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April 2012 Archives

Who is Justice?
I would like to know 
Whosoever she is, 
I could love her so;
I could love her, though my race. 
So seldom looks upon her face. 
-John Henrik Clarke- 

While one would think, after years of fighting the institution of Slavery and subsequent Jim Crow Laws, the nation would be able to move on to a new day of freedom and justice for all Americans, it just has not happened. "An unjust law is no law at all", said St Augustine, providing the foundation of civil disobedience movements across the globe. If a law is not really a law at all, it is argued, one has a right -- even a duty -- to break it. Martin Luther King articulated this view in his Letter from Birmingham Jail: "one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws". 

Apparently, there are new racist laws which have replaced the old unjust laws. And so once again, we must take up the mantle to strike them down. In the past we had courageous leaders, white and black, Jews and Gentiles, who would make the ultimate sacrifice to see that justice was served. We had dynamic lawyers like Thurgood Marshall who crisscrossed the nation to fight injustices. However, today, there seems to be less outrage to the injustices which plague our nation as the growth of intolerance continues. The quiet storm of outrage is limited primarily to the affected communities. But perhaps this may change as national and international outrage grows as we mourn the loss of Trayvon Martin due to the" Stand Your Ground Law. "

In 2007, Julian Bond said that each and every citizen, irrespective of color, should be assured of the equality of opportunity and equality before the law, which underlie our American institutions and are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Martin Luther King said:"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

Fredrick Douglass warned, "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

I believe Douglass, King and Bond were correct. However, not many people were listening. Because today our basic rights are not fully protected. And therefore, the racial profiling in Arizona and New York and Florida which impedes our liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness must end. 

King also stated that "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." If that is true, we must applaud Governor Paterson and President Obama for taking a quantum leap forward in the right direction. "Because human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

"The Arizona immigration law is poised to inflame the already widespread problem of racial profiling in the United States. This law, S. B. 1070, would require law enforcement officers to investigate a person's citizenship status, if they think that the person could be in the country unlawfully," said the ACLU. "This is a clear invitation to racial profiling, and because of this new law, more people will be put into jails and the criminal justice system merely because of their race or ethnicity. When law enforcement is invited to question people based on appearance and without evidence of criminal activity, dire consequences occur."

"Similarly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support for New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy is another abysmal example of racial profiling in law enforcement. According to the New York Times, in 2009, African-Americans and Latinos were nine times more likely to be stopped than whites, but no more likely to be arrested. From 2004 to 2009, almost 3 million people were stopped and frisked; 90 percent of these people were not charged with a crime."ACLU

Surely there will be more difficult days ahead. The U.S. Justice Department recently sued Arizona over SB 1070. Yet, throughout these tumultuous times, we can take comfort in knowing that, "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice." Martin Luther King 1964. May the moral arc of the universe bend once more so that justice for Trayvon Martin is served.

The NYC Performance Assessment reviews the values and attitudes fostered in our school programs. It evaluates the effectiveness of the student government, peer mediation, community service projects and individual/group guidance program. The Grow Report and School Report Card are also published assessments. They are available to all invested parties. These in-depth assessments will also tell us where we need to go as we press ahead. Everyone is accountable as we move toward creating emotionally safe schools and emotionally safe communities.
We need more programs and services in the Hunts Point Community which can prevent violence. These programs serve as safe havens for our youth. Parents should also set curfews for their children. And if random acts of violence occur in the evening, children should be supervised closely in the evening.
"In the Bronx, we have seen the number of murders increase this year, up from 68 to 80 at this time last year, according to the most recently available statistics. And this problem does not only affect the Bronx. Citywide, we have seen 40 more murders, from 280 to 320, than we did at this time last year. Increased violence, and the turmoil and loss that comes with it, have taken a hold in all five boroughs," said Ruben Diaz, Jr.
We applaud the tireless and dedicated effort of the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr who has invested his time an energy in an attempt to ameliorate the growing problem of gun violence in the Bronx from 1996 to the present. However, everyone must be held accountable as we move forward toward creating emotionally safe schools and emotionally safe communities. Everyone: The parents, teachers, students, police, as well as our elected officers are all stakeholders. And if we are not a part of the solution, then we are a part of the problem.

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