In his commentary (“The Daily News is just fanning the flames of hate,” The Daily News, Sept. 28) George Grace asserts those who have posed legitimate questions regarding the arrest of Donald Neely “fan the flames of hatred and mistrust.”

To be sure, some may have rushed to judgment regarding the mounted Galveston police officers’ leading Neely by a rope for several blocks.

The officers involved apparently followed prevailing official protocols for such an incident, but that doesn’t preclude our dispassionately reexamining the propriety of those protocols. As suggested by local historian Sam Collins III, even if you leave race out of it, it’s fair to ask whether this was the right thing to do (“After arrest, isle must do some diversity repair work,” The Daily News, Sept. 26).

The fundamental question is whether this is the way we, as a community, should treat any fellow human being who happens to suffer from mental illness or is homeless.

Yet Grace, unlike the officers, appears unable or unwilling to grasp the understandable reaction the images of Neely’s arrest might provoke. The grim historical legacy that those images recall is reflected in the chillingly similar 1832 engraving of a kidnapping for enslavement presented when entering “the abduction of Sidney Francis” in a web browser.

That Grace would use an analogy of managing cattle in reference to such handling painfully hearkens back to the conception many whites had of non-whites during the slavery era.

As often noted, slavery was America’s “original sin,” dating from earliest European settlement. Slavery stole people’s most valuable possession — their lives — from them. Enslaved persons didn’t own their own person and had virtually no ability to direct their own existence. Add to this dehumanization the physical and sexual violence and the forced family separations that were so often inflicted on the enslaved.

Grace suggests that “racism” ended in the U.S. in 1865 with emancipation, and that continued use of the word has been “weaponized.” A fair definition of “racism” would be: Perceiving or treating another person in a negative manner solely based upon that other person’s being of a different race, color or ethnicity.

Certainly, when slavery ended, it became illegal to own or convey others’ lives as commodities. But, in its wake, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation, separate but “equal” schools, redlining, voter suppression, profiling, environmental discrimination, mass incarceration, all have adversely and disproportionately affected persons of color.

Regrettably, not all of those practices are “closed books;” some of these injustices continue to stain our nation’s honor and prevent us from living up to our stated belief that all are created equal. The abuses of slavery and its successor practices have often been experienced by many generations. Can it be any wonder that the descendants of those tormented generations are hypersensitive to potential wrongs?

Grace finally laments that “there will always be injustice and prejudice in this imperfect world,” accepting this as an inevitable, permanent condition. In honesty, however, it’s appropriate to label racism as such, wherever it appears, rather than mask it with the soft, catch-all of “prejudice.”

And it’s never improper to continue seeking justice for all.

Jack Evins lives in Galveston.


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(23) comments

Don Schlessinger


David Hardee

There was no element or act of racism in the Neely incident.

Well written persuasive article. It is without flaw in tone and reaches into the inner-person extracting that universal need to be better. Every individual that consumes this article is lifted by it. But unfortunately the article continues on to castigate our society. Society did nothing wrong. Only certain Individuals bear and should be called to criticism. Only Neely’s family and the officers were directly responsible for what Neely experienced. The collective we (society) were oblivious to Neely’s existence and bear no responsibility for his condition or treatment.

Using the Neely incident the media and politicians have multiplied a single incident to a nation and society froth with inappropriate actions. The inappropriate acts were done by individuals and then enhanced by high profile individuals, groups and lawyers for the intent of illuminating themselves and or furthering an agenda. Now those inappropriate acts are made to be a shame on our entire society.

We all should embrace that portion of the article that challenges us individually. But when the article pull from history the once atrocious behavior of slavery as “America’s original sin” he crosses from inappropriate acts by individuals (persons with agendas) to the collective (society, the royal we). The fact is that “America’s original sin” was not ORIGINAL. For thousands of year and across the planet slavery existed before America was created. Consider that only America paid the price of slavery with a civil war. A civil war based sole on the conflict arising from the issue of slavery.

The author says …..“Certainly, when slavery ended, it became illegal to own or convey others’ lives as commodities. But, in its wake, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, segregation, separate but “equal” schools, redlining, voter suppression, profiling, environmental discrimination, mass incarceration, all have adversely and disproportionately affected persons of color.”…. None of those WAKE items are tolerated (exist) today. This paragraph belongs in the history books and should be in the education process for the purpose of knowledge that builds a trail of who, what and why brought us to where we are today.

The self serving media, politicians, pundits and lawyers are the source of most social confusion and chaos. Be suspicious and vote wisely.

Emile Pope

You are not an authority on what is or isn't racism. And from the rest of your writing you aren't an authority on much. And using the apologist's excuses for slavery and racism doesn't help your case. Interesting how the "yeah, but" people always come out whenever any article about racism or bigotry is written...

