Thursday, January 19, 2017

An Open Letter to America

Dear America,

It's me, Tyrone. Just wanting to give you a hello from the home office in Roanoke, VA. I know it's been a while since my last blog, but I figured with all the crazy stuff going on, I'd give you a solid and speak on things.

First of all, I'm not sure if you're aware, but a new person is going to be president of our great country. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, he got enough of you to believe in his bill of goods to vote for him, so congrats Donald Trump. Way to get people to trust you enough to have maybe the most important job in the world. I know you'll do a great job because I think enough people are going to attempt to hold you accountable to that job.

I now want to send a huge thank you to exiting president Barack Obama. I want to thank you for doing something that most folks just dream about. I remember saying that I'd like to be president one day and my mom half-jokingly said, "No, I don't want anyone shooting my baby because he's the black president." Honestly, I couldn't be president because I'm way too honest and petty. You can't be a smart alec president, way too many people would get offended. Anyway, all that to say that in the face of a lot of hate simply because of the color of your skin, you got less than a fair shake. I've heard it said that if a black person wants to succeed in a white dominated profession, they have to be perfect on the first day and improve every day after. I've heard the same said about umpires and referees, but whatever. I want to thank you Mr. Obama for giving every black kid the belief that they don't just have to be an entertainer or an athlete to succeed in this country. You don't have to be handsome, fast, or able to do incredible things with a ball to become great. You did all this with a class and grace that no one has seen in a long time. Your family has been exemplary. Your dignity in the face of outright bigotry is astonishing. Another reason I can't be president, I'd have lit the first bigot up with Julia Sugarbaker type insults. If you need to ask who Julia Sugarbaker is, I'll address it in my "Southern Female TV Characters and the Tyrones That Love Them" blog.

Tomorrow, they will be swearing in Mr. Trump as president. Cool. Wouldn't be the first time someone with complete disdain for dignity took the oval office, won't be the last. I'll just do like I've done every presidential cycle since I read 1 Timothy 2:2 which tells us to pray for kings and those in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. I will pray for my country. Yes, despite some folks best efforts, this is my country too and I will pray for it without ceasing. I will pray that Donald Trump can lead our country. I will pray that everyone in our country can live the life that the Constitution says we should live. If that means that my tax dollars have to help a poor family get cancer treatments, then so be it. If it means I have to stand next to a Muslim to keep him from being harassed by a fellow Christian who forgot how to love their neighbor, I will definitely do so. If the LGBTQ (and S) get bothered and treated unfairly, I will show them Christ like love. People say hate the sin, love the sinner, but forget that. I got enough sin of my own to worry about. I'll just love you and see what happens.

I want my country to be unified. You know what that means? It means you stop calling people that are upset "snowflakes". You sound immature. You sound ignorant. People have been protesting things that aren't right since the people of Israel were being beaten by Pharaoh and his people. Were the people fighting slavery "snowflakes"? Were the people trying to defeat segregation "snowflakes"? Are the people fighting the DAPL "snowflakes"? Remind you that the people in the city of Bismarck voted no on the pipeline first and suggested they build it on the indigenous people's land instead. Point is, standing up for what you believe in has been on of the pillars of our country. It's the backbone of America. However, people are now complaining about what we should protest. If you think something is wrong, fix it. The problem is people have very strange definitions of wrong. And just to be ornery, don't tell people to get over a loss while waving a Confederate flag.

Today, I'll do what I always do. I'll pray to the one who sits on the throne. I'll consider Christ and Christ alone as my standard for integrity, class, dignity, and love. I made a promise after the election to show the love of Christ so that people will know that Christians that truly love the Lord don't ascribe to the book of Trump. I've done my best. I've stumbled. I've rocked the boat. However, I've also done what I could. I bought a lady a sandwich during a snowstorm. I've donated to charity. I've tipped a little better than before. I'm going to continue to be a good steward of the Holy Spirit by continuously loving my brothers and sister. Yes, that's all of you.

So, am I happy that Trump won? No. I can't stand politics and neither Trump or Hillary would have eased my mind. But I am happy that I live in America. A land where I can say what I want, when I want, however I want about things that distress me. If you don't like what I said, sorry. When you pay my bills, you can have my opinion. Until then, God bless America. Yes, I live here too. Yes, I do like it here and would not want to live anywhere else. But that doesn't mean my house doesn't need a few upgrades.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Social Justice Warrior...or Christian with a Heart.

