When I first thought of doing this blog, I had decided to stay away from discussing politics or news. There are plenty of those discussions taking place and most often I find that one cannot even express an opinion without being met with intense vitriol or attacked for not being in complete agreement with the prevailing viewpoints of others. However, there have been certain recent events that weigh heavy on my heart as well as the hearts of many Americans, so here goes.
So far in 2016, depending on the source you use, there have been between 815 – 736 peoples shot and killed by police. Many of these were unarmed, mentally ill, and minorities. No matter what the reason, that is a huge number! Many of these instances are still under investigation in jurisdictions all over this country. The reasons run the gamut but the result is the same – dead Americans. Notice I did not say “dead Black Americans” but “Dead Americans.” No matter what the age, sex, color or political affiliation, we are still all “Americans.” What is even more frightening to me is the violence that we, as Americans and especially black Americans, inflict upon each other.
I have experienced the racism and profiling. I was stopped by the police on a busy highway coming home late one evening. He accused me of driving erratically and wanted to know if I had been drinking. I don’t drink and did not feel I was driving erratically but somehow he felt the need to pull me over.
I recall vividly when I as the only black person on my high school karate team traveling to a tournament in Virginia and we were asked to leave a restaurant because they did not serve “my kind.” I know how racism feels to be over looked at work or to have to work three times as hard to prove yourself because not only are you a minority but you are also a woman.
But when did our society turn into such a predator society where it has become OK to inflict violence upon each other without giving it a second thought? Thousands protest in anger at the person who is shot by the police but where are the protests for those who are killed by the senseless violence that continues to haunt and occupy our cities and communities?
How did we get to a place where the norm for settling disputes or grievances is to inflict pain and violence? Where we no longer respect ourselves or have a twisted view of what respect means because it is seen as synonymous with fear? When did it become the norm for innocent people like children or the elderly to be shot and killed simply because they deemed collateral damage in the settlement of a neighborhood shooting? How is anything solved by exacting the same violence on others that we feel is exacted on us?
The violence is not the answer. That is letting others define you and determine your value because you are what you do – not only your words but also your actions define your character. It defines how others see you. It defines your place in society. The answer is not in turning your back on the flag of this country but making this country live up to the meaning behind the flag and what so many have fought and died for domestically and abroad – the lives of all Americans regardless of color, religion, gender or economic status and not merely the lives of a select few. We need this for our country, for ourselves, and for children’s future. We need to be the example for our society, for our children and for everyone in working peacefully and respectfully to find a solution to these issues that have plagued us for decades – how to deal with the racism that exists and everyone move forward to find their true worth and value in our society.