Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

What’s Black? Things We Need to Watch August 2022

August 5, 2022

Gary A. McAbee

Welcome to What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch by Gary A. McAbee. What’s Black is a monthly update about things of interest for black people to watch, discuss, and actively interpret. The time is now for all of us to get involved. These are conversations we need to have, and we will have these conversations. In this issue, there are some of the things we need to watch in August 2022

No greetings for you at Sesame Place…

You’ve seen the video of a character bypassing black children at the Sesame Place theme park. It was bad. I could somewhat accept it if the character had a bunch of kids in that spot and didn’t have time to greet them all (see sports figures when signing autographs on the fly). But this was different. It looked calculated. Add to it the fact that other videos show similar behavior, and one has to wonder how common it is to shun black children who just want to meet their favorite characters at this theme park? Who trains these character actors? Is it isolated to the one person who plays this particular character, or is it more widespread? My belief is the latter. Besides, we have camera phones now and things are being filmed. In the past, this type of behavior would go unnoticed, or at least unrecorded. It also points to another fact. We, as black people, are not inventing, nor exaggerating these experiences. We face more discrimination than we know. Thanks to the camera phone, now we can expose it, even at Sesame Place.

It’s because of the clause Kyler Murray…

Kyler Murray is a superstar quarterback of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. He is regarded as the best high school football player in the history of Texas. He won the Heisman trophy as a college football player. He was a number one draft pick. In other words, he has been at the top of his football world for the last 12 years. However, since he became o pro, he doesn’t study his craft like an NFL quarterback should. Who can blame him? Up to this point he has been successful without studying football. His team wants to change that, so they put clause in his contract which mandates that Kyler Murray must study for 4 hours per week, while not playing Call of Duty. Wait what? By adding this in his contract, it points to a question every black quarterback faces: are you intelligent enough to play the position? Mental abilities of black quarterbacks. It’s no secret the NFL has a long and storied history of questioning the mental abilities of black quarterbacks. This doesn’t help change that perception. Shame on you Arizona Cardinals for being insensitive to black quarterbacks everywhere, especially your own. Next time, handle that internally.

Mark, ponder your future in prison…

First of all, does anyone know Mark Ponder? Another question: did anyone see any footage of Mark Ponder at the January 6th Insurrection? I have seen countless clips of the crowd on that fateful day, but none have featured Mark Ponder. So who is he? Apparently, he is a Capitol rioter who assaulted police officers on January 6th. Also, he’s black so its no surprise to me that he has received the longest sentence for a rioter thus far. Did I mention he’s black? Like I always say, if you’re not careful, they will let you know who you are to them sooner or later. In this case, Mark Ponder is just another black man on the wrong side of the law. Let’s see how other Capitol rioters who assaulted police officers are treated. By the way, Mark deserves every minute of jail time he got. On to the next…

Brittney Griner gets grounded, but for what…

WNBA star Brittney Griner has been in a Russian jail for over 5 months for cannabis possession. Finally, she received her sentence of 9 years in prison. In reality, she is being used as a pawn by the Russians as retaliation for the United States support for Ukraine. As we know, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and American weapons are helping Ukraine survive. So along comes Brittney and a small quantity of drugs. Next thing you know, she’s the poster child for Russian “justice”. She’s also caught between two governments, who hopefully can agree to a prisoner swap to free her. Let’s not forget a question the arose out of the Brittney Griner saga: what if she was a male basketball player like Lebron James? I bet there would have been a far greater effort to end this situation. Free Brittney Griner!

Give our black heroes their flowers now…

I would be remiss if I didn’t pay homage to black royalty who recently passed away… Nichelle Nichols was a hero. I recall watching her on Star Trek years ago, not realizing the impact she, and her role had on television. She was the one of the first African American women in a television series, and she is most remembered for the first interracial kiss on television. While this is not new today, back then it was groundbreaking. Her role on Star Trek, and the spinoffs of the show, granted access and opportunities. Nichelle Nicholls opened the door for countless black actresses who followed in her footsteps. May we give Nichelle Nichols more flowers now that she has joined the heavenly angels.

Bill Russell was a hero. He is the greatest winner in the history of team sports. His 11 NBA championships are an American record, probably never to be duplicated. He was the first African American head coach in the NBA and the first to win a championship. But Russell’s on court activities may have paled in comparison to his contributions off the court. He was a staunch civil rights activist, who used his influence for social change in sports and society. Despite the challenges he faced in Boston due to his race, he refused to be silent. His voice opened the door for countless black people to gain access and opportunities. May we give Bill Russell more flowers now that he has joined the heavenly angels.

