Tag Archives: Police

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

xDrAUUJ

“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

Since the Day I Was Born ….

tumblr_mum2fbcdmd1suxj9go1_500

For me, the hardest part of watching the movie Selma was the first five minutes. It is the scene when the young girls, doing what young girls do in church, were blown up. I have thought of this scene multiple times prior to seeing the movie and just the thought of this scene was chilling, but Ava DuVernay captured it even more poignantly in the movie. So as I woke up this morning, June 18, to hear that 9 black people were shot in a historic church in South Carolina, I couldn’t even imagine what was going on in their minds and hearts as it was happening. As a child who grew up in the church, the thought of some one coming into our sabbath school, choir practice, youth service or a sermon brought me to real tears for so many reasons. Cried for their kids, their families, but also that our people have to be killed in a church, for everyone to find outrage. To utter the words that this IS a hate crime unlike all the other incidents. Because when our people are in the streets, not wearing the right clothes or defending themselves (if only with our words), the life of a black person is not of the same worth. We have to be doing what society deems appropriate for there to be outrage.

THIS
IS
NOT
OKAY

See what’s so troubling about this shooting is that the black church is a center piece to black culture. Despite our difficult past, the church has been a place of refuge for us. It IS a place of refuge for us. Despite its faults, because no establishment is perfect, it represents so much for black people. This feels like the highest violation, because almost every black child can relate to some degree when it comes to matters of faith. So now, in 2015, we are still being terrorized in our places of worship like in the days of MLK. How are we supposed to attend our places of worship? Of course, this won’t keep us out of our churches, but it will make some look over their shoulders. And it shouldn’t be this way.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen our young sons and daughters killed, and protestors and activists lambasted for speaking out against the police. Here’s the truth, we are racially profiled, wrongfully jailed, unjustly sentenced, and leniency is rarely given, yet a privilege white boy can receive leniency for a disease called “affluenza”, because he was born in privilege so he couldn’t grasp his actions.

Am I missing something?

I’m not radical. I actually love the police and respect the 5 -0 , the men in Blue. But when I sit here and speak to older black people who are not seeing why we are upset. That in some way, they implicitly say that we are the problem, is when I realize I have to say something. To speak up.

TODAY, we have earned the right to be angry,  to be sad, but we must not sit. We want equality in every area. But there are certain things I want right now from three groups of people:

1. The Media and the People Who Watch It
2. “Educated” Black People
3. Everybody else

1. MEDIA

For the last week, I was saturated about the Rachel “whogivesashit” Dolezeal story. Wake up media and get some respect about yourself. How can this nation grow, the people learn and understand,  if the information you give us is horrible. You ARE dumbing down America.

The People Who Watch It

STOP WATCHING IT …

Until its worthy of our attention

2. EDUCATED BLACK PEOPLE

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of my peers talk about how they are numb. STOP. You’re still living, breathing and have a sound mind. Do something. I’m not asking you to move mountains. But all of us need to have a hand in making a difference in our communities. It’s about each of us contributing in some capacity. You don’t need to live in Baltimore, NYC or Cleveland, but help where you are. You can protest, but there are other ways too. Use your unique gifts and talents. More importantly, as I’ve said so many times, have real conversations with your White friends, your Hispanic friends, your Asian friends, your Jewish friends. We need allies. Don’t have any of “those” friends? Well, we can not sit in our little educated black circles and expect people to understand or care if we’re not out here shouting from the mountaintop.

3. EVERYBODY ELSE

Wake the HECK up to the world we actually live in and not the world you think we do. Get out your shell or your/our world will fall apart, and it won’t be the underprivileged, the mistreated, and upset young people’s fault, it will be yours.

Since the day I was born, I have loved America and I have been a Black American. Since the day I was born, I believed I lived in a post-racial America. That is not true. I have been proud to be an American, I just hope those days are not numbered, because we are blind to reality. I now know,  since the day I was born, there is still a lot of work to be done about race. I have taken off my rose colored glasses, won’t you?

