Tag Archives: Murder

I Don’t Like Or Trust Middle Age White Men

I’ve never reposted something on here that I’ve previously written. I never thought it was necessary. Personal preference. I like to keep moving forward. But my feelings the last few days  have been all over the place. I can’t get the image of a police officer kneeling on the neck of someone who is cuffed and restrained while he begs to breathe and not understanding that he was killing him in broad daylight in front of those who were there. I hear George Floyd’s words and I honest to God don’t know how to reconcile or understand what happened. I hope I never do. 

So that I’m clear, this is not an indictment of all police officers. The vast majority try their very best. They have seen things and have the type of job I don’t want and can’t imagine. This is about all of us. This is about racism.   

 I wrote this in December of 2014. 

Several years ago I went back to college when I was approaching fifty in order to finish what I had started decades before. It’s a long story that’s not relevant to this post but I was taking evening courses while continuing to work during the day. Needless to say, I was usually the oldest student in class. The university I attended was a state school about twenty minutes outside of New York City so the enrollment population was very diversified. When I took a course on Religions of the World, it was enlightening to hear from so many people speaking first hand about their beliefs and experiences. It made the course come to life for me.

I had been attending classes about three years when I took a course on Conflicts and Resolutions.   Not exactly part of the English/Creative Writing curriculum, but an elective requirement. About three weeks into the fall semester, the professor had us turn our chairs into a circle so that we all faced each other. Then she asked each one of us to tell the rest of the class about someone in their lives they had an issue with and how, or if, they resolved the problem. About half way through the exercise we came to a young African-American woman who didn’t hesitate to share her feelings. With a pronounced edge to her voice she spoke nine words I’ll never forget , “I don’t like or trust middle age white men.” She didn’t look at me when she spoke and she didn’t have to. Everyone else did. I was the only one there who fit her description.

I can tell you it was an uncomfortable moment but I’m guessing you already figured that out. There were six or seven seconds that felt like several minutes where it seemed as if everyone stopped breathing. Or maybe it was just me.  The professor, to her credit, didn’t ask the young woman to explain herself. She simply announced that we should take a break.

As everyone filed out of the classroom, I followed the young woman. I didn’t know what I was going to say as I approached her but I don’t like pink elephants so I knew I couldn’t go through the rest of the semester like that. When I caught up to her I asked if we could speak  for a few minutes. She didn’t answer, she just tilted her head a bit and seemed to looked through me. Waiting. I didn’t ask her to explain why she said what she did or why she felt that way.  I would never presume to understand her past and the discriminations I’m sure she witnessed first hand, but I had an idea. I asked her where she was from and when she didn’t answer, I told her the name of the city where I grew up. She didn’t say anything but her head straightened up and I could see in her eyes she was surprised. Maybe in her mind middle age white men in a dress shirt and pants don’t come from those type of places. I told her I was never a victim of racism or discrimination but that on several occasions I’d seen my mother and father held at gunpoint by black men who were robbing the small grocery store they owned, how I was threatened with a meat cleaver over a baseball field and pulled out of bed at night because of gunshots outside our first floor apartment window that had bars on them to keep people from trying to break in.  Most times I was the only white kid at the playground basketball court but it never seemed to matter to me or the kids I was playing with at the time. We were all just looking for the same game. And I told her all of that meant nothing because I could still walk down the street that night and no one would cross to the other side of the road because they were afraid of me or be suspicious of me because of the color of my skin. I tried to explain that not every middle age white man is the same and that neither of us should assume to know each other without knowing each other. After a few moments she nodded, said “fair enough,” and walked back to class without another word. We had two or three very brief conversations the rest of that semester that didn’t last more than a minute or two. And when the final class ended we nodded to each other before walking out. I never ran into her again.

Racism is a difficult topic to discuss and I don’t pretend to have the answers or understand the complexities of this issue.  History and emotions are not easily dismissed and discrimination is ever-present.  I’ve always believed fear and ignorance play a large part in people’s perceptions of others. I’ve heard people say they’re not racist because they don’t see color. Of course they see color. We all do regardless of our race or ethnicity. We also see height and weight, hair style, glasses, looks, clothing, wealth, color and nationality in the moment someone walks in the door. If anyone tells you differently they’re not being honest. It’s human nature. We make initial evaluations based on what we see, to believe otherwise would be naive. However it’s the decisions we make following those evaluations that decide who we are and what we believe.