As you can see, August 2022 promises to be a month where we will push our agenda, and meet opposition along the way. What else is new? This is why I started What’s Black: Things to Watch. We need to be aware of issues that affect us and our progress. We need to be more vigilant to protect our best interests. We need to be involved in the ongoing struggle for equality, exercising our fundamental rights, and our ability to live and be successful American citizens. As you can see, we are far from where we need to be. That’s why I will see you in September 2022…

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for February 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for March 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for April 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for May 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for June 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for July 2022

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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What’s Black? Things We Need to Watch July 2022

July 5, 2022

Gary A. McAbee

Welcome to What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch by Gary A. McAbee. What’s Black is a monthly update about things of interest for black people to watch, discuss, and actively interpret. The time is now for all of us to get involved. These are conversations we need to have, and we will have these conversations. In this issue, there are some of the things we need to watch in July 2022

Target practice in Michigan…

A boy scout troop visiting a Farmington, Michigan police station noticed images of black men on targets for firing practice. Apparently, the Farmington police department trains using these targets for shooting practice. Do you think this helps police officers associate crime with black men or not? Subconsciously, I am sure it has an impact, but how do we study this to find out? The official stance is that the targets are in different racial profiles, yet the ones seen by the boy scouts were mostly black. Go figure. We wonder why police officers can take down white suspects without gunfire, yet shoot to kill when encountering black male suspects. Using targets with pictures of black men may be a symptom of a much greater sickness.

Jayland Walker didn’t stand a chance…

The sickness of police officers unloading on black suspects reared its ugly head again. In Akron, Ohio suspect Jayland Walker was involved in an incident with police officers which resulted in his death. While many of the details are still forthcoming, we do know he was shot at over 90 times and hut with no less that 60 bullets. Can you believe it? I can. The police involved unloaded on Mr. Walker as he ran away from them for a traffic stop. I guess a busted taillight can get your ass busted if you’re a black suspect. Prepare for the character assassination of Jayland Walker. Prepare for the “he had a gun: defense. Prepare for protests to be silenced. Also, prepare for nothing to happen to the officers in question too.

Deshaun Watson needs another year off…

Deshaun Watson, the embattled NFL quarterback, is in the midst of civil suits about his abuse of numerous women. He was cleared of criminal wrongdoing and criminal sexual misconduct, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t guilty. If over 60 women say he did something wrong, then yes, he did something wrong. In my opinion, that smoke surrounding the allegations he faces means he should be on fire. The NFL needs to suspend him for a season. Period! The judge who is arbitrating the case should make that recommendation. And Mr. Watson should pay every victim of his abuse. He should also do a hell of a lot of community service and advocating for women’s rights causes. Then, and only then, should he suit up in an NFL uniform again.

Involuntary Relocation in Texas? Teach the children well…

Oh Lone Star State, you never disappoint me! But this one takes the cake. A group of Texas legislators proposed that slavery should be called involuntary relocation and taught as such to 2nd graders. Say what? Can you say whitewashing history? There is no way they should expect this idea to work. What do you teach them in 3rd grade? How about 10th grade history? At some point, these kids will find out about the horrors of slavery. Why try to shelter them from the truth? Could in be these Texas legislators want to change rewrite history, so the sins of their ancestors slowly fades away? Bingo! I’m sure they are tying teaching about slavery to critical race theory too. By the way, the idea was summarily rejected by the Texas Board of Education. There might be a little hope for the Lone Star State after all. Just a little!

The end of Roe vs Wade is not “supposed” to be against black women…

Now that Roe vs Wade has in essence been overturned, what happens now? First, abortion has not been eliminated. Instead, each state now has the power to decide whether or not to abolish abortions. Red states will. Blue states will not. So women across the country will have to make some decisions. While it appears this affects black women the most, nothing can be farther from the truth. Don’t believe the hype. Black women do not get more abortions than white women. Alas, we have found the reason for abortion bans! More white babies are aborted than black babies, and those who want to stay in the majority need every white baby to be born. If is means saving a few black and brown children too, then so be it. Make no mistake about it, the abortion issue is only about population control and controlling a woman’s right to choose.

Ketanji Brown Jackson finally takes a seat…

Outgoing Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer resigned, which means he opened the door for Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman on the Supreme Court, to finally take her seat. We have witnessed history! Now Justice Brown Jackson has a lot of work to do. Although her presence on the Court does not realign the balance of power, she can still have a tremendous impact on the Court. She can also balance the influence of the Court’s other black member, Uncle Clarence Thomas. He is really getting out of pocket now, and pushing the idea of decisions that will roll back years of gains by black people. Let’s hope Justice Brown Jackson puts a “stop” to the ambitions of her Supreme Court colleague Thomas.

As you can see, July 2022 promises to be a month where we will push our agenda, and meet opposition along the way. What else is new? This is why I started What’s Black: Things to Watch. We need to be aware of issues that affect us and our progress. We need to be more vigilant to protect our best interests. We need to be involved in the ongoing struggle for equality, exercising our fundamental rights, and our ability to live and be successful American citizens. As you can see, we are far from where we need to be. That’s why I will see you in August 2022…

Review…  What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for February 2022

Review…  What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for March 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for April 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for May 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for June 2022

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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What’s Black? Things We Need to Watch in June 2022

June 5, 2022

 Gary A. McAbee

Welcome to What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch by Gary A. McAbee. What’s Black is a monthly update about things of interest for black people to watch, discuss, and actively interpret. The time is now for all of us to get involved. These are conversations we need to have, and we will have these conversations. In this issue, there are some of the things we need to watch in June 2022

Buffalo mass shooting. What else is new?

