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  • Reverend James Squire

Talking Points About Race




The simple solution, fewer words, to anything is usually the right and best solution. This is at the heart of Occam’s Razor. Jean-Jacques Rousseau said that the less government is the best government. This was a core principle of the Republican Party when it was functioning as such and not an extension of the Past President’s desire for an autocracy.


Continuing in the great tradition of William of Occam and Rousseau, we always should distill truths to their most common denominator in our use of language to see if that summary of language holds up to scrutiny. The proper name for these brief statements is talking points.

I believe that there are four talking points that can be captured by a few words when talking about race.


The first is “We have a legal system. We don’t have a justice system.” This was pointed out to me by a former African American student who is now doing diplomatic work in France. He knows something about justice as he spend the first seven years of his life in a refugee camp.


The second is a comment made by Renee Chenault Fattah, a former broadcaster, mentioned in an article, “A long Overdo Step” in the February 5 Inquirer. She used a phrase while making the case for the next Supreme Court Justice on the nation’s highest court to be a black woman, despite what the President’s critics say accusing Biden of a form of racism.


Ms. Renee Chenault Fattah summed up her argument with this short statement which pointed to the essence of her advocacy. “Racial awareness if not racial discrimination.”


Third, there are a number of lawsuits moving throughout our courts directed at schools such as Harvard concerned that black students have a different set of criteria for their admission to college. The implication is that black students have lower requirements for admission. If I summarized Justice Stevens response, it would be, “We have a caste system for admissions. We need a system to eradicate racial subordination.”


Those three brief statements summarize those who try to set up moral equivalences meaning seeking a black woman to be a Supreme Court judge is moral because of a need for moral /legal decision making that has overlooked the black community. We do have the greatest legal system in the world but it still needs to direct its efforts for equal treatment for all to be the best justice system.


The Supreme Court, as it presently exists, is a reflection of a caste system where it has not included in its whole history a black woman who has lived experience with racial subordination.


I am close to finishing a course on Racism. We were required to read a list of articles as well as viewing the documentary titled, Healing Justice for the next session. The documentary is difficult to watch as it deals with institutional racism. It demonstrates the cyclic nature of racism and uses the recidivism rate of black prisoners who return to prison as a vehicle. 50% of prisoners return in one year. The power of the documentary is that it demonstrates that racism is more than what we usually think that it is. It generates a powerful argument that racism impacts relationships in the black community causing intergenerational harm. Our justice system requires punishment, but what has proven to work better and reduce the high crime rate that we have today is a justice system that imbues itself with processes of healing. Wilson Goode, one time mayor of Philadelphia and now a clergyman, has built a program to interrupt the intergenerational dynamic. Although not mentioned in the documentary, his healing process prevents risoners and sons and daughters of prisoners who need healing to stop repeating the brokenness in their own lives and contribute more to society. Reverend Goode is a man ahead of his time.


So, the fourth talking point is: “Punishment doesn’t free a black person. Healing processes do. That is justice.”


“We have a legal system. We don’t have a justice system.”


“Racial awareness is not racial discrimination.”


“We have a caste system on the court. We need a black woman on the Supreme Court to be a voice for eradicating racial subordination.”


“We have a caste system for college admissions. We need a system to eradicate racial subordination.”


“Punishment will never work. Healing processes will.”


In addition, “If Trump and his allies say it is wrong, it is right.”

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