Saturday, January 02, 2016

Since My Last Post

Here we are almost a year later and there have been several shootings of unarmed African-American men.  Yet we cannot seem to agree in this country that the cumulative effect of negative stereotypes in the media, our own fears and biases towards each other and our denials that these things even exist result in the killing of boys and men of color.  Yes, this does happen to Caucasian males but not nearly at the same rate.

I am tired of hearing and seeing people that look like me and my son shot down in the streets.  Even more frustrating is the fact that a substantial portion of our country will not even acknowledge that a problem even exists. 

The latest is Laquan Mcdonald, in my city of Chicago.  Watching the video and reading about the cover up is sickening and very much like Chicago.  While I love the city, it is a very segregated and corrupt place.  I am very interested to see what the Federal Investigation will bring.

I am troubled by the climate in our country right now.  We have gone backwards from a race relations standpoint.  You cannot get media coverage these days without being an extremist.  This is why Donald Trump, who has no business running for POTUS is leading in the Republican polls.  Trump can spout hate for Mexicans, African-Americans, Muslims and women and he only goes up in the polls.  I can only wonder, "where are we going?"  The media has brainwashed the public into thinking you cannot be in the middle when truly being in the middle is the only place you can make progress.  It seems there are those who don't want progress. 

I am saddened as a proud American of where we are going.  I hope we can fix it.  I hope I can be a part of that solution other than writing in an anonymous blog.  

