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Racism

I Grew up in a small New England state and an even smaller New England town. I was never exposed to any black people. To me, people are just people, and when I was younger, you just did not hear of such horrible things we see today. In hindsight, I guess that was a good thing. It does not mean they did not happen, but in general, the old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind. Through high school and later college, we studied slavery, the civil rights movement, Dr. King, and the 60’s, and many other topics of the time.

Today I am a grown man with grown children. I no longer live in that small New England state, I live in a southern state. I am around people of all races all day. Maybe it was exceptional parenting, perhaps it was just growing up in that small town that shaped my view, but people are still only people. Because I never outright lived with or experienced life as a black person, I could never truly understand how they feel or what they have had to live through.

This week I sat down with a person who is black, and I had to ask, I wanted to understand how she felt and what it was like for her. What she said I had heard from people on the news, but when you sit down with somebody and look in their eye and hear what she said, it takes on another level. She related what it was like raising a young man and  “the talk” She had to tell him  “always keep his emotions in check,” it is always yes sir, no sir, yes mam or no mam and always just get out alive. Imagine that being the primary lesson in life? I have NEVER had to have that conversation with my boys or daughter.

I do not condone the violence or the rioting on the streets today but, what is the answer. On some level, I understand it, not from the small fraction of people that are doing the rioting just to create a problem, but I can see a good person who just hit a breaking point, seeing another black man murdered and just smashing something. Again I don’t like it, but I’m trying to understand his frustration through his eyes. How many have to die? How many times do we hold a vigil, light a candle, ask for reason and clam, or express condolences?

Unfortunately, the media is making George Floyd a martyr; he is not, but he is another murdered black man in a long line of murdered black men, and we should focus on that and keep the goal in sight, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is in the declaration of independence of this great country.

Unfortunately, watching each day unfold is scary and troubling. Social media does not help. We have never been more divided, and no matter how much logic, reason, or evidence is presented, people do not move from their beliefs. There is a term for this, cognitive dissonance, and it leads to stress. It means you learn a new piece of information that disagrees with a long-standing view or opinion. Resolving cognitive dissonance can often lead to positive changes. We no longer have the choice, we must resolve this and get positive change.   

We can see with our own eyes, George Floyd was in cuffs. We still see on social media, “yes, it was wrong what happened but….” But what? He struggled, he was on drugs, his past is in question. How does one man put up a struggle in cuffs? Over four police officers? What would it matter if he was on drugs or had a questionable past? How would that equate to 8 minutes with a knee on his neck while he begged for his life? Remember this face.

The time for leadership is now, probably more than ever. How we react now will determine what kind of country we will be or if we even have a country in the future. We DO NOT have that leader today. I’m going to leave you with some facts that will challenge your cognitive dissonance. These are not my thoughts or opinions. These are direct quotes from people that Donald Trump hired and spoke glowingly about.

James Mattis

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/james-mattis-denounces-trump-protests-militarization/612640/ He is a 4-star marine general, a war hero and the former secretary of defense. What he said is unprecedented. Everybody loved this guy when he was selected. Go see what the theme is on threads from sites like Glenn Beck. Shocking how they speak about a war hero. It was a powerful statement breaking from the past.

Here are several direct quotes from the book Fear by Bob Woodward.

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/63991585-fear-trump-in-the-white-house

“But in the man and his presidency, Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying “Fake News,” the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: “You’re a fucking liar.” Dowd is the best in his field. He was hired and recommended to Trump to get him off in the Russian investigation. The reason he resigned is for you to see and it was over 49 questions Mueller wanted to ask Trump.

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

“White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who was a commander in the Naval Reserves, tried several times to persuade Mattis to appear on Sunday talk shows on behalf of the administration. The answer was always no. “Sean,” Mattis finally said, “I’ve killed people for a living. If you call me again, I’m going to fucking send you to Afghanistan. Are we clear?”

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

“Next, Cohn repeated what everyone was saying: Interest rates were going to go up over the foreseeable future. I agree, Trump said. “We should just go borrow a lot of money right now, hold it, and then sell it and make money.” Cohn was astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding. He tried to explain. If you, as the federal government borrow money through issuing bonds, you are increasing the U.S. deficit. What do you mean? Trump asked. Just run the presses—print money.”

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

“All the air seemed to have come out of Tillerson. He could not abide by Trump’s attack on the generals. The president was speaking as if the U.S. military was a mercenary force for hire. If a country wouldn’t pay us to be there, then we didn’t want to be there. As if there were no American interests in forging and keeping a peaceful world order, as if the American organizing principle was money.”

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

“Mattis and Gary Cohn had several quiet conversations about The Big Problem: The president did not understand the importance of allies overseas, the value of diplomacy or the relationship between the military, the economy and intelligence partnerships with foreign governments.”

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

“Conway agreed with Bannon that if the Trump campaign could make the race about Hillary, not Trump, they would win with those hidden Trump voters. If the race stayed about Trump, “we’ll probably lose.”

― Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House

These are direct quotes from the Trump staff, people he hired. Does this show any ability we need today to lead us? If this is the common theme from all these people, and this is just a few quotes whom are we to believe? There can be only one answer, and it is not Trump. James Mattis was quite clear, he never saw a president so divisive.

We do not need a president saying he will bring out the military to dominate them. The them is citizens of this country. Those are american streets. If he thinks he can just do this it shows no bounds.

This is what we expect from a protest. But not much has really changed.

John Carlos and Tommy Smith 1968 Olympics
Dr. King 1965 Selma

We can only hope that when all this settles down, we seize this chance and have real social change and put racism in the rearview forever. This can’t be just another image we forget.

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