M/P

What’s With the Middle Class? (The Monday Fits)

what-is-your-problem

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein


It’s time to be a little direct. There is something wrong with the middle class. Politicians, theorists, and writers tell us time and time again, that the middle class is the social class that matters most. “Depending on the class model used, the middle class constitutes anywhere from 25% to 66% of households”, but the most legit models all have the middle class as the majority. (Source)  More pointed, many believe that the continuing existence of America depends on the success of the middle class. I would say the middle class has a lot of power.  The upper and lower middle class, create the largest voting bloc, yet we do very little with this power to influence. Instead, we are the ones who are influenced, let others speak for us, and define our future. (Trust me – Google – What does the middle class care about, middle class priorities, what is important to the middle class, the results are interesting)

So let’s look at #BaltimoreUprising. Many ponder how the events over the past two weeks could happen in an American city in 2015. Why they are pondering, I am not exactly sure, Ferguson feels like yesterday to me. I ponder more about what could be done to fix the problem, and do we really care enough to fix the problem? I found, as did many other Americans, the major network’s media coverage of the riots to be a farce and self-serving versus a balanced, honest coverage of the events that were occurring. More and more, we can’t rely on our mainstream media. There was peaceful protesting. There were rioters. There was unnecessary violence. But more times than not, there were teenages, adults, gang members, church members, and even local politicians protesting the violence against our young black men in America peacefully. Luckily, last week ended on a positive note, with indictments being served to the officers. Not because the officers are automatically assumed guilty, but justice, as best as it can be, will be served in a trial for those innocent till proven guilty officers.

Now back to the media. Would we, the middle class, ever protest and stop watching the inadequate mainstream media that continues to feed us crap. Would we ever demand more from them so that we could be a more informed class since we consume more of it then any other class? NO, NO and MORE NO. The first episode of HBO’s NEWSROOM so eloquently makes this point, and yet, we still allow ourselves to be bamboozled.  And the sad reality is that these passive behaviors do not only occur in the media we consume, it’s everywhere. So when I look at the events of Baltimore, yes, I do believe the middle class is the biggest problem. We are not demanding more of our politicians, of our cities, our governments, and we are not giving enough. We might not have enough time, our lives are stressful just like everyone else, but we also have the power to change things in the lives of our citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.

There is no denying that we hold the largest voting bloc, and can potentially have the most influence. Yet, we do not use this power to our advantage, which would be fine, but when the results of our passivity comes upon us, we cannot act like we have no hand in the matter. If middle america doesn’t start waking up to the America as it is, the working class, and lower class will continue to grow. Karlyn Bowman and Jennifer Marsico write:

“In an Allstate/National Journal poll, 85 percent said that over the past few years, the number of Americans who had fallen out of the middle class is greater than the number who had earned or worked their way into it (11 percent).(source)

Many would think that we should look to the wealthy and those with more resources to fix the problem. Do you know what they spend their money on? They spend their money convincing us of whatever they want us to believe, and we fall for it every time. They know more about us, than we know about ourselves: that we have more power to fix our problems than we realize. Reihan Salam  on Slate writes:

“We often hear about the political muscle of the ultrarich. Billionaires like the libertarians Charles and David Koch and Tom Steyer, the California environmentalist who’s been waging a one-man jihad against the Keystone XL pipeline, have become bogeymen for the left and right respectively. The influence of these machers is considerable, no doubt. Yet the upper middle class collectively wields far more influence.These are households with enough money to make modest political contributions, enough time to email their elected officials and to sign petitions, and enough influence to sway their neighbors. ” (Source)

And he’s just talking about the upper middle class. We choose to fall for advertising and what the “machine” give us. When the Koch brothers came out a few weeks ago about having Republican candidates vie for 300 million dollars, where was the outrage? It was like the Koch brothers were ring masters making them perform like circus animals. Every republican candidate or potential candidate should have been appalled and ALL of them should have revolted. I found it very insulting, but I guess I was the only one. Because all of the candidates understand one thing, that they need the money. Not because they need money, most of the candidates have more money than you or I, but they need the money to FOOL us, TRICK us, to feed us some story. Now, it’s not a Republican thing, Hillary and the other democrats are ripe to play to middle america too, cause we got the power and we don’t know how to use it. We have the ability to go against policies, regulations, or actions that are not in our best interest, and make everyone pay attention! Not to be trite, but if we had just an ounce of the revolutionary spirit of our forefathers, we may could get things on track. Its time to throw tea off a harbor.

