Friday, August 22, 2014

8/9/14 is not August 9, 1714!

Two years ago, I tried my best not to get too caught up with the Trayvon Martin ordeal.  I tried to separate myself from it – not because I didn’t care, not because I didn’t sympathize with his family, not because I forgot that I have children, but because I have children.  And because I have children, I tried to stay far from it for their sake.  But not for the reason that you might think.  Situations like that rile me up.  And for them, I had to keep my peace of mind.  For their sake, I had to keep my sanity because if I had ever stopped to think about that poor boy’s last moments, I would have lost it.

Michael Brown was killed on August 9, 2014, not August 9, 1714 or August 9, 1814.
Like Trayvon Martin, I found out about Michael Brown as a sidebar because when one keeps hearing about these matters and one feels helpless, letting them marinate in one’s very being does not help the situation either.  But I had to crawl out of my hole today because of too many misguided statements that appear on facebook.  Maybe I’m the one who is misguided, but since I’m the one writing this post, I will relay the issue from my perspective.

And if I sound angry, fed up and disgusted, it’s because at this present moment I am.  So if you are not in the mood for a no-holds-barred take on the subject, then this is not the place for you.  And let me also say that I don’t usually generalize, so when I say they, please don’t take it for an entire race or an entire occupation.  They means they who are guilty.  Period.

They say that Black people never complain about Black on Black crimes, but whenever a Black youth is killed by a White cop, we want justice.  First off, Black people complain like crazy about crimes in the ghetto, because you know that is what they really mean.  But secondly and more importantly, I have NEVER heard the media or anyone else, for that matter, EVER mention White on White crime.  And for somebody who watches A LOT of Investigation Discovery, I see a lot of that.  Man, these people have no problem killing their own flesh and blood for ulterior motives.  And they certainly have no problem killing their spouses for the insurance money because as we all know, “Divorce is not an option”.

They say that Black kids, Black young men in particular, have to know how to talk to the police and what to do when they are stopped by the police.  I have never heard about White kids being taught what to do when they are stopped by the police.  White kids don’t have to be trained how to respond to cops at all.  They are allowed to be themselves.  They are allowed to dress as themselves.  They are allowed to walk as themselves. They are allowed to talk as themselves.

They say that Black people act as if poor White people are not treated poorly by the law too.  Of course they are.  Lots of officers know that they are in a profession where they are feared, and they use that to their advantage.  But Black people are predominantly stopped by the police more often compared to any other race.  Period.

They say that the police are just doing their job when they shoot first and ask questions later, but if I’m an accountant and I shred my documents before I file my clients’ taxes, then I’m quite  inept at my job.

They say that police officers need to be retrained how to treat Black people.  No one ever retrains the tax collector how to take Black people’s money.  No one ever retrains the mortgage broker how to take Black people’s money.  No one ever retrains the Wal-Mart cashier how to take Black people’s money.  No one ever retrains the coaches how to interact with young Black athletes.  No one ever retrains John & Jane Doe how to revere Oprah.  It is only when Black people should be respected, should be treated as equals, that problems arise as to how to treat them.

And by the way, I don’t understand why is it that whenever police officers shoot unarmed citizens, their first defense is that they were afraid for their lives.  Look, some jobs are just more dangerous than others.  If you are such a damn scaredy-cat, then find another line of work.  I’m terrified of electricity, especially electricity in close proximity to water.  Therefore, you won’t see me applying for a job building an underwater tunnel!

A couple of months ago, my then 11 year old son and I were talking, and I expressed that when someone does something to him, he doesn’t always have to retaliate.  I continued that he can be like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He countered that he really like Dr. King, but if he was in that time, he wouldn’t follow him.  He would follow the Black Panthers or whatever they were called and fight back.  Two things: I didn’t even know that he knew about the Black Panthers and second, I was extremely proud that he figured that out in about half the time that it took me.

They say that we are focusing on the fact that they are assassinating the victims’ characters.  When I was going to confirmation class at the age of 12, we used to go into the supermarket and steal the shopkeeper’s cookies.  It’s not like we didn’t know that it was wrong.  It’s not like we didn’t know that it was worse coming from church.  It’s not even like we couldn’t afford to buy the cheap cookies.  We just thought it was fun.  Good kids do dumb stuff all the time.  Not every teenage girl that gets pregnant is promiscuous.  Not every teenage boy that smokes weed is a pothead. 

As parents, we blame ourselves for every bad thing that our children do.  Not every teenage boy who threatens to blow up his high school has absentee parents.  Not every teenage girl who works the pole has abusive parents.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much we speak to our children, how much we warn them, how much we explain to them, it takes a second for them to make a bad judgment that can unfortunately cause them their lives.  However, a misstep in judgment is never enough to get a young man executed in the public square in broad daylight.

