It’s been tough to write this one. This post is not necessarily about one continuous topic, but rather my thoughts about what’s been going on in the last 2-6 weeks. Every day I wake up and I try to write for at least fifteen minutes, ideally an hour, but many times that’s hard to do. It helps clear my mind and crystallize my thoughts. In that time I try to formulate an essay or some bullet points about something I’m thinking about. Later, I’ll go back, read through my mental word-dump, and edit out any nonsense. Sometimes I publish it. Many times I don’t.
I tend to take my time forming opinions. I prefer to read up on a subject and write my thoughts down rather than try to speak in the moment. It’s probably why I read so much. When things happen, politically or otherwise, I tend to stumble with my words or let my emotions speak. Sometimes, I don’t say anthing at all because I want to make sure I’ve looked at it from every angle before I say something stupid.
Sometimes silence isn’t inaction. Sometimes it’s gathering information so that you can form your own opinion about a complex issue before you start acting. The last thing I want is to be a sheep. We need to educate ourselves first. About everything. It’s a privelege to be able to educate myself about racism rather then experience it.
I’ve read up on what’s going on, I’ve consumed articles, videos, speeches and informational pages to try to get to the bottom of it. I stopped watching or reading the news for a couple of weeks just to form my own opinion of the objective truth. We’re inundated with new information, new material, and better perspectives each and every day. It’s amazing and overwhelming at the same time. Even as I’m writing now, my opinion is not fully formed. It’s malleable. I may see something tomorrow that could completely change my point of view. I’ve been writing this essay for two weeks – editing, cutting out, adding in, cutting/pasting, thinking of new things, deleting because something changed. It’s impossible to get 100% correct.
That’s when I realized it can’t wait. I can try writing this article forever and every day I could think of another reason to hold off on posting it. Similar to this movement, there is no time to wait. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be actioned on.
The best part about what’s going on right now is that almost everyone is in agreement.
- I think any sane person in this country agrees what the cops in Minneapolis did was disgraceful and they should be punished for their acts as much as legally possible.
- I think any sane person agrees reform is needed both on the policing of minorities and in the legal system that allows them to be charged, exploited, and treated worse than other groups of people.
- I think any sane person agrees that racism (specifically of blacks) is deeply ingrained in Amercia’s heart and soul, and to deny anything other than that is plain ignorant.
Did you know that inter-racial marriages were illegal in my parent’s lifetime? It wasn’t legal for a black person to marry a white person until 1967!
Drew Brees said something about kneeling for the flag. He got attacked by some, and praised by others. Four years ago Colin Kaepernick said something about kneeling for the flag. He got attacked by some, and praised by others. Brees’ teammates and fellow friends spoke to him and had an open conversation that he wasn’t understanding the full picture. He apologized and now he gets what Colin Kaepernick was doing. That’s it. That is the point of the movement.
Slow, gradual changes. That’s what it’s going to take. People admitting humbly that they may have been wrong. Roger Goodell and the NFL still have a long way to go, but admitting they were wrong was a gigantic step.
I like to think of things politically in twenty year timeframes. When it comes to any political decision I think “What would this have looked liked twenty years ago?” as well as “What will this look like twenty years from now?”
I’ll admit, when Kaepernick and other NFL players began kneeling for the National Anthem, I wasn’t sure what to think. My immediate reaction was to think it was disrespectful. But then I thought “What will this look like twenty years from now?” And although I didn’t want to accept it at the time, I knew in twenty years Kaepernick would be looked at as a Rosa Parks-like figure. And that is coming to fruition way sooner than I expected, which is great.
Comedy has always had the ability to take complex societal issues and boil them down into their most simple unexposed flaws. Kneeling, for example. Comedian Andrew Schulz on his podcast Flagrant 2 had a hilarious segment about how kneeling is actually the most respectful thing you can do. Praying, proposing, being knighted – it’s how you humbly approach the things you love the most – your God, your King/Queen, or your spouse. If anything, standing is actually offensive! If you need a funny wake up call into just how stupid some of the things we believe are, check this out.
Comedian Michael Che had a great bit about Black Lives Matter in his special a few years ago and it’s sad how relevant the message still is years later. He explains how literally all the black community is asking for is to “matter.”
Let me say that again if it isn’t yet clear: black people are simply being asked to “MATTER.” That’s where they’re starting the negotiations. Gays have been asking for equal rights. Black people are just asking to MATTER. Just civil rights, not even equal.
