The Saturday Night Live tribute to Former President Barack Oabama was truly touching to me. In a nut shell, Cicely Strong and Sasheer Zamata, standing under a black and white portrait of POTUS #44, summed up my relationship with Mr. Obama with an emotional rendition of “To Sir, With Love”, the moving song sung by Barabara “Babs” Pegg, played byLulu, to thank her teacher of school and in life Mr. Mark Thackeray, played by the talented Sidney Portier, in the movie by the same name.
In the beginning I had my doubts about Mr. Obama. He wasn’t a hard hittin’ homie ready to make shit real enough for the black community in my book. He was too busy trying to appeal to people who had no intention of ever being appealed, the conservative right and the social establishment controlled by the people who say they wish for all of us to be racially generic. I resisted his cool demeanor. I was insulted by the way he would try and placate any fear of black favoritism by keeping the black community at arm’s length for the most part.
But Mr. Obama had a game to play and he couldn’t do the things he was able to do if he got hunkered down in a racially charged fight by standing on one side of the racial divide or the other. There were bigger fish to fry in the limited time he held the keys that unlocked the deepest secrets of this kingdom. He focused on doing his best for everybody in the most non threatening way he could. I understood that was what he felt he had to do back then. I understand just the same now. But now I guess I have a little more empathy for his position, although I would like to think that if I was in the same position I would do things differently. And that’s probably why I would never be elected President of the United States (as if that feat was ever in danger of actually happening).
And to see him turn the cheek on all the people who would use whatever position of influence he or she possessed to belittle him in ways no President of the United States ever suffered. He’s the achievement of every black individual and every black celebrity and every black person of pride and every black person who’s the first to achieve anything rolled into one. He was able to break into the most exclusive club on the planet open to every citizen of this country. He became the first black POTUS. And that is something no conservative, politician or critic, will ever take from him for as long as anyone has a reason to remember the social construct known as the United States of America.
I have to admit I had a stiff upper lip when I heard the news that Donald J. Chump would become the 45th President of the United States. I also have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to a Hillary Clinton as POTUS either. The majority of her speeches were dull, she appeared to be aloof in too many public appearances, and she should have done a better job with a lot of her campaigning. But given the choices I think the lady was clearly the best and most qualified person for the job of running our collective’s business when compared to Mr. Chump. A lot of people felt that she had it in the bag. But a lot of people were also saying that a lot of her supporters were in danger of taking this past election for granted. The results speak for themselves. When the results manifested late that early November Tuesday election night, I tried to console myself in the comforting thought that we were warned. We the people of the United States had a chance and we blew it.
Ever since that night I was able to look into the unwelcoming abyss called the future with President Trump with acceptance; the kind of acceptance that resembles the resolve of Captain Kirk riding his starship into the jaws of hell. And I’m not talking about Captain James T. Kirk who had always managed to cheat death at the last minute. I’m talking about his father, Captain George Samuel Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth in the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise. George Kirk was captain of the USS Kelvin for all of twelve minutes. But he welcomed death as his inevitability when he rammed his ship into the Romulan vessel from the future. When you know the gig is up you have no choice but to ride that last ride through.
So yeah, I had a sense of acceptance. The future is cast and the chips are steadily falling where they may. I may not like it. But I will not go gently into that night like a little self absorbed bitch. Chin up. Head high. I watched as the Borg Queen told me that my world was ending and there was nobody coming to save me from what the American political system had wrought. I watched the clock wind down to the Trump inauguration. I watched as the true to life personification of the Omen’s Damien attains the throne of the world for the sake of his hellish father’s bidding. I watched the protest gather momentum yesterday over the world as people demonstrated to remind the Trump administration as to where the true power resides. I watched it all without looking back to what we were losing and what we are giving up.
And then to wind things up this weekend of the beginning of the end, for the first time in years, I actually took the time to watch Saturday Night Live as it broadcasted from New York City. I was impressed with the quality of the show. Over the years I have seen videos and outtakes and bits and pieces of skits over the years. But last night was the first time in years I actually was up late on a Saturday night and I bothered to turn the television to NBC to watch the show. I couldn’t even tell you the last cast I saw. I know it was post Eddie Murphy. Maybe it was when Keenan Thompson became a regular. Regardless, the show was guest hosted by Aziz Ansari and it was the funniest I’ve seen from SNL in forever. And Big Sean was the musical talent. I’m embarrassed to say that I have never taken the time to listen to this artist. I will be trying to learn more about him in the immediate future. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and if that was just a sample of what they’ve been doing lately I’m going to have to make a special effort to set the DVR for future episodes.
