Is American Journalist Charles M. Blow Racist?
February 2, 2015
American Journalist Charles McRay Blow (born August 11, 1970)
Recent events in my country, concerning issues existing for many generations, have motivated me to share my life experiences that include dedicating twelve tears of my adult life to providing uniform and investigative police services to a predominantly poor NYC community.
Prior to publishing his thoughts and concerns for his family’s safety, as well as issues involving police procedures for detaining people reasonably suspected of being involved in criminal activity, I heard of Charles Blow yet knew nothing about his views of our world. After reading his thoughts and concerns for his son, as well as watching a few recorded on-air interviews, I still don’t know much about Charles Blow’s views of our world, though I do know his concerns for his child’s safety when dealing with police authority, have merit.
I know Mr. Blow’s concerns have merit because I’ve served alongside police officers with sour attitudes, I’ve stood next to police officers as they acted less than professional, allowing themselves to be baited by an angry, frustrated resident(s) of the community they serve. I’ve experienced the shame and embarrassment witnessing one of my colleagues perform his or her duties in a manner not consistent with our training. I’ve also experienced concerns for my safety because an officer decided it was more important to voice his/her personal opinions, then it was to quell a situation with a potential for violence. We are supposed to be the good guys who are expected to remain rational and calm, it pained me when some officers I worked with failed to remember that.
A good friend I’d known most of my young and adult life, a peaceful, well mannered college educated man with three years experience in the NYPD strongly implored me to apply for the job. After some discussion I decided to take his advice because I trusted and valued his opinions.
However, my friend did not prepare me for one important aspect of police service/culture that caused me much concern, a mind-set that cops never witness, expose or talk about unprofessional conduct, a mind-set that police officers never admit fault or expose other officer’s faults. A mind-set that officers who speak-up about unprofessional conduct need to be punished, no longer trusted and shunned for not adhering to the police code of silence.
From the beginning of my career I learned an unwritten rule in police work “Always have a [plausible] story ready.” In my experience, for the most part, this mentality existed from brass down to my patrol supervisor, “Always have a story ready!”
Setting aside the ‘protect another cop at almost all costs’ mentality, a vast majority of the cops and bosses I worked with were decent people doing a job that at times was thrilling, exciting, challenging, demanding, rewarding and boring as heck, yet at times is extremely dangerous…citing the sunny afternoon three of us chased an armed young man through a city housing project and I listened to the bullet he fired at us whiz by my ear at about a 1000 feet per second as he entered the lobby of a building. After the bad guy got away I asked three old timers sitting on the bench nearby why they did not scatter after the knucklehead let a round loose? Nodding their heads in agreement, one of the gentlemen spoke for them, “Officer, that kind of foolishness goes on around here all the time.”
Surprisingly, not one person enjoying this beautiful sunny day watching three plainclothes officers mired down with bullet-resistant vests, gun-belts, our equipment clanking away as we chased on foot this armed young man around the perimeter of a hi-rise housing complex building, not once but twice, as if he is taunting us before he entered the lobby, recognized the young man fleeing from police.
Nor did anyone except for colleagues I spoke with afterwards, come forward to express concern or fear after witnessing the young man attempting to seriously injure or murder one the people trying to protect their community from violence and harm posed to them by this young man when he clearly demonstrated his lack of empathy by aiming and firing a deadly projectile at me, causing me to hear a sound that if the young man had aimed his deadly weapon at me one half-inch or so to his right, I would have never heard.
I wonder if incidents like this have anything to do with why some/many cops at times act less than professional when interacting with some/many community members?
This was one of many occasions I pondered, which came first, The Police Blue Wall of Silence, or The Community Wall of Silence?
On my blog I write about a few of the reasons I believe some/many police officers adopt or at times exhibit a less than professional attitude.
Later in this writing I address Mr. Blow’s specific questions about why police act the way they do when detaining people. Though first I would like to share my thoughts about those who toss around the racist word, characterizing Mr. Blow as racist.