That's All I Got!
I'm Out!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

An Officer's Perspective

The following is a response to my "Ferguson" post in December.  It is from Jack Burright, an old friend who spent many years as a police officer and a trainer of police officers in different areas of the country.  When you read my post you would think that any response from a law officer would be the polar opposite of my post.  Jack's thoughtful response made me think more about where the common ground is.  For instance, I've never thought about a white person worrying about teaching their child on how to conduct themselves when being pulled over by an officer.  My original post pointed out the higher likelihood for a person of color being pulled over but that does not mean it does not happen to others.  While my stance of views have not changed I feel like Jack gave some perspective from the other side of the fence but that perspective is not on the other side of the fence.  Maybe we are just standing in different parts of the same yard.
I only cut and pasted Jack's response so it is posted in its' original form.
Jack, thanks again for the response.  I respect you for it!  Here goes:
My long-time friend Duane, one hell of an athlete—man i used to love to watch you run.  I wanted to answer your blog personally; if you wish, you can post it.  I can give you at least my perspective as well.  A couple of things before i get started.  One is I want to thank you for taking the time and writing an awesome, well-thought-out response.  So many put their one spin with conjecture, rumor, or conspiracy and do not think it through.  The media is so out of control whether it's Fox news or CNN, some are so quick to drink the Kool Aid and take it as fact. 
It sickens me to even see any president chastised in such a way.  He can not do right, whatever he does or does not do he will be hammered and things blown out of proportion.  It has been this way for many years in the White House and the media makes its money by its ratings.  Conspiracy's  feed people and that makes ratings.  I am at times appalled how this has become the norm.  Society is partly to blame, and so many like to stir the proverbial pot and insert hate, blame and in some cases cause violence.  I myself am not a huge fan of our current president, still I respect him as he is the president.  I am also first to admit that I have no idea what he has done right or wrong because the media spins it in whatever direction they want.  It makes it hard if not impossible to form an educated opinion, and people at times are like sheep and just follow what they want to hear instead of what may be the truth.
In 1996 I was selected to train officers at the Olympics in Atlanta. It was a highlight of my life as only a few were selected.  I also have attended and even taught some classes around the country.  Duane, I had hardly left the state of Oregon, and a little naive is an understatement in 1996.  imagine an albino kid from Corvallis wearing a long sleeve shirt and cowboy boots in downtown Atlanta saying Howdy to the locals:) It was a great experience and I learned much in my short time there.  I will first state the west coast does have an edge on training.  In Oregon we have 3 to 5 officer involved shootings for the entire state.  I know for a fact there could be plenty more, but generally the police use good tactics and make good decisions.  Does not make them perfect and there may be a tad more respect for each other at least I would hope.
I served in law enforcement for 18 years then as a licensed investigator for 6.  Being a sheriff deputy is an interesting brotherhood.  I entered it very young with the goal to help people.  I still think I did that as best I could.  I also met many who entered the field for different reasons.  One is power.  Name another job in the US that yields so much authority.  We also had bullies, some who enjoyed thumping others way too much.  We had the righteous. Some believed they were a god or chosen and some even believed God put them in that position to rid evil.  Some just liked the paycheck and did as little as possible. Many joked about shooting someone as the ultimate act of being a warrior.  Some were lazy and terrible at training, unions protected them and they were unfit for duty.  Some liked the glory the uniform provided; they considered themselves heroes and fed their own ego and certainly there were some who hat hatred towards others.  Then there were some who were there for the right reasons.  The sad truth is if all you see is crime and deal with criminals you can become calloused as you are never around the normal.  You see horrific abuse, accidents, loss of life in all ages; you change how you view the world.  It can quickly become an “us against them” mentality.   For me, it was my calling, something I cared about and loved doing, a peacemaker if you will, although in later years I fell a little more into the righteous, something I see as clear as day now on the outside.
I will add that on many crime scenes I was involved in, the media and at times the public would draw a much different conclusion than the facts.  I am not sure what it is about conspiracy theories these days,  but they seem to feed into people’s fears.  Enough about my blundering.
Politics exist, and even relationships with Law Enforcement and the district attorneys office do happen, but with that said, so does public opinion, what is popular, what is right and just because you can do it, does not mean you should do it.  One I hope to see improve.  I am not black, if anything the opposite, so I can not really tell you how it must feel to be truly discriminated.  For people like me it is sad and like anyone we would hope those days are far behind us, but they are not.  As for the men and women who serve and protect, that needs to include all, that needs to be fair and unbiased, and as you pointed out we have a long ways to go on all sides. 
Grand Jury:  There is an old adage that you can indict a ham sandwich in a grand jury.  I do believe that to be true as they only hear half the story, so it really depends on the DA and how they want to proceed with the case.  With that said, public outcry, police agendas, wealth, and even the famous can affect the outcome.  I agree that the district attorney’s office does like to keep track of their wins and at times will aggressively pursue the slam dunk cases and let the other ones fall by the wayside.  Interesting fact:  in the hierarchy of attorneys, DAs are not always what you would call top of the food chain.  I have met some who are and as well met some defense attorneys who are brilliant at their craft.  I can agree that the poor at times have far less of a chance.  Education, upbringing, lifestyle can put them in a bad light regardless.  Jurors at times can be grossly incompetent, yet responsible for making decisions that can change people’s lives forever.  I can also agree an outside investigator makes good sense.  With that said I would also hope the findings whatever they may be are respected by all.  Otherwise its moot point.  
Some cops deserve prison time and are a disgrace to the badge, others deserve the public's respect that they have a hard job to do and have to make quick decisions and while others will have months to arm chair quarterback that decision and state what he/she did wrong or should have done.  The cop does not have such luxury.   
Working as an investigator I met and interviewed many who were criminally charged.  My conclusion was with most that they were not necessarily bad people, but they did make bad decisions.  Some grew up with the lifestyle as many were second, third generation with their parents in the system, substance addiction being some of the hardest.  Some really were against all odds from the beginning.  Regardless of my profession, one thing was interesting and somewhat upsetting when I first became an investigator.  I was rumored to be on the dark side, working against the brotherhood.  Funnily, I am very pro cop, had 11 family members as such, and am the same person I have always been.  I interviewed people the same way, tried to be fair and consistent and conduct fact finding.  I would sometimes hear if the case went to trial and the defense won, it was because smoke and mirrors and really they were guilty.  So in essence, if the prosecution wins the case the defendant is guilty. If they lose, they are guilty. I do believe the system is not perfect, but way better than other countries. I do believe sometimes innocent people are convicted and know that guilty people sometimes get away with it.  Some seem to walk on water and some get hammered with no breaks—like life, not always fair. 
As a trainer I have taught and teach police officer safety with the goal to make sure they go home at night. Split second decisions can affect us all.  We have yet made a tool that can be used as a lethal alternative.  Do some cops overreact and use deadly force? Absolutely. And some hesitate and die or get others killed because of inaction.  I still look at the good. I hope the ones who do work in the tough areas have a heart and recognize things for what they are.  I myself try not to form such strong opinions to things I was not present at or don’t have all the facts and take a deep breath when I see all the media and their spins. I try to look at the whole picture. Does not make me perfect.  While I read many blogs, I wanted to say I thought you did an awesome job of looking at the big picture versus one side.  You made a point about teaching your son to turn on his dome light and show his hands.  I have a daughter who is in the honors program at PSU, sweet innocent and besides being raised a cops daughter she has no understanding of the real world, so I teach her the same thing as any furtive movement can be dangerous.  
Profiling car stops does exist I did it for many years, the difference is I was looking for abnormalities, locations, driving manners, time of day, etc.  On many occasions I had no idea who was in the car until I made contact.  Unlit roads at night you would be amazed who you pulled over.  My favorite was this 75 year old lady who liked to gamble at a tribal casino about 40 miles away.  She never drank a bit, but had terrible driving habits.  So from an officers safety standpoint with my own daughter.  dome light on, window down hands on the wheel.  I myself have been shot at and had a gun pointed at me, scary stuff.  A big city like Chicago I am sure is a little different then Corvallis Or.  Some cities have citizen review boards, citizen academies, a great way to include the public on the job they do or can do better. 
On a side note, I have met many people in my day that make a difference.  One lady is a martial artist named Karen Eden.  Great speaker.  She has spent a lot of time in the lower income areas of Chicago making a difference.  She does not seek gratification for it; she does it for the right reasons.  Way cool.  Imagine if the police could operate as such with the support of the majority of the citizens in the community.                               