In Buffalo, ten Black people were killed, and three other people were injured when a lone gunman traveled to a predominately black neighborhood to commit an act of terrorism. Yes, I call it terrorism even though some in the media and society will not. The gunman searched in this area and realized a supermarket would be a place where he could go on his rampage. So, he selected the store to kill black people, and that’s what he did. No we must ask ourselves if he was just one misguided soul, or are there more where he came from? We also must wonder if there is a copycat, who was inspired by this coward’s mass shooting. What else in new in America?

Georgia is not on my mind. Just ask the Delaware State Women’s Lacrosse Team

You might have missed it, but there was an incident where a bus containing the women’s lacrosse team from Delaware State was stopped on a Georgia highway. Georgia is infamous for its police activities on the roads leading to Atlanta, so this is not surprising. What is surprising is that state police officers not only boarded the bus, but then commenced a search of the team’s luggage. Why would they do this to a college team on their way from a tournament? I’ll tell you why. We call it racial profiling, and in 2022 black motorists are still subject to this behavior based on the color of their skin. Of course, the search produced nothing, except questions about how police officers can get away with this nonsense. We’ll see what the legal process has to say about this going forward.

Another Juneteenth has arrived. What do we have to celebrate this month?

I think we should take a deep breath and be thankful, yet vigilant. We should give thanks that we are more aware of the things the affect the black community. I see more unity and a clearer sense of purpose among black people. Don’t let the bad news tell you anything different. This means we also need to remain vigilant. We must continue to demand that our voices be heard. We must continue to participate in the voting process. We must continue to fight for our freedom. After all, isn’t that what celebrating Juneteenth is all about?  

This is Black Music Month, so treasure the history of black music.

June is designated as black music month. It is a time to celebrate how important music has been in our lives. Our music has influenced the world, so we should take pride in all the great music and the artists who create it. We should also say thanks to the all-time greats, both alive and deceased, for all they have accomplished. I can’t say this enough; it is time to get our great musicians their flowers while they are still with us. I salute you, Patti LaBelle. I salute you, Stevie Wonder. I salute you, Gladys Knight. I salute you, Ronald Isley. I salute you, black music artists. This month is when we honor you, and we will continue to celebrate you this month and every month.

As you can see, June 2022 promises to be a month where we will push our agenda, and meet opposition along the way. What else is new? This is why I started What’s Black: Things to Watch. We need to be aware of issues that affect us and our progress. We need to be more vigilant to protect our best interests. We need to be involved in the ongoing struggle for equality, exercising our fundamental rights, and our ability to live and be successful American citizens. As you can see, we are far from where we need to be. That’s why I will see you in July 2022…

Review…  What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for February 2022

Review…  What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for March 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for April 2022

Review… What’s Black: Things We Need to Watch for May 2022

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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In 2021, Some Things Changed, and Some Things Stayed the Same

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

2021: Some Things Changed, and Some Things Stayed the Same

On January 6, 2021 armed protesters violently stormed, and occupied the Capitol of the United States of America. They wanted to “stop the steal”. Pictures don’t lie. 99.9% of the thousands of people involved were white. I would guess 75% or more of them were male. They were not protesting, marching, and rioting to move America forward. They were storming the capitol to protect their way of life and their freedom. Both ideas reflect their need to keep America the way it has always been, great for them, but not so great for everyone else.

Could you imagine what would have happened if the Jan 6th “protesters” were people of color? They would not have been able to get within a mile of the US Capitol. I’ll take it a step further. They would have been met with the same fury it took to clear Lafayette Park, which occurred on June 1, 2020. In that incident, protesters who were primarily people of color, were there to protest of the murder of George Floyd. They were met by pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets. There was no hesitation to clear out “those”  protesters by any means necessary. But on Jan. 6, 2021, protesters were allowed to storm the US Capitol with little resistance at all.

In 2021, some things changed, and some things stayed the same.

Speaking of George Floyd, we did get a break when his murderer, Officer Derek Chauvin, was put on trial in March. For once, video evidence was indisputable. The world saw the execution of Mr. Floyd, and reaction to it was swift and overwhelming. There was no conceivable way that Chauvin could get off, or could he? Let’s be real, he had 18 complaints against him over his career which brought insignificant  reprimands here and there. Plus, he was “protected” by a blue wall of silence that is very high in the state of Minnesota. So we waited for the theatrics of the Chauvin trial.

