Still Marching

There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)
There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)”

I have heard many people (of all cultures) ask the rhetorical question, “Why do we need to celebrate Civil Rights history?  Racism is dead.  To commemorate something ancient is so passe!”  This weekend, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the landmark Civil Rights marches through the city of Selma, AL.

Back in those times, the Jim Crow laws reigned supreme.  In the state of Alabama, separate facilities ruled the landscape.  Separate-but-equal was the law of the land (thank you Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896).  However, almost 70 years later, people all across the country were having enough of the unfair legal treatment of different cultures.  Demonstrations began earlier in the decade (March on Washington, 1963, is one example), and law enforcement opposition came back hard, fast and strong.  Still, the push for a better society remained as efforts to step up the protests continued.

These particular set of marches, which was famously led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spearheaded a public demonstration in pressuring Washington, DC to pass what was later to become the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  There were three marches that traipsed down Route 80 for 50 miles and it served as a non-violent counterattack on the status quo.  All of this was to stop an insidious plan to stifle Black voting via a ‘literacy test’.

These government-sanctioned ‘documents’ were enforced to limit the impact of the Black vote in Southern (and some Western) states in America.  These literacy tests (to determine if you are able to vote) would ask off-topic questions such as, “Which is one of the duties of the United States Internal Revenue Service?”  Questions, like these, posed to would-be voters denied Blacks the freedom already given to them roughly 100 years earlier.

This is the reason for the Selma-to-Montgomery, AL marches in March, 1965.

A landmark used to commemorate the march is the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  The history of the man is as follows:

  • He was a general in the Confederate Army.
  • He was a US Senator for ten years (1897-1907).
  • He was a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

The city of Selma decided to name a bridge in this man’s honor.  You can’t miss it – for the structure has, “EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE” stenciled in black ink over the light gray bridge arch.  From 1965 to today – his name is forever linked to the set of ideals of a people he wanted to kill simply because of how they looked.  Every time I think of this part of the Selma march story, I smile at the poetic justice in the details.  There have been people who have said, “Change the name!”  However, the bridge remains the same name because it represents the Biblical understanding that, “What you meant for bad, God meant for good … (Genesis 50:20).”  It serves as a powerful image of how racism is such a cancer which needs to be erased from the lexicon of the world.  What better than to have a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon’s bridge become one of the flash points that is now called the Civil Rights Movement?

This weekend was the 50th anniversary celebration of the event.  Many of the big political names (beginning with President Barack Obama) attended the demonstration celebration.  For me, it was a proud moment.  To see how far we’ve come – to where we are now – speak volumes to those who fought, demonstrated and protested for me to not live in such a time.

However, this weekend, I was hit with the sobering reminder that we have to march some more.   On the campus of Oklahoma University, in Norman, OK, the university chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity had a campus party/event.  On the bus leading to their event, these 18-22-year-old White men (and some White women) were gleefully chanting a very hurtful refrain that many Black people have heard all of their lives.  I’m not even shocked.  I’m not even angry.  I’m more resolute than ever to know that our battle with racism still needs to be waged and ultimately won.

I am actually sorry to see their charter pulled because of this.  I understand the reasoning of Oklahoma University kicking them out of the frat house.  I even understand SAE stripping them of their membership.  There is a part of me that would have loved to see them explain their actions in front of those who struggled for their freedom.  With the knowledge of, quite possibly, their parents or grandparents fighting for the right so that all men and women can be free – why would they spew such rhetorical poison?

So – for those who ask the question, “There’s no need for Civil Rights history.  Why do you still celebrate it?”  We celebrate these achievements – so that we won’t ever forget the beauty of the human spirit rising up against hate, bigotry and animosity.  Our ancestors had the strength to withstand such abuse and continued onward.  They didn’t act out of character.  They didn’t lose their tempers (for the most part).  They stood their ground and tapped into the well of constant peace that dwells within them to this day.  Their class is always remarkable to me.

This is why the following video is so shameful.  “Racism is so 1965!”  No, it isn’t.  Unfortunately – racism is still so 2015.  Ask the former members of the Oklahoma University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.  Some folks still believe in lynching and hanging.  *smh*  Until sentiments like these stop – we all must still march until freedom forever reigns.

There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)
There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)
You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me
There will never be a n***** in SAE (clap – clap)”

———-

Cole Johnson

Facebook || Instagram || Pinterest || Publisher || Publisher Facebook || Twitter || Website || YouTube

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

White Love

In these days and times, I still shake my head at the unbelievable events of today. I still have a hard time reconciling how we, as a people, get caught up in gravitating toward someone simply because their skin color resembles ours – and peel away from what looks unfamiliar. The beauty of life is to try different things – and that definitely goes for people all over this world.

