To the humans in America

Part of me wants to just not address the current times at all, that would be the easy solution to just sit in silence and ponder what else I can do to help. But that is not me. I tend to speak my mind and I am pretty open with my opinions when asked. So I will start with the simple part.

To my black brothers and sisters. I see you, I understand your pain. I am here if you need someone to talk to. I support you. I love you.

First I want to say that I don’t speak for the community, I think the community is speaking for themselves and loudly. No, I am not talking about the riots or protests. I am talking about the tears some are shedding, the pleas for support and understanding. Because right now, every single non black in America should do just that, sit down and listen.

#BlackLivesMatter

I have supported that statement since day one. It pains me that it took the death of a black man to a knee to the neck. A grown man pleading for his dead mother. I ask myself, why did it have to come to this? Why couldn’t this country listen to an activist with a simple message of END POLICE BRUTALITY? That is what the kneeling during the anthem was about. That is what so much was about.

Equality.

Why? because as a black person you cannot go for a run. You cannot go bird watching. You cannot wear a hoodie. You cannot be in your apartment. You cannot even be in your own house sleeping. And remember that in all those instances the other common denominator was that law enforcement (and a citizens arrest) were the other common denominator to skin color.

I will start with a bit of vulnerability. For years my outward support of the LGBTQ+ community was very misinformed. It wasn’t until I understood that it was not a choice that I came around to be able to speak openly about it. Growing up in an environment where it was never talked about and religion told you that marriage was between a man and woman created tons of guilt not just towards sexuality, but also how to support it outwardly. I proudly support the LGBTQ+ community now and I am extremely proud that I work for a very diverse company that is not afraid of putting the rainbow colors right over their logo.

Let’s talk about race. Such a stupid construct, yet we all deal with it constantly. Colorism is a whole other topic but I bring it up because it at times stops me from saying a lot.

I am privileged. I am “light” skinned. If I hide my accent I can even sound “not foreign” to people. I am proud of my heritage, I am proud of my culture. I am proud of who I am. But hey, I have spent years in the US being stuck in between many worlds. I have tried to make race not a theme in my life. Work hard to be judged on my accomplishments and not the color of my skin.

But guess what… race and color keep on coming up. I’ve lost so many so called friends…

I’ve been told, to go back to your country.
I’ve been told, black people come into a neighborhood and destroy it.(Without ever understanding systemic racism)
I’ve been told, you are one of the good ones…

Those things hurt, ignorance hurts. And guess what, that ignorance at times kills people of color, particularly black people.

If your interactions with police never start with deep rooted fear I envy you. I always know to not make sudden movements. I always know to follow commands and be really clear as to what I am doing. I am always very aware of what can happen. And it’s not a new thing, it has been since I started driving.

I have been pulled over for “thinking I am too cool.” I have been asked, how can someone “like you” afford this car. “Only drug dealers drive cars with tinted windows, what are you trying to hide.” I’ve had many interactions with police and it is always a scary situation for me. Because they are not there to protect me, they are there to protect property that I could have potentially stolen just because I don’t look the “right” way.

To some, “code words” and dog whistles mean nothing, they are no big deal. But when you are at the receiving end of potentially an encounter that could end your life the interaction changes quite a bit. If you have had the privilege of never experiencing it, that is amazing, but you should understand that it is not equal for everyone.

So when you use language like “they” or “thugs” or “bad hombres” you are dehumanizing people. You are making “them” the other. You are rendering them vulnerable to be simply a target. Think about that.

The first time my wife had to witness a cop pulling me over and him not addressing me, but making sure she was ok, and asking “do you know this guy?” We had to have one of the many talks about how I would be treated differently. The first time she heard our daughter be singled out because, “oh is she mixed?” “Oh, we ask because her skin color is different.” I get it, some people see no “color.” but that is not the answer. The answer is can we just treat everyone equally?

As for law enforcement let me say this much. During my martial arts training I had the opportunity to meet many great cops. I don’t support the whole “blue line/blue lives” movement because like any other job it is a choice. This is very important, because people don’t chose their sexual preference or skin color, they are born that way. And while a law enforcement can be a family tradition or a calling, it is still something that I don’t think requires the level or “pride” that other movements deserve. I think movement like “Blue Line and While Lives Matter.” are meant to cloud and diminish the true message. Think about it, the taking a knee protests was never about the flag, it was a protest against police brutality, but somehow it was drowned out and never listened to. Now we are here. I am not against police, in fact I want police to be reformed and be the start positive change.

Law enforcement officers chose to be part of those institutions and put their lives on the line to deal with criminals. I respect that job but think it is currently a broken system, maybe not everywhere, maybe not every cop, but it’s not where it should be. I am not a lawmaker, but if I had a magic wand the first that I would do would be to pay law enforcement a LOT more. Invest on real police education and training. Every cop I ever met struggled, had a side hustle or another business on the side. I remember this amazing cop that spent his shift off with his family cleaning office buildings to make enough to feed his family. That told me that we don’t pay them enough for doing what they do. I want it to be the prideful job it needs to be, but I want a lot more scrutiny on it. And not about a different flag, but under the American flag that should embrace us ALL. I want law enforcement to follow the law but not be above it. I want law enforcement to get the respect they deserve but also the accountability that if they abuse the position of power that they have been given not just that they get fired to go to another town, but that they are prosecuted like every other citizen.

Again, my point is simple, don’t confuse choice with how you are born… I am simply asking that we are all treated equally, and right now black Americans are asking us for help, for change, for equality

I have rambled enough. I have not gotten anywhere really. I just needed to get this out of my chest. All I can do is beg you to please listen and help. By vetting who you vote for at every level. Staying silent makes you complicit to all the abuses.