Monthly Archives: October 2014

Michael Brown, where do we go from here?

Well here we go again.  Another white cop gets off for killing an unarmed black man.  the list is getting ridiculously long.  Last night we learned that a grand jury will not indict Darren Wilson on any charges for shooting and killing 18 year old Michael Brown.  Many are outraged, angry and disappointed but not surprised.  Just another day in the life.  Of course those defending this  act are doing what they always do,  demonizing the victim to justify what happened.  We hear that he was this 6’4 thug (Darren Wilson is 6’4 also I might add) who was stealing cigarillos (which Wilson knew nothing about when he confronted Brown) and that he attacked first and brought it on himself.  Of course the testimony of various witnesses who consistently stated that they saw Brown in the act of surrendering meant nothing in the end.  Just another black man who was killed in an act of justifiable homicide.

 

The question now is where do we go from here?  No easy answer but I will tell you now that it isn’t violence.  While the anger behind it is understandable, what is  to be gained from destroying your own neighborhoods, destroying businesses whose owners had nothing to do with what happened and giving white racists further ammunition to use  against the image of black people?  Absolutely nothing.  Michael Brown’s parents, President Obama and local community leaders have all thankfully urged calm but unfortunately that is easier said than done.  When cooler heads prevail, and they eventually will, the focus now is on what do we do that is actually constructive.  Getting more people in the community registered to vote is a start.  Juries are picked from registered voters and the more people of color to choose from the better.  It also puts the local community in more of a position to make the change that really matters, from the inside.  It often isn’t until these things happen that any significant action is taken and much of the time it is more reactive than proactive.  That has to change.

 

Another thing that has to change is better economic awareness.  there’s no need to rehash the spending habits of the black community.  What we need to do is to emphasize the importance of prioritizing, saving and investing. Many activists are calling on the black community to boycott Black Friday and while that  would have a short term impact, it would certainly be enough of an impact to get many to take notice.  Books are much more powerful in black people’s hands than Air Jordans will ever be on our feet.  Talk is cheap but money really talks.

 

And while this may not win many fans, we need to take a harder look at what is going on within our own four walls and admit to ourselves that what we’re doing simply isn’t working.  No community can make significant progress when the majority of it’s children, particularly it’s males, are raised without a positive male figure in the home.  It’s not opinion that children raised by both parents generally do better in school, stay out of trouble with the law and end up being more productive contributors to society, study after study has shown that it’s true.  Look at how too many of our young black men are coming up, ask yourself if it is successful and then ask what can we do to change it.  After the Trayvon Martin verdict, my wife and I spoke had a serious talk with our sons about racism, dealing with the police, understanding how they are viewed in society and how they should carry themselves as young black men and every parent of a black child needs to do the same.  Those are small steps for sure but  things  have to  start somewhere.

 

And remember this, Emmett Till’s lynching by a racist mob and their subsequent acquittal did not result in rioting and looting.  What happened instead?  It helped to catalyze the Civil Rights Movement.  Could recent events have the same effect?  No reason why not.

Today is a Calgon-Take-Me-Away kind of day

Do you remember Calgon? I used to think of it as an adult version of bubble bath. Back in the day, there was a commercial where the woman was shown stressed out about her day (running errands, handling the wayward kids, etc.) and then she shouts “Calgon, take me away!”. The next scene shows her relaxing in her bubble bath. Because just by shouting it, she made it happen. Raise your hand if this happens to you in real life – you just shout “Calgon, take me away!” – and instantly you’re in a soothing bubble bath. In a clean bathroom. In a clean house. With the laundry done and dinner ready. And the kids are fed, done with their homework and their afterschool activities. Go ahead, raise your hand if this is you. I’ll wait.

Yeah, I didn’t think so. But wouldn’t it be NICE? Today is a Calgon-take-me-away kind of day for me. Between dropping one child to school, attending the other’s Jr. Beta induction ceremony, doing actual work for my job, checking my schedule for the rest of today and this week, planning dinner, and a myriad number of other activities, I am feeling it today. It’s busy around here most days, but today just seems to be chock full of “do this”, “take care of that”, “don’t forget about this” moments. And some moments that aren’t planned.

Like my Dad’s alarm going off a his place of business while he’s away. It made me get up and check the locks on my door. I got a phone call from a friend about a mutual friend whose grandmother just died this morning. Sad news, and I have to make sure to call her today. I also had to call the doctor’s office because both boys had two different issues that I am not sure about and neither is their dad. We both looked at their rashes and bumps last night and said, “I don’t know, do you know?”, “Nope, I don’t know either”…and ended with “Call the doctor”. So add that to my to-do list for today. And let’s not forget the permission slip that’s due TODAY that I have to print, sign, scan, and e-mail back TODAY. Oh yeah, there are also the phone calls that need to be made to plan their outings for when they’re both off soon.

