thoughts on the NFL & national anthem protests

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I want to talk about the NFL protests of the black players taking a knee during the national anthem.  I think it is terrific!

I understand that many people see this as a slap in the face of America, Democracy, and (specifically) the system that allowed them to rich and famous and successful.  How could they shit on the America that created the American dream they are living?

Because even the black folk who are rich and successful still fear the police.  They are still getting bullied, beaten, and shot.  In the last few years, an alarming number of videos have surfaced showing black motorist being shot for absolutely no reason.  Here is the thing, this isn’t new.   Not by a 100 years.  No, what is new is that everyone has a video camera in their hands.

take a look at this.  Motorist gets pulled over.  Runs.  Cop shoots him in the back, running away.  Then, walks up and plants a weapon the deceased.  Can you imagine how terrified the person was who took this video?

When you consider this is happening, OFTEN… and  you are worried about athletes not standing for a song… you are worried about the wrong shit, my friend.

There has been terrible and sick and unacceptable attacks against police in retaliation for this.  Obviously, it is stupid and horrible to go shoot a cop because ‘all cops are racists’.  That is fucked up.  Taking a knee, though?  That is honorable.  That is civil disobedience, and participating in Democracy.  Remember Thoreau taking a stand against the Govt and taxes?  He literally wrote the book on Civil Disobedience.  He became a hero.  It was ok, because he was white.  If any other color tries it, it’s treason, I  guess.

Civil disobedience is a symbolic or ritualistic violation of the law, rather than a rejection of the system as a whole.

Why do you really care if a black athlete doesn’t jump to the flag?  That doesn’t hurt you, or your family.  Perhaps it hurts your white pride.  If no one is getting hurt, and no one is, by taking a knee to highlight their struggle… god bless them.  They are making us have this conversation, which means it has succeeded.  Kudos to Kaepernick for starting the movement, and kudos to him for sneaking off with that extra ‘e’ in his name.  Why aren’t you Hawaiians upset with that?  This guy is running off with your vowels, and your white women.

Lastly, there was this even worse sentiment.  He could not speak for the black experience, as he is apparently only half black.  Now that is some bullshit.  I am guessing he is black enough to get hassled by cops, pulled over randomly, and ignored by taxis.

Plus, look at this ‘fro.  He is certainly ‘black enough’ to get shot anywhere in the bible belt for loitering.  Good on ya, Kaep!  Power to the people!  All power to the people!

Bobby Seale – still alive

‘Still Alive’ is a fairly nascent series I have been doing for years.  Too often, we only stop to realize and appreciate amazing people after they died.  I have tried this here, here, and here.  Let’s not wait that long, shall we?

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That picture above isn’t Bobby, it is Huey.  He is important.  Huey and Bobby are the closest our culture has to Nelson Mandela.  We aren’t going to talk about Huey, though.  Huey really did the heavy lifting.  However, he is tough to lionize since we know he killed a lot of people… personally.  So if this is a story about of Bobby… why the picture of Huey?  Because it is a great fucking picture.

Bobby Seale is still alive.  You don’t know that name, but you need to.  Bobby is a founding member of the Black Pathers.  They were a militant black right’s group from San Francisco. ‘Isn’t that a black supremacy group?  Where they terrorists?  No, you racist.  They began as a free range legal activist group.  See, in the late 60s (like everywhere, and every time in America) black folk were getting pulled over and harassed.  For being black.  Huey would follow the cops around, and when they pulled someone over, Huey would get out, too.  When the cops began harassing or beating these black motorists… Huey stood there with a shotgun in one hand a law book in the other.

Let’s just for a minute and realize how great that image is.

He would shout to these motorists ‘you don’t have to answer that’. And stuff like that.  As word got around, their numbers grew.  Pretty much if you were a black person in San Francisco, you were a fan of the Panthers.  The work they did was human rights, very simply.  When there was no stop light in a dangerous traffic neighborhood, the Panthers engaged city council and asked for a stoplight.  They were, of course, ignored.  So, the Panthers took control of the intersection and have volunteers man it to make it a 4 way stop.

From my white, privileged, background… I see 2 main schools of thought in 60s black rights struggle.  the MLK non-violent ‘love your enemy, and forgive him’ tact… and the Malcolm X ‘by any means necessary’ fight back tact.  The Panthers were decidedly of the latter… and I agree.  They mindfully chose the name Black Panthers because ‘a panther will not attack unless it is cornered, and then it will viciously defend itself’.  How great is that?

