Rachel Dolezal led the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP before she resigned Monday. Dolezal was accused of lying about her race.

Credit: Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press / NPR

All Revved Up: Mothers Turn In Sons, Former NAACP Leader Resigns, And Vatican Debates Climate Change

June 15, 2015

The Reverends Emmett G. Price III and Irene Monroe joined Boston Public Radio Monday for their regular segment, All Revved Up. Price and Monroe talked about two Boston mothers who turned their sons in for their suspected roles in the murder of a 16-year-old. They also talked about the former head of a Washington NAACP suspected of lying about her race. As always, they finished with another edition of Pope Watch — a weekly report card for Pope Francis.

Questions below are paraphrased, and Rev. Price and Monroe's answers are edited where noted [...]. 

Sixteen-year-old Jonathon Dos Santos was killed in Dorchester last week by two people who may have wanted to enlist him for gang activity. After the shooting, the mothers of the two accused shooters turned their sons in to authorities. What do you think of this, in light of so many other shootings in the city?

PRICE: This is a huge show that enough is enough, that these mothers — even in this hurt, and their pain — are willing to say ‘enough is enough.’ And they stand with the mother of Jonathon Dos Santos.

MONROE: This is another one of those times that I have to commend [...] the Boston Police Department. [...] I think that their tactic was just very, very good. Because, given this sort of movement where ‘black lives matter,’ and just seeing the egregious behavior of our police officers, I think this is one of those times that the Boston Police Department [succeeded].

How do you think police handled this case? There was an open call to the community to come forward with information about Jonathon Dos Santos' death, and it seemed to work.

PRICE: [William] Evans has done a great job in actually creating partnerships in a number of different constituencies [...] and also with elders in the community. Somebody made the statement that there used to be rules that you didn't shoot kids, and you didn't shoot mothers. [The mothers’ message is,] ‘we're not afraid and we're taking back our streets.’ I appreciate that courage.

MONROE: Crime happens in the black community and we cover it up. Sometimes we do because we know how the police behave, but when you have an open-door policy in the way that the Boston Police has, [it can] self-correct.

Jonathon Dos Santos had alerted adults in his life that he was being pestered by gang members. He was a well-regarded, and by all accounts well-behaved kid who got caught up in something terrible.

PRICE: I think he did the right thing. He told folks. The challenge is an economic challenge. [...] I grew up in the heart of Los Angeles, in what they call South Central, and my parents actually removed me from the schools.

MONROE: I come out of one of the worst areas of New York. We really were what you call — we weren't even working poor — we were the under-class.

PRICE: You have to fix the education system, you have to fix the housing system, all the systems that are plagued in these communities that we don't pay attention to.

MONROE: I don't think that we don't have the money, I don't think that we have the heart.

One of the kids accused of killing Dos Santos is 14. Should a 14-year-old be tried as an adult?

PRICE: No, no.

MONROE: We need a philosophy, especially within the penal system to make this distinction between, Are we trying to teach people a lesson, or ruin a life?

PRICE: The word 'rehabilitation' has dissolved.

Rachel Dolezal was a 37-year-old president of the Spokane, Washington NAACP chapter. On Monday she resigned after it came out she was not African American. What do you make of this story?

MONROE: I think of it as the ‘consummate con’ story. [...] There are a whole lot of white folks that pass as black, or other, or as someone of color, because of economic and social mobility. Classic example here, and I'm sorry if I offend somebody: Elizabeth Warren. [...] A lot of this has to do with an attack on Affirmative Action. Once we have Affirmative Action, […] you then have angry white folks [...] who feel that people of color are taking jobs. [...] Once [Dolezal] passed herself as black, she's a light-skinned sister, and she now has the ‘light-skin privilege’.

PRICE: This is nothing new. There's a pathology here, and I think it's a very prominent pathology [...] where you do have white privilege, and you do have the sense of white guilt, and you have a number of people who choose to disassociate [with white culture]. During the 1980s we had a term called 'wigger.' [...] Most African American department studies you have white professors that are authorities on African Americans and African American culture [...] Her biggest challenge was that she ran for the presidency of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington. She's only been president — well, now she resigned — she's only been president for six months.

MONROE: [That’s] white privilege: pawning it off as if they understand the black experience. [...] She could've used her white privilege [...] to combat the kind of hate crime she was talking about, but she decided she was going to be Sister Shaniqua.

It's time for Pope Watch. This week a leaked version of what is thought to be Pope Francis' encyclical — a document dealing with Catholic doctrine — appeared to take a strong stance on global warming. Do you hope this notion will be reflected in the final document?

MONROE: I certainly do. I really do because I think that it will open him up to understand [how global warming affects the world's poor]. This might be an open door. I keep hope alive.

PRICE: Absolutely. There is no 'if.'

MONROE: He's doing what he's supposed to do.

PRICE: This is historic.

>> The Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Bay Windows and the Huffington Post. The Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author of The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture. You can hear them every Monday at 1 PM on Boston Public Radio.


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