Discussion week 9 | Introduction to Ethics | Berkeley College of New York


Forum Wk9

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Five decades after the murder of Civil Rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., America finally had its first Black President in Barack Obama.  But many see among the forces that elected Donald Trump as our current President a reactionary regression to white nationalism and fanning the flames of racism.  They see America as more divided today than it has been in some time.  Others see it differently and say it’s all about “making America great again.”

Whatever your politics may be, let’s ask ourselves about racism and other forms of discrimination in America today.

Consider the 2012 case of the 17 year old unarmed Trayvon Martin who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman who regularly watched for suspicious persons in the Sanford Florida neighborhood where Trayvon lived. Zimmerman was later acquitted of all criminal charges in this killing.  Or consider another case that same year of the 47 year old software engineer Michael Dunn who confronted four Black teens about their loud rap music in their SUV at a Florida convenience store. Dunn claimed he felt threatened and fired 10 shots into the SUV killing 17 year old Jordan Davis. Dunn fled the scene but later reported the incident to the police, claiming self-defense. On February 15, 2014, Dunn was convicted of attempted murder against the three surviving teens but the jury could not reach a verdict on the charge of his murdering Jordan Davis.  He was later retried and sentence to life without parole for the killing.

For this week’s discussion on equality and discrimination, please answer just ONE of the following two questions and then post at least two reply postings to others in the discussion:

[1] What do you see as the difference between individual racism and systemic racism and which if any are at work in the killings of Trayvon Martin or of Jordan Davis? Explain your position. Discuss the case you choose with two different people, preferably at least one of them being a person of color. Do they see racism at work in this case, and, if so, do they see it as individual racism or systemic racism or both? 

Another appalling form of discrimination and abuse is sexism.  Many thought that the access Hollywood tape that came out last fall showing the sexism of Donald Trump would sink his chance of becoming President but it did not.  Sexism is widespread today.  One would hope we have made progress against sexism but now we have the news of the accusations against the filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, which many are saying is not news because his alleged history of sexual harassment and abuse against women was known.   And others say this is only the tip of the iceberg regarding what is all too common today in many places.  Here’s a news clip on the accusations against Weinstein: LINK (Links to an external site.).

[2] Do you believe that sexism, sexual discrimination, and sexual abuse are systemic problems in today’s world or can they be viewed and judged on an individual basis as individual problems of certain people?  And if one concludes they are systemic problems, does this mitigate the individual responsibility of those who practice it?  Or if it is purely an individual problem, how can we explain its prevalence around the world and in so many parts of our own society? 

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