“Can we just get civil? I’ll take civil. Just civil. Turn the fucking hose off, ok?”
Also, quit getting your news from CNN, MSNBC or Fox News. If you’re still relying on these networks for your news, stop. I’ve always been skeptical when watching these networks but now more than ever we should be realizing that they are not “news” outlets. What they do is deliver the same message and repackage it with whatever is going on in the world. Those messages are either:
- Trump is evil
- Democrats are un-American
This time around they will try to ignite this as a race war of White vs. Black, rather than a war of the public vs. unfair treatment from people in positions of power. These networks use charismatic personalities to peddle their message differently every day. It’s not covert anymore, it’s blatant and dishonest. The only honest way to ingest news is through long-form conversation. This is why hours-long podcasts and Youtube shows are so popular right now. Great, Fox News has an expert economist on, but what value can they bring in a scripted three and a half minute segment with three people talking over each other followed by a commercial break? Did you learn anything? Did you change your mind on economics in three and a half minutes or have a ground-breaking revelation? Of course not.
Stop watching this recycled garbage. This isn’t to say I’m blaming all of our problems on “the evil media” or “fake news” because of course there are good, honest journalists out there (sound familiar?). Listen or watch long form discussions. Dave Rubin, Kyle Kulinski, Jimmy Dore, the Hill. Listen to comedians – they are the only people who have always had the balls to shed light on most touchy subjects without dancing around the truth. Stop trying to cancel people. Allow time for someone to deliver their explanation for 35 minutes rather than a 30 second clip you saw on Facebook without context. Listening to podcasts by people you agree with all the time isn’t going to help shit either. It’s painful and tough to get through but just listen to the other freaking side for a few minutes. I don’t really like Ben Shapiro, but I read his book and I often listen to his podcast because he thinks completely differently than I do and I find that interesting. He’s actually changed my mind on a few things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been willing to agree on beforehand. Try to understand their perspective. If you don’t like Trump already, what is reading another book about how Trump sucks going to do? You don’t have to watch CNN for the fifteenth time to tell you that again either.
We’ve heard people calling for the mass defunding of the police. This is a tough one because I think there are several options here. Society tends to over-correct and that’s what I’m afraid of whichever direction we choose.
You could say we need to go in the opposite direction and add funds to develop a better police service. The argument could be made that if we defund the police the problem we are facing is going to get worse. In order to get better police we are going to have to pay for it. Plain and simple. Wages need to go up so we can hire more quality police officer (higher education levels, etc.) Police officers who are the best, brightest, and most compassionate. We also can’t have them underpaid and overworked. Money needs to be added to the budget for training. Training is minimal right now. Police need more training in defensive tactics, cultural awareness, and peaceful de-escalation techniques. I’d want full civilian oversight from community leaders (including the NAACP and BLM) and for everyone to work together every step of the way. Some people will be fired and we will have to hire better to fill their shoes. Some people will retire. Full and utter accountability. All this costs money. It won’t be easy but it can be done. People will need to do some real work. It’ll take humility, love and the ability to be honest about where we are at. I hope it can be done.
The other option is drastically reducing the budget of the police. This has been done successfully in some cities like Camden, New Jersey (as John Oliver explains in his most recent episode). I think we are asking police officers to do too much – responding to overdoses, noisy parties, working with homeless people, dealing with mental health issues of victims, finding stray dogs, inspecting counterfeit bills – coming to situations with guns and dealing in policing and punishment. If we can instead INVEST this money into other resources focused on helping out communities (stable housing, social workers, mental health services, combatting homelessness, drug addiction, etc.), you could argue that the role of the police could be significantly reduced so that they are not called upon as often.
Neither idea is perfect. But the important part here is that we are having this discussion. We’re bringing to light massive skeletons in the closet of America. Things in this country are so deeply entrenched that we don’t even recognize it. The more you read into things like the “War on Drugs” or the “Stand your Ground” law you realize how hidden these biased policies are.
A lot of people have been posting or recommending things they can do to educate themselves.
A few things I recommend:
- Watch 13th on Netflix
- Read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Watch this:
What’s on my To-Do List?
Read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
I haven’t yet donated or done anything active on my end, which is where I need to focus next. If you have any recommendations, please comment on this post, tweet at me @observerapport or DM me on Instagram @observeandrapport – and I will vet them and post the best options for everyone to take action.
Thanks for reading, and let’s keep this progress going