I’m A Tad Angry
Way to go North America…have yourself a helluva three weeks.
Fair warning, my “voluntary Tourette’s Syndrome” does come flying out during this, and the piece got extensive.
While I would never expect anyone of you to be awaiting some random crazy post from me every day, there may be some of you, for some ungodly reason, who have noticed that other than posting a Tim Duncan tribute, liking a picture or two of Annabelle, and whatever mindless drivel accidentally spilled over from my Twitter account, I have not been here. I have been temporarily boycotting Facebook.
That decision was made following the tragedies of the police killings in Baton Rouge and in Minneapolis, followed up by the horrible murders of the five members of the Dallas Police force. Please stay with me on this. I’m not throwing my opinion on that around here. No matter what I would say, someone would be really pissed off at me, and that’s not what this is about. I don’t promote any of the “lives matter” hashtags
in this, and can’t believe how controversial a goddamn tic-tac-toe gameboard has become.
I watched CNN in horror as I viewed, and promptly told Deantha to NEVER….EVER watch the Phillando Castile shooting video. I’d never get her “back” from that. That’s a not an insult, that’s a fact of how wonderfully emotional and caring my wife is. Ironically, as I type this Shinedown’s song “Diamond Eyes” is blasting thru my iPod. What Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s fiancée, did in that video, calmly narrating her boyfriends death with a gun in her face was incredible. Very few people would be able to do that. Once she was in the back of the police car she lost it, screaming at the police about what the officer had done. She was then comforted by her four-year old daughter with the words, “Don’t worry Mommy, I’m right here.” Read that again. Shake your head. HARD. Comforted….by her Four. Year. Old. Daughter. What the hell is wrong with us? Who’s playing the adult in the room?
The next day, discussions on race relations between the police and the black community heated up again, as all the past police shootings and wrongful deaths were brought back into the light, and hammered on by “experts”. I watched CNN anchor Don Lemon break down in tears on live TV as one of the panelists. He was describing how he’d have to call his Mom as he was leaving to drive home from work in Atlanta, and STAY on the phone with her until he got in the door safely. She wanted to make sure her son, a well-respected, well known CNN news anchor made it home safely, without any police trouble. This is while he was (in his words) a “44-year-old grown ass man.”
I chatted briefly with him afterwards on Twitter, just to say something comforting, appreciative, thanking him for sharing his story while showing true emotion on air, and that I couldn’t wait for his show at 11pm that evening. He thanked me as always and said he had to get back to work. Then all hell broke loose in Dallas during his show. It was like watching America set itself ablaze. I remember tweeting:
“In a cave, #ISIL is laughing their underwear bombs off, as the US implodes w/out them having to do a thing. @CNN #Dallas #PhilandoCastile.”
I chatted extensively through the the ordeal with a Twitter friend of mine who lives in Georgia. He was appalled at what happened to his country. As the situation got worse and worse, and as the body count grew one by one, I could sense the increasing disappointment and shame in his country, simply from his messages. He also pointed out Georgia wasn’t the best of places to be a black person.
Keep in mind, we still do not have ALL the facts from each side of this continental calamity, and I leave it at that. I got a message from Don after his show with two simple words: Tough night.” We know what has happened from there, and all the ‘talk’ of coming together as collective humans in a civilized world began anew. That was on Friday, July 8.
Then Sunday, July 10 came, and I was watching the Wimbledon final. I had posted some comments on Twitter cheering on Milos, and pretending that Canada’s most decorated tennis player EVER, Daniel Nestor, was drunk in a bar yelling at the “telly” because no one cares about doubles tennis. I wanted to see what was spilling from that over to my Facebook page. For some reason, some of my tweets go over, some do not. Can’t explain that one, can’t adjust the settings any more. However that’s when I saw something on Facebook I never thought I’d see, and it is what brought me to this petty boycott. You probably saw it as well, since it was shared over 30,000 times. It was the post about the black woman getting a morning coffee in Andover, Mass., and two white police officers came into the shop while she was there. According to the story, the cops went quiet. After she had sat down, one of the officers came over and asked how she “REALLY” was feeling. After agreeing they were both “very tired”, the officer said something to the effect of, “It’s not easy being either of us right now.” It continues:
“Then he hugged me and I cried. I had never seen that man before in my life. I have no idea why he was moved to talk to me. What I do know is that he and I shared a moment this morning, that was absolutely beautiful. No judgments, No justifications, just two people sharing a moment.”