Growing up in the ’60s this is the definition of racism I was taught:
noun – a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
Through my years I noticed some/many people have a tendency to alter or broaden long-standing established definitions for words, I believe they do this to make a word fit their agenda or because they are not familiar with its established definition.
Frankly, I view racist/racism as words representing hate, anger and hostility. I have not read many of Mr. Blow’s writings, nor watched many of his on-air interviews, though I have to believe a man raised by a mother who nurtured him to become a educated, successful person does not believe one human race is inherently superior to another, as some people suggest in their Internet writings when characterizing Mr. Blow as a racist.
Do I believe Mr. Blow holds prejudice in his heart? Yes, I do. Perhaps his prejudices mirror or in some/many ways resemble mine?
I won’t list all of my prejudices, though I will share a few starting with Sheldon Silver, former longtime speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Sheldon Silver is a respected man and leader in his community.
A community/faction that wishes to live by their own standards and laws.
A community that according to some/many victims/witnesses residing in the community wishes to hide from public view crimes committed against spouses, women and children.
A community embracing religious views that IMO deny an American woman’s lawful right to experience her vision of Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Happiness.
A community that according to victims/witnesses who mustered the strength and courage to speak out, chooses to protect violent men and/or men who emotionally and physically abuse their spouses or children.
A community where some/many will shun and attempt to shame those strong enough to expose the injustices within their community.
Based on these known facts, not only am I prejudice toward some/many of Sheldon Silver’s supporters and fellow community members, I believe these people are loathsome human beings for adopting and embracing a philosophy that protects the predatory criminals in their community.
I am certain not everyone in this community embraces the Community Wall of Silence mentality for protecting their criminal minded neighbors, I’m sure there are some/many who fear retribution if they speak out, however because they have not spoken out to protect their neighbors from harm, I believe the entire Sheldon Silver community is diseased, populated by anti-social people.
Until I learn there is a change in this community’s attitude, I will continue to view the entire Silver community as people not worthy or deserving of my respect. I have little compassion for educated people who abuse or maltreat their loved ones or neighbors.
Another of my prejudices is based on personally witnessing some/many females in the predominantly poor NYC community I served for over a decade, not only fail to provide a stable, healthy loving environment for their children, but in many instances fail to perceive/realize the environments they created for their kids is causing emotional and psychological damage that in some/many cases will last a lifetime.
Am I wrong for holding prejudice toward some/many teen/adult caregivers who in my opinion selfishly exploit the birth of a child in order to acquire public funds/support to rescue them from the dysfunctional family they were raised in as children?
Frankly, I view some/many of these irresponsible moms differently from Sheldon Silver supporters because I believe a majority of Silver supporters enjoy a better quality of life and do not face the same challenges a person living in a community where violence can and does erupt more frequently. Though the bottom-line is there are people from both communities who willfully and/or ‘cluelessly’ fail to protect/children from harm.
Yes, there are people from all communities and backgrounds who fail to value a child’s well being and fail to protect children from harm. When reliable evidence shows me there are clans/groups/factions/communities that embrace a philosophy for looking the other way when their neighbors are committing crimes against their spouses, children and neighbors, I will add them to the list of people I no longer trust or respect. They will become people I view with distrust and wariness, or what some people may define as racism or prejudice.
I believe a quote from Mr. Blow’s website, http://www.charlesmblow.com where he comments about his mom’s steel in raising her children exposes the core reason for why some/many children mature into angry, frustrated people who often vent their negative emotions on their peaceful neighbors in the form of crime and violence.
Quoting from Mr. Blow’s website, “An isolated boy, Blow is fiercely attached to his mother, a woman with five sons, brass knuckles in her glove box, a job plucking poultry, a soon-to-be ex-husband, and a love of newspapers and learning.
Like every single one of us living on our tiny blue orb, we were given life by a woman.
Yeah, there is a man involved in the creation of life though most all cultures depend on women to nurture and raise children who mature into peaceful, happy teens/adults who understand and embrace empathy, as well as scores of other traits necessary for developing into a peaceful, healthy teen/adult.