So it's been a while since my last blog. I guess I lost track of things. So if you've been anticipating another one of these, my bad.

I want to start with a confession, particularly to my followers on Facebook, Twitter, and this blog in particular. I love you. I seriously do. You wouldn't be a part of my social media circle if I didn't think the world of you in some way. My prayer for you more than anything is that you have the best this life has to offer. Not your best life today, that's the word of a heretic. You don't want that. I want you to be blessed by my God, my life, and whatever else brings you the joy you may have.

That being said, there are a lot of terrible things happening on this planet, and in this country to be specific. Hatred, bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance is running roughshod over our people. People are throwing the Black Lives Matter movement under the bus in a way I've never seen. However, the great men and women in law enforcement are also being thrown into a basket of deplorable folks that isn't truly deserved.

Law enforcement are wonderful human beings, for the most part, that just want to protect and serve. However, sometimes we forget that they are human. Humans are emotionally charged at times. Humans mess up sometimes. We have to be able to forgive when they do mess up. However there also has to be accountability. We need more people in law enforcement that say, "hey, he messed up, we love him. However he needs to answer for his mess up."

Black Lives Matter is a group of folks upset over the mistreatment of black people in America. If you're against that, good chance there's no help for you. All Black Lives Matter wants is accountability for police overreach. All Black Lives Matter want is equal punishment for a rape of a woman. The black man that gets convicted properly and sentenced for 20 years in prison for rape isn't what BLM is trying to stop. It's when a white person who swims at a college gets 3 months in a jail with special privileges because prison is bad place. That's why BLM is upset. BLM isn't upset when a black man gets a life sentence for murder. You're supposed to get that. It's when a white man gets parole options and after 5 years for a murder. BLM isn't upset when a white man gets arrested for a mass shooting. They're upset when that white man gets Burger King bought for him and protective custody while a man lying on the ground with his hands up gets shot while trying to protect his patient from having a breakdown.

What needs to happen? I'm glad you asked. We need to understand that racism exists. Racism is not, "you (insert trashy racial slur here), you should go back to Africa." That's ignorance. Racism is not, "you can't date my son or daughter because you're a different color." That's prejudice. Racism is not, "I hate (insert any color person)." That's prejudice. Racism is doing all you can to keep black people from gaining standing in the country you run. Republicans telling black people that they can't have a job or that they won't vote to fund public schools with a majority of black students is racist. Institutional racism if you want to be specific. Democrats looking a group of black people in the eye and promising them welfare and affirmative action is racist. Anything that keeps a minority from living the American Dream that gets talked about all the time is racism. Hence why reverse racism is not a thing.

I just want you folks to understand why I feel so passionate about justice. I've posted a ton of things about racism and police overreach lately. It's gone noticed. However, I do it for a few reasons. One, I'm called by Christ to stand up for those that may not be able to stand. Christ stood up for the poor, destitute, hated, and ostracized. If my goal in life is to be more like Christ, then that's my job. Two, I'm worried for my country. I want my country to be a place where my children can live without the fear of being harassed by police. Notice I didn't say harassed by police, but the fear of being harassed. People give the old, "don't break the law, you won't be harassed" speech, however they have not accounted for those that are looking for a reason to harass. It happens, people. You have to accept that.I don't want my kids to see the news and think the police are bad people. I want my kids to trust the police.

These are the reasons I'm not heartbroken about the anthem issue. I love America. It's a great place. However, Charleston, SC is a great place and it's had its fair share of bad things happen to and in it. America has bad things happening in it. People are saying terrible things about each other in the name of "squashing political correctness." Look, you can call bad things what they are. That's cool with me. However if you call people terrible names and say ignorant things because you're against political correctness, you're doing it wrong. I stand for the anthem because it's my way of letting those who hate my being here (and there are more than you think) know that I'm American and there's nothing they can really do about it. I stand because I love America. I don't love what she does sometimes, but I love her. I'm not sad about people not standing for the anthem because it's their way of letting you know they're not thrilled either. Again, instead of reacting with vitriol and anger, try asking why they're angry. Try getting a grasp on their concerns. Understand that their hurt is a bigger deal than the anthem being stood for. Why, you ask? It's simple, the song has no feelings. It's not going to be upset. In the very end of all this, what matters is people. People are our main concern.