Racism and discrimination are a toxic complexity.  We need to have a serious discussion about race in this country and we need to do it honestly, directly and with respect for everyone’s position and opinion. I realize that human nature may never allow us to eliminate racism, but we can make it better. The truth is, there are too many people on both sides of the issue who will not forget, refuse to forgive and only see what they choose.  Complicated issues don’t have simple solutions and there is never one reason or one answer. But we have to start somewhere. We have to believe that even the most wounded will meet us halfway. Sometimes a simple conversation is a beginning. Sometimes that’s all you need.

 

Just Another Day

On the first day of 2017, 210 people were killed or injured by gun violence in America, including a one year old, teens and a mother and daughter.

Today, there was Ft. Lauderdale.

Tomorrow, it could be my hometown.

Or yours.

Like most forms of illness, there is an indiscriminate nature to gun violence. No one is immune. Not you. Not me.

As I was watching the news today, with the sound off, my nineteen month old granddaughter played next to me. She was innocently laughing at everything she touched. And as I watched her play, I wondered what kind of world my grandchildren are going to know. I wondered what kind of fear they will understand and how they will live their lives. And I wondered if they will ever truly be free.

We should all be wondering the same thing, because this senselessness doesn’t seem to be going away. That’s the reality we all try to turn away from.

Those who died today were probably someone’s child and/or parents.

Someone else’s.

Whose will they be tomorrow?

Anniversary Re-Blog (I Don’t Want To See The Faces Anymore)

I’ve grown tired of the media on so many levels. This is just one of them.

I Don’t Want To See The Faces Anymore

I’m tired of having the faces put up on a screen in front me by people looking for sensationalized ratings; faces that have taken so many innocent lives, who have been turned into fifteen minute celebrities at the expense of faces that will never be shown, lives that will never be discussed and futures that will never be realized.

I don’t want to see the Columbine shooters who killed 13 students and injured 24.

I don’t want to see the Virginia Tech shooter who killed 32 students.

I don’t want to see the Northern Illinois University shooter who killed five and injured 16 more.

I don’t want to see the Fort Hood shooters who killed a total of 16 and injured 48 more.

I don’t want to see the Salt Lake City or Omaha shopping mall shooters who killed 13 and injured eight.

I don’t want to see the Aurora Movie Theatre shooter who killed 12 and injured 58.

I don’t want to see the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 168 and injured another 600.

I don’t want to see the beltway snipers who killed 10 people.

I don’t want to see the Washington Navy Yard shooter who killed 13 people.

I don’t want to see the faces of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3000 people.

I don’t want to see the brothers who killed 3 and injured 264 at the Boston Marathon bombing.

I don’t want to see the faces of those who’ve walked into places of business and killed countless co-workers.

I don’t want to see the faces of significant others who have killed their partners and have become sensationalized celebrities.

I don’t want to see the Sandy Hook shooter who murdered 26 innocent children and teachers.

I don’t even want their names mentioned.

I’m tired of having these people live on notoriously through countless news stories. Quite frankly, I don’t care who they are, what their back story is, where they live, who their second grade teacher was, how shocked their friends are, what job they lost, if they were bullied in grade school, why their significant other dumped them, if they came from a privileged life or struggled financially. I don’t want to know about those things or see those faces. I don’t want to possibly encourage someone else that may be looking for the same distorted notoriety.

You know what I’d like to see? The faces of the people who have the guts to make changes to the mental health care and gun control issues that have fueled many of these crimes. But they’re nowhere to be seen. They’re hiding under the cloaks of special interest groups and votes.

Quite honestly, I’ve lost all hope of change. If the mental image of 20, six-year-old children, being slaughtered with an assault rifle as they sat in a first grade classroom doesn’t encourage us to do something, I don’t believe anything will.

Just don’t show me the faces of the sick cowards who committed these crimes under the guise of need to know information when we all understand it’s really a ratings grab. I’m done with that parade.

Distorted Priorities

I read an article a couple of days ago about how the government is rushing to create legislation to control drones. As we all know, there have been too many close calls with commercial aircrafts and they want something done in order to prevent a potential loss of lives. Lawmakers want to tag these remote-controlled aircraft in order to better control them.
The Transportation Secretary said he would require drone operators to register their aircraft so they could be tracked down after dangerous flights or collisions. Apparently, a task force will make recommendations  by Nov. 20 about how to create and run a registry.
Our FAA Administrator said, “Nobody wants this promising segment to be overshadowed by an incident or accident that could be easily avoided.”

