I Didn’t Know What To Say About The Protests. So I Just Wrote.
Sacramento has been ground zero to some very emotional days and nights over the past week. As I sat at home, ready to post my Sunday blog, I very much wanted to write about my observations this week. Unfortunately, my head was spinning with everything I’d been reading and hearing. And most of all, I was/am worried about saying the wrong thing, or being misconstrued. Not wanting to even seem CLOSE to someone who thinks he knows what to say, I decided to write as a father, a brother, and most importantly a native son of the city I love so much. To be fair, I used both my inner voices, and simply typed out a transcript of my own personal battle within my ears.
[FADE IN: Lying down, head propped up. Laptop on….lap]
Blog to write.
Ignorance and anger.
Leave it alone, Dave.
Don’t write about it, Dave. Write something about sports, or post a funny tweet. It will take less time, FAR less time. And you won’t piss anyone off.
I HAVE to write something! I live here. My kids live here. I can scream all day about the Kings, the Republic, the Giants, the Niners, I can’t comment on this?
Sure you can. Go ahead. Watch how you lose listeners, respect, and more than likely get in trouble. You’re in the media, stupid. Why take a stand to curry favor with some people when you risk alienating the other half? Even if its “the other third”, that’s a lot of people.
Pretty cowardly of me to have a voice so loud on so many things, but not this. Not something that’s not only in my hometown, but also affected the team I get paid to cover for a living. What’s the point of being in a job tailor-made to express yourself if you’re too afraid to express yourself?
Fine. Go ahead. Join the chorus. Be a bleeding heart like everyone else. Its the cool thing to do, I guess.
What do you mean?
Join the protests. Call out in anger. You know everything, right? The police were wrong. They should be brought to justice. Sure. That’s the “cool” angle.
Hey! The man was shot TWENTY TIMES!! In his grandmother’s backyard. They said he was holding a “toolbar”, whatever the hell that is. It was a freaking CELL PHONE.
The guy with the criminal record? The guy fresh out of jail? The guy breaking windows, hopping fences, and moving towards the cops in the dark? Ok.
You don’t know any of that. Certainly hasn’t been proven. Also, the cops don’t know his past when they move up on him. They also didn’t know if he was breaking windows. They knew he was in the backyard, and after that it gets hazy. But did any of that call for them shooting him (I say again) TWENTY TIMES?
Would you feel better if they shot him once? Twice? What’s the cutoff? You heard them breathing hard, they were scared to death. They have families too. They put their lives on the line every night, and one false move means they aren’t going home. When THEY get shot and killed, they get a procession. No one protests crime at the Kings game. No one blocks entry because a cop was killed.
Give me a break. Please. Yes, the investigation isn’t near over. Yes, I respect the hell out of law enforcement. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t bad apples. It doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of racism. Or just plain out and out racism.
Um, one of the officers was black. Hi.
So you’re assuming you have to be white to be racist? Or even prejudiced? Listen, I don’t know what was in their head, I just know that many, many times you get treated differently by law enforcement when you’re white. White guy shoots up a school, they take him in peacefully and give him a happy meal. White guy bombs half of Austin, he has to blow HIMSELF up for it to be over.
Ever notice when these things happen with white people, more often than not you hear “troubled kid”, or “rough upbringing”? That’s great. But I’m damn sure if either of them were named Mohammed al-Akbar bin Aziz, we’d be instantly looking for the Quran at their house, wondering what madrassa they were trained at, and calling it “terrorism”. Why wasn’t the shooting or the bombing of Austin called terrorism? Can you honestly tell me if it was a brown kid they’d react the same way?
Now imagine being brown. Seeing that on your TV. Seeing the hypocrisy. Wouldn’t it piss you off to no end?
By the way, remember the last black guy to shoot up a school? Set up bombs in a city? Hell, be a mass murderer? Me neither.
But THEY are the thugs.
I’m not indifferent to that. But these two cops are being tried and convicted without the benefit of due process. The guy didn’t have a gun, so basically he was just walking down the street eating a sundae and two cops just rushed up to him and shot him? Come on. Why does this have to fall in with the other “bad cop” situations? Each one is different. These guys risk THEIR LIVES. When someone is breaking into your car, your house, whatever- you’re calling the cops. And they are going to speed out to wherever you are and try to SAVE YOUR LIFE. Are they all perfect? No. But what’s the option? What’s YOUR solution?