Thank you,
Jack Burright
Counterstrikes International
961 Scenic Dr NW
Albany, Or 97321
541 990-4010
"in a world of compromise, some don't"

Brian Williams? Really?

So this past week the NBC news anchor Brian Williams came out and admitted that he "conflated" his story about being in a military helicopter that took RPG and small arms fire in 2003.  His admission was that he was not in the helicopter that took fire at all.  He came in a later helicopter.  Some reports say that he was in a helicopter immediately behind the one that took fire and others say he was in a helicopter that was as much as an hour behind the one that took fire.

Hummm, where do I start with this one?  It is first important to note that the only reason that he came out with this is that a military magazine was about to report this story.  Otherwise, it is safe to assume that he would have continued with the LIE that he has been telling and the career that he has built upon it.

Conflated?  WTH does that mean?  Conflated is the blending of two subjects or issues into one event or story.  I'm not sure about you but conflated sounds like a 'politician speak' for a straight out LIE!  This man is one of the most trusted people in America.  He is actually rated as the 23rd most trusted person in the country by the celebrity index of The Marketing Arm, a research firm.  I trust him, or should I say trusted him.

I know that these days there are many (maybe even mostly) unworthy, inaccurate, non-fact checking news sources in the world today but the anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News should never be one of them.  News anchors can have drug scandals, sex scandals or any other kind of scandal as long as the accuracy of the stories is never put in question.  Viewers develop opinions based on the stories that anchors like Brian Williams reports to us.  Now that this 'last' resource is questionable who do we turn to for accurate information.  I have always told people to "search for your own truth on issues that matter to you" but now we are getting to a point where we don't know which resources to trust.

I trashed President George W. Bush in this very blog on his handling of post Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans partially based on Brian Williams reporting from the city.  Jay-Z used what sounds like Brian Williams voice, reporting from New Orleans after the storm, in one of his songs.  All of his work is now in question.  NBC has rightfully launched an investigation into all of his big stories.  He said he witnessed someone commit suicide in the New Orleans Superdome due to the conditions there after the hurricane.  All of that is questionable now.

The fact that all of his work is now called into question begs the question......Is it worth it to do such a thing?  While my answer is still an absolute 'no' I can see the hunger to move up, the drive to win at any cost personal/professional insecurity causing a blurring of the lines.  When we add the money on top of that it can be an intoxicating mix.

Brian Williams contract was renewed in December for $10 Million a year.  So maybe to reach $10 million per year it is worth it.  It seems now that many are willing to lie, cheat and steal their way to the top because the money is so great that once you get caught you have gathered enough wealth and power that you can ride off into the sunset because you have your money from a career that you have built upon LIES.  Not conflation, or out of context, or misremembered........LIES.

At this point Mr. Williams has removed himself from his Nightly News chair and NBC is investigating.  They have invested heavily in his brand and that is likely to be one reason they have not fired him.  Another major reason is that there is not anyone who has been groomed or who has a strong enough brand to take over.  At this point I am not sure what his brand is worth.

I am sure the spin doctors will find a way to turn this and manipulate us into feeling sorry for him.  So his brand will take a hit and then bounce back stronger than ever.  America loves a comeback right?

