Tag Archives: race

Childish Conspiracy?

Once we put all the division aside, we are left with the daunting task of finding the truth.  Sadly the division between us is so great that we may never have a believable or reliable investigation. #SandraBland

For me, there is a valid reason that I don’t travel abroad more often.  I have a deep concern whenever someone asks me about where I am from.  The relevance of asking such a question may be as simple as making conversation, but the farther we are from home the more interesting we appear to others.  So it only makes sense that when we leave our nation’s borders, with being American comes questions about our lifestyles and the way we manage ourselves. There is a growing shame.

I spend more time focusing on domestic issues.  What happens close to home is more tangible than the seemingly unreliable tales of terror abroad.  When I refer to our foreign affairs as propaganda, I am met with rage from believers that the war on world terror organizations is more important.  My response is simple:  “How can we fight abroad when there is so much injustice occurring in our own nation?”

Questions like this recreate the division that (if just for a moment) seemed to disappear.  America culture is what unites us, but our diversity has leveraged more and more distance between us.  The fight against foreign terror tends to trump the concerns for domestic terror.  We have a narrow view of what is considered “domestic terror.”

The last 30 days of horrific events in both the Southern and Northern regions of our nation have been atrocious.  What we once considered homeland security risks (Jihads, ISIS, al-Queda) are now competing for national security resources. How effective is our local law enforcement?  When the military must be used to control angry mobs and martial law is enacted to maintain law and order in both urban and suburban landscapes, the shift in priorities is evident.

The identity of our terrorist has changed significantly as well. Defenders of freedom are frustrated.  We can’t identify a terrorist before “imminent danger” occurs.  Movies about spies and central intelligence had the American public fooled into thinking that we could thwart off an attack by deciphering encrypted messages.  But 9/11 confirmed that we can’t even identify a cipher!  How could we have so much intelligence and still have our freedoms threatened?  Before we had an idea of what terrorists looked like…and how they behaved…and how they organized…and how they recruited. Continued attacks have proved that we can not predict accurately. Instead we have heightened risks of attack each holiday season. First we panicked when terrorist began to look like “average Americans” but we then realized that there is no typical American look. Now we panic as Americans have been recruited to carry out these acts of terror on behalf of terrorist organizations.  This is a distraction.  America’s homegrown terrorist organizations have existed for hundreds of years.  We are witnessing a re ignition of hatred for freedom and democracy that is blossoming at an exponential rate. The Trench Coat Mafia and the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world are not the only domestic terrorists that we fear.  Those guys hated the American way and took notes from the Unabomber manifesto.  Shooters like James Holmes who opened fire in an Aurora movie theater (or the newest copy cat John Houser who recently “shot up” a Louisiana theater before taking his own life) are not considered terrorist although their flavor of terror rivals the Marine shootings in Chattanooga last week. “It was all over within 30 minutes.”  In times of true peril, a minute can seem like a day. As our nation bleeds, how does 30 minutes compare to the last 30 days?


The look of terror never changed.  We just didn’t know what we were looking at!  But these incidents bring about a fear and worry that is far different than the type of domestic terror that is sparking controversy week after week.  The last shovel of dirt was not cast on the graves of the “Emmanuel Nine” before the nation focussed on a flag that hung too high.  What a distraction?!?  But it was a fight that needed to be fought nonetheless.  Little did we know that it was a catalyst for a wave of hate crimes across that nation.  Churches burning, presidential candidates harnessing popularity by spreading hate for immigrants and war heroes alike, and now the newest trend…but new only in that we are hearing about it more frequently.

It appears that the law enforcement community has a BLACK eye that it can’t heal.  The community can find no respite despite the use of dash cams and body cams which only perpetuate the truths that there is little justice for any one at the hands of local police officers.  In the past month the Supreme Court has made rulings on the the 1st Amendment (freedom of expression), and the 2nd Amendment (right to bear arms);  can we get a ruling on our 4th Amendment (right to due process) or the abuse of our 5th Amendment (right to remain silent)?

