For Those Who Oppose #TakeItDown

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Anyone who believes the Confederate flag should remain intact flying proudly on government owned property needs a lesson.

Yes. This is part of our American history, albeit a disgusting part. Flags flying are meant to represent something we are proud of—something that serves as a true representation of who we are as a collective people.

I’m sorry to those who squabble about “to each his own,” no. Not to each his own. You are dead wrong. What that flag represents is not a proud representation of who we are 155 years after the Civil War. It’s a sad depiction of who those in the South once were, but there is nothing to be proud of. Letting it remain is no different than saying a Nazi flag should be outside the gates of Auschwitz because it’s part of that history. Would you “proud southerners” agree to that? Of course not.

Flags were invented to create a sense of nationalism. They are meant to bind one people, yet distinguish them from others. Our American flag does that job quite well. We do not need something else to divide us amongst ourselves.

We are a diverse country, built of every nationality imaginable. Some of them immigrated here by choice. Others were brought here in chains. It is not right to continue to celebrate that part of our history that saw men, women, and children enslaved, abused, and murdered. It is not right to continue to celebrate a portion of our country so hell-bent on building a superior economic system that they did so by pillage and plunder. I’d rather hoped by 2015, we could leave our past to only reflect upon so we would not be doomed to make the same mistakes.

What Alabama did today was right. #TakeItDown. Remove that horrible symbol from serving as a representation of American culture. We are no longer those people.

One last thing—for anyone who purports to support LGBTQ rights, but can somehow say this flag is a good thing, there is a level of mass confusion going on in your brain you should probably sort out sooner than later. Because I’m here to tell you, that “southern pride” good ol’boy system you show support for by raising your confederate rag is the same system that, by and large, would harm the very people you say you support.

(image source:http://article.wn.com/view/2015/06/20/Take_down_Confederate_flag_o/)

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Graphic Racism: Why We Say BLACK LIVES MATTER

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I guess one might say I’m a little tired of having this circular argument with people who will not accept that racism plays an integral part in what has happened to Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. Paired with police brutality, we have major problems in our system that have been brought to light. I don’t want to debate innocence or guilt of those victims, because that is not clear. In fact, it’s not only not clear, but barely relevant given the fact none of their alleged crimes carry a death penalty sentence.  What I do want to point out is this:

During the 1960s, Charles Manson led a group of people know as the Manson Family on a crime spree, culminating with the brutal murders of several innocent people in order to spark a race war so that Manson could, effectively, take over the world. When he was captured by police, he was not only kept alive, but protected so he could stand trial for his heinous crimes that shook not only California, but the entire United States.

Ted Bundy kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 30 women across the US, and participated in mutilation and necrophilia during the 1970s. Even after his escape and murder of a young girl in Florida, Bundy was taken back to prison and kept in protective custody. He received a fair trial, and was allowed to gain publicity by helping solve the Green River Murders. This man, who committed atrocities against more women than we may ever know, was more often described as “charismatic” than monstrous.

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK. It was an act of domestic terrorism against the US Government. 168 people died, and countless more were injured. McVeigh was held in custody, received a fair trial, and was not assaulted in any way by law enforcement officers.

I can continue to list names and cases of white individuals who killed, maimed, and committed crimes far more heinous than petty theft, carrying a toy gun, or selling bootleg tobacco. Jeffery Dahmer lured young men into his apartment, drugged, murdered, and ate them. I repeat-ATE THEM, yet police let him live to face trial. We must question then, why men like Michael Brown are described as “demons” and murdered in the street, while men like Dahmer are treated with respect?

And I know, sometimes police pull guns on white people. It’s happened to myself and my son at a sobriety checkpoint when the officers thought a piece of a cellophane wrapper from a CD in my back floorboard was drugs. Point is, no one thought my 6’2” son looked like a “demon”. We were not shot, roughed up, or even talked to impolitely. They were new, green, and overzealous, but we lived to tell the tale. The three men in the bottom portion of the graphic above were not. They were not treated with the same dignity afforded to serial killers and terrorists. That speaks legions.

So, deny racial bias all you want—looking straight at you white folks! It’s your white privilege that allows you to do so. If you thought you or your child could essentially be lynched in the streets, you might think differently.  And that is why we are standing in the streets screaming BLACK LIVES MATTER. All lives matter, but as you can see, some lives are given more importance than others, and that needs to end.

For all of you fixated on “riots” and “looting,” you need to remember that is what the media allows you to see. They are worried about sensationalism and big ratings, not truth. Those aren’t all Black faces out there. Most of the protests are peaceful. If all you believe is what you see on your television–if you believe the only truth is what the media is feeding you, then you need to wake up and smell the bullshit. You’re being lied to. Search for what’s real. Stand up for justice. End the atrocity.
#ICantBreathe #BlackLivesMatter #EqualityandJusticeForAll

Bad Reflexes: Reactions to Ferguson

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I awoke this morning to comments to the effect of “you didn’t see white folks protest after OJ was acquitted,” and “white people don’t go around destroying their own neighborhoods over a court decision”.  You know what? There is a kernel of truth there, but there is reason behind the truth.