They can spin it however they like but at the end of the day Brian Williams showed blatant disregard for the lives of all soldiers that have risked and given their lives for our great country.  Families of soldiers have suffered and continued to suffer while Williams built a career on their stories.  Shameful!

Mr. Williams may be back at the desk one day but I will not!

That's All I Got!
I'm Out!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Here is an excerpt from my March 29, 2014 post:

"I have waited to write this piece to let my anger subside, to let my fear for my own son's life subside and to let my fear for my own life subside.  I have waited and waited only to come to one conclusion.  That feeling of fear and anger that I have felt since I was a teenager will never go away because the hunt for African-American males, especially young African-American males continues."

Here we are, having this conversation again.  Trayvon Martin (1 shot close range), Jordan Davis (10 shots), Jonathan Ferrell (12 shots), Sean Bell (50 shots), Eric Garner (Strangulation no CPR) the 12 year old boy (name not released) with a B-B gun that was shot and killed last week within seconds of police arriving (no CPR until FBI arrived) and the subject of this post, Ferguson's Michael Brown (12 shots).  These are just a few cases off the top of my head where an unarmed African-American is killed (12 year old had a BB gun) by police or by another U.S. citizen.  Many major U.S. cities have these types of cases.  They don't happen every day but frequent enough to be very troubling for people who want to be part of the solution for their community and have a role and opportunity in our great country.

This post may be discombobulated because I have no idea where to start.  I will start by saying this:  I love my country but sometimes she treats me and my people like she couldn't care less about us.  I know she also thinks at times that we couldn't care less about her but that is not the case.  We just want to be heard and have an equal opportunity at justice, freedom, jobs and anything else that constitutes 'The American Dream'.  That makes for a strange and rocky relationship.  We would refer to it as 'it's complicated' in our interpersonal relationships.

Ferguson, Missouri is another reminder of how complicated our racial relationships are between any race and our government/law enforcement and between the ethnic groups themselves (Whites included).  I feel that there are a number of issues at work that collide in Ferguson.  I will touch on a few that are top of mind for me.  Keep in mind I know several current and past police officers and I think most are good people and good officers.

Our legal system is flawed when it comes to reviewing officer involved shootings.  The DA's office is interested in cases they can win because a strong win loss record and prosecuting the right cases is important for re-election.  Also, the DA/prosecutors need a good relationship with law enforcement to get cases processed properly in order to take them to trial.  This is clearly a conflict of interest.  The DA has no incentive to pursue these types of cases.  The officer involved will always get the benefit of the doubt.  There needs to be special prosecutors for officer involved shootings....regardless of race.  Otherwise, rogue officers who understand this built-in advantage/loophole can operate with impunity when in comes to their use of force.

My basic understanding of the Grand Jury process is that the evidence and witnesses go before the Grand Jury and it is presented in a non-biased manner.  The Grand Jury then determines if there is probable cause for an indictment to go to trial.  In this case, the witnesses that did not quite match up with the evidence and what the DA wanted were harshly cross-examined.  Why weren't they all harshly cross-examined?  Officer Wilson was not even asked for an explanation  of why was the bruise on his face on the right side of his face since Michael Brown struck him with his right hand while Wilson was sitting in his vehicle.  Common sense would say that bruise would be on the left side.  This again does not make sense to me.

I am concerned about the officer (and other officers) and his state of mind while on duty.  His comments about the area being a "not well liked neighborhood" makes me pause.  What exactly does that mean?  Why wasn't he asked that very question?  He also said "When I grabbed him the only way I can describe it is I felt like a 5 year old holding on to Hulk Hogan...that's how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm."  He also said that Brown seemed "like a demon" and that he thought the next blow he took during the conflict in the vehicle could kill him.  These statements went unchecked in Grand Jury testimony.  These statements all point to either giving Brown super human strength or dehumanizing him therefore, making it easier to justify the excessive use of force.  For the record, Wilson is 6'4" 210 so he is not a small man.  I feel that he and a lot of officers are fearful and work in fear rather than trying to be part of the community.  When you are fearful or panicked you are going to react with all your firepower when it may not be needed.  Wilson did not have a stun gun on him because he said it was bulky and uncomfortable.  Was it uncomfortable or was he more comfortable using a gun?  I know Wilson just wanted to get home alive, I get it.  When you are paid "To Serve and To Protect" I expect you to be prudent with deadly force.

