Tag Archives: Black Lives Matter

This is America

America

Every time I fly out of Austin, I park my car in the extended lot, it’s not too expensive (yet). Parking at this spot requires me to ride on a shuttle to and from the airport. Now, I travel enough to notice, that unless I sit next to someone or a person of color sits next to me, a white person never sits next to me on the bus ride back. I have noticed this for 3 years. On the way into the airport, I may have had a handful sit next to me, but on the flight home and shuttle bus back to my car, a white person never sits next to me. Every single time they take every other seat available, even by some questionable people, before they dare sit next to me. But I have had enough experiences to let this roll off my back until a trip back from Kentucky after my favorite Uncle’s funeral just two months ago. It was late, and I was tired, and dealing with my uncle’s funeral was draining emotionally. As I got on the shuttle, I sat in my usual seat, and it began to fill in. All but one seat was available, that seat was next to me or so we thought. The driver was about to close the door when another person jumped on the bus, a middle aged white man, got on and put his stuff up. I told myself, he’s going to stand. The only clear seat available was next to me. The bus driver pointed in my direction, and told him that he had to have a seat. And the next thing that happened was completely unexpected.

An older, white-haired man was covering two seats and it was hardly noticeable, but this man found it. He made the older gentleman quite uncomfortable and sat next to him and another lady, and was squeezed very tightly. Then I felt a number of people’s eyes on me. Especially, the old white man who was completely uncomfortable. I couldn’t tell if his eyes were supposed to comfort me, if he was ashamed, or if he had the same thoughts as the man who refused to sit next to me, that he wouldn’t come sit next to me either. I like to think that his look was of regret that he didn’t choose to come sit next to me in the first place. I luckily was the first stop and got off the bus quickly, and I walked to my car, threw my luggage inside, and I began to weep.

That even when I am tired, I mean I was really tired, and sad, and all of the things I was going through with family members and the bullshit at work that at that very moment, I had to be reminded that I am black and there are people who think less of me, who are afraid of me, who’d rather be uncomfortable than sit next to me. This is my life as a black person in America. This is my life as a black person in one of the most “liberal” places in America. No matter if it’s a good day or a bad day, these experiences happen regularly for no good reason. I know that life isn’t fair, but if we can talk about struggles with our weight and body issues or other insecurities that to some extent we might have control over, but I can’t talk about this. Then we might as well be living in 1776.

I wish that the white people who are in power, who are at the table and have the money to make decisions that affect my black life can be like the white people I know and love, like my best friend, and the best two roommates I have ever had, my favorite teacher, my favorite mentor besides my mother and my Aunts. I wonder why can’t all white people look through their lens, and see me as a human being.

I am sure there will be someone reading this and think maybe he sat there, because it was closer. That it couldn’t be about race. You have been conditioned, as have I, by the ills of this country that I cannot talk about my race too much. Even though, because I live in America, I am often forced to think about it almost every day. But you know what…. I have decided to not feel sorry about it. I’ve been wanting to share this story even though it makes me angry, and it would make me even angrier that people might not understand or misinterpret my purpose and meaning. I’ve decided that I do not care.

Because I will remind you, this happens, every single time I ride this bus. It is not a one time deal. It isn’t a coincidence. This my friends is America.

Wake up and realize it.

Unfortunately, the only person who has is running for President of America.

M/P

Let’s Take A Look In The Mirror

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I am frustrated when breath is wasted arguing about All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter in connection with Black Lives Matter, but another problem is slowly brewing in the black community, or maybe it’s always been there. The unspoken words that are said through the inaction of our so-called “Uppity Negroes” is simple:

Black Lives Matter… But My Black Life Matters More Than Yours

This is a sad truth that I am learning about in the black community. As my conservative upbringing is being challenged and I am becoming more familiar with the black justice movement, whether it’s the Austin Justice Coalition or Black Lives Matter. I find that many young black professionals, who are way more liberal and progressive than I am, are nowhere to be found. Young Black Professionals who grew up in way more diverse environments or predominately black areas are nowhere to be found. (I am from Lexington, Kentucky and it’s not exactly the most diverse place in the world). As I engage with more activists, I find it puzzling and wonder where are all the young black professionals are who rant and rave on their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and lament to their friends in their Groupme’s and Slack groups about Police.

Where Art thou?

