BLACK IN 2020 AMERICA


I thought that it would be a good idea to maybe paint a picture for some of you who are genuinely interested, or just curious, about what minority life looks like in America, at least for me and my family. So here are just a few of the very real considerations I have to take into account daily.

– When I mentioned that wearing glasses makes me appear less threatening to some white people, this was not just conjecture. This is from personal experience. I can see people visibly relax when I enter a room and they notice that I’m wearing glasses. I’ve had white people actually say things TO MY FACE about my apparent “harmlessness” because of my glasses. If it was just once, I could pass it off as an exception. But on several occasions white people have “jokingly” said variations of, “Bro, your glasses totally kill the gangster vibe.” Yep. Gangster vibe. Really. Did they mean any offense by the statement? Not at all. But they still got the super eye roll. 🙄

– I’m acutely aware of the substantial risk I take every time I leave my house. Not sometimes, during holidays, or on the weekends. No… EVERY. TIME. There’s an ever-present anxiety because I never know if this will be the day when I’m pulled over by the police, not because I did anything wrong, but because I “fit the description”. I would venture to guess that if you polled a sampling of black people, a majority would tell you that “fit the description” is a trauma trigger. When I get in my car, before I put it in drive, I place my cell phone in a holder attached to my dashboard. Why? Because I want to be able to call my wife or start a live-stream within seconds of being pulled over by the police. It’s on my Driving While Black checklist. It may not keep me alive, but it may bring some justice.

– There’s some weird notion that being “other” is preferred to being “black”. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked “Are you Cuban/Dominican/Puerto Rican/Non-Black?” by white people. It’s as if believing I am something OTHER THAN black, will make me more… acceptable? If I’m NOT black, maybe they somehow think I’m okay to like or believe or trust or befriend? Just a guess, but when I say, “No, I’m Black/African American”, there’s a noticeable sense of disappointment.

Again, I’m not speaking for all black people. I’m just sharing my personal experience. And if you take nothing else away from this message, please understand this… no amount of data, statistics, or reports should ever invalidate someone’s personal experience. We’ve lived what we’ve lived and we often see life through the filter of those experiences. Remember that before attempting to trivialize someone’s trauma.

Categories: commentary, current events, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

BROKEN


Ughhhhhhh!!!!!! 😩

My heart hurts. My mind is full of anger, confusion, and worry. I want to CRY and SCREAM and RUN and FIGHT… and hide, all at the same time. As I told someone else, I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to engage with people right now. So there will be no debate here. You either hear me, or you don’t. But that’s up to you. What I know is that I have been unable to sleep, and in my time of reflection, there have been myriad thoughts swirling around in my mind. Up until now, I have not spoken freely. But this must change.

And so, I will no longer remain silent.

To say that we reside in a nation divided, would be an understatement. It hinges upon readily observed and documented injustice, along with a perceived hopelessness, perpetuated by the repeated occurrences of mistrust, brutality, prejudice, and discrimination that I fear have now come to define the character of our country, to its citizens as well as the rest of the world.

These attributes have been affixed to the very nature of who we are as a population, brought about by the actions of those who have been appointed, and thereby obligated, to be the benevolent and compassionate custodians of liberty, safety, and justice for all.

But somewhere along the way, the vision was lost, or perhaps it was intentionally discarded.

We have become a nation in which the pursuit of wealth and success comes at the cost of compassion and consideration of others. We are teaching our children that it is socially acceptable to be selfish and obtain their definition of happiness by any means necessary. And in so doing, I fear we have developed a culture that prizes possessions over principle, money over morality, and status over solidarity. In a country whose very name embodies cohesion and promotes collaboration, The United States of America, we now seem to encourage divisiveness and egocentric aspirations.

We have been broken.
Broken promises.
Broken relationships.
Broken trust.
Brokenhearted.

I’m not sure how much more my heart and mind can endure. I used to think that civil dialogue could help heal the wounds between us. But in this current civilization, civility is not always possible. I learned a long time ago that people motived by feelings, who take action before considering the consequences of those actions, are NOT interested in talking. They are only interested in purging their emotions by any means necessary. There is no reasoning with them.

But I’m tired.

Tired of being the black man who is all too conscious of the fact that wearing glasses makes me appear less threatening. Tired of being the one who some people point to as the example of a “good black person” (wth is that anyway??). Tired of being the father who is constantly updating the Minority Rules of Social Engagement, and reinforcing them to his fives sons and one daughter, as a contingency against the very real possibility that their lives could one day depend on them.

I am a black man in America. And to some, that means I am a life without value. Disposable.

But my life has value as much as any other human being. And I will do everything lawfully within my power to uphold that right and recognize that value, in myself and others.

As I sit here in tears, I’m thinking about how I used to avoid making such precise statements about my feelings for fear of people misunderstanding me, unfriending me or taking offense. But I will say this without reservation, your approval of me will never be worth more than the welfare and well-being of my family. I’m committed to finding solutions and taking action. But I will not sit idly by while the world descends into chaos.

If I lose friends over this… ask yourself, were we really friends?

Categories: commentary, current events, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alone In The Crowd


Entering the chaos of trivial chatter

it drowns the sound of reason 

an appropriate place to blend into oblivion.

 

Retreating into this hull of indifference

fearing asphyxiation by the masses

with no desire to breathe in their treason.

 

Plumetting to depths unknown 

their preoccupied faces cast stares unaware

of the stranger in their stew of conversations. 

 

A final glance of understanding

with a smirk this world becomes

a simple detour before the final destination. 

alone-in-a-crowd

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THE FOUNTAIN


The murder was carried out

in the garden

of love’s absurdity

and the body cast

into the fountain of spite,

so that the world, without knowledge

might consume it in its thirst

and visit their regret

upon the generation to come.

Fountain of Spite

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Shattered Boxes


I always find it interesting how we create these images of various people we’ve met. You know, we have a particular idea about how they probably behave, talk or react to the world when we’re not around. This inevitably puts them in a particular box that we are none too quick to release them from. So much so, that when they do or say something that goes against our established image of them, we think it’s “out of character” or that “something must be wrong”.

Personally, I think people are multifaceted beings that have a propensity to exhibit behavior that could seem contradictory in nature. What it really means is that there is more to each of us than we share with every individual. For instance, some people know me for my writing, while others know me for my music. And there are others who have absolutely no idea that I write OR sing. For them, finding out that I do either (or both) would completely shatter their image of me.

Which is a bit sad considering those particular things have always been a part of me, even if I haven’t shared them.

So yeah… there are parts of me that I share with some people and not with others, depending on the context of our discussion and the depth of our friendship. And so it goes, that in getting to know people, we discover other parts of who they are.

To me, that’s the most exciting part about developing relationships… there is always the potential for surprise.

Categories: relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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