It's been a while since I've written anything in this blog and it is similar to one of the first blogs I wrote on here which I titled "These Shoes of Mine." It certainly wasn't due to lack of content to contribute but rather most of my venting and thoughts are expressed through writing lyrics. Please remember it is not my intention to try to write something worthy of praise. It is also not a "what can people do to help stop racism?" entry. Lastly, it is not an indictment of all white people as some of the people closest to me are white and I acknowledge the history of the white people who played, and continue to play a part in making this country safer and better for people who look like me. This is just me getting out my feelings and sharing them.
I, like so many other people who share my blessed and cursed darker pigmentation, was recently triggered yet again by the events in good ol' Merica; specifically the cases of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. There are so many things we learned growing up that we just accepted as normal. It wasn't until I grew up and experienced life outside my neighborhood that I realized our normal (as black folks) wasn't so normal. Let me be clear in that I was raised by two amazing, hard-working, and religious parents who did everything they could to make sure my sister and I were not raised by the streets which claimed so many lives around us. I am extremely grateful for that but with that said, there is no way to completely shield your kids from what is around them.
I remember my pops having "the talk" with me numerous times. He never once even cracked a smile when telling me how to conduct myself around cops. He was never a fan of them but did his best to always show them respect and instilled the same in me with the hope it would help me survive any encounters I had with them. He let me know I would be followed by them and questioned without reason. He let me know that I would not be able to get away with things people who did not look like me could get away with. He really didn't have to tell me too much about that part as I could see that for myself, even as a young kid. Still today, I see groups of loud, playful, and energetic black boys given dirty looks and being told to stop being rough or being disruptive while groups of little white boys doing the exact same thing are dismissed as "boys being boys."
It's no secret that as my brother stated in one of his songs, "The outlook on life in my part of town?/Move quietly, things change when your body's brown." I will tell you how scared I was when, as a young child, I saw how badly disfigured my cousin's face was after he was brutally beaten by the cops. Their nightsticks crushed and pushed the bone in his nose almost into his brain. I found out later that the doctors told him that he likely would have died had he been hit in the face one more time. My parents didn't want me to see him but I happened to be at his house visiting my other cousins (his brothers) when he came home one night shortly after it happened. As a kid, something like that never leaves your memory.
One of the most eye-opening things to me occurred when I went away to college. I attended a predominantly white college and almost every weekend I went out with my friends, we would see a fight. Rarely did the fight involve a black person. Growing up, I was sadly conditioned (mostly through television programming and by my own surroundings) to believe that most fighting occurred among people like me. I think this is one reason attending the college I chose was beneficial to me. This was well before so many fights were posted online (which I hate is so common now).
I have members of my extended family who undoubtedly have PTSD after actually watching the cops shoot and kill one of their friends without justification many years ago. I still feel and share their anger each time they mention it; especially around the time of his birthday. Not much has changed and in some ways it is worse each time the wound is reopened with another news story of another life taken in the same manner.
I will not sit and list everything I have been through or witnessed as that would require writing a book (someday maybe?) but I will instead talk about how it makes me feel. Due to the recent events and after suppressing it for quite some time, I recently told my 9-yr old son why I can't play basketball with him as much as I'd like to. I think he noticed the emotional pain in my face the day I found out about George Floyd dying with that officer's knee pressed against his neck. I told my son about how, many years ago, an officer weighing around 225 lbs had his knee pressed directly on my lower spine for several minutes while I was laying on the ground so he could handcuff me for other officers (at least the ones who didn't have their hands on their guns) to search my property and body for drugs that didn't exist (at the time I weighed around 160...before I started living the fat, happy married life). Talking about piercing pain...man. My back was never the same after that. No apologies...nothing. They let me go like they were doing me a favor.
Seeing George Floyd with blood coming out of his nose and dying after pleading for help triggered me again. Another family is left to grieve after the death of another black man at the hands of the people who dismissed his life as meaningless. It was horrifically ironic how the cop who caused Floyd to take his last breath was kneeling on his neck in almost the same position as Colin Kaepernick when he knelt at football games. At least I survived my several dangerous encounters with the cops. So many others haven't had that luxury. It angers me to the infinite degree to know that no matter who I am as a person, many people will perceive me as a threat. This wouldn't bother so much if there wasn't a system of laws, codes, and behaviors designed to perpetuate this perception and all but encourage it. Yep, I'm angry. I'm angry at the people who think so little of our lives. I'm angry at the people who make comments like "one less thug in the world" or "I enjoyed watching that P.O.S. die (yes people really said that)." I'm angry at the people who feel like because they aren't racist themselves, racism doesn't exist. I'm angry at those who say the term "white privilege" is propaganda simply because they've had to work hard too and have "never benefited from it." I'm angry at my Christian brothers and sisters who find a reason to excuse or justify any and everything as long as it only happens to people who look like me. You know, the same ones who will quickly speak ill of an atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, homosexual, or anyone else regardless of how kind or loving they are but refuse to speak ill of a fellow self-proclaimed Christian who only stands for Jesus' principles in words instead of actions. I'm angry at folks who feel like all Republicans are racists and all Democrats are not. I'm angry at politicians who feel like they can only speak to black voters at the most convenient times and get our votes. I'm angry at liberals who, despite having the best intentions and good hearts (which I truly appreciate), imply they know how it feels to be "us" (and even tell us what is best for us). They DO NOT! I'm angry and you'll die a slow death holding your breath waiting for me to apologize for it.
I have to find a healthy way to decompress so it doesn't affect my beautiful, loving, intelligent, and empathetic wife as well as our beautiful kids. I have to decompress so it won't affect my ability to function daily with a humane and kind heart; a heart I refuse to let harden from the coldness the world insists on freezing it with. Let me be angry for now. I'm used to it and know how to handle it. I know how to find my peace when the world least expects me to be able to. Imagine that! Even us "savages" and "thugs" can find peace.