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We White People Need to Own This

Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?

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We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.

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'Regardless Of,' 'It Doesn't Matter' — Bigoted Phrases in Common Use

Credibility is at the core of a successful diversity management effort. Secretary Tillerson provides a teachable moment.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is speaking about race as I write this. Humiliated by his boss, he's trying his best to sound like a nice guy who doesn't believe that Nazis and people who oppose Nazis are equivalent. He is going to try a diversity effort at the State Department.

He's making some classic mistakes. When a white man says "regardless of" race/gender/orientation/disability — look out, they don't mean what they're going to say next. If we are addressing existing disparities, it is never regardless of; it is because of. "Regardless of" dismisses the person you're referring to. It assumes a neutrality a white man like Tillerson simply doesn't have. Was Tillerson able to become the CEO of Exxon regardless of the fact that he was from Texas, an engineer and a white man? The person who succeeded Tillerson at Exxon is from Texas, has an engineering degree and is a white man, not an Asian woman with a nursing degree. If you cannot start the conversation with honesty, insight and clarity, you will never have the credibility to earn a successful conclusion.

He also quoted "my friend" Condoleezza Rice with another classic phrase of (perhaps well-meaning) clueless people: "It doesn't matter where you came from." Oh yes it does — especially for the State Department. Where you come from is going to shape your point of view and how you approach problems and solutions. I would think that the State Department should especially desire differences of where people come from (even from within the United States). When you dismiss people and their backgrounds with "it doesn't matter," you fail to honor or respect who they are. Not the basis to start a relationship. Certainly not the way to get the maximum productivity and advantage out of the differences — if you fail to recognize them as assets.

Secretary Tillerson is also describing diversity management initiatives that are very 20 years ago. The "Rooney Rule" for senior positions is just foolish if you're limited to promoting from within and your organization has not developed talent equitably. You are never going to be successful if you don't have goals, the means to accomplish them, an executive diversity council to oversee the efforts and the guts to hold specific people accountable.

After we have all recently seen white male behavior in Charlottesville and subsequent white male behavior from the president of the United States (the stereotype stings, but that's how most non-white, non-male people see it), white male leaders need to be very careful in their communications and efforts. The level of scrutiny, distrust and frustration has never been greater. I recommend white men be well-read and well-informed. It is offensive to assume the imprimatur over a diversity effort simply because you are/were a CEO, just as it would be offensive to go to MIT with your 40-year-old engineering degree and start teaching 400 level math. Start with books: "Chokehold," "Slavery By Another Name," "The New Jim Crow," "White Rage" and "My Bondage and My Freedom."

Engage in honest dialogue, perhaps through your resource groups, with people who don't look like you and are not from your privileged background. Listen more than you speak in those encounters. Understand it may take some time for people to trust you enough to be honest with you. Have (and express) some humility for your ignorance — you will find it received with great warmth and acceptance. Remember that actions speak louder than words; volunteer in places where you may pick up some first-hand experience and knowledge.

I wish Secretary Tillerson success, but I'm not betting on it.

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Diversity Management Is Neither Conservative Nor Liberal

The Google controversy is being cast as liberal versus conservative; it's neither.

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In the recent Google controversy, Damore, the young man who wrote the 10-page memo that got him fired, has cast his firing as being liberal (Google) versus conservative (Damore).

It's neither. The media, especially the "conservative" media, is missing the point. Google exists to provide return on equity to its shareholders. Money doesn't care about "liberal" or "conservative." It does care about "disruptive." If the management team charts a course, arguing against it is disruptive. These days, if you put anti-work culture material on your Facebook page, you are disruptive at work because the people you work with will certainly share the news.

New entrants to the labor market are almost twice as diverse as retiring boomers. There is a 22 percentage point difference for women alone (more, if you include unemployment differences) — which is not surprising, as women labor participation rate went up 50 percent over the last 50 years, and more than half of four-year college degrees have been earned by women since the late 1980s.

So, whether you are designing products to be consumed by the workforce or people to employ, diversity management is a commonsense strategic necessity.