The show was winding down with only a handful of minutes left to spare. Coming back from commercial the show reopened with Ms. Strong standing on a darkened stage, highlighted under a single spot light, in front of the portrait of Mr. Obama. Without any fanfare or distraction the music starts and Ms. Strong sings, “Those school girl days…” Immediately my attention level piqued a couple of notches.. It had been years since I’ve even thought of this movie. But I suddenly remember Sidney Portier standing in front of those white English kids helping to prepare them for the future. They were better prepared than many of them thought was ever possible. The group of students that started out as nothing more than future residents of the penal system, began to see the world through the eyes of people ready to take responsibility for their fate with a seriousness that evaded them before. And they had the black American to thank for their newfound perspective. The somber tone of the song enveloped me. “How do you thank someone that has taken you from crayons to perfume?” It’s not easy but I will try.
My eyes started to well up. For eight years I had the luxury to just sit back. I thank you Mr. Obama for giving my family and I as well as all of my friends, my co workers, my associates, my neighborhood, my fellow citizens of this country and the world, an example of leadership and of dignity that has become rare and special. I thank your wife, the essence of black royalty and the world’s first black First Lady. I thank your daughters Sasha and Malia for enduring the spotlight that had become their world and seeing it through to the end with a maturity that is exceptional for such young people. I thank your mother in law for being there to help you through everything the world has put you through. But most of all by far, I thank you for your service! No one could have done better.
Saturday, January 22, 2017
Pictures don’t lie! But the Trump administration will! Ain’t no way the attendance of the the Trump inauguration comes close to the attendance of the Obama inauguration!
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Shit just got really shitty!
There’s been a lot of talk about the videos showing the scene in an Atlantic City casino elevator when Baltimore Raven’s football player Ray Rice punched his then fiancé Janay Palmer in the face knocking her unconscious earlier this year in February. Later in March, a grand jury indicted Mr. Rice on a charge of third degree aggravated assault. The couple was married the following day.
In the first version of the video released to the public, all we see is a perspective from outside the elevator doors where Mr. Rice clumsily carries his unconscious future wife’s limp body out of the elevator car and lays her down on the hotel floor. The National Football League got into the mix and decided to punish Mr. Rice by suspending him for a couple games.
But thanks to a more complete video released by TMZ, the public was given a glimpse of what happened inside the elevator car. We actually see the punch Mr. Rice threw to deck his woman. The NFL responded by suspending Mr. Rice indefinitely. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is coming under intense criticism and calls for his removal as commissioner for trying to cover up the brutality of the attack. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti gave a tearful apology to the public saying that the team and the NFL tried to get all the surveillance video from the casino, the police and prosecutors but they were helpless and had to make a decision with what they were given, the earlier video. Although it’s pretty hard to believe that TMZ, a website that’s nothing more than a source for celebrity gossip and entertainment news, is able to do what the National Football League, an organization of millionaires and billionaires that can create fortunes for people practically overnight, failed to do. So much for that gridiron resolve and “can do” attitude they ooze from every copyright protected fiber of their collective being.
The public’s damnation was/is pretty damming. Not only is Mr. Rice is to be fired and publicly paraded as the face of domestic violence, Mr. Goodell should be fired as well for “conspiracy” to downplay the incident. It’s not like Mr. Goodell tried to cover up the fact that Mr. Rice assaulted his girlfriend. But the fact that everybody was so soft on a man that brutally attacked a defenseless woman is unforgiveable. Yes, we all knew that Mr. Rice punched her and knocked her unconscious, but the video made that elevator scene so horribly graphic. No man should ever feel the need to punch a woman. Only a coward would raise his hand against his defenseless woman. It doesn’t matter that they were fighting. He should have walked away. With rare exception the man will always be bigger and stronger and more aggressive. There’s no need for him to stoop to violence.
