What a lovely fall day. The leaves are starting to change and the weather in the mid-Atlantic region is beautiful. It was a crying shame to have to come in last night and sit through the sad display that was the presidential debate.
It’s the mild mannered Joe “I got a plan to make it all better” Biden versus Donald “I don’t give a dam about anything but myself” Trump. As Americans, we probably looked like a bunch of ignorant chumps to the rest of the world. We deserved all the accolades and riches we got by being the victors in the last world war. Last night we looked like exactly who we are, a nation that is a little over 200 years old, filled with a lot of bravado, crass, and folks with no class. Oh my, how the mighty have fallen…
Back to the subject at hand, President Trump. As a Black man, what I saw was a microcosm of what is left of the white majority in our country. The last remnants of the “Greatest Generation” with their progeny horrified and aghast at what they witnessed. The leader of the “free world” spewing venom, lies and verbal bullying in a ninety minute grown man tirade. The entire world got a snap shot of what it must be like to work in the White House with Donald Trump. When he is in a frenzy, he must be impossible to be around let alone help manage his schedule. This is the kind of thing that the family tries to shield the relatives from out of town from during the holidays. Nobody wants to witness it and no one wants to own up that this is their life every day of the year.
Seriously. I saw a person that has been handed everything his entire life. Told that he was the best and greatest and he better not let anyone see or even think that he is not. Here is a man that never had to lift a finger to live an entitled lifestyle. His dad did it for him early on. His dad groomed him to hate and to believe that money is everything. Where people don’t matter. Only thing that matters is money and people’s judgement of you. People need to be afraid of you. That there is a hierarchy. You could see it all. You could see it all from his behavior over the past 4 years and from the debate last night. If you want to call it a debate. With him talking over everybody no matter what they had to say or who they are. He was never going to stop making his point. The only thing that mattered was what he thought and what he had to say.
This is who he has been his entire life. There is not a scenario in which he can loose or come out on the short end and survive. If he does fail or loose, he will lie and say it didn’t actually happen. That somehow he was cheated or scammed. This is a person who is dangerous to himself and everyone around him. When you pull back and look at him he is a pathetic and despicable individual. Trump as President is a referendum on America. It’s a referendum on where we are as a society. White folks were so desperate after eight years of Barack Obama, that they would do anything to maintain what they see as their entitlement – their white privilege and white supremacy - in America. That they would gamble everything and hire a pathetic, despicable person as Donald Trump to protect it.
America knows the demographic shifts underway. They know that within twenty years they will be the minority. That soon the majority will be the “Others” as they see us. This is why we see the attacks on immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America. This is why we see the systematic control on the Black community being increased. The lack of real institutional empathy. The plan is to hold on to their birthright come hell or high water. Any sympathizing white person can go straight to hell with the Others (as they consider people of color). This was crystalized during the debate. It’s why Trump could never disavow the militias and far right groups. They see them as the alternative of last resort. You know, Break Glass and use only in Extreme Emergency.
We must remember the history of America. The KKK and groups like them were closely aligned with the police force at the local level. What we are witnessing now is the use of federal agents to arrest and prosecute protesters when the local police won’t. We also see coordination and collaboration of white militia groups and local as well as federal police agents. This is a new and dangerous dynamic for Black Americans.
When I saw the debate topic – Race and Violence in Cities – I thought, here’s another dog whistle trying to couple Black folks with violence and crime. It would appear that Chris Wallace, the moderator, wanted to get Biden on the record as being soft on crime. But the outcome was flipped around. If you didn’t, now we know that the unvarnished Trump is a racist and a white supremacist. Anyone with a shred of morality cannot deny who Donald Trump really is. His twisted personality was on display for all to see during the debate. Truth is, as hard as it was to watch, that was a good thing.
Hankison, Cosgrove & Mattingly - Police Officers, Louisville, Kentucky; Raided Breonna Taylors apartment and shot her to death
Daniel Cameron, Attorney General of Kentucky
Lets face it. The well-choreographed legal theater staged by Daniel Cameron Attorney General of Kentucky, Greg Fischer – Mayor of Louisville, and the city elders/council was fixed from the day the false police reports of the raid was leaked to the press. They showed their hand when they gave Ms. Taylors mother a civil settlement on September 15. It was the largest and fastest civil settlement in Louisville history. The fact that it included police reforms as part of the settlement was the “tell”. They already knew that Daniel Cameron’s team was working to find the officers blameless in the murder of Breonna Taylor. During the announcement Mayor Fischer apologized to Breonna’s mother. Kentucky leadership knew on September 15 that no criminal charges would be forthcoming.
