Nearly 4 Years Later: More of the 72% Are Finally Listening, Learning and Speaking Out

Through the noise of all the buildings burning, the arrests of the officers, the protests, the re-touching on Colin Kaepernick and the posts on social media talking about racial injustice, the biggest net positive to all of it…

The voices are finally being heard.

The narrative hijacking seems to be under control (as much as some are trying). The original message of Colin Kaepernick and cries for help are finally being heard.

Maybe this is premature, but I hope we are on the brink of real change. Even if we can’t reverse engineer the entire system, let’s move the needle as far as we can. Just like all those who rose and fell during the civil rights movement.

For all that is to come, let’s make sure that George Floyd didn’t die in vain.

We saw the video. We know what we saw. We saw another black man murdered at the hands of an unfit police officer. We watched three others who failed to uphold their promise to protect and serve.

Let us remember the long list of names over the years from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin to Eric Garner to many others, and let us remember George Floyd as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Let us remember George Floyd as the life stolen that finally gave our black brothers and sisters more equality moving forward.

Let’s put away our all lives matter and blue lives matter narratives because there is not a history of oppression toward either of those.

No one is suggesting that they don’t matter. Our system for many years has suggested that black lives do not matter. Through enslavement, policy and rhetoric, black lives have not mattered.

Let’s continue to scream that Black Lives Matter and fight the historical oppression that still lingers in 2020. It was enough at year one. 400 years is fucking ridiculous.

I am huge Lupe Fiasco fan and one of the verses that hits me hard is from his song Unforgivable Youth from the album FNL II…

As archaeologists dig in the deserts of the east
Appeared a 100 meters wide and 100 meters deep
They discover ancient cars on even older streets
And a city well preserved and most likely at its peak
A culture so advanced, and by condition of the teeth
They can tell that they was civil, not barbaric in the least
A society at peace.
With liberty and justice for all
Neatly carved in what seems to be a wall
They would doubt that there was any starvation at all
That they pretty much had the poverty problem all solved
From the sheer amount of paper, most likely used for trade
Everything’s so organized.
They had to be well behaved
Assumed they had clean energy, little to no enemies
Very honest leaders with overwhelming sympathies
Religions kinda complex.
Kinda hard to figure out
And this must be the temple
This White House

The lyrics above are deep because they show we have all the correct language to suggest we are better off than we are. Let’s start being better off instead of acting like it. I want a better world for my children. I want a better country for my friends and their families.

I am not saying our country sucks. It doesn’t. It’s advanced and it’s more diverse than many others in the world. But that is not to say we can’t be better. We should always push to be better.

I love seeing the posts from the people I am friends with and follow on social media standing up for the bullied and the beaten.

I am looking at you…the people who look like me. The reality is white people make up nearly 3/4 of this nation. Meanwhile, black people only make up roughly 1/8 of this nation. Let’s continue to voice our anger, sadness, frustration for the generations of mistreatment of our fellow Americans. It’s not right. It’s not fair.

Whether you like it or not, our voice matters in this issue.

They have fought long enough and they’re still standing and ready to fight more. If there is one thing to be said about Black Americans, they are relentless in their pursuit for equality, as they should be. 400 years of fighting and they still stand on their feet proudly.

Let’s join them. Let’s fight with them. Let’s fight for them so they can take a break for a minute, even though they won’t. Let’s give their cause an even bigger voice.

Let’s not make this a trend that is ultimately forgotten in six months. For all the people posting and taking part in things like Black Out Tuesday…

DON’T. STOP. FIGHTING.

We must continue to educate ourselves on the plights of the black community. Please don’t let us look back on this and be a punchline. I have seen many posts saying “I don’t typically get political, but…”

Human rights and equality shouldn’t be political in the first place. But, it is.

So get political. Be political. Continue to search for understanding.

It doesn’t have to be on social media.

I have never ran the same race as my friends who are black. By the color of my skin alone, I was ahead of that curve. We need to understand that.

For the idiot who inevitably screams bLaCk oN bLaCk CrImE, go do some research on the history of racially charged policies like redlining. The crime is a symptom of a bigger problem that you need to understand. That is not to say we should excuse it. But, we should understand it. That symptom of oppression leads to situations of racial profiling.

If I walk into a store or get pulled over by a police officer for speeding or speak out about an issue, I am held in higher regard automatically because I am white.

I don’t have to worry about the clerk staring me down wondering whether or not I am going to steal something.

I have to worry about police pulling me over and getting a ticket. I don’t have to worry about my life or my rights being infringed upon.

In fact, I was once pulled over and I got into a minor altercation with a police officer. The end result was me getting away without a citation.

He pulled me over for allegedly running a stop sign. I would have admitted it, if I did. I still contest I didn’t. He walked up in a shitty mood. When he came up and condescendingly asked if I was in a hurry, I said no, why? He angrily said “well then why did you run the stop sign?”

I responded and said “I didn’t. But I just saw you do it to come get me.”

It gets even better.

Long story short, I never threw away about six years worth of insurance cards and had older registrations as well. I handed him outdated shit twice before he started losing his patience.

When I finally pulled out the pile I had, he saw me fumbling through them finding the correct papers and said “dude, just get out of here.” I stuck my hand out the window to shake his for letting me go. When he turned his back on me with a sour look, I laughed while I put up my window mumbling “what a dick.”

