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It Starts Early

This is not a ranting blog post nor is it an I hate white people post. My little brother is biracial as a bit of context, some of my good friends are white. This is an honest brain dump. A friend of mine, the father to two young black boys posed this question to me and it sparked this post. His questions, “…how do we individually or collectively minimize the immediate fear to shoot brown skin? I still have to teach them (his sons) how to interact in a safe way with the blue… (posture, responses, hand gestures and etc.) which is stressful.”

Here is what I offer. We have to start have honest conversations with one another and make the choice to connect with people who do not look like us. I can recall growing up in the south, Houston, TX to be exact. Despite growing up in the south I can recall my classes always being diverse. I had middle eastern friends, vietnamese friends, black friends, white friends, latino friends, biracial friends. All found a way to coexist and I can recall us all spending the night at each others home and hanging out like kids do. To the point that even when I was called a “nigger” on the playground around the age of 7 or 8, everyone knew it was wrong and went to tell the teacher. I can recall that even throughout high school the group was fairly close.

When everyone went to college things began to shift. People migrated to schools or experiences that no longer challenged them. We all migrated to our comfort zones. The ones that looked like our homes. I give that back story to take us to this point. We are not honest about our differences, our similarities and honest about right and wrong. If I am honest for many years I thought that people got what they deserved for getting in trouble. As I have gotten older, my eyes got wider, my ears opened up, my heart softened and I began to look deeper. Here are a few truths:

  1. Black men are sentenced to longer and harsher penalties. Here is one example per the The Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida), with the same drug offense and same circumstances black men are sentenced to nearly triple the time as white men for the same crime.

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This is not to say drug crimes are not detrimental, but equal punishment should be the bare minimum for cases.  

2. It starts young. Minority groups are punished harsher earlier. The Sentencing Project, a non-profit who studies and advocates for equal justice found that American Indian (Indigenous) youth are 3 times as likely to be held in a Juvenile detention center than white youth.

“According to a Department of Education report, black students nationally were three times more likely to be suspended than whites in 2012. Suspensions occur most commonly in secondary schools, but black children were more than twice as likely to be suspended from preschool as well. Harsher discipline for black students is not just a Southern or state-level problem. It is a national crisis.” – NY Times , September 2017

Vox had disparities broken down in 7 charts to discuss hidden racism and racial bias as it relates to kids. I won’t bore you with more charts, but the link is here: https://www.vox.com/2015/10/31/9646504/discipline-race-charts.

3. It is reasonable black, white, asian, hispanic and latino, and biracial individual’s responsibility to not only challenge, but to hold those accountable for biases and abuse accountable. That means we have to do more than share a post via social media. We have to do more than retweet. We have to vote for diverse leadership, advocate for better rules and laws while checking our own biases. As a person of color at certain parts I have been complicit. Not that I said this black or brown person was guilty or deserved their punishment, but I did not speak up when someone portrayed a black or brown person as more dangerous or insert the adjective.

4. We need to retrain police and civic officials how to interact with diverse groups of people. They are not allowed to bring their biases to work. Period. We need cognitive gun reform. That way there is a much less threat of someone using a weapon against police officers who risk their life. Officers also need to exercise common sense. That means a gun should be the last resort for non-violent SUSPECTS. For instance a burglary or a loitering call should not lead to an arrest or dead body. Period.

To close…

If our country is going to move things forward we need more individuals who speak up, loudly. That does not have to be a fight or an argument, but a conversation challenging the individuals who are being painted with a broad stroke.

When we do not challenge the things we know to be inherently wrong then we raise young kids who become police officers, judges, Starbucks Managers, teachers, principals, school administrators, school board members and elected officials who do not advocate for true and equal justice.

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#takeaknee and the 4 Types of People

August 26, 2016 sports and politics collided as it has so many times before in history. On that day Colin Kaepernick decided to start a peaceful protest that involved taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem before NFL games, to bring attention to the murder of unarmed black people and the lack of conviction that occurs once an officer murders an unarmed black person.