I want more than anything for there to be more dialogue. So I'm going to continue posting injustices. I'm going to continue to post politically charged posts on my Facebook. Real talk, if I want change, I'm going to start conversations. Just remember that I love you through all of this. I want to learn your reasoning. I want to understand your thought processes and what you see. I'm reading your posts. I'm understanding your ways. However I'm going to continue to hold fast that sometimes, you're coming from a perspective of inexperience. Not ignorance, racism, hatred, or anything like that. Just inexperience.

I'm also calling for all Christians do a better job of respecting people. It seems like lately my fellow Christians have forgotten that justice is the biggest goal. That means you stop calling people thugs. Unless you're being satirical in order to drive home a point, no need for name calling. No need to be dismissive when someone tells you they're hurting. This country is hurting, and it could use some strong solid Christians putting an arm around it. My goal is simple. I want to give back better than I have been. Doing more mentoring. Posting more news stories about things that are wrong and how we can fix it. Engaging in and instigating more dialogue to better understand each other. So I'm asking you to join me in this. Discuss. Engage. Talk. I don't even care if it gets heated. Dialogue is important to solve these problems.

I don't know when I'll post another blog. I'm probably going to do one or two a month. Thanks for humoring me.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

End of an Era

Before anyone asks, this isn't a personal affront to anyone or any particular time in my life. Just something I've noticed lately.

Now that that's out of the way, to the task at hand. I have a question about life, and in particular, interpersonal relationships. When did we get so bad at interpersonal relationships? I'm not talking about being nice to people. I'm talking about accepting and trusting in someone who is being nice to you. I know, that's a weird question. It seems as if lately, people have stopped accepting kindness, but what happened?

I'm going to go somewhere that may offend people, but I'm allowed to say whatever I want on my blog until you pay my Internet bill. I think the rejection of kindness started with the Feminist movement. I truly believe that Feminism basically shut down the idea of a male being genuinely nice to a female. There was a belief among Feminists that when a male showed any kind of kindness, there were ulterior motives, imagined or otherwise. It's unfair that a certain sect of people can dictate how other people are perceived.

Another reason is that there are jerks out there that are untrustworthy. We think of the Bill Cosbys, Darren Sharpers, and other men who have used substances to take advantage of women. It's come to a point where no one trusts a nice person anymore. There's a feeling that someone wants something else. It's kind of bothersome.

I think the evolution of the family has a lot to do with things. Stay with me on this one. Way back when, the father stayed with the family. There wasn't nearly as much divorce or even cohabitation as there is now. Families are doing things backwards: having kids, moving in, then maybe marriage at the end. Anyway, when a father was in the home, they taught their sons and daughters to ask about intentions. Fathers would sit down with their daughters' dates, after they knocked on the door and were let in the home, and asked, "What are your intentions with my daughter? I want her back by 9:30, 10:00." That doesn't happen anymore. When you don't know someone's intentions, you really have no clue what to expect. The result is being taken advantage of to the point where you don't trust.

Also, the stigma of being alone isn't helping. This generation cries about being single so much. Being single doesn't make you a bad person. However, because being single is such a terrible vice nowadays, people aren't diligently researching potential partners. When potential partner hurts them, they lose trust. When someone comes along that is trustworthy and kind, they again dismiss them because of all the other times they were hurt.

Ego is a huge factor as well. What happened to humility? People are so egotistical that when someone just says hello, opens a door, or is just genuinely kind to them, it's automatically chalked up to that person wanting more than is being presented. I'll put it this way: you could be the most gorgeously baked, crispy peach cobbler with the most decadent of whipped cream. There are still people that don't like peaches. You have to stop assuming that your attractiveness is a factor in why people do things for you. Maybe for some, but not all. Take it on a case by case basis. Makes life easier.

My point in all this is that we as human beings have to stop shutting down the notion that people are nice for the sake of being nice. People have to stop judging people based on other people when it comes to kindness. If someone is being nice, it doesn't mean they want to take advantage of you. I think we have to stop thinking that we're so amazing that everyone who wants to be respectful to us is being phony. We also have to do a better job of teaching people how to understand intentions. We also have to do a better job of being trustworthy. We have to stop giving people reasons not to trust us.

Kindness doesn't have to be the means to something else, it can actually be the end. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Just Thinking Out Loud

Lately I've just been fascinated by people. Some people are jerks. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that considering we all are born with sin in our lives. However, it's just so funny how people who claim to love others and want everyone treated fairly gets so hostile when someone doesn't particularly agree with whatever stance they're taking. I guess if people feel passionate about it, I can understand. People, though are getting much worse at understanding why someone feels the way they feel.