I wish I knew. I just know that sometimes I have a really hard time looking my friends of color in the eye. I don’t know what to say. I feel like if I say anything, I’ll just sound like a moron, a hypocrite. And I have friends that don’t want to go anywhere near the subject, because if they say one wrong thing, they’re done. Fired. Scarlet letter.
I get it, but these are my friends and neighbors. And I so badly want the discussion.
So have it. Watch what happens. Look what happened on your twitter and facebook. You didn’t even take a side. You posted the video the Kings made, and next thing you know its World War III on your feeds. How does that make you feel?
Sad. Really sad. I’ve begun to recognize the same people. Almost 50 thousand twitter followers and 5 thousand facebook friends, and I can actually recognize some of them simply by what topics they pop up in. I already know what they’re going to say, every single time. You have people that are guided by a group of beliefs, and they live in an echo chamber.
Sometimes I get on the merry go ’round and participate, but usually not. It just ends up being two sides screaming at each other online, devolves into name calling, and in the end: no one changes a THING. Its just endless typing.
Another thing that makes me sad? I probably got about 400 responses on social media all weekend that disliked the protests, the videos. Every single one of them was from a white person. 100% of them.
Does that mean their wrong? I don’t know. But I know there is a disconnect between colors. Not everyone. But enough to scare me.
Regardless of color, maybe some people don’t try, convict, and execute based on spotty information. Maybe some people wait and get all the information, instead of acting on adrenaline and instinct.
Tell that to Stephon Clark. Too bad.
Here’s what I DO know:
I really don’t.
I know that the social unrest that I’ve watched on TV all over the nation has come to my hometown. I know that the team I root for has stepped into the arena and chosen to make a statement and be heard, and I know that I admire them for doing that. Because they’re a business. And what they are doing is likely bad for business. Hell, the owner spoke in support of the protests after he lost a crap ton of money just hours prior. Agree or disagree, its ballsy. Truly bigger than basketball.
I also know that there are two police officers out there that are under tremendous scrutiny, who for all I know acted the only way they could’ve in an insanely tense situation. This will dominate the rest of their lives. They are pariahs, they are outcasts. And perhaps, just perhaps, they acted properly.
But I also know that a young man is dead. I know that a family grieves, and two children will never know their father. I know a community distrust of law enforcement just gained another chapter in the lore, and I know that there are some very difficult questions that need to be asked on all sides. But even if it all comes out that the officers acted properly, everything was normal, etc etc, that doesn’t change the fact that we hear this all too often. WAY too often.
My kids going out for a night on the town will not have the same worries and issues that some other kids will. And that’s not right.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I CAN do. Unlike many of the people I see on social media, I can easily say I don’t possess the answers.
But I DO know we need to keep talking. I am proud of my city, and in this time of anguish and stress and pressure, I feel like my city rose to the occasion.
What happened that dark night was horrible, and we may never know the truth. But I know that in the aftermath, my city stood up and handled itself well. For that I am proud.
And if we can yell, scream, cry, protest, march, and argue and debate with “peaceful passion”, isn’t that a start? Can’t we use this as a catapult to further conversation? Is it too much to hope that conversation can lead to action?
But can we have this conversation with both sides, to awkwardly quote Mike and the Mechanics- talking in defense?
Oh brother. You’ve gone ’round the bend. Go ahead, hit publish.
Watch what they say. Watch what they call you. Go ahead and try to pander to both sides. See where that goes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I consider myself warned. Please. Doesn’t it seem silly to worry about something so trivial as backlash to a conversation in a time when a family grieves, and a police department is scrutinized? Don’t be such a damn narcissist.
I certainly hope others won’t stifle themselves for fear of being mocked, yelled at, or made fun of. Or worse, because of apathy. No matter who you are or what you think, there’s nothing wrong with conversation. That’s how you learn. As long as you keep your ears open and your heart full, you can learn something. And that in itself is a victory.
Whatever you say, Dave. Good luck.
I don’t need luck. What I need is to learn more. To be educated. You see, its not my duty……..
It’s my privilege.