I previously published this piece under the title: "On The Matter Of Living And Dying ...It Gets Personal". I am updating it in light of recent tragedies in our society. #Louisiana #Texas #Minnesota #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #MicahXaviorJohnson
I am a father of black children and grandchildren in this society. I have black brothers and sisters. An enduring fact of my life is that I find myself torn between the angst born of a concern for our safety, and the outrage I experience from witnessing the blatant wickedness of a system of institutionalized injustice. I watch and I listen to the expletives and the explanations that come in the course of the tragedies that this systemic injustice breeds, and I find myself struggling to maintain the moral and cultural equilibrium that I have come to idealize as a function of the hopes I have for a more humane world. The gut-wrenching tension between my hopes and my misgivings are at times very difficult to bear.
Danger is a fact of life. Unfortunate things happen, some of which we have little or no control over. There are bad people of every stripe whose lack of a moral compass wreak havoc in the lives of individuals and communities. In a civilized society we seek through the various agencies of the Law, to curb, if not eliminate, the chaos that bad people cause. The contradiction that plagues us has to do with the fact that some of those entrusted with the duty to maintain order are themselves the agents of chaos. There are poisoners among those who heal. There are arsonists among our firemen. There are murderers and robbers among our police. Some of our elected officials are the scum of the earth. There are perverts among our clergy. In a culture corrupted by these facts... Truth is fiction. This is the unfortunate reality that complicates our quest for civil society. The threats are many and overwhelming, but my main focus here is with the problems involving law-enforcement... Specifically the murderous inclination of some white officers toward black folk.
The murder of our people by officers who have little or no regard for Black Lives must end. The criminals posing in "blue" must come to realize that the filth they represent will no longer be tolerated among us. Their actions are foul... They stink to high heavens. We are well aware of the history that bred these brutes. We are talking about the history of the exploitation and dehumanization of people of color. I am talking about a holocaust that lasted over four hundred years. We are talking about the indelible stain of Slavery and its aftermath. We are talking about Jim Crow and the KKK. We are talking about the Confederacy and Segregation. We are talking about the ignorance that breeds a culture of hate which spawns discrimination and murder. We are talking about white cops finding chicken shit reasons to track and threaten us. We are talking about them shooting us and choking us and lynching us in their jails...and then employing the tactic of "testi-lying" to cover up their crimes. The summary execution of persons whose only crime is living while Black must end. America's aspiration to true greatness will remain unfulfilled while this tragic circumstance persists.
The time for soothing our sorrows with platitudes that were formulated and imposed by our oppressors is past. Our quickness to talk about "forgiveness" is not just theologically deficient, its is culturally and legally perverse. The "Amazing Grace" of God is only meaningful in the context of an active application for forgiveness. True change is a function of repentance. Racists must not have their wickedness quickly expunged by our propensity to reach for a religious balm, so that they can continue to facilitate our victimization. Empty religious supplications are no substitute for necessary justice. A god who watches us being oppressed and killed so that we can marvel at his amazing grace is a joker... and a cruel one at that. I prefer the God who "delivers us out of the house of bondage"... And I know that such a Being has no hands but mine. I prefer the God who demands that sinners repent as a prerequisite for saving their asses... I mean their sinful souls.
The time is now when we must get out of the pews and on to the streets. It is time to make laws that serve Justice. Regulations that permit the indiscriminate use of deadly force that we have witnessed all over the country historically, and that in recent times have elicited the outcry: Black Lives Matter!', must be removed. Every cop must be required to wear body cameras. All jails must be monitored constantly. Talking back to a police officer is a civil and human right. The mantra of every cop must be to protect and serve, not to dehumanize and destroy. Communities, through their leaders, must become active in qualifying and hiring the men and women who police them. Weeding out those who have no business wearing the badge has always been a challenge... But it must become and remain a priority. It is time to bring the full force of the law to bear against the brute force of the unworthy in our police forces. It is time for us to get involved in our politics with a new vigor. We need to elect Judges and District Attorneys who will prioritize the pursuit of Justice over the financial and political support of police unions.
In the final analysis we all want change. But the Change we need will only come when we end the complacency that results in our non-participation in the political life of our communities and our nation. Our tears will make no difference until they are matched by the profuse sweat that comes from the hard work of acting together to build the kind of society where Peace and Justice are shared values. This requires real activism. It requires that we translate our civic concerns to political decisions at the ballot box. As long as those who victimize us can bet on our continued complacency, as long as we retreat from our duties as activist citizens, as long as we think that our vote and our presence wont make a difference... Until these things change among us .. Our tears will be in vain.
We are talking about matters of life and death. In these matters we do not have the luxury of being indifferent ... I am an African American, I know what terror is. Every time we step out of our dwellings into the spaces where we seek to live out our lives... It becomes personal.