I fell into the trap of commenting on a news story about the Confederate flag. I asked a simple question, "what heritage does it truly represent?" I didn't get a lot of feedback from the supporters of the flag. The ones that did respond simply said that it was a part of the celebration of the Southern way of life. I asked what about the Southern way of life did they love the most. There really wasn't much of an intelligent answer after that. Just a bunch of "it's not slavery", "don't be so sensitive" and the like.

This has been how I've been responded to any time I've had a discussion about the flag. It's fairly annoying how folks can't truly discuss this without being defensive. I've learned that the more defensively hostile someone gets about a subject, the more they know they might be wrong about it. The best thing, or not, is when someone tells me it's like my African heritage. News flash: wasn't born in Africa. My heritage growing up consisted of pro wrestling, Voltron, and string cheese. My point is that it's silly to get this defensive over a flag, particularly a flag of a country that doesn't exist anymore. I've seen more Confederate flags these last few weeks than American flags on my Facebook. That's troubling considering it's almost the 4th of July.

Now, I'm going to put this out there with little to no care how you feel about it. The Confederate flag is stupid. It's a waste of cloth and dye. When it was flown in the late 1800s, it was a battle flag for a treasonous group of people. Forget the slavery part, the fact is the Confederacy committed treason against the United States of America. They attacked the United States in hopes of getting their way of life to be adopted by the entire country. There was a changing of philosophy that the South wasn't interested in.

Part of that change was the fact that folks realized that owning people and treating them like second class, inferior citizens wasn't what the Constitution meant when it said "all men are created equal." The South particularly would have suffered the most from the sudden drop of property value and personal equity with the freeing of slaves. If there is one thing that everyone, misguided or otherwise, is motivated by, it's the loss of money.

After the war, the flag was adopted by white supremacy groups who thought it would make a good intimidation tool to the suddenly free black people. The same white supremacists who declared that they were seceding from the Union because they wanted black people to remember their place below the white man. I digress. They waved the flag during the lynching of black people and when black people were attempting to do anything of significance in America. It was raised again during desegregation. Now South Carolina claims that they first raised their Confederate flag on their state house to commemorate the beginning of the Civil War. However, I do find it fairly convenient and coincidental that the Civil Rights Movement was happening at the time. If you really want to get a grasp for when and if the flag was a part of an effort to squash the desegregation of schools, look at some of the schools in the south with the mascot of "Rebels" or even in a case of a school my school played against in sports, "Confederates" and figure out when they adopted said mascot. If it was in the 60s or later, pretty good chance they didn't want black people there. Hence the flying of the Confederate flag at their games and even flying them at the school itself. Point being, this flag is divisive. No need for that.

Now people are getting upset because certain entities are distancing themselves from the Confederate flag. As far as government places, I'm all for it. A government can't be married to something divisive. I feel the same way about them jumping on the gay flag bandwagon too. No need to align yourself with a divisive symbol. And before you ask, the Ten Commandments tell us not to kill, steal, or lie. If you're against that, there's no help for you. Anyway, as far as private companies, it's their prerogative. If Viacom doesn't want to air Dukes of Hazzard, as much as I'm against that because I enjoyed the show, it's their right. If NASCAR wants to separate themselves from the symbol, by all means. It's not fair to boycott and dismiss companies because they want to make everyone feel comfortable being there and expand their market base. When you're a business who wants to make money, you have to think of everything. Now, if not making money is your thing and you're just willing to serve to a particular fan base, then you can do that too. I'm not going to stop you, and no else should either.

My point in all this rambling is that the hostility over this particular flag is useless. People are going to feel how they feel about it, no matter how much you try to dress it up as heritage, hate, controversy, or indifference. I have people I'm very good with that like that flag, and that doesn't bother me because I know their heart. And I've shared my thoughts with them, and they're cool with it. However for those of you that feel like it's your place to tell me what I should and shouldn't be feeling about the flag, kick rocks. I go with what I see, and I see a flag that can hurt people. I see a flag that causes division. I see a flag that brings terrible memories to folks much older and wiser than me. However, I also see a waste of cloth and dye.

Pledge your allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, ONE nation under God, INDIVISIBLE with liberty and justice for ALL.