Let's say all the testimony the DA decided to accept is accurate.  I still say 12 shots was not needed.  He fired 10 shots outside of the vehicle after Brown turned and charged him.  My question is how far away was he and how fast could he have been at 290 pounds that allowed you to fire 5 shots, backpedal and fire 5 more shots?  I argue that 2 to 3 shots at a time would have been appropriate.  The use of lethal force that I pointed out earlier in other cases are a concern when you don't frequently see that level of force in the same type of situations with white suspects.  

Race is an issue because this happens repeatedly to unarmed African-American men.  It happens to others.  I have seen recent articles asking where is the rioting for an unarmed White young man that was shot and killed by police.  The fact that we have to search to find the exception proves the rule in my humble opinion.

It is tough to find accurate data for police shooting of unarmed/unjustified African-Americans and Whites (justifiable shooting data is readily available).  As far as I can tell, the average for unarmed shootings of African-Americans between 2005-2012 was 96 with there being 136 in 2012.

Overall killings in 2012 were 313 for Blacks and 436 for Whites.  The raw data is obviously more for Whites but is certainly skewed when you look at the percentage each group represents of the general population.  Some of those were armed incidents. In the city of Chicago in 2012 Blacks made up 32.9% of the population city's and Whites made up 31.7%.  Yet, Blacks make up 91% (21) of the people killed by police (unarmed and armed) and Whites make up 4% (1). Why is that?

Some people say, "Move out of that neighborhood!"  While that may seem to be a solution, these statistics and issues apply to African-Americans where ever we live.  We are 3 times more likely to have our vehicle searched when pulled over by police yet drugs and weapons are not found anymore frequently in our vehicles than any other population.  This is regardless of the neighborhood.  I look in my rearview mirror every time I pass a police officer regardless of what neighborhood I am in.  

People have expressed outrage at demonstrations.  I am confused by this.  Why is it wrong to demonstrate if that is what you feel is necessary?  I am not opposed to the demonstrations.  Like I said, people want to be heard.  I am, however, opposed to looting and burning of any businesses.  Demonstrations and protests need to be disruptive but never destructive.  I am proud to see young people demonstrating but they will have to be part of the voting and political processes also.

In our own African-American communities we need to have greater respect for life and for each other.  Yes, Black on Black crime needs to be addressed but crime in general needs to be addressed.  Why the high crime rate?  I say lack of opportunities and incentives for businesses to go into certain communities.  This equals jobs, benefits and a life worth living.  Magic Johnson and others have proven that you can run successful businesses in any community.  When people feel like they don't have a life worth living they will do things that seem like they don't care or don't want to live.  What is there to live for?  When there are few jobs people hustle (no matter the color) however they can but when they get caught the punishment varies for the same crime.  Why is that?  I have yet to hear a sane explanation for wild swings in punishment for the same crimes when the only difference is the color of the defendant.  There has even been noted differences in the punishments for those in possession of crack cocaine and powered cocaine.  Why is that?

Those in possession of crack, a cheaper version of cocaine that is more frequently found in lower economic areas that have more people of color, receive much longer sentences than those in possession of powdered cocaine.  Powdered cocaine is more expensive and more frequently found in higher economic areas where there are less people of color.  Our current federal laws call for minimum sentencing of 5 years in prison for 28 grams of crack cocaine while the same minimum sentencing for the possession of powdered cocaine is 500 grams.  That is an 18:1 ratio.  Why is that?

It's not that drug use is more in one area versus another.  The use of drugs is virtually the same amongst whites and people of color.  Yet, arrest and conviction rates are higher in communities with people of color.  Could it be that what is now the big for-profit business that is our prison system needs bodies to feed it?  Our justice system has shown repeatedly that you can buy your level of justice based on how rich or poor you are.  Sometimes this is regardless of color.  The better representation you can buy the more you can get away with.  So people in lower income communities of all colors including poor whites become the fields that yield the fruit the prison system needs to stay profitable.  Unfortunately, those plucked from the these fields are overwhelmingly people of color.  I wonder what will happen when all of these poor people, white, black and all in between figure out that their plight is actually the same and that they are being manipulated to hate each other so that they don't figure out they should be on the same team?

Race is an issue.  These events will continue until we admit that racism didn't end with slavery, it did not end with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it changed.  There are plenty of good and great people in this country of all colors but most are afraid to have a real conversation about race.  People of color and whites tend to get bent out of shape about it and can't have a rational discussion about it.

