How can you revolt when you don't know you're a slave?

By 9:03 PM ,

You know what really grinds my gears? Well there are quite a few things but one of the most relevant and current issues is that of race. It is probably the topic I am least passive about because I refuse to accept skin colour as a rationale for discrimination, injustice or inequality.

As an islander, watching the news while the bamboo sways outside my window waiting for the stars to peak out, the message I've been gathering (other than beware of flying on planes in the event of suicidal pilots or mysterious plane disappearances) is this is a dangerous time to be a brown person in America. I swear it feels like if every other month there's some killing of some person by a cop. Coincidentally the trend tends to be brown people and white cops.

I think the last serious post I wrote about something of this nature was over the Trayvon Martin case which happened 3 years ago. I recall going to the States the summer after it happened and being bombarded from all angles and truly understanding the hanging atmosphere of tension that existed. It's one thing watching it on tv from your island paradise, where whenever any crime happens it sends the whole country into shock, and being able to turn off the tv, feel sorry for the families and continue living your life. It's different being a witness to the system and constantly hearing about it as you enter the stores, walk the streets, get on the bus - it was everywhere.

The level of awareness I was forced to be immersed in changed my perception on the situation. Yes it wasn't my problem, it wasn't my brother, it wasn't my family, it wasn't my friend BUT it was a human being just like myself and it could've been my brother, my family, my friend. I was increasingly aware of it as I listened to the views and opinions of those around me and the subtleties of race stopped being subtle. I recall how easily in discussion it transformed from Trayvon not being a victim to any black young male deserved that reaction. Folks openly telling me that if they saw a young black male walking down the street with a hoodie, they'd cross the street - not because said male approached with intent or indicated any harm - but because he's young and black. I remember driving around Brooklyn with folks who all owned Mercedes and hearing their stories of repeatedly being stopped by cops and just the silent acknowledgment that stepping into the vehicle was potentially stepping into a different experience of the typical African American who managed to make it that far without taking the easiest, most commonly available avenues for the race being that of crime. Perhaps, the fear and concern is valid. However, the opportunities available are different according to race; the whole system is designed in such a way that ultimately, unless due to sheer determination and force to succeed down another path that only few survive, you succumb to crime.

I've been saying this a while now, and I'm increasingly seeing the conversation open up about the collective system. The first one that struck me was an article about the "Hot N*gga" Bobby Shmurda, and mind you, that was the first time I also became aware the song existed.  In fact the title for this blog post comes from one of them - 'A tragedy in song' There's so many blog posts about it now that I can't find the exact one that triggered it. Long before Bobby though I've been offering commentary on what's coming through the airwaves these days and looking very uncool as a young person. Who pays attention to the lyrics anymore?

My father always told me that growing up, music from his time was so romantic that you could dedicate songs to your partner - that was courtship. Now you turn on the radio, go to the club, go to the stores, go wherever ... women have now upgraded or downgraded (depends on who you ask) from b*tches and hoes to THOTS (Thirsty hoes out there... like seriously?!), no one seems to be dating their own or wanting one woman or man aside from John Legend and Sam Smith, and those who aren't into b*tches, hoes and folks on the side are into criminal lifestyles where killing, drug dealing, etc has become glamorized. I'm not going to subscribe to the school of thought that dictates that everything that comes in, has influence. I like to think I'm one of those consciously tries to choose my influences as well as the friends I keep in my circle. However, not everyone does, and this is evident at these same said parties - just watch how the energy changes depending on the vibe of the music. Everyone is gangsta when gangsta music is playing and everyone wants to be gangsta when it's not. However, the career choice of "gangst" doesn't come with medical benefits, a 401k plan, insurance, etc........ And that is another discussion not intended for this blog post.

What has spurred this blog post is the most recent shooting in South Carolina. I'm aware that not all of the cases are innocent to which I attribute that many fall under what the rant above was about - different circumstances and opportunities growing up bring about different results - so I decided not to get too heated when I saw the first post in my Facebook timeline. I didn't know much and I didn't click to find out... But then I watched a clip today and saw the shooting. Tonight I saw the footage from the police car where he, Walter Scott, was interrogated about the various paperwork for the car which he stated he didn't have because he was in transition of getting the paperwork. What was he driving? A Mercedes. Yes, I did wonder to myself why did he run? But after all the stories of experiences of being black in America, I can't say what I would or wouldn't have done in the man's shoes. The more important question I find was why did the cop shoot to kill? Why are all of these cops shooting to kill? Why all of a sudden these sort of cases are occcuring so frequently? Why is racism, something that is allegedly "a thing of the past" that we try to bury our heads and pretend never happened, so clearly rearing its ugly self now? What has changed to make this permissible or acceptable? How can we solve it? Why have we as humans become so apathetic? What happened to the power is with the people? When did human kind get reduced to animal behaviour and human lives become irrelevant?

I'm tired of this conversation being "too heavy" for a lot of folks to deal with. Life has taught me there's truth to the old adage "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." People for whatever reason think that pretending that something happened prevents it from occurring again. However, the mere fact of side stepping what happened means it was never resolved, there was no learning, there was no understanding and it will happen again.

It's time to have the conversation. It's time to start having these conversations before each one of us is forced to have it the hard way when it starts hitting home and becomes our problem. By then you'd want sympathy but by then it would also be too late.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

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