Trayvon, Eric, Mike, et al : Where do we go from here?

2014-15 was when Millenials collectively figured out that white people are still racist, the political system is rigged, and the justice system is crooked af. So what are we going to do about it?

If you were to compile a list of victims of police violence, and only include those who got media coverage, you’d still come up with a list as long (or longer!) than Bi.ll C.osby’s so-called groupies.*

There’s a lot of protests and social media buzz, and I’m not mad at that. Times have changed, the media and the way we consume media have changed. Our civil rights movement is not going to look like that of yesteryear. However…I think my generation risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We still need to vote, attend city council meetings, write to our representatives, and volunteer with the youth so that they know this stuff matters too. And before you say “politics doesn’t work, we’ve tried it” have we really? Only about 1/3 of the eligible voting population turns out for PRESIDENTIAL elections.

The truth is, citizens have much more power at the state and local level than federal. The President controls the army and foreign policy. Congress passes a lot of laws, but how much it affects you depends on how much you’re bothered by other people’s ability to marry the same sex or get an abortion. But state and local government basically run your life. Sales tax? Local/state government. Property tax? Local government. School district zoning? Local government. Police reform? Local government. See where I’m going with this?

You can only get so far with raising awareness. At some point, you’ve got to give people a job to do. The Black Friday boycotts are a great start, but that only happens once a year. And as much as I enjoy supporting black business year round, there’s not a black owned, non-chain grocery store or drug store where I live so Kroger and CVS are going to continue to get my dollars. I also think that we need to think multiculturally. The NAACP can’t do everything (and haven’t been doing much of anything lately). What about the Urban League, the ACLU, the National Action Network and the Anti-Defamation League? Traditional political processes are slow and bureaucratic, and we want instant results. But policy doesn’t happen overnight. And you get things done a lot faster when you can bring a coalition together to accomplish a single goal.

 

 

 

 

 

*I was being cute but don’t get it twisted, I know he’s a r.apist.

Being Human

From my Facebook page:

These riots didn’t happen in a vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning them. But people are feeling angry and hopeless. For the past 200 years black folks have been trying to beg and plead our way to acceptance. The model of peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr., got shot in the head anyway.

What more do you want us to do? We change our diction; we straighten our hair; we starch and iron our clothes; we use our inside voices; we get degrees and move to the right neighborhoods. What happens? We get a pat on the head and our brothers and sisters who are too poor or maybe too proud to stamp out every sign of their cultural identity continue to be slaughtered in the streets and thrown in jail for offenses that result in no arrest or mere community service for their white counterparts.

THE GAME IS RIGGED. And in the age of information, a refusal to see the facts or connect the dots is willful complicity in the perpetuation of racism. Yes, racism. If you see a white man with a gun as a patriot exercising his 2nd Amendment rights, but a black man with a gun as a thug, you’re racist. Period. But you know what? Change is the only constant in life and you have the ability to break free of your mental conditioning. But most of you won’t because it’s easier to believe that black people are incapable, or choose not to succeed, than to admit that a large part of your privilege and comfort in life was built on the backs of slaves and continues to benefit from the blood, sweat and tears of black folks.

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice.  What do they have in common? They were all gunned down by scared white people.

Fear is a monster. And I will never understand why it is so hard to see past brown skin to our shared humanity. We, too, sing America. We like to eat, drink, sleep and fall in love. Just like anyone else. So our voices are louder, our speech more colorful, our hair more buoyant and our features fuller. We are people first and foremost. Some of us are slowly starting to understand that degrees and the King’s English won’t protect us. Ever since we were carted across the Atlantic, the idea that we might one day rise up against our oppressors and exact bloody vengeance has taken deep root in their collective psyche. The truly sad thing is that most black folks don’t really want that. Nor do we want “special treatment”. We want TRUE equality. The kind that means a multi-syllabic, creatively punctuated name won’t get your resume tossed in the trash. The kind that means we can ask for help from a neighbor without fear that we’ll be shot in the face. The kind that means we can trust the police to serve and protect us too. The kind that means a black man in baggy clothes can be thought of as a hipster instead of a thug.

When will America get that there is nothing to fear? That love is more powerful than hate? That all we want is to be your countrymen in word, thought and deed?

 

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