In the case of Google, its self-reported workforce demographics show yawning gaps for everyone but white and Asian men. Nobody can deny Google's business success — but recognizing that talent gaps are liabilities, Google, ignoring lessons learned by more progressive companies, charted its own course toward diversity management, which hit an iceberg in the past week.

In my opinion, the CEO badly fumbled. Their brand new chief diversity officer was thrust into the spotlight to respond — the CEO responded days later, fired Damore and canceled their diversity summit (which was a bad idea to begin with; they were not thought out enough to be ready).

Hopes, dreams and aspirations are wonderful, but if I were Google's CEO, I would be ready to answer a key question: Why aren't there more women at Google? Why haven't their self-reported numbers significantly improved? Why has Google been passive?

There is a problem. Although attaining almost 60 percent of four-year degrees, women shy away from engineering in college. Only 16 percent of computer science engineering degrees are earned by women.

However, just like there is a 20 percentage point difference between women in top management at Google versus the DiversityInc Top 10, some colleges are doing far better at attracting women to engineering. For example, at MIT, Women earn 51 percent of engineering degrees and 32 percent of computer engineering degrees (double for the national average).

Google has a $649 billion market cap. It can afford to fund massive scholarships at the best schools to attract the women it needs to gain an intellectual cultural foothold for women at its company — a foothold that would change the culture that enabled Damore to communicate as he did. Decisive leadership changes cultures.

I've seen this happen in real life at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Company. While decisively recovering from a class-action lawsuit that women brought to a successful decision, NPC CEO Andre Wyss disciplined management to the extent that he was succeeded by a woman, who had 50 percent women reporting to her (including scientific functions). It took him several years, but by the time he concluded his magnificent diversity management initiative, there were no more excuses in executive diversity council meetings. None. There was pride. And NPC was ranked number one on our Top 50 list. Twice.

Why should Google make an investment in diversity management?

As Damore pointed out in his essay, there are differences between men and women, but the differences themselves are instrumental to the future innovation necessary to keep ahead of technology, demographic and cultural change. 100 years ago, Detroit was Silicon Valley. People flocked there from all over. Detroit's population peaked in 1950 with 1.8 million people; currently it has 677,000 and the signs in the Detroit airport are bi-lingual, Chinese and English. The Big 3 were out-innovated. But they are recovering. General Motors (No. 42 on our Top 50) moved the cool-car Cadillac division headquarters to extremely diverse SoHo Manhattan.

Related links:

https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2005/11/art3full.pdf

https://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cpsee_e16.htm

https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_303.htm

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/reports/2012/07/12/11938/the-state-of-diversity-in-todays-workforce/

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2013/10/25/77924/the-role-of-people-of-color-in-the-future-workforce/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/181292/third-oldest-baby-boomers-working.aspx

https://www.dol.gov/dol/aboutdol/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/trends/trendsI.htm

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Women's History Month Timeline and Facts & Figures

Our timeline of historic women's achievements and detailed facts & figures serve as a year-round educational tool.

National Women's History Month can trace its roots back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women's Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn't until 1981 that Congress established National Women's History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.

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Black History Month Timeline and Facts & Figures

DiversityInc provides a downloadable list of the important dates and relevant data surrounding Black History Month.

Black History Month is a time to commemorate achievement. DiversityInc provides a list of the important dates and relevant demographics you need to know.

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National Hispanic Heritage Month Timeline and Facts & Figures

How can Latinos, one of America's fastest growing demographics, influence your business success? View our Hispanic Heritage timeline and facts to find out.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 by recognizing the history, culture and contributions of Latino Americans. Hispanic Heritage Week was commemorated in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson and expanded to a month in 1988.

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Report: County Police Had Poor Response to Ferguson Protests

Department of Justice report sheds light on what led to St. Louis County Police Department's tactics during civil unrest.

Photo by Shutterstock

According to a new report, the St. Louis County Police Department wasn't prepared for the mass demonstrations that followed the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014, as it underperformed in community policing as well as other areas.

