The Thoughts of an Educated Young African American Male

Understanding Racial Profiling

The framework of this entry is based in the legal profession which I will be employed shortly. I intern during the year at a local district attorney’s office. There, I interact with roughly 300 or so African Americans per day. I see many African Americans at the trial and punishment phase for the crimes they commit. As such, I have a duty to run their criminal records for sentencing purposes. After performing such searches for over a year, I have become immune to African American mens and women’s records which are 6 – 8 pages long, with conviction after conviction for a multitude of crimes. When they are in court, they dress as they would in their normal life: long white tee shirts; big baggy jeans; long chain around their neck; and a hat if the bailiff did not make them take it off.

 

In undergrad we were required to take a class called psychology. There, we learned the concept of conditioned stimuli. The concepts’ premise is that when you see or hear something repeatedly (the condition) and it is accompanied by a certain result (stimuli) you will eventually expect the result (stimuli) every time you see or hear the condition. The concept is similar to training a dog. If you point your finger down and tell the dog to sit (condition), once the dog knows he will get a treat every time he obeys the command (stimuli), he will do it mostly every time.  

 

When people in court see black men and women dressed a certain way 300 times a day (condition), and run their records half the time, seeing long records of convictions most of the time (stimuli), they become conditioned to believing that most every young black person they see in their personal lives dressed that way has a long record for the crimes like the people we see in court.   

 

Further, there is nothing in these white peoples lives to break the condition. When they go home, they have no reason to interact with blacks who look that way. Of course, they work with other blacks and went to school with many others. But, those blacks seem different and outside the condition. They do not wear their jeans baggy, with a big white tee-shirt, and a straight brimmed hat. Thus, they do not place the blacks they know within the conditioned group. The result is that when you dress a certain way (like anyone in a basic rap video) you will be perceived by these whites to have a long criminal record.  And, I do not condone such stereotyping. However, I must say, I understand where it comes from.

 

Some will say, they don’t know the real me. That is true. But, they do not have to get to know you. They see many blacks on a daily basis, and a person’s record is as much a reflection of their person and character as anything. 6-8 pages of convictions for assaults, larcenies, theft crimes, and violent crimes tells a white person all they need to know. We may not like it, but its real.

 

All of this just to say, we need to break the mold and do better to stop the conditioned stimuli.   

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December 3, 2006 Posted by | African American, Black men, Black women, college, court, Law, racial profiling, teens, university | 5 Comments

Are you Suprised Snoop Dogg was Arrested?

I have to admit, I like Snoop Dogg’s music. When Snoop was in his prime in the early to mid 90s I was in middle and high school. I was a part of the syndrome I spoke of in the below post “Act Like the Middle Class Negro You Are.” I also admit that Snoop Dogg influenced many of my peers. I would even go as far as to say that he was one of the most influential people to my generation of African Americans. Why?

Snoop make it common place to call girls “hoes” and he started the pattern of  “I don’t love them hoes.” He took passion out of relationships, and made young African American affection seem soft and corny.  Snoop was responsible for eliminating courtship from our generation and replacing it with casual sex and telling young black men that, “Real niggas don’t give a fu**!” That pattern continues even stronger today.

Snoop was also infuential to the spread of gangs into surburan culture. After all, Snoop was the loveable gang member.  His videos, for the most part,  showed parties, girls, and liquor. For young men (white or black) who could argue with that? Thus, Snoop might be the most influential person to African American culture.  

With all of that out of the way, MTV is reporting that Snoop was arrested outside of an airport for possession of marajuana and a gun. Now, from the person who told us over ten years ago that he would “stay high ’till the day that [he] die” and that fact that he is an open gang member, I ask, are you suprised?

Snoop’s arrest is the result of what happenned to many black men who embraced his music. He was arrested for doing the very things he brags about. The only problem is, that because so many of his followers suffer the same fate, his arrest is not a negative.  Instead, his followers will like him more because they feel he goes through the same things they do.  Worse yet, while the local street negro continues to get arrested and suffer financial strain, Snoop’s arrest is profitable because it makes him more marketable to his genre of followers. Therefore, it is a positive for him to get arrested.  No, he doesn’t want jail, because he can’t make money there.  But,  Snoop is not trying to get a job where you need a clean record.  Snoop makes money off of being a thug.

I am not saying don’t listen to the music. I am just saying look at the example. When you proclaim to be a pimp, a drug user, and a gang member, and you act on those things, the odds of you going to jail are increased.  Snoop doesn’t care because he has enough money not to. Plus, you buying his records justifies the behavior. But, for the local street thug, what’s your insentive? Who is paying you to go to jail?  

