Archive | July 2015

Death by Cop

I have forced myself to watch this Systematic Lynching a few times.  The alarming media coverage of citizens being murdered by law enforcement is becoming staggering.  Body cameras are still not protecting citizens.  The Boston Bomber was given a fair trial. The Fort Hood terrorist was given a fair trial. African-Americans are given Judge Dredd style trial-by-cop execution on the streets. We want to police Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, China, Russia, Cuba….but when it comes to real conversations about justice in the U.S. we dance over it like it doesn’t exist. When will the world court take us to trial for the most  imprisoned population on the planet.  When will the world court finally say, “Get the $(& out of our business America and take care of your own”.  President George Bush called Iran “The Axis of Evil”, but clearly he was looking in the wrong mirror.

In my community a former Alderman called to question the relationship a police officer had with a known drug dealer and the next day he was approached and told “tread carefully old man, I have ears everywhere”. Hence the problem when I speak to young incarcerated black and Latino teenagers. Hope deferred has made them sick.  A few bad, trigger happy, socially untrained police officers have made it bad for the great police officers that serve and protect.  Maybe I could empathize with law enforcement if these deaths were all thugged out idiots with gang ties that would rival any terrorist cell.  I could even empathize if they recovered a gun at the scene of some of these blatant massacres.  Yet, the Oscar Grant’s, the Jeremiah Mearday’s, and countless of others continue to fall at the hands of law enforcement.  And since they are paid by taxpayer dollars we are technically funding licensed killers.
NWA tried to raise awareness but were chalked up as thugs and eventually turned an ignorant generation of adults against hip-hop as a whole. The message is the same it has been for years but now access to media has put it in the forefront. When you have to shoot and choke unarmed citizens, when you are supported by racially motivated and judicially backed institutions of systematic racism, when district attorney’s turn a blind eye, when the officer who shot Rekia Boyd gets to walk away free, when Howard Morgan can take more than 28 bullets to his body and be convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years (Clemency granted by Quinn), and when 17 year old Deven Guilford, shot 7 times after being pulled over for…what for it…flashing his lights to let an officer know his high beams where on, there is clearly a problem. I tell young people to SHUTUP and do what the officer says because at the end of the day, and listening to my neighbor in law enforcement, the goal is for everyone is to get home in one piece. I can do that because I am militarily trained. But for African Americans, and teens in particular that have mental health issues, anger issues, and broken home issues, it’s not so cut and dry.  Sandra Bland has now made the list of immortals that will hopefully begin to change the walls of injustice that incapsulate us in America.  A wall that once hailed Black Panthers as terrorist and the Ku Klux Klan as patriots.  A wall that has every African American in fear when they see blue death-lights flashing behind them.  A wall that will not be overcome until we put our elected officials to the task.  When we march on one path as a people then surely we will see a modern day Jericho.

The blood of Able cries out from the ground.  Some police officers are no longer their brothers keeper but their brothers reaper.

The Forgotten Ones

I am no stranger to success or fear. I have experienced them equally and often simultaneously. There is a great text that states, “to whom much is given much is required”. There is a weight that I have been carrying for sometime when speaking with men. I have the blessed gift of being a people person and engaging the incarcerated drug-dealer to the non-degreed business professional over fifty that’s still looking for opportunities to show how great they are for an employer. Whether they are married or single, young our old, the common phrase I find between them is “I feel forgotten”.

What happens to the individual that didn’t succumb to the streets or found themselves on the higher end of education? What becomes of the individual that simply wasn’t dumb enough to waste their lives on negative associations or smart enough to hang in the circles of the academically successful and astute? Where do they fit in, where do we fit in, where do we belong and how do we overcome and be infused into as society that is more than willing to accept us if we push pass the fear that holds us hostage and show our worth?

There was a time in American society where it wasn’t necessary to have institutionalized training or profound academic success. We can say it was predominantly in the era where American flags were actually made in America. Manufacturing and the lingering effects of the Industrial Revolution across a century put processes in place that with an acute attention to detail you could carry out any task. Any individual that had a mind to work, The Forgotten Ones where there to fill the role unequivocally. My first consultant job in IT I had no degree, less than a year of exposure to technology and I had never heard of a certification course. Why was I hired? I’m glad you asked. I was told I had personality, something a true technologist often lacked. I was told, “I can teach you to be technical; I can’t teach you to have a personality”.

Then society shifted. The more people with college degrees, the more society changed how it acquired its workforce. Academic fervor began to overshadow individuals, like myself, where college wasn’t an option (at least no real introduction). A changing of the guard took place where experience became tertiary, networking became secondary, and scholarly success became primary. Academia became the ruling stamp of corporate America. In the shadows of this new (and necessary) paradigm a group of individuals lost their way. They began to feel inadequate and useless. They were replaced with younger, more educated, lightly qualified individuals that just happen to have the means, drive, financial and parental support to make it through college successfully (and hopefully without much debt). This older group fell into a shadow of success and started seeking jobs just to live. Places where their collegiate success, or lack thereof, would not be subjected to scrutiny. There is a society of secret lives being lived by men and women that fear has kept bound and as long as that fear lives potential success will always be a shadow of the past and a prosperous future will remain a figment of one’s imagination while dreams, goals, and hope dissipate.

In essence, I write all this to say that The Forgotten Ones are not forgotten. It is our error and strange relationship with fear that has caused us to believe society doesn’t care about what we can bring to the table. We have forgotten we live in an America that still allows individuals, regardless of academic achievement, to flourish. Less Brown, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Chicago’s Willie Wilson are just a few individuals that have attained great gain in life. Yes, money comes with it, but I know people that make considerably less money than me that go on vacations, take family trips and live thriving peaceful lives. It’s about the dream that never dies, the hope that never burns out, and the desire that is only satisfied when purpose and not money is the wealth of achievement. Simply put, we have forgotten that we have made it this far by God’s grace. We have forgotten that we have the support of friends and family to help us along the way. Forgotten Ones, we have simply forgotten to believe that we can achieve anything. It is not society that has cast us away; we failed to keep the dream alive and in doing so we forgot ourselves. Start to………remember.