For the last few days, I’ve been desperately grappling with recent events where men of color lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement officers sworn to “protect and serve.” I struggle because as long as I can remember, we were taught to respect the police, and that lesson has served me well–especially being African-American. I have had friends in law enforcement and have the privilege of knowing several here where I live, including a chief or two.
So, these events pain me a great deal. Disturbing me most of all are the anarchists and thugs who would dare take George Floyd’s death as an excuse to burn and loot, figuring that this would be an ideal time to commit such acts because law enforcement is in a defensive position and don’t want to provoke even louder cries of racism. And so, cities burn…….
I’ll be 72 years old in a couple of weeks. By that reckoning, I have outlived both of my parents by four decades since their passing and nearly as long, chronologically. I miss them terribly but am glad they don’t have to witness this kind of mayhem. Hell, we’re in the twenty-first century!!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US?? And the better question is, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?!?!
Over the last few days, we’ve heard from two city officials and one former NFL player, all of whom have something timely and relevant to say, in a manner far better than I, so I’ll let them do the talking. All of them speak to the abhorrent deaths that we have seen recently, but they are just as quick to condemn the rioting and looting. I should also point out that these interviews come from CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Please watch them all and suspend any judgment over which news outlet they came from.
First, is Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. https://cnn.it/2ApBhRs
Next, is former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson: https://bit.ly/2XDTIKj
Last, is Detroit Chief of Police James Craig: https://on.msnbc.com/3dhrjAt
It is important to understand that there are countries and other entities out there that wish us harm and we need to refrain from actions that make the US look like a third world country. That plays right into the hands of our adversaries and we are NOT served well…any of us…by this conduct. Saddest of all, the most vulnerable of our citizens suffer the most. Even George Floyd’s family has implored citizens to knock off the rioting and looting.
So back to my question: What are we going to do? Something Ben Watson said resonated with me, that in order to make any meaningful change, “…we have to be willing to be uncomfortable, willing to be honest, a willingness to not be offended and not to offer ‘what-about-isms’ when people talk about the way they feel.” If we’re not willing to move into this kind of dialogue – family, friends and loved ones, nothing will change and the adversaries I alluded to earlier will just smile.
Think about that.