Now if only we could take all of this outrage for man on woman violence and apply it elsewhere. Does anybody remember the video of California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Andrew knocking fifty one year old grandmother Marlene Pinnock to the ground and then using his body to pin her down while he pummeled her in the face with his fists over and over again on the side of the highway? Officer Andrew claimed he was only trying to protect Ms. Pinnock from hurting herself. Maybe he decided he was going to eliminate that problem by punching and hurting her for her. Officer Andrew was so concerned for her safety that he gave her a bloody nose, black eyes, and a series of bruises and scratches all over her body.
Now Janay Palmer went on to become Janay Rice. She forgave her husband. Her husband has asked for her forgiveness and has shown remorse for what he did. He has been brought to a public court for his crime and has been judged. The couple wants to put that sordid event into their past, hopefully not to forget it, but to use the memory of it to take them forward so that they never go through anything like that ever again. And yet we the public still feel the need to put our two cents in and take the matter into our own hands by demanding that Mr. Rice be fired and Mr. Goodell be fired and anybody else who might be involved be fired because of the great conspiracy that tried to keep the video of what happened inside that Atlantic City elevator from seeing the light of day. We demand justice after all. Who cares if the woman we’re trying to protect is married to the man who provides for her and her family? He needs to learn a lesson. And if she is
put in a financially precarious position through our blood cry for justice, so be it.
But compare that sentiment of that one punch between two people with a long history to the cop that was videoed unmercifully beating a female citizen on the side of the road. Within seconds of these two crossing paths this man was trying to knock her light out using mixed martial arts type tactics. The internal investigation conducted by fellow officer Sean Taketa. According to Mr. Taketa, Ms. Pinnock failed to follow Mr. Andrew’s instructions and then compounded the situation when she resisted arrest by kicking her legs, grabbing the officer’s uniform and twisting her body. In other words, there is nothing to see here. Talk about a conspiracy. In what appears to be standard operation procedure for police departments that have an incident where one of their own goes off the deep end, there is a move to circle wagons and cover the whole affair up.
These are two very similar situations with two very different public reactions. We see videos of two men hitting two women. One gets fired while the other gets protected. One gets hounded by public sentiment while the other is quickly forgotten. Ms. Pinnock was never charged with resisting arrest or for anything indicating she failed to follow the instructions of a police officer. So why did dude wail into her as if she stole his lunch money? And we as a public, proving our thirst for justice against Mr. Rice, is ready to give another police officers a pass when he goes over the line.
On Friday September 5th, two people are dead in another senseless shooting in St. Louis, Missouri, on the north side of the city which is predominantly black thanks to the city’s history of redlining minorities out of certain neighborhoods that were reserved exclusively for white people. The shooting was part of a crime spree that resulted in six people dead and two people injured in a twenty four hour period. I was watching the story unfold on local television station KMOV, St. Louis’ CBS affiliate. The reporter on the story was Russell Kinsaul. In the video, Mr. Kinsaul was interviewing state senator Jamilah Nasheed about this problem. Out of the blue he asked the senator why black people weren’t protesting.
As soon as I heard the question I reached for the remote and flipped the channel I was so incensed. Instead of being a professional reporter asking pertinent questions in order to help people develop a real understanding and appreciation for the issue at hand, Mr. Kinsaul wanted to play a race card by making an implied comparison to the racial chaos that was playing out with recent events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri where white police officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed Michael Brown. If black people are going to protest the murder of black people by white cops why blacks don’t protest black on black crime?
The KMOV website describes Mr. Kinsaul as having strong Midwestern roots and takes great pride in his community and spends his time on efforts to improve the lives of children in our community. I’d describe him as a petty white prick who wouldn’t hesitate to spice up his lame reporting with racially charged innuendos. The Midwestern roots that are mentioned in his bio are the same Midwestern roots that led the authorities of Ferguson to come down hard on black people, harassing black people for walking down the street, shooting unarmed black people as they walk down the street, and when black people protest the murder of one of their own by a police officer whose salary they help to pay with their taxes these people want to pull out their tanks and military gear to put black people in their place.
Mr. Kinsaul was reporting on a story about a shooting. Instead of keeping on track and doing his job, he wants to make a racially politicized statement with his question about where is black people’s indignation over this murder. He’s no different than all the people who constantly ask why don’t black people protest black on black crime but go out of their way to protest a police shooting. It’s the kind of question I’d expect from somebody trying to make a name for themselves on FOX News, not from a local reporter that should be sticking to the facts.
