Saturday, July 11, 2020

Not all white people live in a "place of privilege": Minneapolis City Council wants to dismantle the police department

Okie use' ta mean you was from Oklahoma.  Now it means you're a dirty son-of-a-bitch. Okie means you're scum.
John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath 

Last month, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to dismantle the municipal police force and replace it with an agency that will address crime more holistically. I take it that means more social workers and fewer guns.

Although the city council wants to deny police protection to the citizens of Minneapolis, some officials still want it for themselves. The city hired a private security firm to protect three council members at the cost of $4,500 a day. In other words, security for me but not for thee.

A CNN reporter asked Lisa Bender, president of the Minneapolis City Council, what people are supposed to do if their homes are being burglarized. "What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into," the reporter asked. "Who do I call?" 

Bender basically said the police aren't necessary to deal with a home invasion because if you're calling 911 to report a burglary, you're coming from a "place of privilege."  By privilege, I think Bender meant white privilege. 

If I follow her reasoning aright, Bender is basically arguing that white people don't deserve police protection from theft because they (or perhaps their ancestors) benefited unfairly from our society's structural racism.

But of course, that's bullshit. 

As far as I know, my family hasn't exploited anybody. My great grandfather on my father's side worked in a brick factory in England. Sometime in the 1880s, he immigrated to Canada with his wife and children and finally wound up in Kansas. No slaves on that side of my family.

My mother's people emigrated from Germany before the American Revolution. They settled in Pennsylvania, and several of my ancestors fought in George Washington's army. No slaves or racial exploitation on the German side of my family.

Even if you buy the tortured argument that my ancestors engaged in racial exploitation simply because they were white beneficiaries of a racist society, they certainly paid for that sin. Both sets of my grandparents lived in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression and suffered greatly. 

Although my immediate ancestors did not migrate to California during the 1930s, many of their relatives and acquaintances did. Much like today's Mexican immigrants, Oklahomans uprooted themselves and headed to the Golden State in search of a better way of life.

And when they rolled up to the California border in their broken-down cars, the state police would not let them enter. These economic refugees were referred to as Okies--a term almost as derogatory as the N-word.

Think of that: Today's California politicians want to abolish all immigration laws and allow anyone to enter the country--even criminals. But in the 1930s, the Californians denied entrance to American citizens who just wanted to work and feed their families.

American history is tainted with systemic racism to be sure. Africans were enslaved in the South, Chinese workers were abused in the West, and the Irish were exploited in the East. And if you want to know how the Okies fared in 1930s California, view John Ford's great movie, The Grapes of Wrath

But today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we all deserve to be treated equally and with respect. And if someone breaks into our homes, don't we all deserve police protection?

Okies, keep out of California.


  1. You don't know what you're talking about. Here in California they don't want poor people. Don't try to come here if you're poor. The anti-poor sentiment is just as strong today as it was in the anti-Oakie years. Just look up all of the newspaper articles about people coming from out of town to San Francisco to get all of these great welfare benefits.
    Yeah,right.....Of course they didn't dismantle the police. Hype much??? I can't believe you were trying to push that narrative. And the misquotes! Lord help us the misquotes... Anyways, 2023 now do you still have police in minneapolis? Come on! You need to go back and reread "The Grapes of Wrath"- actually that's probably too complicated for you to read an entire novel, best you stick to watching the movie

    1. You're a professor at a university? That's even more terrifying. But you know what? My mom's entire family came from Austria after World war II in 1948. Not her parents mind you, they died because of the war, because of a war machine pushed by people like you with hate in their hearts for a certain groups of people who have somehow usurped their rightful resources. Yeah keep going in that direction see where it leads you.... Lucky for me I have elder relatives half of whom are passed on due to age at this point. People like my aunt Broni & Uncle Walter who were teenagers when Hitler was elected to power. There were many many University professors just like you at that time who hated the Jews and wanted them exterminated. They hid behind intellectualism and lofty degrees. Just because a person possesses higher knowledge and intellect does not mean that they cannot harbor some of the most dangerous types of hate. Look at Ted Bundy for instance... The Unabomber.... Name any of the Nazi intellectual elite. it was the seat of industrialism and the champion country of the world for intellectualism at the time that Hitler took over so don't doubt that these things can exist very easily side by side. As a matter of fact, that helps cement their viewpoint into legitimacy. Lucky for us we have seen this before and we are wise to Your Kind.