Tag Archives: Police Brutality

If the YOU Fits, Wear It

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If the YOU Fits, Wear It

Colin Kaepernick (and countless others) tried to prevent the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by trying to get YOU to talk about police brutality. They tried to get YOU to understand, or maybe just show a sliver of empathy. It was done peacefully. In Kaepernick’s case, he went as far as contacting Retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer to find a method of protest that would be appropriate. Mr. Boyer and Kaepernick settled on a taking a knee. Maybe they found a way that would get YOU to take notice. Maybe this time YOU would listen.

YOU chose to disregard the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

The message was clear. We need to finally have a conversation about the way black people and black communities are policed. We need to address the issue of police brutality. We need to discuss justice for those whose rights are violated unjustly at the hands of the police. Finally, we need to improve police training and tactics so black people can feel safe in their own communities while seeing police as an ally, not an adversary.

YOU chose to twist the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Suddenly, Kaepernick’s protest was about disrespecting the military. How can that be true? He consulted an Army veteran to discuss a respectful method of protest. It was agreed that kneeling would be appropriate. Thousands of veterans from all races and walks of life support Kaepernick and his method of protest. But by your standards, kneeling in silence is too loud! YOU also said it disrespects the flag. In what way? Did he break any of the good ole American “revere the flag” traditions? He did not burn it. He did not let it hit the ground. He did not wear it as a garment. When did Kaepernick disrespect the flag?

YOU always use your privilege to define what is right and what is wrong. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Your privilege says YOU still have the “right” to define right from wrong. Your privilege “allows” YOU to redefine the protest, push the wrong ideology, and garner support by using a false narrative. Your privilege “warrants” the ability to tell everyone else how to protest, when to protest, where to protest, and why to protest. If any protest falls outside your views, then YOU also decide we can not and should not be allowed protest. But isn’t it ironic that YOU always defend your right to protest as it is written in your Constitution? That is privilege. It says to me, your Constitution was not written for us.

YOU chose to (dare I say) shoot the messenger instead of reading the message. If the YOU fits, wear it.

It is unfair to discuss Colin Kaepernick without mentioning protesters and leaders who preceded him. The United States of America has shown an interesting pattern: vilify the leader of the protests if they are black. Regardless of the protest or the real reasons for the protest, the response is always the same. YOU choose to discredit the messenger to twist the message. YOU did it to Frederick. YOU did it to Harriet. YOU did it to Sojourner. YOU did it to Marcus. YOU did it to Martin. YOU did it to Fannie. YOU did it to Malcolm. YOU did it to John Carlos and Tommie Smith. YOU did it to Sharpton. YOU did it to Colin. And the sad part is, YOU do not know more than 2 or 3 names on this incomplete list, nor do you know the protests they led and the messages they tried to deliver.

YOU do not allow us a remedy when we have a problem. If the YOU fits, wear it.

Each of the people referenced had an agenda. Each had a message. Each had a concern. Each had a remedy for the issues they tried to discuss. In fact, all these messengers and the protests they led pointed to a fundamental truth about America. Your country has never lived up to the promises it “made” to us:

  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  • Equal protection under the law
  • Rights protected and defended in the Bill of Rights and amendments to the Constitution
  • All men are created equal
  • Government as the protector of the people and the rights bestowed upon them as Americans

Believe it or not, America has not fully lived up to these basic, fundamental principles as they relate to black people. I know this is the part where, once again, YOU get to tell me I am wrong. YOU get to define my experiences in this country even though I live them daily and YOU do not. YOU have the right to tell me to love America or leave America even though neither of us started here. YOU get to defend your beliefs, while I do not get to defend mine.

YOU choose to ignore the problem yet again. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU choose to stick your hand in the sand, while we tell YOU repeatedly that we do not feel like we are full-fledged American citizens. YOU choose to disregard our challenges, many of which are as American as apple pie: racism, economic distress, basic and human rights, lack of protection under the law, poor education, incarceration, destruction of our families, and police brutality. By the way, this is NOT an exhaustive list of the challenges we face. Why does it take protest for YOU to understand these issues? Why does it take protests for YOU to “hear” us? I have a better one. Why have Harriet, Marcus, Martin, and Colin had to protest the same problems over and over again, yet YOU still choose to ignore them?

YOU are surprised that peaceful protests become violent protests. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU think our protests are riots. Not true. YOU think our protests are about looting. Not true. YOU think protests are bout violence. Not true. Let me be clear: our protests are an attempt to get YOU to at least hear our concerns. Yet YOU chose not to be concerned. YOU choose not to learn. YOU chose not to show empathy. YOU choose not to care. YOU choose not to listen. Human nature leads the messenger to turn up the volume of the message until YOU can hear it. When protests become violent, it is because your ears are closed. Your mind is closed. Your heart is closed. Honestly, I am amazed there are so many peaceful protests because they have not been “effective” yet. YOU still do not hear the message.

YOU do not listen regardless of how the protest occurs. If the YOU fits, wear it.

We protest by negotiating, ask Frederick. YOU do not listen. We protest by sitting, ask Rosa. YOU do not listen. We protest by giving speeches, ask Martin. YOU do not listen. We protest by marching, ask John (Lewis). YOU do not listen. We protest by taking a knee, ask Colin. YOU do not listen. Do YOU notice a trend? We protest, and YOU do not listen. Each of these protests were peaceful, but still YOU did not listen and I know why. In your view, we do not have the right to protest. Remember, your Constitution was not written for us. We should be happy to be American, right? We should be happy to live in the “greatest country in the world”, right? We should respect all things American, even though most of those things never respect us, right? We “are” American so why should we even consider protesting? To YOU we should, dare I say, get on our knees and thank our Creator for being “American”. Under these false beliefs, I can almost understand why YOU believe YOU do not have to listen to us.