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There are too many stories like that to tell.  I want you to know, most importantly, that these men (Bobby Seale, Huey Newton… and to a less degree Eldridge Cleaver) are heroes.  Yes, Nixon called them public enemy #1.  He also killed them all, and the ones he couldn’t kill he framed for jail.  Example – Geronimo Pratt.  He was convicted for murder, and spent 27 fucking years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  How do we know?  Well, the assholes who convicted him as eyewitnesses to the murder… turned out to be undercover cops.  Yeah, it took 27 years for that to come out and for him to be released.  Now do you get why black people are so angry?

There is SO much more I want to tell you, but there isn’t the time.  Plus, I am a privileged white guy… so I feel it isn’t even my business to tell their story.  I will, though, from the mountain tops.

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Here is some reading.  First off, Bobby is miraculously still alive.  There are 2 great books on the Panthers, written by the men themselves

Bobby Seale – Seize the Time

Eldridge Cleaver – Soul on Ice

What about Huey?  It is, really, his organization.  He also has a book.  Problem is, Huey isn’t half the writer that Bobby or Eldridge are.  In fact, their writing ability is inverse to their significance to the movement.  Eldgridge was a very gifted writer, which is how he became ‘minister of information’.  Bobby, lesser so.  As for Huey, he was more action than words.  Also, Huey is a lot more complex.  Huey was no angel.  Lets not dance around this, Huey killed people.  Probably a lot.  We’ll never know. Ever heard the term ‘power to the people’?  Even see the ‘black power’ fist?  The Panther’s invented that! ***

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See, we have this black lives matter movement.  That’s nice, and I agree.  However, it doesn’t seem organized or purposeful.  The gist is ‘hey cops, stop shooting black people!’.  Well, that is implied.  If it isn’t, then a catchy slogan isn’t going to keep you from shooting black people.  What the Panther’s did is the ORIGINAL ‘black lives matter’ movement.  They had a plan, and a communication strategy, and their plan didn’t depend on the white man helping them… or forgiving them.  The Panthers, wisely, realized that white society wasn’t going to do anything to help them.  So, they set out to help themselves.

I want to celebrate Bobby for a few reasons.  He is still alive.  His story of the Chicago 8 is incredible and terrifying.  He didn’t kill as many people as Huey.  In fact, I don’t know that Bobby killed anyone.

ok, that is all for now.  This wasn’t meant to be even a tiny bit comprehensive.  It is meant for you to say ‘wow, what a story.  I can’t wait to learn more!’  There is a cool frontline documentary on them I just bought last week, but I haven’t seen it yet.  Ordering that it was reminded me to tell you this story.

Just today I heard an amazing story.  A young fella came to join the Panthers, and serve the righteous cause.  He expected to get a gun, but instead they only filled his arms with books.  The kid said “I came here to get armed, man!”  and they replied “and now you are.”.   Ok, I added the ‘man’ part to the anecdote, but it still beautifully speaks to greater good the Panthers were doing.

Power to the People.  ALL Power to the People!

  • I use the term ‘black’ instead of ‘American American’ simply because the latter takes WAY too long to type out. Plus, back then, they were referred to ‘colored’.
  • *** ed: no they didn’t.  That goes back to ancient Assyria, racist.  something interesting and true, though?  They came up with ‘pig’ as slang for police
  • Also ‘still alive’ is Kathleen Cleaver, and is a legal professor still teaching in Atlanta.  Perhaps initially, she came to fame for being ‘Mrs Eldridge Cleaver’.  Go ahead and say that to her now, cracker.  She is STILL telling the stories and fighting the fight.  God bless her!  All Power to the People!

Friday Fives – cops and race edition

Do black lives matter?

Yes! Goddamn right they do!  You think I am supposed to say ‘ALL lives matter’. No, black lives matter and it needs to be a priority. As you know, there has been a spate of cops shooting and beating and killing black folk. It would appear this is a new and dangerous trend. Here is the trend – everyone has cameras now because of their cell phones. See, I am quite confident that cops have been beating and killing black folk for ages… we just have proof now.

Should all cops have to wear a body camera?

This is a tough one, and I really see both sides. I feel cops should be left alone to do their jobs without being second guessed at every turn. However, we now the proof that the black community has been telling us about forever… just are shooting and beating black folks for no good reason. It’s really fucked up. Yes, sure, maybe it is just 1%. I don’t care. If you are a young black man, you are terrified to get pulled over because you may get killed. Black lives matter, so yes to the body cameras.

Is cop violence worse?  Or, just over exposed?

