Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter Explained Yet Again

One house in a row of five houses is on fire. One of the houses that is not on fire is a blue house. The fire department is called to the neighborhood. They immediately rush to the house on fire and commence to their spray water. As they do this, are they saying the hell with the other houses that are not on fire? Ask yourself, are they neglecting the houses that are safe? Are they making a conscious decision to disregard the people in the blue house?

No, they are addressing the problem: one of the houses is on fire and we are here to address the problem. The house on fire is #BlackLivesMatter. The houses that are safe are #AllLivesMatter. The people in the blue house are #BlueLivesMatter (#CopsLivesMatter). In the case of the blue house, things appear to be normal, but maybe a closer inspection will uncover that their house needs attention too. But even in this case, is the blue house in more danger than the burning house?

I can’t understand why it is so hard to understand this. If you are reading this and you still don’t get it, let me try to explain it again because this issue is so important to me…

  • October will be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Does this mean in October we will say who cares about lung cancer awareness and those who suffer from that illness?

  • Save the rainforests and save the whales? So I guess the other forests and sea animals don’t matter.

  • A doctor is an eye surgeon. Does anyone have the right to tell her or make her also perform root canals?

Each one of these examples is utterly ridiculous. They are so ridiculous that they can be dismissed immediately. Yet when we discuss #BlackLivesMatter, critics can’t seem to comprehend that these examples are the “exact” same thing. Again, black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN we say who cares about white lives. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN other lives don’t matter. Black lives matter DOES NOT MEAN their cause can be told or forced to perform a different action, such as address the false narrative that is black-on-black crime.

Not clear enough yet? Let me politicize this for those who might choose to ignore or disregard those examples…

  • For the military crowd:
    • Support our Troops in Afghanistan… does this mean forget about the ones in Iraq? How about the ones in South Korea?

  • For the gun control crowd:

    • We want to protect the rights of handgun owners, so the rights of shotgun owners do not matter.

  • For the support the veterans crowd:

    • Unfortunately, many of our veterans are suffering from combat-related illnesses. Should we concentrate on them, and let those veterans who are just homeless fend for themselves?

To be clear, I do not consider myself the smartest man in the room. I might think I say brilliant things, but never have I considered myself a genius. Honestly, I just consider myself an average person who has a pen, blog, and something to say. So I do not say this lightly…

…if, after all of these examples, you still do not understand #BlackLivesMatter, then something else must be going on. I have two potential explanations.

Explanation #1: There must be something more sinister that is directing your misunderstanding. If this is true, it is probably because of the inclusion of one small word. The inclusion of this word, dare I say, (Donald) trumps all ability to use reason to see what this issue is all about. The word is BLACK. Somehow this word, when it is used to discuss issues related to black people, is always perceived to be a threat (see Black History Month, Congressional Black Caucus, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, etc.). We are talking about a word! Can you imagine how some people feel when using this word is not enough, so we start marching in protests (aka #BlackLivesMatter) in cities across the country?

Explanation #2: There must be an intellectual gap that is directing your misunderstanding. This could be as simple as not understanding words or the analogies presented here. It could also be as simple as adding personal opinions and biases to this issue. Or it could be listening to those who are purposely and intentionally telling you not to use your ability reason and use common sense (this is called intellectual dishonesty). They tell you #BlackLivesMatter is a hate group, so you listen without investigating for yourself.

I will let you decide which explanation works for you if you choose not to understand. For some, nothing can convince them that #BlackLivesMatter does not mean “all lives” or “blue lives” do not matter. I guess we let those folks wear the shoes that fit them.

By the way, because I just mentioned shoes, does it mean I am anti-work boots?

Ferguson

Let me know what you think! I welcome your opinions and encourage meaningful dialogue…

 

 

Police Shootings- No Answers, Just Questions: I am…

Black Box

Once again we have a police shooting in which a black person has lost their life at the hands of the police. Introducing Alton Sterling, the latest in a long line of black people whose deadly encounters with the police were recorded and shared. In my opinion, the cell phones today that capture these events and equivalent to the television feeds of the past that captured dogs and water hoses turned on black people during the Civil Rights Movement. These shocking images led to action. These recorded incidents captured today open up the possibility to analyze and debate exactly what happened. They also allow us to add what we see to what is reported to form our own conclusion. In this case I have a few issues that need to be addressed…

  1. Would community-based policing help?

Community-based policing revolves around the idea that the police become a part of the communities they patrol by getting to know people. If Alton Sterling was frequently at the spot where the incident occurred, community-based policing would have allowed the cops who patrol the area to know him and his reason for being there. It looks like Alton Sterling was a seller, and his product was probably copied CDs. To be clear, selling this is illegal. But, does it rank up there with selling drugs or committing more serious crimes? Of course not! Apparently the store owner had no problem with him being there, so maybe this is one where the police give this man a citation as needed. Maybe this would have prevented the incident. Cops who knew the neighborhood would have had knowledge that Alton Sterling was not out to do anything more sinister.