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Luke Visconti, CEO: The Republican Diversity Plan

Demographically guaranteed to lose the next election

As the American electorate evolves toward being more than 50 percent nonwhite by the end of this decade, the Republican diversity plan (which suggests we tip Latinos more, claim to have black friends, and talk about how negative it is for the government to be "giving away free stuff") would be funny, if it weren't so tragic for our country.

Building on a seven year communications plan that featured calling the president a Muslim immigrant, we're likely seeing the end of the Republican Party as it disintegrates into factions, and any one of its candidates having no chance of winning a national election.

It has become clear, highlighted by Republican Party voters' favorable reaction to Donald Trump's comment that Mexican immigrants are "rapists," immigration is an anathema to a good percentage of the Republican Party voters. That cuts out many among the rapidly growing portion of our country who are in culturally or ethnically mixed families. It also doesn't bode well for the future, as there have been more nonwhite births than white births in this country for five years. Anti-immigration sentiments crested previously in the mid 1920s, when the KKK had 3 million members and Congress cut off immigration (until 1965).

Trump's comments about women ("Bleeding from her wherever" and "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?") haven't hurt him amongst his women supporters. However, his supporters are less educated, are older and earn less than the average Republican — hardly stirring demographics for the future.

Now that John Boehner has been run out of his post as speaker of the house, it's widely anticipated that his successor will be more divisive and obstructionist than he was.

The rhetoric will likely become more extreme and therefore less likely to carry the national vote. American voters don't like Congress — it currently maintains a 14 percent approval rating (it hasn't been higher than 20 percent since 2011), with a mind boggling 34 percent of people feeling their own representative is corrupt.

It is difficult to imagine another scenario, where a not very likable candidate wallowing in the aftermath of a serious security violation (and subsequent clumsy obfuscation) could be leading the pack of the opposite party. This selection has devolved into trying to decide who we like out of the field (in both parties) that ranges from absolutely abhorrent to mediocre. I'll bet voter turnout is the lowest in history.

It is interesting to me to see how the best corporate leadership has evolved rapidly in the other direction. Sophisticated understanding of diversity issues, forthright/honest commentary, proactive advocacy and pride in servant leadership has generated above average financial results, as documented by the success of the DiversityInc Top 50 expressed as a stock index — it beats the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. One critical area, attracting and retaining high potential talent, will be a focus of the new Top 50 survey end of our future analysis. Good people attract good people.

Luke Visconti, CEO: Amtrak Humiliates People With Disabilities

Amtrak offers a product that's bad enough for the able-bodied. But what they do is downright horrific to people with disabilities.

I've slowly begun to travel for business again.

I had a stroke in May of last year, which paralyzed my left side. I've regained some ability to use my affected side, and I am able to walk to some degree, but my left arm is barely functional and my left hand is not functional. One-handed living is difficult—if you want an example, drop your pants (go someplace private) and try to pull them up and get them fastened using just one arm and hand.

There are daily humiliations that you get used to, but I want to relate one story about an organization run so poorly for people with disabilities that it boggles my mind.

I tried to take Amtrak from New Jersey to Washington, D.C., today, as I've done hundreds of times in my able-bodied life. It was bitterly cold—which plays games with my weak side—so I got to the train station 20 minutes early and sat in the dreary and cramped waiting room at Metropark Station (it's been dreary and cramped for at least 30 years that I know of).

The employees behind the glass in the ticket booth were talking amongst themselves so loudly that it was distracting out in the waiting area. We heard automated announcements that the train I was taking was delayed; the length of the delay changed several times. But I was ready. When the automated announcement came over the public-address system that the train was arriving, I was out of my seat and on the way to the elevator as quickly as I could go—it was far too cold to wait outside. The yackers in the ticket booth were completely detached from the situation.

The first thing that was wrong was a sign saying the elevator was out of service. The sign was fortunately incorrect, and the elevator worked (there was no way I could go up the stairs with my suitcase). Unfortunately, it was full of people who had come off the train I wanted to board. With a sinking feeling, I went up to the platform to see the train pulling out.

