AKA: Where DON’T We Go Wrong?
Watching the back and forth reactions to both the bombing of the NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs and the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on social media is enough to give me whiplash.
Navigating the intertwining issues of race and religion isn’t something at which us humans are very good. Add in jargon like “terrorism” and “rights” and suddenly we have added complex emotions to some already emotional issues. Entire books have been and will be written on these issues*. And ultimately, we all need to take more time to have long discussions and studying of these concepts and how we use them. There is power in words.
Yes, you have the right to free speech, and the right to draw images of a Muslim prophet Mohammad that many people believe ought not be depicted. But yes, it does make you an asshole if you choose to exercise this right.
No, (Muslim dudes in Paris) you do not have the right to kill people for being assholes. No, (Obama and U.S. military) you do not have the right to use drone strikes to kill people for being in proximity to where you think assholes might be located. None of this is acceptable behavior.
It is difficult at this point to distinguish the chicken from the egg in the world of international terrorism. The place to start, it would seem, is in accepting accountability for one’s own nation’s actions, and working to end disrespectful and terrorist activity one’s for which one’s country is responsible. The finger pointing is a fun game for sure, but unless you support endless war and civilian casualties and mondo finger cramps, we have to calm down*** and stop.
Simply because we have the right does NOT mean that doing or saying the thing is as good idea. And it also doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences. The consequences for saying something racist or disrespectful obviously shouldn’t be getting your offices shot up. When someone says something that isn’t respectful, they should understand that any negative responses are not about curtailing their ‘right’ to say something mean, but rather are the fair market reactions. (more…)
This was an article I wrote on Dec. 24, 2014, and submitted to a local paper. Not hearing back from them since the holidays, I figured I might as well get it out here. This is a response to an article written by Mark Holmberg which you can look up if you want to read it, I don’t want to give it the clicks.
Mark Holmberg is a staple of the Richmond journalism scene. I remember being a kid and reading his columns in the Richmond Times Dispatch. As an adult I have been interviewed by Mark for his new gig at WTVR CBS 6, and seen him at numerous protests and events around town. He’s been in my home on several occasions. Mark is a human, you know, like the rest of us, and a perfectly nice guy in person. Sometimes, Mark’s perspective which he infuses his reports with is sympathetic or similar to my position on an issue. But there are other times where Mark’s reporting makes a strong case for the old concept that if you don’t have nuthin nice to say don’t say nuthin at all.
Unfortunately, the views Mark has chosen to broadcast regarding the Eric Garner and Mike Brown protests fall into this category. His December 21st article, starts off badly and doesn’t get any better. He seems to draw ties from the world wide protests against police brutality, murder of people of color, institutional racism and impunity from accountability for the police to the mentally ill man who killed his partner, a woman of color, and then two NYPD officers. There is no connection between #blacklivesmatter protests and Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the man who shot the two cops, and there is no reason to try to delegitimize organizing and protest efforts by people of color and their allies around these issues based on faulty logic.
Mark draws rapid, trite conclusions, about both the Eric Garner and Mike Brown decisions. I have been patient with white people who do not understand or sympathize with the Mike Brown murder and Ferguson situation. I know it is hard for folks to see past their white privilege, especially without video evidence (sigh). But white people need to learn to listen to people of color and believe what is being said. White privilege protects white folks from certain experiences and blinds us to certain realities. (more…)