Since I have moved to Austin, three years ago, a city where more black people are steadily leaving, and young black millennials don’t want to be here, I find that segment of the population, to be self-absorbed and completely out of touch with not only reality, but with the suffering of black lives in Austin and across the country.

Why so Serious?

I have been an avid volunteer for one of the largest non-profit organizations here in Austin, a predominantly white city, but the non-profit serves a high percentage of black and brown kids. Many of the children who live in Austin that are below the poverty line are Hispanic and Black. They need mentors, they need successful people who look like them, but time and time again, I am the only black volunteer. Trying to get young black professionals to give their TIME OR MONEY is like pulling teeth. But they are the first to buy tickets for any concert, ready to spend money on drinks, and go to Happy Hour after Happy Hour trying to find a significant other in a city where it is hard to do. Then the deaths of young black men and women across the country began to be more public, either filmed or sound recorded, and the Black Lives Matter Movement was born.

These same inactive millennials, they “feel” for the movement, “cry” about the movement. Because we all know a person who could’ve been Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, or even Freddie Gray. But they don’t do anything. They don’t go to marches, don’t donate their time, and the best part is that they take the time to criticize activists for being too radical, too loud, or not creating enough solutions when the reality is that if maybe they were at the table, with all of their skills, with more educated black folks, finding solutions might be a little easier. While it is easy to blame many of the generational curses that plague the black community on others, we are still are own worst enemy.

To me, the reality is that these “Uppity Negroes”, by their inaction are saying that THEIR Black Life Matters more. I say this and I am an Uppity Negro, and proud of it. But I am in the trenches, and I want you to be there with me. I get it. When you grow up middle or upper middle class, there is a level of comfort that you enjoy, and maintaining that comfort or improving upon that comfort is your main goal. That is all our white counterparts have to worry about. Guess what? YOUR. ARE. NOT. THEM.

The reality I want to leave you with is that the comfort you hold so near and dear to your heart is made possible, because your parents or caregivers didn’t make that one mistake, didn’t have that one tragedy in their life, or whatever else it may have been that you are here, and you are not them. Trust me you are not as removed from the toils of your people as you would like to think. Because no one talks about the fact that there are very few victims of police brutality that are in the “Uppity Negro” status. It is classism at its finest, and we have to stop acting like it’s not happening. If you woke up in a different position or circumstance, you might think differently and wonder why black folks who’ve “made” it, are nowhere to be found. We spend a lot of time trying to convince people, especially white people, why all lives matter is not cool, but what we really need to do is remind black people, that when you say Black Lives Matter, saying those words mean nothing, if you do nothing.

M/P

Originally posted here on Alibix.co ‘s website.

The Vicious Cycle of Power: The Real Problem in America Right Now

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“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Acton

The killing of innocent lives is never good, whether the lives are lost here or abroad and whoever the victims are, the loss of innocent lives is never good. The killing of innocent lives that distract from fixing the current problem with policing in our communities is even worse. The last thing that we needed to happen were more innocent black men killed and innocent policeman shot in cold blood, and most of America and the world, had to sit and watch. Some wept, some were confused, mystified, and others were mad. I couldn’t help but think about what the continual root cause of the problem.

Whose hands are truly stained with blood? I can give you a little hint, but it’s not just the Police, and it’s definitely not the innocent people who continue to die simply for the color of their skin.

It’s power. Power corrupts. The duty to protect and serve is a power, and if abused, can be a matter of life or death. Sometimes power corrupts a good police officer. Sometimes it makes a bad police officer worse, but this power is nothing compared to the truly powerful people who aren’t doing anything to fix a broken system. A system that has been broken for years, decades. In fact, it seems to me that they prefer to allow the viscous cycle of power to churn out the same story and it’s getting worse.

Police officers are given a certain of lever of power in their jobs, because they are asked to enforce the law. Crime and violence does occur in many urban communities across the country, and the law needs to be enforced. But power corrupts. We all see this in any workplace where bad managers and directors mistreat employees simply because they can.

Often times, people of color experience this “power” of the law by the hand of police, when police are simply doing their job. Whether it’s because they are getting evicted, parents are being arrested for petty or serious crimes or kids are being removed from their home because of abuse or neglect. Other times they experience this “power” so unjustly by being racially profiled for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rarely are any of these interactions positive.

So if Police are given the power to monitor communities, and are often above reproach, what about the ones who are corrupted by power? That is why we see police brutality. Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City police officer, who was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping women of color abused the power of his badge.

