I support #BlackLivesMatter

I came across this on a message board that I frequent. I couldn't think of anything better to show the disconnect many display with their sloganeering.

I came across this on a message board that I frequent. I couldn’t think of anything better to show the disconnect many display with their sloganeering.

I’ve debated writing this for a while.  Given the media’s insatiable appetite for sensationalism, I have too much on my mind and heart to not write it now.  So here it goes….

*please bear with me if I get long winded…

First and foremost, I am 100% American.  My ancestors arrived on American soil in the late 1790s.  Yes, I am Black, and my ancestors arrived here from Africa.  I wear Blue as do many of my friends and family members.  I support #BlackLivesMatter.  I support them just as I support any other American individual or group that wants their rights respected and protected.  Also, just as any other American person or group, that support is not unconditional.  I don’t suffer foolishness, intemperance, or criminality.

#BlackLivesMatter is not racist, nor are their motives steeped in racism.  To the politicians, talking heads, and media outlets that only seek to portray them or label them as such, look at that photo at the top.  They are not the racists.  They are simply asking that their rights be respected and protected just as yours are.

I’m sick and tired of the single-sided portrayal of Black people by the media and politicians.  It’s constant jibber jabber of how Black on Black crime is rampant.  It’s how Blacks are prone to being criminals.  You constantly hear about inner-city crime and poverty.  That is not Black America.  We are more than what you hear on TV.

We are doctors, surgeons, nurses, and administrators.  We are lawyers, judges, paralegals, and stenographers.  We are astronauts, scientists, and engineers.  We are professors, principals, teachers, and secretaries.  We are workers, managers, vice presidents, and even CEOs.  We are carpenters, electricians, brick masons, farmers, and other laborers.  We are not simply a page full of crime statistics and poverty.  So, PLEASE quit trying to portray us as a single monolithic crime statistic.

I support #BlackLivesMatter because I listen attentively.  I hear what they’re asking, and I understand why they’re asking it.  Perceptions shape reality in many instances, and the reality is this.  Many Americans in the public and prominent positions to positively or negatively affect others tend to negatively portray Black Americans.  The continuous negative portrayal is ingrained into the daily lives of others to where there arises a bias against Blacks.

I’m not accusing people of being racist, and this is where the disconnect arises.  Some people jump to the assumption that claiming that Black Lives Matter is a racial claim that Black lives are more important than everyone else.  That is not what the movement is claiming or attempting to put forth.  They’re simply saying that Black lives matter TOO.

When we don’t see or address our biases, we react to things without understanding or realizing how our reactions are received by others.  That image above is the perfect example.  If you suggest that all lives matter, then you should have no problem with supporting the statement that Black lives matter because Black lives are indeed a subset of all lives, right?  If you support Blue Lives Matter, would you say that you’re support means that firefighters don’t matter?  I don’t know of a single person who supports law enforcement who would ever agree to that.  Yet, yelling Blue lives matter to someone who suggests Black lives matter is exactly what you’re doing.

Every single American should support #BlackLivesMatter if you sincerely believe the U.S. Constitution is there to protect our rights.  If we don’t protect the rights of a subset of Americans, then the Constitution fails to protect us all.  It’s not a matter of treating someone better than others.  It’s simply treating us all one and the same.

If your response to #BlackLivesMatter is to segue into Black on Black crime, then why not address White on White crime?  To do that is to do what I talked about above, which is to claim that all Blacks are criminal.  #BlackLivesMatter is asking for law enforcement to NOT treat us all as criminal.  How many White people can tell multiple stories about being stopped, patted down, or hand cuffed because they “resemble” a wanted person?  Now ask that same question to Black people.  Both racial groups commit crime.  Both racial groups are arrested for committing crime.  Let the media tell it, we Blacks are disproportionately arrested for criminal activity.  Now, think about the question about being stopped and ask yourself who’s being stopped more?  Why would Black people NOT be disproportionately arrested for criminal activity when they are disproportionately stopped or detained for criminal activity?

I won’t make a claim that there is no crime in inner cities.  It’s there.  The citizens look to the police to protect them from criminal activity, so why people think Black people hate the police is beyond me.  If that were the case, Black people would be more like Charles Bronson and applying vigilante justice in the inner cities instead of asking the police for better protection.