As usual, the tactics of character assassination were on full display during the trial. First, the trial was referred to as the George Floyd trial. He wasn’t on trial: he’s dead. Next, the defense pointed to every character flaw they could find, in hopes it made him “deserve” his fate. Add the coverage by certain segments of the media, who were still able to give Chauvin a fighting chance for acquittal. The outcome was in doubt and the fix was in. Wait, Chauvin was guilty! However, his sentence was still considered light, given the charges. By the way, this marked only the second time an officer was convicted of murder. What was the other time? It was when an officer of color was convicted for killing a white woman.

In 2021, some things changed, and some things stayed the same.

Shall we move on to the Wisconsin vigilante, whose trial shows that privilege in alive and well in courts around the United States? I give you exhibit A: Kyle Rittenhouse. I give you exhibit B: Judge Bruce Schroeder. Rittenhouse is the white kid whose mother thought it was a good idea to take to protests of yet another police shooting: Jacob Blake. The catch was that Rittenhouse brought an automatic rifle with him. He felt so threated while playing Paul Blart that he used it to kill two people in the process. Surely, he would be found guilty right?

Not if Judge Schroeder had anything to do with it! He made the Rittenhouse trial quite comfortable for the defendant. Guess what? Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges. Apparently, it is legal to transport a weapon across state lines, pretend to be helping law enforcement, and then shot people when they confront you. The underlying principle in the case is a tried-and-“true” conclusion: we should not throw away a young white male who gets into trouble at an early age. Meanwhile, black kids are sent to the gallows, or worse, for offenses far less than Rittenhouse. On top of that, he’s a celebrity now. He has offers to work with Congresspeople, and he’s even met your former leader who shall remain nameless here.

In 2021, some things changed, and some things stayed the same.

I recently had a conversation with two people, one white and one black, concerning the verdict in the Gregory and Travis McMichael Trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. It struck me because of a few things. First, we referred to the trial as the Ahmaud Arbery Trial. He wasn’t on trial: he’s dead. Yet all references made it seem like Mr. Arbery was on trial for murder. All over the media, you heard Ahmaud Arbery’s name attached to the case far more than the McMichael’s, which subconsciously painted Mr. Arbery as the criminal. Sound familiar?

Next, the conversation I had swirled around one fact, the jury only had one black person. The rest of the jurors were white. Both parties I was speaking to came up with the same conclusion, the McMichael’s should be guilty, but they would get off unless the black juror speaks up. I offered a different scenario. I said the McMichael’s may get off unless one or more of the WHITE jurors spoke up. Of course, we can’t assume innocence or guilt because we were not privy to all of the information, but our surface assumption is the duo should have been found guilty of the charges. Guess what? The McMichael’s were found guilty.

In 2021, some things changed, and some things stayed the same.

If you’re keeping score, you will probably agree that in 2021, some things changed, and some things stayed the same. White protesters were allowed to desecrate the Capitol of the United States: a loss. Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder: a “win”. Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges: a loss. The McMichael’s were found guilty of all charges: a “win”. Yet I am saddened by the fact that I have to keep score at all. I am also saddened by the fact that my score card is ready for 2022. The only question is, who will be a part of the final tally?

IN 2022, WILL SOME THINGS CHANGE, AND SOME THINGS STAY THE SAME?

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Our voting rights are always under attack. As black people, we have faced wave after wave of laws and actions designed to prevent us from voting. There has always been opposition to seeing us vote in large numbers. For a long time, this meant preventing us from voting altogether. Eventually, measures (like poll taxes) prevented us from voting in large numbers. Then, the idea that we chose not to vote led in “relaxed” measure to prevent us from voting. Fast forward to 2008 and 2012 when Barack Obama ran for President and you saw black people vote in record numbers.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Without Obama on the ticket in 2016, we did not vote in the same numbers and it resulted in Donald Trump’s Presidency. After four years of Trump, I can tell you every black person I know was on a mission to vote and get Trump out of office. If you prescribed to the pre-Obama notion that black people would stay home instead of vote, then you would have believed Trump would win. Yet in state after state, the strong turnout of black voters proved to be the difference that swept Joe Biden into office. Remember, there has always been opposition to seeing us vote in large numbers.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

So now we are seeing voting laws enacted by Republicans in states all across the country. These laws are being presented under the guise of illegal voting. But, in reality they are designed to stop people of color from voting in large numbers. They know our votes matter and it scares them. Republicans understand this simple fact: by 2050 (and by some estimates a lot sooner) America’s minorities will outnumber the current white majority for the first time in our history.

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

This means, in their mind, members of the new majority will register and vote as Democrats in massive numbers. If this happens, they will be hard-pressed to win elections in the future. Their only way to stop this is to make it harder to vote. They are doing it by reducing polling places, limiting early voting, and purging voter rolls. These actions have a target: black Americans, and to a lesser extent, people of other ethnic groups and those seeking equal rights. My question to you is what are we going to do about it?

You Think I Don’t Know? You Don’t Want Us to Vote!