It is easy to get swept into the maelstrom of chaos that is the nasty history of racism. In fact, today I read an article written by hip-hop artist, and 1/3 of The Fugees – Wyclef Jean – and he talked about seeing the word, “Nigger,” plastered on a club wall. Well, you’re probably saying, “That’s not such a big deal. It’s foul, definitely – but there are some bigots, here, who would pull such foolishness.” True – except this club was in Germany. So it stands to reason that hate looks similar (and depressingly familiar) all over the world. You see this type of stuff and you want to feed into the anger that dwells inside you. You feel necessary to, as Public Emeny said once before, “Fight The Power,” and lay waste to those who don’t subscribe to what you believe. You get dragged into The Hate Soup before long – and there is no way out of it.

Your perception changes. You look at those who didn’t go through your struggle (both personally and historically) and think, “You’re lucky you didn’t suffer such indignities.” Go on! Say it – because, in my youth, I said those same things. I believed those thoughts. I even heard members of my family talk about distrust of other cultures (and they still believe in the same mistrust today). Yet, it takes them nowhere. It took me nowhere, as well – except to experience more pain, more heartache and more turmoil.

When I was younger, I received two different schools of thought: 1. White people cannot be trusted, at all. 2. You are a human being – just like everyone else. The second school of thought still stays with me to this day. The first school of thought, on the other hand, I had to challenge. Growing up in the ghetto, the only time I saw Caucasians were on TV screens and in movie theaters. I didn’t get a true taste of what it’s like to blend with other cultures until I was nine years of age.

Fast-forward seven years – and most of my closest friends were either White or Jewish. In my older youth, the differences were noticed – but it was made for fodder. It was considered something that was an old school problem. I didn’t know that Driving/Walking While Black was something real until then – and I got a front row seat for said understanding.

It was difficult to talk about these things to my Caucasian friends because they couldn’t fully relate to the atrocity. They couldn’t wrap their brain around the fact that – just because my skin was a darker pigmentation – I was a target for mayhem by law enforcement. They couldn’t grasp that I would be standing on the corner ready to cross the street – and a car, just looking at me, all of a sudden locks their car doors before speeding away. They couldn’t see past my boarding an elevator in a professional building (as I am dressed in a suit) and Caucasian women clutching their purse in clear view of you.

It was difficult talking to them about this – because they never went through such issues.

All of these things have happened to me – yet, I am still a blessed man. I’m still alive! Many would have these same situations as I have – and would have died as a result. Yet, it still was painful (going through these latest rounds of race and injustice) to see both sides of an issue – but not blindly accept what I am being served. Many of my culture (and many from different cultures non-Caucasian) can relate to being profiled and disrespected because of skin color.

However, the reason why I am writing this is because I have finally had the pleasure of being around Caucasians who may not be able to relate – but they support my railing against the atrocities I’ve seen in my life. In fact, one of my Ivory sisters wrote that she couldn’t possibly understand how racism affects a person like me, but it also hurts her so much, She went onward to say that she could somewhat relate to the indignity and prays for love to be the ultimate answer. I said to her, “I am going to need someone like you to remind me of the beauty in this world. Because, in this fight, I have to be a solider fighting for the right cause.” She replied to me: “Fight, soldier!” Very powerful statement!

Then – I have an Ivory brother who asked me really good, solid, probing questions wanting to get to the root as to why someone of my culture may feel slighted in certain situations and arenas. I still can’t thank him enough. He asked those questions with the understanding that I could have said, “You aren’t going to relate. What do you care? You’re not Black!” Instead, I was so honored to open the door to brotherhood even further than before with him.

It’s not that I seek people to understand exactly what I’ve endured as a person – or what my culture has suffered as a people. However, I am asking for other cultures to look at us as human beings (as I learned when I was young) and not as products, athletes, rappers or thugs. Not all of us want to burn down businesses. Not all of us want to challenge law-abiding authority as rebels would. Not all of us have a hunger or thirst to be lawbreakers. In fact, most of us want peace. Most of us want to start businesses. Most of us love authority – because our houses had the structure as a foundation that spoke to order when the outside world taught, and made love with, anarchy.

