Recently a good friend gave me a book that he thought would interest me, and he was certainly correct. It is written by a fairly young African-American named Dr. Carl L. Hart, who is a Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, as well as a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. And, by the way, his hair is in dreadlocks, and he openly acknowledges his use of a wide variety of mind-altering substances – some legal and some (presently) not. The name of his book is Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear (Penguin Press, 2021). As most of you know, I have been a firm advocate of changing away from our nation’s longstanding and failed policy of Drug Prohibition, but even I did not have as full a perspective on this subject as does Dr. Hart. So I strongly recommend this book to you and all open-minded people who want to base their opinions on real facts instead of emotions and politics.

But the reason for this 2 Paragraphs edition is not to attempt to change our drug policy. Instead, Dr. Hart outlined one of his experiences about the innate racism currently in our great country that I simply must pass along to our 2 Paragraphs Family. Bluntly speaking, I have never before seen the issue of discrimination addressed from this perspective. So what follows are direct quotes from pages 148 to 152 of his book. I know this is a long quote, and I am more than surprised that a Professor of Psychiatry at a major university would use some of the language he uses, but please see if you have thought about innate racism in this fashion.

“Recently, the dishonorable behavior of those in leadership positions hit close to home. On Valentine’s Day 2019, my wife and I spent the entire morning at our son Malakai’s school. We were there because a video had been posted on social media in which another student called Malakai a nigger. Both the head of school and principal expressed shock at their student’s use of the n-word. But when we asked about their plans to address the issue, they hadn’t yet come up with one. Then when we asked to see the video, they refused.

These people didn’t exactly inspire our confidence. On numerous previous occasions, we had brought to their attention far worse race-based transgressions directed at our son. We were politely dismissed each time. For just one example among many, the security staff routinely singled out Malakai and other black boys for photo-identification inspections before entering the campus. Such ID checks were highly unusual for this close-knit school community – one in which we had been members for nearly twenty years and one that prides itself on the honor system and high ethical standards – and where the tuition is more than fifty thousand dollars per year.

An incident that occurred back in May 2018 is emblematic of the double standards my son was frequently subjected to by the school itself. He, along with a few other black boys – still wearing their school track uniforms – and their black track coach, had just returned from a competition held at another school and were headed to the locker room to retrieve their ID cards and other school-related items, including their homework. They also wanted to change out of their track uniforms into everyday gear. To their surprise, however, they were stopped at the security booth and denied access to the campus.

Meanwhile, an older white couple waved at the security agent and strolled straight past the booth unimpeded. They weren’t asked to show identification, nor were they questioned or prevented from entering the scenic school grounds. This prompted the coach to request a conversation with the security officer’s supervisor, who, when he arrived on the scene, eventually gave the go-ahead signal. At which point, the first security guard escorted the team to the locker room. Being escorted is also not customary. But then in a matter of minutes, he loudly admonished the boys: “Time to go! You’ve had enough time in there!”

These student athletes, who had only just returned from competing on behalf of the school, were forced to leave campus. The fact that none of their parents had yet arrived to retrieve them didn’t matter. Basically, they were told to get the fuck out. To make matters worse, it was late evening, the night sky was already a starless black, and the school is located in a predominantly white neighborhood several miles from our home. Can you imagine the alarm I felt when my wife and I arrived only to learn that our son wasn’t there, that a school official had kicked him off campus, and that he had had to find an open, public establishment that would allow him to hang out until we showed up? Visions of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice, the twelve-year-old black boy shot and killed by a white Cleveland police officer, ran through my head. I was horrified. I wanted to know who in the hell was responsible for putting my child at such risk.

I immediately emailed school officials to request a meeting. More than two weeks passed before one was held. Being put off for weeks pissed me off, especially given the nature of my concern and the fact that we had previously met with the school’s leadership about the discriminatory practice of their security force.

Even so, I tried to remain optimistic. I told myself that they must be using the intervening time to implement corrective actions. I had hoped the officials would take this issue seriously. I had hoped they would understand how the discrimination carried out by their security personnel could traumatize Malakai and result in cascading negative consequences for his psychological development and functioning. I had hoped they would understand that their inaction was the problem, that their inaction could insidiously shape my son’s perception of himself and his place in the world, and that their inaction was not so subtly encouraging him to adopt a self-protective, hypervigilant, overly suspicious, even paranoid, and definitely subservient posture. I had hoped they would understand that this kind of race-based, dehumanizing treatment , especially during adolescence, produces significant harmful effects on the mental health of black boys and that these effects continue well into adulthood decades later. And this is to say nothing of the whole host of other possible pathological conditions, including cardiovascular disease, that occur at higher rates among those subjected to racial discrimination.

Nope, I was dead wrong, and this was clear from the meeting’s outset. The head of school and her team neither took responsibility nor presented a concrete corrective plan. In fact, they disingenuously asked us, Malakai included, to help craft a school-security policy that would not discriminate against black boys. By this point in my life, I could immediately recognize this frequently employed deflection strategy. The school officials concocted this phony request in their attempt to feign a willingness to take action without actually doing anything. It was insulting. Neither Malakai, nor (my wife) Robin, nor I have any expertise on security matters, so asking us to solve this problem for them was clearly inappropriate. What’s more, even though the head of school knows that I’m a professor at a major university, she has never sought my assistance on curriculum content or development. Seeking my views on issues related to my actual profession is considered more appropriate than seeking them on questions of security.

So with this as a backdrop, the pearl-clutching horror expressed by school officials in response to my child’s being called a “nigger” was simultaneously unmoving and crazy-making. Here’s why: the harm caused to Malakai – and to other black boys – from being called a nigger by an ignorant student pales in comparison with the myriad harms caused from repeated acts of discrimination sanctioned by the school and perpetrated by adults.”

Quote for the week: “If people let government decide which foods they eat and medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson *

* “I recognize that Thomas Jefferson and other revered historical figures enslaved black people. This was reprehensible even during their time. But the cruel hypocrisy of these individuals’ actions does not negate the noble ideals and vision articulated in their writings. These enshrined principles give us goals to which we continue to strive.” Dr. Carl L. Hart in the Prologue to his book on page 1.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

As stated above, feel free to listen to our radio show entitled All Rise! The Libertarian Way with Judge Jim Gray as we discuss timely issues and show how they will be addressed more beneficially by employing Libertarian values and approaches. The series has concluded, but you can still hear any edition On Demand by going to https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/3883. And, by the way, these 2 Paragraphs columns are now on my website at www.JudgeJImGray.com, Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray.wordpress.com. Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty. In addition, my new book with the same title as my radio show is now available at Amazon.com. Please read and discuss it with your friends, and send in a review.