Racism In America: Much Improved But Still Needs Work.

Racism In America: Much Improved But Still Needs Work

Racism in America is a very frustrating thing. To a minority, in a subculture surrounded by a majority of different people, racism is very frustrating and very suppressive. To a middle-aged white man such as me, racism is also frustrating. Racism is frustrating to everybody in America, except for the people who make money on it.

These so-called “social activist,” and the so-called “preachers,” who are supposed to be teaching from the Bible but in actuality promote a counterculture of violence to make a point about racism, these types of people are the only ones who benefit from racism.

We Can All Get Along!

We Can All Get Along!

It is unfortunate that to have a voice on the topic of racism requires credentials that are defined by the various minority groups and one of those requirements is that you have to be a minority from a bad neighborhood and in bad circumstances.

Thankfully, this is America, where anyone can say just about anything on any topic one wishes to speak on.

I have spent my life watching one struggle after another regarding racism and discrimination. I have seen many riots in many cities across America where property is damaged and ruined, and lives are lost and chaos reigns.

Just to be up front, I am a middle-aged white man living in a predominantly white community. However, we do have many minorities all around us, and these minority groups are growing. I suspect that the predominant minority group in our area would be Spanish-speaking people with a lot of Asians and the growing number of black people.

I live in the heartland of Utah which was once considered one of the whitest places in America. But that is no longer true.

If one wishes to join the public debate about racism one puts themselves out there as an open target by some minority group that doesn’t connect or identify with what you’re saying. This is unfortunate because the solution to racism and discrimination in America is a calm and rational open dialogue amongst everyone who wants to say something about it. Education is another solution to racism and discrimination.

What I have to say about racism is based on observation and personal opinions and what I believe are thoughtful ideas concerning racism and discrimination in America.

I would like to point out a few things that I think are important to consider as Americans regarding racism. If you compare America with all the other countries in the world, we have one of the best existing environments for races to get along with each other.

However, America does have a lot of room to improve regarding discriminating against each other and in solving racist attitudes. Racism is considered by most people to be discrimination of black people by white people. That is not true. Racism is a discrimination by one group of people toward another group of people based on gender, religion, the color of their skin and their social economic standing . . .

truth_both_sides_storyWe must keep in mind that we are talking about generalities. There are always exceptions to any generality. A lot of discrimination is based on ignorance and this goes both ways.

I propose that the solution to discrimination and racism in American is as simple as: 1. Education. 2. Polite and respectful public discourse. 3. Get real and stop the hypocrisy. 4. Be the solution, not the problem.

Of these four principal solutions, I think Education is by far the most important. Education and rational thinking could go along way to resolve the animosity between different classes of people.

One good example of education can be derived by this scenario:

A business owner is motivated by one or two things. The first is making money. Some business owners want to make a difference in the world with their product or service. That business owner should surround him or herself with the smartest, most experienced people they can get in the salary range they can afford. If that is a black man, an Asian or white woman, a Native American or a white man, then so be it. Hire the most qualified.

Forcing that business owner to hire a certain number of women or a certain number of racial minorities isn’t good for business unless they happen to be the most qualified.

This is a basic principle, hire the most qualified person that you can afford regardless or race or gender.

Being the best qualified candidate makes the most sense from the standpoint of a gender minority or a racial minority.

This scenario is all about education. This scenario educates people on business practices to be successful. To the business owner, don’t discriminate, hire the best qualified. To the candidate be the most qualified. Whatever your gender or color of skin, get the education you need for the job or career you want to pursue. Get all the experience you can and make yourself qualified. Be proactive, not violently reactionary.

The final lesson of this scenario is to be color blind and get the best person for the job and be the best person for the job and let the chip’s fall where they may.

Another example of education being so beneficial to overcoming discrimination and racism is to make sure that everybody is educated that wants to be educated. A great example of lack of education is what’s happening in Ferguson Missouri right now. Last night the grand jury announced that the white police officer that shot and killed Mike Brown will not be indicted for Mike Brown’s death.

Video clips and pictures show many people, white and black, holding signs that say “we demand justice for Mike Brown” or “justice for Mike Brown” and “black lives do matter.”

In this example education is very important because so many people are being rallied by outsiders to protest, regardless of the results of the grand jury. If these people were educated and rational they would understand that the prosecutor presented evidence from both sides of the spectrum regarding the police officer shooting of Mike Brown.

This is important because the prosecution controls the evidence presented to the grand jury and this prosecutor gave the grand jewelry everything he could for them to make the best decision and the most educated decision that they could make. If the protestors were educated, they would understand that indeed justice was done for Mike Brown and justice was done for the police officer. But these social activists are manipulating these people to lash out against logic and against education. A criminal is a criminal regardless of the color of their skin.