Anyone should be able to see from the Baltimore riots, that there are systematic, generational problems that are plaguing the community as  in other urban cities across the country. Some people cannot recognize this. They are the ones who want us to focus on buildings and the damage. Seriously, CVS can afford to fix that damn building, trust me, but some of the families in the community do not know if they will have a roof over their head next week AND their caregiver IS working 2 or 3 jobs. The next group of people believe that money is the biggest problem, and having more money or throwing money will fix the problem. Well, if we’re talking about giving more Americans working a living wage, then YES, more money could help. “In 2012, 2.9 million Americans worked full-time jobs and still lived below the poverty line. Some 22 percent of our children live in poverty, and it’s worse for African American youth—38 percent—and Hispanic children—34 percent”. (source) 

But the reality is that it takes people. It takes creating capacity in our communities to help break through the strongholds poverty has on these  families, and not let those in charge fall into corruption. It takes more than a village, it’s takes us all. And since we’ll never get 100% participation, make sure you’re not one of the  people who is unwilling to make a difference.

I don’t like to be too definitive in my posts, because I prefer for people to make their conclusions and start their own conversations. We just are not doing enough. I may have a slight bias, because I am raising money for my community, and I see people who will not offer a dime to it, but will pay all kinds of money to see artists who do not NEED their money.  But more importantly, I see too many people in my own sphere, not just my close friends and friends, but people I work with, drink with, network with, are more likely to be doing everything to make their lives and loved ones better, but not much else. If the only things you can do is go to work, take care of your family, kids, and not much else, just imagine doing the same thing, each and every day but what you do isn’t enough to put food on your table, pay your rent, you’re not on welfare because you have a job, your spouse has a job. You are not a “statistic”, but you can’t make enough to get by. And every time your child walks out the house, you have to worry if they will make it home alive. Wouldn’t you cry out for help? Poverty, more times than not is a systematic, generational curse, that is easy to leave only for a few. You can continue to be passive and act as if it’s not your problem, and wait till it’s at your front door. Will you be more worried about the buildings and pass the blame, or will you look at the mirror and realize that you could’ve done more. Don’t let that happen, just do more now.

M/P

The Monday Fits: First World Faux Pas All Around

acd0122aeaf8e0ec5a907f6f2e3cc5a8c9c4acb493c3b668efb5fbb3f29acb2f

 

As the year closes, there a number of different topics that I find bubbling up in my mind. But what I find that happens all too often, are the issues that are most important, where the passion overflows are closer to “first-world problems” than pressing matters. You know the problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders roll their eyes. These really trivial problems are often seen on Facebook or Twitter, and can be viewed on this website  Here, and the posts kind of look like this,  “I have too much cash in my wallet and it hurts my butt when I sit. #FML #FWP”.

So what topics am I talking about? For one, feminism infiltrates my mind on an everyday basis ( and I write about it too) as I am slowly trying to find a way to conquer the world. More specifically, as a 28 year old, with many friends getting married, having babies, and a divorce here and there, it is difficult not to talk about the social constructs that try to govern my life, and every other female’s every move.  These social constructs cause a room full of professional women in their late 20’s and early 30’s to have intense conversations about marriage, to have or not to have kids, and how it affects our work/home lives. At times, depending on your profession and your regional location, there are certain expectations placed on you either explicitly or implicitly. I find it frustrating as I maneuver through my professional career, and want to decipher and analyze…and there is a but…