To those in my culture, I tell you this: There are Caucasians out here who legtimately love you for who you are. They legitimately believe that Black is beautiful. I just gave you two examples, here. I can give you even more than that. I am proud to have friends who I consider brothers and sisters – and they are Caucasian. I do regard them as brothers from another mother or sisters from another mister – and they think of me the same, in kind. Their heart is to love the creation that God made in you. They want to celebrate your power and royalty – not destroy it. They want to build prosperity with you.

To those who are Caucasians, I’ll say this to you: Your perspective is needed. I still marvel at how you see the world. There is a vast openness to all things being possible that exists in your gaze. There, also, is the fact that you only want to love and be loved. There are those, like me, who see you as beautiful human beings. It’s the same for law enforcement: Just because there are a few bad apples in the collective – it doesn’t mean the whole bunch is spoiled because of it. It just means the same thing as in my culture: Everybody has that one horrible exception to the rule in their otherwise loving family.

I am glad, though, I have seen so many in the Caucasian culture who love, and want to fight, alongside, me. Thank you for showing me that the dream Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. mentioned more than 50 years ago is embodied in each and every one of you. I love you – for who God created you to be – and am honored to be your brother.

Posted in Culture, Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

It was drilled into our heads during government back in high school. I think you know the phrase I’m about to say …

In the court of law, you are “innocent until proven guilty.”

That is a cut-and-dried statement, right? So, if that is the case – then why is it the opposite everywhere else in our society?

Take one Dr. Bill Cosby for instance. His title is not honorary for he graduated in 1976 from the Univeristy of Massachusetts with a doctorate in education. He has been considered the father most of us didn’t have when his television sitcom The Cosby Show was the #1 rated program on television for five years running (thus saving the fortunes of the NBC network). He was the man who wore ugly Christmas sweaters on his show almost every week. He was the man who was self-effacing, humorous, well-respected, well-loved and intelligent – along with being entertaining and wholesome for entire families.

This is the same man who starred in the 1960s television series I Spy alongside Robert Culp – breaking down erroneous stereotypes of African-Americans being unable to carry a leading role on-screen. This is the same man whose stand-up routine was rather conversational. He would just as soon sit in a chair and talk about life – and have you laugh at certain observations he made – rather than set you up with punchline after punchline. This is the same man who, after earning his doctorate, continued to pour into many universities all across the country – starting with his undergraduate alma mater, Temple University. This is the same man who also is a jazz enthusiast and a percussionist (playing bongos in the 1975 O’Jays hit “I Love Music”). He also introduced us to Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, as well as being an effective pitch man for Jello and Coca-Cola. This is also the same man who has suffered a tremendous tragedy in losing his only son, Ennis, to a random murderer in 1997.

Needless to say – Bill Cosby was a fixture in our homes for over four decades.

Unfortunately – also, this is the same man who has been alleged to have been sexually innapropriate in (to date) 27 different situations with women. These women claimed they were drugged, promised fame, privately auditioning for roles, and inappropriately fondled by the father of four daughters. Many also have gone forward and proclaimed to the media that Dr. Cosby raped them, as well. The allegations go so far as to indicate his being improperly sexual to a 15-year-old in 1974! Except for one case (where it was ruled ‘insufficient evidence’), none of these allegations have seen the light of day in any court of law.

There is some precedence set in sexual inpropriety. In 1997, Dr. Cosby testified in court that he had an affair with one Shawn Upshawin the 1970s. Because he didn’t want the affair to go public, he paid Upshaw $100,000 to keep quiet. The case took a biazarre turn when Upshaw said that Cosby was the father of a daughter (Autumn Jackson). Jackson later served a 26-month sentence for extortion.

I think of him in the same way I would regard my father. After all – both men are the same exact age, and I constantly think this thought: “If that were Dad, how would I react to all of these allegations heaped upon him?” Just like my father, Dr. Cosby served in the US Navy. Just like my father, Dr. Cosby has had scathing commentary in regards to my own culture. Just like my father, Dr. Cosby showed concern about many different people in all cultures. I would look at my father, if he were to have endured such a horror, and say, “Wow. Why would people want to literally denegrate my father’s character like this? It must stop!

Enter Dr. Cosby’s wife of 50 years, Camille, and his youngest daughter, Evin. Both women have staunchly supported Dr. Cosby in the face of these horrible allegations. Evin went so far as to say that a person raping another individual should deserve punishment – but so should those who falsely accuse someone of raping them, as well. Mrs. Cosby said, flat out, “Who really is the victim?” She continued onward to say that the man, who is being accused of raping and drugging women, is not the man she has known for over 50 years.

So, apparently, there is a huge discrepancy, here.