Obviously Mr. Blow loves and respects his mom and her brass knuckles. My mom raised me and sis under the threat of a cat-and-nine-tails stored in our kitchen’s utility drawer, a subliminal reminder not to cross the lines she established.
My mom married a young Korean war vet who I learned developed a fondness for alcohol during his time overseas, though like many women who fall for a guy with a substance abuse issue, she accepted or ignored his character flaw and married him anyway.
Dad was a peaceful liquid drug addict who mom always maintained was a good provider and never physically abused her, though when she learned he stepped out on her with another woman she was soon on a Mexico bound plane, returning a few days later with a divorce decree.
My mom was left fending for three of us, she ended up being hospitalized with a nervous breakdown. I can only imagine the stresses and challenges Mr. Blow’s mom faced providing for six people, all boys no less. Feeding and clothing five boys is difficult enough for a single mom, add on the stress of supervising/disciplining five maturing boys and I’ll bet Mrs. Blow had more in her parenting arsenal than brass knuckles. 🙂
It cannot be easy for a single mom to assume all the roles required to socialize kids and keep them on the straight and narrow. Sadly if my mom had not ignored the red flags of substance abuse my dad was flying before she married him, her life may not have hit a rough patch. Though I understand, even empathize with young people who fall in lust and make poor choices.
Obviously Charles’ mom was a bit stronger than mine in coping with the loss of her children’s father and life mate. Seems she did a pretty good job raising and nurturing a motivated child who repaid her love by aspiring to become a man she would be proud of.
Most of us want to make our mom’s proud, because like Mr. Blow and myself, we appreciate and respect all they have done for us. We recognize there is one person in our lives who is primarily responsible for insuring we developed the skills required to be peaceful, fairly content people who respect our neighbors and communities.
However, unlike the majority of our children raised and nurtured by loving, caring moms, there are some/many mothers who make babies without first acquiring the skills required to nurture a developing human life.
Based on my experiences during a decade of providing uniform and investigative services to a predominantly poor NYC community, I have a theory for why some/many children lack empathy or compassion, and often mature into frustrated, angry teens/adults who vent their anger and frustrations on their peaceful neighbors.
This is one of many experiences that I base my theory on.
If Mr. Blow and I were born to this mother, I believe our ability to develop into peaceful members of our society would have been seriously impaired. I also believe we may not respect our moms or any other women, regardless of whether or not they are part of our lives.
One evening a call for police service brought me to a young mom’s second floor walk-up apartment in a private dwelling, she was reporting the theft of a Boom-Box radio taken from her kitchen window sill by someone trespassing on her building’s fire escape.
Entering this young mom’s apartment I observed several children, some in diapers, a few older, sitting on a living room couch, an aluminum fifty-five gallon, half-filled trash can was sitting right in the middle of her tiny living room, as if it was her coffee table. One of her living room walls was smeared with several dark stains of what I believed to be human waste.
I calmly recorded her theft complaint and left, immediately reporting my observations to my sergeant who instructed me to contact child welfare. Forty-five minutes later the children were removed from this mom’s care, temporarily placed in the custody and care of the people of New York City.
Sadly, this was not my only interaction with this mom.
Months later I arrested her younger brother for robbery. According to the victims and one witness to this act of violence who recognized her brother from the neighborhood, he placed what appeared to be a handgun in the face of two victims and threatened their lives while demanding and taking their property.
Until she arrived at the precinct to protest her brother’s arrest, I had no idea my young prisoner was related to the mom whose maltreated children I caused to be taken from her months earlier. At the top of her lungs, much like Michael Brown’s father when he was recorded reacting to the perceived injustice to his family member, she adamantly insisted her brother was not a robber.
I showed her the gun I recovered from her brother’s pocket, I told her one witness knows her brother from the neighborhood, still not convinced she came very close to being arrested for becoming disorderly and refusing to leave the precinct once her business was done. Later I learned that she appeared in court when her younger brother was arrested months earlier for an unrelated robbery.
