey. We were there to buy Christmas gifts for our mother. They thought we might want to steal from parked cars.
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Oprah Winfrey Network is planning its next "OWN Spotlight" special, and this time, she's invited 100 Black fathers to talk about racial injustice and its impact on themselves and their children. "OWN Spotlight: Oprah and 100 Black Fathers" will air Tuesday, June 30 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN, right after the latest episode of "Greenleaf." It will also be available to stream for free on the Watch OWN app starting at 11 p.m. ET/PT. In the special, Winfrey will chat with the fathers — including Tyler Perry, actor Courtney B. Vance, Michael Render A.K.A.
Months later, while walking alone one night, an officer stopped his car a few feet in front of me. Where was I going, he asked, not knowing that I was on summer break from college. "Home," I said respectfully. He said youths were causing trouble in the neighborhood, but soon moved on.
A few years later, again in South Jersey, two of my brothers and I were enjoying dinner at a packed Denny's restaurant. Two state troopers suddenly stood sentry at our booth; one held a rifle toward the ceiling. There was a report that three Black men had just robbed a business down the street. Standard police practice meant calling nearby eateries to see if anyone inside could be suspects.
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The study found that police were six-and-a-half times more likely to kill Blacks than whites in the region that includes Chicago and its western suburbs.Blacks were six-and-a-half times more likely than white people to die at the hands of police in the region that includes Chicago and areas to its west. Death rates among Black people were five times higher than white people in other large metropolitan regions, like the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City.
Fortunately, the restaurant's manager told the troopers that -- given we were eating dessert -- we had been there too long to be the robbers. I still regret not asking the troopers to explain the situation to everyone else in the dining area. That we were not criminals.
As one of too few African American males on the faculty at the University of Florida, or any PWI () in the US, and as people across racial lines are in the wake of George Floyd's death beginning to consider systemic racism -- I try hard to not presume how any student -- Black or White -- is dealing with our national reckoning about race.
One of my White students texted me recently: "Hi, Professor Lowe. I just wanted to reach out and say that you're on my mind, and I'm sending a ton of love your way. I know I don't know the right thing to say, but I wanted to reach out, and let you know that I care."
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While the world justifiably rallies around George Floyd, Taylor death falls out of spotlight. Lack of charges, diminished attention repeats history.Today, with the entire world uniting in calls for justice after the killing of George Floyd, it is not lost on me that Breonna Taylor’s killing, just a few months before, did not see the same outrage, or illicit the same quick justice system response. Unlike the Floyd case, no one has been arrested in connection with Breonna Taylor's death. And, after three months, the officer who seems most at fault still had time to appeal his ouster from the force.
I felt all of that love. We quickly chatted for more than an hour. I asked if she had any Black friends at UF. She did not. She said she had reached out to the lone Black student in our reporting class. I counseled that most if not all of them were hearing from their White peers these days.
They were likely wary of the attention or put off by it. (Indeed, one Black student told me: "I don't have time to help them understand what I'm going through. I have stuff to do.")
The White student said she understood. I suggested ways to reach out to the classmate and not seem so obvious. She said she would take my advice. She then asked, "How are you doing?"
Same as usual, I replied. I have been a Black man in this country for decades, and so not expecting my daily existence to change much. It was sometimes too hard with respect to race in the years before 2020. It's sometimes too hard this year. It will likely be sometimes too hard next year, too. In sum, I just hope to get home safely without someone putting their knee on my neck.
Again, to be fair, more White Americans have been speaking against racism recently. Stepping back from the peaceful protests in the streets, I'm mindful that seemingly everyone across higher education -- just like in our nation's newsrooms -- supports inclusion, diversity and equity.
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'If we wait to change hearts and minds, the body count of Black Americans will continue to rise.' We need standards and real accountability. The legislation has the potential to bring about swift change by categorically outlawing at the federal level dangerous police behavior like chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and driving local and state governments to do the same if they want federal funding. These outrageous practices were prime factors in the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, and this legislation is the best chance we have to quickly eradicate them from policing behavior.
Until, that is, they are asked to do something different.
Recruiting more undergraduates from inner city schools? No longer requiring standardized tests for graduate school admissions? Hiring a more diverse faculty, especially Black men and women as faculty? Clamping harder on racist actions by White students and professors? Addressing concerns of isolation and tension inevitably experienced by Black students and faculty?
Yes, we are seeing more stories about campus leaders and student groups trying to make it right. But too often we see others signaling that for every step forward, we must take two steps back.
For example, whenever there's something large at my office that I need to bring home, I'm careful to carry it outside during regular hours -- not at night or on a weekend. Why risk having a university police officer treat me in a way that most likely never happens to a White colleague?
PWIs should recognize the disservice that it does to both Black and White students and faculty by not putting meaningful actions behind their words of inclusion.
Too many of my students -- Black or White -- have never before had an African American man give them a grade. Think about that for a moment. That's from kindergarten through the prior semester. I recall my wife once saying I am likely the first Black man these young adults will get to know who is caring, charismatic, compassionate and considerate. Her words. Not mine.
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IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Tuesday that his agency would work with Congress to examine any ways that the tax code contributes to racial wealth disparities."I'm [a] huge proponent of inclusiveness, diversity," Rettig said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, in response to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)."I think you're possibly aware of the fact that I'm the first commissioner whose spouse came to this country as a refugee. And so I understand how people are treated in different arenas, and we're all in," he added. Rettig's wife came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam.
More than ever, our college students of color need to have more mentors and role models on campus who are from families and communities like theirs. Who better to offer them not only inspiration but also comfort in a world that is increasingly complicated and dangerous?
I'm as eager as anyone for the coronavirus pandemic to end. I miss having my students -- yes, the White ones, too -- come to my office to talk about their classes, career development or just life.
Listening to students of color discuss their college experiences with respect to race can be heartbreaking. I'll never forget hearing a Black female, for example, say in a meeting of student leaders that she feared for her boyfriend every time he left her dorm room or the library. She also wished that White females wouldn't all but clutch their purses when she walked past.
No doubt students of color across my campus are feeling like those at all PWIs. They already had it hard enough before the latest spate of Black men and women dying at the hands and knees of police.
I hope and pray that years from now, they won't have to recall moments when their skin color unnecessarily led to police interaction. Or that just the sight of a marked car causes them fright.
"No need": Ministry of the Interior doesn't want a study on racism in police work .
© picture alliance / dpa A police officer checks personal details. The study planned by the federal government on so-called racial profiling by the police may not come after all. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has canceled the study, as reported by “Zeit Online”. The portal quotes a ministry spokesman that Minister Horst Seehofer believes there is "no need" for this.