The cynic in many of us would say, “That’s easy to explain. He could be one man at home – and another man away from home.” Maybe. I tend to disagree with that notion, though. My gripe would be the following: Why hasn’t any of these women (save one) gone to court? Mind you – there have been allegations thrown in Dr. Cosby’s direction from a woman saying she was raped by him in 1969! The cynic in us would also say, “This is a powerful man! He couldn’t possibly be touched!” I totally disagree with that notion. If Dr. Cosby was egregiously inappropriate four decades ago – he would have been arrested, tried and thrown under the jail. Many of these women are Caucasian – and if these incidents actually happened in the 1970s, it would have been a more open-and-shut case. Dr. Cosby would have had a career similar to that of Katt Williams – talented, but troubled.

The issue I see, here, is that all these allegations are coming to light. Yet, none of them have advanced to the court stage. Let’s make it completely understood: NO MAN should physically be injurious to a woman (as evidenced with Ray Rice this past February). A man’s strength is built to protect, provide and secure a woman – not intimidate her. If these allegations are true, then this is extremely sickening. It would be horrifying to see a man portray being a model for how fathers should be with children – while slipping women the mickey in cappucino mugs!

What is unfortunate is that institutions, like Atlanta’s Spelman College, is suspending endownments set up by Dr. Cosby. In light of these allegations, Dr. Cosby volunarily stepped down from Temple University board of trustees, as well. He has had talk show appearances, new sitcoms and possible new network ventures all pulled … and it’s because of the rule public opinion ascribes to practicing.

So, let’s be completely honest with ourselves. It might be some conspiracy that these allegations are piling onto Dr. Cosby. They actually may be true. In any case – one thing is clear (and it is unfair to anyone who has to defend themselves): Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr. is guilty of all of these sexual allegations … until proven innocent.

Posted in Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s All About Empathy

4.5 hours.

That is almost the distance it takes to drive from Houston to New Orleans. It is the length of time it will take to drive from Nashville to Lexington, KY or Nashville to Columbus, GA.

Hands up! Don’t shoot!

We can all talk tough about what would happen when we hear the clicking of a gun’s hammer. We can be big, bad and bold when we stare down the barrel of a weapon all we want. I can tell you – at 15 – fear coursed through my veins as readily as my grandmother’s gumbo would gleefully travel down my esophagus when I saw two police officers point guns at me. My hands were raised, and I silently prayed they wouldn’t shoot.

I can’t breathe.

It is inexcusable for anybody (police officer or not) to choke another person to their death. The question just begs to be asked: “Where is the humanity?” It raises the level of disgust to the point where you don’t want to swallow the crap sandwich served to you by this world.

The wonderful accessory of the hoodie.

Before a crisp mid-winter day one year, it was an outfit worn to protect our head from either the cold, the rain or the snow. Because of a child walking home brandishing an Arizona icea tea and a bag of Skittles as his weapon of choice, the hoodie has become the recognized symbol for thuggish behavior.

I love music – sometimes loud music.

Yet, it was OK for a man to take a weapon, walk up to another child and murder him all because he wouldn’t turn down the volume to his music in his very own vehicle. Even though the murderer was brought to justice, we have other incidents similar to this where the culprits roam free.

He was having fun with a BB gun.

But he looked like an adult to the officers who arrived on the scene. Here’s this person brandishing a weapon. They didn’t have a clue if it was real or not. The police had no other alternative but to protect the interest of the general public at large and end this life before this bad element roamed away to cause damage to others.

The worst part of all these stories is that we can’t turn back the clock and revive all lives back to existence. The loss is still great – and it hurts to the core.

Let’s look at it from those who see things from a callous point of view, shall we?

People talk ill about Michael Brown because he was a thug who stole cigarillos. Then, he was a ‘demon’ and a ‘Hulk Hogan figure’ who was set to wrest a weapon away from the officer who murdered him. It was only right to have Officer Darren Wilson put a bullet (or at least six) in an 18-year-old ‘criminal’.

He had it coming.

NYPD was ready to defend their fellow members’ actions regarding Eric Garner and justifying his death. After all, he had an extensive record of selling ‘loose cigarettes’ and resisted arrest at the time of his homicide. All he had to do was quit bickering, shut his mouth, turn around and get in position for an arrest. Nevermind his actually stopping a fight before this incident happened.

He had it coming.

