MY PEOPLE ARE DYING / A CHANGE GON COME
Whut up everybody?
It’s been about a month since I last shared with you about what’s going on in my life and in my ministry work. The “Rona” has everybody besides essential workers, STILL trapped inside their homes social distancing. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have been safe during this global pandemic. Since then, A LOT has transpired which has had a HUGE affect on me personally. I have been quiet, reserved and distant, even at home, because I am still processing everything that has happened and the things still going on. I have multiple friends that are going through a mental health crisis right now. It saddens me because they are no longer living as the person I know them to be. My brothers are usually bright, warm and welcoming but now darkness, fear, anxiousness, worry, hopelessness and terror consume them. I have broken “social distancing” rules to be around my brothers because what they are going through means more to me than potentially catching the Rona. Plus they, or their families, have asked me to come by as they need support, prayer and a friend they can trust as they confront their new realities whether they’re aware of them or not. That part is especially sad and heartbreaking, seeing that some of my brothers are not even aware of what’s happening to them but truly believe everything is normal.
On top of this I have my own personal battles I’m struggling with. I’m not sure where this has come from because I have never felt this before but I have been feeling very unappreciated in the ministry I serve in. I felt I had good relationships with all the people I serve and journey with in the community I grew up in for over TWENTY YEARS but since ministry has been virtual I now feel that may not be true. I guess I felt things would be similar online to when we all gathered as a community in person but that has not happened. I believe I did my best in trying to work around people’s schedule to include everyone, created new things virtually that are fun or unique to keep us together as a church, reached out to everyone personally to stay in touch and did what I could to be innovative BUT things haven’t been successful. I feel like a failure. I feel I failed the young people I serve, I feel I failed my community, I feel I failed the people who support me and I feel I failed GOD. I want to give up. I’m not happy. Wow, I didn’t realize some of these feelings until now and definitely didn’t plan on writing a blog about this. I just write and whatever comes out is what comes out. Despite all that is going on with my friends, my personal battles and my feelings I still have hope. Some days that hope is stronger than other days, but hope is still there. I have faith that A CHANGE GON COME.
Moving forward I want to spend the rest of this blog on the recent MURDERS of black people in America at the hands of their fellow white countrymen. I understand that sentence can make some feel uncomfortable but this is an injustice that is REAL and needs to not only be addressed but laws also need to be changed or removed all together in order for true change to occur.
I have seen a lot of social media posts, specifically over Twitter and Instagram, calling out or condemning people who are either black, leaders or have some type of platform for NOT “posting” or “sharing” the murders of unarmed/innocent black people, the protests, the riots and all the other injustices that have occurred in the midst of the black communities cry for justice and change. I applaud and appreciate those who share posts whether they are everyday civilians, leaders or people/organizations that have an influential platform. Thank you for your passion, your activism and the ways you inform others to bring awareness. But to those who “call out” and condemn others, WHY? Why do you feel the need or obligation to ATTACK others because they are not doing what you think they should do? See, I identify as one of those who hasn’t shared a post, who hasn’t uploaded a video explaining my thoughts or have written comments under a picture/video or in response to somebody else’s. Do you automatically assume that I/we don’t care? Have you come to the conclusion that I/we don’t want to see justice or change? Have you determined that I/we don’t like our own people and the suffering we have endured for hundreds of years? How ignorant, proud and misinformed are those who sincerely believe or feel this way towards others simply because our methods differ in how we respond to police brutality, injustice and systemic racism on SOCIAL MEDIA! To say things like “unfollow me” on a post, a live, a story or tweet towards people/organizations that have decided to not share, post, speak or comment on social media in the way you have is irrational, dumb and shallow. Have you considered any possibilities as to why people/organizations decide not to engage in these things ON social media? Allow me share 2 personal reasons as to why I no longer engage as it pertains to these topics, events and injustices on social media platforms:
- On July 6 2016 I posted about the murder of Alton Sterling. On July 7 2016 I posted about the murder of Philando Castile. On July 8 2016 I posted about the Dallas shootings where 5 police officers were murdered in addition to 6 officers being wounded. My last post on social media regarding these things was on January 30 2017. This post was about the continuous MURDERS on unarmed/innocent black people by white police officers and the critique of others not caring or voicing their opinions about these things like they do when other issues appear such as politics, religion, gender equality, human rights, the economy, war, etc. I quickly discovered there are two ways of response after making these posts. The first is people will “like” what I posted and/or comment agreeing with what I said. The second response is people argued with me, attacked me and/or try to justify the MURDER of an unarmed/innocent black person. What this showed me is that people either felt the pain I feel or how disgusting, racist, heartless and unbothered people are concerning these very serious issues. What good comes from posting from my experiences? Nothing. I get the acknowledgement of others that they identify with me in my suffering which could bring comfort at times knowing I’m not alone. BUT the MAJORITY of times its just fights, hatred, ignorance, lack of empathy, people trying to justify murder and/or demonize the black victims which only adds more rage to the pain/hurt I am already feeling because MY PEOPLE ARE DYING! The latter is the main reason why I refrain from engaging in these issues on SOCIAL MEDIA today.