Carlos Ponce

Inquiry: Does Emile Pope consider Donald Neely's arrest an example of "racism"?

Charles Douglas

"You are not an authority on what is or isn't racism. And from the rest of your writing you aren't an authority on much."---- Neither are you, that man has as much right to his opinions as YOU have to make yours opinions known on this forum! I could be wrong though, if you have secretly PURCHASED, THE GDN and we all have not been notified!

Emile Pope

As long as it’s understood that it’s only his opinion...

Samuel Collins III

David I think it was a well written article too, but disagree with you on several of your points. America's original sin does not mean America was the first to have slavery. It can be argued that the original sin was against the native Americans or even that America did not declare independence until 1776 therefore slavery could still be the original sin of the country. "None of those WAKE items are tolerated (exist) today." America has 5% of the world population, but 25% of the world's prison population. You can read Douglass Blackmon's book "Slavery by another name" or watch the documentary with the same title. You also could review Ava Duvernay's documentary titled "13th". Mass incarceration is very much a problem today driven by a system more interested in profit than justice or rehabilitation. Voter suppression, environmental discrimination, profiling is still a current issue. While redlining may be illegal the last financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 revealed a very bias system where many minority communities were given bad loans and exploited. Yes there is an educational component to the equation that says those individuals should have or could have been more knowledgeable about products or services that they were paying for, but then you must dive deeper into the reason why they were less knowledgeable about these things. Back to the Neely arrest. Our individual hands did not make the arrest, but our collective hands are not clean. We collectively support a society that allowed the circumstances that created an environment that allowed this arrest to happen.

Bailey Jones

And it's not limited to incarceration. Life expectancy, quality of health care, wages, wealth accumulation, educational performance (although black women are killing it these days), housing practices, banking practices, environmental practices, the war on drugs (ever notice how during the mostly black crack epidemic everyone was a super predator but during the mostly white opioid epidemic everyone is a "victim of addiction"?), school suspensions, political representation, employment, unemployment, police harassment, government surveillance, and it just goes on and on and on - in other words, racism is pervasive in every aspect of our society. But don't talk about society!!! It's those "individuals" over there who are the problem, not AMERICA! How can it be America's problem - America is "superior", dare we even say, "supreme".

In 1860 it was - "our slaves are happy, they just get riled up by the abolitionists!"

In 1919 it was - "our Negroes are happy, they just get riled up by the Bolsheviks!"

In 1960 it was - "our blacks are happy, they just get riled up by the Communist outside agitators!"

In 1980 it was - "our African Americans are happy, they're just being taught to be victims by the liberals!".

Now, it's - "there is no racism anymore - it's a myth of the self serving media, politicians, pundits and lawyers!"

Then, when an incident like the Neely arrest occurs, or a much more egregious event happens, and the whole world blows up, "society" can't understand why "society" gets so upset about it.

David Hardee

The thought provoking exercise of reading and re-reading the article, Bailey, Collins and Hardee's comments resulted in (my opinion) very little difference to the central message being delivered. We essentially agree that the guilt of slavery -racism swirls in the subconscious of the collective (society). Because it is constantly swirling - That is why it is so easily used to stimulate the anxiety and even animosity across our nation. That is why the politicians, pundit media use it to titillate the massive rewards of reaction to achieve their agenda (purpose).

One distinction between Hardee’s and the Bailey/Collins approaches to claiming a better way of appraising the totality of the America SLAVERY - RACISM dilemma is: Hardee wants to stir both the negative and the positives together (LIKE SEASONING) to produce a combined conclusion (STEW) we can all digest to celebrate each citizens contribution to American superiority. Using SLAVERY – RACISM as the dominate seasoning will never make a digestive stew. And we will never achieve E Pluribus Unum.

So Bailey and Collins when you make dominant the repugnant SLAVERY – RACISM history you have made a bitter stew. America has accomplished not enough but quite a good amount and is still trying to get better. Even in America’s current condition it is the BEST HOPE of HUMANITY.

Emile Pope

Positives??? Positives??? Depends on which side of the line you're on...

Emile Pope


Bailey Jones

My friend, Minny, has made a very special pie for you David - it's got just the tiniest bit of - well, let's just call it repugnant - in it, but I'm sure the wonderfulness of the rest of the ingredients will make up for it.

David Hardee

Bailey - My friend - I refer you to your posting - Bailey Jones Oct 11, 2019 9:46am as an example of contradiction with - You say, “The tinest bit” - This posting is laced entirely with REPUGNANT history. Not the slightest inference to present a balancing item reflecting our society has made any effort toward being better.

Whoever Minny is – should she want to make me a pie hopefully she would balance the ingredients to make it at palatable enough I could swirl it and make a reasonable judgement.