Here was a 17-year-old who was walking home from the convenience store minding his business (or was he?). Here is this neighborhood watchman who saved the day by protecting his sector from heinous behavior. I mean – come on! What business did a Black boy have walking home at night – with a hoodie? I’m sure that, in a large body of people, Geroge Zimmerman would have done like NBA owner Mark Cuban said he would do if he saw a Black person wearing a hoodie – and walk to the other side of the street. Rightfully so! This ‘punk kid’ was foul in language, smoked a little weed, and had photos where he flipped the bird. Then, he struggled with this man and was physically getting the better of Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin needed to go. This was a no brainer!

He had it coming.

I know there are many who feel that all you need to do in order to forever control the volume to the music in someone’s car would be to forever silence one of the culprits. Just one round strategically placed would do the trick. It should be outlawed to bang loud music in a neighborhood.

He had it coming.

Why would a parent arm a child with a gun? It makes no sense. Violence has already been taught in that home – and he had to severely pay the price for perpetrating a villainous element. We have to stop these real-life Nino Browns in this world (of New Jack City fame) before they even start.

He had it coming!

What type of BS is this?! These are human beings! Their skin color doesn’t matter in the spiritual grand scheme of things. There are human lives needlessly dying, here! The fact all of these men so happen to be African-American or Black only adds to the blood-stained paint, plasma-coated canvas of this country’s nasty history of racism. Just recently, I was watching a Spider-Man movie with my wife. Jamie Foxx played the villain, Electro. There was a scene where Foxx was stading in the middle of Times Square causing havoc. About maybe 30 seconds passed when roughly ten squad cars surrounded the Foxx character.

My wife: “Seeing that many squad cars converge so fast at a certain location would only happen to a Black man.”

Let’s face facts, here: There are many people in this country who think that just because you are Black or Brown or Red or Yellow or female or White and economically disadvantaged – that you have the gravest of misfortune due to you. It is due simply because you’re BREATHING! This ridiculous force of evil exists in our country, ladies and gentlemen – and it’s time we stop sweeping the garbage under all our collective rugs.

We can propose tougher legislation on cops. We can beg for cameras to be placed on all law enforcement. We can be cop killers (like Ice-T’s band Body Count suggested). Understand, though, that every one of these solutions won’t do jack to solve the problem. Tougher legislation have been placed on cops. Yet, the ones who are the rotten apples still find ways around the system. We have already seen video footage of a homicide right in front of our eyes. Yet, the officer who committed the murder won’t be indicted … oh, and as for the person who shot the footage? He will be put on trial. Now – the only thing killing cops will do is bring about a war the regular citizen will ALWAYS lose before it starts. Plus, innocent lives will perish because of such vile reactionary tactics.

We hear voting (only) works. It doesn’t. Why? Because we are consistently voting for the devil we know vs. the devil we don’t. How about we don’t vote for devils – period? How about we actually hold candidates’ feet to the fire long BEFORE the first Tuesday of November? How about we are invested in our communities on all levels?

“That would take a heavy investment, wouldn’t it?” Why, yes it would! The biggest problem I have seen with these lives perishing literally right before our eyes is this: We don’t give a crap about anybody else but ourselves until AFTER these lives have passed away. Jesus said that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (also stated in the Ten Commandments). That means we have to be as concerned about our neighborhoods, our community, city, county, state, region, country and world.

#BlackLivesMatter? Of course, they do. I love my culture, but my love doesn’t have to stop there. #AllLivesMatter! It is not a cop-out. It is exactly the standard God has set for all of us to follow. Anything short of that … means we see more Emmitt Till’s – more Medgar Evers’ – more of today’s victims of horrible deaths – because we don’t take the time to be emphathetic toward other people … outside of ourselves.

Posted in Culture, Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Division: The Name of the Game

We are witnessing all these atrocities. We are seeing ills performed on those who are citizens. We are being subjected to small droplets of power abuse. We are acknowledging that ‘no indictment’ is some new code for modern justice being served.

But is justice – at all – truly served?

I want to take it to the more personal realm. There are cultural divides which color each of our perspectives. Many Caucasian Americans (from my vantage point) see a lot of these latest episodes of law enforcement gaffes as hiccups in the grand scheme of things. I will not say all of them – because I have talked with many who deeply emphathize with the injustice on display. Many in the African-American culture see this as a return to the days where the law had complete autonomy without repercussions. As we have heard with Charles Barkley in recent days – I, again, will not say all of us feel the exact same way.

To ascertain a solid understanding of a thing, one must know its root. After all, Solomon did write in the Book of Proverbs, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Justice is a noun meaning ‘the condition of being morally correct or fair’. Is it safe to assume that in many of these cases, which completed grand jury hearings, justice wasn’t fully served going by the definition? Is it morally correct or fair to take another person’s life – especially if they are unarmed?