- So many people, organizations and platforms are already sharing these videos and pictures as well as their thoughts and updated news that I don’t have to contribute on social media. I can just grieve and process it the way that I need to. There is no shortage in coverage of these tragic and unjust events on social media where I feel that its “on me” to make sure it’s out there or people will not be aware that these things are not only happening but continuously occurring!
So to those who are calling out people, condemning people and/or saying things like “unfollow me if you’re not posting and being silent.” Please shut up. Just be quiet. The majority of you, if not all of you, don’t really care about what’s happening anyway. You’re posting, sharing and commenting because that’s what others are doing. You’re doing these things because it’s “trendy” or you want to look “woke” and get “likes”. I have no time for this. My PEOPLE ARE DYING. The extent of your participation in #BlackLivesMatter, police brutality, systemic racism and prison reform is ONLY on social media!!! It STOPS THERE AND DOESN’T GO ANY FURTHER! This is sad and shameful. I’m reminded of Jesus words when he says:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:1-4.
Jesus says something similar in Matthew 23:2-7:
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”
So go ahead with your post, tweets, lives and comments saying whatever it is that you say so your “followers” see it and “applaud” you. You’re doing these things to stroke your ego. You have received your reward. I encourage you check your heart, engage in real conversations and come up with PRACTICAL ways that can contribute to change. Social media posts and comments are not enough. My/our not sharing, posting and commenting on social media DOES NOT equate to silence or not caring. This doesn’t mean we’re in opposition to the “cause” and injustices. Perhaps we are actually with the people who are suffering, broken and on the frontlines doing the much deeper and harder labour to really bring change to ALL that has happened or currently going on.
I’m not being boastful at all but in humility I can confidently say I have been in engaging conversations around these issues. I have been fortunate to employ people from the black community to not only help with their income but to also give job experience to their empty or very limited resume which has helped them gain employment at other places. I have given 10 plus years of my life to mentoring and journeying with young black people almost everyday through the high and lows of whatever life throws at us. I have done training sessions/workshops for young black people/urban communities. I have been able to create opportunities for our voices to be heard through things like music, podcasts, interviews, churches, work functions, etc. I have been fortunate to be able to model what being a husband and father looks like in MY COMMUNITY to the people/families I grew up with. I have been able to be a person who people/families (majority black) can call on in crisis to do funerals for their loved ones. I have been blessed to be able to be a spiritual leader/figure among one of our black communities in joining GOD through a small but community based people made up of youth and young adults in what we identify as a unique expression of church which I would give my life for! There are other things too but I feel foolish listing what I already have as It’s something I want NO CREDIT FOR. But do those who call out and condemn know this? No, probably not. Do I even need to share this? No, probably not. Do I broadcast these things across my social media through posts, tweets, lives and comments? No!!! Why would I? It’s not a show. I’m not trying to profit off others and what I’m doing. I’m not trying to be applauded by others, gain followers or get likes. I’m just loving people and my community. I have received my reward in secret from my Father and part of that reward is the relationships, blessings and love I have with my people.
There is NOT ONLY ONE correct method, formula or way to go about change as it pertains to these things. This is the beautiful part of this struggle. We have variety. There are numerous things WE CAN AND MUST DO CONSISTENTLY FOR THE LONG HAUL which can take years for things to begin to shift and change. Part of this is how we process our grief, pain, anger and the abundance of our other feelings/emotions. We MUST take time to sit with, reflect, process and let out how we feel. Ways in which this looks for me are:
- Engaging in conversations with others.
- Being an active participant in practical ways to tear down the evils of police brutality and systemic racism as well as championing prison reform.
- Expressing myself through music which is an outlet that helps me with venting, gives awareness, challenges others/society and brings healing.