Take Chicago for example as it’s the conservatives favorite whipping post in relation to this topic.  Chicago has a serious issue with violence.  Gang issues are rampant just as the gun violence has people on edge.  Now answer these questions.  Where does the drugs and guns originate?  Where are the marijuana farms, meth labs, or cocaine labs in Chicago that produce the drugs found on the streets?  Where are all the guns being purchased that end up shooting and killing the residents of Chicago?  They don’t originate there, and Chicago pays a heavy price for their importation into the city.  As much as you hear people clamoring about the number of shooting victims in Chicago, you never hear of them offering any suggestions on how to decrease the gun trafficking that leads to the high number of incidents.  When you hear people talk about the drug and gang issues, there are never any ideas given on how to decrease the drug trade or how to improve the economic situation of the inner city to lessen the appeal to sell drugs to make a living.

THIS is why Black lives matter.  It’s all about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  If you only see a criminal when you see me, then you don’t know me.  If you support policies like Stop-and-Frisk because you think it helps, then you don’t value my 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.  If your knee-jerk reaction is to shoot me because I tell you I’m armed, you don’t respect my 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.  If you advocate for policy or legislation that restricts my right to vote, then you show that you don’t care about my Constitutional rights.

Black America doesn’t want special treatment.  Black America wants to be American.  That’s it.  No more.  No less.  That’s why I support #BlackLivesMatter.  If we allow any single group’s rights to be trampled, then we are not American.  I am 100% American, are you?

Welcome to our world

“Walkin’ down the street, smoggy-eyed
Looking at the sky, starry-eyed
Searchin’ for the place, weary-eyed
Crying in the night, teary-eyed”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Wonder when I’ll find paradise
Somewhere there’s a home sweet and nice
Wonder if I’ll find happiness
Never give it up now I guess”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”

“Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto”–War circa 1972

Listening to the news today, I couldn’t help but notice the stark difference in the media sensationalism with gun violence.  For some reason, I still expect some semblance of balanced journalism from the corporate owned media outlets.  At the same time, I still get let down by the ratings and advertising revenue chasing aspect of the media as opposed to providing some semblance of balanced news reporting.

This afternoon, another school shooting took place in Marysville, Washington.  One student was killed, and there are 4 others in critical condition.  Unlike most other school shootings, this one was perpetrated by a popular student as opposed to the typical loner or outcast.  The gun used allegedly belonged to the father of the shooter which means that it was likely a legally purchased and owned gun.

My sympathies go out to the students and families affected by this tragedy.  I send out anger and scorn to the media and the talking heads over the selective reporting of violent incidents like this.

Since the shooting occurred, I’ve heard the actions, thoughts, and everything else about the shooter being analyzed on tv by people who don’t have a clue about this guy.  The media outlets have gone through social media accounts to piece together as much as they can about the shooter.  Some outlets have interviewed students live on-air to get an idea of what the victims were like in school.

When this happens in Chicago, or some other urban setting, why is there not equal reporting or analysis?  Why don’t we hear the stories about the victims of these violent incidents?  Why isn’t there wall-to-wall coverage analyzing every single aspect about the incident?  We don’t even see televised press conferences when shootings happen in urban environments unless there’s a baby or little kid killed.

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out already, there is no avoiding or escaping violence.  There’s violence all around us daily.  We just choose to ignore it until it comes knocking at our front door.  Then, when violence rings our doorbell, it’s an urgent matter that has to be dealt with swiftly.  As long as it’s happening on the other side of the tracks, it’s out of sight and out of mind.

You can’t escape violence by turning off the television or moving to the suburbs.  As we all know, violence knows no racial, social, or economic status.  The sooner we all realize that we’re rowing the same ship, the sooner we can all work together to limit the possibility of violence striking at your feet.  Don’t think for a second that you’re immune to violence.  The world is a ghetto, and we’re all residing there regardless of our station in life.

Why a travel ban is useless

There’s a growing sentiment towards enacting a travel ban to try to contain Ebola.  Based on my viewpoint and experience with travel, a travel ban would be as effective as trying to capture a hurricane in a mason jar.  There are numerous reasons why a ban wouldn’t work here in America, and most of them are because of things that we can’t control, even with a ban in place.

First, banning people traveling directly from the countries suffering with infection would not stop the eventual spread of the virus to America.  We’ve already seen the virus here on American soil, and there are no direct flights from any of the infected countries to any American airport.  The virus got to America by connection through Brussels, Belgium, and I don’t ever recall America having authority to ban people from traveling to Brussels from countries outside of American control.  Given the numerous airlines and connection points, we would have to shut down most international travel worldwide to effect a ban of people coming to America simply due to the numerous pathways to our sovereign soil.  Just as we wouldn’t allow any other country to govern us, we don’t have the authority, legally or otherwise, to dictate what other countries do as far as travel is concerned.

