Please note that this is written with a heavy heart. I am sad to say the least. I am frustrated and frightened about what I see. However, I am a firm believer that our surroundings are contagious. The climate we share and the landscapes, the mood and the arguments we hear are absolutely infectious. What I mean is it is really easy to catch crazy. It’s easy to catch the madness and become swept away by public opinion.
The world really is an impactful place. And we hear the news on a daily basis.
We hear it all. We hear about the arguments over hate crimes. We hear the reports, like the ones from yesterday.
So sad . . .
A gunman openly fired and killed ten people in Boulder, Colorado. And next will be the analysis over what happened and why. Next will be the connection to a shooting that happened a week ago in Georgia. Next will be the blame and the finger pointing to find responsibility.
I am not offering an opinion on either of the shooters, nor am I about to discuss my political opinion with anyone. I stay away from politics. I stay away from political debates because they only seem to create more fights.
I heard people scream about the recent murders as hate crimes. I agree.
My question, however, is when is murder not a hate crime?
To me, it seems murder of any kind is already a hate crime. Therefore, bickering whether either of these tragedies are a hate crime seems wasteful to me. The answer is yes. Murder is absolutely hateful.
I have heard people call for an end to gun violence. I have listened to different activists talk about guns and call for them to be outlawed. I agree, we need laws. However, whether guns are illegal or not (and I’m not offering my opinion on this) the fact remains; murder is pretty illegal. In fact, murder ranks very high on the top ten charts of what illegal is.
I understand the weapon. I understand the capabilities. I also understand that violence cannot be stopped by outlawing a weapon. So what does this mean?
What does this say about our attention to one another. What does this say about our society or the powder keg we find ourselves in after being knee-deep in a pandemic for more than a year?
I can say that yes, I am afraid of what I see. I can say that the promotion of hatred, whether this comes from the media’s version of the news or from the ignorant bystander who repeats inaccurate information is concerning to me.
There was a man in New York City that decided to drive over people. This was a mass murder as well but with no gun. What then? Where does the blame go? Was it racially motivated? Does anybody really know what really happened? Then again, of course, everyone knew what the news said. Everyone heard the reports.
I do not ever want to discount someone’s life, race or murder. I am tired of blaming. I am tired of statistics. More and more, I am tired of symptom-based discussions that come to no conclusion. I am tired of the angry division I see within my country. And more than anything, I am tired of the desensitized nature that comes with death now.
Someone asked me if I know what hatred looks like. I told them, sure. I’ve seen hated before. I saw it burn a cross on my neighbor’s lawn. I saw it on a Swastika that was drawn with the intention of me finding it.
I saw hatred on a Tuesday morning back on September 11, 2001.
I saw hatred explode in my skyline. I saw hatred cause my city to run in fear. I saw hatred kill thousands of people. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure the body count has stopped because cancers and PTSD have led to more post-attack deaths than any of us know about.
Have I ever seen hatred?
I keep a picture of a car that was driven by a young 16 year-old girl who was part of a gag to steal a car. She did this with another girl who had run away from home. They were with two other young boys. The police never really looked for the girl who ran away. I know this because I was the one that found where she was staying from more than a thousand miles away.
The detective I spoke with told me “These types of kids run away all the time.”
I questioned the pronoun trouble.
I asked the detective what he meant when he said “These” kids. In fairness, I knew what he meant. I knew the neighborhood the girl lived in. I knew more about her than the detective did. I understood what he meant from a racial perspective, which, before I go onward; it is not my intention to race bait the conversation. Instead, my intention is to create attention to the cases that go unaddressed. My intention is not to discount or dismiss the work of the police. I am not anti authority. Instead, I am all about information and improvement. It is not the cases that get solved; it’s the ones that slip through the cracks and blow up that get attention. And I mean it in this case specifically.
Nevertheless, I know what happens when an 18-wheeler head-on collides with a car. The 16 year-old girl that was driving died on impact. The 17 year-old runaway survived but was hospitalized with minor injuries. Both of the male teens were sitting in the back. One of the male teens that sat on the driver’s side was on life support for a while. He made a comeback. The other young male that sat on the passenger side was released with minor injuries. Meanwhile, the stolen car was totaled. However, neither of the youths were taken into custody. The oversight on the runaway and the stolen vehicle was not discovered until later, which means that the laws were not properly addressed.