2. Are cops trained to de-escalate situations?

The next issue I am looking at is the idea of de-escalating a confrontation as opposed to escalating a confrontation. Obviously, police officers should be trained to de-escalate situations. It appears to me that in these controversial police shootings, the officers escalate the conflict more often than not. You can look at the Sandra Bland and Eric Garner arrest videos as proof of the police escalating confrontations. In this case, you can clearly hear the audio of the police dropping f-bombs while trying to subdue Alton Sterling. One draws his weapon at close range and says,”(if) you #@&$ ing move I swear to God”. To me, this is escalation. Do they teach this behavior and language at the academy as a part of making an arrest or de-escalating a tense situation? I seriously doubt it. If Sterling’s reaction was fear or to fight thanks to their escalation of the incident, then the resulting gunshots and their justification come as no surprise to me

3. Guns… to carry or not to carry?

I am amazed at how many times these situations include the “I thought he had a gun” or “he was reaching for my gun” defense. Once again, this defense turned justification for using deadly force against a person of color is a part of the story. I am confused about the right to bear arms that so many people either defend or reject. If Alton Sterling had a gun, and Louisiana is an open-carry state, doesn’t he have the right to bear arms? Is his right to bear arms automatically viewed as a threat because of his skin color? If so we must ask who is really allowed to openly carry guns in Louisiana. Just so we all know this is not a one-off incident, remember that John Crawford and Tamir Rice were both killed by police for holding (toy) guns in Ohio, which is an open-carry state like Louisiana.

*As a side note, actor and activist Wendell Pierce made a salient point about gun rights: if black men bought guns and openly carried them in states where it is legal, the (open-carry) gun laws would be changed overnight.

4. How do police officers discern who is a potential threat?

The main problem I have with many cops is discernment. To me, some cops can’t tell the difference between a black person who is menacing, and one who is not. In fact, the black person who is not menacing may even seem to be threatening when in reality they are fearful of an escalating confrontation with police. In this situation, some cops would assume the same level of risk or danger. This threat is far too often met with deadly force. I have been around black people all my life. I can clearly discern who is a threat and who is not. Sandra Bland was not a threat. Eric Garner was not a threat. Walter Scott was not a threat. Akai Gurley might have been a threat, but he was killed before the officer could have possibly identified the threat he was facing.

I am saying sometimes the police should use deadly force against people who present a deadly threat. But, do all of these cases represent confrontations with angry black men and women who need to be subdued with deadly force? To be fair, Trayvon Martin and Eric Brown represented a threat. The level of that threat is still up for debate. But what if both men, and countless others, were misidentified or driven to raise their level of hostility or fear in the midst of being in a life-or-death situation against the police? No one is suggesting police officers have an easy task when assessing the level of threat they face on a daily basis. However, in light of so many incidents, any reasonable person might want to at least ask if there is a better way for police to handle this part of their job.

As a closing thought, once again I look back on my past run-ins with police officers and thank God that none of them escalated into a confrontation. The point I want to clearly make is that any or all of those events could have resulted in a conflict. If the conflict was been handled by a cop who could not discern the threat level I was presenting, dare I say I might not be alive to write this post. What if the cop mistakenly thought something I had resembled a gun? Remember back then people were not able to pull out phones and record these situations.

My frustration lies with a possibility that many people on the other side of this issue may never understand. Unfortunately, it is because they do not have the ability (or the willingness) to use empathy and walk in my shoes for two seconds. If they did, they would realize I am alive while black

I am John Crawford. I am Eric Garner. I am Sandra Bland. I am Tamir Rice. I am Akai Gurley.

As of yesterday, I am also Alton Sterling.

 

Can You Put Your Politics to the Side and Give Credit to Barack Obama?

Can you put your politics aside and give credit to Barack Obama?

Let me start by saying if this breaks down along racial lines, so be it. Although that is not the intention here per se, it is an undeniable by-product of extolling the virtues of America’s first black President. So let me be very clear, this is directed primarily at critics of Barack Obama who refuse to give him credit for anything. To them, no accomplishment of Barack Obama real or imagined is noteworthy. It is also directed at critics of black people in general, and the stereotypes that too many people use to define us. I have a question for those people: can you put your politics aside and give credit to Barack Obama?

