Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: racism


Responding to a friend’s racist jokes

Ever been having a nice time with friends or family and someone tells a racist joke? It’s happened to me a few times, and I’ve struggled how to respond adequately in a way that conveys my discomfort but doesn’t cause some kind of scene.

So I was very interested when I saw this headline on The Root, an online source of opinion from various black perspectives: “How to respond to a friend’s racist joke.” I think the article by Jenée Desmond-Harris offers some useful advice, including this:

Take your friend aside before you leave and have a chat. “Something

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There’s more than racism behind crime rates

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders got himself in trouble – what else is new? – for asserting last week that blacks wind up in state prison at higher rates because they commit crimes at higher rates.

Predictably, he got slammed from all directions. He’s clearly guilty of insensitivity: That was an absurdly simplistic summary of an extremely complex problem. Still, his comments ought to be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.

The state’s black population is roughly 4 percent. Its prison population is roughly 20 percent. That disparity should appall anyone. But Sanders was right in one respect: Attributing the gap exclusively to racism won’t help solve the specific problems that perpetuate it.

Racism created many of the difficulties some minorities continue to struggle with. African Americans – who, with American Indians, suffered the worst of it – endured more than two centuries of slavery and another century of legal subjugation.

No group could survive a crucible like that without scars and disadvantages. Though most American blacks have since clawed their way into the middle class, far too many remain in poverty.
But if racism provides the overall context, more specific circumstances explain much of the disparity in arrests, convictions and imprisonment.
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Racism and the Hilltop Crips

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The issue of race still shadows the arrests of 36 men now charged with criminal conspiracy as members of the Hilltop Crips. Tuesday’s demonstration on their behalf again put that issue front and center.

Despite suggestions that the small demonstration represents “the black community,” there’s no evidence that it reflects the views of a majority or even a large minority of Tacoma’s African Americans. But many blacks do have concerns about the racial dimensions of the case – some simply because they know the public is seeing the faces of so many black suspects associated with a single violent enterprise.

Tarring an entire race or class of people with the misconduct of individuals is the essence of bigotry. Blacks in America have endured humiliation by association for four hundred years. Their raw nerves are understandable. Under the white hoods of their Internet pseudonyms, vile racists have indeed been linking the Hilltop Crips to the black community at large.

But nobody has offered serious evidence that the sweep that targeted these suspects was racially motivated. The fact that the defendants are black reflects a hard-to-miss fact about street gangs: They tend to sort themselves out along racial and ethnic lines.
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