When I sit down to write about this, i feel conflicted, as there are so many problems elsewhere, such as #blacklivesmatter, airplanes disappearing, Boko Haram, and Ebola is not quite gone yet, and not to mention there are people fighting for their basic freedoms (click here). Not to mention I had a recent conversation about how Americans’ views on feminism can also be considered a first-world problem.

tumblr_m61uyec7p31rqfhi2o1_500

Yep, that’s what was said. But as the conversation continued, I slightly understood the point; reaching perfect equality between the sexes is the goal but perfection is unobtainable. Therefore, if we never made another advancement for ourselves, and women were only capable of reaching the heights that have currently been made, there are some pretty awesome people running companies, industries and governments and compared to many other countries that would love to have some our successes and freedoms. However, it is not enough for us (i.e. maternity leave – click here), and it shouldn’t be, but we can’t become too consumed with these type of problems that we don’t take the time out to look at other problems surrounding us. That is why the critique of the people involved in the protests surrounding the #blacklivesmatter still bothers me to this day.  People complain that millennials are not involved and when they are, they criticize their actions. (Of course, there are always bad apples in a bag). If we, Millennials, have the capacity to have an opinion and to take a position, we should stand for what want… but there are so many critics ABOUT everything from every side, criticism is the true cash cow in the country these days.

Let’s review a couple of stories from this week, where a number of people were in arms about something: “‘I Can’t Breathe’ T-Shirts Banned From High School Basketball Tournament” (source) , “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Stands His Ground After Offending Christians On Twitter” (source), and “Hundreds Turn Their Back on de Blasio at NYPD Officer’s Funeral” (source) . Now I am sure, at least ONE of those stories offended almost every one of my readers, but honestly, I am offended that in each situation there was so much push back. In each situation, there is a group of people who feels disrespected, and I completely understand that, but what happened to the first amendment. No seriously, what happened to the First Amendment? I get that critics have the right to speak back, as much as the people who take the original actions, but at times its as if the reaction gets more play than the original action.

In the story of the high schoolers, a girls and boys basketball team wanted to wear the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, and were not allowed to participate in a tournament unless they agreed to not wear the shirts. All the boy players agreed to not wear the shirts, except one who stood his ground, and the girls squad were not able to field a team, because most of them refused to be told not to wear the shirt! This is exactly what we should be fostering, is young people speaking out. The fact they wanted to shut out these kids voices is a problem. It may be a first-world problem, but the struggles within their communities are definitely not first-world problems, racial inequality should be less amongst an educated nation. But the reality, America with all of it’s first world problems, really does have a few third-world problems in certain areas that need to not go unnoticed: gun violence, wealth inequality… and of course, criminal justice.

“We all know the U.S. criminal justice system is flawed, but few are likely aware of just how bad it is compared to the rest of the world. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That’s significantly worse than Russia (484 prisoners per 100,000 citizens), China (121) and Iran (284). The only country that incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than we do is North Korea. The U.S. is also the only developed country that executes prisoners – and our death penalty has a serious race problem: 42 percent of those on death row are black, compared to less than 15 percent of the overall population.” (source) 

We definitely have a lot of first world problems that seem trivial, and unimportant in the scheme of things, but we have some major problems that are pretty Third-World in THIS country, let’s not shut out our millennial voices, OR for the simple fact our right to free speech and expression shouldn’t be a problem.

 

The Reciprocation of Respect or Lack of (The Monday Fits)

bh0nrc

“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There are areas in our life that giving and getting respect is easy; people are quick to give respect to people who have something they need or have accomplished something in their life that impressed them, even if that person really isn’t worthy of it. It’s like respect is an unspoken rule, whether it is genuine or not, it can be built when there is a mutual exchange of something. That’s the whole idea of “To get respect, you have to earn it”, which is reflective of the definition, Respect is “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. (source)

