All Lives Never Mattered

I think I’m going to come up with a new saying for 2016. I think that new saying is going to be ” All Lives Never Mattered.” I’m going with this phrase because whenever the …

Source: All Lives Never Mattered

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Swirl in the City

I’d really like for this to be my last time writing about Black Lives Matter. With that being said, however, I understand that right now my voice is one of the most important. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me how I was feeling in lieu of the tragedies affecting the Black Community. I answered honestly, stating that I was drained and was at a loss for words most of the time, and explained how important it was to share my perspective without forcing it onto others. Comments I hear in passing – at work, mind you – like “why isn’t there a White Entertainment Television channel?!” are microaggressions that fuel the smallest of fires that burn behind the bullets killing our melanin-kissed brothers and sisters.  

 

Black Lives Matter does not mean anti-white. I would know this because my husband is white. Not only is he white, but he’s from Southern Indiana, grew up raising horses, and hops around randomly and calls it dancing; especially to a fierce Lady Gaga track. All jokes aside, I have an interesting perspective and more to consider when it comes to my life in relation to everything that’s going on currently. S and I live in a pretty quiet area on the west side of Indianapolis. There’s not much traffic in our neighborhood, and the presence of other people of color is sparse. Lately I’ve been haunted by thoughts of me getting taken out by some uneducated, neighborhood watch tool or a policeman, while I’m peacefully walking our dog. I know this seems extreme, but I find it sad that I’m unsure of my safety anymore. Not only for myself, but for our tiny family we’ve created.

 

I’m always on high alert now when I see a police car behind me. I try not to run errands at night at the risk of being profiled and pulled over – although we’ve seen that time of day really isn’t a factor. The fact that all police officers aren’t evil, racist assholes isn’t a lost realization floating around in the darkest parts of my brain, BUT at the same time, it’s something I’m forced to consider. Take S and I visiting his parents for example. He’s from a very small town where I’m convinced – whenever I’m visiting – that I’m the only black person present, and that everyone there will throw a tantrum if you bring up gun control. I’m going to separate the next few lines because they’re important…

 

Even with those thoughts in my head and the fact that I am, most likely, the only black person around those parts, I would never jump the gun and be hyper-protective and reactive. I remain open and try to look at more than just the book’s cover. Inside of me there’s still a voice that says “go with the flow and be your best self…” If any of these murderous officers – not all, but the ones with blood on their hands – had any ounce of humanity, they’d be able to consider the fact that a person’s skin color doesn’t make them a threat. They’d be open. How I’m able to think like this in times like these is beyond me, but I’ll take it as a sign of hope; A sign that hope still exists.

 

I’ve never played the race card in all of my twenty-nine years and don’t plan on doing so for any reason. What I will do is stand up for what’s right. Preaching on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform has never been my style. If ever there are comments made that I disagree with, I simply bring up facts, significant points, and anything that will get the opposition to think past themselves. Consider my Indiana family for example. I know they love me and that they’d do anything for S, myself, and my family. I’m wondering how having a gay, black man in the family has caused their thinking to shift. “Racism isn’t going anywhere. It’s just changing its face.” I have a feeling things will get way worse before they improve. Educating and providing views into life as a minority is key if the receiving subjects are willing to listen. Stay woke, everyone! And if you don’t know what “woke” means (as it relates to Black Lives Matter)? Chances are you aren’t.
Let love breathe,

My Black Thoughts

I’ve always said that I’m bad about following the news, and keeping track of things that are going on around the world and in my country. “Twitter is where I get my news!” is what I usually say when people ask me if I’d seen some story on the eleven-o-clock news the night before. I’ve never been one to sit down and watch the news on television, read a newspaper, or actively search for developments in current events, but here recently, I’m having a hard time NOT checking the news. The list of unspeakable treatment of Black Americans is growing at an alarming rate, and the deaths of Black Americans – wrongfully killed – was a large list to begin with.  As a black man I have to follow these stories. I have to keep track of stories like this for my own safety, to educate myself further on the existence of racism in America, and to gain strength for my people.