All the signs of an out of control police force is evident in this case.
It is true that the prosecutor has significant control of what a grand jury hears and what charges they may file. The prosecutor steers the grand jury process depending on their prosecutorial goals for the case. Attorney General Daniel Cameron is directly complicit in the legal theatre we have witnessed. It is time for the Black community in America to call out Black officials that are being used as instruments to perpetuate the systematic process of oppression imposed on Black people. Let’s make Daniel Cameron a poster boy for racial injustice in the Black community. He will cry foul and say how I am making it personal when he was just doing his job. That is a lame and weak excuse for the one person in a position to hold the murders of Breonna Taylor accountable to the Black citizens of Louisville.
If you are Black, you can no longer be a cog in the wheel of injustice perpetrated on Black people. There are Black criminals just like there are criminals in every ethnic group in America. But when the police or citizens decide to cross the line and kill and injure Black folks because of their explicit or implicit bias, they must be held accountable by Black law enforcement and legal professionals that are part of the system. If not, they should be targeted for protests wherever they are.
Here are the facts according to the prosecution. Officers in the process of executing a search warrant entered the apartment of Breonna Taylor. One out of twelve witnesses confirm what the officers stated – they announced “Police” prior to entering the apartment. Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker lay asleep in bed. Mr. Walker fearing a break in, fired at the intruders with a licensed firearm. The officers unleashed a torrent of 32 shots hitting Ms. Taylor 6 times. One officer was shot in the leg. Mr. Walker then called 911 to report the break in and shooting to police. Breonna Taylor lay dead on the floor while the officers withdrew.
You can be a law abiding citizen asleep securely in your home. Have armed intruders break down your door. If you defend yourself, you can be shot to death and no one prosecuted for your murder if the gang is named Police. Any other gang members would be facing a possible death penalty prosecution.
Black folks, we must decide what our next steps are. No police accountability, no movement on legislative action to ban or outlaw the tactics by law enforcement that is leading to our deaths. How long should law abiding citizens continue to obey laws that directly lead to our deaths? This questions will be answered in the coming weeks and months as the impact of the economic collapse from the coronavirus, the Covid19 death toll continues to rise, and the injustices of police shootings mount in the Black community.
I predict we will see an explosion of assaults and attacks directly on police across the nation if no significant national legislation is passed. Black people are fed up America.
This week Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his response to protestors and those who would “reimagine” policing after the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. I have always thought of him as a little man who wants to sit at the big boys table in politics. He has never disappointed me or dissuaded me of this opinion. He has dug deep to come up with an even more brazen way to lick the boots of President Trump. While the state of Florida has not seen significant protests, violence, or destruction of property, he has decided to rally the cops across the state and double down on the fear of police that is already pervasive in the Black community across Florida. He is legislatively putting his knee on the back of the neck of would be Black activist across the state of Florida. Let’s review…
Felonies across the board from participation in protests that turn disorderly (police discretion), obstruct roadways, and damage monuments. If you organize or fund a protest that becomes disorderly (police discretion) you can be charged under the RICO statute (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) – for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization). This is a federal offense. Mandatory minimum jail sentence for striking a law enforcement officer with a projectile during a disorderly assembly – 6 months. Oh, by the way, anyone trying to flee to safety while operating a motor vehicle is Not liable for injury or death caused during a disorderly assembly.
Now each individual becomes legally responsible for the acts of any other person in the assembly.
This is red meat for all progressive or liberal leaning Americans. I’ll take the bait and denounce his thuggish rule from on high in Tallahassee. Hey Ron, you were elected Governor of all the people, not Slave Master of Black People and those that support them.
We must collectively resist the heavy handed tactics of the Police State envisioned by Governor DeSantis. I see no reason for law abiding citizens to obey this statute if it becomes law. I am not a lawyer, so when I say – it appears to be an unconstitutional infringement on 1st Amendment Rights – it is only a layman’s opinion.
As a resident of Florida, I have every expectation that I will be stopped and arrested for writing this blog post. Of course the charges will be for something else, unrelated. This is how it works in Florida for Black men. This is how it works when you live in a Police State.
Note: This post was originally entitled "Florida Crackers Lead the Way". While the term "Florida Crackers" was not intended to be a racial slur, I recognize that this language has been used as a slur and removed it from the post. My use was historically correct in that the term "Florida Cracker" is defined as the "colonial-era British and American pioneer settlers and their descendants in what is now the U.S. state of Florida" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_cracker).
