Anger. Hurt. Exhaustion. Helplessness. Anxiety. Pride. This lesson comes to you four days removed from Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police on August 23. Fortunately, Mr. Blake survived the gunshots and is recovering in a hospital in Milwaukee. Quite unfortunately however, it is likely Mr. Blake will be paralyzed from the waist down as a result from the interaction. The last four days have seen another uprising in protests, riots, arrests, murder, shooting, blaming, arguing and every other emotion under the sun.
I want to ask forgiveness ahead of time because this post will not be like others in this series. Usually I try to incorporate some sort of positive “go get ’em message” into these 32 Lessons posts. Today, for this one I really just want to have an outlet for how I have been for the last few days. I find it quite telling that this post would fall on this week. Is it fate? I am not sure. But when I structured these lessons with no rhyme or reason, with exception for the mile marker lessons, other than what I thought would fit according to my map. I have spoke about this topic this year however. If you want my honest opinion then please read #Enough pt.1 and just switch the locations and names.
Kenosha is unlike any town where these altercations with police have happened. Yes I have been to cities like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Milwaukee (where I currently live), Chicago and all that. Kenosha is different. I consider Kenosha the city where I matured. Much of my adolescence was spent in Kenosha and around Kenosha County. Kenosha County is where I graduated from high school back in 2007, Kenosha is home to many of my very close friends, I have spent of the best summers of my life at Carthage College working for Harand Camp, I have stumbled down the streets of 27th, Sheridan, the lakefront experiencing the finer aspects of life in this city. I get gas at Lou Perrine’s at 2 in the morning. I have taken the train from Kenosha to Chicago to look at Christmas Lights. The point being: Kenosha is like home to me.
But then I see the other side of Kenosha that people do not want known. As wonderful as the small business district is and as good as the Boathouse’s drink specials are, Kenosha has a ton of racial tension boiling beneath the surface. Experiencing life in Kenosha has shown me that many citizens have problems with black citizens based on interactions I have had as a high school student, as a young man in his 20s and finally as a mature-ish male in his early 30s.
It is exhausting being black in America. Trying to convince people that I am a human being who is worthy of just being able to go to Pick n Save without fear of being racially profiled is tiring. The anxiety when I see another city trending or another name becoming a hashtag. The fact that I cannot do something as simple as a cultural background check because when my ancestors were brought here, as cargo mind you, the records where they came from were erased. It angers me that so many people deny that America’s inadequate treatment and quite frankly racist history has effects today in 2020. I find myself also exasperated when I see people who freely post on social media their hate-filled bile towards people who speak out against racism or trying to justify a 17 year old kid crossing state lines to “defend” businesses. I am vexed to the point where I am almost weekly doing social media breaks because I am subject to getting in Twitter/Facebook arguments with people who have no intention of changing their minds. I know that I am hurting myself and making my overall happiness suffer, but I guess deep down inside I take solace in the fact that by standing for something, I won’t fall for anything.
But then there are the rare moments in the middle of this typhoon when peace and even pride takes over. Yesterday, was one of those moments. To be completely fair and honest: the NBA has done a masterful job of navigating racism issues in the past. When the Mr. Floyd was killed back in late May, many if not all of the NBA teams had players speaking out, leading protests/marches, educating their communities and using their platform to change the narrative and efforts to bring about change. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic were scheduled to tip-off their Game 5 playoff at 3 pm Wisconsin time. When the clock counted down, the floor was empty. Then one minute passed by. Then three minutes. Then five minutes passed and people figured out what was happening. The two teams refused to take the floor in a silent, nonviolent protest of our state of affairs. Understanding that this could be Milwaukee’s best chance to win the NBA Finals in the foreseeable future, the gravity of this choice was not lost on the fans. Then two more teams followed, and two more, then MLB teams joined in, then WNBA teams joined in. Pretty soon the small ripple the Magic/Bucks made turned into waves of conversation, change and conversation. Milwaukee being just 30 minutes north of Kenosha this I am sure hit home hard with them as it does for me. The pride that many Bucks fans felt resonated throughout social media. Yes there were critics and people who just wanted to direct the attention away from what they were trying to do, but they didn’t detract away from the message that was sent loud and clear to everybody: “We demand change”. The Bucks choosing to do this came four years to the date when Colin Kaepernick first silently knelt on the 49ers sideline during the national anthem.
This goes all over the place I know. But I guess my final point is this: pay attention to how you are feeling. Being a human is complex and difficult, don’t make is more difficult by trying to excuse acts of hatred when it is clear as night and day. Take care of yourself and be good to yourself.
Black Lives Matter and Bucks in Six,