I’ve heard people discussing stopping travel based on passport countries, and that’s just as useless because of the number of people who qualify or hold dual or even multiple citizenship of different countries.  If a Liberian national also has Belgian citizenship, how does anyone know if and/or when he travels to Liberia if he’s using different passports that show him as citizens of two different countries?  You can’t simply go off of the stamps inside the person’s passports if they’re using two or more different passports to travel between countries.  TO further complicate things, you have areas like the European Union where you can travel between countries without having your passport stamped by the individual countries.

The only way that I can see an effective travel ban put in place is if every concerned country basically took over the role of the immigration officers of the affected countries.  There would have to be a 100% containment of the countries checking everyone out as they depart the country.  Even that wouldn’t be a 100% guarantee of Ebola getting outside the affected countries.  The incubation period gives enough time for a person to test negative one week and then travel abroad the next before becoming ill and contagious.

The best possible method to deal with Ebola would be to build effective quarantine and treatment centers within the borders of the affected countries.  If adequate treatment is available at home, there is less incentive for someone to travel abroad if they’re knowingly ill.  The less contact sick people make, the less the virus has a chance to spread.

I understand the sentiment and concerns of those who are adamant about banning travel.  I’m also a realist, and there is no sure-fire way to monitor travel without forcing people to all register with some governmental authority in order to travel.  I can’t answer for anyone else, but I’m not even interested in contemplating such a thing.

Although the horse had already bolted from the barn, the best course of action any country could take was to assist the affected countries in trying to contain and treat those sick with the virus to try to avoid any further spreading.  The conditions of the hospitals and clinics there were basically a failure waiting to happen.  The much delayed response by the rest of the world ensured the failure was complete and massive.

Supreme Court order allows some Texas abortion clinics to reopen

Wendy Davis during her filibuster over the Texas Abortion Law. Source: The Dallas Morning News

I’ve followed this whole Texas abortion law fight with interest almost since the law was signed into law back in 2013.  The law requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in order to perform abortions.  Also, the clinics themselves have to meet the clinical and physical requirements of ambulatory centers in order to remain open.

While the surface view gives the appearance that Texas cares about the health care of pregnant women, the view changes entirely when you peek below the surface.  To combat the abortion clinics, anti-abortion groups have used the tactic of opening pregnancy crisis centers to counsel women and talk them out of having abortions.  The rise in numbers of those centers in Texas gives away the entire smoke and mirrors game that Texas is trying to pull on its citizens.

The reason why I can opine such a thing with great confidence is laid bare inside an article written by Aljazerra America.

A McAllen Pregnancy Center counselor reached by phone told Al Jazeera that the center does not employ a doctor because the ultrasounds it conducts aren’t for diagnostic purposes but for “seeing the baby.” Medical experts, like the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and the ACOG, take a dim view of such practices. They warn that women could be falsely reassured about their health or that of their fetus, and if abnormalities are discovered, there’s no guarantee that pregnant women will receive the follow-up care they need.

Though it might not be obvious to Betsy that she isn’t receiving medical treatment, the McAllen Pregnancy Center isn’t behaving like a rogue operator. Unlike abortion clinics, sandwich shops and nail salons, crisis-pregnancy centers in Texas don’t have to comply with state or federal safety standards. The state health department does not inspect the clinics, not even the ones that offer ultrasounds and call themselves pregnancy medical clinics. (The McAllen Pregnancy Center doesn’t call itself a medical clinic because it says its ultrasounds are nondiagnostic.) Even the Texas Medical Board, which is responsible for the good conduct of licensed physicians, shrugs at its doctors’ activities. It doesn’t require physicians to report where they serve as medical directors, and it investigates only if someone files a complaint. So far, no one has.

Such a laissez-faire climate means that anyone can set up shop and call it a pregnancy medical clinic. The anti-abortion powerhouse National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) sees this as a ripe business opportunity. As NIFLA says on its website, “Ultrasound opens a window to the womb where the mother is first introduced to her unborn child. By allowing this connection to happen, medical (clinics) experience dramatic increases in the percentages of their patients that choose life.”