So then, should we have respect for people we don’t know? How about respecting someone who owes you nothing, and you owe them nothing? That, my friends, is the question. I would like to think that deep down inside, as Anne Frank said, there is good in everyone…but let’s be honest, our human nature can be self-centered and self-serving, so we should be skeptical of who we respect… except that is disregarded when it comes to the dollar bill. Most people respect the dollar regardless of standards. That’s why whenever someone asks, why doesn’t anyone pay attention to X (i.e. let’s say the black community), the response is often that we don’t have the buying power to “buy” respect, because people are not necessarily giving out respect freely, in comparison to the Jewish community. This makes me think of the debate over Dr. Dre’s 70 million dollar donation to University of Southern California and whether he should’ve given it to a black college (which I disagree). He’s able to give his money anywhere, but whether he was giving it to USC or a black college, to me that money isn’t going to the community it’s needed most, to kids who grew up just like him. Dr. Dre himself, doesn’t respect his community enough, to reinvest in it. Or does he? Is that one example, a demonstration of a lack of respect.

There are people who genuinely care about the poor, which is why politicians use it as a selling point, but if put in a situation to truly help a poor person in a one-on-one interaction, they often pass that opportunity. The other day, I was biking around in Austin, the city where I live, and I saw something that I rarely see in other parts of the country but often in Austin, a runner, stopped in conversation with a homeless person, listening to his story. People often talk to homeless people when they give some spare change or a bite to eat, but this runner was doing much more than that, he seemed interested in listening to the man’s story, and it touched me, that throwing money at something can’t always solve the problem, and sometimes you just have to listen, and that’s what respect is all about: LISTENING! Yet, we do less and less of it each day, because we don’t respect one another. Even people who say they “understand”, sometimes really aren’t listening!

In the continual fight for equality (even in 2014), explaining to a person why the death of Eric Garner was wrong, regardless, of any illegal activity (i.e. counterfeirt cigarettes), doesn’t automatically imply that fighting for his justice, and others, is anti-police. The movement is against police that are racist and unnecessarily killing black lives, because IT IS happening. But they don’t want to realize that, and are too busy protecting their own and fixing the problem, and I think it’s out of a lack of respect.  Just think if they same amount of white young men and women were being killed unjustly by cops how would there not be an uproar, but that comparison is futile, because it’s not happening. That’s the thing, it’s not happening for a reason, and to deny it, is disrespectful to not just black people, but too all people. And honestly, it’s mostly disrespectful to what officers stand for. When police talk about the most vulnerable people in society, it’s often not the people fearful of crime in the large houses in the suburbs, it’s often the ones who find themselves in poverty stricken environments.

The current movement that is going on in this country is not to disrespect the Police, but in fact, to bring respect back to an important part of this country. If the people do not respect law and order, there is no room for reason. There is no denying that there are officers who are not respecting the people they are hired to serve, and vice versa, but we ALL need to be standing hand in hand in this movement. Black, white, blue, democrat, republican, Christian, Jew, Muslim.

A few weeks ago, Garth Brooks made headlines for canceling his appearances, because he didn’t feel comfortable promoting himself during all the protests and uproar in New York. He didn’t offer a position, or a stance in the fight, but that “America was hurting”, that my friends was respect, a recognition of reality that many people are not giving today in this battle between #blacklivesmatter, police brutality, the duty to protect and serve.

There is a lack of respect for different views, and the inability to see truth for what is and isn’t. I honestly see it all the time. I don’t mean to over  simplify a scenario, but a couple of weeks ago, I was at a NFL game surrounded by the opposing team’s fans, and as many people know, bad calls only happen against the “other” team. If you are an avid sports watcher, you know that person. But as I was standing there, and a call was obviously made in favor of my team, and it was CLEARLY the right call (not being biased), but there were fans adamant that the call was wrong, you honestly would’ve had to been blind to disagree. I stopped and realized, this is what America feels like. There are people who would argue bad referee calls till their dying day, even though they are obviously right to the human eye. So just imagine if you were in a stadium with 400 million fans and they were just like that… they only chose to see calls for their team – this, my friends is America, no respect for anyone but “their” team.

