Black Until Proven Innocent

Because this isn’t a short story or fiction, I thought it best to leave this post here…

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There’s something I’d like to share with you, with all of you, with anyone who might stumble upon this blog. You see, I haven’t been generating content for this site as of late. In truth, I haven’t been writing for my other projects either. I try. Truly. I do.

I just can’t.

I can’t seem to find the inspiration to spin tales that entertain or take readers on an adventure. I can’t birth stories of fictional horror or madness that supersedes what is taking place in our world every day. I can’t find uplifting shorts or humorous diatribes in my heart right now. How can I write, when I can’t even find the strength to sleep gently through the night.

Now, you, whoever might be reading this… you aren’t an idiot. You know of what I speak. From pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and disease, this world is filled with darkness. But at the moment, I must confess, much of what fuels my thoughts, what haunts my waking hours, is much simpler than any of that.

Hate.

Nobody can feign ignorance when it comes to the current Black Lives Matter movement. Not one American can honestly say they don’t know why the movement exists. True, many argue the movement is unjustified, but that type of ignorance is not but a verbal manifestation of hate.

For centuries, black people have been unjustly treated by Americans. From buying and selling humans as though they weren’t people, degrading them, owning them, beating, raping, murdering and pitting them against insurmountable odds… it was evil. I think now, in our “modern” society, people can agree slavery was bad.

But so too is ignoring a people’s request to be equal. From the moment slaves were freed, Americans found new ways to restrict them. From blatant segregation to interred communities, voting requirements to deny their voice, marriage restrictions, property right withholdings… the list is endless. Whether we discuss denial of admission into private universities or even local schools, incarceration rates, unemployment, pay rate… the one truth of all of it is this: time has made no difference.

If we don’t mention year, can anyone truly tell if we are talking about the 1960s or today? In nearly 80 years of our “modern” society, what has truly changed? I’m not going to go into the gross incarceration figures in this post. I’m not going to outline sentence longevity of white v. black crimes. I’m not going to reiterate the wide margin in pay rates between the races. I’m not going to discuss the difficulties inner-city people face when only one parent can work (at reduced wages) because the other parent is serving an egregious sentence for a minimal crime (or one they didn’t even commit). I’m not going to sit here and question “wealth” when some white American families have had estates passed down through the generations, but black families haven’t even had a full generation of property rights. I’m not going to walk through white privilege or the advantages that can be bought with the color of our skin. However, if you do believe white privilege a myth, I’d highly recommend you check this video out:

As for me, today, I’m simply not going to talk numbers here. You know them. We all do, but if you, somehow don’t know the statistics or can’t calculate the discrepancies automatically in your mind, your phone is surely in your pocket. So, use it.

Educating oneself on this topic is something you must do on your own.

Today, what I’m pondering is perspective. Nothing more.

Why is it that store clerks and security guards latch onto innocent, non-descript black people who enter the store, but not the white unless they are acting out of sorts? Why is it that when an upper class “suburban housewife” (as Trump would call them) gets pulled over she gets a warning but a large black man who committed the same offense will be removed from his car, placed in cuffs, interrogated, searched, his car searched, cited and still delayed on his way in to work for over an hour? Why is the fact that this has happened to most innocent black people more than once? And how, I wonder, is that conducive to maintaining promptness for their job?  

One could argue IF that is a problem (that many doubt), perhaps they should leave for work earlier. But then we have an issue of black people “loitering”. Many will say I’m exaggerating, that black people aren’t treated differently than white. To that, I say open your eyes.

Whether pulled over for more often for nothing, questioned as to what they are doing in a store that they own after hours, asked to show what’s in their bag in a store, asked to leave if they are standing on a public sidewalk too long, told to dress appropriately so as to not incur suspicion, on and on it goes. They are required to speak different than they would normally speak, stripping them of their identity. They are told music preferences are an indicator of illicit behavior. They are told not to make eye contact and practically have to have a written waiver before engaging in intercourse with someone who might later regret it and claim rape. This is important because black people are seen as predators, and even with no evidence, convicted at a significantly higher rate by a jury of their “peers”.

Black people have to excuse themselves in every aspect of their life. They have to rationalize their equal existence in our world. They have to be special to compete with our normalcy in education, grant funding, job hiring, etc.

And yet… so many of us don’t see this as a problem. People claim they aren’t a racist simply because they’d previously made an exception. What I mean is, if they’ve had one “black” friend, they think it exempts them from their ignorance.

It doesn’t.

If you recognize black people as anything other than people just like you, you are part of the problem.

Now, you may sit there and question how I can highlight differences yet claim we’re all the same, I say only this. I recognize a difference because there is a group of people who have been victim of an unending plight for generations. They’ve spent centuries asking that we all accept them as our own. They’ve made this request over and over because they know, just as I know, that they are just like you and me. They live and breathe, love and hate. They forgive and strive and dream. They are people, people who shouldn’t have to ask to be recognized as such. That? That is why I recognize a difference. I can not pretend they aren’t treated differently. There is too much proof in studies that disprove it, not to mention the truth I see with my own eyes.

They are tased, attacked, shot, taken down and choked by the police at a much higher rate. They are targeted by police and presumed guilty to a point that an innocent black man with raised hands still runs the risk of being shot on sight.

Police play Judge, jury and executioner daily in this country, so long as the gamble is only with black people’s lives. Whites are cuffed and brought in, they are reasoned with and treated with soft, gentle hands.

Black people however, they’re condemned in countless ways in this life.

So yes, I support the BLM movement. Yes, I understand why it has grown violent, why property damage and altercations are happening. It’s because they’ve been asking politely for too damn long. Over the decades, deaf ears they pleaded with went blind too – video evidence wasn’t enough to even begin a discussion of reform in the police departments, much less society.

So yes, we are asking louder now, asking that people stop turning the familiar blind eye. We are taking steps to get attention. We are challenging the ignorance and meeting face to face with the hate. Our voices will not be ignored any longer. We wanted peace – all of us – but it wasn’t freely given.

Peace cannot begin until equality is no longer a dream, until racism is conquered, for only then, can we as a society truly win.

Now, we’ll fight for it, but make no mistake. We’re only fighting for it because you made us. You forced our hand by deeming the simple act of “being black” a sin. And I pray, I hope, I dream that these voices never quiet until a black man and white man walking down a street are met with the same terms and offers in life.

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