 

From there a firestorm erupted. His coaches, his team mates and his owner supported his right to peacefully protest. Fans, political pundits, and politicians weighed in with their anger and opposition of the protest. The excuse used to distract from Colin was the fact that he was unpatriotic and did not respect the flag or American troops.

 

Following the 2016 NFL season Colin decided to leave the struggling San Francisco 49ers, a team that was on their 3rd coach in his tenure as a QB and far removed from any chance of competing in the Super Bowl that Colin helped lead them to. Throughout the summer Colin was overlooked for NFL job after job. Retired, unemployed, and far less statistically comparable quarterbacks were selected for jobs that every football pundit has since said they did not deserve or were not qualified for.

 

Despite Colin not having a job and no longer currently being an active NFL player the President of the United States weighed in.  At a rally on Friday, September 22, 2017 in Huntsville Alabama, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

 

Many athletes, Americans and politicians subsequently weighed in which has become the norm when the President says outlandish things, a new weekly habit.

 

Though this is troubling, because the right to peaceful protest is protected by the constitution, it is also troubling that a sitting President would assert that a private entity should fire someone for actions he does not agree with. I want to put a period there and shift. This is not about Donald Trump or the controversy he loves to stir up. The focus should be on why kneeling during the National Anthem is important!

The focus on why turning off the NFL games is important.  Though owners now “disagree” with President Trump, despite their million dollar campaign contributions, they have essentially fired Colin Kaepernick and have not spoken out in regards to the very reason Colin Kaepernick took a knee.

 

I have 4 types of people I want to speak to.

 

  1. To the black and brown people who continue to watch the NFL I personally get it. You grew up watching and loving football, you’ve purchased your season tickets and your respective team represents something “positive” in your hometown. Those are the legitimate claims I have heard from those still watching games. I am not begging you to protest or condemning you for not protesting, but I have two questions to ponder on that could reshape history should you choose to join in on blacking out the NFL. The two questions are:

 

  1. What if Rosa Parks decided to simply go about business as usual and to this day we were never allowed to sit in any section of a bus other than the back?
  2. What if the 600+ individuals who marched on Selma decided, that voting was not as important after all since they could face resistance?
  3. What are you willing to give up, to move the conversation forward and force solutions?

 

I ask those questions, because you could one day be the hashtag we mourn.

 

  1. To the white people, calm down I am not mad at white people, which oppose and reject Donald Trump if you really want to make a statement talk about black and brown people being disproportionately murdered by police officers without a trial and turn your tv off during NFL games, because the individual who sacrificed his job and career to call attention to the issue has been subjected to the treatment Donald Trump encouraged. The NFL losing millions of dollars each week sends a message that you stand with the black and brown people who you call friends, neighbors and coworkers.

 

  1. Lastly to the black and brown people who have turned your televisions off, sold your tickets and now refuse to support the NFL, keep it up, but do not verbally abuse and berate people who do not see things the way you do instead continue the peaceful demonstration.

 

  1. To the individuals who feel that Colin’s protest was disrespectful to the flag and our troops and/ or believe it should be left off of the field, I would ask you do you feel such outrage for Muhammad Ali who refused to enlist for the Vietnam War? What about former MLB player Shawn Green? What about Kathrine Switzer, did she protest discrimination in the right way? Did Branch Rickey make the right decision, by breaking precedent with American and baseball tradition in 1946? Or are you just uncomfortable talking about why Colin took a knee?

 

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I look forward to the day…

I look forward to the day when I can no longer be afraid to leave the house. I look forward to the day that fear does not shoot through my body when I see a cop car behind me or riding along side me.

That day where I know my skin, height, and my mannerisms are not seen as threatening and are seen for what they should be.

You see the reality is I am no more threatening than the men who hung my ancestors, enslaved them, beat them, hosed them, attacked them with batons, and the men who allowed their dogs to attack them, yet for some reason I am and men who look like me are all seen as aggressive.

In reference to the acquittal of the officer who got away with murdering #PhilandoCastille.