Bailey Jones

It was a joke, David. I probably shouldn't reference modern popular culture if I want to be understood here.

Emile Pope

Balance is garbage. There is no “balance” to evil...

Carlos Ponce

Emile ought to know. His morality is pointing to "E".

Bailey Jones

I never believed the Neely incident to be an issue of race. But the way it exploded around the Internet is all the proof you need that race and racism is still an open wound in this country. And the comments to this letter will surely show that we're still not ready to come to terms with it.

I'll take one issue with the letter - "Certainly, when slavery ended, it became illegal to own or convey others’ lives as commodities." The 13th Amendment says "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." The "except as a punishment for crime" clause allowed southern states an out when it came to enslaving blacks. By not defining "crime", the amendment opened the door to ridiculous Jim Crow laws, the violation of the least of which could get a black American years of enslavement on a work gang - hired out to private corporations - logging, turpentine making, mining, farming, or - as in our own local history - sugar production. The "crimes" included such nonsense as "loud talking near a white woman", being in town after dark, or no crime at all - "duly convicted" in a small southern town often meant nothing more than a local judge who was paid a bounty for procuring slave labor. This system of virtual slavery continued until the 1940s. There are still Americans alive who experienced it. An authoritative book on the subject is "Slavery by Another Name - The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon, for anyone with an interest in real American history.

Samuel Collins III

Great job Jack!

Carlos Ponce

"Racism didn't end when slavery ended". It continues condoned by Liberals in this country. When you examine the percentage of aborted babies of minority origin especially Black you see Black and minority genocide promoted by the Democrat Party. They hide behind the banner "woman's right to choose" but the effect is more Black babies killed. Margaret Sangers' concept of eugenics continues well into the 21st Century. [sad]

Black babies' lives matter!

Charles Douglas

I personally think a great many of us are falling for the hokey-doke concerning racism. Everybody is focusing on racism alone. Racism is a bi-product of selfishness, and as long as men will embrace selfishness, hate, and racism will live to see another day! We also should realize that slavery still exists today though the invisible shackles, chains, and bondage caused by sin! ( Sin came in heaven after Lucifer embraced selfishness and greed.) Same thing happened with Adam & Eve in Eden! However, mankind's sins were eradicated by the works of Christ on man's behalf. That depends on men accepting and receiving what was done by faith, which many have not! Fact is, many become agitated, and uncomfortable when the Word of God of the Gospel is talked about in their presence, like some are right now! So then I submit that We have millions of SLAVES walking around on the earth today, and they do not even realize they are Slaves to a common enemy who many of them won't even acknowledge! Think about that now! The key to freedom was shaped in Bethlehem, and forged on Calvary Hill, backed by an immutable promise from God himself, and secured by his OATH, which represents the hope that is the anchor of our souls. Now, lets get this straight, hope is the ROPE, which connects a believer to that Godly anchor at the Throne of God which is steadfastly secured! This represents a secured salvation by his promise secured by his word or oath! Lastly, Jesus Christ was the great emancipator who came to set us free from the SLAVERY of sin! Ahhhaha, but he used another emancipator, to help in a time he designated! This was in America where BLACKS were held in chains and in bondage physically! This Emancipator's name was Harriet Tubman. Harriet is quoted as saying something very profound concerning slavery that I can fully relate to even now! I call this mentality I'm about to convey onto you, the "FARM" OR THE "TENT" mentality which exists in America today, and especially in the Black community, although much progress is being made! Harriet said this, " I saved thousands of SLAVES in my work, and I could have saved thousands more,....IF THEY HAD REALIZED THEY WERE SLAVES!" Somebody need to say amen!!!! Send your offerings to GDN and they will give them to the poor.

Bailey Jones

Snopes is your friend, Charles.

Gary Miller

Slavery was not racism. It was economic. A race that sells for less than other races have been slaves since society needed cheap labor. Slavery has not been outlawed.African governments sell convicted citizens into slavery to people needing cheap labor The UN says the African slave trade is 250,000 a year. More than were sold to American buyers in any year when slavery was legal. Many Roman wars were fought for slaves. The result of most wars before the discovery of America enslaved the losers as a normal activity. Real racism was what Democrats did to blacks after they couldn't buy them. That process went through several changes that continues today with blacks trapped in economic situations where Democrats can use fear of economic loss to force blacks to vote for Democrats. A situation used to trap other minorities in electoral servitude to Democrats. Not really racism but just seeking political power. It might be that minorities will vote themselves out of servatude to Democrats in 2020.

Gary Miller

The US has more people in prison because prison in America is a lot better deal for the convicted. WE don't sell convicts as slaves, in other countries they kill convicts for breaking laws that are not against the law in America. Some countries send their convicts to reeducation camps and don't call them prisoners. More convicts in the US serve out their sentence and return to normal society alive.

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