Here’s a blog post I wrote back in 2018 to discuss this issue in more detail…

Voting: Vote Suppression 101

Next blog post: You Think I Don’t Know? My Blackness is a Threat

Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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Black Life: Misunderstood

Black Box

Sometimes being a black person in America is unnecessarily hard. We are viewed differently, judged differently, and treated differently. It is something a black person must face, and in many cases, overcome daily. At work, at school, and in other public places, black people are under surveillance. Sometimes it is just to see what we will do in certain situations. Other times it is to exclude us from certain activities. Either way it makes black life misunderstood, especially when the spotlight is so bright we become aware of it.

Some who read this will not understand. If you think we as a people have made it; this is false. Sure, some of us have “made it”, but many of us have not. You might be wondering how this could be. Barack Obama was President. Jay-Z and Beyonce are billionaires. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever. These are all great accomplishments indeed. But what do these accomplishments mean for millions of black people on their daily grind. Their success does not translate to our lives when we are being watched and judged while doing our daily activities. We are misunderstood even more thanks to today’s view of black people.

I believe today’s society uses black people of wealth and prestige as the measuring stick for the rest of us. Naturally there is an element of “if they can do it, so can you”, which is built in to following successful black people. This is not what I am talking about. Instead I am referring to people of different races who use our celebrities as the examples of what black life is like. If you think the Real Housewives of Atlanta are the real housewives of Atlanta, then you have not been to Atlanta (or Detroit, or St. Louis, or Philadelphia). The real housewives of Atlanta work at jobs, take care of home, raise families, and serve as the backbone of our communities. Any other explanation is of black women faulty at best.

This is a stark reversal of a phenomenon that happened to black people in the past (and still happens today). Back then, society used examples of unsuccessful black people or even criminals, as a measuring stick for all of us. All you had to do was see a black person doing the wrong thing, and then that black person’s sins were carried by all of us. Even worse, their behavior convinced many people that we all behave like that. We are all criminals by nature, unintelligent, lazy, and hostile. If you did not live up to these stereotypes, you were the exception, not the rule. Millions of black people chase the American Dream every day and do it the right way, yet the incorrect actions of a few black people defined our lives and culture?

So here we are in 2018 and we are misunderstood.

  • Some people view ultra-successful black people as their idea of who we are or what we could be if we try.

Or…

  • Some people view unsuccessful black people as who we really are and how we really act all the time.

Either way, we are put into a box that is difficult for the many black people to escape. The by-product of this is when tend to live up these ideas. Some of us want to live like our celebrities, so they spend and consume as if they already do. Others can’t live like them, they resort to activities that will lead to money and fame that brings celebrity status. Meanwhile, the hard-working black man, and the hard-working black woman are misunderstood daily. We are the bedrock upon which our culture and experiences are built. We deserve a little understanding.

To all my people who are trying to make ends meet, making ends meet, or struggling to make ends meet, I am with you all the way. Do not let society’s misunderstanding who we are and what we do define you. Instead, hold your head high, find like-minded individuals, and work together to build better lives. It’s the only way we will continue to grow, while facing the challenges of being misunderstood.

Until we meet again, wake up and rise up!

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary is able to get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

 

Join me on social media!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

Calling the Police on Black Folks: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

Calling the Police on Black Folks: Do We Represent Clear and Present Danger?

For a long time in America, black people have represented a clear and present danger to people of other races. When this occurs, some people chose to overreact, rather than learning to live and let us live. In 2018 alone, we have seen people calling the police on black people who:

  • slept in a common area at a college
  • sold water in front of a stoop
  • went canvassing door-to-door to gather information
  • attended a local pool
  • left a Airbnb property
  • barbequed in a public park
  • waited for a colleague in a coffee shop
  • mowed a lawn
  • collected money for a youth sports team

We have to remember that these incidents ARE NOT on the rise. Instead, they are being filmed now. Can you imagine how many black people had the cops called on them, got arrested, or worse, when there were no camera phones around to record these incidents? Let’s face it: some people, whether it is 1818 or 2018, chose not to mind their own business. They choose to get involved when it might not be necessary. They choose to call the police and expect them to take action. If this is you, learn to live and let us live.

Who exactly are these people? They are the people who, for some strange reason, want greater control in certain situations. If they cannot be in control, they have to get someone who can. They also possess a certain level of paranoia that makes them perceive “threats” and dangers that do not exist. They want to feel comfortable, and they will do whatever it takes to ensure their comfort is secured. Most of the time, their method of control and security is to call the police. Learn to live and let us live.

What do these people think will happen when the police arrive? Whether justified or not, the person who makes the call has to know the potential outcome of their actions. The potential “threat” could, at minimum, be questioned by the police and/or arrested. Does the punishment fit the crime? The potential “threat” could be in a life-or-death situation if they, or the cops who approach them, become overzealous or irate. This is a not a concern for someone who seeks comfort in these situations. Learn to live and let us live.

