We had it tough, growing up.
We went from one slum apartment with hot and cold cockroaches to another, like we were in a running gun battle with the rats. We lived in broken down shacks in old shanty town where the wind blew through the walls hindered to the same degree that a wet Kleenex would impede the progress of a .45 bullet. We lived in a car for a while. An old blue Packard.
I don’t think I ever wore anything that someone else hadn’t worn first.
Never had access to thing that the good kids had – music lessons, sports, going places and doing things.
I was physically and emotionally abused. I know all too well what it’s like to be subjected to harsh punishment based on the arbitrary whim of an irrational, emotionally disturbed person who’s making up the rules as he goes along.
I understand helplessness, and fear and despair.
I’m good with anger.
But as bad as things were for me, after all pain I went through, the simple truth is that I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be Black in the United States.
Maybe the only people who can are those who survived the Nazi holocaust.
Something on that scale.
There were a lot of Black folks where we lived in the city. I never thought much about it. I grew up listening to Black music – blues, jazz, “rhythm & blues” which morphed into “rock and roll” when they added bleach. I played in bands with Black musicians. I dated Black women. Once I taught a karate class at the behest of some friends in the Black Panthers. The hero of my youth was Muhammad Ali, less for his boxing skill than for his moral courage. I remember watching bewildered as civil rights marchers on TV were set upon by police with clubs, and teargas, and dogs, at which time the word “motherfuckers” entered my repertoire of commonly used terms. It was the only word that seemed to fit.
So yesterday the cops murdered another Black man for no apparent reason.
If you’re Black in America, everything you do is a crime and the penalty is at the discretion of the police – who clearly favor summary execution.
Yeah, sure they murder White people, too.
Whites are 72% of the population but less than 50% of those killed by police
Bullies are cowards.
So they always select as victims those whom they perceive to be available, vulnerable and, above all defenseless. People with no clout. No lawyers in the family and no money to hire one. No connections down at city hall, or the state capitol. Easy pickin’s for a psychopathic predator, a sexual sadist, or a cop – but I’m being redundant there.
That means the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, the disenfranchised, children and the elderly, of any race. But at to that “non-white” and your odds of being murdered by a cop skyrocket to the top of the charts faster than a Beatles song in late ‘60’s.
I don’t know what the hell to do about it.
Or, actually, I do know, but I don’t like it.
You know, too, whether you admit it or not.
It’s ugly, even when absolutely necessary.
Police officers who commit crimes should be prosecuted. All those mythical “good cops” out there should be leading the charge, demanding that these bastards who betray their oath and disgrace the badge, should be treated like nothing other than the criminals that they are.
They should be.
But they’re not.
When it comes down to it, you have pick a side, you have to choose right or wrong, and there is no Mr. In-Between. To be neutral is to be, de facto, on the side of oppression and injustice. It appears that cops have picked a side. And it's not our side.
Here’s what I’ve learned from dogs and horses. If you want a behavior to be repeated, you reward that behavior. If you don’t want it to be repeated, you “punish” that behavior. Now, I’m not saying cops are as smart as a good dog or an average horse, but I do think they’re trainable.
When a cop commits a crime he/she must be held accountable.
By whatever means necessary.
When it’s impossible to get justice in the courts, it becomes imperative to get it in the streets.
Maybe it's time for us to say, in one voice: "You can be a good cop, or you can be a dead cop. You get to choose. But that's the only choice you get."
That's a whole lot more choice than they gave their victims.
So it seems more than fair.
Liberty & Justice
A tutorial on dealing with predators. Any questions?