President Barack Obama is the ultimate stereotype breaker, and perhaps that is one of the reasons why his critics levy so much criticism upon him. I will say it: if some people can’t at least respect this black man, will they ever respect any black man? His public and “private” persona is impeccable. His demeanor, even in the most challenging times and difficult situations, is flawless. His delivery is always timely. I call it The Presidential Effect. Believe me, it is real and (to the best of my knowledge) authentic. Can you put you politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama?

So how does President Obama shatter so many stereotypes? Even more important, why should he get credit for doing so? I think first identifying SOME of the stereotypes assigned to black men should help even the most ardent critics of Barack Obama recognize these falsehoods exist. Then, they would at least see how he goes against each of these beliefs. Finally, perhaps some critics of the President can at least put their politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama. It is worth a shot…

US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMA

US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha board Air Force One at Chicago O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on November 7, 2012. Obama returns to Washington on Wednesday emboldened by his re-election but facing the daunting task of breaking down partisan gridlock in a bitterly divided Congress. Obama told Americans “the best is yet to come” after defying dark economic omens to handily defeat Mitt Romney, but his in-tray is already overflowing with unfulfilled first term wishes thwarted by blanket Republican opposition. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Stereotype #1: The black father is absent from the home.

Obviously, Barack Obama shatters this myth. Like me, he is one of countless black fathers who are leading their families to the best of our ability. We provide guidance and structure to our families. We work hard to earn a living and ensure the well-being of those who look to us to support. In the President’s case, just look at Michelle Obama, their daughters, and even the support given to his mother-in-law as an indicating that Barack Obama has always taken care of home. Can you put you politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama?

Stereotype #2: The black man is prone to violence and crime.

Obviously, Barack Obama shatters this myth. Like me, he is one of countless black men who have never been involved in violence or crime. We do not have an arrest record, nor do we have the inclination to get one. We know that the best way to live is to follow the law. If the law does not work in our favor, then the course of action is to oppose, but not break said law. In the President’s case, any arrest record or criminality would disqualify him from office and betray the public’s trust. Can you put you politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama?

Stereotype#3: Black people are less likely to be educated, or unwilling to be educated.

Obviously, Barack Obama shatters this myth. Like me, he is one of many black men who hold college degrees from schools across the nation. To dispel another myth, these degrees were earned based upon merit, not a handout of affirmative action. We have a desire to get a quality education, and see our family members do the same. In the President’s case, his Harvard Law Degree should be all you need to hear to say he believes in the value of education. Couple that with Michelle Obama’s degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School, and there should be no reason to doubt the Obama’s commitment to education. Can you put you politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama?

The sad part is the fact that I even feel the need to write this piece. Examples of black men who are doing the right thing abound in our society. Yet, far too often we do not receive the credit we deserve. It is true: we are doing what is expected of us, so why should we get credit for that? My answer is simple: I do not believe black men get much, if any credit for anything! The only way to convince some people to comprehend is to use the example of the most powerful, and admired man in the world IN HOPES that they would understand.

In 850 words, I have provided three admirable qualities of Barack Obama, Unfortunately, these three and many other positive qualities are seldom used to describe millions of black men like Barack Obama. We understand the magnitude of his success and stereotype- shattering significance of his Presidency. Do you?

So I will ask again, can you put your politics to the side and give credit to Barack Obama?

Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!

Learn Our Story: We Are Successful!Black History Heroes

…from the book Wake Up! 42 Ways to Improve Black America Now, by Gary A. McAbee

Thanks to the advances we have made from slavery to the Civil Rights Era; we have been left a remarkable gift by the highest achievers of our race. The gift is their stories of success. We all MUST learn about each of these successful people and many more if we are going to tap into ways that will lead to greatness. We need to understand that most, if not all, of the successful people in our race started with little or nothing. Yet, they were able to use what they had to achieve great things. If they could achieve success, why can’t we, with all of the resources we have in the 21st century, become successful too?

We all know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is because he is one of the few African-American leaders we learn about in school. This is why there is an old joke that goes around about trying to answer a question about a successful black American. The “answer” is always Martin Luther King. Who was the first black American to run in a marathon? Don’t know? Say Martin Luther King!

It is a funny joke, but not because it makes you laugh. It’s funny because it is a true, yet very sad commentary on our knowledge of successful black people. We just don’t know enough about black pioneers and creators. There are thousands of books that contain the “secrets” of our race. We have autobiographies of black Americans such as Booker T. Washington and Malcolm X. We have poetry, created by Phyllis Wheatley and Maya Angelou. We have the magazines produced by John Johnson and Earl Graves.