I know from experience in the District Attorney’s Office, that the majority of local thugs don’t even have the money to hire an attorney. Instead, after all the talk of “getting [your] lawyer to make sure the cop is transferred of Alaska,” you have to hire a public defender. In real life, you are not Scarface or Snoop Dogg. You are an uneducated, broke, hopeless negro destined to continue to cycle through the penal system. It is a sad fate. Look at the lessons of Snoop, but take in account you don’t have a million dollars. Is the behavior worth it. What do you think Snoop really tells his wife and kids when he gets out of jail? I don’t know for sure, but I can imagine it doesn’t sound like anything he has ever said on an album.

Another thought for you. MTV reports that “After being booked into the Burbank Police Department jail, Snoop was released at 7:50 p.m. on $35,000 bond.” Who out there can afford $35,000 secured bond? Don’t lie, don’t claim have it like that, don’t claim to be ballin’? Seriously, how many people can afford that? Not many, so for the local thug, think twice. Snoop got out the same day. You may be in jail until trial.

In sum, I was smart enough not to follow the examples of the rap music to which I listen. I hope you do the same.  

October 30, 2006 Posted by | African American, Black men, Black women, hip hop, Law, rap, teens | 2 Comments

Go Ahead, Get Low, and Consent to the Touch

Lil John told females to ” bend over to the front, touch your toes, bounce that ass up and down and get low.”  They responded in droves.  In young African American society, it is common place for clubs and parties to mirror strip clubs.  Dancing has involved from a seductive form of affection to outright simulated sex.  Yet, I consistently hear the argument from females that “I don’t understand why guys touch all over me and ask me for sex in the club.” The basis for my argument is twofold. First, I will explore the legality of touching women and if it amounts to an assault or common law battery. Second, I will address the degradation of our African American youth by acting in such overly sexual ways in public.  

In the legal word, a common law battery occurs when a person, for purposes of this discussion a male,  acts intending to cause a harmful or offensive contact with the person of another or a third person, and a harmful or offensive contact with the person of the other directly or indirectly results.

There is no question that the unwanted touching of a woman justifies a battery, and in most jurisdictions, the statutory crime of assault on a female. However, a defense to battery is “consent.” There are two types of consent, express and implied.  Express intent is when one overtly states that is acceptable to perform the touch that would otherwise,  in the context of this discussion,  be offensive.  Implied consent exist when the consent is formed from one’s conduct. This implied consent is what is at issue. Does the conduct of some women in club settings give implied consent to touching? I believe the answer is in the affirmative. 

For the conduct to rise to the level of implied consent I believe four factors must exist. Many women claim that these factors are a matter of right, and that they do not deserve certain treatment because they allow themselves to fit in these categories. However, it should be noted that for implied consent the test is an objective one. That is, would a “reasonable person” believe that they are consenting to the activity based on the conduct.  It is not a subjective standard of “what I personally intended to consent to by my actions.” Thus, for women who say it is my right to participate in the factors, I respond by saying simply that it is not about what you personally intended by engaging in the factors. Instead, it is what a reasonable person would intend and expect based on the conduct. If a woman brought a legal claim, would she be successful?  

At the outset of my listing of factors, it should be known I believe any factor, standing alone, does not give rise to consent. Instead, at least two or more need to be present for the implied consent to be attached to the act.

With that said, the factors I believe rise to the level of implied consent for women to be touched in a club include: (1) clothing which overly exposes the body; (2) dancing with anyone (male or female) in a style which simulates a sex act; (3) dancing in the manner described in (2) to music with highly suggestive sexual lyrics and ; (4) touching of the dance partners body parts. Each factor will receive an individual analysis.

Factor 1 – Clothing which overly exposes the body 

There is no doubt that men love to see scantly clad women. It is also known that local stores sell women’s’ cloths where skirts get shorter by the summer, and tops seem to reveal more of girls’ breast. Such is a matter of taste, and does not normally reveal anything that would amount to indecent exposure.

 

I believe such attire standing alone, is appropriate to wear in a club. There is a truth that in clubs, where intoxicating substances and consumed, that wearing such revealing cloths can have the dual effect of: (1) giving men an impression that you are loose and; (2) exposing more of yourself to strangers than you would normally do. This over exposure has the effect of saying, “Hey! Look at my ass!” Or, “Hey, look, my breast are out!” Surely enough, men get that message.

 

Even if that is not the message a woman is not trying to send, that is the message that is being received. Woman often take the position of, “It’s not my fault men look, I’m just here to chill with my girls.” This may be true, but a woman’s image and dignity is in her control. Don’t get mad if men take away the wrong message from the type of cloths you wear. Women have the right to wear what they want. Men have the right to interpret what ever signals they believe appropriate from what the woman wears.

Factor 2 – Dancing With Anyone (male or female) in a Style Which Simulates a Sex Act 

In an era of MTV, BET Uncut, and rap music from the southern regions tailored to strip clubs, there has been a vast movement in which dancing has become simulated sex. This is not suggestive, intimate, or sensual dancing. This form of dance includes females hands and/or  backs on the floor, mens pelvic regions firmly pressed against a females corresponding region or buttocks, and movement which essentially simulates sex acts. (See YouTube video below for an example) Often, a person can observe a man pick up a woman and bounce her on his pelvic region. In fact, men standing on walls, the traditional ‘wall flower,’ can now be found at his usual spot with a girl in front of him gyrating her buttocks on him. 

