Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Black Lives Matter

There's a ton going on at the moment. I have a couple posts that have been sitting in draft. The one about quarantine. The one about my wife losing her job, recently. But, I haven't posted them yet because, each time I write one, something else happens and makes the previous thing seem so minor.

So, I am going to take this spot in my blog to talk about Black Lives Matter and everything happening in our world after the murder of George Floyd. Now, this is my blog, so I am going to be upfront about it, like I normally am. And, like I normally am, I am probably going to wallow somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. The place where neither side thinks I am taking the right stand. Oh well...such is the life of a true Centerist, I guess.

I'll start with George. Did you watch the video? If you didn't, you need to. It's hard. But, especially for those that are talking about how "he was on drugs" or "he shouldn't have been breaking the law," go watch the video. Because, you know what...I don't give a shit about anything else. He did not deserve to die. Full stop right there. He did not deserve to die. He was unarmed and he was cooperating. He was handcuffed behind his back while being held to the ground on his stomach. The man was restrained. There is no way to argue this point...George Floyd was murdered. Did you watch the video, yet? Did you watch the part where he calls for his mother? Maybe your heart wasn't touched when he begged for water or told the cop he couldn't breathe. But, then, as he's dying, he cries for his mother. If you are a parent and that doesn't move you, I question your humanity. No, really.

Now, before I get into the protests, let's pause for a moment. George was the catalyst. For everyone talking about how he's not a hero or how you don't "support" George Floyd. Let's not forget the other murders that have happened in the last few months. Breonna Taylor was shot by police while sleeping in her own apartment. Turns out they served a warrant on the wrong home. Let's also remember Ahmaud Arbery, shot by 3 rednecks while going for a jog.

And now, people are protesting. I am going to split this part up into 2 seconds. I'll start with the protests, then I will talk about the riots. Because...they are most definitely 2 different things.

The protests.

Protesting is not my bag. I don't really like crowds, so I don't typically go to protests. But, let's get one thing clear...the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed in the 1st Amendment. It's right up there with Speech and Religion and it comes BEFORE the beloved 2nd Amendment Republicans are always crying about. And yet, for the last 2 weeks, we have seen peaceful protests broken up by police in riot gear, shooting tear gas and rubber bullets and arresting people for simply being there. This isn't a media narrative, folks. Watch the videos from people on the ground. Jump onto YouTube or Reddit. This stuff is raw and real. Crowds are chanting, yelling, waving signs...doing nothing violent. Then...BAM...flash grenade. BAM...tear gas. Now, we're hearing calls for "Defund the Police!" I'll get to that in a second. But, it's easy to understand when we see what is being done to Americans practicing their Constitutional rights.

Now...the riots.

Riots suck. And, the riots are being led by fringe groups, not the protesters. And, I know this is hard for a lot of people to hear, but most of the riots are being started by white people. Whether it's Antifa or White Supremacists doesn't really matter. What it comes down to is that they are not being started by the same people that are leading these protests.  Then, we all jump on our social media pages to tell protesters they are doing it wrong.

Let me quickly touch on Defund the Police. This is a horrible motto. I get it. In no way to I support Defunding the Police. In the last couple of days, I have learned that Defund the Police doesn't actually mean abolish police departments (although, granted...nutjobs like AOC say it does). Defund the Police is about reallocating funds. So, instead of buying a new tank for the PD, maybe invest in mental health or community organization. Instead of 100 more AR-15s, maybe hire some more social workers to check in on our lower income, more at risk communities. Defund the Police is the wrong term and they need to stop using it. Because, DEFUND means...well, Defund. It doesn't mean, Keep Funding, but spread the money around differently. So, I am not onboard with Defunding the Police. But, I will keep listening to this conversation. Because, I don't think the PD needs another armored vehicle.

Here's where I have been impacted personally in all this. I have always said, "It's not people like me that are the problem." I've tried my best to take a step back and really examine where I fit in all this. Granted, I would not consider myself racist and I suspect (hope?) my friends wouldn't, either. But, I have come to acknowledge White Privilege. I hate this phrase. Even today. But, 4 weeks ago I hated it because my ancestors never had slaves. I have never stood in the way of a black person reaching their goals. Yes...I've told some black jokes here and there, but only the tasteful ones! After all, as I learned from Avenue Q, "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist."