I wonder why some people can’t live and let live. If you witness an obvious crime, then by all means call the police. On the other hand, if you witness something that bothers you, but does not jeopardize your safety, then go on about your business. I guess it is empowering to be able to call the police on someone and watch them get “put in their place” or even arrested. Where is the enjoyment in that? Learn to live and let us live.

I have never thought of calling the police on anyone who is not a clear and present danger. Perhaps this is where we should draw the line: by defining a “clear and present danger”…

  • A clear and present danger is threatening to get or use a weapon.
  • A clear and present danger is menacing, or causing a public disturbance.
  • A clear and present danger is intimidating, harassing, or bullying another person.
  • A clear and present danger is destroying property.
  • A clear and present danger is committing a crime or violating someone else’s rights.
  • A clear and present danger is acting with clear intent to do wrong or harm another person.

Call Police

Here’s a tip: If you don’t see things that present a clear and present danger, then chances are the situation does not warrant calling the police. This does not mean we should not be aware of our surroundings or watch for unlawful activities. On the other hand, it does mean that we need to improve our discernment as it relates to other people. Learn how to tell the difference between a “normal” black person engaged in a regular activity and a black person (or any other race) about to commit a crime (I have several of my own alive while black experiences to share). If you can’t tell the difference, then maybe you should learn how to use better judgment. Learn to live and let us live.

Black people should be able to do things anyone else can do without fear of being thought of as a criminal, especially in public places where people of other races conduct the same activities. We should be able to catch a nap in a common area, if students of other races also do it. We should be allowed to swim at a pool, if residents of other races also do it. We should be allowed to rent an Airbnb, if vacationers of other races do it. Learn to live and let us live.

Let’s move on to activities that could be considered unique to the black experience. We should be able to barbecue in a public park. We should be able to sell water on a hot day. We should be able to collect money for a youth team or organization. If any of these situations violate any local laws or create unsafe environments, then let the affected property owner or local police patrols handle it. We don’t need an “outsider” who feels violated calling the police and overstating the level of the danger or perceived threat. Sooner or later someone will get hurt because of it. We don’t need any more of that!

Learn to live and let us live. Stop calling the police o black folks when it is not necessary.

 

UPDATE: Since the initial release of this blog post, we have seen several more incidents of calling the police on black folks when they…

  • entered a building to get to their apartment
  • had white kids in a car while they were babysitting
  • tried to buy drinks after a peaceful protest rally
  • did not turn down the car radio for a Lyft passenger
  • spoke in their native Somali language while at a drive thru microphone
  • filed a damage report for luggage at an airport
  • talked to an athlete during a game to prevent him from disrespecting an official
  • bumped into a woman in a store with their backpack

 

Gary A. McAbee created the Wake Up/Rise Up Black America blog to have a powerful voice and positive impact in African-American neighborhoods, communities, and society. The articles posted are not only for African-Americans, but for all people due to their relevance and cultural significance. Along with his other blog, Motivation for the World, Gary is able to get people talking about issues that affect us all. He is the proud author of three self-help books: Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now!, the follow-up Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! , and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

Join me on social media!

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/garymcabee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wakeupandriseup

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McAbeeGary

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/garymotivation/

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

Black Panther: A Trailblazer Long Overdue

kente cloth

What is a trailblazer? A trailblazer is a pioneer; one that blazes a trail to guide others. Usually the trailblazer is the first one to accomplish something. Sometimes, these accomplishments are considered great, groundbreaking achievements. Make no mistake about it, the movie Black Panther is a trailblazer. It is the first movie of its kind: a movie from a major franchise (Marvel) with a black superhero as the lead character. It’s release is during Black History Month, which adds to the lore of this film.

Why is this important? For some, it isn’t important. For me, it is important. This is because all of the super heroes we all know and love are white characters. DC comics characters Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman is the obvious parallel to Black Panther as a female lead character), and many others are all white. Marvel comics has Spider Man, Iron Man, Thor and many others as lead characters who are white. Black Panther breaks this mold. He is the first of his kind: a black lead superhero.

NOTE: I must pay homage to other black superheroes such as Blade (played by Wesley Snipes) and Catwoman (played by Halle Berry). They are also important characters in the own way. However, those characters are more singular, unlike Black Panther, who is a part of the much larger and more popular Marvel franchise.

In order to fully understand, we must talk about black “firsts” to put the importance of this film into perspective. What is a black “first”? It is the first time someone black accomplishes something significant in history. It is usually a monumental achievement, due to the fact that many of these trailblazers face significant challenges on their way to success. (By the way, let me be the first to “apologize” to anyone who is tired of hearing about black “firsts”. Unfortunately, our inclusion into many American institutions occurred so late that we still have black “firsts” in 2018. You will continue to hear about black “firsts” for a long time to come).

