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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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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! 

Another Morning, Another Emmett Till

Another Morning, Another Black Man Shot by Police. Like so many other mornings I woke up and started reading the news. This time only to see the death of another unarmed black man. Another morning another Emmett Till.

I have to admit reading about these occurrences has become a shot to my spirit. It leaves me personally with a feeling of hopelessness. I feel abandoned. I feel unsafe. Though my life may have value to my family, my close friends and my colleagues somewhere some police officer views me as some villainous, criminal who threatens their existence and though I have never been arrested for ANY crime. I have never been physically violent or aggressive with anyone. I have paid my parking tickets. I have spent much of my twenties volunteering in my community, however should I be murdered at the hand of police, I will be reduced to a hashtag and some dirt some where will be plastered across a headline to vilify me. All to rationalize my murder.

This is what so many black men have come to understand more and more. In 2016 no matter your education, your potential or circumstances, you are just another “bad dude”.

I now get more than ever why Colin Rand Kaepernick has been vilified. It easier to ignore the origins of the national anthem. It easier to ignore that your high school classmate was murdered by police. It easier to say the guy you saw in the grocery store should have paid his parking tickets or maybe not had a speeding ticket. It is easier to say the kid accused of “insert whatever petty crime” should have just not been afraid of the police. America is a great country, but our problem is dealing with difficult issues. We would rather ignore the topic of a peaceful protest than listen to the reasoning. We would rather criticize the protestor, because we do not share the same experience as oppose to learning about their vantage point. 

So for yet another morning we will see another headline with another black man’s name in it, because he was “insert typical police reasoning” and was “overt aggressive”.

Racism Does Not Exist… If you are Lil’ Wayne

Undisputed hosts individuals with opinions. Usually the guests are focusing on sports and sports related topics as the show is housed on sports juggernaut ESPN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 the shows guest was none other than Lil’ Wayne. During the segment that he appeared, the New Orleans native fielded questions about his business relationship with Birdman, his former rap partner, and business partner.

However we will focus on the ignorance that was then shared via Lil’ Wayne after a series of questions from host Skip Bayless. Skip asked Lil’ Wayne his thoughts of Colin Kapernick’s choice to not stand for the National Anthem. Kapernick’s boycott was launched, because he feels that people of color are being murdered by police without cause or punishment to the officers committing the reported crimes. Wayne first went on to say he does not know much about what Kapernick is referencing in terms of police brutality and then dropped a bomb. He believes racism does not exist!

Wayne used the example that his concerts are predominantly attended by white people and that he has been “blessed” and never experienced racial biased in his 33 years.

As I type this I have to take a deep sigh. Just on Sunday during a conversation with a friend who happens to be a New Orleans native, I said we have to be careful which musicians we support. The reasoning I stated verbatim, “Many artists are getting rich, by sending our young people false messages and they end up negatively impacting the masses.” Wayne proved my point. A man that has made millions of not hundreds of millions glorifying drug use, gun violence and dangerous sexual behavior since he was 16. That’s 17 years of music that has influenced young men and women to commit crimes for which the justice department reports they will be more harshly punished.

Wayne has encouraged the behaviors I mentioned above and done so without fear of the penalty he would face, because his money and connections afforded him a pass or so he thinks.

Yet many of the young black men and women who support his concerts and list be to his music will NEVER get a fraction of the “blessings” he has referred to. All that said, because he has not experienced it, it does not exist.

Even more dangerous Wayne is providing a sort of cosign to non-people of color who have been afforded privilege and cannot understand the fear that law abiding people of color face because of the acts of peers who live a life Wayne raps about.

My sigh earlier was one of disappointment. Not anger. I am disappointed in the loved ones, friends and business partners from Louisiana that have worked with Wayne and failed to have meaningful conversation about how people that look like him and live the life he raps about are being impacted. You see Wayne is from a state where black men are incarcerated at a rate more than double their white counterparts and face the death penalty more likely than any other group of people.

The danger in supporting artists who are not educated and not in touch with our communities is they send a message of ignorance to young men and women and profit off it while they get a pass. I’ll wrap this up, but if you continue to support artists who spew ignorance on a song do not expect your society to change. I for one will not be supporting any of Wayne’s work past or present starting today. It is not, because I disagree with his statement. It is because I find his statement to be dangerous and wreck less given his part in contributing to incarceration rates and behaviors associated with his lyrics.

If you missed he interview I speak of see the link below:

Undisputed – Lil’ Wayne 9/13/16