I am not sure if he heard me, but based on the mouthing off as well as outdated documentation, there is a good chance that scenario plays out differently if I was black. I never had a gun or taser pointing at me. I was never asked to step out of the car. The officer never “smelled marijuana.” None of the loopholes officers use to search a vehicle were never enacted.

Why?

Because I am white. That is what white privilege looks like.

I grew up in a predominantly white community, which is the same place I was stopped by that officer.

Even though, I would not classify myself as ever being a blatant racist. There were instances of more subtle racism on my part because of not being exposed to people of different races at a higher capacity until later in life. As the exposure grew, my understanding grew.

I went to a public school for Kindergarten and there were plenty of children who were black.

In fact, there was a girl in my class I was friends with. However, I thought she smelled weird. I attributed that to the color of her skin.

I moved to a private school for first grade and the number of black students significantly dropped. It was a PreK-3 – 8th grade school. I think there were maybe four black people in the entire school. We are talking about 30 kids in each class with two classes for each grade. So my exposure was limited.

When I was 6, there was a kid on my baseball (predominantly white sport) team who was black. However, he had a white mom. I remember thinking “that’s weird.” I distinctly his mom jumping his case for his attitude one game. I attributed his attitude to the color of his skin, although that was never taught to me.

When I was 7, I remember getting in trouble at summer camp one day because of a comment I made. I was playing with a ball with one of the counselors and a few kids. There was a black kid in my group. When he came over to play, I said he can’t because he is black. I remember saying that as more of a joke. Either way, it doesn’t excuse it. That could’ve torn that kid apart.

When I was 10, I asked a friend of mine to sleepover at my house. When I got home from school to ask my parents about it, I felt the needs to ask if it was ok that a black person slept over. My mom looked at me and said “I don’t care what color he is. He’s your friend.” It wasn’t that I hated him for being black, but I clearly didn’t fully understand that it was ok.

Again, it boils down to exposure.

When I was in high school, I remember the famous election of 2008 where our country broke a major barrier electing our first black president. I remember thinking that our country wasn’t ready for a black president based on the rhetoric I heard from certain friends and even their parents. I bought it. I used that as an excuse for why I thought he wasn’t electable.

I also remember texting my mom in class to call the school so I can leave to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration on TV. I remember not wanting to miss that because it was groundbreaking for this country. I sat in my living room glued to the TV watching with a sense of pride. It was a short time later that the joy was reverse engineered.

I had a conversation with a friend during my second semester of college. I remember him jumping down my throat for a comment I made, rightfully so. We were discussing that election. I said to him that I thought the election was voting for a lesser of two evils. My ignorance went on full display.

Although I was never in the camp of “fuck black people” forms of racism. Throughout my life, there have been instances of racial undertones due to my lack of exposure when I was younger.

The reason I shared these with you is because the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. In order to combat racist thoughts and behaviors, you can’t pretend it never existed in your life at some point. If it truly never did, good for you. You are ahead of the curve of many others.

If any sign of racism ever creeps back into my own actions or words, I want my friends to hold me accountable and call me out for it. I am truly thankful for my experiences throughout my life. My experiences helped unwind some of those racial undertones to give me clarity.

I quoted Lupe Fiasco earlier. One of my roommates my first semester in college turned me on to his music. His music connected with me on a deeper level, that is when I began researching the historical relevance of systemic racism. I wanted a better understanding of his lyrics. I would search those on rap genius and then I would go down the rabbit hole of searching the deeper meanings behind them. It helped educate me on the problems that exist today.

Thanks to research on my own accord and conversations with people from different backgrounds, it reverse engineered my irresponsible way of thinking.

The more vocal we are when we see these instances, the more we can reverse engineer others to get us on the right side of history. It won’t happen overnight. It may not even happen in our lifetime. But, we have to keep moving the needle forward.

So, the question becomes how?

Speak up at Thanksgiving when the crazy uncle says something racially charged.

Speak up when you hear a friend say something racially charged.

Speak up when you see someone being racially profiled.

Keep having conversations with your friends about their experiences with racism and how to address it.

Speak the fuck up.

Ultimately, take that passion to the polls.

Full disclosure, I wrote a column a few months back on why I didn’t register to vote until 2018 (27 years old). In short, I do not like the whole hoopla behind it. I hate the I voted stickers. I hate the amount of people who walk into the polls and blindly punch a ballot. After I saw the unthinkable, which was Donald Trump being elected, I finally registered.

Take the passion you feel now and bring it to the polls in November because the man elected in 2016 is a complete piece of shit. Honestly, I am sick of people defending the indefensible.

From his barbs on Twitter to his racially charged and degrading rhetoric to his incessant need to put himself over, he’s the worst leader for arguably the most powerful country in the world. He makes everything about him. He leads with his ego rather than dignity and grace.

He took that to a completely different level this week when he decided to clear out protesters for a photo op with a bible in front of a church.

2020 has been the most catastrophic year for the US in my near 30 years of existence and Trump does not help that at all. He points fingers at everyone else and refuses blame for any of the shortcomings. I hope he gets pummeled at the polls this year so we can finally derail a runaway train of hate, hypocrisy and putting the position over the country.

For the people in the 72% speaking up, keep doing it. Keep putting people in check. Let’s continue to stand hand in hand with the voices of our friends who have been oppressed and suppressed for 400 years. Then we can at least have a net positive for this insane 2020.

 

 

 

 

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