Finally there are items that need to be ordered today for some upcoming activities. One has a costume party coming up soon (for which I need to rsvp and since it’s so far away, plan to stay and help chaperone); so I need to order a couple of items for the costume that we’re going to create. Some of it will be bought (online), the rest will be create with stuff we have at home. The other child will have his entire team wear something pink to support awareness for Breast Cancer – my bright idea at the last game, so guess who will be ordering the item? Yep, me.

Whew, I’m tired just writing all of this. Calgon, take me away!

I’m waiting…

Sigh, guess I better get these tasks done first and dream about Calgon later…

Justice is done! A little perspective also please.

If you haven’t gotten the good news yet, Michael Dunn, the 47 year old angry white man who shot and killed 17 year old Jordan Davis in September 2012 over loud music he and his friends were blaring from the SUV they were driving, has been convicted of first degree murder in connection with his death.  The first trial in February of this year ended with the jury being deadlocked on the murder charge but convicting him of three counts of attempted murder which each carry up to 60 years in prison.  While some degree of justice was done in that case, the murder conviction gives a much greater sense of justice.  In this day and age when we’re hearing more and more about young black men being killed by sociopathic goons like Michael Dunn and George Zimmerman, it’s good to be reminded once in a while that yes killing black people is a crime.  As a father of two young black men, it is especially satisfying.  Now let’s see what kind of justice Michael Brown gets.

What is still disturbing goes beyond the crime itself.  The minimal value placed on black life by society as a whole is astounding in the year 2014.  Even though Trayvon Martin was unarmed and simply walking home after buying snacks when he was profiled and accosted by George Zimmerman, even after being advised not to by a police dispatcher, there are those, especially those who get their information from Fox “News” and proudly call themselves “dittoheads”, who continue to portray Martin as the criminal and Zimmerman as the victim.  As if a dead teenager could defend himself, many went to ridiculous lengths to portray him as a violent thug who asked for what he got.  Mind you, Zimmerman’s recent past before the shooting showed him to be much more of a menace to society than Martin could have ever been.  Shortly after Michael Brown’s murder, yes MURDER, the Ferguson MO police department, not to mention their cheerleading stooges on the far right, went out of their way to suggest that Brown was a strong armed thief who started the whole thing by stealing cigarillos even though it has not been concluded that he did.  The police even stated that Darren Wilson knew nothing of it when he confronted Brown.  In these, and other instances, the narrative is almost always that the perpetrator is the victim merely protecting himself against a violent black thug (the new N word).  Sounds eerily like the film “Birth Of A Nation” in which the KKK were merely protecting white women from black predators.  Imagine if Emmett Till were lynched in 2014 like he was in 1955.  He would have been portrayed as a Chicago thug who preyed on women and his murderers were simply protecting Mississippi (white) womanhood.  Am I wrong?  Put Sean Hannity in a time machine and let the rhetoric fly.

 

But enough about how white people view crimes against black people.  We already know that in the eyes of a white bigot, back on white murder is a capital offense, white on black murder is justifiable homicide no matter what and black on black murder is just n—–s killing each other.  That leads me to the cold water I’m about to throw on my fellow black American’s regarding how black like if treated.  With all of the protests against police brutality, the demands for justice and the talk show appearances by Sabrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s mother) and Lucia McBath (Jordan Davis’ mother) the fact remains that our young black men are much more likely to be murdered by one of their own than by the George Zimmermans, Michael Dunns and Derren Wilsons of society.  In many cases, it is over a silly beef or a desire for some material item.  I am aware of a number of disturbing cases where a young black man was killed either for his shoes, because he had words with a punk, over a woman or even just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Not to even mention the little children who have been caught in the crossfire of a drive by shooting.  I’m talking about Atlanta GA alone.  Our silence when these things happen is disturbingly deafening.  As far as getting too many of these prominent black “leaders” involved, don’t hold your breath.  The only time it is addressed is when we call for more gun control ad while I’m all for reasonable gun control measures, it’s people control measures that are needed the most.  It isn’t convenient or comfortable to deal with t breakdown of the black family, the negative images of black life in America that are often glorified in music and other forms of media but that’s where we have to start.

I don’t have a simple easy answer but we know that the way we do things now aren’t working.  As a father, all I can do is learn from what isn’t being done right and to try to raise my sons to be the best black men they can be.  It’s unfortunate that they have to know about America’s racist present as well as it’s past but it’s even sadder that they have to know that every brother is not a brother.  Like they say though, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I see two strong black men in the future.