In January of 2016 I dropped a mixtape entitled “Cries from the Mount of Olives”. On track 5 I have a song called “Better Days” in which I rap:
There’s Bigger Events That Enrages /
Like Those Sent to the Cages /
How Are People Working and Only Receive Cents as Their Wages? /
The Devil Prowls on All Descents of the Ages /
I Look Around and My Sights Hell /
Just Look at Oscar Grant, Trayvon and Mike Bell /
Another Black Person Killed By a White Male /
They Say Race Don’t Play a Part But I Can’t Quite Tell /
They Hung Us in Nooses to Belittle /
Today It Comes in the Form of Shootings and Acquittals /
Recently, in November of 2019, I released my debut album entitled “A Cry for Help”. Notice how “crying out” is the dominant theme of both projects. It’s unfortunate but that should not only tell you about what’s going on in my life personally but that there are a lot of evils and unjust things taking place in the world that is worthy of our cries and attention. The first single, track 10, is called “Jordan’s Verse (Random Thoughts II)”. On it I rap the following:
The World’s Been Taught to be Shook of Me /
So When You Look at Me /
You See a Thug and Crook In Me /
Black Blood In the Streets But They Forsook Our Plea /
But Show More Concern When Kappernick Took a Knee /
I Feel Like It’s Useless Discussing Why /
Cause They Feed Us Excuses to Justify /
They Silenced the Truth and Made Us Trust a Lie /
If You Think This Is Justice, Adjust Your Eyes /
Track 11 on the same album on a song called “Overcome” I rap in the first verse:
The cops be shooting – taking lives of blacks /
Yeah, so we protest in hives and packs /
When it comes to justice we’re deprived – it’s whack /
Yet we killing each other using knives and macs /
Lastly, a song called “Do You Hear Me?”, which is track 8 on “A Cry for Help” I rap more about these unfortunate things by saying:
Tears Fallin Down, I Can’t see Thru the Mist /
Why they(Police) Doin This? /
Cause how I look and my Hue a Risk /
So Cops Pursue and Frisk /
I ain’t New to This /
Kill a Nigga and say you Resist /
Yeah, it’s Ludicrous /
I share these with you to simply give you a bit of a glimpse and deeper look, although its only the surface, into how I’ve been feeling about these murders and injustices over the years as I cry out to GOD, my community and society/world.
How do I feel about what’s been going on over the past week or so regarding police brutality, unjust killings of unarmed/innocent black people and the judicial system? I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m disgusted. I’m enraged. I’m hardened. I’m pissed. I want to act out in violence. I’m tired of seeing video clips, pictures, news articles and hashtags of black people who have been violently MURDERED for reasons that cannot be explained! THIS SHIT NEEDS TO STOP!!!!!!!
March 13 2020, Breonna Taylor was home when her apartment got raided by police officers because they believed her boyfriend and/or another suspect was using her apartment for drugs. Shots were fired and she was hit 8 TIMES by police which eventually led to her DEATH! MURDERED! By the way, no drugs or anything police expected were found in her apartment. NONE of the police officers involved in the raid have been charged for her murder. February 23 2020, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in a neighbourhood when two white civilians, father and son, took it upon themselves to interrupt his run and shot him to death. MURDERED! This was all video taped for the world to see and it took TWO MONTHS for his killers to be arrested which only happened because people rallied, peacefully protested and fought for it! Most recently on May 25 2020, a white officer buried his knee with the added force of his body weight on the neck of George Floyd (black male) for 9 MINUTES while he lied on his stomach, handcuffed, not resisting arrest, gasping for air as he said he couldn’t breathe and cried out for his mother! This was also captured on video. Another video of this same arrest was posted days later showing prior to this incident the police had George Floyd in the back of one of their vehicles and ASSAULTED HIM while other officers WATCHED! Despite having video evidence of this crime, the main officer who murdered George Floyd wasn’t charged. The black community along with others of various ethnicities rallied, protested peacefully, spoke out and rioted. 4 days later on May 29 2020 the officer who killed George Floyd was arrested and charged with murder. This is important BUT we the black community and those who are our allies of different ethnicities are calling for the other 3 officers who were there, watched and did nothing to also be charged with murder as accomplices.
People speak out condemning the riots and looting. I understand where they are coming from. Why be violent? Why destroy and/or burn down things in our communities like peoples businesses that are already suffering due to the global COVID-19 pandemic? Some of these businesses are local and black owned too. I get it. I personally wouldn’t respond in these ways but there’s something that you or most people may not be aware of concerning the riots and looting. Those that are on the frontlines peacefully protesting, marching and speaking out against these injustices are NOT INITIATING these events! The reports of the people who are ACTUALLY THERE as well as videos and pictures that have been uploaded online show that the MAJORITY of the time, if not always, it’s either the police officers who initiate these riots through violent means such as assault, shooting rubber bullets at people and paint canisters, spraying tear-gas or mace, forcefully arresting peaceful protesters and driving through barricades into crowds of people running them over. The second group of people who are starting the riots and looting are not even a part of the protests and marches but are specifically there to disrupt, start an uproar and cause havoc. One of, if not their main objective, is to benefit and profit off whatever they could get back to their homes. If there are people within the protests and marches that ARE initiating the riots and are looting then its a very SMALL MINORITY. This small minority has strayed away from the mission, vision and purpose of these movements.