Although it is not on the same level, this movie is the latest of black “firsts” that changed the world we live in. It is groundbreaking like Barack Obama’s ascendancy to become President of the United States. It is like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball. It is similar to Ruby Bridges integrating an elementary school in New Orleans. Each of these black “firsts” opened doors for so many black people, as well as other minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBT as well. People like Barack Obama, Jackie Robinson, and Ruby Bridges are trailblazers: the first of their kind. The movie Black Panther qualifies as a trailblazer as well.

Black Box

  • Black Panther contains imagery, costumes, and scenery that will impress and delight moviegoers.

It depicts a fictional country, Wakanda, and all of its majesty and splendor. It is patterned after the imagery of many areas of the continent of Africa. I guess you could call it a futuristic look the continent that also has images of Africa’s past and present look. This is very important and groundbreaking. It gives positive images of a black civilization and what it should look like under the right direction and guidance. On another level, it shows what some black communities in the United States used to “look” like before urban blight and decay took over. The move Black Panther presents a glimpse of a thriving black community which should not be overlooked.

  • Black Panther depicts a black king, along with other members of his royal family.

Their exploits resemble those of real African kings and queens. We have heard of kings and queens of Africa, yet many of us know little about their accomplishments. The lead character in Black Panther is T’Challa, the new king of Wakanda. All you need to do is research kings like Mansa Musa, Akhenaton, Imhotep and you will see the obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s T’Challa. T”Challa’s mother Romonda is the Queen of Wakanda. All you need to do is research queens Hatshepsut, Makeda “The Queen of Sheba”, and Ann Nzinga “Queen of Ndongo” and you will see obvious parallels between them and Black Panther’s Queen Romanda. In this regard, the movie Black Panther serves as a connector to former kings and queens in Africa.

  • Black Panther will instill a sense of pride and accomplishment in many black men, women and children.

Let’s face it: we need to see more images of positive black people who are doing great things. Even though this is just a movie, it sure feels good to see this character on the big screen. It sure feels good to get positive images of “Africa” on the big screen. It sure feels good to know we can be heroes too. It sure feels good to finally be included in this genre of films. The thought of Black Panther just feels good.

The movie Black Panther is a trailblazer that was long overdue. The use of a black superhero in a leading role of a major movie franchise is a remarkable achievement. For me, it is a game-changer. It is another black “first” that needs to be celebrated. I suggest you celebrate by going to see this film, and/or buying it on video. Based on most reviews, it is an outstanding picture. By the way, it will not be long before we see the second installment of Black Panther so enjoy the ride. You are witnessing a trailblazer.

The Kingdom of Wakanda awaits!

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Which person are you? 

Question Mark

Recently there was a primary to select candidates who will run for the office of mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida. During the campaign, the candidates had the opportunity to participate in a forum. There were six candidates at the forum. The rules for the forum were strict, and guidelines included how candidates could respond. One candidate was asked a question, and then the next two candidates had the opportunity to respond. After this, a new question would be presented and the next candidate would start the question and answer process again. In this way, the moderator could keep order during the forum and all candidates could get equal time to speak (remember this key point).

For context, I will provide an answer to a question by one of the candidates and the response it received (NOTE: the focus here is not on the answer, but the response that was given. I welcome debating the merits of the answer at another time in another forum)…

Answer: “My commitment is to reparations to the community, to the black community that has suffered these damages under these current administrations,” …answered, adding that “no amount of playground or recreation centers could “heal the wounds” of victims’ families of died at the hands of law enforcement officers”.

Response: “…you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about… your people already got your reparations.  Your reparations, your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.  My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

After this exchange, the candidate who offered the answer could not respond because it was no longer his turn. Shortly thereafter, one candidate broke the rules of the forum to address the response he heard. He offered a harsh rebuke to the tone and substance of the response. Another candidate wanted to rebuke the response, but chose not to draw more attention to the response. (Instead, he offered his response and rebuke the next day). Other candidates chose not to comment on the response.

Who are the candidates?

  • The candidate who supplied the answer: Person A
  • The candidate who supplied the response: Person B
  • The candidate who supplied the rebuke at the forum: Person C
  • The candidate who supplied the rebuke the next day: Person D
  • The candidate(s) who chose to say nothing: Person(s) E

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Are you Person A: someone who would have offered a response to racism if given an opportunity?

Are you Person B: someone who makes racist comments or fans the flames of racism?

Are you Person C: someone who hears about racism, and speaks out against it regardless of the circumstances?

Are you Person D: someone who wants to speak out against racism, but does not know the time or place or how to do so when a racist comment or incident occurs?

Are you Person(s) E: someone who chooses not to respond to racism at all for unknown reasons?

 

Before you answer, think about each person and SOME POTENTIAL reasons for their behavior.

Person A was “silenced” so his voice and opinion may “never” be heard. He represents those who do not have a voice or platform to speak out.

Person B used the forum as an opportunity to publicly use racist language without concern for who it might offend. He represents those who want to fan the flames of racism for unknown reasons.