Makes sense, right? Create a national registry and save lives. Who wouldn’t support that thought?

But here’s the thing. The government is rushing to enact legislation for something that has not yet resulted in the loss of a single life. Not one.

And yet…

In this country, there are 32,000 deaths a year related to gun violence. Gun deaths have now exceeded death by auto accident. Since Sandy Hook in December of 2012, 142 more children have been killed in school shootings.

Yet we have no legislation. There is no  scheduled meeting in November. or any other month, to discuss a registry.

Look, I don’t care if anyone wants to own a gun or a drone. I really don’t. Everyone has hobbies and if your hobby includes flying these electronic devices, hunting, collecting guns or going to gun ranges, I hope you enjoy yourself. Just please don’t tell me that a national registry which includes stringent background checks, including any potential psychological disorders for owners should not be part of the equation.

Do I think taking these steps will eliminate the tragedies we see everyday? Of course not, just as I don’t think registering drones will prevent an aircraft accident. Sick and irresponsible people find ways of doing things they shouldn’t do at the expense of the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the obvious.

Next week, or the week after, there will be another school shooting. If we’re lucky, it won’t be in the town and school our children attend or teach in.

If we’re lucky.

We’ll listen to the news stories about the shooting, shake our heads and talk about how tragic this is,  as we go about our business and move on with our lives. Because as a country, that’s what we’ve decided to do.

Soon we will have legislation that gives us some sense of control over those who owns drones, even though no one has died from their use. There will be no such legislation for gun control.

In the short amount of time it will take to create a registry for drones, thousands more will die from gun violence, including children.

Not to worry, though. We have drone legislation coming.

It’s good to know we have our priorities in order.

 

Three Drinking Questions

Should someone who takes a life because they were driving intoxicated or under the influence be charged with murder?

If not, what type of sentence do you believe would be in line with the life sentence given to the victim?

If someone is seriously disabled and their life permanently altered by an intoxicated driver what should the appropriate punishment be?

I Don’t Want To See The Faces Anymore

I’m tired of having the faces put up on a screen in front me by people looking for sensationalized ratings; faces that have taken so many innocent lives, who have been turned into fifteen minute celebrities at the expense of faces that will never be shown, lives that will never be discussed and futures that will never be realized.

I don’t want to see the Columbine shooters who killed 13 students and injured 24.

I don’t want to see the Virginia Tech shooter who killed 32 students.

I don’t want to see the Northern Illinois University shooter who killed five and injured 16 more.

I don’t want to see the Fort Hood shooters who killed a total of 16 and injured 48 more.

I don’t want to see the Salt Lake City or Omaha shopping mall shooters who killed 13 and injured eight.

I don’t want to see the Aurora Movie Theatre shooter who killed 12 and injured 58.

I don’t want to see the Oklahoma City bomber who killed 168 and injured another 600.

I don’t want to see the beltway snipers who killed 10 people.

I don’t want to see the Washington Navy Yard shooter who killed 13 people.

I don’t want to see the faces of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3000 people.

I don’t want to see the brothers who killed 3 and injured 264 at the Boston Marathon bombing.

I don’t want to see the faces of those who’ve walked into places of business and killed countless co-workers.

I don’t want to see the faces of significant others who have killed their partners and have become sensationalized celebrities.

I don’t want to see the Sandy Hook shooter who murdered 26 innocent children and teachers.

I don’t even want their names mentioned.

I’m tired of having these people live on notoriously through countless news stories. Quite frankly, I don’t care who they are, what their back story is, where they live, who their second grade teacher was, how shocked their friends are, what job they lost, if they were bullied in grade school, why their significant other dumped them, if they came from a privileged life or struggled financially. I don’t want to know about those things or see those faces. I don’t want to possibly encourage someone else that may be looking for the same distorted notoriety.

You know what I’d like to see? The faces of the people who have the guts to make changes to the mental health care and gun control issues that have fueled many of these crimes. But they’re nowhere to be seen. They’re hiding under the cloaks of special interest groups and votes.

Quite honestly, I’ve lost all hope of change. If the mental image of 20, six-year-old children, being slaughtered with an assault rifle as they sat in a first grade classroom doesn’t encourage us to do something, I don’t believe anything will.

Just don’t show me the faces of the sick cowards who committed these crimes under the guise of need to know information when we all understand it’s really a ratings grab. I’m done with that parade.