Source: Aljazerra America

Check the highlighted and underlined portions if you missed them.  These clinics offer pregnancy counseling and even sonograms, and they openly acknowledge it’s not for purposes related to the actual medical assessment or course of treatment for pregnant women.  It’s basically to shame them into not having an abortion.  Furthermore, the state knows these clinics are using medical equipment in a setting that gives the appearance of being a licensed medical facility, when there are no regulations they have to abide by.  At the same time, they’re regulating the hell out of the clinics that actually provide medical services.  What the f**k kind of sense does that make?

If I were to go buy some medical equipment and counsel people into not having medical procedures, I’d be quickly arrested for practicing medicine without a license.   If I do the same thing to talk women out of having an abortion, then I’m a hero to some.  I don’t see how that makes any sense.  I also don’t see how such a disparity in law and regulations can exist with courts calling this crap constitutional.  There’s no way in hell this is constitutional.

Now, before you anti-abortion people decide to label me a baby killer or whatever other name you like, consider that I just brought home my third child from the hospital yesterday.  I personally don’t believe in abortion, but I also respect the fact that people have the right to seek medical treatments that have been upheld as constitutional, even if I don’t agree with them.  The fact that I don’t agree with having them is not enough to warrant trampling the rights of others who may see things differently from me.

I feel that abortion is a decision between the parents and their doctors, and the rest of America should stay the hell out of someone’s personal business.  If you were not part of the creation or funding of the pregnancy, then you don’t have a dog in any decision made in regards to that pregnancy.  If we allow outsiders to invade the doctor/patient privilege when it comes to abortion, who’s to say that some other medical procedure won’t be attacked the same way in the future.  I might love and respect you all, but I’ll be damned if I allow anyone outside my family get involved with my personal medical decisions.

As for the Supreme Court decision, I say bravo!!!  Let’s end this underhanded crap once and for all.  If anti-abortion people feel so convinced their cause is right and true, then quit hiding your intentions behind bogus laws such as this one.  Simply legislate what you wish to do, make abortions disappear.  I’ll give you a hint on how to do it.  It’s called education.  Give people access to education on all aspects of health care so they can make the proper decisions BEFORE they get pregnant.  You can’t have an abortion if you don’t get pregnant.  Contrary to popular belief, abstinence-only  education doesn’t work.  People are going to screw, so you may as well educate them on how to do it without creating a life in the process.

Cooler heads must prevail

Looking at the news this morning, I felt sick to my stomach.  I was hoping that cooler heads would prevail in Ferguson, MO over the weekend, but my hopes were dashed at 7am this morning while watching ABC News this morning.

I understand the anger and resentment that’s built up in the Black community over these type of incidents.  I also understand the urge to lash out in anger over the killing of another unarmed Black kid.  As a community, we can’t tear down our community any and every time we think we’re wronged.  Instead of fighting the power, we must work to become the power.  Use these instances to form networks to enhance the quality of life in the hood.  Don’t allow anger to tear things down, channel that anger to build things up to keep this from happening again.  Cooler heads must prevail.

I know the NAACP is going to get involved with protesting things, but cool heads need to lead those protests.  Don’t allow anger or angry people to hijack those peaceful protests and give the media and skeptical America something to point at and call us animals.  Don’t give them that victory over us.  If Black America wants to be taken seriously, then we have to act seriously.  That means policing the actions of those within our own community.  One bad apple can spoil the bunch, and we know that when one Black person acts bad, there are some that will use the actions of one to paint us all.  We can’t let that happen anymore.  Cooler heads must prevail.

I know that Al Sharpton will get involved with protests and such, but we have to allow cool heads to handle things.  Brother Al, I love you to death for what you try to do, but sometimes your mere presence is enough to inflame tensions and change the focus of the situation.  I know that’s not your intent or your goal, but that’s just real life America.  There are some who will paint this as something negative simply because you’re involved.  If that becomes the case, as it likely will, my suggestion would be to back away and allow the next generation of fighters to handle this one to gain experience.  If necessary, guide the youth from the background to help ensure justice is served, but don’t get out front if that’s going to keep justice from happening.  Cooler heads must prevail.

Black America, it’s on us to build up our communities and stop these incidents from happening.  Channel your anger, sadness, or whatever feelings you have into something positive.  We can’t allow the killing of innocent people any more than we can allow others to paint our kids as “dangerous thugs”.  I find it sickening in America that a group of people can point loaded weapons at police officers and be considered patriots for doing that while my folks can take a picture throwing up a peace sign, of all things, and be labeled dangerous thugs or gang bangers and shot unarmed while posing no threat.  Cooler heads must prevail.