General Barr has declared “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint” the coronavirus lockdown was the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history”. Being required to stay at home to reduce sickness and death was just short of chattel slavery? We are so spoiled and entitled that the inability to visit a bar or restaurant is house arrest. White folks have lost their minds. Barr is tone deaf due to the constant ringing of white privilege in his ears. You know, how it appears that sometimes white folks hear a different song than we do, all day long. With these statements at Hillsdale College, William Barr, US Attorney General has confirmed this week what most knowledgeable Black people have understood for some time. We are currently in a police state with white supremacists and their sympathizers holding many of the highest offices in the federal government. There is a sickness that exist in America - Racism that declares our history of slavery was not a mistake or a shameful era but just a footnote of history. The election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, if we are not vigilant, the virus of racism will make a comeback and kill the cultural advancements of this nation.
William Barr and the rest of President Trumps team are not alone. They are backed by a core constituency that appears to be 50% of all white voter according to the Hill-HarrisX poll reported by Newsweek (8/5/20). This percentage appears to be holding steady. In a Pew Research Center’s gold standard poll of 11,000 registered voters, reported by Washington Monthly on September 4, 54% of white voters back Trump. Black America must understand that beneath all the trappings of success that many of us enjoy, we are viewed as “less than”, or worse still, “criminals” to be feared and controlled, by at least half of the white people we interact with daily. They have gotten very good at not being overt in displaying their beliefs and politics until recently. Trump has given them cover to come out in the open again.
While I was working for years to demonstrate, by example, the intelligence, skill and ability of Black men, systemic racism was eating and chewing up Black families and communities. I now have a better understanding of what it has meant to go along, to overlook the undercurrents of systemic racism we encounter each day. It has meant that we have mass incarceration of Black men, random violence against Black men and women by law enforcement agencies, persistently high unemployment of Black people without merit, segregated communities that have multiple generations of poverty and poor housing, and consistently poor health and early death of Black people.
I am done with playing nice with people that harbor racial hatred. I am prepared to do what is required to confront racism. Whether it is an intellectual discussion, having heated debates, or screaming and yelling at them in a physical confrontation. We must assert our right to be free from police or citizen harassment, bullying, and public beatings and killings. I am not sure why there are so many Black people including activist that declare there is a genuine change in attitude of white America about systemic racism. I deal with each individual as an equal, no exceptions. On the contrary, I refuse to tolerate anyone that demonstrates they have a racial bias toward me and mine. Those days are over.
What does it mean when America is number one in the world for all of the most devastating life threatening natural disasters in the same week? America has the worst air quality, greatest concentration of wild fires, a category 2 hurricane, and is number one in Coronavirus cases and deaths all in the same week. Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror.
US West Coast has Worst Air Quality in the World Due to Fire Smoke (channel411news.com)
Hurricane Sally - The Weather Channel
CDC Data as of 12:16pm September 16
Karma, you reap what you sow, payback is a bitch, or good old fashion – God’s trying to tell you something. Take your pick. You cannot look at what is happening to us as a country this week and not ask yourself WTF is going on. You don’t have to be religious or a person of faith to notice that we are in a serious anomaly, historically and scientifically, as a country. Doesn’t matter if you are a Humanist, Atheist, Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, New Ager, or Yogi, I think we can all agree that there is something wrong with the path we are on as Americans. We need to get right. We need to purge the sickness that is ailing us as a country. Is it a lack of unity, hatred towards one another, racism, or just selfishness based on group identity? Whatever it is, we may be heading towards a cultural crash that we may not recover from. American people are dying and suffering in so many different ways right now. I don’t think we can count on politicians and government to solve this situation. Each American will need to search themselves and make a decision to think and do things differently, better, more thoughtful, more empathetic when we encounter and interact with one another.
I may be ‘The Angry Man’ but I ain’t crazy. God’s is trying to tell American something. Its time to listen and look inward.
I’ve been thinking a lot about love and hate lately. It seems to be interlaced in conversations with friends and family at various levels. It is certainly present in our politics. It was present and at the center of conversations concerning John Lewis’s legacy. The brutality and seemingly mundane way in which George Floyd was murdered on the street in Minneapolis made me consider love and hate. The difference between love and hate is something you think you know once you become a young adult. At least, one believes their understanding of the difference is clear at that point. Truth is, this kind of understanding has nothing to do with age or gender. Its something that you embody.