I cannot actually say that I am shocked. I no longer am able to feel rage. I have literally come to expect nothing, but what typically happens when a black or brown person is murdered and nobody is charged. 

In all honesty as a black man my worst fear is usually being stopped and killed by the police. I haven’t committed a crime, yet I am worried about being stopped and killed by the police. I worry what will be said about me when I die. Will the vilify me and reference me as an aggressive person? Will my character be called into question despite what I have done in life?
What is even more appalling is the law allows for black and brown men & women to be abused by the very people they are supposed to serve and protect. This is why people like Amanda Seales are so PASSIONATE about how WE are treated.

This is why Kaepernick protested, because when we are murdered without cause we then get slapped in the face with zero justice! 
People say America is great and I love our country, but this country is not here for us in the same way it is for everyone else! That is not even a debate that can take place! 

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The HBCU “Choice”

I want to frame this piece before we proceed. This is not a piece to persuade anyone to see things my way or from my perspective.  This post is about education. 

On Monday the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, made a statement that perfectly illustrated the disconnect with historical events that significantly impacted black people in our country. The interesting notation to add is that Betsy DeVos is not an educator and lacks the the formal education, based on research and application. 

DeVos presented a severely flawed statement, completely misrepresenting facts about African-Americans in our country and the role HBCU’s play. HBCU’s are attended by African-Americans overwhelmingly.

DeVos’ statement called historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” this is after President Donald Trump held a meeting with several HBCU leaders on Monday. Though the discussion was billed as an hour long listening session, the listening session lasted 15 minutes, before the participants were brought into a photo op.

To claim HBCU’s have been a choice for education scoffs at hundreds of years of torture, rape, assault, brain washing and murder called slavery. It avoids the discussion about what happened to African-Americans attempting to attain an education, both during and following slavery.

DeVos forgot to mention during slavery that it was a punishable offense if a slave taught themselves or  if they had been taught to read. DeVos forgot or maybe she did not know that slaves could have their tongues cut out of their mouth for trying to sound smart. 

DeVos forgot to mention that following the abolition of slavery that most American institutions did not welcome African-Americans and/or did not protect them from persecution. Thus land was allocated and resources were gathered to provide a safe learning space for African-American students. 

If we continue down this path, segregation from educational institutions, water fountains, housing, bus seating, restaurant seating and even libraries were a standard not a choice. 

African-American students were provided outdated books, books with missing pages, tattered pages and vandalized buildings for attempting to attain an education.

The choice, Mrs. DeVos speaks of, was not much of a choice. It was the only safe and viable option to attain an education. As a result parents had to physically protect their own children pursuing education, the national guard was called in to protect young men and women from attack for their choice to attain an education. 

Mrs. Devos was not completely wrong, because of the choices people like my grandmothers, grandfathers,  and great grand parents individuals like myself were able to make the choice to attend two HBCU’s, Hampton University and Texas Southern University.

To reference facts listed throughout this post Click Here

The Library of Congress also provides a history Click Here


Click Here to read more at ABC News.

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Views… From the Right

This is part 2 of rights view of this past election.

Many individuals who voted for Donald Trump have come under fire and they have been unfairly labeled racists, mysoginistic, homophobic and their values have been questioned.

After several conversations I have found that so many people voted to spur economic growth and they also believe the Affordable Healthcare Act was detrimental, to their economic success.

What I have come to realize from discussions is those people who voted against Hillary wanted an America where an college education is not the key to having a better life. Donald Trump sold them on his ability to run businesses and that he could translate the experience developing into developing our country.

To these individuals healthcare prices are high for them and they personally needed a break from the prices they were paying. The blame for that has been placed on the Affordable Care Act. The honest truth is attending a doctor can be expensive and the monthly costs for healthcare can be expensive for families with children.

As an aside healthcare costs are the way they are due in large part to individuals who can not afford to pay and for those who chose not to pay. Here is an example. You and I visit the same doctor, I choose not to pay or cannot pay, but I still received care and you paid. The physician who treated us still worked on two people, however he was only paid for one. He has two choices he can offset his costs or take a loss. If he offsets his costs he has to raise his prices to make up for the shortfall. The insurance company who pays for the majority of the costs now has to raise their prices to cover those who pay for coverage through them.