I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that the majority of those protesting in Missouri would probably be less likely to protest if they understood the proceedings completely. The activist keeps them fueled up so that rational thought becomes virtually impossible.

This sad story of what’s going on in Ferguson Missouri also speaks to another aspect of discrimination and racism. Many of these protesters are overlooking the fact that Mike Brown was involved in criminal activity when he was fighting the police officer who trying to talk to him, detain him or arrest him.

If “Joe Protester” who let’s say, happens to be black and was quietly going about his business in his own neighborhood and had Mike Brown been going after him to beat him up, rob him, or commit some other kind of crime, what would “Joe Protester” do?

Would “Joe Protester” be carrying a sign in a mob saying “we demand justice for Mike Brown?” I doubt it. In our society the rule of law needs to work both ways regardless of gender or race.

In Utah, this year, 2014, there have been twelve or thirteen police officer shootings and we still have a month and a half to go. People are protesting (peacefully) and are making ignorant claims about police officers doing what they want and getting away with it. A couple of years ago a police officer shot a woman who was in a car trying to hit the officer with her car. The officer shot and killed her. The district attorney said that he was criminally liable for her death and the case went to court. When the judge heard the evidence from both sides, the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence against the office to go to trial. This verdict was handed down just a few weeks ago.

This example shows the ignorance of the people protesting. Police officers are accountable for their actions.

If people were half as anxious to obtain an education and to learn how to have rational thought as they are to chaotic protesting, many of our racial problems would be gone.

I am not an expert on the issue of race relations and discrimination practices throughout America. However, I feel like I am educated enough and have enough rational thought to realize that most people who protest about racial issues regarding police officer shootings and similar subjects are usually uninformed or choose to let emotion guide their thinking rather than rational thought. And there’s absolutely never excuse to have violent protests or destructive protests.

We need respectful public discourse on the topics of race relations and gender discrimination. The nationally syndicated talk shows are, for the most part just are entertainment shows full of verbal fighting and one-sided thoughts. They prefer good ratings over rational thought.

People in America, from all walks of life regardless of your skin color or gender have the right to peaceably assemble and let their voice be heard.

But no one has the right to protest it in a way that causes property damage or that causes injury to other people. That is against the law. If you participate in a crime by violently protesting and you do it claiming to want justice to be done for Mike Brown or John Doe or anyone else then you are a hypocrite and a criminal. How hypocritical is it to protest the treatment of a criminal by committing crime in a violent and destructive protest?

Before you start throwing stones at me, think what wise men have done and said over the years that have accomplished many great things that endure even to today: I’m talking of people like Mahatma Gandhi or the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Mahatma Gandhi protested in a nonviolent way and his leadership and his wise words are still studied and talked about in our day. He caused change to occur in his day and left a positive legacy for us today.

Martin Luther King Junior talked about judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Racism and discrimination know no boundaries. White people discriminate against black people. Black people discriminate against white people. Asian people discriminate against women. Women discriminate against women. Women discriminate against men. Black people discriminate against Asian people. Native Americans discriminate against white people and on and on it goes.

Truly racism and discrimination know no boundaries. It is not just white people versus the minorities, racism and discrimination are an unintelligent trait that resides in the hearts of men and women of all colors and of all genders.

Be the solution by not adding to the problem. Talk in an educated and rational way of what is happening in the world, avoid knee-jerk reactions and let the system play out until a decision is made. Then peacefully protest as is you right to do. But keep it civil.

I do not propose to have all the answers to fix the inequalities, racism and gender bias that is going on in our society today. I know it could be worse when I look at other countries and how they deal with these issues, but it could be much better in America, and it should be.

We need to compare our progress against our own history. If we compare ourselves to society before the Civil War, we’ve come along way. If we compare ourselves against society just after the Civil War, we’ve come a long way. If we compare ourselves to 100 years ago, we have come a long way. If we compare ourselves to the days during segregation, we’ve come a long way.

In the last twenty-five years we have come along way in improving race relations and gender discrimination. Janet Reno, a woman, served as Attorney General in Bill Clinton’s administration, for eight years. Condoleezza Rice, a black woman served George W Bush for eight years in his cabinet, four years of which were as Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton was a serious contender for the Democratic party nomination and lost to Barrack Obama, a black man, who was elected as president of the United States. Hillary Clinton, a woman served four years as Secretary of State. Janet Napolitano, a woman served as Secretary of Homeland security under Barrack Obama.