All of this means that finding and reading literature created by or written about successful black Americans should not be a problem. We have been active in the political arena. Our political leaders have scored countless victories that have not only benefited black Americans, but all races of people. We should be proud of their accomplishments and celebrate their successes. Shirley Chisholm and Maxine Waters are shining examples of the impact African-American women can have in politics. Douglas Wilder and Tom Bradley proved that black men could be elected and handle state and large city governments. They all proved to us that it can be done. We simply need to find out how they became successful and use their methods to duplicate their success.

In order to build upon the success of others, we must learn about them. Unfortunately, as a whole, African Americans don’t read enough or do our own research unless we have to. We should be willing and able to learn about our true heroes: successful black Americans who paved the way for us today. The internet is a blessing to us because we can easily find all there is to know about successful African Americans. There is no excuse why we do not know about the highest achievers in our race.

So the readers of this book have an assignment: to learn more about the following African Americans. First, search for their biographies. What were their beginnings? Next, read about their achievements. What were their goals? What obstacles did they overcome? Finally, learn their secrets to emulate their successes. What achievements make them famous?

The following list of famous African Americans should be researched to learn more about their legacies and contributions to our race. It consists of African-American men and women who achieved greatness in various walks of life. Purposely, it does not include famous athletes or modern day entertainers. Although their contributions are very important, if asked, I am confident that most of them would attribute their success to people on this list. If not, then they have an assignment too!

Some Famous Black Americans

  1. Fannie Lou Hamer
  2. Paul Robeson
  3. Marian Anderson
  4. Mae Jemison
  5. Earl Graves
  6. Booker T Washington
  7. Benjamin Banneker
  8. Madame CJ Walker
  9. Ben Carson
  10. Frederick Douglas
  11. Thurgood Marshall
  12. Shirley Chisholm
  13. Phyllis Wheatley
  14. Mary McLeod Bethune
  15. Sojourner Truth
  16. Matthew Henson
  17. W.E. B. Dubois
  18. Granville T. Woods
  19. Frederick Douglass
  20. Bessie Coleman

After learning about these outstanding examples of success, we should not let our research about the achievements of African Americans stop here. These are only 20 out of millions of successful black Americans worldwide. Our race has produced some of the brightest, most creative minds in human history. We can learn volumes from these people and put their action plans to work immediately. The question is: are we as a race ready, willing, and able to use our heroes as our role models so our race can become successful?

A State of Conscious Rage in 2016

A State of Conscious Rage in 2016

James Baldwin

Photo courtesy of QuoteHD.com

African-American novelist and playwright James Baldwin said it best: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

The only way to appreciate this famous quote by James Baldwin is to listen and learn. If you are truly interested, you should try to see how it plays into my daily activities, and how it leads to the state of rage Baldwin speaks about. At least I can control it; many cannot. What is this rage? It refers to the constant and endless bombardment of the outside world telling us that we are inferior just because of the color of our skin. It is also because we are repeatedly told we should just get over “it.” We have no right to feel the way we do about injustices against us, both real and imagined, even though they continue to happen right before our eyes.

We recently heard stories that John Ehrlichman, former aide to then President Nixon, said that the war on drugs was really an affront to go after black people and anti-war protestors. This is a damning revelation, but are we really surprised about it? While this admission is really old news, it both confirms and reinforces the stories of countless African-Americans who believe the “system” is rigged against us. It is simply confirmation that we didn’t need. It is one of many reasons for my rage.

Why am I in a rage almost all the time?

  • The Oscars celebrate the best work in films and entertainment, but not one of the major categories has a single black nominee…
  • The Sportsperson of the Year Award given to Serena Williams is questioned because a horse had a good year too…
  • Some states are limiting the hours for voting, while others are insisting on various forms of ID that will disenfranchise many poor and elderly people…
  • The Flint Water Crisis and all the effects of drinking lead tainted water will ultimately produce…
  • President Obama is criticized for every move he makes, from visiting Cuba, to speaking briefly about police misconduct, to nominating a Supreme Court Justice…
  • The Black Lives Matter movement is labelled as a hate group, but its objective is to raise awareness about issues far too often ignored in our society…

These are things happening on a macro level, so how do they psychologically affect my personal life? Why am in a rage almost all the time? In 2016…

  • I was recently stopped by the police and one false move could have ended in jail time or worse…
  • My neighbors still give me with a less then friendly greeting even though I am always first to acknowledge their presence…
  • My son was labelled as a problem because he was in the wrong school at the wrong time of his academic journey…
  • I was alive while black when a store clerk, who handed the person right in front of me his change and thanked him, dropped my change in the palm of my hand without saying a word…

I could go on and on, but doing so will only overstate the obvious:

“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”- James Baldwin

 

Fear of a Routine Traffic Stop

Police-Lights

Recently I was pulled over by the police for a routine traffic stop. It was six o’clock at night so there was still plenty of light. I had a broken driver’s side mirror that was still intact, but patched up so that it was still serviceable. I thought that was the reason why I was being stopped. The police pulled up behind me, and followed me for two blocks and then turned on their lights to make the stop. Unbeknownst to me, the registration on my car had expired. I found a safe place to pull over and awaited my fate.