The reality is just like the left many on the right who voted against Hillary or who voted for a third party candidate saw economic issues as the paramount issue for their future and they are justified. Hillary nor the third party spoke to the concerns of Americans.

Though more people are employed inflation, rising housing costs and slowed pay raises have made the ability for many families to create any financial breathing room.

As another aside many of the issues we face are due to a changing workforce and economy. It is cheapest for companies to automate their business replacing people with machines and finding ways to grow profits without growing their workforce, while investing in technology which costs.

As for the rhetoric that Donald Trump shared throughout his campaign, those who voted for him chose to look past it, as many due with their family members who have shared similar sentiments about minorities (even if you are a minority).

To lump those who chose to vote for Donald Trump in the same boat we lump Donald Trump in is a bit unfair. Their vote does not mean they are racists, bigots, xenophobes or mysoginists.

Please share, comment and of course like it if this resonated with you.

#iamjoecarnell

Views… from the Left

The next two blogs will be dedicated to this year’s Presidential Election results.

I needed two parts to discuss the emotion that people on both the left (liberal) and the right (conservative) feel. Now that I have laid the framework let’s start with the left.

Donald Trump seems to represents a caricature that is representative of white male privilege. It seems the message that we shared and lessons we teach our children, by electing someone who has zero experience of public service and libels nearly every minority group. Lessons about treating people as equals and being respectful, being an inclusive society.

Throughout the campaign he called “Latino immigrants” rapists and murderers, he said “the blacks” are living in poverty and their neighborhoods are a wreck and he said that John McCain should not be considered a war hero, because he was captured during his time serving our country. These are Donald Trumps words. The transcripts of his speeches are available.

Donald Trump, through no fault of his own, was born wealthy. He ran on working hard and assisting the middle class. The trouble is he has never been a part of the middle class and probably has not driven a car or purchased a gallon of milk ever. Donald Trump also admittedly has not paid taxes in over 20 years and claims that’s smart. He then went on to say there should be a Muslim ban and identification system. That is banning an entire religion of people from our country and tagging people similar to the system used in Nazi Germany.

Here is where things get dicey. To vote for and elect a person who slanders entire groups of people allows those that voted for him to ignore everything he has ever said about individuals. Individuals who are black, Latino immigrants and those who are surviving Prisoners of war.

To allow a person to govern a country where people of all races live and say those disparaging and unfounded things is ignorant, dangerous and disrespectful. These remarks became a daily antic of Donald’s which lends MANY to say he believed the things he said. The morality we compel our children to have, that we hold our neighbors to and expect from ourselves seems to have been thrown out the window by people supporting a persons who says them.

For those of you who say I can not be and am not racist, fearful of Muslims and I respect war veterans your vote said that you side with Donald J. Trump’s opinion on the groups I mentioned. Maybe you are not a racist, biased against a religion and you respect veterans. Your vote was symbolism and seems to be an admission of sorts that you do not have a problem with your elected leaders disrespecting, offending and marginalizing a group of people. As a note President Obama was heavily criticized for the views and words of his pastor, not him, he was called a racist after a video of a sermon, Jeremiah Wright preached where he used the term, “white devil”. In this instance President Obama did not share those sentiments nor did he say those words.

The question that has risen, leading to protests in major cities across our country, why is it acceptable to behave in the way Donald Trump has throughout this entire election cycle? The common consensus shared from those who did not vote for Donald Trump is he incited closet racists, bigots, homophobes and hate. You may not be any of the individuals, but a vote for him seems to state you do not have a problem supporting someone who is. The part says that you may in part agree with some of the assertions Donald made.

This blog is not meant to point fingers or name call, simply to provide perspective.

Share your views and your respectful thoughts and let’s create a dialogue.
#iamjoecarnell

4 Reasons We need to Change the Elections

Do you remember what middle school and high school elections were like?