It would appear that the black community is under attack by domestic terrorists in blue uniforms who brandish guns, handcuffs, and batons.  No matter how compliant (or combative), the end result is death at the hand of the wrong officer.  Not just the black community falls victim to these injustices, but all who witness the system that is not swift enough to prevent another senseless death.


We have created a new division in our nation.  There are those who see the problem and react.  Then there are those who see the problem and justify its existence.  Those of us who are reacting need the world to RECOGNIZE the problems and unite in another call to action.  But those who are either ignoring the problem or who are defending the injustice will too soon become victims of their own failure to create positive change.

Passing

Sometimes is not a good thing to be passing.  Sometimes passing is a liability. Sometimes passing means that everyone is a skeptic.  Suspicious of what is different, what is misrepresented, and what can be trusted?

Once paranoid, now confirmed. It’s not a conspiracy theory if there are facts that support the theory.  It is then that the theory becomes belief.  When enough people embrace the belief, the belief becomes dogma.  What happens then?   There is a shifting social norms.

What are we referring to when we suggest that a person is “passing?”  This does not refer to doing well on a test (although I suppose it could).  In this case, we are not referring to the act of merely moving by something.  “Passing” means to move freely between cultures.  A chameleon passes as whatever can be easily overlooked in whichever environments it can adapt.  Being able to adapt is a valuable asset.  Adaptation lends itself to survival.  But passing can be even more valuable.  Passing enhances an individual’s ability to stealthily move with ease. It’s more than survival.  It enhances opportunity.  To do so is a skill.  To do it naturally is an advantage.  To do so artificially suggest privilege.  To do so artificially means that an authority permits the passage.  Of course, those who oppose the authority resent anyone who is granted privilege. In other words if you can pass, you will either be praised or resented.  If you’re going to pass, do it with style. Do it with effectiveness.  Do it in a way that others can benefit too.   


Having an understanding of what “passing” is helps us understand how it works.  Anytime you can identify a resource, you now can decide how you can use it.  This essay intends to make a few suggestions on how to benefit from someone else’s advantage or privilege.  Better yet, why not embrace this resource to improve our situation collectively.  But even that requires collaboration and cooperation.

Not everyone who passes is working for the common good. Passing embodies risks that not everyone is willing to share.  And sometimes the benefits are not worth it.

Let’s talk about race.  Typically someone who “passes” is an individual who assimilates with one ethnicity but looks like a member of another race.  As a black man who looks Latino, very few are certain of my ethnicity.  Blacks often ask me.  Whites usually wonder.  Hispanics usually wait for me to speak.  But to non-Americans it’s a non-issue.  My loftiness and genuine arrogance is a dead give-away.  I’m humble enough to be non-threatening, yet confident enough to be welcomed.  I don’t believe that I’m an asset to either race until someone else recognizes my ability to pass.  Instead,  I am a novelty; which is weird because folks like me are no longer an anomaly.  There are plenty of mixed-heritage or “biracial” folks within our culture. My white father left me no legacy.  My perception of “privilege” is antiquated.   My humility masks any prospect of advantage.  But my most important characteristic is the desire to be helpful.

I believe that if someone is blessed with a talent, they should use that talent to do something positive.  Although passing is neither a talent nor a privilege, politeness and good manners are cultivated.   I was blessed to have two parents who loved each other so much that they created a biracial son.  They raised me to be polite, courteous, and considerate.  I’m a helper.  I thrive on doing something positive.  My reward is when my efforts are appreciated.  But my actions are based on morals and ethics rather than correcting an injustice.  It saddens me that I can’t right the wrongs!

