Headlines and a Society’s Racial Lunacy

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No matter how many I come across, headlines like this in today’s Providence Journal astonish me: “5 white men chosen as police finalists.”  What is the insinuation?  And given the insinuation, what is the point?

In paragraph 14 of 18, we learn:

There was diversity in the beginning crop of candidates, who took the preliminary agility test. The chief and Mayor Allan W. Fung saw to it that a special outreach was made to minorities, including joint appearances on Spanish-language radio shows and on the public-access TV show hosted by Vincent.

And yet the result was five white guys.  How demeaning of their accomplishment.  How reductive of humanity .

Look, if reporter Gregory Smith has some hunch that a diverse pool being winnowed down to those five men indicates some sort of bias, he should look for leads and do the investigation.  Simply splashing the end result into the newspaper as if there’s self-evidently something suspicious about the result is divisive and wrong.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    Although I haven’t bothered going past the headlines, apparently there is large concern that the Academy Awards will be all white. Is it a “talent contest”, or is it a “color contest”.

    Why “outreach” if you have to drag them out, do they really want to be cops?

  • Philip Spadola

    “ShannonEntropy Rhett Hardwick • 3 days ago

    Neither Woo-Woo, nor Handy Andy, appeared to have missed many meals.

    I have to laugh every time I read one of those articles about “Hunger in America”

    Drive thru So·Pro or Central Falls and you are infinitely more likely to spot morbidly obese porch monkeys milling about than anyone who appears to be starving to death. Just sayin’ …”

    The post above appeared on this sight three days ago. The racial slur in this comment has not been removed. The only people laughing may be those that remember it’s use in the movie “Clerks 2″. The way the slur is used in this case is clearly meant to be derogatory to black or brown people. The mention of South Providence and Central Falls tips us off in that regard as those places are home to mostly African Americans and Hispanics and other non whites. It appears as though racial relations may not be as progressed as some think. Where that is of most concern is in relations between non whites and police departments which are overwhelmingly white. Efforts to diversify police departments along racial lines has been news all over the country. So I don’t understand your complaint that an article about racial diversity that appeared in the local newspaper.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      You’re right about the slur. I’d missed it and have excised it.

      That some people continue to use such language doesn’t justify the Providence Journal article. Indeed, I’d argue that such reportage has played a role in perpetuating racial divisions.

      There was no context in the article for larger complexities, like a lack of candidates or cultural differences or anything along those lines, just an assertion that the department could do better. It’s insinuation and division, period.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        Since my name was attached, Mr. Spadola’s comment caught my eye. I also have to admit that it required two readings to notice the “racial slur”. I may have been slow on the uptake because I do not understand the term as a general descriptor for blacks, rather, I understand it to describe those blacks who fritter away their lives relying on the common weal. In any case, he is correct,its use probably does lower the standard of discourse. I do hope that Mr. Spadola does not imagine that the term originated with the scriptwriters for “Clerks 2″ (which I had never heard of previously)..

  • Isn’t selective, faux outrage fantastic?

  • Philip Spadola

    Justin,

    I did not select that racial slur to suggest that you are at fault . You did not write it .The author selected it. It is not what I consider an outrage either. It is simply an illustration of what’s in people’s minds. And it is not as rare as you want to believe. Maybe in some cases it would actually be instructive to leave comments like the one you excised to stand and be commented on, but there needs to be recognition of it’s nature first. The fact that people have strongly ingrained attitudes and thoughts about race gets us to the subject of race as a topic for police departments and the reporting of police relations with communities across the country. I think it is an appropriate topic for discussion. As to your comment about what perpetuates racial tensions, I think that reporting the deaths of unarmed black people by police, the subsequent reaction, and the steps police departments are taking to create better relations with the public is low on the list, and only if you believe that examining that particular topic is the problem.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      I don’t know. Figures of speech are a funny thing. When I was young, it took until I encountered somebody who had never heard the phrase “Indian giver” before it even occurred to me that it might be offensive.

      I don’t dispute that it’s a worthwhile topic for news and discussion, but only if we actually get the news and discussion. Simply splashing a headline and insinuating some kind of subjective racism isn’t news or helpful.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        To my mind, Mr. Spadola is being overly sensitive about what is a “racial slur”. Without doubt, “jungle bunnies” is a racial slur. However, “porch monkeys” is simply a descriptor of a identifiable sub set of blacks. Just as “white trash” describes an identifiable subset, without defaming all whites. Does the term “motorcycle bum” defame motorcycles, or, describe the “bum”?

        I am reminded of the heat Sen. Allen took for the use of the word “Macaca”. As though the knowledge that it is used as a racial slur in Portuguese speaking Africa could reasonably be imputed to a Senator from Virginia. I have also been told that the word is Spanish slang for a clown, I cannot verify that.

  • ShannonEntropy

    I find it inner-resting that Mr Spadola does not address my main point

    I mentioned So·Pro & CF cuz that’s where the people in the state’s FIP live =►

    Around 70 percent of households receiving FIP help are in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket, even though these areas comprise only 29 percent of the state’s households, based on current Census figures.

    http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/2001-02/01-002.html

    And of course everyone knows there is absolutely NO disparity in the rates of obesity amongst the “starving” inner-city denizens

    http://stateofobesity.org/disparities/images/black-obese-girls.png

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