“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman
Today across this nation in Cleveland, Ferguson, St. Louis, New York, Beavercreek, Salt Lake City and countless other cities families will sit down to dinner with less to be thankful for, with an empty chair at their table and it is likely mothers and fathers will weep at the loss of their child to violence. Parents, spouses and children will bow their heads and instead of thanking whatever god they pray to, they will ask “Why”. They will weep as they find themselves bereft of their loved one and struggling to understand why the system they were told to trust did not work, why the life of their husband, father or child did not matter. Today across this nation, families will weep as they mourn the loss of their beloved and lost members to police violence.
We are a terrible nation, a nation that turns away from entire communities, blaming them for their failure to thrive within a greater society determined to see them as always ‘less than’ and undeserving of the rights and privileges embodied by this nation’s founding documents and ‘moral’ standard. We are a tragic nation, built upon theft of land and resources, blood of innocents, indentured servitude, forced labor, rape and violence; yet we have the unmitigated gall to hold ourselves, as a nation, up as a standard of excellence. We dare to act as police and moral arbitrators, condemning violence and human rights violations across the world while within our own nation we fail to uphold the Rights and even Humanity of our own citizens.
Today, families weep and we should all be weeping with them. Those of us who do not send our children out into the world with fear in our hearts each time they leave our side, we should hang our heads that we do nothing, say nothing and enable this genocide within our borders to continue. Yes, I said it, We Enable. By our silence, through our failure to stand up and say, ‘no more’, each time we fail to demand answers for the depraved acts of murder by those tasked with defending the law and protecting citizens, WE ENABLE and WE AGREE they are in the RIGHT. Each and every time we listen to media pundits, elected officials, journalists, has been’s and never were’s such as Rudy Giuliani disparage entire communities WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE along with them for enabling the horror story of structural and institutionalized racism that has destroyed the soul of this nation and its people. It is us, as much as them that allow and enable Genocide to escalate unencumbered by Law or Justice.
I am saddened there are those in this nation who refuse to face up to the fact there truly are two nations, truly two systems of justice, two systems of opportunity, two systems for damned near everything. It is not about ‘responsibility’ and ‘accountability’ as some would have us to believe. It is not about pulling your pants up, speaking better English, getting a job or any of the other idiotic and ignorant bile that spews forth from the lips of those who have never been at risk a day in their life simply for the skin they were born in.
Any one of us can say all day long, “I personally am not a racist”. However, the problem with that statement, so long as ‘I personally’ do nothing to actively fight against the institutionalization of racism within this country I am passively agreeing to its continuation, I am by my refusal to stand up and speak out, by my refusal to put myself in harm’s way agreeing my life, my way of life matters more.
Time and again, the President of this nation has been called divisive by those who hate him for only one reason, who fear him for only one reason. Time and again, the Attorney General has been called divisive for speaking out on issues of race and violence. We have had for nearly six years our first Black President, our first Black Attorney General; this combination scares the hell out of those who see their power base slipping and they are fighting hard, with ugly tactics to convince this nation these two men are the cause for the rise in violence, the rise in racist language and attitudes. Those who see these two men of calm as divisive have deceived their base and even many of us into believing a story, a fable of Black and Brown rage and danger, one that is escalating and must be controlled by occupation forces and murder. The truth is, this President and this AG have spoken infrequently and with cautious language on issues of race, they have used the Bully Pulpit rarely and with great restraint so as not to offend those who would use their words to stir the already boiling caldron of White Rage and Fear.
We are not divisive because we point out racism, whether it is police murdering or the KKK marching with police escorts while peaceful protesters are tear gassed and shot with wooden bullets. We are not divisive because we identify the documented fact a Black Man is 4 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man, a Hispanic Man is 2 times more likely to die in custody than a White Man. We are not divisive because we find it disturbing when mass killers are taken into custody alive if they are White, but Black Men and Black Children with toy guns are killed by cops. We are not divisive when we identify the difference between media coverage of college students rioting during a sporting event or festival for squash and communities rioting in response to police murdering their children without fear of reprisal. We are not divisive when we point out a wealthy White teenager walking out of a courtroom with a new syndrome, Affluenza (he is to wealthy to go to jail it might harm his delicate sensibilities or future) preventing him from going to prison after killing four people in a drunk driving joy ride, but a Black teenager is killed for jaywalking.
We must begin to stand up, to point out what is wrong with this nation and the leadership of this nation that we do not demand better. We are not divisive, what we are is challenging a system that has consistently shown itself to be Racist, unjust and weighted towards one group in this country. Either we are one nation, with one rule of law, one set of values and principles, striving toward the betterment of all citizens … lifting all boats in a rising tide; or we are a Slave State, intent on the debasement of an entire group of our citizens, the death of their next generation.
Today, families gather to give thanks far too many of those families will instead shed tears of anger even fury at the loss of a loved one to violence at the hands of police.
Where does it end?
We must begin to stand up, to scream our demands for change. We must begin to silence those who turn away and refuse to see what is before them; we must demand those who are tasked with protecting our citizens; we must demand those who are elected to office high or low, perform their tasks to the benefit of all citizens not just those who can pay for their services; we must stand up and demand journalists, pundits and others tasked with delivering information become fair, balanced and perform their tasks with integrity and ethical standards or be taken off the air, a return to the standards of old is necessary to raise this nation out of the mire of ignorance we have fallen into.
It is time to rise up out of our apathy. It is time for us to bow our heads and weep with the families who will gather today with an empty chair at their tables. It is past time for us to demand a change to this failed experiment that is the two-nation system of have and have not, divided by the color of our skin and the privilege those of us born with the fortune circumstance of White skin have not earned.
It is time to acknowledge we have a problem and it is not the criminality of the Black Community it is the Criminality of a nation built on privilege, brutality, greed, violence and a desire to retain what was never earned but stolen.
It is about fixing what is broken in this nation no matter the cost.