There were a million thoughts running through my head: will this be a friendly or hostile police officer? How long will this stop take? How much of a fine will I get for a damaged mirror? I knew my driver’s license is clear; I have no points on it and my last ticket was four years ago. Yet I still had a feeling of uneasiness as I put the car in park. Then it happened, I spotted a female officer in my right side mirror, slowly inching toward my car. When she got to the rear window, I rolled it down. She yelled, “The other side!” Then she pointed in the opposite direction. I turned to my left, and there was a male officer at my driver’s side window. He was trying to talk to me, but I did not respond because I did not know he was there!

I quickly gained my composure and rolled down the window. He asked the typical question, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “No,” I replied. He told me my car’s registration had expired. Then he asked for my license, registration, and insurance card. I pulled out my wallet to produce my driver’s license, and then opened the glove compartment to get my registration and insurance card. Meanwhile, the female officer had a curious angle to my right to watch the exchange take place. He also asked who owned the car, before he hastily went back to his police car. The female officer made a much more cautious retreat back to the car. I saw that she never took her eyes off me.

After about five minutes, he returned to my driver’s side window. He told me the car was registered in my wife’s name, but if I am driving it I should know about the expired registration. He did look at the damaged mirror, but said nothing about it. Instead, he issued me a warning for the expired registration and told me to get the car registered as soon as possible. I felt a sense of relief until I looked over my right shoulder. Again, the female officer carefully slid back to her position near my passenger door. She had an anxious look on her face that really made me nervous.

Now I know this seems like an innocent encounter with two police officers that ended without incident or fine. Thank God for that! It was an example of proper police work, and a level of professionalism that I appreciated once the stop ended. However, for me it was far more than a regular traffic stop. It was a situation that could have escalated into a conflict with far worse consequences than a traffic fine. It could have become a #CopsLivesMatter vs #BlackLivesMatter situation. Maybe it was my imagination, but I know how easy these encounters can turn into a confrontation. Let me review a few points…

  1. He was trying to talk to me, but I did not respond because I did not know he was there! What would have happened if my lack of communication led the officer to think that I was being uncooperative? If you don’t think this is possible, please review the case of Sandra Bland.
  2. I pulled out my wallet to produce my driver’s license, and then opened the glove compartment to get my registration and insurance card. What would have happened if either officer believed I was reaching for a weapon? If you don’t think this is possible, please review the case of Jamaal Jones.
  3. She had an anxious look on her face that really made me nervous. What would have happened if she and her partner thought I was a criminal who made them fear for their lives? If you don’t think this is possible, please review the case of Marcus Jeter.

I know that critics who read this will be quick to say that none of these things happened, so what is the big deal. The big deal is that EVERYTIME I see the police, I get a little nervous. Even though I am a law-abiding citizen without a criminal record, I STILL get nervous when I see the police. To be fair, I must share the event described by Will Stack, who is a law-abiding citizen whose traffic stop ended without incident. Not all stops end with a confrontation because there are thousands of good cops who act with professionalism and courtesy every day.

However, this does not diminish the fact that I have to be careful anytime I am stopped by the police any way. I have far too many personal #AliveWhileBlack stories to support my anxiety anytime I see officers of the law in my rearview mirror.

Yes it is true that #CopsLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter. No one disputes this. This is my attempt to let you know that when it comes to routine traffic stops, it is important to remember that #BlackLivesMatter too.

More than an Innocent Prank: T-Shirts Today, Discrimination Tomorrow?

Recently six white Arizona teen girls used extremely poor judgment when the posed in a photo wearing t-shirts that spelled “NI**ER”. I think everyone who analyzed the incident displayed all of the normal reactions to the photo. The media and social media outlets plastered the photo and sparked the outrage of many. Critics called for the expulsion of the girls from school. Even some supporters called it an innocent childhood prank based on poor judgment that occurs during those confused teenage years. While I can see both sides of the issue, my mind immediately jumped to a much different conclusion. It is the same place I go every time one of these “news” stories comes to light. Honestly, I am beyond outrage when these events occur. Instead, I think about what this “innocent prank” could lead to in the future.

I am NOT saying these girls are racist. I do not know them, nor do I know what is in their hearts and minds. Despite the “evidence” of the photo, I reuse to judge them for their poor choice to arrange themselves in a pose that spells out such a cruel word. However, to make my point, I need to use them as an example and use a hypothetical what if one of these girls is racist, and that thought-process stays with them throughout their life.

There is a possibility that at least one of the girls pictured in the controversial photo is a racist. What could the potential impact of this one girl possibly be? Let’s say she grew up in an environment where racism thrived, or at a minimum, was subtly a way of life. This girl could choose to think white people are superior. This could cause her to look down on people of other races due to prejudices built up and reinforced over time. In all honesty, she is entitled to feel this way. However, her thought-processes will eventually manifest themselves in actions, and this is where the problem “starts”.

N Word Pic

Photo courtesy of: New York Daily News | CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN

Don’t get me wrong, I hope this girl gets a good education and becomes a contributor to our society. The question is; what will her contribution be? Suppose she eventually works her way into management and has the responsibility of hiring personnel. She screens resumes to find potential candidates and runs across resumes from qualified applicants Tawana Jones or Ricardo Lopez. What do you think she will do with those resumes? Suppose she eventually owns rental properties and has the responsibility to screen rental applicants. When she searches, she is visited by qualified potential renters named Sun-Li Bok or Jamario Johnson. What do you think she will do after she shows them the properties?

If you think these are just hypothetical situations that do not happen on a daily basis, feel free to stop reading now. Unfortunately, I do not have the horsepower to convince you of anything different. For those who are at least open to the possibility of these scenarios existing in 2016, I applaud you. Now suppose our t-shirt wearing teen becomes a teacher at a local school. By now, she is in her 50s, and her deep seated racist beliefs have been etched in stone. She encounters a young black male student, who has the ability to be successful, but does not respond well to her. Maybe he senses something about his teacher that makes him uncomfortable. He has disciplinary issue, and she sits on the school’s disciplinary review board. What do you think her recommendation will be?

So yes, six teenage girls who choose to spell out a distasteful slur take a picture that goes viral. It sparks outrage by those who are “offended”. So be it. It even sparks support from those who defend, or at least, “understand” their innocent prank. So be it. For me, this is not a question about a “temporary” lack of judgement. Instead, it is the fear that it shows the potential racism that lives in one of these girls. As this cancer of racism grows inside this young lady, how will it eventually manifest itself in the future? Who will it negatively affect somewhere down the line? When will it be used as a means to get ahead, or stay ahead of another person?

As a final thought, how many young people in our society think this was just an “innocent prank”, and how many of them will act in the future on racist feelings they possess in the present? The next time one of these issues come to light, these are the questions we should be asking ourselves.

 

*** At the time of this writing, one of the girls came forward with an apology for the incident. Hopefully she has learned a lesson that she will use in the future to create more positive outcomes, such as granting interviews on the basis of merit or renting to people regardless of their race.

 

 

 

If Black Lives Matter, Why Don’t Black People Protest About “Black-on-Black” Crime?

Black Genocide

Photo: http://www.voguevoice.com/but-nobody-protests-black-on-black-crime/                            Black-on-Black Crime Myths Discredited

Many opponents of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement point to the issue of “black-on- black crime” and question why we do not protest when a black person kills another black person. Their argument is to say that crimes committed by black people against black people are an epidemic not being addressed by the black community. Instead, our focus is misplaced and amped up when a police officer kills an unarmed black person. They say black lives matter then, but not in our communities where crime and violence is rampant. The “we ignore black-on-black crime” narrative then overshadows, or at the very least is used as a counterargument, against the issue of potential police misconduct against black people.

Let me begin with the false notion of “black-on-black” crime. First of all, this is a myth because research shows that people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live. If a black person lives in a predominately black community, it is more likely they would become a victim of crime at the hands of another black person. Critics of Black Lives Matter and those seeking to race bait somehow gloss over this fact. By the way, the same concept holds true for white people who live in predominately white communities. Do we call crime in these communities “white-on-white” crime?

How about “yellow-on-yellow” crime, as a derogatory reference to Asian people who commit crimes against other Asian people? How about “brown-on brown” crime, as a derogatory reference to Hispanic people who commit crimes against other Hispanic people? Here’s a great one: how about “red-on-red” crime, as a derogatory reference to Native Americans who commit crimes against other Native Americans. Just say these references aloud a few times and you should realize how ridiculous each sounds. Then ask a question: why are these terms not used, even though crime statistics support their “validity”? Again, people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live.

