I usually don't like writing blog posts in response to current events, because I believe everyone needs time to think and reflect before speaking up (or in this case, writing) about any hot topics, because words are spoken and they will never be unspoken. Out of our mouth comes the power to give life and at the same time the power to take it away.
So, I took some time to reflect and think about all the recent events in regards to police shootings across the United States, and the way trust to law enforcement has been degrading (vanishing), especially among black communities. I wanted to make sure that my silence in this matter was not being misunderstood. Sometimes, when you stay silent, you indirectly let the world decide for you.
I asked myself today these simple questions hypothetically, thinking about my family:
- Dad, were you there when all the protests about #BlackLivesMatter were taking place?
- Dad, how did you feel about it?
- Dad, what did you do about it?
Then I realized that I was already at that stage, as I watched my children listening and reacting to the news and asking "Why did they shoot him??", and "someone else died again? Why?" The final straw was when they asked me "Why is the police shooting Black people?"
As a father, a black man, a lawful abiding citizen in this country, a respectable community member and a Christian, I felt like my silence to this matter was being misunderstood as my acceptance to this reality. Call it whatever you want, the truth of the matter is that as a Black man in America, I am worrying about the future if we stay on the current path. There is injustice, but this is at a different level than I've ever realized. Something needs to be done and quickly.
All pastors and other community leaders need to take the necessary steps and address this issue at their churches and local community gatherings, because your silence will be interpreted as your acceptance to this injustice.
Local law enforcement need to step up and talk to their communities; organize events and community outreach meetings to let the community know that they are their guardians, not their enemies. Restore trust. This goes to all communities, even where this issue is almost non-existent, because it's all a matter of time. This is a nationwide plague that needs to be eradicated before it becomes a norm (and we are almost there already).
Finally, us, the household leaders, fathers and mothers, need to help our children understand that there is a problem in our society and the grownups are working to try to resolve. Don't spread your anger onto them; you are just propagating the issue. Instead, make them realize that the problem exists and everyone needs to help solve this. Keep on loving your communities, all your neighbors and spread peace and love instead of segregation and hate.
My family matters to me as much as yours matter to you. And right now, as a black man, it's not a pretty picture of the future being painted for mine.
The recent shooting at Tulsa, my own town... it could have been me laying dead there. My old 2001 Toyota (that I love dearly) could have broken down in the middle of the road. A police car would have pulled over (and I would have probably been happy to see a law enforcement coming to help me in my situation). I would have probably freaked the hell out seeing the police officer drawing his gun towards me (I still can't justify why he would have his gun drawn out). Before you know it, I would be laying on the floor dead after being shot when I was just afraid and confused (the media would have talked about the fact that I didn't follow the police commands). Then the police would have started looking into my history to justify the reason why I got shot (Sorry, I don't own a gun, I don't do drug, I don't smoke anything, I'm not a big and tall scary dude, etc.... but wait, I did get a ticket once in my life driving above speed limit when I was a teenager...yeah, that could be it). Luckily, my friends and coworkers can speak of my character and the fact that I'm a good citizen with normal flaws like anyone else (Sorry, no... that's not a good news to portray. The media wants to dig deeper and find my past darkness somehow... tracing my life actions all the way back to my childhood in Africa).