An Open Letter To The Conscious

** Disclaimer:  The post you are about to read is my opinion alone and is intended to spark discussion.  If you are not outraged by the eerie similarities between recent events between law enforcement and minorities across the country and pre-civil rights race relations, this post is not for you.  If you go along to get along, this post is not for you.  If you are looking for a rant, this post is not for you.  **

I have kids.  My oldest is 22 and he is 1 of my greatest accomplishment so far.  When he was in high school he would describe himself very simply as “an athlete & a scholar”.  And he is both, though the scholarly side has almost fully taken over.  He fits a certain stereotype that he might never admit – he is a bit of a nerd.  A scholarship baby, a thinker.

He and his friends are all very socially conscious & conscientious young men.  When he is visiting and they all get together, we might walk in to find them huddled around the coffee table having a philosophical discussion about the plight of {Black} America and what they need to do to change it.  Of course that would be before they head out to party – these ARE college kids.

I am not just saying these things because I am proud of my son, as I am of all my children.  I’m trying to paint a picture for you.  Stay with me.

My oldest also fits another stereotype.  He is a young black male, athletic, with locs hanging down his back.  He fits a “profile”.  Let’s just be honest about that.  In fact I could have stopped with “he’s a young black male” because, whether we want to admit it or not, we all know that alone is often enough.

These days I like to believe he is very much in control of his own destiny, but he has certainly had some… “moments”.  This same child has been detained a few times in his life for things just as simple as the reasons TOO many young black males (and females) have lost their lives for.  Things like walking down the street with friends in their own neighborhood in a stretch where there was no sidewalk.  Detained & searched.  Like making a “rolling stop” at a stop sign.  Detained & searched.  Both by officers who were paid (via our HOA dues) to patrol our neighborhood and had seen, waved to, & interacted with all of us (positively) on many occasions.

I’m not complaining, but I’m complaining.  Because on any given day at any given time for any given reason, my son could have been maimed or killed.  I’m grateful that has not happened, but I’m disgusted that it does.  Prayer is always important but it literally makes me sick to my stomach to know that I, like so many other parents in this world, have to say prayer just for the hope that our children make it home each day.

Today I am grateful that my oldest son is a college graduate headed into grad school with his whole life ahead him.  Or is it?  I am more fearful than ever how quickly and easily and senselessly things can change.

I teach my children to always be aware of their surroundings, always show respect to people in a position of authority (real or perceived) even if you don’t mean it, and always protect yourself even if it means closing your mouth & walking away.  But what are they to do when even that is not enough?

Like now.  What are WE to do when compliance and respect are not enough?

I will tell you that I am not a protester.  In another time under different circumstances I might have been.  I happen to believe that protests are only effective if:

  1. It is for something VERY specific like getting legislation passed, for example.
  2. It systemically raises significant nuisance.

Let’s just take the city of Houston for example.  I hold the position that 1 or 2 large protests at major parks on Day 1, 1 or 2 protests on Day 2 at City Hall,  1 protest on Day 3 at HPD headquarters, 1 back at City Hall on Day 7, etc causes a stir and a bit of a nuisance.  Enough to perhaps draw media attention and some press conferences.

However, all of these protests (plus more) very carefully & peacefully organized and occurring at the same time or on the same day across such a huge metroplex puts a huge strain on the city and it’s people.  Systemically much more effective but also much more dangerous in terms of protecting the city and it’s people.  If law enforcement has to be spread all over the city in masses in case of unrest, who would be left to “protect & serve”?

I do sign petitions.  They can be as effective as protest if not more so in some cases, but again they have to be very specific.

I don’t have any answers, but I do have some collective ideas from discussions with my DH, family, and friends.  Many of these have been spoken about for years, even decades.  Since integration in some circles. Some are more specific and tangible, others are mobilizing and require each and every person to take some small action that could have big impact.  There’s strength in collective numbers.

  1. Use your economic power.  We’ve all heard this one many times before.  It’s not about changing the system, but about changing ourselves.  Being self sufficient and self sustaining. About everything from how/where we spend our money to how/where we save it.  Everything counts – from what we wear to what we eat.
  2. Talk.  To everyone. The point is to start some serious intelligent conversations, get some real ideas that could spark change, to help explain to those who don’t understand.  And to not forget & lose sight of what really needs to happen… until the next time it does.  Stay open, stay peaceful, stay clear about the issue at hand.  Nothing will shut folks down faster than a “righteous” message wrapped in curse words, and ending with “you know what I’m saying?”.  No they won’t.  It’s a dialogue, not a debate.
  3. Brainstorm.  Think about something actionable that could help with community relations, police procedure, laws. Things like:
    1. Annual required sensitivity training for all law enforcement officers, since fear seems to be a recurrent theme.  Required meaning if they want to keep their job year over year, they must successfully complete it.  I’m sure something like this must already be in place.  Surely.
    2. Requiring new “non-minority” officers to only patrol “minority” neighborhoods after sensitivity training with trained & experienced “minority” officers.  Not necessarily on dispatch calls, but more as a continuation of the training itself.  (And for anyone who might try it, I am NOT talking about some “Training Day” type patrolling.)
    3. Stricter and more intense procedures for any officer who has discharged a firearm in (or out of) the line of duty.  Counseling, even more training, something measurable and accountable.
  4. Citizen’s course/training.  Everyone should be educated on how to respond when interacting with an officer of the law.  This interaction is almost becoming a life’s essential for our black youth.  Understanding its importance might be the difference between life or death.
  5. Contact your elected officials.  Start local and work your way up.  Write them a letter.  YES on paper, with a pen (that will definitely get noticed because people don’t write much anymore).  Tweet them, send them a DM.  However you do it, just contact them.  Don’t just rant, be specific about what you want.  The more people want the same things, the more likely our lawmakers are to at least listen.