For the sake of argument, let’s give some validity to the “black-on-black” crime narrative. Critics of movements like Black Lives Matter will say we sit back and allow “black-on-black” crime to occur in cities across the country. Where are the protest marches when a teen is gunned down in Chicago? How about when there is a gang-related shooting in Memphis? What about drug-related violence in St. Louis? Where is the outrage in the black community?

Let’s think about this for a second: again, people are more likely to be a victim of crime from someone they know, or the ethnic group from the place where they live. Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in Chicago are not anxious about the safety of their children on the way to and from school? Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in Memphis are not worried about their children getting caught up in gangs and criminal behavior? Do you think for one second that black people who live and work in St. Louis are not concerned about drug-usage in their community and the violence that usually follows? I question the motives and sincerity of anyone who would dare think we are not disturbed about these issues in our communities. They say: If Black Lives Matter, Why Don’t Black People Protest About Black-on-Black Crime?

While we see images of BLM protests that spring up when a police officer kills an unarmed black person under strange circumstances, we do not see images of community rallies when crime gets out of control in inner-cities. These protests exist, and they are more abundant than protests when law enforcement officers shoot unarmed black people. Let me repeat: These protests exist, and they are more abundant than protests when law enforcement officers shoot unarmed black people. I am sure critics who read this will not believe this fact, so let’s dispel the myth once and for all that we do not care about “black-on-black” crime. We do, and black people around the country protest violence in their communities, and work tirelessly to bring forth change.

The following list, though not exhaustive, documents several “black-on-black” anti-crime protests conducted in 2015 alone. Why was there little coverage of these events? Maybe it is to keep the disproven narrative of “black-on-black” crime alive. Or maybe it is because the rallies below are not a sensational as rallies against allegations of police brutality. In either case, the only way to dispel the myth that black people do not protest against violence in their own communities is to do some research. An even better approach is to join one of the anti-crime rallies orchestrated and led by black people around the country. Then everyone will know that Black Lives Matter in black communities, even when we don’t hear about it or see it in the news…

East Flatbush, NY: Dec, 2015

http://interactive.nydailynews.com/2015/12/former-gangbangers-reduce-gun-violence-brooklyns-streets/index.html?utm_content=buffer2b6f4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Jersey City, NJ: Nov 2015

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2015/11/jersey_city_residents_march_to_stop_the_violence.htm

Chicago, IL: Nov 2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/alphas-in-the-streets-march_565364c2e4b0879a5b0be458

Harrisburg, PA: Nov 2015

http://fox43.com/2015/11/28/harrisburg-community-protests-violence-after-two-men-killed-in-two-different-shootings/

Charlotte, NC: Oct 2015

http://qcitymetro.com/2015/10/19/marchers-carry-anti-crime-message/

Irvington (Indianapolis, IN): Sept 2015

http://wishtv.com/2015/09/13/irvington-holds-anti-violence-rally/

Portsmouth, VA: Aug 2015

http://wavy.com/2015/08/14/movement-against-gun-violence-grows-in-portsmouth/

Rockford, IL: July 2015

http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/Community-Marches-Against-Violence-and-Crime-317039821.html

Ypsilanti, MI: July 2015

http://photos.mlive.com/ann-arbor_photos/2015/07/ypsilanti_community_protest_to_18.html

Pittsfield, MA: June 2015

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_28467320/pittsfield-residents-rally-protest-violence

Brooklyn, NY: June 2015

http://www.ny1.com/nyc/brooklyn/news/2015/06/11/anti-violence-activists-rally-amid-crime-spike–launch-of-summer-all-out.html

Hartford, CT: June 2015

http://www.wfsb.com/story/29257037/rev-al-sharpton-leads-anti-violence-rally-through-hartford

Tampa, FL: March 2015

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/stop-the-violence-rally-held-in-response-to-surge-in-tampa-shootings/2222624

Joliet, IL: March 2015

http://www.theherald-news.com/2015/03/14/joliet-residents-and-leaders-urge-community-to-stop-the-violence/am2fujq/

Milwaukee, WI: March 2015

http://milwaukeenns.org/2015/03/20/unite-milwaukee-summit-seeks-to-address-violence/

Baton Rouge, LA: Jan 2015

http://www.wbrz.com/news/family-holds-rally-for-bloody-start-to-new-year/

 

Good Times Teaches Lessons Learned Yesterday from the Headlines of Today

Good Times

I have learned valuable lessons from the 1970s hit television show Good Times (1974-1979). The show followed the lives of the Evans family as they tried to survive through hard times. Good Times is regarded as a classic sitcom because issues covered by the show still exist today. Unemployment, bullying, and gun safety are a few of the many subjects in Good Times that are in the headlines today.

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with unemployment in our communities.

