So much violence. So much anger. So much division.
I can no longer hold this inside.
If you stop reading now, that’s fine – this isn’t for you. It’s for me.
Let me start like this – there is little that frightens me more than not being able to provide for the safety and well-being of my family.
I’m a 46 year old black man who is both a husband to my true life partner and a father of two incredibly bright, beautiful and impressionable children. Outside of that there is very little that I truly expend much time and energy on.
I mention my age because I never thought I’d make it past 40. I’ve voiced that statement before, many may have thought it was sick humor or nonsense, but with the numerous news headlines lately you probably now understand where I’m coming from.
With the apparent need of immediacy within society perpetuated by everyone having the ability to share photo and video of what’s happening around them – you all now see both sides of the story and what has plagued my community for decades – those in authoritative positions (the police) overstepping that authority and executing capital punishment at will.
Again – you can stop reading now if you want. this isn’t for you, it’s for me…
There have always been strained race relations, there always will be.
There have always been strained relations between civilians and those sworn to protect and serve, there always will be.
Are other nationalities being profiled, targeted, harassed and misrepresented? DEFINITELY
Are we, the black community, doing some of this to ourselves? Unfortunately yes
Are all cops bad? Nope. But what’s bubbling to the surface is evidence that the actions of a few are being publicized as the intentions of the majority. The definition of a stereotype…
Now, I have a handful of police officers that are close to my family. Some closer than others. I’ve had some conversations with them about how someone like I am perceived to them and how someone like me perceives them. There’s much more dialogue that needs to happen around this topic…
What I do find extremely interesting though is when one of those officers pulls me aside one day and informs me to “be aware” of my activity as many of his officer colleagues will see me and instinctually want to question me like I “fit the description” of someone up to no good. I had this assumption already, but hearing from someone on the inside definitely elicits concern and quite honestly, is not a great feeling.
That makes me recall situation in church a few years ago when an older woman felt compelled to call me “colored” – albeit her statement to me was in passing and she felt compelled to tell me she had a few “colored” neighbors.
WHY tell me that out of the blue? And by the way, we don’t really respond well to being called colored!
After the initial shock of that interaction wore off I wanted to curse her and everyone around her out, but nope – that wouldn’t have been good. That would have just fed into the perception that the officer told me about earlier – that I’m up to no good and stirring up trouble.
I mention these two situations in particular because they are the most overt situations that I’ve been involved with personally recently.
I drive a decent car and live in a decent house and have a few things – so I know people look at me with side eye (that’s the covert side). Hell THAT was the topic of one of past police stops I encountered, “…where’d you get this car?” “I bought it MR. OFFICER” – I’ve since moved on and don’t really care about that. I’ll never forget it though.
What I do care about is those within my sphere of influence, primarily my 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son growing up in a time with increased racial, social, and political tension. I’ve already had the conversation with my kids about how to act should they ever get pulled over by a police officer. Yes this is real.
Let me refocus.
I’m not saying that other folks don’t have the same issues, because I know they do – my focus is again on my sphere of influence and letting that influence reverberate out to those we come in contact with.
If you’re still reading – read that previous sentence again – it’s really important!
I want to help drive the dialogue that brings these racial, social and political issues to the table. We need to talk about our differences more because it is the fear of not knowing and the mis-information gathered from assuming that has everyone all riled up.
Protests are going to happen, in every community. Peaceful protests are a right that citizens of this country possess. If it wasn’t for protests and sit-ins and prayer circles we never would have had the positive impact and progressive change brought about by the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the LGBT movements, or even the movement to break off from England and became our own sovereign nation (know your history folks!)
So putting action to these words – I’ve reached out to some key leaders I know in the community to help me make a small dent in the universe. We’re going to reach across the aisle and across the neighborhood to lead by example and slowly bring about more positive headlines in the news. More stories of people working together to build and rebuild, more stories of how much black, white, brown, and blue lives matter. More stories of reconciliation.
If you’re a religious person – pray for us all. If you’re an action oriented person – become involved in finding solutions. If after reading this you no longer want to be my friend – that’s ok I wish you well in all you do in life.
This post has been sitting my draft since early July. I post it now because it’s time to Rise Up!