There was a group of students who wanted to work with the administration (principals, assistant principals and/or administrators) to get things accomplished. They campaigned with posters, gave campaign speeches and most times had platforms.

What if our adult political elections reflected those elections? If you recall those elections did not involve political parties, but the candidates were fostered based on the wants or needs of their constituency. However small and however insignificant high school students needs are, that is what happened. 
Somehow in our country we have gravitated far from our first example of how politics work. Here are the top 4 reasons why this political season made everyone very angry.

4.) The majority, formally white Americans, is no longer the majority. That is to say America has more Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Middle-Eastern Americans than ever before. Within those groups there are a lot of diverse issues each respective group feels are important. 

3.) Blanket statements and generalizations are no longer acceptable in our country. There was a time when you could say the Latinos, the Blacks or the Asians. Though I am black I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, I went to a middle class high school and I attended two amazing educational institutions enroute to a bachelors degree. The assumption that the schools I attended were run down and I could get shot going to the store are not only offensive to me, but offensive to the diverse community I grew up in. My neighbors were white, Latino, black, phillipino and black.

2.) A two party system no longer fits our country. It’s obvious. Unlike in high school everyone does not have a candidate they feel feels their pains and understands their needs. It was clear. Many democrats, republicans and independents found common ground on several issues.

1.) Over the next 4-8 years it is clear that we not only need a diversity class for everyone, but we also need to hold those in power accountable. Which may also include terms limits for congress as well. Unlike in high school that administration cannot be fired unless we vote them out. It also seems to be time to reform police accountability laws and to create civilian review boards (with subject matter experts of course).

The most exciting part of this election cycle is, it is over! People will vote today and our country will of course find a way to move forward, but it is clear we need to reassess how we coexist together and how we elect officials. Though #imwithher
I respect everyone’s choice not to be! I may not agree with their reasoning, but our country has to be liveable and beneficial for more than just me. 

If you have not voted today maker sure you do! If you have sit back relax and unblock the friends you previously blocked for not thinking like you. 🙏🏾😂😂😂

#iamjoecarnell

#whyivote

#rockthevote

Removing the Blinders

Grab Your Tissue, because 13th confirms everything African-Americans have felt about the American justice system.

Before we go any further about the documentary, 13th, by Director Ava DuVernay I have to explain I am no conspiracy theorists. In fact I tend to believe that in most cases we all have the opportunity to change our situation. However this film/documentary Breaks down so many facts, statistics and examples that you would have to be a deplorable to not understand the truth it sheds light on. 

However after watching statistics I have seen over the past few years, flashed across my screen an articulated after, social justice subject matter expert, after expert break them down I left feeling angry, shocked and heart broken. 

Ava DuVernay assembled, legal experts, psychologists, educators, and political experts to give us a history lesson on how the 13th amendment affected African-Americans.

It explains how slaves went from cotton fields, to prison, to share croppers, into Jim Crow victims thus spinning the African-Americans on their head. It confirms via video and tape recorded footage that politicians used the image of black people and the fear of southern whites to manipulate the masses and profit off of prison systems. 

It depicts how today we today have to say Black Lives Matter. It explains why this phrase is not to degrade any other race, but to particularly explain how phrases, images and laws have preyed on black people since the invocation of the 13th Amendment. 

There will be images of black men, murdered at the hands of police, that will bring tears to your eyes and have you heart broken all over again. It also goes beyond the surface of issues with police. Race is a very surface level issue.

Get your tissue, get your pen and paper and be ready to learn history omitted from nearly every text book.
The documentary can be found on Netflix. 