I don’t want to get too philosophical. Things just seem to get squishy when you go down that road. You know, that place where someone says: There’s no right or wrong answer. Well, this is not that situation or conversation. There are clear differences and definitive actions that demonstrate love and hate. There are people that embody hate and love. I guess I am writing this because I have re-learned another aspect to what it means to be a lover and a hater recently.
Do The Right Think, Spike Lee - Director
People Who Hate
I’m not sure how it came up or how the conversation got started. I found myself describing the personality and disposition of a person I worked with for years. My final statement was – he is very definition of a hater. So this person held a relatively powerful position within the organization. He was able to appoint folks to roles and increase compensation almost at his whim. For the most part his persona was gregarious, friendly, and likeable. What I witnessed was an individual that despite his obvious power and personal persona, he was resentful and jealous of people if they were being praised by anyone but him. It didn’t matter what level the person receiving the praise was positioned, he found a way to weave a slight or insulting phrase into subsequent conversations or discussions involving that person. When people left the organization, he could not stop himself from denigrating their efforts and accomplishments. He made a point of telling their replacement that they would certainly “out shine” their predecessor.
The hate ran very deep. See, one of the other traits he had that was equally hard to witness was a need to incessantly praise and heap complements on those he feared. I didn’t really understand it at the time. I thought he was just being a sycophant and a suck up. He would then turn around a make some of the nastiest comments about a colleague or senior level person I have had to tolerate in my professional life. What I came to realize was that it was self hatred that caused this behavior. It was obvious to me that he didn’t actually believe the complimentary things that he said to the individual. At the same time he truly hated himself for saying them. It was as if his jealousy and resentment for the success the other person had obtained was so overwhelming that if he didn’t say outrageously flattering things to him, he might cuss and spit on him. He would then hate himself for being a coward.
Hence, I considered him the very personification of a hater. Which is different from hatred. We see true hatred when there are no controls or obstacles to expressing hate. This is an element of what we witness when genocide is perpetrated on groups of people. Those on the front lines of genocide experience the full expression of their hate. Ugly and despicable only begins to describe what you may witness. I have seen this expression of hate between families growing up in some of the neighborhoods that I lived in. The people transform into morphic creatures before your eyes. It’s a frightening sight.
People Who Love
Well enough of that. In my experience and contrary to what may be popular belief, people to love are not always smiling and happy. The people that I consider lovers generally live a life that sees beauty in almost every situation. Somehow there is a thread of optimism and hope they can witness regardless of the circumstance. Let me explain by way of an example.
One of my neighbors was the father of four. Two girls and two boys, along with his wife lived in a modest home. They lived on the end of the block. Anyone that’s lived in the city knows that living on the corner can be the best and worse of existence. Just depends on the block you live on. Because of their location, they got to see everything imaginable. He would always come out with a stern but concerned look to investigate the situation no matter what the situation was. If someone’s car didn’t work, it probably got pushed into the alley on the side of their house – we like to call them townhomes now but back then we called them rowhouses. He would ask a few questions, assess the persons involved and rub his chin. If he didn’t sense any danger, he would usually hold up his index finger, pause and go back into the house. In variably, he would come out with a tool box, a battery charger, or something to help the person on their way. He could navigate, positively influence almost any situation. He loved the hedges he had around the front of his house. When some of the guys were fighting in the alley they would always end up in his hedges. He would come out and grab them both somehow keeping them apart – I mean toddlers, teenagers or even grown men. I’m not sure how but he would do the same thing he did with the broken car. Assess the situation, show he understood both sides and negotiate a solution. He demonstrated love and affection for the people he lived with. I saw people wait around for him to come home so they could get his advice on a particular issue they were dealing with. Some might say that he was wise. I guess that’s true but it was more than that. I remember there was a vicious fight between two real bad asses in the neighborhood right on the corner one day when he arrived home. There had to be at least fifty people gathered all around. He parked, not in his usual place. Walked up, parted the crowd and got in between them. They cussed him and I thought they would beat him up. In the end they were more mad at him for breaking them up than they were at each other. They left going off in different directions. The rest of the people were milling around mummering . He said, “those two young men are really going places”. Everyone looked at him in astonishment with questionable expressions on their face. He kind of put his hands out, palms up and said – “I didn’t say it’s going to be anywhere good”. We all got a good laugh and he went and parked in his normal spot.
Lovers have a way of making you feel good about yourself, about possibilities. It might be a smile or a wink one day. It may be heart felt pat on the back that wasn’t really deserved on another day. Point is, they embody the love and it flows from them. You may not notice it immediately but if you are there long enough, it comes shining through. We seek them out when we need a little boost. The lovers never fail us.