YOU want acceptance of the status quo because it benefits YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU need law and order to protect your interests, not mine. IF the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU have the inherent right to force you views upon me and I must agree. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU cannot possibly be wrong under any circumstance. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU are not concerned, as long as my issues do not affect YOU. If the YOU fits, wear it.

YOU have been conditioned to think a certain way because of your privilege. If the YOU fits, wear it.

As a final thought, because YOU choose not to listen, YOU can expect more civil unrest. Because YOU choose not to care, YOU can expect more peaceful protests. Because YOU choose not to help us, YOU can expect more violent protests. Because YOU do not feel the need to see things from our perspective, YOU can expect deeper divisions in our country. We tried to tell YOU. Harriet said it. Marcus said it. Malcolm said it. Colin said it. In fact, he even asked BEFORE he said it. Still YOU do not understand. YOU do not support us. YOU do not respect us. YOU do not want us here. YOU do not accept us as equal. YOU do not listen.

If the YOU fits, wear it. At least we will know who YOU are.

Do YOU know who YOU are?

 

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 can 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.

 

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The League, The Anthem, The Truth

ball2

Welcome back NBA! Now that the 2017-2018 NBA season has started, we have a little housekeeping to do concerning the National Anthem. I am sure everyone is waiting to see what players on teams around the league will do once the anthem is played. For the record, I hope they do something, and continue to do something throughout the season. If they take a knee, I will applaud them. If they sit down, I will applaud them. If they stand up, I will applaud them. In my opinion, as long as some of the players show their support for the cause, I will applaud them.

Of course, one must ask what cause I am referring to. I am referring to the original cause. You know it by now: protesting during the anthem against police misconduct and brutality in communities across the nation. THIS IS THE CAUSE. It is the cause started by Colin Kaepernick of the NFL. As Kaepernick said, this is not about the flag, nor is it about disrespecting the military or soldiers. Instead, it is a simple, yet powerful statement to raise awareness of police brutality towards people of color.

Side note: Whether you agree with it or not, this is the cause he stated as the reason for his protests during the National Anthem. To put any other label on the protests is unfair, especially when the cause has been clearly stated. It is true, you have your right to your own opinion, but changing the narrative that has been identified to wrong.

Now that the NBA is back in season, one must wonder what the reaction will be if players protest. I have a good idea based upon what we have heard already…

…the players have no respect for the military.

…the players have no reason to be upset because they are doing well financially.

and the kicker…

…the players should be doing something about black-on-black crime (or the gun violence in Chicago).

If the players protest, you and I both know it’s coming! Let one NBA player protest the anthem, and I guarantee you will hear at least one of these reactions. Well I am here to dispel these ideas that NBA players (and athletes in general) are not on the frontlines standing against issues that affect their communities. Let me be even clearer: black athletes are consistently involved in making a positive impact in the black community. Black athletes deal with issues like poverty, violence, and education in our communities.

Critics want proof. While I am not here to provide an extensive list, I will provide information easily found online to defend NBA players against the attacks that are sure to come. These examples show NBA players, through their own charitable foundations, and NBA teams in action fighting against social issues. In fact, the NBA has programs that work with the military and police as well. All of these and numerous other examples can be found by searching online.

So remember, if you see NBA players take a knee or take a seat during the National Anthem, please understand that they are more than just athletes. They are aware, concerned, and fighting against issues in black communities across the country.

 

NBA Cares

NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Special Olympics, YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Share Our Strength and GLSEN.

http://cares.nba.com/

 

NBA Cares Hoops For Troops

NBA Cares Hoops for Troops is a year-round initiative led by the NBA, its teams and players in collaboration with the Department of Defense, USO and other military and veteran-serving organizations to honor active and retired service men and women and their families.

http://hoopsfortroops.nba.com

 

NBA Cares My Brother’s Keeper

In 2014, the NBA family set a goal to recruit 25,000 new mentors over five years, with a focus on adult males of color. Less than three years into the partnership and less than one year since the campaign’s launch, more than 25,000 Americans have already signed up to become a mentor and been connected directly to a mentoring program in their community.

http://cares.nba.com/my-brothers-keeper/

 

Chicago Bulls Charities

http://www.nba.com/bulls/gallery/chicago-bulls-youth-guidance-and-chicago-police-department-host-basketball-tournament

On July 18, the Chicago Bulls and Jordan Brand hosted a basketball tournament and conversation circles at the Advocate Center for students in Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man (BAM) program and Chicago Police Department officers.

 

Joakim Noah, Player NY Knicks- Noah’s Arc

Noah’s Arc arts programs give young people in under-served areas and those who are dealing with emotional and/or physical adversity the opportunity to engage in powerful self-expression.

https://www.noahsarcfoundation.org/

 

Dwayne Wade (Chicago native), player Cleveland Cavaliers- Live to Dream Program

The Live To Dream program was developed in part to assist the City of Chicago in their continued efforts to decrease the violence and fatalities by providing safe havens and high quality programming for youth.

http://www.wadesworldfoundation.org/livetodream/

 

 

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.

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.