It has been said somewhere, that I have a blog, and that it’s actually an interesting read. I have yet to see any evidence of this supposed blog, however. Furthermore, if I was a successful blogger, you would think I’d update it on a somewhat-regularly-more-frequent-than-a-yearly basis (Yes, a lot of hyphenating, but for what?).
The point being, I get lazy a lot. I forget that I have this as a basis for communicating ideas, but I generally flock towards the quick bursts of expression a la twitter or facebook. HOWEVER! I have something to say (Deal with it… Or not.)
A lot of noise has been made regarding the situation that has been unraveling in front of the nation, in Ferguson. I think, rightfully so. There needs to be attention to the growing issue of young men being subjected to any kind of injustice at the hands of those people who are in charge. Although, the direction of my rant is less about the specifics of this situation.
I am ashamed.
I am ashamed and disappointed, if I am going to be frank. I am upset at myself. I’m upset because I feel numb to things.
What about my experiences in life has made me to be so numb about the things that are affecting people in the national community of African Americans, and in more specifics, the local happenings in a city that is known for violent encounters and radical thought?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I currently live in Oakland, California. Like many young African American men, I have had my share of racism to deal with. I have experience with some police silliness. For example, towards the end of my college career, I was pulled over as a passenger in a car. I’d never thought that it was possible, but I found myself having to explain myself to an office from the passenger window, of a car that was being driven by a white friend of mine. It was a pretty ridiculous experience. As a resident of Oakland, I have heard gunshots right outside my window, and have woken up to hear about a homicide on the news, and have police cars sweeping my neighborhood as a result of the previous night’s actions. Disconcerting situations, and I know that there are lots of people who are out there like me, who have had similar experiences. I moved over to Oakland, and the Fruitvale district right after the shooting of Oscar Grant. That was an incident that shook the neighborhood, and was definitely my introduction to the Oakland area/stories of how police (even BART police) deal with people. I guess hearing about violent incidents and constantly being barraged by news that is similar to that did wear me down.
A couple of months ago, there was a campaign on Twitter/Facebook about Women’s struggles against sexism and harassment, the #yesallwomen hashtag was popular and people were all about sharing their stories of both situations that they suffer through everyday. I liken my experience (probably poorly) to that of any woman that has been catcalled or whistled at while walking down the street. It seems to become something that can be ignored in lesser cases, but really shouldn’t have to be. I think that it’s something women develop a thick skin around it though, because it could be too much to deal with, as the frequency of these offenses can be something that happens daily. It changes the way you think and act, but I also feel like it deadens the world for people a little bit. Whether that turns into just keeping headphones in, to not give attention to harassment, or just turning a blind eye to the perpetrators, to not give them any satisfaction. I think that trying to distance myself from the injustices that I saw, or heard about, were ways that I tried to minimize the hurt of them and their existence.
I also think about how things were for my parents/grandparents! As a race, the pain of fighting towards recognition and equality is not that far off. Both of my parents were alive (albeit, young) during things like the civil rights movement. The stain of injustice is still a fresh one, even though people of the generation that my sister and I belong to, have had nothing but the benefits of those fights. I feel called out, by what I think my grandparents would think of such an attitude towards the injustice that is set up systemically for minorities in general. I am letting people down, who had to live through some of the things that I have only experienced through a textbook experience in high school/college African American studies classes. All of the extraordinary struggles and triumphs that were experienced were not centuries ago. They happened very recently, and I feel like I should endeavor to have an active interest/voice my opinions based solely on the fact that my ancestors gave their lives, to make sure that these were things that we did not have to struggle against in the same ways that they did.
Lastly, I feel like my Christian faith calls me to investigate these types of situations in love. I have double feelings about how that is played out when it comes to situations like what is going on in Ferguson. I think that there should be discussions about how this affects things in our world. How do we explore God’s love in an experience like this, and reflect some of that in how we deal with each other in our cities/homes? On the other hand, for me personally, I have generally been one of a handful of people of color within my church groups/homes. This usually reserves me to being either the “token” or “angry” black male role (neither of which are comfortable for me on a continual basis) when it comes time to bring up things like this. So for me, I think that letting that get in the way of trying to provide an example of the way that I think my Christian side should engage with things. I should speak up louder, and I should speak up quicker with regards to any of these things. Although, I do think that it was great to see that people in my new small group were definitely willing to attack the subject by getting involved in conversations in reaction to what is being seen on TV. I’m only sorry that I was not there to hear their perspectives, but I will and have started engaging people in these convos.
Thankfully, I have time to rectify this! I don’t have to be ashamed, I don’t have to sit and stifle my voice, and I don’t have to try to and distance myself from the pain of seeing injustice in the greater world around me. Part of that starts with me acknowledging the feelings that are brought up, instead of trying to stuff them in. I have always heard that revolutions start with one person. Me keeping my mouth closed keeps a revolution from starting.