Yes we have come a long way, but we still have room for improvement, so that there is no discrimination against any people for any reason.



An Open Letter To All American Public Figures Of Color

To All American Public Figures of Color


The topic that I want to address in this article has been on my mind since Pres. Barrack Obama was elected president six years ago. It’s no secret that I was very much opposed to Obama becoming the President of the United States of America. It had nothing to do with race, it had everything to do with his public policies and his politics that went against my political ideologies.

But when he was elected I tried to put on a happy face and thought that if anybody could help the racial problem in America it would be he.

With a black American president, you couldn’t ask for a better public example to the minorities of America who feel like they were oppressed by the “man” or by the “establishment.” After all Barrack Obama, a man of color rose to the highest position a person can achieve in the world. A member of the racial minority became the “establishment.”

I was hoping that he would reach out to the racial minority and say something along the lines of “look, if I can do it you can do it. I went through many of the same problems you’ve been through and I made choices and I had a dream for my life. I made choices that would let me achieve my dreams. If I can do it, you can do it.”

I have been very disappointed in his lack of concern for the people of color that are still feeling oppressed and are still living in the inner cities with little hope and with little motivation.

This is not just an issue for Barrack Obama, but it’s an issue for every public person of color.

Now this same thought is occurring to me again after all these years now that Mia Love has been elected to Congress representing the 4th congressional district in the state of Utah. She is the first black woman Republican to serve in Congress.

I agree with her family values and with many of her political viewpoints and I hope that she is successful in promoting good family values and promoting good political legislation that would be a benefit to our district and a benefit to America.

What I also want to see her do is to reach out across the country to all the young people male or female of color and tell them “if I can do it you can do it.” She may not have sought out that responsibility. Barrack Obama may not have sought out for that responsibility, all the public figures of color may have worked so hard and been so focused that they didn’t seek out to get involved in the potential racial revolution.

Anyone who is successful should give back to their community. It was their community and their country that gave them the opportunity to be successful. We all owe our country gratitude. We are all blessed to live in America. We all should give back in whatever way we can.

In the case of a public figure of color I think that giving back by doing their part to educate the racial minority and inspire and motivate them. Let them know they have choices. Let these racial minorities know they can make a difference for good in society.

Why laid such a heavy burden upon these actors, athletes, entertainers, elected officials and other public figures of color? They worked hard and they achieve something great isn’t that example enough? This is a free country. If they think they have done enough then that’s their choice. What a legacy to know you helped make a difference in over coming the racial divide that plage’s different parts of our country.

I keep mentioning public figures of color but everybody should be involved in healing the racial divides that are throughout various parts of our society.

The biggest responsibility lies with public figures of color because most minorities are not going to want to listen to a successful public figure who happens to be white.

America has a very serious black mark on its history in regards to race. There was slavery and there was slavery and there was slavery and there was slavery! And then there was racism during the Civil War on both sides. During reconstruction there was racism. During the 1800s when the West was being settled the Chinese were severely discriminated against. The American Indians were almost exterminated in the name of manifest destiny.

Even as recently as a World War II the Army and other military branches segregated between white and black. Even when so many African-Americans came back from the war, every bit as much a hero as was their white counterparts, they were discriminated against

Thank heavens we finally live in a time where something can be done about it in a real way. I want more for America than just sociological evolution where the Presidency of America could not be denied a man of color. Think of the power that racial minorities could have if all the successful public figures of color advocated for them, inspired them and taught them how to avoid the pit falls and bad choices that could ruin their lives.

Public figures of color have a voice, a powerful voice. It’s up to them if they want to use it for good or for their own personal welfare.

The collective racial minority voice should be telling the young people of America that regardless of their race, be it Native American, Japanese, Vietnamese, African-American, Chinese or whatever other race they may be, they can be successful in life. They can achieve their dreams. These public figures of race achieved their dreams so can all young people in America.

All of the public figures of color have made very wise decisions to achieve what they have. The racial minorities need for these great public figures to tell them that they can also achieve their dreams.

To the hard-working and successful public figures of America, it’s times to give back and educate these kids while they still have a chance. Lend your voice to the fight against racism in a peaceful way and in a motivational way and in a way that encourages people to obey the laws, to make good choices, to stay in school, to have dreams and make those dreams come true. You did it, they can do it and you need to tell them that.

While Barrack Obama had one of the greatest opportunities ever given to a person in America to make a difference in the racial divides of America, he chose not to. The President still has two years left in his term he could still make a great difference in bridging the racial divide. Let’s put pressure on him to do so.