That’s when I turned Facebook off. I realized the world was officially broken. Don’t get me wrong, it WAS a wonderful sentiment. But I was absolutely astounded I had seen this on Facebook. My brain froze (more than usual) and I was going to scream but stopped. (So you’re aware, my Deantha & Annabelle were out having a “girls morning” and prepping for an afternoon birthday party so nobody would have seen that behavior). It came down to remembering a trick I used when I was in the hospital for four consecutive months at age 16: I had to train my mind to withdraw from the outside world. Then I had to train it to withdraw from those sections of the brain that transmitted pain. To do this, I needed to conjure up a time and a place. I needed to make this place real….as real as anything you could experience with your five senses. I had to go there, and stay there for the duration of what I was about to go through, or even if I was having a “mental vacation day”. Otherwise, either my will would eventually be broken or I would go ape-poopy. So Sunday I basically shut myself down for a while and just stared straight ahead in silence, waiting for my incredibly loving family to get home.
My point is (I know, finally), I go on Facebook to post pictures of my daughter, congratulate Deantha on yet another successful performance, and make foolish statements about sports. That pretty much sums it up. Occasionally I post what I think is a hilarious meme, a note about a topic, or share one of my blogs. While I am there, I EXPECT to see what Facebook was originally designed for normal people to do: pictures of people’s family, funny photos from the Internet, unnecessarily graphic descriptions of their pet’s bowel disorder or severe injury, and how they can’t wait to try this new recipe, or pictures of what someone cooked for their supper. THAT’S Facebook. That’s what it should be. Mindless shit that entertains us and gives us a chance to be closer to those far away, and waste time. Never in my life did I ever expect anyone to feel so encumbered to post a story relaying how (stick with me here)….someone was NICE TO THEM. Wow. What the blue hell have we done? What kind of a world do we live in where someone “being nice or kind” to another person is now newsworthy? That’s not news or worthy of a Facebook post. It should be everyday common decency and respect. I’d truly rather going back to when I’d read about your damn bean salad and how your calico cat just pooped everywhere, “Oh, you never can tell what that dang Fluffy is going to do next!! LOL!!” Jesus H. Smith. Where are we now?
What are we going to do?
I don’t want ANY of my Canadian followers to fool themselves into a false sense that racism is not a problem in this country. It’s not just our heavily-armed, crack addicted neighbors to the south without health care that have the problem. IT EXISTS. And hell no, I’m not excluding myself. If you HONESTLY have gone through your life without any biased thoughts at all, you should be sainted, knighted, and assume the throne as King of the world. But I’ll admit I’ve told inappropriate jokes, and expressed opinions that were definitely based on the mere race, creed, color, or religion of someone. I apologize profusely, but that obviously doesn’t excuse it. It never will, no matter how many versions of “I’m sorry.” I can come up.
My generation has failed so unbelievably in continuing to help the cause, or bring about better ideas for a solution. Our grandparents got this country through two world wars, and a Korean conflict. They dug us out of the Great Depression, and the economy flourished. They did such a good job at setting things up for us. Unfortunately, the two following generations treated everything like some jeezly bowling alley and we’re now knocking down the pins one by one.