But, today, I hate it for a different reason.  Because I had a come to Jesus moment and realized it's real.  Maybe I haven't directly affected the life of a person of color in a racist way. Maybe. But, I have come to acknowledge that I have not had to face the same hurdles as my neighbors of color. I've been pulled over 4 times in my lifetime. I heard the story of a friend who was pulled over 15 times in one year. I have never been in the back of a police car. Recently, a friend shared a story of how her black son was put in one when he was 10 for throwing rocks across the street from his house. A 10 year old boy put in the back of a police car without his parents around. I don't get watched by security in the store.  I can walk down the street in a hoodie at night.  My parents and their parents and their parents chose their lives and the lives of their children.  Can the same be said for my black friends?  How far back do they have to go to find an ancestor who was kidnapped?

I watched the video of Philando Castile's girlfriend and 4 year old daughter in the back of a police car after Philando was shot by police. The girlfriend is crying and screaming and her daughter, 4 years old, says to her, "Momma, please stop cussing and screaming...I don't want you to get shooted." 4...Fucking...Years old. Seriously...I am tearing up as I remember this.

Look...I am not anti-cop. Not even a little bit. There seems to be this notion that support of BLM makes one anti-cop. I'm not. You have to be a truly special person to be a police officer. You put your life on the line every day. You don't know what might come from a traffic stop or a domestic violence call or anything on any given day. However, it also takes a special person to know that killing people should almost NEVER been an option. We're training our cops to learn how to live with the taking of a life. We're training them on how to do this long before they have to pull their gun on someone. We're sending them into unknown circumstances, putting an enormous amount of stress on them, and then given them no resources to cope with this stress. Is it really surprising that 40% of police families experience domestic violence? Going back to the poorly labeled "Defund the Police," maybe it is time to spend less money on guns and more money on a precinct shrink that all officers are required to visit on a monthly (or more) basis.  And, if there are cops that are saying, "I don't need a shrink!" well...maybe these are the cops that should consider a different profession.  Because, I feel like anyone that is legally allowed to pull their gun on another human being should be mentally competent to do so.  Perhaps, instead of 100k more new cops, we train the ones we have to be excellent humans, excellent de-escalators and make sure they are VERY well supported.  As well as held accountable.

If you've gotten this far in my post, you're committed!  So, I would like to offer up a challenge to those of you (you know who you are) who still prefer to post about the white guy that died in a similar manner to George Floyd (what about him???) or about black on black crime or "All Lives Matter" or some other "What about us," stuff.  Here's my challenge.  Learn about our shared history.  Truly learn about it.  You don't have to read "White Fragility."  I'm not reading it.  Not because I don't think there's probably a lot of great info in there.  But, because I suck at reading non-fiction.  But, there are so many other things you can do.  Watch 13th on Netflix.  It's eye opening.  Learn about our American heritage outside of "Abe Lincoln freed the slaves."  Because there is so so much more.  Heck, even this episode of "Last Week Tonight" is enlightening.  Especially the woman at the end.  Don't write her off as just another "angry black woman."  Her last line took my breath away.  And, I mean literally.  Because, when you truly think about how we, as a nation, have treated our citizens of dear God, we deserve what's happening.  I'm not pointing to you or you or you.  I am pointing to us...The United States of America.  Land of the Free...ish. 

I'll leave with a couple final thoughts that I had, recently.  Did you know that, only a month ago, a woman named Irene Triplett died.  She was the last person still collecting a Civil War pension check from the US Government.  The Civil War happened a million years ago...or did it?  It's much closer to us than we realize.  Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated in 1968, within our parents' lifetimes.  Rodney King was beaten in 1991, in our life time.

Oh, and only a few weeks ago, a black man was killed while taking a jog.

I can't NOT chime in on this Supreme Court thing

So, it's no secret on this page that I am rapidly pro-life.  I don't beat around the bush on this topic.  But, what you may not know...