The first time I held you and looked into your eyes, I saw myself looking back at me only with innocence and optimism that has long ago been stripped from my soul. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, no lengths I wouldn’t go to protect you. Tears filled my eyes the first time I held you. Those around me took them as tears of joy, and make no mistake, the joy I felt at that moment was overwhelming, but sadly the tears also represented guilt, sadness, and fear. Guilt that I had brought you such a bright light into such a dark world. Was my desire to have a child selfish? Was I only thinking about my wants and desires and putting aside how this world will treat you because of the color of your skin. Sadness because I knew all too well how it would, that no matter how brilliant you may be, how much hard work you put in, how good a person you are, the challenges ahead of you will be daunting, challenges others will not have to face but will be there every day because of the color of your skin. Fear that one day my phone will ring or there will be a knock at my door, and someone will say to me the words that no parent should ever hear you have been found shot and killed—killed because of the color of your skin. How many more parents must, on what should be unquestionably one of the happiest days of their lives, look into the eyes of their baby and be consumed with worry that no matter how much they try, they will not be able to shield that baby from the ugliness that they will confront? How many more times must we mourn the loss of another bright light extinguished by hate. How many more times must our communities echo with the sound of grieving parents as they stand over the lifeless body of the child they once held in their arms before we say enough! I look back at your smiling face and the innocence in your eyes and see a bright future with unlimited potential ahead of you that they will try and deny you of. At the moment, I make you a promise that as long as there is my breath in my body, I will protect you and do everything in my power to ensure no one takes that away from you. My blood flows through you, I am responsible for bringing you into this world, and it is my responsibility to protect you from its hatred. Our bond is forever. You are my child, and I will always love you and be there for you.
The movie character Rocky Balboa said It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.
You have hit us hard.
Shackled us in the chains of bondage
Lynched us under cover of night
Brutalized us for the color of our skin
Beat us when we demanded to be treated as equals
Oppressed us economically
Marginalized us socially
Devalued our lives
But we keep moving forward.
Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. We are a unique people; our indomitable spirit keeps us moving forward in the face of all things done against us. It is a spirit that not only keeps us moving forward; it has protected and strengthened us. It is a spirit that screams WE ARE BLACK EXCELLENCE!
The echo of gunshots filled the air.
And the young man’s lifeless body fell to the ground.
The cries of I can’t breathe filled the air.
And the young man’s lifeless body fell to the ground.
The howls of disbelief filled the courtroom.
And the defendant walked free once more.
The sound of silence filled the halls of the city, state, and nation’s capitals.
And those in power did nothing yet again.
For centuries, our lives have been devalued by those who see only the color of our skin.
Have we not helped build this nation?
Have we not fought for this nation?
Have we not shown time after time our love for this nation?
Have we not been every bit the American that you believe yourself to be?
Because of your hatred, your racism we must scream for the world to hear that Black Lives Matter because, for 400 years, you have demonstrated that to you it doesn’t. It isn’t a logical mentality, but it is true.
The chains of bondage could not break us.
The whips could not break us.
The burning crosses could not break us.
The dogs and fire hoses could not break us.
The knee on our necks could not break us.
From the moment you saw us, you have tried to break us.
Maybe it’s because the moment you saw us, you knew we didn’t walk, we didn’t run, we soared. You knew we would never get caught in the rain because we soared high above the clouds, and there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish.
Did you fear that?
Did you think your hatred and violence would make you better than us?
Did you think we would go away?
Have you not seen that we are a people of extraordinary character?
Have you not recognized that after centuries of trying to break us, we are only getting stronger?
Have you not realized that our hearts, minds, and souls, that which is truly ours, can never be taken from us, can never be broken?
Do you not see
We are Black and We are beautiful.
How dare you believe that you can question our patriotism when we kneel to bring light to the killing of our people. When we have fought, bled, and given our life in EVERY war this nation has seen. Only to return home and be treated as a second class citizen.
How dare you suppose that you can tell us it’s not Black Lives that Matter; it’s that All Lives Matter when you have shown a disregard for our lives for over four hundred years.
How dare you assume that you can tell us how I should protest when yet another person of color has been struck down. At the same time, you dress up in paramilitary outfits with automatic weapons and storm state capitols to protest a lockdown designed to slow the spread of a deadly virus so that you can get a haircut or go to Starbucks.
How dare you think you can infer we are anarchists when you applaud a 17-year-old boy with an automatic weapon roaming the streets and call white nationalists very fine people.