There is so much social unrest and civil injustice that individuals can not reverse the trend.   But someone who can pass in between ethnic groups can gain an understanding that can be shared and explained.  What we lack is empathy.  Passing may be a path to empathy.  Because we as a nation are looking more and more alike; because our circumstances are becoming more and more similar, passing is less and less relevant.   But as we search for common ground, there are forces dead-set on separating us.

It’s important to be transparent.  Passing suggests a hint of deception. There’s always the resentment for the “spy”. Therefore it’s also important to maintain a level of dignity.  There was a time when an outsider could be shunned, ostracized, or even lynched for associating with the wrong ethnic group.  In that era, passing was a great risk!   But in contemporary social climates, it’s never been more important to clarify one’s position.  Misconceptions have a uncanny way of ending professional relationships and even castrating an individual’s ability to maintain an ounce of credibility.  The distinction between a racist and a conservative is blurred from time to time;  as is the monachre  of a “freedom fighter” and a liberal.  Passing does not escape these insinuations.  Passing amplifies the distrust.

Everyone wants their fair share. Everyone wants to ensure that they are treated right (even if fair treatment comes at the risk of treating someone else unfairly).  Passing doesn’t come close to addressing this problem. For those who pass, it is a means of survival.  Those who can pass can glean from both bowls of fruit.  They can’t get a full serving from each, but might be able to pinch a scrap from either bowl.  This too is unfair in the eyes of those who can’t get any at all.   How long will it be before the “passers” are considered an ethnic group all their own?  If not for the ability for every one of us to learn this craft, the “haves” and the ” have nots” would be divided once again.

Positively Negative

polarity

Why does it take a catastrophe like this in order for America to hear our cries?” –Danielle Williams, Baltimore protester.

If we knew 30 days ago where we would be today, would we have behaved differently? We’ve witnessed how other regions of our nation respond when public policy does not reflect the needs of the community. “Civil Unrest” is a term coined by those who are tired of the status quo. It is also feigned by those who resist it. Freedom has NEVER been offered without a struggle because those in power are already free to do what they want. We want to act in a positive manner? To do so is to takes action! 

Wait!  Thirty days ago?  We haven’t recovered from the last acts of social injustice!  Statistically there were in excess of 360 police-involved deaths last year alone.  With a wrongful death averaging almost one per day, how has this not become a national epidemic. Far more people are affected by injustice than Ebola and Mad Cow Disease combined!  But disease (no matter how limited or minimal) has everyone concerned because disease knows no ethnic, cultural, class, religious, gender, or age barrier.  There’s the rub!  Anyone can fall victim.  If it can happen to any one of us, we have a united concern!  Division dissolves. This is probably why zombie movies are so popular.

BUT THIS IS NOT SCIENCE FICTION.  THIS IS REALITY!!!

negativity

Only days ago I saw the news clip of Protester Danielle Williams explaining to the media that the frustration of the people is a direct result of a failure to act.  All Americans have witnessed and endured as much as they are willing to tolerate.  We have passed the breaking point (on countless occasions).The American people have tolerated inappropriate behavior since the American Revolution.  The government’s unwillingness to represent, promote, and provide for the needs of the people is what spawned the revolution. The Revolution ended a tyranny that lasted far longer than it should have.  The world will no longer be threatened by an “American Superpower” that fights for freedom abroad.  Instead the world is watching our nation implode.  Once a model of democracy, now a vision of division.  Us verses Them.  What we have here is either a revolution or an evolution.  What’s the difference?  One is violent.  The other is peaceful and natural.  I’d prefer the latter.

My prediction is that on the other side of the protests, the policy changes, and the police retraining;  there will be a shift in power that does not improve the overall status quo.  We, who’ve been mistreated, will rise up and claim a nation (for the first time) that was always ours.  But claiming what belongs to us and protecting what is ours are two very different acts.  When will we be any more protective of human rights?  Will we revise or REcreate systems in a manner that will lift up the rights of ALL living beings?  Or will we simply conclude in the knowledge that at least OUR people will no longer fall victim to brutality? Tough questions.