Jesus Take the Wheel….It’s Only Wednesday
Note: Yes, I am aware that this post was actually published on Thursday. Don’t @ me.
It is the week before Halloween, and to say that it has been eventful would be a major understatement. The state of life in America continues proving itself to be more in shambles each day and this week has been no exception. By the time we reached Wednesday’s conclusion, I had to speak up about the culmination of events that have been at the forefront of the news and my mind so far. What began as a casual rant on social media, quickly morphed into something I felt more of us needed to see and discuss. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me whether you agree or not; with dialogue comes progress. Here we go.
Recapping the week so far:
Monday, October 22 – Your president endorsed the term “nationalist.”
Wednesday, October 24 – Secret Service detects packages containing explosives being sent to political dignitaries, news organizations, and other public figures who have openly criticized and been publicly demeaned by Trump.
Wednesday, October 24 – Two shoppers killed by a white shooter at a Kroger in my hometown, Louisville, KY. Upon being approached by another armed shopper who attempted to prevent him from causing harm to those in the store, the alleged shooter was quoted as saying that he did not want to shoot the intervening bystander because “White people don’t kill white people.” The two victims who lost their lives in this horrible incident were Black. The suspect–who was arrested nearby, soon after vacating the premises–made it clear that he had no issue with taking Black lives, but exercised reservation in killing people who looked like him. This discrepancy is extremely telling about this man’s inherent bias and the role race plays in his value of human life. In other words, this is textbook white supremacy presented to us once again in real life.
Wednesday, October 24 – I witnessed a group of young teens breaking into cars in my neighborhood for the second time since living here. This is a seemingly smaller incident in comparison to the others, but after dealing with everything else that’s been happening in my personal and public life lately, this was just the icing on the cake for me in terms of the state of life for Black youth. I’ll expand more on this shortly.
First and foremost, I want to address the president to some of you, otherwise know as the person that the rest of us try to ignore. Up to this point, I have taken very conscious steps to refrain from giving Trump or his antics too much of my energy or discussion on my platform, however, today I will comment and make my feelings on this unqualified, unrefined, and undermining individual very clear. The current President is nothing short of a sack of manure in my eyes. He reeks of racism, elitism, misogyny, xenophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and every other problematic -ism that exists. In fact, manure may actually smell better, in comparison, when the two are put in the same room. He governs as if he is playing a video game, lacks the communication skills and professionalism necessary to effectively lead, is divisive, incites fear and controversy for sport, and possesses a greed for power, money, and attention that is sickening. He is a despicably accurate personification of white supremacy, and I cannot tolerate him in any capacity. Therefore, I am that much more infuriated when I witness the same person who called Charlottesville rioters “good people,” turn around to openly embrace the label “nationalist” with a highly sanitized redefinition of the term. This leads me to my second point about The Apprentice in Chief.
Trump’s racism continues to empower his supporters, much to our detriment. I do not aim to make the assertion that every Trump supporter is a racist, however I do hold the belief that those backing and excusing Trump at every turn do so because his logic does align with their own in some way. I will allow them to believe in their attempts at disassociation, but as the old saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. Most of his supporters will reject many of the labels associated with their guy, but will not disagree nearly as much with his statements, decisions, or policies that demonstrate the validity of those labels. I say all of this to effectively say that many of those same individuals claiming not to be racists or any of the other terms tied to Trump, are usually also the ones who minimize spike in hate crimes and racially charged altercations since Trump’s campaign and election. But, then we have incidents like the Kroger shooting, the bombs being sent in the mail (which sounds like the work of one of those completely committed Trump supporters in my opinion), the Waffle House shooting, police brutality, elevated minority arrests, and white people using 911 as their personal customer service line to complain about the woes of seeing Black/brown people minding our damn business. These all serve as palatable evidence that domestic terrorism in America is alive, well, and continues to be perpetuated by white men and women (though the latter is usually more covert, as it has been throughout history) against non-white people.
Here’s my last point, and then I’m done.
The tip of the iceberg in my current exhaustion with life came tonight. After the buildup of all the other events from the past few days, I stepped out of my house this evening to see a group of young, Black teenagers attempting to break into cars in my neighborhood. This is the second time in the past year that I have seen this occur, and I am equally saddened and furious at seeing that image in real life.
Disclaimer: I do not point out the race of the teens in an attempt to justify or uphold any negative stereotypes about my people; instead, I indicate their race from a place of disappointment in my community’s rearing of our youth, and the situations they end up in when they are not taught of the power that lies within their being, giving them the capability to be doing so much more with their lives.
It was startling, really…the feeling that washed over me as soon as I knew I was witnessing these young people doing something wrong. However, with my understanding of culturally-significant experiences of oppression that we uniquely face as Black people, catching these kids in the act became so much deeper than just being mad that someone tried to steal from me and others in close proximity. Of course I dislike the feeling of my personal property being potentially violated, but I was more disturbed by unpacking what I was seeing in the context of where I stood: I watched young Black men raiding cars in a predominantly white neighborhood. All I could think of was what could happen if the wrong people had come in contact with these children. Yes, wrong is wrong in all forms, but I couldn’t help but to think about the social, environmental, and economic factors and limitations that might have driven these kids to end up at that point. I do not excuse their behavior, but I do understand that there are likely other factors at play which led them to make the decisions that brought them to shaking door handles at 6:00am.
It’s also important for me to note that the kids looked like they ranged from ages 12-14. They were YOUNG. Their stature plus their clear discombobulation gave me ensured confidence that they were not from this area or of driving age, and were probably put up to this task by someone older (who was also likely waiting somewhere to transport them after they finished). I know some may read this account and think, “People break into cars everyday, B. It’s not that deep,” and I respect that. However, as someone who has dealt with the loss and consequences of family members who followed similar paths to incarceration or violent death, I saw these kids and simultaneously saw the road that this type of petty theft leads to later.
At its root, being in this situation reaffirmed something that has been on my mind more and more lately: Our misguided youth need direction.
As I said before, this was my second time seeing a situation like this firsthand, and in both instances, my first thought was “Where are your parents?” I thought this even more-so tonight because it is a school night. Many of us love and live by the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I subscribe to this idea of collective child-rearing because I have experienced the positive effects of having a village to love, guide, and support me throughout my life, and I’ve seen the adverse effects of those raised without that support.
While there are plenty of wonderful, active Black parents out there, there are also those who are not as involved for one reason or another. When we fail to provide our community’s children with the necessary safety-net of protection, parental, and family guidance, then they end up seeking those things in areas that mean them no good.
They may seek belonging, love, and validation from those in the streets, who only supply faux versions of those things when misguided youth are committing crimes or wrongdoings on their behalf. I am sick of it. We have a responsibility to do better by them. I am upset to see ANY youth attempting to steal from others, but it pains my soul even more when they look like me. There is already so much stacked against us, and seeing young children with so much potential already heading down the wrong path is heartbreaking. Quite frankly, we have to do better at being there for our youth proactively to prevent them from seeking acknowledgement in the wrong places. We must work even harder to lead our misguided youth back to their correct path.
The moral of the story is that a lot has happened already in the first half of the week, and there is no telling what could be coming next. Trump is still being stupid. His supporters are following his example. Violence against Black bodies continues. And now more than ever, we as Black people need to reclaim positive leadership roles in our youth’s lives, in order to be more active in helping them to channel their brilliance into more positive avenues.
Jesus take the wheel, it’s only Wednesday. #StayKultured.