I am saying the blame on the police and the violence/crime in these communities of color, at times, is unfair, because the system has been built to create vulnerable citizens, first, who then have to live and die by the hands of ill-trained and sometimes underfunded police departments.

The famous quote by Thomas Moore says it best:

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”

The lack of good education, the inability to make a decent wage or to find gainful employment (convicted felons), you cannot help but expect some people to turn to crime. These actions stem from the difficulty to reach the “American Dream”. We then ask police officers to enforce laws against those who have been rejected and hurt by the system.  And now, many police departments have lowered their standards for police officers to ensure that they have enough officers on the force. Thus creating a problem of police officers who are too young and ill-trained. Seems to me that the police and the people in the communities of color are stuck in a deadly hamster reel.

The logical next step is to think who gives the power of the law. The police do not give this power to themselves. And more over, who has the power to improve the minimum wage, improve our educational system or the justice system and to create better programs for our convicted felons.

Politicians. Elected officials. “Leaders”.

America has stacked the cards against the most vulnerable, and asked police officers to enforce the laws against them, no matter the cost. We know that the prison system in this country is a billion dollar industry. This is not a conspiracy. This is the reality of the cycle of power that we have allowed to take place. When they talk about making America “great” again, we will never be able to move forward as nation, if we continue down this road.

So what can be done? Pay attention to what’s going on in your community, and not just the Presidential election. Who are your local politicians, what’s going on in state and local politics, who serves on your school boards and are you paying attention to where the money is going? We must hold them accountable. Like actually, pay attention and hold them accountable. People with the time and/or the aptitude to do something, must act. We cannot expect our most vulnerable to have the time or the capacity to fight.

So am I saying it is our responsibility to do something?

Yes I am.

We are not talking about giving handouts or throwing money at a problem. I am talking about making sure our laws are just, and the people that we elect into our offices have our best interests in mind. People like to joke that the Founding Fathers were slave owners among other things, but there are positive legacies that they left behind. They created a system of laws and separation of powers, and a place for people to be heard. But we are not using our voices effectively. Especially those who are in a position to do more. Because we must remember, the difference between ourselves and the most vulnerable, is that we were just dealt different cards. We should be thankful, and make a difference in their lives.

M/P

To Be Thankful and True

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” I prefer to be true to myself even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence” – Fredrick Douglass

 I was very excited about today’s post. It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for when I think about where I was last year. But as I sat down to write, and caught up on all the news from Tuesday, I couldn’t write about my personal matters. It didn’t seem true to myself, didn’t seem real. There were a number of events that happened yesterday that compelled me to write a feature for Alibi X called, “Just Thankful To Be Alive”.  We cannnot be afraid to talk about the things that make us uncomfortable, change will not come any other way. Please go check it out on their website: Here

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M/P

Do You Know Where You’re Going To

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“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots” – Erich Fromm

Lately, the traffic in Austin has been worse than normal, so I have attempted to try several different routes, and it’s been somewhat of an adventure. I’ve been doing so for my morning and evening routes, and I feel like I have driven all over Austin. One day this past week, a thought came to my mind. As I drive around Austin, I never use a GPS. I take great pride in learning and knowing my surroundings. Yes, I am that person who looks down on someone who’s lived in a city more than 2 years and doesn’t know how to get around a city in which you live.

I believe a GPS, although it has purpose when you are somewhere unfamiliar, I find it mentally frustrating, because it doesn’t always take the best route, it more times than not, takes the long road (“safe route”) , and ignores the shorter road (“riskier route”). So it is interesting how so many people are addicted to the GPS.  You also do not learn your environment or you’re too busy paying attention to the GPS that you might miss out on  scenery that surrounds you, and it’s a shame. But more than anything, to some extent you are a robot, following a voice and the mind isn’t thinking.  To some extent, you become a robot.

Now when I had these thoughts, I had no idea what I would sit down to write about this week or how it would relate to the topic of my choice, but I knew it would be relevant, and boy is it ever.