But how would you respond when your community of people over decades and centuries have spoken out, marched and protested in peace against these injustices but are not heard as it pertains to change!? Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players tried to bring awareness of these things through kneeling during the national anthem before playing football games. People/media would attack Colin’s protest through complaints stating he was “disrespecting the American flag and the soldiers who fought for the country”. Colin and some of his fellow NFL players explained that kneeling was NOT to disrespect the flag and soldiers but to bring awareness to police brutality, system racism and injustice. This explanation STILL wasn’t good enough for people which eventually caused Colin to lose his job as a quarterback in the NFL which he has never been able to regain after MANY attempts to play again. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and MANY NBA players all wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during Warm-ups to protest, bring awareness and honour Eric Garner who was chocked to death by police officers.
Athletes, actors and musicians all spoke out peacefully at Award shows like the Grammys, the Oscars and BET. You know what the responses were to those that took a stand those same nights via social media platforms or the following day on TV shows, podcasts and radio stations? It was predominately, but not limited too, white people expressing lack of care regarding all the suffering that has transpired in the black community. They made light of what we’re fighting for, showed little to no interest in what we expressed or wanting to learn more, didn’t speak up at all as if nothing was happening, laughed or try to JUSTIFY why these things were happening!!! I want to make it clear that I’M NOT REFERRING TO ALL WHITE PEOPLE. My point is, when I observe the responses of others regarding this plight in the black community, I noticed that the majority of people who seem to be in opposition, don’t care, are straight up ignorant or silent are my white brothers and sisters.
How would you respond to the constant disregard of what you, your grandparents and ancestors are looking for which is CHANGE!? Our ancestors were TAKEN AGAINST THEIR WILLS from THEIR LAND, brought to a NEW COUNTRY and were SOLD AS SLAVES! Our grandparents and great grandparents lived through segregation and Jim Crow. They joined the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers and or the Nation of Islam/Fruit of Islam. After doing all these things and STILL to no avail you’re going to have some people who act out in violence because WE’RE TIRED OF THIS SHIT! I think of a quote that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said which was:
“Riots are the language of the unheard.”
Job 35:9 would agree with Dr. King as it says the following:
“People cry out when they are oppressed.
They groan beneath the power of the mighty.”
We’re tired of being unheard. We’re tired of being ignored. We’re tired of not being valued and loved. We’re tired of inequality. We’re tired of the evbils/flaws of the system(s)!We’ve tried and yet continue to move in peace but the constant rejection of our cries for change will sometimes come out in violence because we feel there is NOTHING ELSE THAT WE CAN DO! This is the reaction of desperation, hopelessness and NOT BEING HEARD!
I want to thank my white brothers and sisters as well as the variety of people of other ethnicities who feel our pain and join us in taking a stand. Thank you for wanting to learn more so you can better serve us. Thank you for doing less talking and more listening. Thank you for using your platforms and whatever position of authority/power you hold in the work force to speak out, bring awareness and champion change. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
I could go on for several more pages sharing my thoughts on all these things I have briefly addressed but this is already longer than I expected. Some times my thoughts linger on and what I saw in my head in regards to sharing something really brief turns out to not be that at all. Anyways, here are some practical ways you/we can support the black community, address police brutality, address systemic racism and champion prison reform:
- Advertise black businesses and financially support them especially local ones but also abroad. Prices may be a bit higher but often, if not always, their products are better in quality, the ingredients for skin care/hair products are usually better for the human body and are natural/organic therefore it brings forth the best results.
- Financially support funds, initiatives, relief efforts and movements that serve the black community in our mission for change. You can help by donating to the various “bail out” funds for peaceful protesters who have been arrested for standing up against these injustices. You can donate to Black Lives Matter and/or to Campaign Zero which is an organization that utilizes research-based policy solutions to end police brutality in the United States. There are mutual aid funds and community group funds to support and repair black-owned businesses that were damaged during the protests. These are only a few options. There are A LOT more. All you have to do is go online and research or go through your social medias and you will see BARE lists that have been complied with information that will point you in the direction you’re looking to go.
- Volunteer, join and be apart of peaceful protests groups, marches, movements, group conversations, etc. There are strength in numbers and your ACTIVE PARTICIPATION will bless, grow and advance the cause!