These problems that we are witnessing are not new.  Our attitudes toward them may be.  Our parents & grandparents have seen it and dealt with it head on.  Each generation is different and handles things very differently.  That’s okay so long as we all realize that there are still major gaps in the system that must be addressed and that are far more important than the latest lip color trend or the label across my chest or on my back.

I was listening to the radio the other day, flipping back & forth between 97.9 The Boxx or Magic 102.1, when 1 thing really caught my attention.  Someone mentioned that just prior to last week’s shootings, a {retired officer} made a comment about a race war coming.  I would say that we’ve already had (and continue to have some sort of) a race war – we just may have been fighting for the wrong thing(s), but that is another topic altogether.

I don’t necessarily condone a race war, but I do believe that we and all the people with great media, social media, and community influence must stand up.  With great power comes great responsibility, right?

A couple of things to close.

First, I’m not against the all lives matter “movement”, and I would definitely not exclude other minority or oppressed groups.  But all lives can’t matter if Black lives don’t.

Second, I use the words “minority”, “non-minority” loosely since in reality there are more “minorities” than “non-minorities” worldwide.  I am using it in the American historical context of groups of people who are discriminated against or treated differently based on race.

Now, what can WE do?  If 1 person of power & influence were standing in front of you right now, what would ask them to do?  What would you say?

Since they are NOT standing in front of you, use your virtual voice, be bold… Who would you tag?  

I am sending this to a long list of people.  If only 1 responds or shares it or talks about (whether I know it or not), that’s better than nothing.

We say “power to the people”, but sometimes the people need help.

 

Enjoy!

\ní-ˈkō-lä\

About me

I love food & wine, paint & power tools. I am a creative introvert, programmer turned decorator, wife and mom, & mental health advocate. I am the decorator owner of Xtraordinary by Design. My mission - rid the world of builder beige & furniture sets.

11 Responses

  1. Albert Green says:

    Awesome article!

  2. Albert Green says:

    Motivates me to take an economic stand!

    • Nikki G. says:

      And that’s what we need. To take a stand way or another. To do nothing at all or to sweep it under the rug sends the message that it’s okay. That it’ll just go away on it’s own. The question is how? What will be effective?

  3. Albert Green says:

    I think pushing for officer/citizen training is attainable. Getting it approved as a yearly curriculum requirement might be difficult. However, making these courses available so that officers and citizens can sign up for them online is a win (IMO).

    • Nikki G. says:

      I think so too. I think it’s about reaching the right people and asking for actionable & attainable (SMART) goals. {YES I reached back to my corporate days for that 1!}

  4. Krasad Kristopher says:

    this is so on point! I pray for him and others every day for their safety, because it is always subjective for our young Black men. As you know I wrote something similar back in the MySpace days. Our peace must come from our own people and from those who understand.

    • Nikki G. says:

      Ah, the MySpace days. Sad how much things change but still stay the same. I agree that we have to make our own peace – peacefully – and make change happen from within. Economic empowerment is a good place to start on the road to self-sustainability. Getting and keeping the dialogue going is so important, it’s easy to get mad for a day, a week, a month and then move on. We can’t do that.

      • Albert Green says:

        And then we have incidents like Baton Rouge and Dallas setting us back.

        • Nikki G. says:

          People have had enough and feel like no one is doing anything, not even hearing or seeing our frustrations. But violence is not the answer. The Dallas police chief said it best when he said most officers are good people, it’s the small percentage of them that are on the force for all the wrong reasons and need to be weeded out.
          That’s another reason that having required annual training might help weed them out.

  5. I really have to respect what you wrote here. I especially like the bit about concrete demands in effective protests. Keep your wits about you and focus on solutions people. Anger is only useful as a motivation to betterment – not as an action. People getting violent, yelling over each other, shouting, etc. All it does is make stuff worse.

    This isn’t gonna be easy. But I believe what you’re saying here — that’s real empowerment. And things like sensitivity training and things like citizen’s training? Absolutely behind you. I’ll be praying for you all today too.

    • Nikki G. says:

      Welcome to the 4th House on the Right & thanks for the visit Lady of The Lamp!
      This issue is one that we have to be in for the long haul & you are right, it’s not going to be easy. Nothing worth working for ever really is. But it IS necessary.

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