As I peruse my timeline, news feed, or any other social medium since the Friday attacks in Paris, a question comes to my mind:

Are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

I think the only thing more disturbing than the actual terrorist attacks in Paris, or any other terror attack or violence in any country at any given time, is the arguing about what people should or shouldn’t do or say on their Facebook profile. There has been a lot of social media riff raff about the media attention and sympathy for the attacks on Paris versus other acts of violence whether it be in the black community, in Beirut, or in Kenya, and so on.  In all reality, there are thousands if not millions of people who live in constant danger every day, and should be on your habitual prayer list, but I am not even going to get into that. What’s really surprising is that people are ACTUALLY getting annoyed when the seemingly majority comes together to change their profile picture to the French flag. Now, I would agree that there are plenty of people who couldn’t have pointed out the French flag before Friday, but what you are learning is that some people follow the crowd. Sometimes that crowd is your family, or friends, and now it can be your Facebook friends, strangers, or the mass media. Either way, everyone isn’t paying attention to what’s going on in this world, and are just passing a widget in the assembly line.

So I ask, are we in the land of robots or the land of the free?

In a country where we are free to mourn, cry, and pray in the manner in which we choose, more and more, there are so many people judging each other publicly about the decision that they make. I was listening to the radio on Friday, and they were discussing a report that stated, “A week without Facebook leads to a happier, less angry, less lonely life” (source)

I believe that story without an ounce of double checking of the research. I get frustrated on Facebook at least 3 times in a week, and on Veteran’s day, I think I was upset 3 times in that one day. But the reality is today, as was when I wrote it here, here AND here, you cannot complain about the media not covering certain news or Americans caring about certain people. A lot of people are mad about the unfair coverage of the news, but THIS IS NOTHING NEW. Similar to when my black friends and I had the tough conversations about the police and brutality, that my little conservative, uppity Negro ears didn’t want to hear or believe or listen. But you all are mad at institution that has failed you for years, yet you continue to tune in, re-tweet, and share the news that give you crap and when you wake up and realize that all International Lives don’t matter, I don’t have sympathy for you.

I really do not watch any form of cable news, besides ESPN – and they too, are becoming ratings obsessed. I boycott, not because I am into boycotting, they do not cover or represent mine or anyone’s interest. They continue to prevail, because we are becoming more and more like robots. Following as the winds blows, and rarely making are own decisions. Not to mention, people are constantly trying to change our MIND for their gain and not our enrichment! In fact, sometimes, going against the grain feels like it’s a part of the crowd when too many begin to follow. I mean this shouldn’t be surprising, didn’t you hear, the First Family, are a bunch of robots. Yes, I am referring to the Kardashians. But beyond this seemingly unsurprising robotic nature of many people, I wonder if telling people what they should do, and then they do it, do they really believe it? Cherish it?

I think more than anything, we are doing and saying things without really thinking about why or who we are saying it to, and social media has made everyone’s opinion relevant.

The more important question were the seemingly “Christian” folks on my timeline who took the time to remind us that we shouldn’t allow refugees into this country. Now, I am not negating that they didn’t play any role, but the quickness in which many took to discuss whether or not the refugees contributed to the terror attacks is alarming. What I can tell you is that the hate and fear mongering that we are spewing to each other is not going to help these robots that this world is creating. The part of this that scares me are the young people influenced by ISIS across the globe including America.  We are creating robots, and when they fall into the wrong hands, their fragile minds can be swayed to do and be a part of really bad things, in a million different names, including religion.

There are a few traits, psychologists have found, “They tend to be young, male thrill junkies, craving purpose, glory, camaraderie and a fresh identity….They hunger for significance, even infamy. Some barely understand the Islamic faith. And many are just plain bored.” (source) …. sound like a robot trying to feel alive again doesn’t it? I do not mean to over simplify the issue, but many of the recruits in the Western world are pulled in a social media recruitment, and with the wrong psyche, many things could trigger a person to search and reach to ISIS as did Andre Poulin, a common westerner to join the Islamic State. (source). I cannot sit here and write about how to change the terror attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, and so forth, but I know I see more hate then love on my timeline, and more blind allegiance, than true thought.  America we cannot create any more robots. Our lives depend on it.

M/P

America’s Favorite Subject: Me (The Monday Fits)

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“We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

This post is obviously about selfishness and it has been in the works for quite a while. I actually originally wrote this blog topic to be called, “The Selfish Side of Minorities… the What about Me Personality”. Then Sandra Bland died, and I kept trying over and over to write about how, we as minorities, can be so selfish when we only look through our lens. This subject matter came to my mind, because of the diversity work I’ve done, and as mistreated as Black people are, many ignore the discrimination that say a person with a disability might experience if it is outside their experience. It’s an argument many people make about minority groups in general that refuse to support other civil rights movements. I honestly felt foolish for writing about minorities being selfish, when you hear the majority complaining about how life is unfair for them with all the focus on race.