Always remember that just because you may not sign off on it, it's a fact that most people don't see that flag as doing anything particularly good for the country. The country that most supporters claim to love...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Feelings on My Town

I know it's been almost forever since my last blog. I apologize. I'm a busy person. I do stuff. Anyway, I figured today would be a good day to share my feelings. However, I feel I need to lay down some ground rules. These are my feelings. You don't get to tell me how I should feel. You don't get to tell me that my feelings are wrong. You don't get to give me grief about my opinion and feelings. I'm being completely reactionary.

My first feeling was absolute fear. I called my mother immediately after I heard the news. I hadn't spoken to her in a while. We're both busy people, it happens. I was scared that there was a madman on the loose in my hometown. I worried about my friends. I worried about my family. I worried about other landmarks that I've seen and visited in Charleston since I was seven years old. What about Market Street? How about the Harbor? Was Waterfront Park on this kid's list? I was scared.

When I first heard the story of him targeting this church, it turned to confusion. Why would you go to a church to shoot people? Was there less guilt in sending Christians to Heaven? I was confused about what may have been his motive. I didn't want to believe the ultimate motive, but considering it was a very historical A.M.E. church (the first one in the South), it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, which led to me next emotion.

I was pissed. I was angry that a person would target black people. I was angry that someone thought so little of black people that their only option was to shoot nine of them dead. After being welcomed into the fold by said black people. After being loved on enough to open the Word of God to him, he felt the best way to repay them was to spew some hateful garbage and then shoot them. It angered me that my Christian brothers and sisters were slaughtered like they were in a Muslim country. However, the anger didn't just stay with this situation.

I became angry at responses. People dismissing this man's sin and hatred as "just another case of mental illness." People even blamed Obama for this man's sin. I'm sorry, but I don't believe the President of the United States of America would encourage violence towards others. In fact, he made it a point to say that he's had to address a mass murder of some sort 14 times during his two terms. Think about that, then tell me that it's his fault. I was mad at Fox News for telling us that we shouldn't consider this a race crime because it might make some people upset. I was mad at some of my Facebook friends for their undying allegiance to any opinion that was similar.

I then became proud. I was proud because I watched on Thursday morning/afternoon a mass of Charlestonians singing "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand." It made me so proud that I bawled. I bawled like a baby. I have no problem admitting that to you. It was a mix of pride in my city, love for my Lord, and sadness in my heart. I was proud of the Facebook friends that posted constantly about prayer, love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and pride. It made my heart glad that there were people who felt like I felt.

I then became confused again. During those news reports that I watched vigilantly, a state politician made this eye-opening statement: "If we can't be black in church, where can we be black in America?" It was a good question. Church is supposed to be kind of a safe haven. That place where you can share your love for God, your struggles with life, and your support for your Christian brothers and sisters. It disappeared for those fleeting moments. I saw in my mind and in my heart black folks being terrified, nervous, or confused about church and the banner of love Christ puts over us. I could totally understand that. However, I was still confused as to how a place like that wasn't that place.

I then felt relief. When I heard the news that the shooter was captured, it calmed my spirit down. It's okay to be nervous. It's a natural emotion. Thank God for Debbie Dills and her quick thinking. She says she's not a hero, but she is certainly someone we can take an example from. Do the right thing, no matter what. God knows the right thing, He'll tell you if you let Him. She did, and he's in jail.

I then was angry again. I was angry because I saw an image that frightened me, but didn't overwhelmingly surprise me. I saw the Confederate flag flying high while the American flag and State flag of South Carolina was at half mast. It made my blood boil that the one thing that most black people consider to be the most offensive, divisive, evil symbol in America was flying high and proud as their people were in complete mourning over the atrocity that happened. You would think that the General Assembly (state law prohibits Governor Haley from any say in when and if the flag comes down, so she gets a slight pass even though she should use some executive powers, throw up deuces to the racists, and tear down that flag) would have some class about them. That flag flying high tells every black person that even when the worst happens to you, your feelings don't matter. They may not have said it, but it's a sentiment. That angers me. What angered me more was that there were people defending that flag. They say that it's a defense of a way of life. That way of life included going to a foreign country; either brokering a deal or flat out kidnapping people; dragging them on a boat and shipping them thousands of miles away from their home; parading them like farm animals at the county fair; selling them; and forcing them to do backbreaking work all because you'd rather sit on your front porch and drink lemonade. That's the right that the states flew that flag for. I'm sorry, but that's evil. Dragging people around, beating them, forcing them to work, bathe you, or have sex with you is fricking wrong. That flag tells black people that they are less than a person. The Confederate flag that was put on the state house in 1962 was a blatant middle finger to desegregation and the Civil Rights movement, case closed. My anger is geared towards anyone who defends dividing the country. And telling me to get over it, it wasn't you so don't worry about it, stop being offended, or anything like that is a one way ticket to me considering you dumber than mayonnaise. That's one of those opinions I'm asking you to let me have.