James Evans was the hard-working father who worked tirelessly to provide for his family. It was the only way of life he knew. James dropped out of school to work and support his family. Since then, he had a hard time finding and keeping stable employment due to his lack education and the shortage of available jobs. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with bullying in our schools.

In “The Lunch Money Ripoff” (1975) episode, youngest son Michael Evans was the victim of a bully at school. He had to give up his lunch and money every day, or face punishment from the bully. Michael invited the bully to spend the weekend with the Evans family to solve the problem. It was one of the few times the bully saw a loving family led by both parents. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with gun safety in our homes.

In “The Family Gun” (1975) episode, the community is rocked by crime due to unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, and poverty. The family needs protection, so they keep an unsecured gun in a closet. The gun is supposedly hidden, just like many homeowners claim today. Everything appears to be alright until the gun is missing. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with violence and gangs in our communities.

In “The Gang- Part One” (1974) episode, oldest son JJ Evans was being forced into joining a gang. He was needed to help win a fight with a rival gang. JJ realized that gang life was not for him, so decided he would do anything not to get involved. He was shot when he refused to go to fight with the gang. Sound familiar?

Lesson learned: we are still dealing with the need for two-income households.

Florida Evans was the strong-willed mother and backbone of the Evans family. She spent the majority of her life being a housewife. Florida realized she had to do more to supplement the family income, so she went back to school. Later she entered the workforce too, even though it meant less time to spend with the family. Sound familiar?

Good Times covered lessons from the past still in headlines we see today. The show taught me a lot about families and the ties that keep them together. If you have not watched this iconic sitcom lately, I suggest you find Good Times to learn some valuable lessons too!

What is the Presidential Effect?

… an excerpt from Rise Up! 42 Additional Ways to Improve Black America Now! by Gary A. McAbee

Obama

Being totally honest, I shed quite a few tears when President Obama gave his victory speech on election night. I thought of all of the black people who fought, cried, survived, and died so that I could see that moment. Personally, it felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Wow! Anything and everything really is possible. Then, just moments after the President-elect, his running mate and their families left the stage, the weight of his victory crashed down upon me. I felt the burden of helping to improve Black America again.

I realized the importance of finishing this book to do my part. The bottom line is: Barack Obama did his part; our ancestors did their part.

When are we, and I mean each and every one of us, going to do our part? When are we going to clean up our neighborhoods? When are we going to educate our children? When are we going to encourage and support each other?

 The amazing thing about President Barack and Michelle Obama is that they embody exactly what is in this book. Starting from the beginning, they know OUR STORY, in part because of Barack Obama’s diverse past and experiences. They know the importance of EDUCATION for themselves and their children. Their lives prove that they are SELF-MOTIVATED, and they will do what it takes to remain successful. They are both interested in SELF IMPROVEMENT; their pursuit of higher education demonstrates this fact. They are both outstanding COMMUNICATORS who can relate to people from all walks of life.

They SUPPORT each other and their children constantly. They have learned important LESSONS that they put into daily practice. Their FAMILY is the model that all families should strive to be. They are conscious of their FINANCES and know how it feels to survive off a little until blessed with more. Their lives have included providing SERVICE to others. They have always been ardent supporters of their COMMUNITY, long before President Obama’s days as a community organizer. Finally, they have been called to lead our SOCIETY into a better future. As I said before, they are doing their part and living up to the ideals in this book. The question is: can you also live up to these ideals Black America?

 This is why, his life, as well as the life of our wonderful First Lady Michelle Obama, must become THE example of how we should live our lives as African Americans. We must be college educated. We must find the best mate possible and build our families. We must work for a living to support our families. We must volunteer in our communities. We must raise our children in two-parent households. We must totally support the dreams and goals of our companions. We must provide the best educational opportunities for our children. We must support our parents as they become older. We must grow, thrive, and prosper as African Americans.

 So the challenge, whether or not history tells us that Barack Obama was a great President or an awful one, is to wake up and contribute to fixing the problems of the black community, while strengthening the numerous positive aspects that we already possess. In this process, we will be building our society as a whole. There are no more excuses. There is no longer a “need” to wait for someone else to do it for us. We must make sure that we tell our children that anything and everything is possible, regardless of our race, gender, economic situation, education, or perceived disadvantages that may, or may not exist.

As a final thought, we MUST UNDERSTAND that it will take education, hard work, sacrifice, diligence, love, creativity, passion, desire, inspiration, motivation, networking, understanding, enthusiasm, wisdom, planning, risk taking, dreaming, goal setting, writing, reading, and intelligence to be successful. This is why Barack Obama has been successful. This is how we all can be successful too. This is how our children can be successful. The time is RIGHT NOW!

This is the Presidential Effect…