For those of you who don't know, Amtrak requires reserved tickets for its Northeast Corridor trains. I had a reserved ticket in business class—and my profile notes my disability. So they knew that a disabled person had a ticket to board that train at that station. I assume they left quickly to try to make up their 40-minute delay.

When I went back to get a refund for my ticket, I was told there would be a $14 service charge. I explained that the announcement left no time for me to reach the platform, but I received the "I just work here and couldn't care less" shoulder shrug.

Hey, Amtrak, this column is for everyone who was charged $14 for your incompetence—back at you.

This isn't the only problem I've experienced with Amtrak post-stroke.

First class on its premium train, the Acela, actually has reserved handicap seating, but every time I've taken an Acela (with a first-class reservation), there has been an able-bodied person in that seat. I know they're able-bodied, because each time the first-class steward has asked me if I wanted him to make that person move.

Maybe it's just me, but I find having a disability to be ego-damaging enough without having to have a well-meaning person do what should've been done without me having to ask—or without him having to tell somebody who doesn't have the empathy of a house cat to do the right thing. Not to mention that my reservation included my disability status (this train isn't cheap), so why wasn't that seat reserved?

One more problem: Traditionally, first class or business class is at the front of the train. This is fine when you're boarding the train during its route, but when you're boarding from its origination point, this means there's an incredibly long walk down the platform to get to the front end of the train.

At Washington, D.C., I've passed dozens of Amtrak employees lounging on golf cart–type vehicles. They watch me hobble my way down the platform, but are apparently not available to take me or anyone else back and forth.

Again, you have to have a reserved ticket and it's noted on my frequent traveler profile that I have a disability. Thanks a bunch, Amtrak.

By the way, I was going to Washington to join the board of the National Organization on Disability. Ironic, no?

If by any chance this reaches Amtrak CEO Joseph H. Boardman, please don't send an apology—just fix the problem. Ride your own train, pretend you have a disability and do some quality control. Write a check for a nice donation from your personal checking account to NOD as penance, use the NOD Employment Disability Tracker and make an effort to hire some people with disabilities. You're a veteran; find some veterans with disabilities. Create a resource group for people with disabilities and task them with giving you ideas. Be the executive sponsor of that group yourself.

I'm not taking this garbage lying down. I'm going to write a series of these columns in solidarity with the millions of people who don't have an audience.

P.S.: I'm going to fly on United four times in the next month. I'll keep you all posted.

I'm leaving from Newark Liberty International Airport, tied with LaGuardia and JFK as the worst run airports that I've experienced in the entire world—and I've been around the block.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs those airports, should be ashamed of itself. Aside from being astoundingly filthy, Newark is almost bizarrely cruel to passengers, and you can multiply that times 10 for passengers with disabilities.

The only good thing I can say is that there seems to have grown an organic culture of people who provide wheelchair services. You have to go to a specific area on a level that requires you to be dropped off (and there is nowhere else in the airport to request wheelchair services, which means if you drive your own car and park, you're completely out of luck), but once you get there, these (mostly women) take very good care of you. I think they're private contractors, just like the curbside check-in people—because they're so competent and empathetic. One woman said, "I know you had a stroke, because my husband was just like you. Keep going to therapy—you'll get better." It really was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

I don't blame the average worker for the mess that Newark airport is—I blame the supervisors. I'm quite sure nobody supervising at the Port Authority could blow their nose without making a mess of their shirt.

The chairman of the Port Authority should be required to work in Terminal A of that horrendous airport. He should be forced to go through the dysfunctional security at that terminal every day. And he should pretend he has a disability. Try to find an accessible spot in the Terminal C parking deck. There's never one available. There's no reasonably accessible parking at Terminal A or B—none.

Luke Visconti, CEO: Why Are Police Losing Credibility, and What Does Diversity Have to Do With It?