First of all, the OJ case was different. He was indicted. He went to trial. Wilson will never be on trial. He appointed himself as the supreme decider of Michael Brown’s life. Even if the kid stole a truck load of cigars, he didn’t deserve to die. Michael Brown didn’t have the opportunity for a trial. No grand jury got to decide if he’d be indicted because Wilson decided that there, on that street where Mike Brown lost his life. OJ’s case was also not racially motivated. Brown was killed because of racial stereotypes. How many differences would you like me to point out? Point being there was no need to protest because an entire People was not under attack by OJ Simpson.

Which brings me to the second point. No, white folks generally don’t protest court decisions. Would you like to know why? The militarized police state we white folks have created doesn’t have white children in the streets killing them. People of color must live in fear of law enforcement. Would you not protest if your babies were being killed in the streets?

Don’t get me wrong. This overreaching police state is becoming a problem for everyone, more so than most would like to admit. However, if you’re a person of color, as has always been, you are at a greater risk for being acted upon violently. Racial stereotypes have perpetuated visions of demons that simply do not exist.

And while I’m at it, let’s make one thing clear: White folks do protest. We riot over our favorite sports team being “robbed” on the court or field. We will burn a town down if a rival basketball team takes a championship. We are as prone to violence as anyone of color, just for different reasons. We don’t protest and riot court decisions because we don’t have to. We aren’t under attack.

Mainly, what I would like for people to understand comes from a tweet I read this morning. It stated simply:

If, after last night’s decision, all you saw was rioting, you missed everything.”

(Image and quotation source: https://twitter.com/KevinAvery/status/537231346473893888)

Ferguson Decision: White Privilege and Injustice

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Most of the day, I gritted my teeth. My jaws were clenched from the moment I heard there was a verdict. Somehow, I just knew this wouldn’t end well. Not that it should be a surprise. I mean, I never expected justice. Hoped for it, yes, but I was never optimistic.

Why the pessimism? I owe that strictly to my awareness of my glaring white privilege.

Privilege never leaves my side. Every time one of my sons walks out my door, I am aware of how lucky I am to be born lacking a great deal of melanin. That’s not a choice I made. It certainly doesn’t make me superior. It’s just dumb luck. Regardless, I can say goodbye to my sons without worrying that some cop will harass them needlessly. I don’t worry they’ll be shot in the street, their bodies left for the world to ogle. For even if harm comes to one of my sons, I can be assured that justice will be served. You see, they’re white, too. Mind you, I don’t feel guilt for the color of my skin, but I know, as do my sons, that random science ensured them a life sans racial prejudice.

Of course, I’ve been aware of my white privilege ever since I read Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech, as well as who Dr. King is, was never taught to me in school. We never celebrated MLK Day. My teachers never so much as whispered the name of this glorious gift to humanity. Imagine my surprise when I was older and found out what went on during the Civil Rights Movement.

When I read King’s speech, I cried. His words were so powerful, so touching. The hope he carried for humanity was so great, so fair, and so inclusive. Dr. King excluded no one from his Dream. He wished for us all to be “brothers and sisters”. This is something the small-minded, patriarchal, white men who led my parochial school wished I would never know, I’m sure. I was just a simple girl who, without doubt, they expected would marry another white patriarchal male, and carry out my wifely duties, letting my husband retain power. Never did they think someone like me would break the cycle, and call their system of white privilege and power into question. Now, I’m no more than a threat to them. I am a “sorry excuse for a white woman,” as I was told today.

That’s fine. If standing up for justice and equality throws me outside the realm of what they consider “good,” I’ll take it. I’ll stand right over here doing what I know in my heart is right. I’ll let the tears flow as I empathize with the pain of so many who have had to fight for every ounce of freedom they have. I will walk beside them hand in hand, just as Dr. King would have wanted. In fact, thinking back on his speech today, I’m saddened. This peaceful man wanted for us to sit at the table together as equals. He never asked to be lifted into superiority. Just equal.

Remembering back to the first time I read the “Dream” speech, no one had to tell me I was privileged. The language of Dr. King spelled that out for me.

You see, the words flooded my mind with visions of suffering and hope for a better tomorrow. I knew this was not something I had ever experienced. I never had to march to be able to sit in a restaurant along with people of other ethnicities. No one forced me into the back of a bus. My relatives were never lynched. Without being told, I knew there was a system built to protect me, even as a woman, that didn’t include people of color. This bothers me. It bothers me because not just a farm, or a city, or even a state was built on the backs of people of color—our entire country was built on the backs of slaves, and expanded from lands stolen from Native people. Nothing in this country belongs to the WASPs who continue to hold the most positions of power, and who continue to perpetuate hate. There was no seat at the table for people of color. Dr. King asked us to build a new table to include everyone, but yet in 2014, his Dream is still not realized.

We continue to live in a society where one white man can be the judge, jury, and executioner for a young man whose only crime was stealing a cigar. It may as well be 1814.

All I can do tonight is hang my head in shame at the hatred and injustice. I, too, wish for the day when I can rejoice with people I consider my brothers and sisters—who biologically are my brothers and sisters. In case you didn’t know, we all come from one shared ancestor. We are all one people by design. The only thing separating us is greed and hatred.

Tonight, I pray for peace. The family of Michael Brown has asked us all to help them rally to legislate that all police officers wear body cameras so tragedies like this might be avoided. The ACLU and SPLC are calling for peace. Let’s do our part. Join hands. March On. Overcome.

(Image source: http://www.koco.com/national/at-ferguson-church-faith-calms-fears/29894368)