Lastly, I sadly have a 17 year old son that I have to coach to turn on the dome light if he is pulled over at night and to make sure his hands are visible to reduce the chances that the officer does not think there is a weapon in the car and start firing.  Something is wrong when that is part of me raising my son.  There is a lot more to write but I will save it for the next post.

That's All I got!
I'm Out!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Hunted

I have waited to write this piece to let my anger subside, to let my fear for my own son's life subside and to let my fear for my own life subside.  I have waited and waited only to come to one conclusion.  That feeling of fear and anger that I have felt since I was a teenager will never go away because the hunt for African-American males, especially young African-American males continues.  
Jordan Davis was a 17 year old African-American that was a passenger in a vehicle full of young African-American males that was playing loud Rap music when it pulled into a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.  At the same time Michael Dunn pulled into the same filling station to get gas.

Dunn was annoyed by the loud Rap music and confronted the unarmed teens, most of whom were in the car.  The end result was that he pulled out his pistol and fired 10 shots.  9 hit the vehicle, 3 hit Jordan, 2 in the legs 1 in the back.  That was the last night of Jordan Davis' life.

I have no problem with firearms (but there are some challenges) and I would have no problem with "Stand Your Ground Laws" if the interpretation of them is not a license to hunt down and kill people because you are scared of how they look, you don't like how they look, you assume they are criminals based on how they look or you don't like the music they are listening to.

I wonder what the outcome would have been if the vehicle Jordan Davis was riding in was playing Dunn's favorite song.  A young man lost his life over they type of music and the volume of the music he was listening to in combination with the color of his skin.  Dunn expressed his disdain for the music to his girlfriend before he got out of his vehicle.

There are just too many cases where people, particularly Whites but also people of Color, have assumed that the African-American (usually male) in a given situation is a criminal and something must be done.  We saw it with Trayvon Martin.  We saw it in the killing of Jonathan Ferrell, a former student and football player at Florida A & M University, who stumbled to and knocked on a door of a home immediately after being in a terrible car accident.  The woman who answered the door slammed the door in his face and called 911.  Maybe that is an acceptable action considering it was 2 a.m. but she told authorities he was trying to break in to the house (he knocked) and said in reference to her baby who was in the house:

"He is in his bed.  I don't know what to do.  I can't believe I opened the door...Please don't let him get me baby."

I am not a mother so I know there are motherly instincts that make her want to protect her child but how do you get from an injured man knocking on your door to "Please don't let him get my baby?"  There is an assumed criminal, bad or evil element that some people automatically plug into a situation when an African-American is involved, especially a male.

The police arrived and when Ferrell saw them he approached them, barefooted, unarmed and hands outreached to them, likely very disoriented from the accident and seeking help.  As he was approaching the officers there were no orders to get on the ground or freeze.  There was an order to get on the ground as the shooting began (sound and some video on officers video cam).  Officer Randall Kerrick fired 12 shots 10 hit Ferrell most from a superior position meaning that Ferrell was not a threat.  The shots went, 1,2,3,4, pause 1,2,3,4,5,6 pause 1,2.  There were two other officers on the scene.  One to the left and one to the right of Kerrick, they did not even pull their weapons. There were no drugs in Ferrell's system.  He did have alcohol in his system that was far below the driving limit.  He was just a 24 year old man who needed help but could not get it because he was assumed to be a criminal because of the color of his skin.

The initial partial Grand Jury refused to indict the officer.  A second full Grand Jury did indict the Kerrick in January of 2014.  The problem is in this case as it is with Michael Dunn is that even spending the rest of their lives in in prison or on Death Row it does not bring back the lives of the young men that they took.  It does not repair the broken hearts of the families that have to live in the wake of the actions they took that were precipitated by their fear anger and ignorance of other people and other cultures.

"Just because it's different than what you know does not make it wrong or bad."  44Black

I find it disgusting when someone plays the race card and race has nothing to do with a situation I find it more disgusting that we are constantly told that race has nothing to do with situations that are obviously driven by race.  I hear people saying "oh he is just playing the race card but this has nothing to do with race."  It seems to me that society wants to make you feel guilt for mentioning race is part of a situation even when it is obviously one of the main drivers in a given situation.  Guilt over claiming your own civil rights?

Back to the Jordan Davis case.  As I said earlier, I would have not problem with the "Stand Your Ground" laws that many states have if it were not for the interpretation of these laws.  I am especially troubled by the comments of Circuit Judge Russell L. Healey, had read to the jury after the closing arguments at Dunn's trial in which he was not convicted of murder but was convicted of attempted murder for firing his gun in to the vehicle.

