THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Racism starts at the top

A LONG TIME AGO, I was hired to be an assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The then president of the college, Don Riddle, gave me as a sort of present to the then police commissioner, Patrick V. Murphy, who had as one of his missions the slimming down of the police force. Put another way he thought his cops were just too fat.

Anyway, that didn’t work but I did get to spend a lot of time in my office at the police headquarters, which was then in an old building on Center Street. I got to meet a lot of cops and I liked most of them. They were easy to talk to and they knew that they had hard jobs. In fact, they were doing the out-front work in a racist society that has consigned people of color to the economic and social underclass in America. As a result, it was their job to clean up after the rest of the country. We’ve all heard about “the thin blue line” that requires cops to stick together. Many people think that the police are the problem but, in fact, they are just the point guards for a racist society. Donald Trump knows that and has figured out a way to excite his base and to more than hint to them that they should perpetuate his racist ideology.

I have an African-American grandson who I adore. He is six years old, bright, funny and talented. Given a chance, he has a fabulous future ahead of him. His single father, my son Jonas, and I know that we live in a country in which, when that child grows up a little and goes for a run in a white neighborhood, two goons with guns may think that it is their right to shoot him down. We know that white privilege is omnipresent in this racist society. If he finds himself in Central Park where there is a dog leash law and asks a white woman, very respectfully, to keep her dog on a leash, we know that she may pick up the phone and call the police because a black man has asked her to obey the law. Sure, she has apologized but that story is one of thousands. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: This sand is your sand? No thanks

ARE YOU A DAUGHTER or a son of a beach? As a kid, I spent my summers on Fire Island. I loved the sounds of the ocean and the breaking waves. I loved the smell of the sand and water. I loved seeing all those folks out there having a good time and yes, I even loved the omni-present smell of sun tan lotion. Once into adolescence, I loved the bikinis that were on display. I loved “riding the waves” on my rubber raft. With all that said, you might think I am a committed beach person but alas, that is not the case. In fact, while I love several mile walks on the beach, I have come to have real questions about the sand and sea.

First of all, I read everything I can about the coronavirus and the more I read, the more frightened I get. There is so much to worry about that every time I think I have a handle on what this virus is, I find out about something new that can destroy you. As a 78-year-old, I know that a single false move—that’s right, I said a single false move—and I’ll be a goner. So when I turn on the TV and see crowds of people congregating on beaches and acting as though they haven’t got a care in the world, in the middle of a global pandemic, I get, well, concerned, both for them and for me. We know, don’t we, that crowds are killers. I love the guy who runs my local movie theater but you had better believe that it will be a long time before you find me there. But beaches? Are you crazy?

It doesn’t stop there, of course. Every time I hear about a shark attack, I wonder why anyone would chance a dip in the surf. Read more…