If Mr. Kinsaul wanted to make comparisons why stop there? Where are all the white people who want to protest their support for the person or people who kill black people? Where are all the white people who want to contribute money to the defense of people who kill black people? Where are all the videos that show the black people who were murdered doing something wrong in their past? Where are the Facebook pages of the victims? Where are the white people who are going to help hide the identity of the murderer or murderers? Where are the tanks ready to come down hard and heavy on the black people? Where’s the police chief to say that a fair and impartial investigation will be conducted even though they already know who killed who?
I find Mr. Kinsaul about as disgusting. The story is that two people were murdered in a senseless crime and we don’t know who did it. The story is that this crime happened within a short time window that saw a crime wave hit St. Louis, in particular the black community. Instead of focusing on this story, Mr. Kinsaul wants to ignore the story at hand to go back to something that happened a few weeks ago in order to make a statement about black people.
And just like a few weeks ago, when Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown and got the support of his racially insensitive police department and local government officials, Mr. Kinsaul got the support of his racially insensitive television station. Why else would KMOV air his garbage unless the editor, camera operators, producer, anchors, and other personnel at that television station agreed with that socially retarded poison this man spews?
This is the type of bullshit that leads to the mistrust and misunderstanding that perpetuates our racial status quo. It’s not just the cops in Ferguson that work hard to keep black people at a distance and in their place. It’s also television reporters who want to pretend that there’s equivalence when a criminal shoots unarmed black people and when tax paid police officers do it. It’s also reporters that want to proselytize that black people have a false sense of outrage when cops kill one of us but don’t have a problem when we kill our own. Too many of us have a role to play in this game that keeps racism front and center in our social collective.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
He Had His Hands Up
He had his hands up.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
The United States is more ready than ever to go to war with ISIL after the murder of journalist. But we continue to sit on our collective ass while unarmed black men are murdered by police on a regular basis.
While looking up articles about Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri I ran across an article written by the black conservative Ben Carson. You know, for a man that was an internationally renowned neurosurgeon he sure acts idiotic at times. Like everybody else, Mr. Carson has an opinion of Ferguson and like many he shares it openly. Mr. Carson says the events in Ferguson could have been avoided one of two different ways. Either Michael Brown backs down or Officer Darren Wilson backs down. And since Officer Wilson has the backing of the government officials in Ferguson and the state of Missouri, Mr. Carson believes that he had the legal standing to impose his will on Michael Brown with deadly force. To do otherwise, if Michael Brown was able to say no to the police, would be an invitation to anarchy. I guess Mr. Carson simply dismisses the fact that Ferguson erupted into supposed anarchy with protests (some would say riots because of some people that used the protest as a cover for their own criminal activity) that were met with a militarized police force.
Mr. Carson went on to claim that Michael Brown had the obligation to submit to Officer Wilson. However, because of all the young black men who grow up in the streets of America with defiant attitudes, it is only inevitable that the result would be mass incarcerations and death. The defiance is the result of the large number of black children growing up without a father figure to teach them how to relate (submit) to authority and teach them the meaning of personal responsibility. Mr. Carson said that it is not the case that mothers cannot teach these important social lessons. His own single mother was able to teach this lesson well to Mr. Carson. It seems he learned the lesson a little too well.
It is not too much of a leap to say that Mr. Brown is prepared to absolve Officer Wilson of any responsibility in the murder of Michael Brown. In fact, even though he went on to say that Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, really isn’t at fault because more than likely she never learned the fundamentals of personal responsibility, Mr. Carson puts more blame on Michael Brown’s parents lack of parenting skills than he does the man that hid behind his badge as he pulled the trigger a minimum of ten times to take down the unarmed black teenager. He puts more blame on the socio economic policies of the federal government for the last five years, the years of the Obama administration, for the rise of poverty in the black community that has led to such frustrations that leads young black people to become the antisocial misfits that are endemic to American life. It’s a generational thing that happens over and over in the black community with its vicious cycle of irresponsibility. How he’s able to tie responsibility for generations of black community parenting failure to the past five years of President Obama’s leadership defies logic, but that’s his opinion.