They say that we have to teach our children that they live in an unfair world, that they live in the White man’s world, that we sometimes have to swallow our pride in order to survive.  Why?  Why do we have to accept the fate of second class citizens?  Why do we have put the strain on ourselves and live in two worlds?  Why do we always have to be the ones to compromise?  Why do we always have to be the ones to change the way we speak?  Why do we always have to conform?

We have been conforming for hundreds of years, and the way I see it, NOTHING has changed.  So clearly, that way is not working either.  If the alternative to surviving in this world is to live subserviently in order to live another day, in order to teach our boys that we are only men inside of the house, but mere boys once we step out, then perspectively speaking, maybe this life is not even worth living in the first place.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

RIP, Robin Williams!

If I see one more of my facebook friends writes how much s/he already misses Robin Williams, I’ll, I’ll, send her/him a game request.  Any game except Candy Crush of course, because that’s fun.  But I’ll send some weird, random game like Snail Bob…..all seven versions.  Truth be told, I have no idea what that game is.  I just searched facebook for the dumbest looking game, and voilĂ .  But I just feel so irritated right now.

Look, I feel badly for Robin Williams’ family and for his real friends.  And I get it, many facebook users were big fans of his.  But I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend how people can miss someone that they weren’t even thinking about a day before, or never even met, much less had one conversation with.  And I realize that the media frenzy will be obsessed with him for a while; but for ordinary folks, someone really needs to enlighten me. 

And don’t get me wrong, I appreciated his talent.  He piqued my interest with The World According to Garp.  He tickled my funny bone in Moscow on the Hudson.  And by the time I saw Good Morning, Vietnam, I concluded that he was a bonafide movie star worth the accolade.  Of course we all loved Mrs. Doubtfire; and when he spooked me in One Hour Photo, I realized the man was not only a comic, but he had some real acting chops.  But a friend he never was, and never would be!

I feel like the media tell us, or try to tell us what we should be concerned about, on whom we should focus.  The media have a way of making us sympathize with one person over another, even though they are met with the same fate.  John Smith suffers from depression.  He suffers from low self-esteem.  He doesn’t think he is good enough.  He doesn’t love himself.  John Smith is your neighbor and one day, his illness gets the better of him, and John Smith kills himself.  It bothers you for a second or two, but you move on with your life because it doesn’t affect you.  You never even said more than two words to him.  But for some reason, losing Robin Williams has you in a bad way.  You are in denial that somebody that funny, that congenial, that great of an actor can be experiencing the same issues as John Smith.  How can Robin Williams be a mere mortal like John Smith?

And I get it.  We see these people on TV, and we feel like we know them.  We see them as friends, as family.  I get it.  But when will we start seeing our neighbors as friends, our family as family?  When will we exert the same amount of energy for our fellow men that we do for celebrities?  We shouldn’t wait for a celebrity to put a face on an issue for it to be an issue worth following or an issue worth showing some concern.

Then, the day after Robin Williams’ death, as I tried to avert celebrity news, I ended up listening to some woman appealing to President Obama to kindly assist the children stuck at the US-Mexico border.  I’m all for helping these unfortunate children, but I could not believe my ears.  This lady mentioned that these children were being accosted by gang members to sell drugs.  Where else have I heard that happening to innocent children?  Where else have children tried to stay off the streets but are bullied into being drug dealers and gangbangers?  Where else are children shot and killed on the way to school, on the way to visit Nana, on the way to the grocery store?

Some days, I honestly feel like I’m living in an alternate universe.  Everyone has to be so politically correct.  People can’t say what’s really on their minds anymore.  Stephen A. Smith cannot say that women should not provoke men into hitting them or hitting them back before his statement is twisted to mean that he blames the victims.  People cannot say that America is biased towards Israel before they are being accused of being Anti-Israel.  No one can say that peace will never come between the Israelis and Palestinians because they are fighting over family land; but I will.  I have never met a family feud over land that was ever resolved.  And hundreds of years of feuding will never alleviate said problem.  So, maybe stop pumping money into that dead horse!

Then the other day, someone remarked about Robin Williams’ untimely death, and I lost it.  Can you please allow me to give you some facts, well some facts from my perspective?  No one dies before his time.  Any time someone dies, it’s time.  Period!!!

So I do hope that Robin Williams rests in peace, but what I hope for more is that we live in a world where we will be just as sympathetic to John Smith as we are to Robin Williams, where Trayvon Martin will not be more of a household name than Jordan Davis, where Hadiya Pendleton’s demise will not be grieved more than Porshe Foster’s, because perspectively speaking, each one of us is important to someone, and all life should be treated equally.