Person C used the forum to respond and “fight” against racism. He represents those who speak out against racism as soon as they recognize it.

Person D did respond, but after thought and consideration led him to speak out later. He represents those who know racism is wrong, but may not be comfortable with responding to racism or the method to do so.

Person(s) E turned a blind eye to racist language and remarks. They represent those who choose not to respond, possibly because it does not affect or offend them personally.

 

You are now a spectator at the forum for the candidates for mayor of the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. You just witnessed the question, the answer, the response, the delay, and the silence…

 

What Would Have Been Your Reaction to Racism? Which Person Are You?

Article: http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/pinellascounty/st-pete-mayoral-candidate-during-forum-go-back-to-africa/457867422

 

Gary McAbee is an educator, author and motivational speaker. He has written three books: Wake Up!, Rise Up!, and Defining Success: One Word at a Time.

I’m Mad With Your Race

A lady I know, let’s call her 223, approached me and said “I’m mad at your race!” She is white. The “good” news is she felt “comfortable” saying this to me. I like to know where people stand on issues of race and culture. The bad news is I knew where this was headed. I responded with two questions:
“What race?”  
“The human race?”
Her response was “no, I mean YOUR race.” I replied, “oh, you mean MY race.”
Before we continue, let me provide a little background information. The debate about confederate flags and monuments, and Neo-Nazis and the KKK, is currently engulfing our nation. It seems that community after community is facing the question about what to do with Confederate monuments that are a sense of pride for some, and a symbol of hate for others. Here in the Tampa Bay area, removal of a monument of two Confederate soldiers has been a hot topic and it has spawned a heated debate. With this as the backdrop, 223 thought it was appropriate to say to me “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Now that we established 223’s anger with “MY race,” I pressed on with the conversation. “Why are you mad with MY race?”
223 responded, “Because you want the monuments taken down.”
These are the times when I go into my interviewer/teacher/great debater role. I welcome these conversations; you know the ones about “MY race,” provided the person I am speaking to is willing to listen. Most of the time, I know these conversations probably will not resolve anything or change anyone’s opinion. But, I believe that if we talk these things out and try to listen to each other, at least we might get a glimpse (and maybe a little understanding) of how others think.  I tend to ask questions too, in hopes of getting my “opponent” to think and provide answer to support their point-of-view. Hold that thought…
So I engaged 223 with my interviewer hat on. “You do realize there are plenty of (using Donald Trump’s words) “very fine people,” I mean WHITE people who also want the monuments taken down too. Are you also mad at them?”
There was my first question. I threw that pitch right down the middle of the plate! I just wanted an answer that would confirm what I already knew, but hoped was not true: she was really mad at MY race.
She didn’t give a response! Instead, she launched into the next talking point (also espoused by Donald Trump). 223 said “who comes next: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?” I was ready for that one. It was time to put on my teacher hat. “You do realize why Washington and Jefferson are viewed differently right?” No response to question two either.
Time to teach. Washington and Jefferson (and the other Founding Fathers), though neither saints  nor heroes in my eyes, at least had the forethought to put mechanisms in place to “decide” questions of race in the future. Although their idea was to produce a perfect union, they knew the society they created had flaws, which is one reason why the Constitution they created can be amended as needed. I give them credit for that. However, their reluctance to act upon their moral responsibility to end the “peculiar institution” has caused a, slow, but steady ripple effect that leads some people, even in 2017 to say: “I’m mad at YOUR race!”
Back to the story. This trail of logic would have been too much for 223, so I condensed it. I told her, “the difference is Washington and Jefferson never took up arms against the United States. The soldiers on this and other Confederate monuments (in particular Robert E. Lee) did. So monuments erected for them are viewed differently.”
Although this wasn’t a question, I thought maybe I could get a response worthy of continuing the “conversation.” Instead I got this: “well they were all involved in slavery.”  This is a valid point. But, it misses the mark because Washington and Jefferson are known more for the good they accomplished for our country. Robert E. Lee is known for his opposition to our country. I knew this response would require the great debater role in me. Should I take it there?
I did want to lay a tactful, yet pointed, smack down on my “opponent,” because unknowingly (I think) she put her foot in the slavery “debate.” All I needed to hear next was the talking point about how good slavery was for MY race back then. Believe it or not, in 2017, there are people who present and even accept as true the idea that slavery was beneficial…
Sometimes you should accept the fact that you have the high ground, and your opponent can’t take it from you. I was there. Any further conversation would have led to an “unnecessary” confrontation. I could not change 223’s heart or mind. It wasn’t worth it. I am the kind of person who can agree to disagree. By the way, I do like 223 as a person, and I think she likes me as a person too. However, I am not sure if our “acquaintance” trumps (pun intended) her opinion of “MY race.” It does mean I should keep 223 at the proper distance in regards to this topic, unless she chooses to have meaningful dialogue about it in the future.
I guess 223 is still mad at “MY race.”
What really concerns me is how many others feel the same way?