After having the economy basically ruined after the greedy 80’s boom, by the earlier generation to mine, we are now at the precipice of a racial divide almost as wide as it was before Rosa Parks sat down on a bus. I’m scared to look down, and I’m not going to even pretend I have all the answers. Everyone and their pet monkey knows I’m not that smart. But when I watch CNN and see a supposed “expert” panel including former NYPD officer Harry Houck who does nothing but spew incredible venom about blacks and other minorities causing the majority of crime as the anchors and other panelists are throwing actual facts proving him wrong, it makes me sick. He’s not offering solutions, he’s aiding and abetting the further very real mistrust and bias between some minorities, and some “rotten apples” in a police force. Houck actually used the term, “You People” when addressing the black panelists. Stunned, former Obama aide Van Jones calmly argued his point along with black defense lawyer Joe Johnston. However, they let him on-air all the damn time. I’m not sure if someone is high while booking guests, or if it’s a ratings gimmick, but there has to be a better representative for the police on these issues than some bald, racist, drunk former cop who used to beat the shit out of people all the time. What I just typed are the facts of his hair-less appearance, and according to his own permanent record. But Harry won’t listen to facts, for as a wise man once said, “Facts, scmacts! Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!” ->Homer Simpson
We have heard about this recurrent police behavior for many years, but only with the invention of the cellphone camera have we really had the “chance” to see the different areas of the country where these events occur, the brutality, and the startling frequency of this bullshit by what is hoped to be a few bad cops. it ain’t just the LAPD beating the living hell out of Rodney King. It can’t be ignored or pushed aside any longer. I know white cops. I know damn GOOD white cops. We rented out first “real” house from a white police officer and his wife. I have a white cop and his son who have been mowing my lawn every two weeks for five years. He tells me some stuff that’s going on around this area that would scare the shit out of normal person going off to their boring old desk job. I consider him one of the good guys, there to protect us, and a hero. But who’s to say there’s not a cop with a bias on this force that will someday come out and suddenly we have a horror story here too?
Then there was another “expert panel” appearance on CNN Newsroom on Wednesday. This time by Ebony Magazine’s Editor, Jamilah Lemieux. Guest Anchor Ana Cabrera told her in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, and in plain, simple English that the Dallas cop- killer had specifically stated in his “mediation with police” and forensic evidence found at his home afterwards that he absolutely targeted white. police. officers. (Got that?). She then asked Ms. Lemieux if she considered what the shooter had done to be a “hate crime”. Incredibly, stunningly, ridiculously….Lemieux began by criticizing the use of the phrase “hate crime” in association with the five white Dallas police officers who were killed, and disagreed with President Obama. She said that because they were white it’s “tricky territory” to call it a hate crime. WTF? To be clear: for the purposes of collecting statistics, US Congress has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or organization.” Seems pretty straight forward to any rational thinking person. This was a perfect opportunity for a high-profile, well-educated, highly-respected black woman to make a gesture of “coming together”, as everyone seems to want. Show Harry Houck what you’re supposed to do! But nay nay….she pretty much shit on the keyboard of that laptop in front of her while on Skype. She basically said that the killing of white people cannot be considered a hate crime because that designation is reserved for minority groups only. That is such an inherently racist statement it scares me. It was so incredibly racist that through her lapel mic, you could hear Ana Cabrera inhale quickly through her teeth, then cut the interview off without even allowing the other guest so much as a follow up murmur. The look of shock on her face was enough to tell you she was scared of what other vitriol was going to spew forth while still live on-air. I’m pretty sure the control room was thinking the same thing and they cut short the segment and threw to commercial ASAP to somehow try to save a shred of Lemieux’s dignity. If a white person said that, would they still be employed even immediately post-interview? Her comments are still drawing fire from all sides. I guess she “brought people together”, just not the way I would have hoped.
After hearing that comment, I discovered I truly love three things in this house: Deantha & Annabelle, of course….and apparently my 56″ big screen because I had to physically restrain myself from throwing my remote through it. Again, the girls were out, at school, so they didn’t have to see that. I was so upset I made a coffee and actually went for a walk on a seriously bum left knee, sans crutches. As I did, I checked her Twitter feed and within minutes could see I wasn’t over-reacting, and that many, many, many other people were both disgusted and really disappointed in her behavior. How did this help? We need solutions, not industrial strength pry-bar comments that can help the divide become larger.
I don’t know what to do. How do I go about trying to raise Annabelle in this world? I’d go all Cobain here, but she needs a proper father in her life. I asked former Ravens WR Qadry Ismail how he was holding up during one of our weekly talks. I explained my feelings about everything, and asked what to do. He responded:
‘Thanks Darin for the note… And all you can do is pray and be a model for your family.. All the best to you!!’
Well, since I am quite far from being a religious person, prayer is probably out of the question. I try everyday to be a good role model for Annabelle. But I’m far from perfect, and I can’t be the parent to everyone. So I guess we just need a superhero; someone who can not just bridge the divide between races, creeds, colors, religions, and organizations, but also “rebuild” a paper-thin trust that truly never existed between the police and many minorities. Yeah, shouldn’t be any trouble finding that person with a quick Kijiji ad.