Like a lot of people, mostly socially and politically conservative, Mr. Carson is ready to give Officer Wilson a pass. Officer Wilson has no need to demonstrate personal responsibility when he murders unarmed black men. Regardless of the generations of police abuse of black people and the murder of unarmed black people at the hands of the police, the parents of police do not have to teach their children the rules of socially acceptable behavior. Police are above the law. They are above the social contract that says the killing of people is only acceptable as a last resort. For you and me, that means that we can only take the life of our fellowman when there is no absolutely no alternative. No one would simply take our word that a murder was unavoidable. But police? They are above reproach especially when their victim is a young person from the black underclass that, according to Mr. Carson, have no clue what the social norms are because, without any evidence to support such a conclusion, their single mother parent never learned orthodox social behavior. However, it should be noted that Mr. Carson’s single black mother was able to teach her black son social behavior.
To an intelligent person, Mr. Carson himself is undeniable proof that what he says is total bullshit. Mr. Carson is ready to paint the black community with a very broad stroke of contempt reinforced with racially reinforced prejudice. His conclusions are based on racially charged stereotypes without merit. No police officer is above the law. Yes black people have to exercise personal responsibility, but so do white people and everybody else. If Mr. Carson can look back on his own personal experience as a young black man, toss it all out the window and come to the conclusion that black people deserve to be murdered because they don’t know personal responsibility, then we can use that same yardstick of personal responsibility against a white police officer for the murder of an unarmed black youth.
In fact, we can hold Officer Wilson to a higher measure because not only did he supposedly learn acceptable social behavior from his white parents, he was the one that received the benefit of tax payer financed professional police officer training on top of the acceptable social rules. The community paid to give Officer Darren Wilson a loaded weapon and a badge that said he had the authority to enforce our social laws. He was trained to know the law so that he could enforce the law. He had the power of the badge. The power of an armed police officer is many times greater than the power of an unarmed teenager. In many respects, it is far greater than the power of a parent. And with great power comes great responsibility. Mr. Carson should remember that.
I was tracking the latest news over the string of unfortunate incidents related to the shooting death of the unarmed black Michael Brown by white Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri police department when I ran across an article about the shooting death of white Dillon Taylor by a black police officer in Salt Lake City, Utah. After a series of clicks to find more information about this event one thing became more and more evident. After visiting several sites such as The Washington Times, WND, the Inquisitor, FOX News, and others, it became apparent to me that these news sources were more concerned about the disparity in the level of attention about the death of Michael Brown compared to the level of attention to the death of Dillon Taylor than they were concerned about the potential injustice of someone being murdered by police.
Indeed there are similarities between the two events. Both men were shot by police. Michael Brown lived in an area that was about sixty five percent black with a police force that had about six percent black officers while the allegedly white Dillon Taylor lived in an area that was seventy five percent white. I couldn’t find the racial makeup of the Salt Lake City police department but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it’s predominantly white.
After reading a few articles it turned out that Dillon Taylor was a white Hispanic with multiple convictions for felony robbery and obstructing justice. The black police officer that is said to have allegedly shot him turned out to be a non white police officer because his true racial identity was not released. He might in fact be black. But it should be noted that a lot of these “news” articles made the assumption that non white meant that the officer was black. I’m sure the reason for the speculation on race is to sensationalize the comparison with the events in Ferguson. While we know for a fact that the eighteen years old Michael Brown was unarmed, the police in Salt Lake City have not released any statement as to whether or not twenty year old Dillon Taylor was armed.
The police officer that encountered Michael Brown had resumed his patrol after responding to a call for an ambulance nearby and was not actively responding to any emergency. The encounter with Michael Brown started when Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking down the middle of the street with the potential of hindering the flow of traffic. The officer that encountered Dillon Taylor was responding to an emergency 9-1-1 call about a man waving a gun around. Several officers responded and Dillon Taylor happened to have matched the description of the person reported in the emergency call. Dillon Taylor was wearing headphones and it is possible that he did not hear police orders.
Most of the articles went on to point out that although there was an organized protest in Salt Lake City, but asked why there was no looting, destruction of property, and the all out anarchy that happened in Ferguson, Missouri. Most of the articles asked why Reverend Al Sharpton didn’t go to Salt Lake City. All of the articles asked why didn’t the liberal media, the one that does so much to codify black people, show up and give the same level of attention to the shooting of an unarmed white man by a black police officer?
