Bad Apples

My emotions are raw. I’ll admit this first.

It doesn’t really matter to me what preceded Jacob Blake being shot 7 times in the back.

It just doesn’t.

I’m also not sorry if that doesn’t fit your narrative.

Perhaps Jacob Blake shouldn’t have walked away from the police. I would always advise listening to a police officer and doing what they say to do. Not complying though, shouldn’t lead to executions in the street.

I don’t know what was said between Jacob Blake and the police officers, and I’m not sure how many people do. I don’t know why guns were drawn in the first place. What I do know is that Jacob Blake was shot seven times at point-blank range.

Literally, the officer had his hand on Jacob Blake’s shirt when he fired his first shots.

In front of his children.

If this is just the act of a “few bad apples”, why does this keep happening? Why are so many willing to jump to that bad apple’s defense over the man lying in a hospital bed with a severed spinal cord facing the potential of never walking again?

Why can’t we remove the bad apples from the bunch?

It’s always interesting to me to see supposedly pro-life individuals defending the use of guns to kill other people. It doesn’t compute.

As far as athletes boycotting games – I support them. Mostly because it is their right to do so. If peacefully kneeling doesn’t create the necessary changes, then other options must be considered.

As a diehard sports fan, with the NBA being my favorite league, I’ll say this: if you feel inconvenienced by players not playing their games, maybe it’s time to re-think your priorities.

If you wish you could watch them play because they provide a nice distraction for you, that’s precisely the point.
Now is not the time to be entertained.

Now is not the time to be distracted.

We hear all the time that athletes should “just stick to sports”. I’m still trying to understand that in a logical, rational sense.

It’s silly. Maybe we should start telling electricians to “stick to electrical work”, or plumbers to “stick to plumbing”. Should we tell our pastors to “stick to Bible stuff”?

Who gets to decide what other people’s opinions are? Who gets to decide how someone else should use their platform?

Don’t want to be bothered? Neither do I, but I also don’t want to end up as another name with a hashtag.

This shouldn’t be about Black people vs. White people. It shouldn’t be a liberal vs. conservative argument. For me, it’s not an anti-police argument. What it is though, is a plea for all of us to work towards meaningful change in this country. Where we ALL have equal opportunities, where we ALL can move freely without fear of brutality in the back of our minds.

Jacob Blake’s mother said it best when she pleaded for all of us to “use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other”

Let’s start doing that.

in or out?

Nope.

  • If you haven’t understood what it means when you hear the phrase – Black Lives Matter – the answer is not to find your favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quote to try to shame black people into some sort of submission.
  • If you are still saying All Lives Matter, it’s not your best move to find a video of a black person reiterating your stance. If you haven’t or are unwilling to listen to opposing views on the issue, you probably aren’t qualified to be making a public stance.
  • If you get irritated when you hear Black Lives Matter because you believe all lives matter, but then seek out a Blue Lives Matter meme, that action is canceling out your supposed belief.
  • If you are pro-life and mad about police being killed on duty by people rioting but aren’t mad about black people being killed by police, are you really pro-life? Are you placing value higher on one person’s life over another? If you are, why? Like, really… ask yourself why.
  • If your argument against the Black Lives Matter movement is that white people are killed by police too… what’s your actual point? That’s literally the whole focus of this. Of course all lives matter, even white lives who have been victimized by “a few bad apples”. Police brutality against anyone is unacceptable.

Here’s the thing. It’s understandable why racism is such a hot-button issue these days. Black people have been saying it loudly for centuries -injustices to people of color (POC) are happening here in this country. Right now. It’s just that in the past, it was easier to ignore us. Now, white people have started listening… and responding. Now the mantle isn’t being carried solely by people of color. It makes some folks awfully uncomfortable.

So now, non-POC, it’s time for you to make a choice. Are you in or are you out? More bluntly, are you with us are you against us? Because if you are, it’s time for you to be an advocate for change. It’s time for you to walk with us, figuratively and literally.

Before I go further, let me emphasize something.

You can advocate any way you choose. You don’t need a megaphone. You don’t need a large audience. You don’t need a different stage. Don’t let people shame you for your choice of action. If you haven’t posted on social media, that’s fine. If you haven’t attended a protest rally, that’s okay too. All you need is your voice and a willingness to use it. The rest will come.

In our media-frenzied culture, we can usually wait a day or two and whatever storm we are facing will blow over. Normally we can just bunker down for a bit and we can survive with little resistance. It’s not the case right now. This time, people are actually mad. The storm is hovering over the United States and it’s not letting up.

So the decision becomes not about weathering the storm but about what type of response are you going to give.

If you have grown tired of your Facebook feed being filled with racial-tension related articles, ask yourself why. Of course, it would be nice to go back to a timeline filled with baby pictures and puppies. People of color would love to fast forward to a time where we aren’t facing prejudice simply for the color of our skin.

If you are searching for MLK quotes, stop. Instead, listen to his words. Spotify is a good utility for that. His speeches back in the 1960s are applicable today. You can find them on YouTube. Listen for his passion in his voice, feel it, and then apply to your own life.

Also, no, he wasn’t beloved back then. No, he wasn’t simply calling for pacification. He was calling for disruption. He wanted to grind the system to a halt. Why?

Because protests aren’t meant to be convenient. Change doesn’t happen on a schedule.

Are you in or are you out?