How dare you presume you can say anything when for over 400 years, you have benefited from our oppression
You cannot begin to know the extent of our sorrow, pain, and anger due to the systematic racism you have cultivated for four hundred years.
How dare you!
“A smile or a tear has no nationality; joy and sorrow speak alike to all nations, and they, above all the confusion of tongues, proclaim the brotherhood of man. – Frederick Douglass.”
On September 10th, the Kansas City Chiefs prepared to defend their NFL title against the Houston Texans. Before the game, the players, in a sign of unity, decided on their own to stand together and lock arms in support of Black Lives Matter. It was a moving tribute, and one that you would expect would be universally applauded by a so-called enlightened society. Yet as the cameras rolled, a nation heard boos emanating from the crowd.
Sad yes, unexpected no. There remains a segment of America that does not or wants to relate to the tears shed when a person of color’s life is needlessly taken, or the sorrow when yet another incomprehensible acquittal is met with indifference. To that segment of America, the tears and suffering are not theirs and, as such, have little importance.
When the tears and sorrow turn to anger do they see it but make no mistake, they do not know the reason for the anger; they see only how it impacts them—their comfort level interrupted by those they label as troublemakers’ anarchist.
“The white man’s happiness cannot be purchased by the black man’s misery.” – Frederick Douglass.
Those who booed the moment of unity are a relic of America’s past. A time when segregation was the rule of the day. When the desire to learn about other races, cultures, and religions was deemed unnecessary when one group’s pain was looked at as their pain and not America’s pain, in 2020, the Coalition of the Righteous, a group of all races and nationalities coming together to rebuke this thinking is starting to change this mindset. However, this mindset still simmers beneath the American surface and is stoked by President Trump. His plan is one of fear, hate, and racism; it is designed to keep Americans divided. To ensure that they fear and hate each other to such a degree that they will never look to understand each other. To never appreciate the pain and sorrow one group feels when faced with racial and social injustice.
“the prejudices people feel about each other disappear when they get to know each other.” – Captain Kirk, Star Trek.
On September 10th, they booed a show of unity, they are the past, and one day the future of America will boo them for their booing.
“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, please, please.”
“Don’t kill me.”
“Mama, Mama… I’m through!”
George Floyd’s words before his life was taken from him by an officer casually kneeling on his neck.
Listen America as he begs for his life as the officer casually kneeled on his neck.
Listen America as he cries out for his Mama as the officer casually kneeled on his neck.
Look America at his last minutes as the officer casually kneeled on his neck.
Look America at the callous attitude, as the officer casually knelled on his neck.
Take note America of the silence emanating from the White House about the officer casually kneeling on his neck.
America, you hear it, you see it, yet some of you don’t possess the compassion to care about it.
Where is your soul?
Did you even have a soul?
America, your fear, hatred, and disregard for our lives are well documented, and we are not asking that the hate that lives in the hearts of some of you magically disappear. But make no mistake, America, the time is coming, and you will:
Treat us as equals.
Stop killing us.
Be held accountable for your actions.
Because America we are not going anywhere. This is OUR country, just as much as you imagine it to belong to you alone.
“I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe, pleased, please.”
“Don’t kill me.”
“Mama, Mama… I’m through!”
Listen to it, America.
Look at it, America.
Good Morning America it’s us your sons and daughters of color, we know today will be no different than any day the last four hundred years, but we still like to believe maybe it will.
Since that day four hundred plus years ago when you came to our homeland and stole us, stripped us of our names, religion, and culture you have done everything in your power to deny us even the smallest sip from the tree of equality. To reject who and what we are to you.
Shackled us in chains,
raped our women,
separated our families,
hunted us down and hung us from trees, in front of your burning crosses,
denied us access to equal educational opportunity,
intimidated us from having our voice heard at the voting booth
created two separate and unequal justice systems to disproportionately incarcerate us.
You have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the indisputable fact that we are now and have always been an essential part of what makes this country great.
You reject the notion that we are just much a part of the fabric of America as you ever were.
We should be furious at you, yet we remain drawn to you. We should seek retribution, yet all we ask is that you see us, not the color of our skin, but us. That you treat as equals.
Why you may ask? After everything you have put you through? It’s because we still love you. After all you are our country. You may not know it, but you are. And as James Baldwin said, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
One day hopefully our criticism will awaken your soul and when we wake up and tell you Good Morning, you will smile back and say Good Morning sons and daughters of America. I cannot express how sorry I am for how I have treated you. But know this, I am proud of the amazing resiliency you have shown and thank you for being a part of the soul of our country. America would never have reached the heights we have without you or your vast array of contributions.