More than…

How many of us have ever walked into a room and heard someone bashing a person, because of their personal diet choices? Here’s an example you are at work and John is telling Adam, that he thinks eating Kale is for weak losers. Imagine if you eat Kale and enjoy it, yet John is your boss and Adam your friend is laughing while John insults Kale eaters. John then misquotes a passage in the Bible and Adam awkwardly laughs as he tries to remember the passage he knows doesn’t reference Kale. As you sit there annoyed and thinking is eating Kale really that bad? Does everything I have done good get negated. That is what millions of people feel when they see and hear their family members, coworkers and friends discussing their sexual preference. They have to hear the ones they work with, learn with, worship with and in some cases live with demeaning a choice that does not impact their loved ones, coworkers, friends and family members in anyway.

Sexuality is not something that determines physical aptitude, mental health or morality, yet in our country sexuality is all to frequently a talking point that seeks to demean and suppress the LGBTQ community.

There are physicians, entertainers, athletes, teachers, service workers, police officers, executives and the list goes on who live their life inside of a very sturdy mental box. Individuals who have competed academically, athletically and done so at a high level are relegated to what they enjoy in the bedroom. Every scholastic award, every medal, ribbon or trophy they have ever won is now negated.

This is not entirely due to a fault of one person, rather as a result of parents, friends, communities, religious houses and schools that frequently (by frequently I mean probably once a week) state that by being gay or bisexual you are less of a man or less than. In some cases many of us have even heard people threaten physical violence against someone who is gay or bisexual. 

I have personally seen acquaintances and family members share social media posts equating homosexuality to beastiality, misquoting scripture and liking or sharing demonstrative lies (I.e. Slavery introduced homosexuality to black people *insert a hard eye roll*) all based on someone else’s sexual preference. Some may have not known my sexuality, but I definitely took note. If it was not for the support system, parents and grandparents I had I would be in that number. Who I am may have been suppressed due to the discouraging things I have witnessed.

Our society has no idea of what the words, actions they exhibit and energy around homosexuality can do to those individuals. There are individuals have no desire to carry out a heterosexual love life, instead they have to fake it so that their family do not abandon them, their friends do not mock and ridicule them and their community does not harass them and turn their back on them.

As a result of individuals date in secrecy, they live in obscurity and are mentally tormented at the thought of revealing who they truly love and hope to build an existence with. They never share the photo or video we see so many of our heterosexual friends sharing of the “Love of their Life”. The thought that their mother or father would hurl religious scriptures, epithets and possibly violence in their direction that they would now be the focus of conversations at their religious house, family reunion, job or professional social circles is terrifying and very real. 

I have witnessed young men and women living false reality into their 30’s and 40’s. To make that even clearer that could be half of someone’s life or a little under a 1/3. 

For those that read this, be mindful of how you describe an entire group of people. Be mindful of how you interact with those around you. Your son, your daughter, your niece or nephew, your cousin or even your friend greet them with love and encourage them to be true to themselves and continue to love them no matter who they love. 🙏🏾

To those who had the courage to come out despite your opposition, kudos to you and may you find peace in your truth. Encourage those around you to get centered with their truth and their reality. After all we are all More than what occurs in the bedroom!

3 Tracks to Listen to on Solange’s New Album

Don’t Touch her hair exclaims Solange in one of the many solid tracks on her newest project.

The Houston native and eclectic r&b singer taps into her nostalgic sound yet again, with a much needed and anticipated album. Solange delivered with her new album a Seat at the Table

1. Tina Taught Me – The song features everyone’s favorite mother next to Michelle Obama and our own, Tina Knowles. On this interlude you have Tina Knowles articulating why self love for being black is not reverse racism. You can clearly hear where Solange and Beyoncé get their confidence from. 

2. MAD – A track that features Lil’ Wayne, gives us the right to be MAD. Mad at the state of police brutality. On it Wayne even discloses an attempted suicide attempt. It gives you a deeper glimpse into Solange and her decision making.

3. FUBU – Arguably the most in your face track. On it Solange lays out that this song is for black people. She runs down a list of common questions black men and women face at the hands of police. She exclaims she wants to make her son proud and she hopes he jams the song until it rattles the walls.
Oh and a bonus is Master P narrating the entire project! 🤘🏾✊🏽

There are so many good songs on this album download it on ITunes or stream it on Tidal

Have you listened yet? What is your favorite song?