M/P

Listen Up Young Black People, Social Media Is Not the ONLY Answer!

sm

There’s a saying “there’s nothing new under the sun”, yet, in terms of justice, we think the game has changed, or better yet, we believe the lies: You can make a difference on Facebook, IG, Twitter, or from any social outlet. The Black American story is rich in oppression, conflict, and overcoming all obstacles, but lately it feels as if our generation is quickly believing that using words, pictures and engaging in heated banter is enough to change the hearts and minds of those who have been entrusted to uphold what was constitutionally entitled to us. Equality.

Two weeks ago, I was volunteering with a group of kids who studied the civil rights movement in a summer enrichment program. One particular volunteer was asking a student about her project on the Montgomery bus boycott. He asked her a simple question, “Why did the Montgomery bus boycott work?” -The student stood frozen, petrified. He continued to ask her leading questions, such as, “What were the largest number of users of the bus system”, “What happened when all the Blacks stopped riding the bus”‘ The young girl she was overwhelmed, and couldn’t quite articulate that the boycott hit the bus system where it mattered most, their pocket books, and ultimately decimated the bus system to almost complete ruin. Their actions were strategic, pointed, and involved a number of sacrifices. But when I think of that little girl, I think what is up with our current generation. Do we really understand the civil rights movement and why it worked? I would argue that we don’t.

Yet, I can’t seem to blame our generation, do we really know and understand what it takes to bring justice for our people, or maybe we’ve been lied to about what are currently doing. “This new generation is so innovative”, we give “passionately to sporadic causes” and we have a “new way of doing things” implying that we get what we’re doing. Yes, it’s true, we’ve had technology at our fingertips at a very young age and we do care differently, and maybe with a broader perspective which is a good thing. And we have more access to information than any generation before us, yet, do we have the capacity to be the change agents, are we really truly armed to make a difference. Can We?

On August 9, The Wall Street reported that “The Rev. Al Sharpton on Saturday said protesters would travel to a planned Staten Island rally later this month in caravans of cars and buses, rather than marching over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, to protest the apparent chokehold death of Eric Garner. Political opposition had been mounting to Mr. Sharpton’s original plan to conduct a march over the bridge, which critics said would cause traffic jams and obstruct Staten Island’s artery to the rest of the city.”

SO?

The story further goes on to discuss how the Mayor of New York City and the New York Governor expressed concerns about safety directly to Mr. Sharpton. But what about the safety of individuals who are being murdered by Police, such as, Eric Garner. And the bigger question is, why is Al Sharpton still speaking for us. The whole purpose of a protest, is to inspire action. I’ve never been so appalled at a “concerted” effort to dim light on a serious social issue.

But when I scan my timeline, no one is talking about how Al Sharpton is bowing down to political pressure, or how the march on foot should continue. I see more posts from black yuppies, about “I am Eric Garner “, or if I was to die, what picture would the media use? Who cares! Hey, that may be a real possibility if we don’t stand up and do something about it. But the reality is we are too comfortable.

Also trending, “did social media help with the Renisha McBride case?” She was shot through a locked door; I’m not sure what part social media had to play, other than captain obvious. The scary part is that we’ve fooled ourselves to believe that it did, as oppose to realizing the stark differences in her case from the many others that have occurred out in the open with unarmed Black Americans.

So do we stop hoodie photos or catchy awareness campaigns, no, but we do need to do something more.

We are a generation of the Huxtables, more Black Americans are educated and middle class, but the socio-economic gaps between lower income and middle/upper class is widening exponentially. And we can’t expect our famous stars to be the Harry Belfonte and Sidney Poitier (who bank rolled a number of civil rights efforts) of our time. Will we not speak and act for each other?

I recently watched a documentary where Charlie Evers, Medgar Evers’ brother, said that it wasn’t till the young white and Jewish children from the North that came down to the south and they started dying and getting hosed down and attacked by dogs on TV did it feel as though change really began to happen in Mississippi. Maybe it’s time for the middle class and uppity negroes to get a little dirty for a change.

MP