Not worse, and not over exposed… just exposed.

Got a good dealing with a cop story?

Yes I do, thank you for asking. I worked in the Inverness Business Park for 15 years. There is this spot by the useless and failed Sun Café where cops always trap people. The speed limit is 25 on that road. Not a neighborhood, mind you. AND… neighborhood speed limits are 35 where I drive through Denver. So, it is ONLY a speed trap for revenue, and has NOTHING to do with safety. How do I know? I have been in the business park for 15 years and never seen a single accident.

SO… like a putz, I get pulled over for speeding. Not speeding, but inertia. The cop also sits at the bottom of a large gradual hill. It is absolutely my fault. Cop pulls me over, you know the spiel. I ask him why he pulled me over. He said ‘businesses in the area complained about safety…” and I kinda snapped. While I was exceedingly polite the whole time, I went off on him. I said “Sir, that is not true. I have been in this park for 15 years and this is nothing but a speed trap. It has nothing to do with safety. I have NEVER seen an accident. Honestly, sir, this is why people resent the police. We feel trapped and tricked. I guarantee you can not tell me about a single accident here ever, or name a single business that complained. I will take my ticket because it my fault, but all you are doing is teaching people to distrust cops, and to drive the long way around this business park.”

Like I said, I swear I as polite, and even voiced about the whole thing. The cop was cool about it. I still got my ticket, but he apologized and shook my hand. MOST IMPORTANTLY… and I swear to god this is true – since that happened two years ago, I have never seen a cop in that business park. There is a reason they call me the ‘hero of the proletariat’. You are welcome!

Cops… friend, or foe?

Well, an argument can be made for both. When they spend their energy doing public safety instead of fleecing us for chickenshit tickets, we will continue to fear them when we see the lights in the rear view mirror. Yeah, when you see those lights behind you, do you think ‘thank god, the police are here!’…. or do you think ‘aw fuck!!!!’

That is not to mention the fear a black guy must feel when he gets pulled over. Now, admittedly, the young black folks own a piece of this. In that, the data on violent street crime is overwhelmingly young black men. If young black kids stop the shit, cops won’t jump to violence. I mean… when a young Jewish kid gets pulled over in his dad’s Caddy… does he worry about getting shot? No. Know why? Because young Jewish kids don’t go beating and killing each other.

Can I say something else here? Speaking of the black experience… who has had it worse in history than the Jews? NO ONE by a million miles. They have been shit on since biblical times, and continue to. Most of their entire goddamn race was wiped out in WW2. AND… that was a 100 years MORE recent. Yet, you don’t see young Jewish kids tearing shit up and refusing to participate in society and blaming the holocaust. Man, I have been dying to say that for a long time. But… I can’t say that, because I am white. I can’t say ‘get your shit together’. Because I am white. And… black leaders are afraid to say it. Charles Barkley said it “get your shit together, don’t blame your problems on white people.” Bill Cosby said it, too, but he kinda lost credibility.  Get it?

White people aren’t allowed to say “stop causing all the violent crime, and we’ll stop assuming you are all committing violent crime” because I don’t understand the black experience.  I say bullshit!  No black kid today knows anything of the slavery experience. That was hundreds of years ago, and much of the problems are self created. Move on.  Get your shit together.  Your problem with whites is self created.  Know what?  It is true, I don’t have the right to say, and I don’t know the black experience.  What I AM saying is the problem young black men are facing has NOTHING to do with slavery.  So, I won’t say it… I’ll let Charles say it.

“We, as black people, we have a lot of crooks,” he said, CNN reported. “We can’t just wait until something like [the Brown shooting] happens. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. There is a reason that they racially profile us in the way they do. Sometimes it is wrong. and sometimes it is right.”

Then, he goes on to say this

“One of the reasons we’re never going to be successful as a whole, because of other black people. And for some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. And it’s a dirty, dark secret.”

Doesn’t mean cops get to shoot black kids.  Nope.  That is fucked up.  Black kids need to shoot back.  This isn’t about jail and punishment.  I am going to embed this video.  Normally, I might just link it, but you need to see it.  This cop shoots a black guy who is running away.  There is more footage, you can find it.  Cop goes to pull the guy over, guy pulls over.  Then, guy gets out and starts running from the cop.  We don’t know why.  Cop chases him, and shoot him running away in the back.  THEN… cop walks up to the guy and drops a taser on his dead body so he (the cop) can claim self defense.  It is simple, black lives matter, because cops are shooting black kids for sport.

Look to the cookie, America!