I figured I'd put my phone down until I fully got a chance to sort out all of my thoughts, emotions, and everything I wanted to say. Well, not really everything. There is so much to be said, I could probably fill a library. I will, however, touch on a few things at the tip of the iceberg. Lots of things are constantly running through my mind all the time...possibilities, what ifs, different scenarios, questions, alternate universes where everything is totally opposite, the good, the bad, the funny, the sad... needless to say, it can be quite exhausting. It's comforting to know that I can share all of my unfiltered ramblings and spider-web tangents with my notebooks without being judged or misunderstood. This is more than I can say for my online writings. How can we expect to put something out into the world and not have it judged? The best thing that I can do is make sure that what I do share with the world is exactly what I want to say.
This past week, I have been fairly silent online. I have instead been reading and watching every single post, article, photograph, video, interview, statement, reactions to statements, and comments to the reactions to all of these things. Unless you live under a rock, you know everything going on as well. This country is practically at war. Other countries are even issuing travel advisories to foreigners visiting here! I don't want to be redundant by restating what is already known. This is mainly my insight from hearing everyone else's insight. And trust me, there are a lot of insights. The events of this week have left us frightened, angry, sad, hopeless, and helpless. Being killed for just being you is truly heartbreaking. I'm not sure about anyone else but for me specifically, It's hard to properly verbalize everything I feel, especially in a such a way where others will understand. I have been told before that I'm unempathetic, too vague about the situation, not angry enough, on the side of the oppressor, scared to stand up and speak for black people, and accused of standing up more so for other organizations and minorities. In this technological age, I have seen many things that people say and do, get twisted beyond recognition. It has seemingly replaced human interaction almost entirely. We've all become surface skimming scientific analysts when it comes to another's written expression. Truly listening and understanding another person is the ultimate key in communication. With a lack of proper communication, we fail to realize that we all are fighting for the same thing. The devil is truly in the details. The technicalities of who is "speaking up" via social media, whoever thinks that retaliation is the key as opposed to peaceful protests, whoever is seemingly more physically upset or angry... that's all neither here nor there. The thing we all want is for the lives of every single human being in this country to be treated equally and fairly. It's as simple as that. We just all have a different way of expressing. Which should not be judged by the way. Who are we to tell someone else what to think or feel? I just believe that all of the dividing debates focusing on what others are not doing are counterproductive.
Now that we are past the point of making everyone in the nation aware of the situations involving African Americans and police, the next step is understanding of the wrongdoing. We can make people aware all day until we are blue in the face, but it is for sure important for people to understand exactly why it is that we are so upset. One helpful thing I have learned through speaking with close friends the past few days is that most of the time it's not what you are saying, but how you are saying it that determines whether people will truly listen and try to see where you are coming from. My general lack of empathy for most things, overall hippie demeanor, and "we are the world" mentality, may seem super off-putting to someone shaking and crying from anger. Of course, they are gonna think I don't care, so why would they listen to a darn word I have to say? I am definitely a work in progress, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.
In addition to improving the way we communicate effectively to get our point across, it is a good thing to also be the change we seek. I understand the initial reaction to someone attacking you is to attack back. It's normal, it's called reflex. However, after that, you're just both attacked and weak. Has anyone really won? A gun in the wrong hands, especially hands of authority or someone who is supposed to be protecting us, is scary. It just makes me think another civil war is brewing. And yes, maybe I am a big old gushy hippie type, but in my heart of hearts, I don't think it's good for anyone to kill anyone. Yeap, even if a person was a mass murderer, there is a way to disable without taking a life away. The bible does say there is a time to kill, but I never quite figured that time out. Even if I was in a life or death situation, and someone was trying to kill me...would I really have it in me to take THEIR life? I'd have to live with that for the rest of MY life. Backwards right?
I have previously stated the bad connotations of my non-empathetic nature, however, one good thing about it is that I can compartmentalize without being clouded by overwhelming emotion. I'm usually very good in crisis situations because of the simple fact that I don't dwell on the sadness or terribleness for long at all. I jump right into "what exactly went wrong" and "what are we gonna do" mode. It's easy to feel hopeless because sometimes it just doesn't seem like progress is getting made, but change doesn't come overnight. It WILL come eventually. Change is the only constant. Now is a time for ideas. Any ideas. Even if they seem crazy or far-fetched. From a lot of the statuses I read, not many people seem to know quite what to do. Others are offering up a number of things. I have made a list of a few things I personally (would like to) think will HELP put an end to all of the chaos:
- This is where you can give input about a proposed body cam implementation for NYPD (if you live in NYC)
- If you want to be in the know about current police brutality, here is A very up to date list of everyone killed by police for the past 3 years (including race/age/gender)
- Write a letter to the police commissioner of your city (just google their name and contact info). Here is NYC's. Send them ideas on how to improve police/civilian relations if you have any. Communicate with them in a way where you can both be understood.