In many of these instances – especially during the last two years – the answer is, “Yes.”

I understand that the view is unpopular, but I have come to terms with it. My three greatest role models (Jesus, Paul, MLK) were not unanimously supported. I have personally tasted the sting of having a diametrically opposed viewpoint from a long-time friend of mine in discussing these issues. However, it won’t stop me from loving a person for who they are. I will still not submit to the bitterness of choosing a friend based on what they look like.

As I told said friend, “I don’t care what color the law enforcement officer’s skin happens to be. It is about not correctly doing one’s job.” One man gets to tell his account of the fatal incident – while the other man (or boy, in many instances) remains forever silent, because he is dead by the original man’s hands. See: Jordan Davis. See: Dillion Taylor. See: Tamir Rice. See: Michael Brown. See: Eric Garner. See: Trayvon Martin. The wrost tragedy of all is that we won’t ever hear the full story because the aforementioned lives were prematurely eviscerated.

What is there to understand? Imagine being an African-American boy/girl, and you hear stories of how police will harass you (if you’re lucky), or shoot first and ask questions later. Then, it becomes real when it happens to your brother, your uncle, your cousin … or you. You then realize that stories of Medgar Evers and Emmitt Till leap from the pages of history books right into your own living room. The blood they spilled is now your blood. The anguish they felt is now your anguish. The injustice they tasted is the same injustice others are now forcing you to swallow.

Do you see how unfair it is to just say, “This shouldn’t concern you?” Yes, it should concern me! It should concern you, too.

Now, am I sitting here and saying that all of these incidents are racially motivated? No. It is an injustice problem, however. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said during a 1965 ‘Meet The Press’ interview, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” With a lot of the African-American community, we are seeing history repeating itself. That can be scary, maddening and off-putting all at the same time. Because of these ‘no indictment’ rulings, we are seeing justice being delayed and denied.

Am I also sitting here and saying that all police are bad? Of course not! In fact, two of my closest Brothers in the Truth are in law enforcement, and I pray for them every day. I can vouch for their character to be upstanding and outstanding. I know their hearts are in pain because these officers have families, as well. They don’t want their families to receive that dreaded knock on the door saying their son/brother/husband/father is deceased in the line of duty. Their hearts hurt because the Rice, Brown, Gardner, Martin, Davis and Taylor families have to find a way to heal and move forward without their loved ones.

My biggest takeaway from this is simple: I’m seeing #blacklivesmatter (and they do). I’m hearing people saying that police is getting away with murder – and nothing is being done about it. I’m noticing a hardcore movement to quell race conversations. I’m witnessing people that don’t care – and they still want to burn things down.

I am also understanding that the freedom of speech/expression part of the Constitution’s First Amendment is being openly challenge for the first time in a while. It goes back to an album title by hip-hop artist/actor Ice-T, who named his 1990 LP ‘Freedom of Speech … Just Watch What You Say.’ (Yes – this is the same Ice-T who made a song with his hip-hop/metal group Body Count entitled “Cop Killer.” This is the same Ice-T who now stars as a police officer in the long-running television series, Law and Order.) There is some truth to this narrative – unfortunately.

All of these things point to one action: Division. A Civil Rights chant (that has been recently re-introduced) is, “The people united will never be defeated!” These scenarios have been placed to divide us by culture, by age demographic, by political affiliation – and by good and evil. The quicker we take the ‘k’ out of skin, the sooner we will get to the root of the problem. Principalities in high places are testing our resolve to rise above hating someone based on look or history.

In other words: It is a sin problem we are facing – not a skin problem.

Jesus, Himself, said, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.” Take a look around you, everybody. Are you willing to stop our house from becoming burned and charred debris today?

Posted in Culture, Human Rights, Police, Politics | Leave a comment

People Hate People

“Daddy? Do the police hate Black people?”

I could dismiss this question if it came from an adult. I can somewhat dismiss the question if it came from a teenager. A nine-year-old asking that question, on the other hand, takes this inquisition to a much deeper level. None of us can dismiss this question coming from the mouths of babes.

Let’s dig into why an African American child would ask this question:

If he were to see an 18-year-old walking down the street only to begin bleeding in the middle of the thoroughfare for the next four-and-a-half hours – I can understand the question.

If he were to see a grown African-American man asking questions to a police officer only to be on the reciving end of a banned cho0kehold to his death – I can understand the question.