What was the point of lying about her brother not being a street thug, when there are public records indicating she knew he was committing acts of violence toward people months before she looked me in the eye and vehemently denied her brother is a robber?
I believe I know the answer to my own question. Again, I have no formal training in understanding why people tend to act the way they do, however based on my life experiences I believe Boom-Box mom lied to me without a care or second thought because she was raised to believe lying and denial is how people cope with uncomfortable situations..or..she never acquired and developed the critical thinking skills required to look past living in the moment, or the “here and now’.
Time and time again I interviewed adults and teens who lied to me about easily verifiable facts, often placing themselves at risk for being arrested for obstructing or impeding criminal investigations. Is this something most people with average critical thinking skills would do?
After every day or night’s work I had a 30-40 minute commute home, which gave me time to reflect on the day’s events, how I responded to them, and what I learned from them. Many nights I would drive home with a smile on my face, thinking to myself, “Holy smokes, I can’t believe I get paid to have this much fun identifying and locking up dangerous people.”
During many of these winding-down, reflective moments I would actually experience a euphoric feeling of being “high on life.” For me, at that time in my career, chasing down seriously dangerous bad people who illegally armed themselves with firearms for the purpose of committing mayhem on a mostly peaceful population of working class and poor fellow Americans was the ultimate high, as well as a fringe benefit of police work.
In many cases after taking an alleged dangerous person into custody, I had the opportunity to speak with them and gain ‘some’ insight into what makes them tick. I have no formal training in psychology, however, after meeting and talking with many people who are alleged to have committed crimes in this community, I personally concluded many of the people I arrested were raised and nurtured in environments that lacked real love, understanding, caring and guidance.
Driving home after my first interaction with the aforementioned Boom-Box mom, I thought about her values, her understanding of what is expected of the people who nurture our children, her consideration for laws that society imposes on all people who assume the serious responsibility of rearing children.
I concluded Boom-Box mom was “clueless,” lacking good judgment and skills in all areas required for her to be a good nurturer.
I asked myself, “What is going on in the mind of a mother who invites a law enforcement official into her home, in which she has created a environment for her children that posed a serious risk to their physical well being and health, as well as their psychological development?”
“Does she not realize what she is doing to her children or how her clueless behavior can imprint and affect them for life?”
“Before calling the police did Boom-Box mom not realize society enacted laws protecting her children from the physically harmful and emotionally abusive home she created for them?”
I have to believe Boom-Box mom’s method for parenting is a learned behavior, instilled either during her own upbringing or gleaned from the people she is friends or associates with. Which leaves me wondering if Boom-Box mom ever invited friends or guests to her apartment, and if she did, why didn’t they report the apparent maltreatment and emotional abuse she was exposing her helpless children to?
I am not trying to be harsh by characterizing Boom-Box mom as totally “clueless.” I believe she is a victim of a society accepted cycle of dysfunctional family and community environments…from birth, it appears Boom-Box mom was not shown what a loving environment is made of, it’s difficult for me to be mad at people who are victimized by the recurring cycle, and it certainly makes me better understand why so much rage, anger and frustration exists in the hearts and minds of young “black people” who are raised in these environments.
If I was being raised in the cycle of poverty by a “clueless” parent, as I mature, learning more about the world and witnessing how others are having fun, prospering, loving their families and lives, more than likely over time I’d be real upset, simmering, maybe even rage as I aged and my home environment does not improve.
I think about Boom-Box mom’s children and what they have to look forward to, what skills does she offer her children…what goes through her baby’s minds as they gather around the trash can mom placed in the middle of their living room, day after day watching television depicting the good lives Americans of all backgrounds are enjoying?
What really saddens me……is knowing, based on my experiences, that Boom-Box mom’s “clueless” mindset is replicated by mom’s and parents throughout this community. It saddens and angers me that little kids are in many cases, doomed from the start, or before they are conceived.