The Judge said the defendant “has no duty to retreat.”
The defendant has “the right to stand his ground.”
“The danger facing the defendant need not have been actual.”

My understanding of this case is that Dunn was the aggressor so wouldn't the boys be the party that 'has no duty to retreat?'  Wouldn't the boys have the right to stand their ground?

The last quote is the one that strikes the most fear in my heart for me and my family, "The danger facing the defendant need not have been actual."  My interpretation of that quote is that if I walk into a grocery store or worse yet one of my kids walk in to a grocery store and someone decide that they are in danger they are within their rights to pull out a gun and shoot me.  Saying that the danger need not have been actual says that it need not have been reasonable either.  Actual danger is reasonable.  Just the color of one's skin should not strike fear in one's heart.
I have mentioned myself and my family in this post because it relates directly to me and my family.  I think about my kids, most of whom are old enough to drive now.  I worry every time they go out without me.  I worry that they are going to be interpreted as a danger to someone or be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I worry that I have given them too much or too little to worry about when it comes to race in our society and interactions with the police.  I am a grown man 48 year old man and never have I passed an officer in my car and not glanced in the mirror to see if the officer decided to follow me.

I worry about the tail light that is out on one of the cars right now (I am going to fix it as soon as I post this).  I worry that my son will be pulled over and something he will say or do will be interpreted as an act of aggression and it is his last act of any kind.  I worry that the cars we drive are too nice or too crappy for  the neighborhood that we are driving through and that we may be wrongfully stopped and searched.

Mainly, I fear that all kids of all colors are being hunted, incarcerated and killed if they are underprivileged, different or considered weak in some way.

That's All I Got!!

I'm Out!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

The 2014 Farm Bill: The Wealth Gap Continues to Grow

Recently Congress passed and the President approved of the 2014 Farm Bill with a number of changes from the previous bill in 2008.  I was curious about the 2014 Farm Bill so I did a little research that left me with a few questions about how the bill was changed and how the changes have been portrayed in the press.
There were cuts to the Food Stamp (SNAP) program.  $8.6 billion were cut from the program.  This amounts to a cut from $4.45 per day per participant to $4.33 per day per participant.  This may not be perceived as much of a change but it is when you consider that the price of food ONLY goes up, 70% of the recipients of this program are children and this program is to feed the hungry in our great country.
Yes, I know of the horror stories of the person that you see in the grocery store line that is buying buying a loaf of bread, getting cash back from the SNAP card and buy liquid and cigarettes with the cash.  Question is, do you really believe that example is the majority of people who are in the program?  I don't believe that but most far right conservatives want you to believe that.  I am not sure if they really believe that or just want us all to believe that.  I believe that most of the people in the program are kids who have parents who are trying to feed them.
The far right, and the press that support them, want you to believe that most people involved in the SNAP program are poor people of color who are trying to get over on you and the rest of the country by living off the system. While the majority are people of color, the overwhelming majority in this and any other 'social safety net program' are honest hard working people who are struggling to feed their families.  Besides, one could argue that 'getting over' is the 'American way.'  But it matters who is trying to 'get over' and who they are trying to 'get over' on.  That is another post for another time but we are a nation of cheaters.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives originally proposed a $740 billion cut in the SNAP program.  That equals a cut from $4.45 per day to $0 per day.  That's right, they proposed to let  our American children starve.  They championed this, seeming to say "Hey look vote for us we are stopping 'these people' from getting over on us.  So somehow it is ok to take food off the plates of these families of color because we are to believe they are stealing from the system.
I find it interesting that in the final bill what was not publicized to nearly the same extent in the press was that direct payments to farmers were eliminated.  Instead they get subsidies for their crop insurance.  They are also taking money/food from hard working farm families but the majority of them are white so that is not publicized because if it was the perception would be that they were cruel and greedy for taking food off the tables of hard working American families.
Are we not all, with a few exceptions, hard working American families?  Shouldn't we all be treated like it?  Many people of all colors and backgrounds have benefited from the social safety net.  The Pew Research Center ( found that 55% of Americans have received help at one point in their lives from one of the major programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Welfare or Unemployment benefits) and goes on to say:

While politically, congressional Republicans have focused on reducing spending on federal entitlement programs, the Pew Research survey found the U.S. to be “a “bipartisan nation of beneficiaries.”