If he were to see a 12-year-old having fun with a BB gun only to have an officer open fire and kill him – I can understand the question.

I remember thinking the same thing, myself, but on a greater scale. I was born five years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. My childhood mind trapsed back to all the wonderful things for which this justice fighter stood. Most of all, I thought about how he was bold enough to put God first in everything he discussed. Yet, he was gone from this world before I could see this powerful figure in my lifetime. I remember silently asking that same question when I became older – only it was laced with the lack of protection with those of my culture.

At 15, I asked the same question to my father: “Do police hate Black people?”

Then, I think about Trayvon Martin. For those who don’t know about him, he was a 17-year-old hoodie-wearing Africian American male walking home in the evening from the convenience store when a self-appointed neighborhood watchman, Geroge Zimmerman, arranged a fatal meeting between the two. Martin was dead from being shot. Zimmerman went to trial, but was exonerated on all charges.

Darren Wilson, the killer of Michael Brown, didn’t go to trial. As the grand jury proceedings went – there was conflicting evidence and mountains of evidence to support Wilson’s defense. He received no indictment.

The same with the p[olice officer who killed Eric Garner. In this case, the mountain of evidence was shown in the video capturing the vicious illegal choking. Yet, not only did he receive no indictment, the person who filmed the homicide IS going to trial!

So the quesiton is asked, “Do police hate Black people?” The answer is, “Yes, and no. The correct answer is that many people on this planet hate ALL other individuals!”

Why do I say that? It’s quite simple. Edmund Burke was once quoted as saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Now, I can bore you with my own personal details of police harrassment. However, it is time we dig far deeper than the skin as we get to the root of the problem. It is easy to say a certain entity is bad/corrupt/crooked. However, why is it that they are bad/corrupt/crooked? Let’s look at many of these murders where exoneration has been awarded to the killers of these individuals: What was our weapon of choice? A one-month protest (if that), some vitreol about the ills of society rearing its ugly head once again – and then, back to business as usual for all of us. If it’s not affecting our own doorstep, then it’s somebody else problem.

Why do you think the Kermit the Frog sipping tea meme is so popular? “Name the bad behavior at the top of the picture,” with, “… but that ain’t none of my business,” at the bottom of it.

Wake up, everybody! Seeing stony-hearted individuals act an absolute fool in this society is ALL OF OUR BUSINESS!!!

Put down your tea, and pick up a megaphone/pen/cause! We are failing our children – let alone our brother/sister. I know that is a bold statement, but it’s true. How many times have you heard the phrase, “American’s morale is decreasing by the moment?” How many times have you said it? I know those words have come out of my mouth on many occasions – and now I’m addressing it.

We leave the power of all these issues (police brutality included) in the hands of the politician. I have heard many of them say that the power lies in your own hands. It does. We should teach our children to respect authority because, as Paul wrote in Romans chapter 13 of the Bible – it is what we all should do. The chapter begins, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Yet, respect for them has completely waned.

Am I saying that we should blindly accept what the police do to us? Of course not! The Lord is not saying that evil concept, either. God talks about auhority, but he also addresses injustice, too – as Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent — the Lord detests them both.”

We are to overcome all of these evil things we see with good. That is the only way we can drive out the hate we have witnessed over many centuries. Jesus is what would put an end to institutional division. Most importantly, it is what we are destined to do under the power of God.

“Do police hate Black people?” Some do – and others don’t. All police are people, and it is a heart of stone issue with many of them – not a systemic breakdown.

Posted in Culture, Human Rights, Police | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Open Letter to My Country

I have been thinking back to the last time the United States citizens publicly fought against each other. I have been trying to piece together all of the latest calamity we have witnessed. I still am wondering, “When will the madness stop?”

Tamir Rice – age 12.
Jordan Davis – age 17.
Trayvon Martin – age 17.
Eric Gardner – age 43.
Dillon Taylor – age 20.

The above names I’ve mentioned have been murdered in some shape, form or fashion. Most of them have been at the hands of the ones who help protect and serve our communities.

Oh, and not all the above names listed are Black, either.

It harkens back to a time not so long ago when a teenager (14) was dragged to his death all because a Black boy talked to a White girl in Mississippi. The narrative seems to follow the same pathological line. “He’s dead? Oh, there has to be a reason. He smoked weed? He was demonic? He talked back? He had the nerve to stand up for himself? Oh – then he deserved it.”