However my anger multiplied even more when I see Judge Idiot Face (stole that from WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins) demanding the victims' families to feel bad for the alleged shooter's family instead for themselves for just losing someone. I'm going to hope that this judge doesn't ever preside over a case again. He used the n-word during a bond hearing. I'm pretty sure he's one of those dumber than mayonnaise morons. How can someone say those kinds of things at that time. And it wasn't like he softly professed that this family was sad, I'm sure they were, but to demand that people just coddle the shooter's family is ridiculous.

However, now I'm at peace. I'm at peace because my God is strong. My God showed Himself in my hometown. My God is being magnified and glorified in the darkest time. I've had terrible feelings about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Jonesboro, and many other places. However, seeing the streets I've walked, rode past, or driven past affected by a tragedy is a special kind of hurt. However, I know my God is bigger than anything. I cannot hide my bias, Charleston just wrote the book on "How to Come Back from Adversity Before Sharpton Shows Up."

I said it before, I'll say it again. He shouldn't have messed with buckle of the Bible belt. Wrong church, wrong city.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Try to Understand

By now, you're all aware of the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York regarding police officers and deaths of black men. Before I get into a diatribe, I'm going to state that police officers are a valuable commodity. I have family that was in law enforcement. My AWANA JVs leader was a police officer and had a significant impact in my salvation and spiritual growth. I have friends that are police officers that are godly people who love the communities in which they live and serve. When I had my house fire in March, police were highly comforting to me. They cared about my well being and what happened with me after the fire. All in all, police officers are wonderful pillars of the community.

However, some things have happened lately that frighten me to no end. The first thing that has happened is an 18 year old young man was shot and killed. No 18 year old should be shot, no matter the circumstances. The next thing that happened was that the same young man that was shot was left in the middle of the street way longer than necessary. The next thing that frightened me was that everyone took to two extremes in the situation. They either dismissed the people who lost a brother, a son, a friend, or a cousin; or they dismissed the feelings of the officer that tragically shot the young man that day. Darrin Wilson empathizers were dismissing the feelings of black people, calling them over reactors and race baitors. Michael Brown empathizers were dismissing the wonderful work that police officers do because of one fatal shot. It's not right on either account. When the grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson, everything broke loose. It's not fair to either side of the debate. Whether or not the evidence was there or not, there is no excuse for destroying innocent bystanders' property. That breaks my heart almost as much as the loss of life.

It's gets worse. Back in the summer, a video surfaced of a man being confronted by police and then taken down in a choke hold. Now, the man was breaking the law. The police were in their right to confront him about it. However, the choke hold wasn't just barbaric. It was illegal. The choke hold has been banned for years, and this officer used said maneuver to take down the man. Sounds pretty much like a slam dunk, right? At the very least, this will be taken to trial and the officer will get a chance to truly defend his actions. This was even on video. Nothing happened. I'm outraged that something so simple was missed.

If a police officer kills someone in the line of duty to save their own life or the lives of others, that's fine by me. I understand that. However, when there isn't accountability for the taking of the life, or at the very least, a legit explanation of actions, it bothers people.

The trend #BlackLivesMatter is popular because black people aren't seen as human or worthy of survival, based on the last two high profile grand jury decisions involving black men. When a football player goes to prison for a year and a half for basically shooting himself in the leg while a police officer gets set free for choking a man to death, it makes that hashtag all the more poignant. When people get more outraged over dogs being hurt by a football player than black employees being hurt by a southern chef who has a TV show and a propensity for butter, can't help but ask why us. We have a black President of the United States who has been disrespected by Senators, radio hosts, and the like since he decided to run for president. And yes, I'm aware that it happened to the president before that, but it also happened to the president before that, the president before that, and the president before that. My argument is that it seems to be way more prevalent nowadays as opposed to before. Yelling in the middle of the State of the Union address, making it well known that your plan is to make the president a one term president, or literally telling your radio audience that you wish the man would fail at the expense of your country's success are all examples that a lot of people just don't want black people to be successful or blessed.

