Be very, very quiet. I'm hunting……I'm hunting unarmed black youth. Maybe they were just walking home after buying some Skittles. Perhaps they were enjoying the latest Kendrick Lamar track in their car at a local convenience store or had the misfortune of their car breaking down and knocked on a door to get directions. You are now open game in the United States if you happen to be an African-American.
Last year when I wrote my blog about the George Zimmerman verdict, I had a horrible feeling that this was only the beginning. I wrote that I feared for my brothers who I had just reconnected with in Florida. I explained that this mentality was nothing new and had been happening for years. The only difference now is that the internet spreads news quicker and faster. Now, the world is watching. And for the arrogant country that is always preaching to other countries about their policies on human rights but can't seem to give some of its citizens theirs, this is a very volatile time in history.
Years ago when I was in college, I wrote a paper about how the rise of racism was a result of white supremacists feeling like they were losing ground. I wrote that the American white man has no true culture. I argued that American culture is all borrowed from the rest of the world. I guess when you are young and you are trying to find your place and voice while in college, you can take bold strokes across the canvas to illustrate your point without consequences. That was back in 1986. I was 19.
I've written before that my move to New York City changed my view completely. My life in Florida was with blinkers. I had no idea of diversity and life in a big city. I never knew what Black History Month was. Hell….I didn't really know any historical facts about any races. The school system that I went through in Florida was a factory that pushed kids through to take mediocre jobs with little skills. So, the idea that I would aspire to write for the Tampa Tribune at the age of 12 (I guess) was a little out of the ordinary.
When folks ask me about what it was like to live in Florida, I say that the one thing I appreciated about that time was the blatant racism. There was no mistaking it or wondering "if" something was racist. They didn't like you and you knew where you stood. Interesting that the name of the law that is taking so many young black kids away is called "Stand Your Ground". If you stand up to the racists you'll be taken down, but the difference in a big city is that you can't be that blatant. It's more subtle. You don't get hired. You don't get that promotion. You have special restrictions that only apply to you. These are all things that happened to me while I lived in Manhattan.
And of course the world is a different place than it was 20 years ago. The "Us and Them" mentality rules the United States right now. This Tea Party Republican movement that Fox News created got out of their control. Their beautiful creation has turned into a Frankenstein that is frightening all politically conscious voters. They first thought the Tea Party was a joke and a bunch of hillbillies, but once they started getting seats in Congress it became oh so real. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, these Tea Partiess had no knowledge of how things are done on Capitol Hill and that became a problem when trying to pick candidates for the presidency. And because they have no valid candidate, they lost the past two elections to the first Black President.
This infuriated the Tea Party base and the new evil Republican was born. This new breed of Republicans started working behind the scenes to start slowly taking back their America. And by that I mean, taking rights away from certain people. They used Gay Rights to scare folks into voting for George W. Bush back in 2004. With Obama in office, the threat of a race war became a reality.
"So, when you read stories about voting centers being closed or limited to what days and times they are open, remember that this was all planned and executed by the Republicans."
The Republicans went to war on Black America. "You niggers are a little too uppity!" It was time to go to war by cutting welfare, funding for schools and eventually suppressing voter turn out… all the things that Republicans think that black people should not have. So, when you read stories about voting centers being closed or limited to what days and times they are open, remember that this was all planned and executed by the Republicans. While Obama was busy trying to fix the mess that the Republicans and Wall Street created, they were busy plotting and scheming what their next moves were going to be in 2016.
But are they really that mad that a black man is in the Oval Office? Of course they are! America is and will continue to grow and change. It is finally time for the words "…and freedom for all" to really hold meaning.
With the Michael Dunn verdict, a serious message was sent. Many are devastated by the murder of Jordan Davis (just like they were in the Trayvon Martin case). Like they joked on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, "if you are gonna use a gun, you better kill everyone" or you will get jail time for attempted murder. The idea that someone could shoot an unarmed teenager basically for being young and black and not get a murder conviction is just unthinkable. But here we are! Florida has blood on it's hands and the other states are wondering are we them or are we us.
On Valentine's Day Weekend the Ugandan President signed anti-gay laws and Michael Dunn did not get a first degree murder conviction. Can you feel the love in the air?
The bigger slap in the face is that the "Stand Your Ground" law of Florida only seems to work for white people. There's a case where U.S. airman Michael Giles was attacked in a brawl outside a nightclub and he shot his attacker. Witnesses all said that he was attacked and it was self defense. He received a 25-year sentence for second degree attempted murder. The difference between this and the Dunn case is that Giles is black.
But don't think racist killings are only happening in the Disney State. 54-year old Theodore Wafer shot and killed an unarmed black, 19 year old Renisha McBride, when she knocked on his door seeking help after a car accident in the middle of the night. Fortunately, the state of Illinois did the right thing and charged him with second degree murder and he might even get more charges for manslaughter and firearm possession.
I would imagine the soundtrack playing while reading this blog would be David Bowie's "I'm Afraid Of Americans". It would be very fitting. When I speak to Canadians about the U.S., the fear of guns is one of the first things they mention. I guess I would best equate living in the U.S. with swimming in waters known for shark attacks. You know they are out there, but you kinda forget the threat when nothing happens for a while. But now too many things are happening.
It's very plain to see that it is not safe for black youth in America. Some serious changes and action need to happen in these next 2 years of Obama's presidency to ensure that justice is served.
I also feel like we as black people have to start taking a bigger stand. Leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X weren't afraid to die for the cause. I'm not saying go jump in front of a bullet, but we do need to do more than just shake our heads and say "This is some bullshit!" I wish that I could force a lot of our youth to watch some films about the struggle for our rights that they take for granted. I mean, movies like "The Butler", "Mandela" and "12 Years A Slave" are great places to start, but a few documentaries about "The Freedom Riders" or "Freedom Songs" might give them insight into what happened and how we got to this point in history.
I was watching an interview about the Dunn verdict with Wayne Brady and he said something that struck a chord. "I'm sad for our youth." And so am I. They don't even realize that the Hip Hop culture that they embrace is tricking them into thinking that they are equal when it is only reinforcing the stereotypes that the Republicans are using to base their attacks on. I look at the freedoms kids have today and I envy them for some of their freedoms, but I definitely do not wish to be young and black right now.