There are many men and women in Congress with different racial backgrounds, they should be encouraged to go out whether they are Democrat, Libertarian or Republican, and make a difference in America by breaking down racial walls. Go out and tell people of color that it’s not too late for them to make a difference in their life.

If the racial minorities hear from people of their own race or other minorities that they can make a difference in society think of how great the future of America would be? The message carries far more weight if delivered from public figures of color than it would from anyone else.

With Mia love being the first Republican black woman in Congress, she is in a very unique position to really make a difference throughout the nation. She was elected from a predominantly white district. However we have many minorities in our district such as Latin Americans, Asians, African-Americans and more.

I think that issue alone sends a message to the country that when a majority of well-educated white people sent someone like Mia Love to Congress we are not looking at the color of her skin we are looking at her as a candidate that we agree with.

She can appeal to both the racial minority and gender minority. I really hope she’ll take on that responsibility even though she may not have sought it out.

I’m a middle-aged white guy. I’m trying to do what I can which isn’t much. With health problems and the fact that I’m just a regular “Joe,” I have no influence on any community or on any ethnic group. Hopefully by putting “pen in hand” and writing a few words will make some difference.

If ever there was a time for a great groundswell to encourage prominent people of color in our country to be a good example and a good influence on the racial minority, that time is now!

Troy Wagstaff ©


Opinion: Police Cameras

Police Cameras


Even if you haven’t keep up with news over the last few months, you’ve no doubt heard of many officer involved shootings in the last few years and you’ve heard of police misconduct over the last few years, These situations proven or alleged are not new to the public scene.

There are always stories about cops abusing their power. Using a cop camera, a very small camera on the officers uniform to record everything he or she does while on duty is what we’re are talking about when we refer to the term “cop cam” or “police cam.”

When I first heard that some offices around the country used them I started wondering about the idea of all police officers everywhere, using them including Federal law enforcement agents such as the DEA, FBI or ATF to name a few. I even think military special ops aught to wear them but that is a topic for another opinion paper.

My first thought about this cop cam idea was that it could easily and swiftly resolve investigations on officer involved shootings. The videos the cameras would produce would make awesome training aids in ongoing officer training, academy training etc.

Some people think that there are some down side issues to this argument. There is always down sides to any idea, especially those affecting public policy.

Some of the obvious down sides would be sensitive information obtained by the officers during investigations, peoples expectations to rights of privacy and the idea that the officer might be hesitant to act in a life or death struggle knowing that there is a camera recording his or her every move.

No policy is perfect and no procedure covers everything so we need to realize that not all issues on the down side may be completely fixed. The question is, does the good that comes from an officer wearing a camera outweigh the down sides.

Let’s take a look at some of the down sides to a cop cam. On the issue of right to privacy, if the suspect is arrested and goes to trial the courts can decide if the camera recordings are admissible as evidence just like they do for all other types of evidence.

Obviously the data from these cameras will be stored for some length of time. If privacy is still a concern to the suspect then some sort of legal remedy could be set up to mark certain videos as sealed like they currently do for some minor court records.

As to the concern for the officer being afraid to act in a life or death situation. This one is tough because in spite of all their training, no one knows how one will react in a situation where there is potential for a gun being fired and someone getting shot or killed. In spite of this, there are people willing to wear a uniform and a badge to keep the peace and fight crime. They rely on their training. That same idea should apply with a cop cam being on board. They simply rely on their training.

If a mistake happens, as I am sure they do, all the time in the execution of the officers daily routine, the footage from the video can be used as a training tool to help them and other officers in the future avoid the same mistakes.

Sensitive information that officers could come by responding to a domestic dispute could be classified not for public consumption. The courts may have to be involved as someone might object and request a Freedom of Information request. What a cop does on duty is for the most part subject to public review.

Speaking to the up side to cops wearing cop cams. There was an officer involved shooting in Salt Lake County in September 2014. The person shot did not have a gun on him. The police officer was cleared and restored to active duty. Why? The cop cam being used by the shooting officer showed that the officer followed protocol and reasonably feared for his safety when the young man refused to follow the officers warning.

At the first part of this month there was another exoneration of a cop who shot a man with a fake gun. Thank you body cam.

These two examples are great reasons for all police officers and all law enforcement officers at the local, state and federal level to be wearing them. The camera almost never lies. The camera would replace shooting reviews and investigations of office misconduct but they certainly would speed up the process and ensure more accurate conclusions in these investigations.

In spite of a few down sides (there are work-arounds for most down sides) the benefit, in my opinion far outweigh the down side to all cops wearing body cameras.


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