- Research and support people running for office who are in support of effective police and policy reform on a local and national level. Better yet, why not consider running for office yourself?
- Learn about Lobbying! (I also need to learn more about lobbying. It seems like illegal bribing at first glance, but I think there may be something to it) Together we can stand. Large groups are listened to in congress, and can make a difference if everyone in the group is on the same accord. (This is why the NRA is so powerful people...they stick together). First and foremost, however, we must figure out what it is we all want. Accountability? Less use of deadly weapons? Retraining of police force?
- Petition for police to no longer carry deadly weapons. (Far fetched, but in certain countries, police don't carry firearms when they patrol)
- Go to protests. But be safe! (This isn't necessarily MY specific thing, but I don't criticize anyone who does want to do this. To each his own. Just do whatever it is you feel you need to do. There is so much to be done, just do what you can. Nobody should judge you for that).
- There is a boycott flyer I saw going around about not spending in certain companies for a while as a form of protest. I don't have any money anyway, but for those who do, try to support more black businesses in order to even out some of the financial power in America. (Again, do what you can.)
- Everything you want someone else to show you, you should be willing to show them; respect, kindness, love, non-judgement. Who cares if they don't show it first in certain situations. We can lead by example. Be the change you want to see.
- Try not to worry so much about what others aren't saying or doing. Let's focus on what WE are doing. Also, if someone DOES have something to say, don't get so caught up in the specifics if their goal is the same. (Black lives matter vs. All lives matter. I understand the frustration, but this technicality in phrasing, and overall semantics debate divides WAY more than it unites.)
- Know that any sort of violent retaliation will only help perpetuate the negative images that other races have of African Americans. Don't prove them right. I have heard exclamations that peaceful protests have gotten us nowhere...where have the violent ones gotten us?
- Have as many conversations as you can, ESPECIALLY with those who have opposite views. I have seen a lot of people block certain folks who don't agree. While it is certainly easier to speak with people who share your same views, conversing in a civil tone (and in a non-condescending way) with others who may not get it, is necessary to bring about social and cultural changes and ultimately, understanding (can yall tell that understanding is my favorite word right now?).
- Self-fulfilling prophecies are never helpful (i.e. "These cops will just get off like the last cops"). If you are fighting for change, you at least have to believe that things WILL change.
- Have hope!
**And there could be more things to do as well. Do a bit of research and come up with new ideas. (Like one idea I had where each state could Brexit and become it's own country...thus making it WAY easier to pass new laws and govern smaller groups of people. (Didn't I tell you about those alternate universes running around in my mind?))
As I said, this is only the tip of the iceberg about all of the things I could say that are on my mind and have BEEN on my mind. This is why I'm working on my book people! This has been such a stressful week. I took a break from all social media actually. After this blog post, I plan on rejoining the internet world. Over the next few days, as we get back to posting about our everyday lives and living it to the fullest, we shouldn't forget the constant struggles of our people. I know I may seem like a fairly upbeat and carefree individual who always likes to look on the bright side of things, and ya know what, I am! This does not mean for one minute that I have forgotten or am ignoring anything. It does mean that I would like to enjoy everything it is that we are fighting to preserve... a healthy, happy, long life. While you are remembering everything that has happened, don't forget to throw a smile in there while thinking about the hope for tomorrow.
p.s. Speaking of hope for tomorrow, this is a REALLYYY cute article about young children who are keeping their joy in spite of everything going on. We are making the world a better place for them! And one day hopefully, I'll have a little hippie munchkin who can enjoy this beautiful earth too.
p.p.s. Political correctness is truly the bane of my existence. I am very rarely offended, but I do know a lot of people can be, especially in this day and age. But if people are thinking a certain way, yet saying something totally different just to be "politically correct", how can we ever truly have open and honest discussions to bring us all closer together? Try not to be so harsh if a person has a different viewpoint. Talk to them!
p.p.p.s. Y'all better buy my book when it comes out, I'm a black business dang it. A struggling one!