I'm not saying the enormous disparity of law enforcement and imprisonment is overtly racist by every participant. They are immersed, however, in a racist system.

In response to a column I wrote, a police officer left a comment that criticized an assumption I made. Here is his comment (edited) and my response. The police officer starts by quoting my assumption, and then critiquing it.

Q. "There is no reliable data for race and gender, but 58 percent of prisoners are Black or Latino. I don't see why 58 percent of the people killed by police wouldn't be."

That's a very dangerous assumption. You are correct that finding reliable statistics regarding police shootings is difficult but by all indications of the CDC data, there have been anywhere from 1.5-3x as many whites killed as blacks over the past 15 years. Compare that with the overwhelmingly high arrest rates of minorities and the probability of being killed during an arrest is still significantly higher if you are white than black.

We are entering a dangerous time where the perception is that every incident involving a white cop and black man HAS to be racial much like any black killing a white cop also has to be motivated by race. How is this supposed to improve police relations with blacks or any citizens for that matter? All the police officers I work with are growing increasingly disgusted by the lack of personal responsibility for those committing crimes. Police brutality is a problem, but so is blatant lack of respect for the law among today's young adults, especially in urban areas.

A. I don't think it's very dangerous at all—in fact, I'd say I'm being generous. The FBI, despite a court order 20 years ago, does not track police shootings. You don't think there's some bias there? The FBI's racial history is not a good one: J. Edgar Hoover, the most famous and longest-tenured FBI director, notoriously went after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in many underhanded, illegal and immoral ways. Even today, if you go to the FBI's website and look at the leadership page, the top 17 people are white—14 white men and three white women. Zero percent Black. Zero in 2015. Zero.

The CDC data have huge holes in them. For one, they only count shootings the police say were justified and they do not include nearly all states. Even so, the data show that there is clear bias against Black people.

See this interview with a USA Today reporter.

The ratio you cite seems to come from Bill O'Reilly. Citing Bill O'Reilly on racial issues is kind of like citing Ruth's Chris on vegetarianism. Here's an article debunking his use of the numbers.

Here's a good article on the subject in The New York Times. The quote below refers to a study of the St. Louis Police Department:

"Their conclusions, presented last November at the American Society of Criminology's annual meeting, were striking. Officers hit their targets in about half of the 230 incidents; in about one-sixth, suspects died. Of the 360 suspects whose race could be identified—some fled before being seen clearly—more than 90 percent were African-American."

I'm not saying, nor does the report say, that the enormous disparity of law enforcement and imprisonment is overtly racist by every participant. I'd assume that most police officers are not racist. They are immersed, however, in a racist system.

This is why you are seeing less and less respect for the law. It's the culmination of this preposterous "War on Drugs," started by President Richard Nixon (a racist) 40 years ago. It has resulted in the destruction of families and of the lives of millions of Black men in particular. Drugs are more plentiful and less expensive than they were 40 years ago, yet the "war" rages on. Nobody fights a war for 40 years unless somebody's winning. People running for-profit prisons, arms manufacturers, even police officers and prison workers are all the winners. It's a multibillion dollar per year win. Everyone else in the country loses, a hundreds of billions of dollars per year loss. Lost productivity, lost GDP, wasted money, wasted time and effort. Destruction of our society.

Combine that with the ubiquitous nature of video that shows the bad apples in action, and I'm afraid police credibility in general is gone forever because there is no national will amongst the police leadership to change direction. You're going down with the ship.

You're not alone. As an entrepreneur, I pay over 50 percent of my income in taxes. "Mittens" Romney pays 17 percent. Apple (which claims it's an Irish company) pays 2 percent. If I tried the same thing, I'd be in prison. The subprime-crisis thieves stole billions of dollars, yet nobody went to prison. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, abetted by Condoleezza Rice, concocted a rationale to invade Iraq and then went on to mismanage it so badly that we lost the war and spawned ISIS—after killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi noncombatants. Nobody went to prison. I served over eight years on active duty and another almost two in the reserves, and I'd do it again tomorrow. But it disturbs me that I feel our government has almost no credibility either.

