We all know that the black community has always been plagued by an array of issues that we either have to deal with or ignore on a daily basis. Recently, police brutality has tragically made it to the forefront.
As a proud black man, nothing makes me feel better than to see my race of people pull together and stand united on something that has torn our community apart for generations. We are at a point where we put all of our differences aside to come together as one to show the world that we have had enough and that something needs to be done. But as excited as I am about my people coming together, I'm starting to notice something very disturbing that's actually tearing us further apart:
Black people have started protesting the wrong way.
Over the past year, during all of the protests and social media rants, I've noticed that people tend to just vent to anyone who will listen. Let's be honest, blocking I-95 gets media coverage and people watch the news, so blocking traffic seems like a great way to get everyone's attention. Seems harmless and effective enough, but if you really think about it, if I'm a middle aged white man from the Midwest and I turn on the TV and see a group of people blocking traffic and holding signs that say "Black Lives Matter," how do we make the connection to police brutality?
It doesn't connect at all.
Are we really hoping that people will do their research to find out about a problem that doesn't concern them, just because the highway was backed up?
Lets say, by some miracle, that people actually do their homework, and then what are they going to do? Why am I trying to get their attention?
I learned a long time ago, that the most direct way to do something is to get rid of the middleman.
We can all agree that, as a black community, we feel neglected and ignored. We feel like our voice is never heard. Why is that? It's because we don't use the system the way the system is meant to be used. The system runs this country, whether you like it or not. You are a part of the system, whether you like it or not.
Police brutality is realistically not a national issue even though it gets national attention. It's a local issue.
In order to fight police brutality in your local community, you have to start at the local level.
Everybody works for somebody.
This may be news to a lot of people but there has always been a person assigned to be the representative of the public AND the police department. It's the mayor.
If the police have a problem with the public, they turn to the mayor. When the public has a problem with the police department, we are supposed to turn to the mayor.
Shockingly enough, we haven't done our part. I personally have not seen any protests of a mayor in any city.
Politicians know where the blame lies so I'm even more disturbed when the local politicians are black. There will always be people that say, "We shouldn't be blaming black politicians" for whatever reason but if you cant point the finger at them, why did you elect them? They are supposed to be YOUR voice. If they have been in office and you still feel neglected over the years, then they aren't speaking loud enough.
We should feel disrespected when these same politicians come out during a protest and stand with us. They are actually exploiting our ignorance to push blame onto someone else. A mayor, who represents a black community, has to know that police brutality is an issue in their community. If they don't, then they aren't listening to their community at all. So replace them.
A black mayor should already know that this is an issue and this issue should be a priority for them when they take office, if they don't, replace them.
I don't expect anyone to solve generations of inequality overnight. I do, however, expect them to address the issue and put forth a plan to make a change. If they can't make the change, then they should be letting us know who is stopping them and why or prepare themselves to step down.
The problem is when local politicians get into office, they lose the hunger that they had and replace it with ego. They work hard to be invited to dinner parties and events and give us sound bites of how they want to "make a change" but haven't actually done it yet. They become buddies with other politicians and powerful rich people just to feel included, not getting leverage. They feel so honored to be included into the circle that they don't realize that they are being used to shut the people up while our communities are stripped bare.
Now, when it's time to address the stuff that really matters, these same politicians look for our sympathy and "diplomatic" routes because they don't want to piss off their new "friends." They don't want to be blackballed or be labeled as "hard to work with." The politicians no longer stand for us anymore. They only stand for what they can get. We don't elect these people to take pictures or hang out. We elect them to fight for change. No fight is easy. If a politician really fights for their community and they are transparent, then the people will recognize it and re-elect them.
The sad part is, police brutality isn't that hard of an issue to fight. The mayor can implement change anytime. When the public is peaceful, politicians need to let us know exactly what they are trying to do and what's stopping them from doing it. When a city feels like they need to riot to get attention, you have failed.
In the last two years, there is no excuse why any mayor hasn't addressed police tactics in black communities.
With that being said, it's our fault.
Our inability to organize or have black leaders that are willing to organize us and show us the correct way to approach an issue will always be our downfall.
Instead of worrying about media coverage, why hasn't any of our black community "leaders," called out anyone by name or position?
Why is there no one telling us not to randomly protest, but to protest in a certain location because it will draw the right attention to a certain person or process that has been ignored?
Where is the messaging?
The only way that we can ever hope to achieve equality is if we are willing to sacrifice to achieve equality. This doesn't mean turn to violence when we don't get something. It means use the proper channels. When there is an issue, find out who is responsible for that issue and then challenge our leaders to actually LEAD.
Leadership is needed. Educating yourself and directing your anger is needed. Holding the people we elect, accountable for their actions, is needed.