However, I do have to take my people to ask as well. It's unfair to destroy small businesses in search of justice. It's unfair to disrupt life for our own gains. All it does it hurt our chances of finally being seen as equals. The last thing we need in this firing range we call America is to give those who dismiss us ammunition. I'm calling to task all those protesters to make absolute sure you're not hindering the cause. If you're doing a simple walk, march, or stand-in, by all means, have at it. Wake up those who don't understand. If you're looting, rioting, flipping cars, and just being a nuisance, please realize what harm you're doing.

Overall, I ask that both parties show respect. To the police empathizers, understand that black people have been through at lot and I think there is a bit of last straw syndrome. To Brown and Garner empathizers, I ask that you remember that being a police officer is ridiculously difficult. You have to make split decisions. You're away from your family for extended periods of time. You're putting your life on the line with the potential to leave your family with little to no warning. Stress and pressure can play a major role, and if they're not properly dealt with, can lead to some disastrous results.

Our best bet for these kinds of things is prayer. Pray for those who protect and serve. Thank those who have been given the unenviable task of keeping the peace. Pray for those who feel hurt or slighted by a "civilized" society. Try to understand how they feel. Don't give them the "suck it up, buttercup" speech every time black people share their frustrations. It's time to start understanding people. It's time to stop picking a side for the sake of picking a side, or worse, gravitating to one side because we're expected to join said side. Just treat each other with respect. Our futures are on the line and sooner or later, the final straw is going to be reached and all you know what is going to run loose.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Fella

I'm sorry I haven't given you much recently. Life has been a roller coaster for me lately. Highs such as going on a mission trip to Cleveland, Ohio a week after LeBron returned; seeing one of my good friends accomplish something he's worked hard for for years; and getting a decent raise. Lows such as being turned down for a ton of jobs I'd interviewed for; having a friend have some troubles; and my Packers getting stomped.

This past Friday was both a high and a low.  You may or may not have been aware of a ton posts, tweets, and random musings about "The Fella." For those who may be unfamiliar, I worked part time for a company that provided support to folks with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. For two and a half years, my assignment was The Fella. This past Friday was my last day with him. He has started the next step in his life. He has moved out of his home and into a group home. This is the best thing for him. He needs to be free of his mother's home and try to do things on his own. I'm sure he'll succeed as long as the group home he's in cares for his success.

Over the course of my time with The Fella, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that life sometimes isn't about all boring things like bills, work, and serious things. Sometimes, a dude just needs a bag of chips and a soda. You have to learn to enjoy simple things in life like throwing rocks in a river. I mean we would literally spend hours sitting at a river chucking big rocks and skipping little rocks until one of us got thirsty. We'd play countless games of HORSE at a basketball court. Sometimes, it was just sitting down and watch Scooby Doo and Three Stooges when it got rainy outside. Just enjoying those simple things taught me that I don't need to take myself so seriously.

I also learned that even those little things are important to people. I can't count how many times I've had to deal with The Fella's temper when I beat him at UNO. When he'd stomp away after he got the final "E" in HORSE after trying to make that show two turns ago, it's just his way of expressing his frustration with both himself and the situation. I had a Youth Ministry professor at Liberty put it in perfect terms: "You can call it puppy love, but it's still real to the puppy." A stupid little game of UNO or basketball may not mean much to you, but to The Fella, it was everything. Sometimes in life, you have accept that people's loves are not your loves, and you shouldn't judge them for it.

Friday was our last evening together. It started when I took him to his favorite place to eat, Rancho Viejo. He saw his favorite waitress after she had her baby, so that made him happy. He ate what he always eats, cheese dip with hot sauce in it. He also stared at my black beans thinking they were raisins. We walked his dog, watched Three Stooges, and talked about his new life. When it was time for me to leave, he began to cry. That brought me to a few tears as well. I do get to hang out with him. I promised I'd take him places every so often and just have friend time. I probably won't see him for a couple of weeks just so he can get used to not having me around all the time.

Sometimes, I ask myself if I'm doing the right thing working two jobs. Outside of the financial gain, is it worth it? Well, after working with the Fella for as long as I have, I can say it is definitely worth it. His friendship has been invaluable. So, here's to you Fella. You've been great. You will succeed far better than your imagination. Just remember what you've learned about keeping your emotions in check and remembering that you don't hurt those you love. You're going to do great. Thank you for teaching me many life lessons.