Luke Visconti, CEO: Why Darren Wilson Did Not Use Nonlethal Force

It's beside the point—Darren Wilson never should've put himself in a position where Mike Brown could bum-rush him.

Q: Even if the struggle between Darren Wilson and Mike Brown did occur, why couldn't Officer Wilson use a stun gun or some other nonlethal weapon? Why do cops, in general, have to resort to lethal force when the perpetrators are deemed as threats, even if they are unarmed?

A: Police don't typically use lethal force on white people illegally, without severe repercussions. However, Google "Michael Brown thug" and see what the Koch-inspired bigot-sphere press has to say. There's been a steady stream of commentary about Mike's character and how somebody would've had to shoot him eventually anyway. All of the Black male stereotypes have come into play in this case, my favorite being that Mike Brown was a 6'4" thug. As it turns out, former Police Officer Wilson is also 6'4", and only one of them killed anyone, but even that didn't even sink in and interrupt the inner thoughts of the bigots who come here to post their nonsense.

Wilson testified that he could've brought a stun gun with him, but it was too uncomfortable to carry.

But this is beside the point—Wilson never should've put himself in a position where Mike Brown could bum-rush him. (By the way, because of the incredibly sloppy police work, I don't believe most of the facts presented to the grand jury. Most of them would not stand up in a trial, which is why the prosecutor used the grand jury the way he did—the rules of evidence are more lax in a grand-jury situation.)

The problem for Mike Brown, and for every other Black and Latino citizen of the United States, is that minority life is discounted, and standards regarding how Black and Latino people are treated in the justice system, the public-school system and every other aspect of American life are much lower than how wealthy, Anglo, white people are treated. It's not entirely race or ethnicity—a lot of it is economic discrimination—but in this country race and economics are linked with a steel rod.

So in a leafy white suburb, parents do not worry about their teenagers being shot by police officers like Wilson. The police officers in those towns know that if they shoot a teenager, it will be assumed the cop was wrong. As it should be.

A properly trained police officer, with the right leadership, will err on the side of discretion when confronting people—as it should be.

Unfortunately, we've traded our liberty for an appearance of security because of the double whammy of the bogus War on Drugs and War on Terror. We've meekly accepted the Department of Defense's transferring billions of dollars in military weaponry to local police forces because we've been propagandized to believe we're fighting two domestic "wars." You never know when a suburban police force might need an armored vehicle and automatic weapons—how foolish. Let's be realistic, automatic weapons in the hands of police would not stop planes from flying into the World Trade Center, nor a MIRV warhead "stolen" from Ukraine from detonating in Manhattan. And all of the weapons on the planet will not prevent people from getting high. However, automatic weapons are really effective on civilian protesters.

In order to keep this charade going, there has to be a bogeyman. Black and brown people fill the bill. Mike Brown's turn was last summer. Wilson testified that he "felt like a 5-year-old child in the arms of Hulk Hogan"—a complete load of crap (anyone who's seen a picture of Mike Brown knows that most of his 300 pounds wasn't from lifting weights, it was from lifting McDonald's)—but his handlers knew language like that would play well with cowardly, bigoted white people.

Mind you, I would not have wanted to be grabbed by an angry Mike Brown, but if I were the cop, I might have started the interaction with less confrontation than "Get the f--- out of the street!" If I was concerned that I couldn't handle it on my own, I would have waited for the backup that was already on the way. It's not like the theft of less than $10 of cigarillos was a crime that needed to be resolved immediately, and it wasn't like a 6'4", 300-pound teenager wasn't identifiable elsewhere. But as we've all seen, there are no repercussions for shooting down Black teenagers—and law enforcement and Ferguson was designed to unfairly prey on Black people, so Wilson had no hesitation to wade in.

Ask the White Guy: Should President Obama and AG Holder Ask for Calm in Ferguson?

As Black men, do President Obama and Eric Holder have an obligation to weigh in on potentially violent protests?