I was extremely saddened to learn about the event that took place in South Carolina, where nine black church attendees lost their lives after a young white male sat in their prayer meeting for an hour before opening fire on the peaceful group of people.  I cried reading this story in my cubicle at work, because, what did these people do to deserve this? Sadly, this is a question Black Americans have had to ask ourselves a lot recently when following news stories to learn of more black deaths in our country. Before the South Carolina tragedy, we lost the lives of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and a more black lives that didn’t make the news. All of these innocent black men lost their lives due to pure ignorance, and nothing else. In the Walter Scott’s footage – and thank goodness for mobile recording technology because now police can be held accountable for wrongful treatment of any individual they handle – we saw the white cop try to create a false crime scene; tossing a weapon near Scott’s already dead, and unstirring body.  What gives?! I don’t not know.

The people in Ferguson and Baltimore lead peaceful protests and candlelight vigils after the loss of their community members, and unfortunately some protest activities turned into violence and riots. Violence is never the answer and Deray Mckesson framed the rioting in Baltimore the best in an on-air talk with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer, excuse me, CNN – because Blitzer was just their sacrificial lamb when it came to talking to the “angry black people” in Baltimore – seemed to be more worried about Baltimore property damage than the wrongful death of Gray. Blitzer kept pushing for Mckesson to say the violence wasn’t necessary, and in response Mckesson stated “There should be peaceful protests, but I don’t have to condone it to understand it, right? The pain that people feel is real.”

A good, white friend of mine – and it’s sad I need to even tell you his race, but in the hopes of promoting good interracial relations, there you go – asked me if the strides the gay community have made in recent years can be linked to the stand the black community is taking in the face of all the recent negativity and deaths. This is was interesting to me. I’m black, gay, and from Alaska. I was always aware of race issues when I was growing up, but I never really faced any racism until I moved to Indiana. There have only been a couple non-violent instances when it comes to my experience with racism, and I am definitely more aware than I ever was when I lived in Alaska. When I think about there being a link between the success the gay community has seen in their fight for equality, and the black community’s current fight, I think there are similarities and differences.

There were major strides made in the original civil rights movement between the years of 1954 and 1968. Things were made fair(ish), everyone could move on with their lives, everyone could be somewhat comfortable; and I use that term loosely. The gay community was different in the sense that most people in this community remained in the closet and watched silently as the AIDS crisis played out across the nation. Now, don’t take that the wrong way. There were a good number of people who were out, proud, and fought for equal rights for the gay community, however, there were many who were afraid to join the fight, and for good reasons. The gay movement’s fight was slow, steady, and has finally reached a point where people can have open conversations regarding gay-straight relations across many platforms and topics.  We, as a nation, are JUST now attempting to have an open – and ongoing – dialogue on the topic of black and white relations; any color and white relations, really.  Show’s like ABC’s Black-ish do an incredible job illustrating everyday situations between black, white, and other races in today’s society.

It’s extremely easy to be ignorant and afraid of the unfamiliar. Being gay has always been a huge stigma in the traditional Black American family, and I know this because it took my own father eight years to say, out loud, that he had a problem with me being gay. My dad met my husband last summer when we visited Alaska, and things went really well, and quite honestly, it shocked the hell out of me. I have an uncle who is gay, and I’m still not one-hundred percent sure that side of the family has dealt with it openly. When I think back on S meeting my dad, I have to wonder if Black Americans can draw some inspiration from the gay community, and start sparking smart, honest, and real conversations with people of all colors.

Equality is a work in progress, and I feel that it’s something that will always be under construction, but it is with communication that we, Black Americans, can invite others into our world, and grow together.  The presence of video technology, the internet, and the ability to share what’s going on in any given area of the country – sharing events like the McKinney pool party incident – should be used as tools for learning for those who respond inappropriately to a situation. The journey through race relations has never been easy, and won’t get any easier, but the fact that people are talking about these problems is a great start. Not all black people hate white people. Not all black people hate gay people. Not all (insert community, race, gender, etc) hate (insert community, race, gender, etc). So what now? Let’s give this an honest try, and fix this.