Which One are You?
Well, I guess that’s the question we all ask ourselves. Over and over and over again in life. Most people can be both on any given day. The people I described live in one place almost all the time and that is why they stand out.
Me? I’m the angry man, remember. Sometimes I’m too busy being angry and upset to be either. I hope the people that meet me see more of a lover than anything else whether I’m smiling or not.
Today I will share a story I was told recently. It was told to me by someone currently working in a large nursing facility in Florida – nursing home with assisted living, skilled unit, and independent living townhomes. In an effort to become more racially sensitive and responsive to the housekeeping, facilities and certified nurse aid staff the management team has solicited improvement suggestions.
An email was sent to the management team by the facilities director. His email asked for feedback from the rest of the management team on two changes:
Now, when I first heard this, I thought – well this is pretty low level stuff that no employee actually suggested. But what unfolded next was mind boggling. What ensued was a flood of emails from the management team that ranged from: “Why do we want to change the name of the bedroom, it’s what I grew up?”, to “What about the doctors, they may not like being considered team members?” Needless to say, the email thread went off the tracks and crashed. It went all the way to folks on the management team not understanding why anyone would find “Master Bedroom” to be offensive while others recounted the “Black friends” that they ate dinner with several nights a week growing up.
My friend finally had enough. As one of only three Black mangers on the team, he felt it necessary to step in and drop some knowledge on the knuckle headed coworkers. He explained to them that the term “Master” has been used as a title as in Master Craftsman (i.e. plumber, mechanic, etc.), Head Master as it relates to education and so forth. This can be considered gender offensive in that these titles were historically given to white males. The other aspect is the use as the master of the house or the master of the plantation. Clearly this would be considered racially offensive. So this change could be viewed as a positive for the mostly female, African-American housekeeping staff that enter the residences on a daily or weekly basis at the facility.
Next came the thanks and appreciation for his insights and clarifications. As everyone wanted to double down on their complements, he started to get the ‘heart felt’ stories as they recounted their experiences with Black “friends”. The final takeaway for him was that the entire management team needed culture sensitivity training before that could even begin to work on implementing changes in this new environment/conversation concerning race in American.
Now, I’ll give you my take on this steaming pile of horseshit.
I am convinced that white people engage in the use of racial stereotyping and epithets on a regular basis when talking with close friends and family. I have been told this by some white folks I know that are being “honest” after a degree of trust has been established. The need to teach white people about how some of their cultural customs impact Black folks is a waste of time. The first thing required is for them to care and feel something about the lives of Black people. We are dismissed as inconsequential to the lives of white people unless they need something. They, generally speaking, don’t give a second thought to the actual daily lives of Black folks. We, on the other hand, can’t get through a single day without being impacted by what white folks think, want, or believe because of the power and cultural dynamics. In short, white folks have to first really give a dam about the lives that Black folks lead.
Second, I don’t buy the idea that those employees prioritized name changes over more significant changes like - safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, better healthcare coverage, and a higher minimum wage for the housekeeper and certified nurse aid positions. I know for a fact that the premiums for employees are extremely low, less than $100 a month at that facility. If they add a spouse or want a family plan, the premium jumps to almost $1,000 a month. For most of these staff people, they barely net over $1,800 a month. This prevents them from getting health coverage for their dependents even though they work full time and have health benefits. This corporate tap dance is performed at many private corporations all over the country. Culture change is good but why not address the true issues that impact the lives of your employees and endear them to the organization resulting in lower turnover and organizational commitment and promotion.
Lastly, Stop playing.
White people. Stop acting like you don’t understand why Black people are outraged, angry, terrorized and demoralized by the box they have been kept in by American society. We have millions of African-Americans in positions at the highest levels of publicly traded corporations, federal and state government, and in the military service. Yet the minute they are not in the office, removed their professional attire, and are out in the real world – they are considered a threat and a criminal.
When white citizens encounter someone Black that they do not personally know, they consider them to be a threat. No matter how many intelligent, thoughtful, responsible and engaging Black people you meet and interact with in a controlled environment (i.e. workplace, DMV, mechanic, grocery store clerk, etc.), the minute it becomes a random encounter – alarm bells go off and there is a flight or fight response however subtle. White people. Stop acting like you don’t understand why Black people are outraged, angry, terrorized and demoralized by the box they have been kept in by American society. Stop playing, its horseshit and you know it.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear