I get what Treecy is saying and I'm reminded of a college course on social movements I took where I learned about how some civil rights orgs in the '60s finally kicked the white folks out because they were doing exactly what she complained about. I expect that was probably a good idea back in civil rights's infancy when black Americans didn't have the powerful voices (like, standing up to white people) that they have now.

But yeah, I also had that familiar feeling I get when black people complain about white people the way some women complain about men not letting them speak: SPEAK THE FUCK UP!

One experience that's foreign to me is being warned that when I turned forty my opinions and ideas would no longer be valued. That in company meetings, my opinion would be less valued once I passed my 'expiry date'. Well, that day has come and gone a *long* time ago and people hear me whether they want to or not. I *make* myself heard, sometimes to the point where people have legitimate reason to tell me the STFU for a moment :)

Black folks, like women, sometimes just need to speak the fuck up more. Stop telling me about what you're not 'allowed' to do, because I don't 'allow' men to tell me what to do or say.

And yeah, it wouldn't kill folks like Treecy to consider that their own experience is not necessarily everyone else's, and she sure as shit can't read white peoples' mind (mind reading is a skill a LOT of social justice warriors of all flavours seem to think they possess, LOL).

Just as we can't know what it feels like to be black, black folks can't know what it feels like to be white, especially white people who ARE aware there's a racism problem and aren't focused on preserving their privilege at the cost of others. It's why I have some sympathy for men, including white men, who are also a bit too beaten up sometimes by by feminism. Too many people telling them they suck no matter what they do just as some blacks do to whites.

Thanks, as always, Steve, for being a voice of reason.

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"I learned about how some civil rights orgs in the '60s finally kicked the white folks out because they were doing exactly what she complained about."

Ah yes, absolutely. If we were still living in 1960 I'd completely agree with Treecy. In fact, there are a lot of things that I'd see very differently. But thank God, we're not! So today, I think we need to, as you so eloquently put it, SPEAK THE FUCK UP!😄

As I said to Treecy, the idea that minorities need "permission" to speak is no good, and it's an idea that whoever the "oppressors" are, be it men or white people or straight people, aren't going to dispel. We've become very good at look outwards for people to blame, but it's past time that some people looked at themselves too.

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When I was young I was more inclined to listening, especially to older people who had directly experienced burning crosses, gunfire, a policeman saying, "This ya boss man's car boy?" For whatever reason, black people found it easy to talk to me about it. It was valuable for me to hear it. It influenced me profoundly in both my views and actions.

Time rolls on. I've been a lot of places and seen and done a lot of things. I have a lot to say. At this point in my life, hearing about the problem is old news. Is it just old news to me? I'd rather have honest discussion about what can be done about it. "Tear down systemic racism in racist America!" What the hell does that mean? How?

The system is a faceless thing. Government? Which of the politicians or unseen unelected policy makers are we talking about. Does talking about them help? Change anything? It's like a Miss Universe contestant telling us she wants to solve world hunger or climate change. Really.

I'm just some guy. I can challenge it when I encounter it and call bullshit when it isn't. It's not a faceless thing, it's people. I might be able to do some good, might. Like the child throwing beached starfish back into the ocean. Her influence is small but it matters to the starfish she tosses back into the sea.

I'm retired so my days of challenging it in the work place is a ship that has sailed. Perhaps all I can do at this time is talk. On the internet, heavy sigh. I'm not as good at that as some. About what? That is a question.

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"Tear down systemic racism in racist America!" What the hell does that mean? How?

Good Morning Mr. Murray

Change is being “imposed” on us because we don’t know how to make change on our own. Fifty years ago, citizens ran their own communities, but not anymore. Today, one in ten thousand people can name even one person who represents them in local government.

So that is where we start. We begin by learning what local government entities exist in our community (for example city councils, planning commissions, county boards of supervisors, school districts, parks departments, water districts, cemetery districts, resource conservation districts, healthcare districts, etc.)

Pick one that interests you, then sign-up for on-line notices, agendas and minutes (via email).

Now its time to learn how that agency works. Are people elected or appointed? What laws govern elected officials? What are their duties and responsibilities? What authority, or power, do they hold? What laws govern closed-session meetings? What laws govern public input?

Where do people go for training if they want to run for a public office? Now, find out more about the people serving in elected office. Where did they get their training? In my 50 years experience, less than one in a thousand elected officials had any training whatsoever for the office that they sought. They have good intentions – and nothing else. As a result, they are ineffective at best (and easily manipulated at worst).

For the record, after elections, local government holds a class for newly elected officials – where they are told it will take them 2 years to learn how things work, so they are only going to get an overview of the laws that govern them. However, Civic Organizations provide great leadership classes that prepare people to succeed in making change the minute they are sworn into office.

What benefits do elected officials receive (health insurance, reimbursement for expenses, salaries, car, etc.). Interesting stuff pops up. For example, in my community, school board members get free health insurance for their families (valued at $72,000.00 over a 4-year term). We have one board member, who has been re-elected 5 times (20 years of free health insurance valued at $360,000.00). She has never made a controversial vote – not even once.

City councils and boards of supervisors oversee police, sheriff, and fire departments, housing, affordable housing, economic development, streets, roads, sidewalks, street lighting, insurance, landscaping, signage, facilities, landholdings and water rights, waste water treatment, trash and recycling, internet, cable, equipment, licensing, utilities, etc.

School boards oversee student discipline, text books, teacher and administrator salaries, budgets, landholdings and water rights, public facilities, financial reserves, student discipline, bussing and transportation, crossing guards, equipment and supplies, field trips and extra-curricular activities, technology, sports, before-and-after-school programs, free and reduced lunch program, cafeteria menus, scholarships, landscaping, streets and roads, school nurses, campus police and special education and building new schools, etc.

Anyways, in my experience that is how we make “systemic change”.

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Thanks. Some good ideas. Unfortunately there are always opposing forces to local action and they are often the Feds. I live in Phoenix where the Federal Department of Justice is investigation the police department. The result seems to be that proactive policing has disappeared. Crowds of homeless people overflowing bus stop covered benches openly smoking dope off of tinfoil. If nobody called to complain, the police drive by. Local politics are a toxic reflection of national politics. I'll look into some of your ideas though I'm uncertain about having a positive effect on racism.

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Our city is having similar issues with our police department as well, but the pressure is coming from citizens – not the feds. Luckily, our city is heavily invested in Civic Life, so our people are super active and experienced citizens. 300-500 people showing up at local government meetings is common. Not only do citizens show up, they show up with solutions and ideas.

I wrote this for another publication but thought you might get some value out of it – so here it is.

Laws built on racism permeate our social, financial and justice systems and the cost to society is enormous (incalculable). We have no idea how much richer our country might have been if racism had not been written into our laws.

Since the 1965 Civil Rights Act made discrimination illegal, lawyers have been trying one case after another. Courts are backed up for years on end, testing one law after another and setting precedents necessary to weed racism out of our systems. In the meantime, people kept building their lives around racist laws. If you live in America, your home is the direct result of racism.

The U.S. went from a predominantly rural country of 76.2 million persons in 1900 to a mostly urban-suburban population of 281.4 million in 2000. Take not, in 1900, 70% of all black Americans lived in the south.

As white people moved into cities in search of factory jobs, filth, pollution, crime and overcrowding were rampant. A new discipline known as urban planning emerged and the American land-use system followed. By 1926, zoning was entrenched in the land-use system and legally enforceable.

Suddenly, in what is known as the largest peaceful migration in human history, the end of WWI saw African Americans moving out of the Jim Crow South and into the five biggest northern cities in search of work and freedom from lives of fear and terror. The response was rapid and decisive.

Cities all across the country enacted segregation through zoning – meaning racism was literally planned. Everything from schools, hospitals, fire and police departments, city services, streets, street lights, taxation, trash pick-up, etc. was located according to city plans – including racism.

To fill the unmet need for housing, banks, financial institutions, insurance, real estate and the uber-wealthy established development companies, then appealed to the federal government for cheap capital (in the form of cheap loans, grants and tax breaks). Local government used eminent domain and zoning to clear land (of homeowners and small businesses).

Soon enough, zoning maps were a game board. As elected officials decided what zone would get the most, the least or nothing at all, the investment and dis-investment of taxpayer money turned into a vicious cycle. Build-up, abandon, relocate the poor, invest again.

Cities, counties and states allocating tax revenue by zone created massive inequality. Moving police departments out of one zone to another zone enabled crime to flourish. The redlining practices of financial, insurance and real estate industry (aka FIRE) guaranteed people of color could never afford to leave their zone.

Black people were trapped inside their zones. Instead of trees, schools and businesses, cities hired police to keep black and poor people inside their zone. The only time white people saw black people was when black people were working menial jobs – maids, janitors, trash pick-up, clean-up, or digging ditches, gardens and graves, etc.

Getting rid of zoning won’t solve the problems racism created. America needs a new land-use system. Urban planners have been working on this for years. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to persuade un-informed and inexperienced city council members to try something different.

It took a committed group of citizens 15 years to convince our city to replace zoning with form-based codes. Interestingly enough, CRT work on land-use was explained to our community at the beginning of our new planning process. Because several hundred local citizens knew what had happened to drag us down, we were able to correct course.

15 years later, the difference is almost unbelievable. Our city went from dying, broke and boarded up to a thriving city with hundreds of new high-paying jobs, foreign investors in cutting edge farming and ranching, new businesses, parks with year-round programs, clean streets, fiscally sound local government, low crime, hundreds of new affordable housing units (including financing for low-income families buying single-homes, or condos). We built a new hospital, high school, school district offices, city hall, library and police department. Our once low-performing schools have been designated Distinguished Schools. Our kids are staying, not leaving.

Mr. Murray, find a place in local government that really interests you and dig in for the long haul. This is America and citizens run this country. But only when we want to.

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