Q: Two people are uniquely positioned to help the people of Ferguson to quell their anger if (likely?) the police officer is not charged with a crime by a grand jury finding that he acted within the law – deadly force against a citizen who was in process of a felony (grabbing a police officer's gun would be the felony). Pres. Obama's &/or ex-AG Holder's statements of calm should be tied to the announcement of the grand jury's decision with strong statement that the legal system has acted properly and the situation, while a tragedy, was not a wanton execution. Alas, they were both actively engaged in (inflaming?) the situation when the popular visual was the execution of an unarmed, hands-in-the-air, 18-year old. I worry for the safety of the residents in Ferguson, that our two highest profiled African-Americans' silence will be deafening at a time when our citizens need them most. I hope I am wrong!

If the GF decides to move forward with a trial – then I would hope the same action be part of a jury's acquittal, which is a strong likelihood.

A: Given that the prosecutor refused to recuse himself, I don't think a decision by the grand jury not to go to trial will be viewed as being credible by a community that has been the prey of law enforcement and subject to governmental and prosecutorial malfeasance. If you were asking should the President or the attorney general comment (regardless of race), I think the answer would be no. Just because they happen to be Black doesn't change anything in my mind. In fact, because they happen to be Black, and because there was such racial bias in how Blacks were treated in Ferguson before Mike was shot six times, I would think they should be less inclined to make a comment.

In essence, you're asking two Black men to urge calm amongst the mainly Black constituency, after that constituency was subjected to extreme, persistent and racially biased law enforcement. That the flashpoint for all of this cruel injustice was an unarmed teenager being shot six times—and left uncovered in the street for four hours like he was roadkill—exacerbates the point. I don't think it's fair to ask President Obama or Attorney General Holder to cover for all of the nonsense in Missouri. I think it would be far more appropriate for Governor Nixon to offer a deep apology, a plan of action to address systemic injustice, and an announcement of the police chief being fired and the prosecutor being replaced for this case (considering he does not have the confidence of the public in Ferguson)—then asking for another chance and asking for calm. But there's zero chance this will happen. To apply President Lincoln's words to this situation, Governor Nixon appears to me to be "confused and stunned, like a duck hit over the head."

I'm not sure how anyone could say with certainty that the police officer acted within the law. Seems to me that he provoked an incident and the reaction was perhaps more than he anticipated, but then he retaliated by shooting an unarmed teenager six times. Mike had no powder burns on his arm or head wounds. He wasn't wearing a long-sleeved shirt or head covering; there would've been powder burns on his skin if the shooting had been at close range. I don't know how much you've handled handguns, but the muzzle flash from a pistol can extend six inches, more or less depending on the firearm and ammunition. The Ferguson Police Department carries a .40 caliber handgun. I can't imagine they were using low-flash/low-velocity ammunition. If Mike had been shot inside the car, there would have been powder burns. The police officer turned in a blank incident report, he did not present himself for medical examination, there were no body cameras or dashboard cameras installed. This is all suspicious in my mind. I'm not saying the officer is guilty, but there certainly seems enough there for a reasonable person to think there should be a trial.

And you also have the actions of Governor Nixon, who has proven himself to be so inept that if this were a movie, the audience would groan in disbelief.

So it's the President's job to cover for all of this by requesting people to remain calm? You think the local people care all that much what the President thinks, given what's happened? I don't think so.

Now, if the grand jury decides to move to a trial, then an acquittal is on the jury and the prosecutor's office. Even though I thought both people were guilty, at the time I also bet that O.J. would get away with it, and I bet that Zimmerman could get away with it. They shouldn't have, but with O.J. the prosecution blew it and with Zimmerman the law was inadequate to protect citizens from predators. I don't know if Wilson would get away with it, but I don't think you'll see the reaction from a trial that you will if the grand jury refuses to go to trial. Either way, I don't think the President of the United States or the attorney general have the obligation to comment just because they happen to be Black men.

The time to worry about peace and calm in the community was long before Mike was shot.

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