“The study does not help us to understand the experiences of people of color” (plus, Gadfly adds his two-cents)

logo Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police logo

ref: “A 2017 Bethlehem Police Community survey”: “Response Rate: There was an overall response rate of 12%. While the sample of surveys distributed mirrored the distribution of households within each Bethlehem city zipcode, the responses from 18015 were under-represented. Additionally, the majority of the sample were older and white, thus there was a relative under-representation of younger and ethnic minority residents.”


I think it is clear from the first bullet about “Response Rate” that this study is problematic, at least as it relates to our current situation. If the 18015 zipcode was underrepresented (this is the part of our city where census tracts show the greatest concentration of Latinx and Black residents), and if the majority of respondees were older White people, then this study does not help us to understand the experiences of people of color in our city as they have interacted with the BPD. It’s definitely interesting to see one part of our community narrative through the study above. Now it is time to seek out and listen to the perspective of community members who were missing from the original study . . .

Kim Carrell-Smith

Gadfly has whined in these pages several times about what seems to him a missing link between the City and our sizeable Latinx population. He whined again at City Council Tuesday about the almost immediate post-Floyd formation — apparently at the request of the NAACP — of a Community Advisory Board (CAB) at which African American NAACP leader Esther Lee sets the agenda. African Americans are 7% of our city population, Latinx 29.5% — why are we not devoting more of our limited time and resources directly to the Latinx community, which, Prof Holona Ochs pointed out, is rather suspiciously underrepresented in citizen complaints in the statistics provided by the BPD. Now there are 4 “Latino Advisors “ on the CAB — good. But still this lack of direct interface with a Latinx group setting an agenda seems very, very odd to the Gadfly. Councilwoman Crampsie Smith answered the Gadfly Tuesday night, saying “The NAACP is for the advancement of Colored People, and it means people of all colors. It just does not just focus on the Black Community” (min. 3:10:45 — yes, that meeting went over 3 hours!). Go to the NAACP web site. Gadfly is not sure you will see any reference to the Latinx community. One can not tell for sure from simply a list of names, but it sure looks like the officers are Black. The NAACP began, of course, long before there were any Latinx presence or issues in the country, and the history of the organization (the local chapter web site links to the national web site for the history) seems to clearly indicate that “colored people” has always referred to African Americans. He sees no mention of widening to other colors (does the NAACP represent Asians?) in that official history statement. Was there a Latinx speaker at the recent Payrow Plaza marking of the 57th anniversary of the famous King speech and march on Washington? (Gadfly would be pleased to learn there was.) It just seems a very, very, very, very, very, very far stretch to Gadfly to say that since the City is engaged with a CAB that is an NAACP initiative that the City is in direct communication and dialogue with the Latinx community. 

One thought on ““The study does not help us to understand the experiences of people of color” (plus, Gadfly adds his two-cents)

  1. It would be appropriate for NAACP to pay more attention to the modern meaning of ‘colored people’. The case of Mendez v. Westminster School District in 1945 laid the foundation for later civil rights decisions that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education. When César Chavez & Dolores Huerta organized the United Farmworkers Union in the late 60s, they not only benefited the primarily Latinx farmworkers, they benefited all who were exploited on the basis of race or skin color.

    We all need to remember that the term ‘White’ is a construct for uniting people against BIPOC. It is used to unite people who are mostly of European descent against others, and even manages to include those who were formerly excluded (such as Jews & Italians) to create a dominant majority.

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