As a black man I find the willful racial ignorance of people and organizations that claim to want to understand the racial divide seriously frustrating. Supposedly intelligent people act like the dumbest fucks that ever walk the face of the earth. People want to pretend that everything’s equal and we have racial parity because we have a black President or because Oprah is worth billions or for any other exception to the general condition of our social structure that ignores the plight of the black community. These people do their best to make false equivalences between totally unrelated horrible events and then act like a two year old wondering what makes the moon hang in the air with intellectually asinine questions that can be answered if one simply takes the red pill, open their eyes, and shift their fucking brain into gear.
The protests in Ferguson happened because instead of the police responding to a community’s need to mourn the latest loss of another young black man to the apparent heavy handed approach of the police, the police respond with dogs to attack protestors and military vehicles and equipment doled out like candy by our defense department in order to defend against terrorists. Not every protestor in Ferguson was a looter. Most of the protestors were non violent and even did their best to defend property against the criminals that would use the unfortunate death of Michael Brown for their own means. Instead of the police doing police work to protect the community, the predominantly white police force turned on the black community in the very same heavy handed approach that Officer Wilson turned on Michael Brown. People were arrested for exercising their constitutional rights. The local government instituted a curfew. This was the same heavy handed approach the state of Alabama took when the black community tried to peacefully march from Selma to Montgomery.
This whole affair have proved beyond a fucking doubt that we have learned nothing from our racially troubled past and are poorly prepared for a supposed post racial future. Just like it was news worthy back in the sixties when the public saw the televised images of so many peacefully marching black people being attacked by dogs, beaten with batons and nightsticks, and assaulted with tear gas by state troopers in gas masks, it is news now. It was news when we saw the videos of reporters being arrested in Ferguson for not moving fast enough. It was news worthy when we saw the politicians representing their constituents in Ferguson being arrested. That was all news worthy.
All of that happened before Reverend Al Sharpton showed up to insist on calm and non violence from the community as well as justice from the government. Why didn’t Reverend Al show up in Salt Lake City? Did anybody ask Revered Al to come to Salt Lake City? Contrary to popular believe, Reverend Sharpton does not show up where he’s not wanted. The family of Michael Brown asked Mr. Sharpton for help. Did the family of Dillon Taylor do the same?
Tthe bottom line is that we shouldn’t be trying to compare tragedies to see who’s suffering the most. The bullshit from these articles does nothing to help the family of Dillon Taylor. I apologize if I appear unsympathetic. If anyone loses a loved one to the homicidal acts of the police they need to be heard and they need justice. If Mr. Taylor was wrongfully murdered I hope the police officer who did it is charged and tried for his crime. And if the man is found guilty then I hope he rots in jail.
This bullshit asking why is everybody looking over here and nobody is looking over there has to stop. This isn’t a case of a war on whites. It isn’t a case of we only care when black people are murdered by white people. It isn’t a case of black people in Ferguson just rioting at the drop of a hat while the good white people of Salt Lake City are suffering in martyred silence. It’s another case of a police shooting that needs to be investigated and prosecuted. Let’s not play black versus white. Let us all keep our eye on the bigger picture.
I have read tons of comments from a lot of people condemning the black community of Ferguson, Missouri for their protest over the murder of the unarmed black teenaged Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Despite the suspicious circumstances that led to Michael Brown’s murder, Darren Wilson was protected by the Ferguson police department and was allegedly given paid administrative leave. It is hard work for cops to kill black people and walk away scot free knowing all the local governments got your back. Mr. Wilson needs that time off to get over the exertion of pointing a gun and pulling a trigger on somebody who has the audacity to step out of line while obviously wearing black skin.
But nevertheless, people are entitled to their opinion. A lot of black people in the area of Ferguson believe an unarmed teenaged black male was murdered in cold blood by a police officer. A lot of other people with “traditional” values believe that the shooting of an unarmed black teenaged male was justifiable homicide in the culmination of a series of unfortunate events that started with jay walking.
The police responded with an escalation of hostility by arming up in military fashion. Pictures show officers in military garb and gear, armed to the teeth to take on the worst terrorist imaginable. At the first sign of an unruly protestor or a few unruly people in the protesting crowd, the police stood ready to respond with overwhelming force against any and every protestor in the vicinity along with any news reporter or innocent bystander that just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again, people are entitled to think whatever. Some people will think that the police acted with total disregard for the community and with unbelievable racial insensitivity. Some people will say that the police response was appropriate.