What frustrates me about this whole scenario is that nobody deserves to be murdered! Nobody deserves to have their son killed because he looked suspicious. Nobody deserves to have their son killed because he was ‘demonic’. Nobody deserves to have their son/father/brother killed because he was having a conversation.

Yet all of each of these scenarios are justified!

What makes my heart sink is the divide I’m witnessing up close and personal. Take the Michael Brown/Darren Willson fiasco, for example. The battle lines have been drawn. This is how it looks from the naked eye: If you were for Darren Wilson not being indicted, then you are White and Republican (and justice is served). After all, you are for truth, justice and the American way. If anyone were to challenge authority in any way, shape form or fashion, the aggressor deserves to die. That is their ‘justice’. If you were for a Darren Wilson trial – as well as protesting the Michael Brown killing – then you are Black and Democrat. This must mean that you are a thug. You would bump, “F*** The Police” by NWA and be well within your right. You do the ‘hands up’ gesture and need to be humbled. You also have to ‘fight the power’ by burning your own community to nothing more than rubble and debris. After all, this is their ‘justice’.

Where do I stand on this? It’s quite simple: Two of my closest friends happen to be in law enforcement, and I pray for them every day that they return to their homes safe and sound. However, it doesn’t diminish the nasty taste in my mouth for incidents in which I ‘fit the description’ to a White cop as I was wearing brown loafers, khaki pants, a white button-down long sleeved shirt tucked into my pants (with a belt) and a tie. It doesn’t diminsih the fact that, at another time, I stared down the barrel of two guns held by undercover cops (and neither one of them were White). However, I can live to tell about these things because the grace of God propelled me to be protected.

Do I understand the anger that many of these cases engender? Of course, I do! There is a system where abuse of power is evident. We are to respect authority as Romans chapter 13 in the Bible attests. However, as the Lord said to the prophet Isaiah:

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Many, not all, in these United States do not care to defend said oppressed. They don’t want to take up the cause of fatherlessness for this system, ever since slavery, has been built to create orphans out of the young. They don’t want to plead the case for the widow – for many are happy to see the woman cry for her earthly pillar being taken away from her. As for justice: It truly is a double-edged sword – and rather self-serving.

In my experience these past few months, I have witnessed the obstinate stances both sides are taking. The Wilson defense side is satisfied justice was served. The facts and mountains of evidence proved Wilson’s innocence. The Michael Brown sympathy side states that a body bled for 4.5 hours on a hot summer St. Louis suburb street after being shot at least six times. No justice was served, and we are sick and tired of being treated as second-class citizens! If our own neighborhoods have to be destroyed in order to be heard, then so be it.

A note on the Wilson defense side: In a grand jury hearing, it doesn’t have to be a unanimous vote for a case to go to trial. All the defense team has to do is persuade four members of the jury to side with them – and no indictment will be made. Case in point: People, today, still villify Major League Baseball’s home run king, Barry Bonds, of purgery in front of a grand jury. The grand jury hearing was tried – and no indictment was made on Bonds. Yet, today, people still find him guilty in the court of public opinion.

A note on the Michael Brown sympathy side: When I was 21, I dealt with being turned away from job after job, girlfriend after girlfriend by destroying my own room. Everything (my TV, my bed, my desk, and one of the doors in my room) was reduced to wooden bits. I was justified in my anger. I wasn’t being heard. I didn’t get what I deserved. But guess who had to clean up their own mess, with no bed on which to sleep, no TV in which to watch and a door to repair? I did. Think about that scenario when you feel rioting is the appropriate answer.

Yet – neither side wants to hear the other. Neither side cares about the other. Both sides want to deal with the other on their own terms.

Both sides are wrong!

This war is not Republican vs. Democrat. It is not Black vs. White. It is not police vs. citizen. The war is much greater than that. It is good vs. evil/love vs. hate. This world operates in our being seperate. It celebrates our being bitter. It rejoices in our misfourtune. Many of you have heard the term, “Divide and conquer.” That is true. We are much weaker when we are by ourselves. That’s why the Lord encourages us to meet with one another. There are strength in numbers – and more importantly, there is the greatest strength: Love.

To my younger brothers, my younger cousins, my nephew and my future sons – your lives do matter. No matter what anyone tells you – there is signficance in your existence. People will be influenced by your witness. Cultures will be emboldened by your strength.

For this country I love, please say these words with me:

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

It’s time for us to stop paying lip service to healing our land. Let’s be about the business of showing the rest of the world what love truly looks like. God created us all – and we got to love what the Lord created. That means we are commanded to love each other.

Posted in Culture, Human Rights | Leave a comment