There is not much to say that has not already been said. I am angry. I am hurting. I am confused. I am tired. I have been riding such a wave of emotions
We have all picked sides. We have decided that, no matter who we support during these troubled times, we are judge, jury and executioner. Most do not care who they hurt. Many do not care at all. Some care so much, each time these tragedies occur a piece of them dies. Part of their spirit is extinguished. Their hearts break in irreparable fashion and nothing anyone says can help them heal. I am THAT person.
Anyone who knows me can say with certainty that I am a proud black man. I do not make excuses for wearing that pride from head to toe. I was born this way, raised this way and those that came before me afforded me the right…no the privilege…to proclaim that being a black man in this country (with all the challenges that come with it) is an honorable, hard won right. Unless you have lived through the daily struggle that I or any other black man (past, present and future) encounter every day, do not purport to tell me how to feel about the atrocities I am witnessing. Do not pretend to relate to our pain. Do not condescend to our deep, sincere emotional response to this senseless hatred. You have no right. I will not tolerate it. And because my tolerance has devolved, and that of our brothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, daughters, sons, grandparents and most people of color, expect any response that does not come from a place of respect to be addressed accordingly. We are tired and fed up. Take caution in your approach and your tone.
That said respect begets respect. We (black and brown people) cannot walk around our communities, our cities, our country perpetuating the stereotypes that have formed the opinions many have of our culture. Yes, I said it. And before you go there, I will state the obvious. No one deserves to be shot dead in front of his girlfriend and child. No one deserves to be executed while standing outside a convenience store. No one deserves to be shot while running away from police. No one. (And that also means no one who was just doing their job deserves to be ambushed and murdered in cold blood because someone had a misplaced ax to grind). It’s not a color thing. It is a humanity issue; a constitutional right of protection; an expectation of civility. However, we need to stop giving them a target. Stop making it so easy for those who have a negative opinion of who we are to say: “See, that’s why.”
I was raised to comport myself in such a way that when I walk into a room, my background or pedigree is never in question. I was raised to understand that my intelligence is the key to my success. I was raised to educate myself so that when presented with challenges or when my position in society is questioned (for whatever reason) I can speak with keen insight and check anyone who believes he can outwit me simply because of the color of my skin. Decorum, principles, values, self-respect… these characteristics are color-blind. However, as history has shown, people are not. Therefore we have to work harder to maintain a dignified role in society. That is just the reality. Sadly, we have come to believe that raging against what’s right or resisting becoming upstanding men and women is some sort of righteous display of power; a protest against the “man”. No, it’s not. You are demeaning yourself to prove what? You can? How do you win that fight? You will not.
Wake up, please. Obviously the status quo is not working. We are not progressing. We are not healing. We are doing a lot of talking and not enough acting to change the precarious course we are on. Parents, talk to your children. Teach them how to become better citizens. Arm them with knowledge, discipline them when they stray from basic fundamentals, encourage them to be good people. Kind people. Caring people. Nurture their humanity before you shower them with clothes and sneakers and cell phones and video games. Raise men who honor themselves, respect women and others. Prepare them for the challenges they may face and inform them how to deal with the social landmines they will encounter. Ladies, fill your minds, not your closets. Brag about your intellect, not your red bottoms. Be a pillar of strength for the men in your lives, instead of joining the chorus of negativity that weighs down their resolve on a daily basis. Our police… with all due respect for the risks you take to protect and serve, acknowledge there are those among you who disgrace the uniform. Just as there are bad apples that taint the image of black, brown, white people in any society, open your eyes and see there are men and women on the force who do not understand your mission, who disrespect your oath, who have spilled blood on the badge; these rogue cowards must be weeded out and dealt with. Do not criticize the unsavory characters in the communities you patrol without taking a long hard look inside your own “house”. There is enough blame to go around. We all need to do better.
And before you tell me that will not matter, stop. Stop with that excuse. Please. You will not raise your children with values because “it will not matter”? Matter to whom? It should matter to YOU.
I am not ashamed to admit that the tears have flowed. However I do not have the luxury of burying my head in the sand, hoping and waiting that this too shall pass. I have so much work to do. I am not happy with the state of our society and I will continue to do all I can to improve it. Unless you are ready to mount up and help rebuild what has been torn down, please leave me to my mission and I will leave you to yours, whatever that may be.