Just this past week, in the wonderful state that I live in (Texas), a young Muslim boy was arrested for making a clock that they thought was a bomb. But they didn’t really think it was a bomb, because there was no evacuation AND they admitted knowing that it wasn’t a bomb, BUT arrested him anyway. And then I figured out why I really hadn’t written in almost 3 weeks.

The foolishness is at an all time high! You have presidential candidates supporting a woman who is refusing to do her job, say a felon, who struggles to get a job would love to do. You have the GOP presidential debate “winner” literally making up facts that aren’t true (yes, go fact check Carly Fiorina) – I mean in the age I just don’t understand a. why make up shit b. why others just believe anything out of someone’s mouth. And while everyone was so excited that Obama tweeted to the young Muslim boy about his clock, where were his harsh comments to the school district that racial/ethnically profiled this young boy. Where are the strong words about the behavior? Obama wanted to be seen as a “hero” instead of providing the leadership this country so desperately needs when it comes to race and ethnic relations, but he fails yet again. Why? What’s in it for him?

But despite my frustrations, I have nothing to really complain about. I still live in America. I look at what’s going around the world such as the displaced refugees in Syria. The women and children who are desperately in danger of being raped or molested against their will. Those are real things, real problems. Those people should be crying from the roof top for the world to care about them. But they are too busy trying to survive to really cry out. We are always crying and we pit our struggles against one another regardless if we’re minorities, in the majority, or whoever. And then we want people to have sympathy, fight for our causes, or understand our perspective.

I do believe that people can change their mind on topics or difficult issues, but they do have to be open to them. There are also people about  causes that do not directly affect them. However, I find it hilarious that people support candidates who are completely unaware of their struggle and they act like it.  Donald Trump has done nothing in his career to make you think he’s concerned with the middle class struggle, but that he is concerned with power and money. What most people do, support, or the interest groups they entangle themselves with is really indicative of the kind of person or candidate they will be.

People’s character is really based on who they are when no one is not looking.

Whhat they do before they hit the spotlight, before they run for President is more indicative of who they are and what they will support. I mean it’s okay to be fooled by pretty words, but we shouldn’t be. We should look at these elections from that angle. Remember we are selfish beings, why do we think they somehow are more concerned about our needs. But I did not come here to blog about the elections, again (as tempting as it can be).

I wanted to discuss the Black Lives Matter campaign. Yes. I have no problem with organizing, coming together, and pushing the agenda of stopping the violence against our young black boys and black girls. But the idea that we can convince others that Black Lives Matter, hurts my heart, because in all honesty we can’t. Hence the preceding all Lives Matter rallies that have occurred and now Police Lives Matter movements popping up across the country. It is sad that they feel threatened by the Black Lives Matter movement. That even in this very selfish world, they have tried to convince us that focusing on our black lives is inappropriate. See I was wrong to think, as minorities, we are selfish because we only care about our particular status in this world, and not banding together more often to help with several causes. It is true that we all have a different fight, and if you were born or live in America, this is the country of me. So why is it so upsetting that a Black Lives Matter movement exists, or that over the past year, it has become harder and harder for me to not write about race relations. I know there are other matters going on in the world, and other issues affecting me and those around me, yet it’s what I care about.

It is because I am black, I will always be black, and when I raise my kids, no matter who I marry, they too will be black. There is nothing selfish about being concerned about my black life, my future child’s black life, and most important, my brother’s black life. What is selfish, is that idea that people, who are not black, telling me to not care. What’s worse are the many black men and women of power and influence, who are also telling me not care too. Everyone is pointing their finger to themselves and saying me, me, and me when we need to come together. But I cannot sit around and wait for that, I choose to nurture our children of tomorrow. The fight to convince the other side will never be won, because you cannot convince someone else that YOU matter, but you can teach a young child to remember that they matter, that they matter in the scheme of the whole world and not in their silo. That is what I have decided to do as a concerned citizen, person , and most of all, as an American.  I can longer spend my time writing about something I know is important in hopes that you will understand, because there are more important at stake: Our children, our future.

M/P