While I can't clearly say this is a 'race' thing, I can say that there are elements in our country that only care about getting more even if that means others have less or nothing.  Those 'elements' in our country is highly skilled at keeping various races, classes and economic groups separate and scared of each other.  If something is not done about this it will be a scary day when all of these parties figure out that they are in the same boat and that they should be one powerful group rather than less powerful splintered groups.

That's All I Got!
I'm Out!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Express Yourself Black Man! The Way We Tell You to!

So it is one of my favorite times of the year from a sports perspective.  It is NFL Playoff time.  This last weekend the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.  It was a close and hard fought game between the two with the Seahawks turning away the 49ers in the end zone at the end of the game.  A great play by All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman sealed the victory.

The 49er's had barely thrown the ball in Sherman's direction all day when they took a shot at the end of the game.  Sherman tipped the ball away and it was intercepted by a teammate.  It was an outstanding play by who many consider to be the best corner in the game right now.

Richard Sherman is a young, brash, talented and intelligent man from Compton Californina.  After the game, reporters from ESPN Deportes and ESPN shoved mics in his face and let him react.  He said he is the best and that the receiver he had worked against most of the day, Michael Crabtree, was mediocre.  Oh and he was screaming while he did it.  He also gave the choke sign to the 49ers.  Questionable, yes?

Once again we get to see America at its' ugliest, by calling this young man a thug.  We found out later that there was some personal history between Sherman and Crabtree that made him even more passionate about the win.

When are we going to reach a point where every Black Man who reacts the way he wants to and not the way old conservative White America wants him to, is not a thug?  This guy just put his life, and career on the line.  We just watched a few plays before when Navarro Bowman's knee bent in a direction it was not supposed to and he was hauled off on a cart.  We also have seen men paralyzed and brain damaged, leading to suicide, by the sport so to say he put his life on the line is not being dramatic.

He put his life and well being on the line because he loves the game, his teammates and to entertain us.  In return he makes a handsome living.  Just because I pay for a ticket it does not give me the right to demand you react to highly charged physical and emotional situations in the way I want you to.  In fact, we the public constantly want reality and access.  We complain that we are tired of hearing the athlete at the podium giving us the same old cliché's.  What happens when we get a clean look?  We don't like what we see, so we trash and judge you for it.

               "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"  Maximus Meridius 'The Spainard'

Well what about the rest of the footage after the game?  What else happened?  Certainly, this out of control 'Thug' did some other 'Thuggish' stuff.  I did some investigation and viewed a few things.  I saw footage and heard audio of him shaking hands with other 49ers, even asking one that got hurt early in the game if he was ok.  I saw him jumping and celebrating with his teammates.  I saw him jump into a crowd of Seahawk fans and celebrate with them.

Are those the actions of a thug?  Not in my book.  Neither is Salutatorian (second in class) of your high school class.  He graduated high school with a 4.1 GPA.  Then graduated from Stanford with a 3.9 GPA.  Clawing his way from Compton to Stanford to the NFL?  Actions of a thug?  I think not.

Just because you may not be a trash talker and it does not work for you does not mean you should judge someone else for it and it does nothing for them.

I think that athletes are artists.  Artists of all types: actors, painters scultpers are given leeway to be different in our culture.  All of those people use their talents to entertain us.  Why are athletes not considered artists?  They dedicate their being to their craft using the talent given to them for our entertainment.  Is that not an artist?  

Richard, let the fire burn!  Don't let them pour water on it.  Just one man't opinion.

That's All I Got!
I'm Out!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


We have learned in the past weeks in the news that the NSA (National Security Agency) has been monitoring the electronic activities of many of us for some time.  I think is is entirely possible that I am being monitored buy the WSA (Wife Security Agency).

I don't know when the last time was that she looked at my blog but she looked today?  One day after my 'Anniversary' post?  Seems odd don't you think?

Before I am made to disappear or 'relocate' by the WSA I want to issue a retraction to my 'It's Our Anniversary' post.  Most of it did not happen and the parts that did were greatly exaggerated!  I obviously provoked any and all negative events that occurred that evening.

On another note, I would like to mention that wife #2 is a wonderful woman and I love her very much.  Wife #1 does not really count because it was so brief.  I especially love wife #2 for putting up with my warped sense of humor and a number of other quirks!

That's All I Got!
I'm Out!
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