- We need to setup community “councils” in EVERY NEIGHBOURHOOD especially the ones that have a large population of blacks! These “councils” will discuss the issues at hand, strategize, form a plan and execute it for HOWEVER LONG IT TAKES until either change has come or the plan/strategy is no longer sufficient. If the latter is true then we don’t give up but repeat the steps of meeting as a community, engage in conversations, strategize, form a plan and execute. Ways in which we can promote or bring awareness to these councils in our neighbourhoods could be by word of mouth, advertising through flyers and social media posts as well as knocking on every door.
- We need to be in UNITY in whatever it is that we’re standing up against and this includes our method(s) of how we execute our strategy. I’m reminded of the Montgomery bus boycott with Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr and the black community as a way of protest against racial segregation which became a seminal event in the Civil Rights movement. We need to be unified in this way. One example outside of protests, marches and rallies is to participate in BlackoutTuesday on June 2 2020. This is is an initiative to refrain from posting/promoting ANYTHING on social media with the exception of sharing videos, pictures, resources, charities/funds and other information that informs, brings awareness, highlights injustices and provides ways in which you/people could get involved in what the black community is seeking to address and change. There is also BlackoutDay on July 7 2020 where ALL PEOPLE OF COLOUR, as well as those of different ethnicities who are for the cause, refuse to spend ANY MONEY that WHOLE DAY which will have a HUGE affect on the economy. This is another way of protest!
- Communication is key!!! We need to have clear and effective ways of how we spread what it is we are standing up against, fighting for, addressing and wanting to see change. If we have these “councils” in every neighbourhood, especially the black ones, then we need to be able to clearly communicate across ALL OF THEM so we can all show up when there’s a protest, a march, a rally or any kind of event that is for the cause.
- We need to have judicial clarity and understanding of what it is we want to see removed, destroyed and/or changed! When we speak about systemic racism and/or prison reform what is it that we want exactly? We need to know what laws and amendments we want changed or removed. We need to be knowledgeable of the constitution, legislations, regulations, acts, law section numbers and other judicial lingo.
- People who are in positions of authority/power such as police officers, judges, lawyers, CEO’s, teachers, religious leaders, entertainers, doctors/nurses, essential workers, etc NEED TO USE THEIR PLATFORM to speak up about these injustices. This can include strikes and/or walking off the job to show just how serious these issues are. We also need to do better as parents, siblings, family members, friends and as a community to encourage our black people to strive to be in careers where we’re in a position of authority/power to MAKE CHANGES instead of waiting for others, who may not care, to do it for us.
- We need to fight for new police trainings and protocols. When a person is forcefully and/or violently detained by officers I almost always hear that it’s “protocol” or it’s the way the officer has been “trained”. The same goes for when police fire their weapon at an unarmed or armed suspect. The outcome when firing a weapon is usually always fatal. Why is it when an officer discharges their weapon it’s to kill? It’s because they’ve been “trained” that way and they’re just following “protocol”. The governments and police forces need to re-train their officers in better solution based, non-violent and non-fatal ways of policing including shooting to wound, if you do discharge you weapon, as oppose to shooting to kill.
- Last, but certainly not least, we need to let our leaders LEAD! There will be people within the movements who have influential/powerful platforms, who are more knowledgable/educated in certain areas, who are great at administration, who are amazing in counselling, who are gifted in speaking/delivering a message, etc. Let those who are skilled and great, at whatever it is they do, serve our community in these ways on this quest for change as that is what they are BEST AT.
Hopefully these are some helpful and practical ways in which you, I and we as a people can contribute to making a difference in confronting/challenging the system(s) which has:
- Done nothing, or very little, about the unjust murders of people in the black community for centuries in regards to the proper accountability of white people/police officers who are guilty for these crimes.
- Has created laws, amendments, acts, etc to keep blacks, people of colour and minorities at a disadvantage that includes, but not limited too, mass incarceration.
We have a WAYS to go but I am encouraged by the words of Sam Cooke who was a powerful voice in the black community as a FAMOUS MUSICIAN. He challenged, confronted and protested the injustices he and his people endured. He stood up against the system(s) because of inequality and the evil that came from it. He is one of our prophets for sure. Despite racism, segregation, lynchings, threats, abuse and so much more he sang “It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know A CHANGE GON COME.” I know it’s hard to see or even believe after HUNDREDS of years but stand firm my friends. A change gon come. A change gon come indeed!
Thank you for taking some time out of your day to read my blog. I really appreciate it. Hopefully it brought some awareness, practical ways to help with change and moved you to join in our cause as ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS towards justice and prison reform as well as liberty/freedom from police brutality and systemic racism.
Peace, blessings and love,