When I look back at the environment my parents created for me and how I responded to that environment, I realize my goals were to please my parents by respecting and appreciating what they were doing for me. And most importantly doing my best not to disappoint them because they loved me and made sure I knew it by actively being involved in my life, and aiding me in shaping my life as I developed into a peaceful person who felt loved and cared for.
Two immutable rules in our household were impressed upon me at a young age, “Always be truthful” and “Before judging, wear the other person’s shoes.” Thinking back mom and dad never used the word “empathy” when admonishing me for not thinking before I shot my mouth off, they always said “wear the other person’s shoes.”
I am thinking if my mom and dad placed a trash can in our living room, ignored feces smeared on our walls, got sis and I removed from their custody because they were not providing basic care for me and sis…I am thinking I’d be a pretty messed up kid incapable of embracing the concept of empathy, or purposefully not showing empathy for others because my life sucks and I don’t care about others.
Or perhaps I’d use my intentional lack of empathy as a means to peeve or ‘get-back’ at my parents by engaging in anti-social behaviors that would eventually get me arrested, causing my parents to recognize that I exist, or depending on their views of the police, causing them to interact with authority people they may not necessarily like or trust, thus peeving them.
As I wrote, my experiences occurred years ago.
Recently I looked at current crime stats for this community and learned there has been a significant decrease in reported crimes, though there is still a good amount of violent crimes being committed.
If society continues failing to monitor caregivers who require public funds to raise, nurture and support their children, these kids will continue to be raised in environments like the one Boom-Box mom created for her kids.
I am hoping when camera technology proves its mettle in protecting police officers, as well as identifying officers who require further training or officers who have no business serving the public in a LE capacity, we will use that same technology to protect children by monitoring the common area of homes in which caregivers have established a track record for failing to properly raise, nurture and/or supervise their children. Especially in communities with higher crime rates where kids are more often exposed to some/many neighbors with a mindset for lawlessness.
Recently I watched a video that saddened me as well as enlightened me when I learned child welfare investigators test the hair of child abuse victims for “ambient” exposure to drugs. Holy smokes, the numbers were critical. At the least cameras would expose signs of intoxication in homes identified as requiring extra care to prevent children from being emotionally and or physically harmed.
If a person requires public funds to raise and nurture a child, society is essentially investing in America’s future by offering support to irresponsible women who in many cases give life to children they are not prepared to care for without, and in some/many instances, with our support.
By bearing a child/children without having the means to provide for her child, a mom has already demonstrated that she is not a mature, responsible person.
Society compassionately, and because we do not have any other choice, provides support and care for a child born to a immature, irresponsible mother, and due to financial constraints we do little to insure our investment in immature mother’s children is being used to raised and nurture her kids in a physically and emotionally healthy environment.
Cameras would allow society to closely monitor our investment without being overly intrusive or having to hire more child welfare investigators to protect children from immature, irresponsible caregivers, which we should be doing now.
Society created laws to protect peaceful people from anti-social people.
To protect society from children who develop anti-social attitudes, we arrest teens for committing crimes, yet we do not hold accountable the mothers and fathers legally responsible for nurturing and supervising these kids?
Why is that?
Does society’s current and long-standing policy for ignoring children born to immature females and anonymous or immature males need to be re-evaluated?
Seems reasonable society should have a right to closely monitor our investments and insure that kids are being raised and nurtured with love >>> and not indifference.
I understand Mr. Blow’s concerns for his son’s safety. I also understand the officer’s concern for his personal as well as public safety at the time he is conducting an investigation in public.
I would like to answer the questions Mr. Blow asked in the article he published about his son.
Charles Blow asks, “Why was a gun drawn first?”
Without knowing the details available to the officer at the time he detained Mr. Blow’s son, it is difficult to determine if he was justified in pointing his weapon at a citizen. Though the officer was investigating a felony, burglars are known to carry firearms as well as possess them as proceeds of a burglary.
Charles Blow asks, “Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?”