 

 

 

 

 

 

no more silence.

being silent really hasn’t worked.

i took another break from writing the past few months because, silly as it sounds, i felt a little too worked up to write coherently.

funny thing is, now i’m mad as hell and i can’t help but write. if you aren’t mad as hell, then maybe you should just exit this post now.

for perspective as a black man, i’ve lived in predominately white culture my entire life. honestly, i’m pretty comfortable in this culture, because it’s all i know. i’ve gotten used to the way white people live. i’ve gotten used to how white, middle class people live.

i’ve gotten used to the comments and innuendos and the “i’m not racist… but…” type jokes. i’ve gotten used to people telling me that i’m too smart to be black, that i talk really well for a black man. i’ve been called nigger while walking down the street with my white wife. i’ve gotten used to people pointing out the color of my skin like i had a band-aid on my forehead. i’ve always thought… whatever, people are just dumb and moved on with my life because i know that i’m better than that or them. i have never had time to engage in ignorance.

i can sense the tide shifting.

it’s not just that i now have an infant daughter. it’s not just that i’m devastated to have to come to terms with reality that the world she will grow up in will not be much better than the world i grew up in. although that plays a huge part in my furious anger.

it’s more than that.

it’s that being silent doesn’t work anymore.

how can i be silent when police can execute civilians out of fear and without basis? how can i be silent when a simple traffic stop turns into murder in front of a four year old girl? how can i be silent when a man’s life is taken from him while screaming that he cannot breathe?

how can i be silent when the very same fears i have had, my daughter will most likely live with too?

 here’s the problem. i see a lot of white people saying, “let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.” that’s easy and convenient to say, but that simply doesn’t work today. i’ve lived in fear of “being black in the wrong place” my entire life. because of the events we continue to witness, my daughter may feel the same fears, and that just isn’t okay.

this is not an attack on white people. what it is an attack on is the culture that allows pervasive racism to continue. it’s an attack on the culture that is outraged by the death of a gorilla and cecil the lion (which i’m upset by too as an animal lover) but turns victims of violent police murders into the criminals by broadcasting prior records as if that has much to do with the actual incident. it’s an attack on the attitudes that have developed into saying “well, they must have done something wrong” to deserve being executed in the streets.

it’s an attack on a “justice’ system that time and time again fails to recognize that these acts are crimes. these are murders. yes, we know that these are murders by “bad apples”. we know that there are good cops. i know good cops. it doesn’t, however, excuse behavior. it doesn’t change the fact that men and women die at the hands of these “bad apples” without repercussions.

it no longer is an option to remain calm and keep quiet. it no longer is an option to look the other way and hope it all settles down one day.

being silent doesn’t work anymore.

outsider.

i should probably be considered an outsider in my family. i’m different from them in so many ways.

i mean, that’s to be expected when you grow up in a very conservative family and vote for obama twice, register with the michigan democratic party and overall be fairly liberal. (though in my younger years i did vote for bush twice as well. we all make mistakes here and there.) oh and i’m black and most of my family is white. there’s that too. i should expect to be shunned right?

but that’s the beauty of this nation. we are not all the same. we can’t hide this fact. we don’t all look the same and believe the same things and that should be okay.

somehow the narrative has fallen off the rails. we’ve developed an “us vs. them” mentality.

the funny thing is, i’m probably a liberal thinker because of the values my parents instilled in me. they taught me to care for the people around me, not build walls to keep them away. though conservative, my parents are the most caring and loving two people i have ever known. still, i am very different from them in how i approach my thoughts and values. but should that separate me from them?

i worked at a church for five years (where i became a bush lover) and i heard more hate speech there than i ever have anywhere else. one of the colleges i considered going to after high school was liberty university. now their president wants to “end those Muslims”. this is just another example why i have such a difficult time identifying myself as a Christian these days. i just don’t believe this is how Jesus would approach the situation. it’s not us vs. them. at least it shouldn’t be.

we fight with each other. we fight against everyone else. we think it’s supposed to be an exclusive club and you can only get in with a special invitation. the only thing is, religion is not a country club.

we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we only want people we like and understand to be given a fair shot at life. we cannot follow a man like Jesus if we want to disturb the peaceful lives of millions of people because it serves our own fearful and selfish impulses. we certainly cannot follow a man like Jesus if we openly discuss murdering people the way the liberty university president did.

a few years ago, i wrote that the streets are on fire. that we are just sitting here fighting with each other about stupid and irrelevant things while the world around us went up in flames.

and now donald trump is trying to be president? and i read on facebook that someone i know (from the same church from earlier) would “vote for him in a heartbeat”?  the man who wants to kick out millions of peaceful, law-abiding people because of fear? and people agree with that? wow. the same man who wants to kick Mexicans out of the country and makes faulty claims about black people and crime? that guy?

we are the most violent country in the developed world when it comes to guns. we have a mass shooting nearly every day. yet there are people in this country who continue to look the other way. the NRA has these people so riled up, i’ve never seen anything like it. people cannot think straight because they have swallowed the poison pills the gun lobbyists have fed them. i’m not a hunter, but i cannot imagine the need for handguns to shoot deer and turkeys. no one is trying to take away your guns. unless you think you need military weapons to shoot pheasants.

children are getting killed in the streets, being lured into allies to be executed. the police are shooting those they have sworn to protect. companies have to update their policies on workplace violence and what to do in case of a mass shooting.

but still the crazies think there is no problem. even worse, they think the solution to the “no problem” is more guns. really.

talk about the streets being on fire.

it gets tiring. trying to fight with each other about all of this nonsense is getting us nowhere. we hate having discussions about it. we hate even more when we disagree. these days, having discussions with people we disagree with is a sign of weakness.

and honestly, some who will read this are people i love who don’t think the way i do. you might want to vote for donald trump, and while i couldn’t disagree with you more, it’s alright.

it’s alright because we are all different. but being different should not mean we continue this barrage of attacks against each other. we just need to start working harder at accepting our differences. we need to realize, that as a nation of immigrants from all over the world, different is inevitable and amazing. pushing fear towards the masses is a horrible and dysfunctional tactic.