No Indictment

As we listened to the Prosecutor’s lengthy preemptive speech, my, probably like many others, intuition already knew what the decision would be. Therefore, when he finally got to the part where he announced, the grand jury didn’t indict on any of the five possible charges, there was nothing to do but shake my head in disgust, mutter a few words helpless discontent along with my significant other, and go to bed.

True to form though, I could only stay quiet so long, partially inflamed by a close friend, poking fun at me, asking if I was out protesting somewhere. From anyone else, that would have possibly been considered a real question, but from him, a snide rhetorical which led to our usual debate of race relations in America, who’s to blame for the current state of blacks, his somewhat stereotypical ‘buppie’ response of blacks needing to get off their asses and it being an economical problem, not racial and yada, yada, yada, and my less cutthroat ‘limited resources leads to limited results,’ argument. We agreed to disagree as always, but I was left wondering why he didn’t care and why I cared as much as I did.

And though I can’t answer for him, I can answer for why I care. For me, this matters because nearly every black man I know has been in either at least a tense situation with the police, or felt they have been profiled by the police. Nearly every black man I know. So what if this lack of an indictment leads to more cops now feel justified in using deadly force? They have this case and countless others to rely upon, providing them the security to believe they can blow a black kid’s head off and go home. Data already shows that young black males are killed by police at a far more alarming rate than their white counterparts-31.17 per million as opposed to 1.47 per million, respectively. There was a staggering 1,217 police-involved shooting deaths between 2010 and 2012 alone, according to federal data. The Bureau of Justice statistics also indicate that police officers are far less likely to be brought up on charges for these crimes.According to research conducted by a Bowling Green criminologist, only 1.5% of police-related homicides spanning a seven year period, ending in 2011, resulted in the cops being charged. If these numbers aren’t indicative of a systematic problem, I don’t know what is.

But just as quickly as I can spout off that data, someone will yell, “Well blacks kill each other more than that!” And while this may be true. As Giuliani readily argued, “93% of blacks are killed by other blacks.” What he didn’t mention however, was that same year, 2010, was that 84% of whites were killed by other whites. And that this tends to be because most murderers know their victim. I feel like I should have known that, with all those episodes of First 48! So, Mr. Giuliani, that stat is a little less impressive, but still brings up a valid, albeit digressive point, nonetheless. While I will agree that all homicides are a problem, black on black homicides are a different problem, with different solutions. The problem with an authority figure committing these seemingly needless or excessive acts of brutality is that it shifts the community’s already diminished trust in these institutions that we were taught were supposed to protect us. If we can’t call the police, whom we pay, with our tax dollars, who can we call? If we can’t rely on the justice system to persecute these individuals, who can we  rely on? We are left a voiceless, defenseless people. And I am told, this is economic. That because we are economically disenfranchised, the system doesn’t work the same for us. But I say, is it not by chance that most of us of color are the ‘don’t haves’?

Either way, I agree with part of the argument. To get to a viable solution, we are going to have to start economically. More black-owned businesses, more collaboration on the part of black business owners and churches, more economic opportunities within inner city communities to start. And by no means do I have a background in political science or economics, but I think we need a starting point and an emphasis on some solutions as to just restating the obvious problems.

I think we need to actively parent our children and the community’s children and increase their awareness about what may face them, because the only way to fight a problem, is to first know that the problem exists and realize that its an ever present battle here in America to be a successful minority. It is not impossible, maybe improbable and inequitable, but possible, nonetheless, And this is a problem everyone should own. Too many of us tend to find ‘success’ and our version of the ‘American Dream’ and become disconnected and look our nose down on those of us who weren’t as fortunate to make it through to the successful side. Mentoring should feel like a welcomed obligation, not an oft-shunned option. Success should be measured by how many people you help along your journey, not by the type of car you drive.

I was told that the idea of unified black collective is like expecting leprechauns and unicorns waiting with a pot of gold to meet me at the end of a rainbow. I don’t think I’m necessarily expecting a utopian black society, just accountability and responsibility leading to more progression. Conscious thought followed by intentional action is a great start. And since this is all economical, maybe I’m looking to help my people make their own money, since that’s the only way to be heard in America. Or so I’ve been told.

Resources:

1. FBI Supplemental Homicide Report

2. Department of Justice

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Michael Brown

Michael Brown.

Niggas still Mad?!

I am utterly shocked as I turn on my television and laptop to find the current headlines flooded with crap about Paula Deen admitting to using the “N” word. And more shocked at the outrage from it. My first thought, unashamedly, was, ‘who gives a fuck?!’ But that’s usually my first thought to most events before I allow to societal editorials to come into play and am better able to form a more appropriate thought. Here’s the thing about this situation: I’m a black person. And after I weighed in all the different perspectives, I still didn’t give a damn. The thing is, what Paula Deen said will not, nor has it ever impacted anything substantial in my life. Sure I might use a recipe here and there, but I’d even tweak that. Point being, what one person says shouldn’t affect our stride to the point where we can’t separate and use our common sense. Paula Deen is a white lady from a southern state. What is the shock in her using the “n” word? I’d be shocked if she didn’t. I’m a black woman from a southern state. I know I’ve used the word “cracker” before. Does it mean that I hate all white people and am a hopeless racist? Not to me, the user. But if it is perceived that way, ‘oh well, I’m sorry.’ Basically what she said.  But then again I don’t have a multimillion dollar empire to worry about as to whether I come off as politically correct or not.

As if we black people don’t have enough to worry about. The words of some southern cook don’t change where we stand as a people and her words are not what put us there. But debaters would say that it’s attitudes like hers that limit our progress. What I say is, we are just looking for someone to blame and distract away from the real issue. There’s still inner-city poverty. I didn’t have books in high school ten years ago, and I’m sure it’s worse now. Minority kids are dropping out of schools and filling our prisons at astounding rates. Our government is running out of money, but the need for government-funded programs continues to increase. But we worry about what Paula Deen has said.

But I honestly think that people tend to give words way too much power. In my opinion, as a writer, words can mean everything and they can mean nothing. Most of the times words are given their power by the reaction of the listener. I don’t feel the words of some random southern white lady are as important as the words of those close to me. Now if my mother called me a “nigger” I’d have to sit back and think about it. And she’d probably have had a valid reason based on some irresponsible or reckless act that usually characterizes niggerish behavior. As a matter of fact, most of us have probably had at least one niggerish moment in our life. Regardless of color. We can refer to them as ‘trailer park treasures’ for white people. But they are those moments when you decide to abandon your good sense and just say ‘fuck it! I’m going to live a little and have some fun.’ Because if it’s one thing a nigger knows how to do, it’s have fun. Buy that outfit or take that trip even though your rent is due the next week. Go to work drunk and/or high just for the hell of it or don’t go to work because you’re too drunk or high. So even if my mother, someone whose words would matter to me, did call me a ‘nigger’ I might just look at her and say, “You darn right and I had fun!”

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