As a cop conducting a criminal investigation I would not show my cards to a suspect, possibly influencing his replies. Plus, does it make sense to stress a citizen by informing them they are being detained because I suspect they may be a criminal?
Or does it makes sense to first ask for an explanation for the person’s conduct, and when they provide a reasonable explanation, send them on their way without adding stress to their lives by insinuating they are a criminal?
Charles Blow asks, “Why not ask for ID first?”
Unless the investigating officer knows the name of the person suspected of committing a crime prior to detaining a citizen in public, what is the point for asking a detainees name without first asking questions to determine if the person being detained is a viable suspect?
When serving a predominantly poor NYC community I detained dozens and dozens of people pursuant to NYS CPL article 140.50…and never asked their names because they provided a reasonable explanation for their conduct at the time I detained and questioned them.
However there were times when approaching a suspect I immediately drew my service weapon, held it at my side or intentionally pointed it at them firmly advising them they may be harmed if they do not comply with my orders.
I am not sure if NYS’s CPL or the NYPD’s policy for temporarily detaining people in public places has changed since I was schooled?
During my time with the department I was trained that a PO detaining a person suspected of committing a “violent” crime, for the officer’s safety, was automatically subjected to a pat down before questioning began. As I did on this evening while patrolling a mostly poor NYC community.
On patrol, observe a young man who was the spitting image of a robbery suspect I was looking for, carried the suspect’s mug shot with me and looked at his face most everyday for weeks, so I was certain he was the guy I wanted to arrest.
We approach, no questions asked, immediately pat him down and recover a huge silver six-shot revolver from his person. Further investigation revealed he is not the ‘wanted person’ in the photo I was looking for.
Mr. Six-shot takes the case to trial beginning with a hearing to determine if I had lawful grounds to detain and search him. I showed the judge the official PD photo I used to base the stop on, testified why I stopped Mr. Six-shot. The judge decided there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, setting a trial date.
Sometime later the DA calls me to his office for trial prep…a day later he calls and tells me the trial is off, the young man I arrested walking around the streets of NYC with a loaded hi-power illegal firearm tucked in his waistband was the victim of a violent homicide in his Maryland hometown.
I have no doubt Mr. Blows concerns for his and his son’s safety when interacting with police officers are justified. As are the suburban families recorded expressing the thoughts, fears and concerns for their children. Watching this interview is pretty heart wrenching, certainly mirroring Mr Blow’s concerns and fears.
Sadly, as a police officer I too experience fear for my personal safety when interacting with people I do not know.
Especially people in a community with an established track record for raising and nurturing some/many of its children in homes/environments that emotionally conditions these kids to accept a life of lawlessness and disrespecting their peaceful neighbors.
Based on over a decade of providing uniformed and investigative police services to a predominantly poor NYC community, I have my own thoughts and concerns for why some/many children in poor communities mature into angry, frustrated teens/adults lacking empathy for others, often violently venting their anger and frustrations on their peaceful people.
On my Knute’s Niche blog I suggest why music artists from generations past wrote music loving and adoring woman, and the reasons I believe for why the love and respect for women has apparently evaporated for some/many of today’s music artists who characterize women and girls as “Bhores and Witches” in their popular music.
I am curious to learn if anyone else has a theory for why some/many today’s artists write music >>> essentially disrespecting their moms, sisters, and daughters?
I understand and sympathize with Mr. Blows fears and concerns for his family’s safety, though I wonder if he is willing to recognize the core issue for why police and some/many Americans have concerns for their safety when interacting with dark complected people, some/many of whom are raised and nurtured by irresponsible caregivers who I believe are primarily responsible for causing much of the prejudice some/many Americans and others hold in their hearts.
When Mr. Charles Blow and others are willing to honestly identify the core reason fueling much of the prejudice brown or dark complected people experience, not only will he and others be protecting children from harm, they will be helping to eliminate a prejudice that at this time in American history I believe I have a moral right to embrace. For if we do not embrace our prejudices and speak about them, children and women will continue to be victimized…and continue to believe that no one cares or thinks about them.