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Last Sunday’s front page story in the New York Times“The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black: An examination of traffic stops and arrests in Greensboro, N.C., uncovered wide racial differences in measure after measure of police conduct,” has rightfully unleashed a number of follow-up stories and commentaries in the North Carolina media and at least a measure of soul searching by public officials.

As the Times damningly reported, people of color are disproportionately stopped and searched by police “even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.” If this isn’t powerful confirmation that something is dreadfully wrong when it comes to policing and race relations in our state, it’s hard to know what would be.

Unfortunately, some people who ought to be part of the solution are resistant. As Susan Ladd of the Greensboro News & Record explains in her latest column, Greensboro police chief Wane Scott is still in a state of denial:

“But even confronted with cold, hard data that show significant disparities in treatment of black and white citizens, his first reaction was to defend his department and refute the evidence. In a front-page story on Sunday, The New York Times examined the data on traffic stops in the city for the past 5 years, finding significant differences in police conduct based on the race of the driver.

In his initial response to the city council and City Manager Jim Westmoreland, Scott criticized the reporting and writing and argued that racial disparities in the statistics didn’t necessarily reflect racial bias on the part of officers.”

As Ladd goes on to explain, it may be understandable that Scott is initially defensive about such a critique of his department, but it must not be the end of the story.

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Commentary

Tara RomanoYesterday, Tara Romano, President of NC Women United and a regular contributor to NC Policy Watch, spoke at a rally protesting House Bill 318 — the legislation wrongfully targeting immigrants and food assistance recipients that currently sits on Gov. McCrory’s desk awaiting review.

She was kind enough to share a copy of  her remarks, which we present below:

“Buenos tardes. Me llamo Tara Romano, and I am president of North Carolina Women United. As an organization that advocates for the full equality of all women across the state, we stand with the many groups represented here in calling for Governor McCrory to veto HB318. Deceptively titled ‘The Protect North Carolina Workers Act,’ we see this bill as only protecting those who already have power, and are vested in upholding the current racist, sexist status quo.

How are we protecting North Carolina workers when we are denying people jobs and the ability to provide for themselves and their families based on their immigration status? This bill attempts to reinforce the racist lie that black and brown people are making it hard for white citizens to find jobs; when the real reason many North Carolinians can’t find jobs is because of the failed economic policies of our state leadership. Immoral and greedy employers who have taken advantage of undocumented workers desperate to care for their families aren’t interested in creating good jobs for residents of North Carolina, or for anyone; they are only interested in increasing their profits however they can, including by continuing to exploit workers who are further and further pushed to the margins of society by policies like HB318.

How are we protecting North Carolina workers and their families when we are decreasing their ability to be safe in their homes and communities? By creating additional barriers between the immigrant community and their local governments, service providers and law enforcement, we are pushing entire groups of people and families further into the shadows, leaving them vulnerable to corrupt and criminal elements that will take advantage of this second-class status to exploit and harm them.

In particular, we are concerned that the epidemic of sexual and domestic violence Read More

Commentary

7-27-15 NCPW CARTOONAs WRAL.com notes this morning, it’s been two months and ten days since Governor McCrory announced that the “time is right” for the state to stop distributing license plates bearing the confederate flag. Since that time, here is what the Guv has done to make that change a reality: zip, zero, bupkis.

The reason for this is obvious. The Governor has placed a wet finger in the wind and determined that much of his conservative base likes the flag. As was explained back in July in a column:

“Of course, the actual reason behind the paralysis of the state’s conservative political leadership when it comes to confederate symbols is not hard to divine and has nothing to do with ‘legal authority.’ Rather, these politicians are simply bowing to the wishes of a large and noisy segment of their political base.

As NC Policy Watch editorial cartoonist John Cole neatly conveyed yesterday, the simple truth is that neither McCrory nor the leadership of General Assembly want (or feel they have the political muscle) to take on the far right on the issue. Once the modest national momentum that arose in the aftermath of the horror in Charleston subsided somewhat, McCrory et. al. quickly realized that a large segment of the conservative base actually likes confederate symbols and what they perceive them to stand for. Add to this the widespread resentfulness that any policy change at all attributable to progressives and civil rights activists is sure to provoke on Fox News and other dark corners of the conservative echo chamber and it’s easy to see why McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have disappeared into their shells.”

And so here’s the bottom line, hard truth about the confederate flag on the North Carolina license plate: it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It would be nice if the Governor had the courage to be straight with the citizens about this fact.

Commentary

For the past six and half years, it’s been obvious to anyone with even a shred of honesty and observational skills that a disturbingly large portion of the incessant opposition to President Obama’s every move is the byproduct of one simple factor: his race.

The haters and obstructionists will deny this and try to attribute it all to Obama’s supposed “leftist” or “socialist’ leanings  — even when the thoroughly moderate President is frustrating progressives and championing one-time conservative and Republican ideas — but you don’t have to be a MENSA member to see and understand what’s really going on.

Fortunately for the sake of the truth — if not the near term well-being of the country — a gaggle of confederate flag waving knuckleheads in Oklahoma cut through all of the B.S. last night and showed both: a) the true nature of the ignorant and irrational hatred with which our President must contend every day and b) its often symbiotic connection to a symbol of racist hatred and treason that continues to stain the country.

Commentary
Say no to racism

Image: www.fifa.com

It’s great that conservative politicians, business leaders and sports moguls are speaking out in favor of ending government displays of the Confederate flag.

As Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said the other day: “Divisive symbols and actions should not stand in conflict to progress, healing and the unification of all our citizens.”

Even the folks at NASCAR (who, to their credit,  have previously spoken out against laws designed to preserve marriage discrimination) chimed in by saying they would “continue our long-standing policy to disallow the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity.”

Of course, as anyone who has attended a NASCAR race or big-time football game in many parts of the country can attest, just because the flag is not officially a part of the festivities doesn’t mean it’s not widely and prominently displayed. Try hanging out in the infield at a NASCAR race (or the campgrounds that surround the tracks) or tailgating before a Panthers game (or the games of any number of college teams) and you’ll see all you want of this hateful symbol.

Of course, attempting to ban such displays would be problematic in numerous ways and raise all kinds of First Amendment issues, so that’s likely not the way to go. But that doesn’t mean that the NASCAR and football folks can’t get a whole lot more proactive and energetic in countering the flag and its message.

Even the corrupt knuckleheads at FIFA who preside over world soccer long ago took to making the message “Say No to Racism” a regular and prominent feature in the events they sanction as a direct response to the racist acts that have been perpetrated by soccer hooligans (see the above photo).

If NASCAR and American football bosses are really serious about opposing the display of the Confederate flag and combating its racist message, the least they could do is to follow FIFA’s lead and develop genuine and visible anti-racism campaigns of their own. Heck, the NFL dresses its players and officials in pink the entire month of October each year to support breast cancer awareness. And NASCAR races are nothing but three-to-four hour TV commercials each week.

How about a new symbol on all cars and player uniforms that features a Confederate flag crossed out or some other symbol of racial harmony and progress?

Come on guys — if you’re really serious about this, do more than speak out on issues that are already decided and put a little skin of your own in the game.