In America, we may be free to love, but we are not free to live.
I posted the above quote on social media immediately
after the Not Guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman
trial. It came out of an outpouring realization of pain, extreme but expected anger and eventually the fact the acts of a non-Black person getting away with murder has been, continues to be and will succeed over and over again. Although a close friend of mine on one site called my statement as ‘giving up’, I had to be realistic because it is the truth. Sadly, it is.
Still, America is a nation of laws and while they are changing in a few states to benefit those of the same sex to become married under a legal status, unjust laws such as Stop and Frisk, racial profiling and Stand Your Ground continue to affect people like myself daily. Oh, don’t be fooled here. The election and reelection of President Obama wasn’t going to turn the tide of racism
overnight. Only a foolish man with a foolish mind believes in that. I contend the same machinations which have kept this country running financially smooth for a certain class of people continues to grind without missing a beat.
Let’s say if I happened to walk into a Barney’s or Macy’s even at my age because I look younger than I am, chances are I would be Racially Profiled
by someone who would ask for the purpose of me being there, and what I plan to buy. After I walked out of that unfavorable encounter, I would walk down the street and approached by a police officer who would happen to ‘Stop and Frisk’
me for whatever reason. Then upon going home, I would be approached in my gated community where a stranger who believes I do not belong in the neighborhood, although I told him I live right down the end of the street decides to consider me a threat and wound me under the pretense of ‘Stand Your Ground’
. There you go, the Trinity of Shame. One because of the way I looked, the other because I looked like a suspect and the third a combination of the two. Trust me, I've encounter either one or two of these in my life. It does happen. Believe it.
How can our young men feel secure in a country that preaches nothing but security twenty four hours a day? How can they have the freedom to shop, walk the streets and even go back home safely without being accosted by an individual acting as ‘security’? Unfortunately, this is nothing new, not at all. Whether it’s Stand Your Ground, Stop and Frisk or even Gang Sweeps, unjust laws have become the bane of our existence. Even the Three Strikes Law with the harshest penalties at the time may have curbed crime, but it also gave sentences that made one pause at the application of it. California has at least made a modification in the ruling, but it is not enough.
(I would pull up historical laws that have worked against African Americans in the past such as the Fugitive Slave Law, Jim Crow and the old Slave Codes
, yet I'm sure no one has time to look at all that.(smile))
I look with utter frustration at times when the media hypes folks of a certain gender of having a certain freedom, when I know many young men and women are facing incarceration every day under a system designed to keep them jailed for an extended period of time. In this case, it does not get better, but absolutely worse to the point of absurdity. How many jails must we build in this country to ensure safety? How many prisons must be created to keep a certain element out? This isn’t a slam against gender equality, but how can we say we enjoy freedom in America when one group prospers and the other group becomes disenfranchised? A historical trail of tears across the centuries will reveal the story.
Teaching in Compton, a city with a negative label attached which becomes a task to overturn even Sisyphus
would pity, I’ve met some of the most intelligent and down to earth young men and women I have ever known, and proud to have help them with their personal journeys through life. Even so, besides the tragic encounter with a bullet from one of their own, it’s the encounters with the Centurions of our day, the initiatives and legislation designed to keep them underfoot. Truth be told, these are young men and women who have different backgrounds, different views on life and different preferences. In each case, they all looked the same.
Perhaps I will receive a bit of backlash from what I’m about to say, but the author James Baldwin although proud of his gender, also realized the tremendous struggle based on the color of his flesh. He knew as long as America operated under its old prejudices, its old methods of keeping ‘law and order’, those who shared his same flesh could never be free. Here are a few quotes to illustrate the point:To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world's definitions.
Education is indoctrination if you're white - subjugation if you're black.
Baldwin knew. He did not lose sight of the fight for equality. It is my hope for everyone who believes It Gets Better, they will also note one thing:
There’s Still Work To Be Done.