Like most stories, there are two sides. But instead of all of us stepping back and looking at facts, too many of us are trying to spin the story to fit what we want to believe. The fact is that a white police officer shot an unarmed black male. The officer initiated a confrontation with Michael Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson because the two black teenagers were walking in the middle of the street. The officer was not responding to any police reports or police emergencies or any emergency for any public service. An altercation ensued. There was a physical fight in and/or near the police vehicle. Michael Brown started to run away. Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. In the crime scene photos taken by civilian cell phones shortly after the shooting, Michael Brown’s body laid in the street nowhere near a police vehicle. Witnesses on the scene say Michael Brown was facing the copy with his hands up when the police officer shot him multiple times. Those are facts that have a bearing on this case.
What is not a fact in this case is the testimony of friends who may have heard a version of events from Officer Wilson or a friend of anyone else who was not at the scene. What’s not a fact in this case are crime statistics and skewed data that may show that black people commit more crime per capita. What’s not a pertinent fact in this case is the protest that followed the shooting after Mr. Wilson was given a pass and was allowed to leave the scene without being arrested. What’s not pertinent is the surveillance video that showed a figure resembling Michael Brown leaving a convenience store after a hostile exchange with what may have been a store employee. According to facts, Michael Brown was not a suspect for anything that may have happened at any convenience store at the time he was stopped by Mr. Wilson. Within minutes after the shooting an ambulance was called to the scene to assess Michael Brown’s body. No ambulance was ever called to assess any injuries to Mr. Wilson.
Since Michael Brown’s shooting I have read a lot of comments that depict Michael Brown as a thug and a seasoned criminal without a single fact to support such characterization. Many of those comments include racially charged comments about the protestors who are predominantly black and racially charged comments about the black community. The black protestors have repeatedly chanted “no justice, no peace”. The message is simple. Until we have our government acting in a manner that is obviously fair and just there will be people willing to nonviolently break the peace.
In response, people on the other side have described black people as thugs and criminals who would rather live on welfare than find a job. There are so many comments from people who want black people to stop the looting and stealing and get jobs. Note that the comment isn’t for criminals to stop their criminal activity. People questioning the employment status of some of the protestors is nothing more than an attempt to use racially charged stereotypes to distract from the main issue of a police officer going free after the murder of a black teenager. Again, people’s employment status is not a fact that is pertinent. The only person whose employment is a factor is the employment of Officer Wilson.
Some of the comments I have read said that black people need to take more responsibility for what happens in Ferguson. And that’s pretty funny when you stop to think about it. Because when black people step forward to challenge the status quo that tolerates police officers killing black people, a lot of people want to point a damning finger at black people and tell them to shut up. If black people don’t like it they can go back to Africa. The fact is, the majority of black people that are protesting in Ferguson are not from Africa. They are, in fact, from Ferguson.
But the fact of the matter is that black people in America have the right to protest. The fact of the matter is that police do not have the right to violate anybody’s rights without just cause. We shouldn’t assume that police who shoot black people are justified any more than we would assume that black people who shoot police are justified. Police are afraid of black people. Considering the fact that cops are often acquitted for shooting black people, I seriously doubt if that’s true. However, it is true that unarmed black people often die in a hail of bullets by police officers. The fact of the matter is that more black people die at the hands of police per capita than police die at the hands of black people. And if we want to change that fact, we need to stop giving police a pass whenever they kill a black person. The fact of the matter is that we need to hold them accountable.
Ferguson, Missouri is a scant six miles from the house I grew up in. As I write this, it’s less than thirty miles away from me. I know Ferguson, Missouri. I knew it back when it was predominantly white. My parents would take me there often when we visited the old Korvettes store that resided in nearby Cool Valley just down the street off Florissant Road. White flight had kicked in a long time ago. Now, predominantly black, I have family and friends living there neck deep in the chaos that is following the murder of the young, black Michael Brown at the hands of a local police officer.
Despite the despair you might see and/or hear in the news, Ferguson is a beautiful little town with a lot to offer people. The white flight that the town experienced has a lot more to do with the drastic downsizing of McDonnell-Douglas, of the major employer for the area, before it was bought out by Boeing many decades ago. Without the constant infusion of revenue from defense contractor paychecks that fueled city development, a lot of people saw the writing on the wall and fled to greener pastures. As “traditional” America left, a new browner populace moved in ready to take advantage of inexpensive housing in an established area.
What makes Ferguson look like some kind of perdition is not the population, but the heavy handedness of the police against a peaceful African American community. In response to watching a black, eighteen year old Michael Brown and his friend walking down the middle of the street, a police officer initiates a confrontation that results in the young man’s death.
This happens just days after a similar confrontation is initiated against Eric Garner, the forty year old black man who suffered from asthma and obesity and wound up in a choke hold by police officers after he had the audacity to express his frustration at being harassed by the police accusing him of illegally selling cigarettes. Mr. Garner didn’t resist arrest. When the officer grabbed the frustrated black man from behind and put the long arm of the law around Mr. Garner’s neck, the black man put his hands in the air as if to surrender. Never once did he fight back to defend himself. And when he complained he couldn’t breathe the police responded by watching him die. Who knew the penalty for a black man selling cigarettes was death?
Michael Brown probably thought about that when the police officer drove the squad car right up against him. According to witnesses the officer couldn’t even get out the car without hitting the young man that was about to die. Michael Brown probably felt threatened. And if that was truly the case then he was right because the unarmed, young black Michael Brown wound up dead. The police department claimed that there was a struggle for the officer’s gun before the young black man was murdered. An investigation is being conducted so we’re not privy to everything. But we have enough information to know that another black teenager died needlessly because of another gung-ho police officer.
Black people are frustrated and angry. The black community wants swift justice. The police department wants to slow things down to make sure every move that goes down from this point forward is careful. Leaders of the black community say they wanted peace and they asked the black community to respect the memory of Michael Brown and the family of Michael Brown with peaceful protest and prayer. The leaders of the police department said they wanted peace as well. But then the police department responded by pulling out their camouflage uniforms, riot gear, full body armor, assault rifles with rubber bullets and laser sights, and the mine resistant armored personnel carrier that are little more than small tanks. People were arrested without being read their Miranda rights. The police arrested journalists. The police arrested the local state senator and an alderman that were there to support their constituents. The police fired tear gas at people protesting peacefully.
These people were unarmed and exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully protest. Now there have been some opportunistic people using this chaos to loot business and for other criminal activity. And while they might be “inspired” by the death of Michael brown to commit crime, the bottom line is that they are criminals and they deserve to be arrested and prosecuted because they committed a crime. They committed a crime and deserve punishment just like the police officer who killed Michael Brown committed a crime and deserves to be punished. But instead of arresting criminals, the police want to arrest peaceful protestors, politicians, and journalists who have the audacity to question their authority.
Now all of this is unfortunate. There was no need to kill the unarmed Michael Brown. There was no need to respond to the unarmed protestors with an escalation of police driven violence. How would the police respond if somebody in the Ferguson neighborhood brought out their own armored vehicle? Let’s think about that for a second with an analogy. How did the United States respond when Russia brought their armored vehicles to the border of Ukraine? It was unacceptable. It was a clear sign of defiance and a provocation. The mere presence of peaceful protestors is a provocation to the police. But the police are free to bring their big toys out when they are the ones who are clearly in the wrong.
And if all of this isn’t enough to show the rotten stench of disparity in America, let’s throw one more issue into the mix. Where was all of the police in camouflage and riot gear and military vehicles when Cliven Bundy was stirring up his militia buddies in Nevada earlier this year? Those protestors were armed to the teeth with assault weapons and sniper rifles aimed at federal officials and instead of meeting that force with government sanctioned overwhelming force, the encounter was deescalated and the government is still examining the situation, waiting to exercise its options. Imagine what would have happened if Cliven Bundy was black and the armed people who gathered to support him were black. I’m sure Mr. Bundy would have been dead a long time ago.
Ferguson may look like a hell hole. But it’s not because of the people who live there and walk down the middle of its streets. Ferguson is a hell hole because the black people there are treated like enemies of the state. This is just the latest example of a long list of examples of unarmed black people losing their lives because of some perceived slight by some police officer with a chip on his/her shoulder. Ferguson looks like a hell hole because it is full of black people and black people are truly the enemies of our police state.