Mr. Shannon is no expert on systemic racism

Personal experience has shown me the extent of systemic racism in the justice system.

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Dan Shannon, “The smartest man in the room.” His moniker oozes superiority and white male privilege.

How could someone living as a privileged white man in America possibly understand the lived experiences of people of color or other marginalized groups? How could he possibly be the expert on racism in America?

To address some of Mr. Shannon’s key points from his recent column (“The ‘Scarlet R’ — what will liberals label racist next?” published Nov. 10).

1. Why would “the horde of illegal aliens” come to America if we are the bastion on racism? – Because those fleeing countries in Central and South America are facing atrocities in their home countries far worse. Racism is horrific, but when trying to flee constant violence by your government and gangs America still seems like the better choice.

2. Asian-identifying people in America have the highest median income – Literally the first Google search result links right to some graph that states this. Is this source credible? Is this data repeated throughout multiple sources? In fact, data from the Federal Reserve’s site indicates that by a significant margin whites in America enjoy a much higher level of wealth than folks of other races.

3. Mr. Shannon, in more words, overtly states that black men and women are more prone to crime and that is why they are disproportionately incarcerated; people only go to prison for committing crimes, he says – I too spent years working in the courts, and firsthand experience tells me this is a load of bull. Getting entangled in the criminal justice system happens from a series of subjective events where whites often enjoy less scrutiny, more sympathy, and lesser sentences. From if a police officer chooses to make an arrest and what they write in their report, to what charges a prosecutor chooses to charge, what public defense attorney gets assigned and how high their workload is, to how a jury (if it goes to trial) views a defendant (which can be swayed easily based on Mr. Shannon’s own comments), and how heavy handed a judge is in sentencing.

Criminal defendants often get railroaded into plea agreements, threatened with much lengthier sentencing recommendations if they dare to take their case to trial. There they’ll face the scrutiny of 12 strangers in a jury box. Not acknowledging our criminal justice system is fundamentally broken and discriminates very obviously against people of color is the equivalent to sticking one’s head in the sand.

The problem is so pervasive, even black children are treated as criminals. Look no further than when a group of young elementary school children in Tennessee that resulted in children, 9-12 years old, being arrested and jailed by a judge, for a neighborhood squabble.

I considered taking Mr. Shannon up on his offer to talk over “cheese sandwiches and milk”, but I suspect that he would not be willing to listen and take in alternate perspectives. After all he must be the smartest man in the room, though it seems he is the only one in the room.

Amanda Gudmunson

Bonney Lake

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