I was in a class to gain more credentials and the topic was racial biasness. Someone asked me about the 17 year-old in the story. They asked why I cared so much about a biracial girl that lived down south. They asked “What’s it to you?” and pointed out that the color of my skin is privileged.
“What do you know about racism?”
Meanwhile, nearly an entire generation of my family was exterminated in gas chambers in places like Auschwitz and Mauthausen back in something called the Holocaust.
“I was told, when your people apologize to my people, maybe I’ll apologize to yours.”
I wasn’t asking for an apology. The people that committed those murders are gone now.
When the conversation turned, I showed everyone the picture of the car that was wrecked. I pointed out the blood.
When they learned the girl in the passenger seat was my daughter, I saw their face change.
I saw their expression when I told them, “Go ahead, tell me again how I don’t know anything about racism.”
The fact is I know plenty. I know about my own ignorance the same as I know about the ignorance of others. All I know is I don’t like what I see.
There are laws in place. It is illegal to kill people. Everyone knows this but yet, people still kill people. Drugs are illegal, and yet, we find our culture shocked by the math of another pandemic, Mental illness is real, folks. Can’t anyone see this?
I see no sense of solidarity among us. I only see division. I see people pointing fingers. I hear about governors that misuse their power and literally molest their position by placing hands upon someone. I hear the reports are multiple about interactions that were both inappropriate and unwanted. And rather than say this is wrong, I hear people look to other politicians. I hear people point at other party members on different sides. They point towards the other end of the spectrum and say, “Oh yeah, what about them?”
A jerk is a jerk.
Period. End of sentence.
Wrong is wrong. And I don’t care what color we are. Wrong is wrong. I don’t care where we come from, what language we speak, where the virus came from, or whether there is or isn’t privilege. I don’t care who anyone votes for but where the hell is our sense of civic responsibility?
Why is there no unity? Why do people choose to argue and blame instead of say, “Hey, let’s not argue. Right now we have bigger fish to fry!”
When do the fingers point inwards instead of outwards and when will we get tired of pointing at one another, saying, “It’s his fault” No wait. You can’t say that anymore.
“It’s your fault.”
“It’s her fault.”
“It’s their fault.”
Wrong is wrong. Symptoms are symptoms. And problems are problems. Maybe if we address the problems, we might see the symptoms go away (at least a little bit).
I don’t know what the right answer is. And I’m not saying that I have the answers nor am I even saying that everything I’ve reported is right or accurate.
I only know that I don’t want to point fingers anymore. I know that I want to do my share. I want to help where I can. And this does not mean that I want to protest. This does not mean that I want to scream and shout. No, this means I want to lace up my boots and be on the ground. I want help in places where it counts. I don’t want to complain. I want to see what I can do. Where can I make changes?
I see people shout at their televisions sets. I hear people talk about politics. I hear people tell me about race. I hear people tell me about violence and I hear them complain.
I’ve seen my share of riots over the last year. I saw what this did to the windows in the shops and stores in my city. And to what avail? Aside for screaming about anger and vengeance, what came from this? Did racial tensions stop? No. They didn’t. Did violence stop. No, it hasn’t.
I heard someone tell me about the homeless problem. I’ve heard people tell me about the jail population and the drug epidemic. And to all of them I say, “What are you doing about it?”
By the way, yelling at your television does not change outcomes. Talking about your opinion only means that you have an opinion. This does not change the opinions of others nor does this change anyone’s belief system. I don’t want to argue. I just want to see what work I can do. I’m not a politician, nor do I want to be. I’m not a soldier either but I wish I was. I wish I had the strength. Instead, I’m just a citizen looking to serve and fulfill my level of civic responsibility.
I want to put the virus behind us. And today, especially, I want to put the violence behind us as well.
Arguing won’t help this. I guess I’ll have to lace up my boots and keep doing what I do.