It is important to know where the flaws in the system are before you are faced with a headline-grabbing instance of police brutality in your city. If your police system has these sizeable gaps in civilian protection (and chances are they do) then there are issues of police misconduct and brutality happening in your city right now, whether you hear about them or not.
Racism, homophobia, the refusal to regard women as equals -- these beliefs will only end if we keep talking about why and how they're problematic, and force those who hold them to own them -- and face the consequences.
The cellphone video "reality footage" just doesn't stop. Black men are shot, killed, handcuffed. The shortcomings of their prematurely terminated lives soon become public knowledge, vaguely justifying the shocking wrongness of the officer's action -- always poisoning the grief.
For National Poetry Month 2015, here is one of my poems: "My Laundromat"//I will buy a Laundromat//so that//I can take the perfectly blue and green//rounded sphere which we call planet Earth// and give it a very needed cleaning.
Fred Rogers was a gentle soul who liked us just as we are. But if we place him in historical context, we can see that he was also politically progressive and fiercely dedicated to sharing his values of radical nonviolence and justice.
It was back to the edit room to update yet again a video that is heartbreakingly more relevant than ever. We can only pray that it will never need another revision. Sadly, we're pretty damn sure it will.
On election night in 2008, I would have been stunned to learn that black people would continue to be killed in broad daylight under Obama's presidency. And my tears would take on new meaning had I seen a future in which a black president mostly says nothing as black citizens are routinely targeted for mass incarceration and killed by police.
Walter Scott was apparently unarmed and no threat to Michael Slager. But as in so of many of these cases, that means little as long as police officials, much of the press, and the public want and is prepared to believe otherwise when the Walter Scotts are killed.
I didn't realize that racism was formally enshrined in my college fraternity (Kappa Sigma, at Fresno State College) until the day in 1955 when I discovered it also honored anti-Semitism.
Fighting for black health progress is not mutually exclusive from the overall fight for making black lives matter. In fact, it might just be as pivotal to the overall movement as systematic equal opportunity and justice.
There is a more present death awaiting Americans, and it, too, involves entropy and ultimate hopelessness.
Whether you are a Hollywood executive, a corporate sponsor, a progressive Police Chief, or a common Jane or Joe that wants to see a less divided society, we will all play a role in creating a new and better future. If we choose to cast ourselves in that role.
Slager may indeed wind up being the very rare case of a cop convicted of murdering in cold-blood an unarmed black man. If past history is any guide, though, just don't bet on it yet.
Regarding race, and many other of our deepest and most intractable problems (e.g., addiction, depression, and domestic violence), getting the bad guys, identifying and eliminating a few bad apples, is wholly insufficient.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It is helping after helping of raw anger burning at the systematic brutalization of black people. It is a deeply tragic quilt of violence, white arrogance and privilege.