Po-po, Popo, Popos, PoPo
A street term for police. Originally from Southern California, where bicycle police, beginning in the 1980s, wore t-shirts marked with PO, for 'police officer', in block letters. As these officers rode in pairs, their shirts would read 'POPO' when side by side. -Webster's Dictionary
Living Outside the Box
Unlike most of America, I've had the privilege of living outside of this country, even for a short time, and it was the only time in my life that my race was never an issue, and that I can say that I experienced freedom.
I tell the story often because it is the only reason why I'm not driving to NOLA right now ready to riot, or manically on my way to Minnesota or even one of the murdered myself. If I had not experienced that brief freedom from the bitter sting of blackness I would likely be dead somewhere today.
The Rodney Wake Up Call
Back in the 90's, I was a student journalist who covered a small private southern college campus community and witnessed the racist ways of some white folks almost every day. From hanging rebel flags in dorm windows to profiling by local police, I saw it all, and I hated it. I revolted with my writing. I fought back by stating the facts, in a public forum using the first amendment as my weapon against racism. This was the height of the Rodney King beating in LA, and for me in North Carolina, it was a world away, but in reality, it wasn't.
The submissive nature of blacks and the fear of whites in powerful positions of any kind, from police to president is real, and dates back to the oppression of slavery. Police ultimately have all the power, and, they know this. They are trained to use force when needed, but it seems firearms and force are used immediately by some policemen because history has shown that there are no consequences for killing black folks. The officers behind these triggers are in a place of power, and are exonerated and hailed by their clans for their crimes against humanity. Excuse making of every kind is used to justify wrong, and that is unacceptable. From slavery to the streets, the cycle continues.
But Then We Stopped Reading
When I was growing up everybody read the newspaper everyday. My father carried the Wall Street Journal with him each morning, my grandmother, The Chester News and Reporter. It was like a religion to stay well informed. My pursuit of truth telling through journalism ended early because I gave up on people reading, listening to the facts and acting on them to build up a community that works together to change things. Instead, I've watched over the years that with each act of senseless violence we become even more polarized, segregated, suspicious and numb until the next. Apathy set in and we gave up.
April 4, 1968
I often think of the day that I think black America really threw in the towel and gave up. I believe it was April 4, 1968. I wasn't even alive on that day, but I think that it impacted the state of our nation. While Martin was a public enemy to most racist whites, his ability to speak into the hearts of everybody else and start a movement that people of all races were willing to peacefully risk and give up their lives for was invigorating. No one has been able to bring a country who believed in equality together like this, black, white and in between. We are still missing and mourning Dr. King, and deflated by his assassination, we lost hope, and really, we lost ground in this struggle for change.
But we have a Black President
The constitution states that we are a country of the people, by the people and for the people. As a leader of the free world, I can't imagine all of the global strife and turmoil President Obama has to deal with everyday. And on top of that, he has his own domestic state and federally funded terror attacks to deal with each time an innocent person, white or black is killed by the police or private citizens. Not to mention, he, and his family are constantly vilified for being black while walking, black while talking, black while going to college, and black while dancing at a state dinner. And he still has to get up everyday and be the President. Enough said.
Forget the tears, educate and act
Mothers and fathers of black children, we have to teach our kids some tough lessons in life because the truth is, you can't drive around with a taillight out, music pumping, pants sagging, and really, you shouldn't sell CD's outside of a convenience store if you can absolutely help it these days because it's just not safe anymore. If you're entrepreneurial and want to sell stuff, let's get a legit booth at a weekend market.
We have to focus on our children's education and value systems. Train them wisely about the opportunities around them and how to make things happen and not have to carry a gun to feel safe or powerful. We have to teach them that life isn't fair and that disrespecting authority of any kind doesn't usually end well. From you as a parent, to their manager at their first job, speaking with respect, and looking people in the eye with pride and confidence will change the course of a child's life.
I have had cops that literally saved my life so I am a believer in law enforcement. Order is important and that's biblical.
The reality is, no one is going to ship all of the racist, hateful cops onto their own island together, so we have to find ways to co-exist and rise above them. Being a police officer of any race provides a completely different level of privilege.
I Have a Dream, delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.