 

Again, this can lead to unintended consequences. First, if a woman simulates sex with one person, most other guys are going to want to simulate the sex act with you too.  This is because in a young teenage logical analysis, simulated sex leads to actual sex. In other words,  a teenage boy will think, “if she will grind her ass on me in front of these two hundred people in the club, imagine what she will do with me in private!”

 

Second, such loose behavior with strangers opens you up to contact with people whom you would not ordinarily include in your personal circle.  For example, clubs which are 18 and up do not just include college students.  Many of the men in these clubs are old, grown men. Why are they there? Because the ten dollars to get in the club is cheaper than getting in a strip club.  And, the benefits are greater. Women grind on men for free.  A guy may even get a phone number out of the deal.  If he’s lucky, the girl is as slutty as she dances.  So in essence,  while the girl may think she is just dancing and having a good time,  she is being set up by pedophiles all under the guise of a good time in the club.

 

Third, when a woman has her butt gyrating on a man’s penis, simulating a sex act, it is natural for the man to believe that it is appropriate to touch the woman. After all, the man’s sex organ is being purposefully stimulated.  If women do not wish to do this, then don’t grind on the male.  Once upon a time, men and women danced without being joined at the hips.  Going back to the implied consent theory, the woman’s act of stimulating the man’s penis leads the man to believe, objectively, that she consents to be touched. Therefore, he may touch the girls buttocks, her breast, and at a minimum, her hips to grind harder.  If women to not want to be touched, then the obvious remedy is to not dance so suggestively with men.  

Factor 3 – Dancing To Music with Highly Suggestive Sexual Lyrics 

Today’s music, rap specifically, has gotten to the point where there is no simile or metaphor. Marvin Gay sang of “love” and R&B singers of the 60’s and 70’s sang of “groovin.” Today, rappers sing songs with hooks like “Girl gimme dat pu***,” “back that ass up,” and “fu**in’ you tonight.” Also, in videos, rappers are seen with women who, in real life are strippers, dance like strippers and make it seem like it is the status quo to do so.  The result, women in clubs dance to songs which imply that they are easy.

 

Would a black person ride in their car blasting old speeches of David Duke, or the Grand Wizard of the KKK? Obviously not, and the reason is simply they do not adopt their views, and do not want others to think they agree with their ideology.  So, what is different when a rapper says “girl gimme that pussy” and women rush to the dance floor. Are women sending the message that they do not condone men making comments which are similar to the words of a rapist?  No, they are essentially signaling that they agree with the message.  Thus, they agree with the hard tone rappers take toward women, they agree that they should be giving it up (sex), and they are implying that they want to be touched.  The argument that “I just like the beat” is not enough. In fact, it is a weak argument.  Women should be more conscious than that.  Look beyond the beat.  What is the song saying? Do you adopt those views?  If you want to dance to such songs, know that others will believe that you condone what is said.  Again, would an African American go to a Klan meeting?  Similarly, if you do not adopt the views of certain rappers,  do not go to their concerts and clubs that play their music.

Factor 4: The Touching of the Dance Partners’ Body Parts 

This is obvious and will not receive much attention. Some women dance in such awkward positions and in such a way, that it is necessary to grab a man’s thigh, waste, on grab his back. Sometimes, this touching is just intentional without the need for assistance. Regardless, this only further leads to the act simulating sex, giving the male the idea that it is reasonable to touch the corresponding body part of the female.

Putting It All Together 

In sum, the four factors, in any cobination, would lead an objective person to believe that a woman consents to being touched in the club. Not all four need to exist, but at least two of them do. The question then becomes, how long does this consent last?  Women may concede that there is an implied consent when dancing, and thus, this blog is a waste of time!  However, many women will say that the consent does not extend past the dance.  I believe that this could be true but is not usually the case.  If a woman dances suggestively and then goes and sits down,  I believe they does not want to be touched again.  However, if a woman leaves one man for another, song after song, with the factors as described above, then I believe she is essentially consenting to be touched by anyone while she is on the dance floor.  Thus, a woman should not get mad if she has been grindin’ on men all night long and then gets her buttocks grabbed when she is walking though a crowd.  I believe the consent ends when the woman attempts to leave the dance floor, when the women expressly says do not touch me, or when the music stops and the club is over.

I believe that when women adhere to any combination of the above mentioned four factors, they in fact consent to being touched in a club and could not successfully win a legal claim for battery based on a touch in a club or club like setting.

For an example of the factors in action, minus the dancing with a partner, please watch the video below. 

 

October 11, 2006 Posted by | African American, Black men, Black women, club, college, HBCU, hip hop, Law, Law School, rap, teens, torts, university | 16 Comments