If anything can make race-baiters like Sharpton and Holder look small and insignificant, it’s black men shooting straight on the ethics of the black community in America.
Two have come forward in the last few days with remarkable comments that are well worth the time to ponder. The great thing about their reflections is that they aren’t race-oriented: they are timeless and applicable to everyone. Parents and children of every race and background can benefit from them.
One of the men is Benjamin Watson, tight end for the New Orleans Saints and a former Brown, Patriot, and Georgia Bulldog. Earlier this week, he posted comments at his Facebook page, which Tony Oliva of Bullets First presented here. Watson’s thoughts:
At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.
I don’t know about you, but I find tremendous resonance in these thoughts. I may be white, but these days, I don’t always assume the cop must have been right. There are abuses of police power; it seems like there are far more than there used to be.
And yet, as a people, we have too many among us – of every race and background – who have become more unruly in too many situations. The police have a hard job, trying to respect the rights of people who think of it as a “right” to act out and behave like fools.
That young black men are disproportionately inclined to unruliness is a social problem, yes, but it’s not one “society” alone can fix. Frederick Wilson II, a young man whose Facebook page indicates he lives in Las Vegas, addressed that very point in a video commentary he uploaded back in August, when the news of the Michael Brown shooting was just a couple of weeks old.
His points continue to resound, and his video (below) is now going viral. BicPacReview’s Cheryl Carpenter Klimek gives a preview with transcript excerpts:
“Be the change,” Wilson wrote above his video. The rant goes on for just over four minutes, addressing slavery and racism, and telling the black community to stop blaming others for everything.
“Black people: It is 2014,” he says in the video. “Hate to break this to you, but if your life is messed up, it ain’t because of slavery…Slavery ended a long time ago.”
“Civil rights, fifty years ago. I don’t know if y’all know this: we won. Google it.”
Wilson encourages others to do something about the circumstances in their life.
“So in 2014 if your life is messed up, look in a mirror, figure out what you’re doing, what you’re not doing, take some personal responsi-damn-bility for yourselves, for your lives,” he said.
“If you live in a messed up neighborhood, let me give you a little advice: stop messing it up,” he says. “Ain’t no rich white man sneaking into the neighborhood in the middle of the night, spray painting graffiti, peeing in the hallways. George Bush ain’t out in the neighborhood selling crack on the corner.”
Sounding hauntingly conservative, Wilson has the audacity to tell “his people” that if they want a better life, they must work for it, saying, “Get an education, get a job, better yourself, better your situation.”
These are the voices that matter, because they’re the voices of hope and a future. The day of ‘60s holdovers like Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, and yes, even Barack Obama, is done. It’s increasingly dysfunctional that we are under the leadership of these dinosaurs, from an era of invidious class warfare that has already met its date with the ash-heap of history – even if it does still smolder.
What we need to do now is set the reflash watch and put out the smoldering embers. Stop fanning the embers back into flame. Concentrate on what actually needs fixing, and stop trying to write a race or class narrative over everything that happens. Retire the race-baiters, and get on with the American project of building a better life for our families, and being a blessing to others.