But until we do, it is incumbent on EVERY SINGLE PARENT they stress upon their children how to behave properly in society, and then around police officers. When you are pulled over, there’s a good chance it is actually for a good reason. Somehow you effed up. This is why you teach your kids to use the following three simple phrases, seven simple words later on in their lives: “Yes sir, No sir, Thank you Sir”. Use them separately, or as a group when required. Unless you are asked to expand upon a story, just sit there and shut the hell up. That is your duty as a civilian, as the officer performs his duty as a cop. So who’s going to be the hero? What’s so great about being a hero? Why would I want to be like that?
Everyone seems to admire—nay, revere—them. They’ve used terms like hero and courage and perseverance to describe me. People have actually used those words and the phrase, “I wish I could be more like him.” But why? What about the ME would anyone want to emulate? My ability to stumble through daily life whining about this headache? The unending House M. D. episode that is my life. The way I sometimes read a situation incorrectly and come across as sarcastic and emotionally stunted at exactly the wrong time? That makes no sense to me whatsoever.
Look at me. I’m a 44 year old loving husband, and father of one spectacular 5-yr old girl. I’m a stay at home Dad only because of my health conditions. I’d love to have the opportunity to help my family financially. But that isn’t an option. I have issues getting up 12 fucking stairs without collapsing at the top on some days. I spend a lot of time alone because the girls are working or at school. Or I’m not able to be out running and playing as I sit in bed with a blistering migraine, and shouting obscenities that may not even exist at the TV.
But they are out there….true heroes. THAT person with the right idea is out there, and we need to find them quickly. So, why are heroes important? Why do we feel the need to look up to people? Here’s why:
Because we’re less than perfect, ALL of us, and we’re always looking for perfection. Somebody who can do it better than we can, somebody who can be an example to us of what we could do, of what we could be. That’s why heroes are important: because they offer us the hope and the example of being something more that we alone think we might be.
Everybody wants the chance to do the right thing. It makes them feel good inside. Even if doing it doesn’t exactly fit inside the rules, sometimes you have to rely on the voice inside that tells you what you should do.
If at the end of your life, all that you thought of yourself, and more importantly OTHERS thought of you, is that you were a coward and a puppet…..I can think of nothing much harsher that a man could put on his own tombstone. So try, just try to leave this world having at least one person believe you were always worth saving.
Our failure on this issue cannot be how our generation is defined. We MUST be determined to fix this. We cannot stop the discussion. It’s going to be a long, harsh, brutal process. To change a mind is tough at the best of times, but when an entire behavioral culture amongst millions of people needs to be torn down and rebuilt properly, without using shitty IKEA parts is at stake, it will be difficult, and it will take time, but we must persevere. The past is behind so we now have 20/20 hindsight to learn from it. The future is ahead, we must prepare our children for it. But for now, we need to try to live in the present and make it beautiful. It’s that easy: you just stop thinking about whats good for you and start thinking about what’s good for someone else…and you can change the whole game with one move. Now if you like this idea, you can make it true by doing good for EVERYONE. After all, we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
So let’s all get out there. Let’s all try to BE that shining star. Pick a hero…I’m Batman so there! Go, teach, impart wisdom, and stop people from saying or doing hurtful things. We’re looking at an entire change in a cultural thinking. We’re not going to be able to prevent every bad guy from ending up on the news because of a cell phone video. We need to somehow change minds. President Obama was right. Yes, I just typed that. His speech from Poland after these tragedies was maybe the smartest I’ve heard from him. He said, “We CAN do better. We must do better”. It only took eight years. Remember when everyone celebrated the first black POTUS? As he also said eight years ago in his first election victory speech, “YES WE CAN.”
And I for one believe we will. I think we finally are crippling the “racism camel” from that huge load of straws. That way, someday I will go back to reading people’s inane posts and seeing the pictures about how someone’s kid broke their arm after slipping on a puddle of pee their new puppy left in the kitchen while everyone was cooking spaghetti. Oh that little dickens……