Follow up to: I don't have to be a Black Men to Care.

My last post on “I don’t have to be  a Black Men to Care,” created quite the reaction and comments from a couple of passionate people of perhaps opposing views— I appreciate their thoughts.  I can’t quite say for sure that we were saying completely different things, but we certainly disagreed on some things.  A few thoughts came to mind:

1.  People thought I was pointing fingers- I can see how that might be the case.  But that was not my intention.  If I was pointing fingers, it was at our culture, and we are ALL part of our culture.  

2. Culture will not change it all, just like laws haven’t changed it all.  This is true, and nothing more true than the family having to change and stick together and teach our kids different values. 

3. There was one comment in particular that really struck me.  But, I’ll let Benjamin Watson’s amazing response express my sentiment.  ”I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others”.  

4.  I also will let Benjamin Watson, make two more points for me:

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

5. Maybe I should have just brought attention to Watson’s response, because it was spot on.  and shut up.  LOL. 

6.  My new friend Pita had an amazing response-  She’s freaking awesome, and super strong. 

The reality is…WE WERE NOT THERE.
We were not there to see if Darren Wilson acted within he’s rights and was defending himself. We were not there to see if Michael Brown provoked the officer. We don’t even know how we ourselves would react in that si
tuation….We will never truly know what exactly happened. All we do know is that a young man’s life was lost and another man’s life will forever be altered. Families torn apart.

Ignorance, hatred, bigotry, ambition, kindness and compassion are all qualities that all people are capable of. Not one race encompasses one quality more than any other race. People make good decisions and bad ones. Some find it difficult to obey authority…some don’t. Some authority figures abuse their power…some don’t. 

Some are getting so mixed up in the details of what happened to try to justify their side. To make it cut, clear and dry. Maybe its not that simple. Maybe its a gray area. Why do we do this? To make ourselves feels better that we have placed that topic in a box and have checked it off. The same we do with the characterization of races and the qualities that they hold. As humans we are capable of holding/believing in different ideologies that contradict each other. I do believe the officer was acting in self defense but i also strongly believe he was using EXCESSIVE force. I don’t agree with the riots but understand the sentiment behind it.

I do believe that is what Julissa Arce was hitting upon in her blog. This gray area. We are all entitled to have our own opinions, whether we like it not. 

There is a lack balance in this country in regards to race and race in the media. I agree that the media has become one dimensional. Extremely one-sided. You will never see “Police Officer Killed While Investigating Robbery” making headlines. The same way you don’t see missing children reports of black/latino children on the news. You see reports of white children. Black men make up more than 40% of the prison population. Hispanic men follow in close second making up the other 40%. Racial profiling is contributing to the disproportionate number of incarcerations. The majority of crimes are not committed by minorities, and most minorities are not criminals. More minority arrests and convictions perpetuate the belief that minorities commit more crimes, which in turn leads to racial profiling. You won’t see this making any CNN news headlines. Race is an issue in the Brown case. It’s an issue in this country. The fabric of this country is tightly woven with the contradicting ideologies that all men are created equal but one was able to own slaves. It’s not more difficult for blacks or more difficult for hispanics. IT IS DIFFICULT FOR ALL MINORITIES!!! Just different obstacles for each race. To ignore the racism issue and say its media pushing it out, is being blind of the close ties this country has to racism. Ignoring that makes racism live. 

What the Brown case and riots have done is create a platform to talk about racism. Hopefully enlighten others who might not be so knowledgable…or maybe change the hearts of others. You can’t change something until you recognize the problem. There is a bigger picture.

Now back to checking on that turkey. 

I don't have to be a Black Men to care.

Some people might say that I have no place commenting on what’s happening in Ferguson because I’ve never had to spend a day as a Black men.  But I don’t have to be a Black men to empathize with the pain of Michael Brown’s family.  I don’t have to be a Black men to recognize injustice. I don’t have to be a Black men to be disgusted by what is happening in our county. I don’t have to be a Black men to know that Black lives matter.  In fact, I think that if only Black people cared about Black issues, and if only Gay people cared about Gay issues, and if only undocumented people cared about undocumented issues- we would never see any change or progress.  The rest of what I am about to say is just from me, Julissa.  Not Julissa as an immigrant rights activist- in fact, I can’t even call myself that, because I have yet to do very much on that front. 

Darren Wilson not getting indicted is cause for protest.  I am not saying he was guilty or not guilty, but there was certainly enough of a question mark to warrant further investigation.  

Michael Brown robbed a convenience store, but he was not in some crazy police chase because he robbed said convinience store.  He was walking in the middle of an empty street- jaywalking.  We’ll never know the full details of what happened that day.  What we do know is that an 18-year-old Black teenager was shot…. SIX TIMES, by a White cop. 

Maybe, just maybe, Darren Wilson was fearful for his life.  But to me, the real question is WHY?  Would he had even stopped and told Michael Brown to get off the street if Michael Brown didn’t look the way he did?  Would Darren Wilson have pressed the issue? 

Now, I am going to say something not-so-popular.  Michael Brown punched the cop, he put himself in danger.  BUT here is the thing, he didn’t deserve to be shot.. SIX TIMES.  AND… why should it be a life-threatening danger in the first place?

The reason Darren Wilson might have been scared for his life, and the reason Michael Brown’s actions were life-ending, and the reason Wilson wasn’t indicted is because our culture tells us so.  

Everything we read on the news, the TV series, the films we watch, the music we listen to— It all tells us to be scared of a Black Teenager, it all tells us that a White Cop is acting in self-defense.  I love what Benjamin Watson had to say, “I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios”.

Laws have made it illegal to segregate schools.  Laws have made it illegal to discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.  Laws are suppose to protect us from these type of injustices, but as evidenced by what is happening in Ferguson- laws have failed us.  Not just once, many times. 

Policy can change, but until our culture changes, these things will keep happening in all of our communities.  We have to reject what we see on TV, question what the news tells us.  We must tell our own stories, write our own films, and change our culture.  We must reject what is told to us about us.