Archive | April 2015

Baltimore – Another Tinderbox of Destruction

Freddie Gray

Admittedly, I haven’t kept abreast of the news in the past 2 weeks so I was shocked when someone told me to turn the TV on and watch the riots in Baltimore.  25-year-old Freddie Gray died from injuries he suffered while under police custody and some of the protests morphed into riots.  So once again we have a case of a young black male detained, brutalized, and murdered by police officers.  We have another situation in which protests are necessary to demand justice in a system that holds no value to the human lives of black people. Our anger is valid and completely justified. It’s a deeply rooted anger that owes no apologies and demands justice.

Yet, instead of protesting and bringing attention to the atrocities, there are some who have chosen to lash out in anger and burn down or loot businesses that serve their neighborhoods.  It sounds very revolutionary, militant, and reminiscent of the days of Angela Davis and Huey Newton but the reality is that violence only begets more of the same.  It doesn’t effect change.

The anger that has bubbled over in Baltimore and all over America is not about Freddie Gray.  It’s about a system of racism that has infested the very heart of the black community.  The police have no respect for blacks but the problem isn’t them.  The problem is at the top.  The officials who continue to cover up and protect rogue cops.  The commissioners, district attorneys, mayors, and others who refuse to do the job they were elected to do- serve and PROTECT their constituents.  The problem is us– the ones who continue to vote blindly (and that includes along party and racial lines) to keep these people in office.  Why should they care?  What message have we the people clearly given them at the polls?  Why work harder and with integrity when they know that they will either run unopposed in the next election or voters will punch “Democratic” or “Republican” regardless of their level of service?

Instead of educating ourselves on how the government works and finding out who to put pressure on, we sit back and wait for Freddie Gray to happen so that we can jump on our laurels and protest on Facebook and other social media.  We want heads to literally roll and would rather burn down viable and needed businesses in our own backyards than to figure out how we can individually and collectively make a difference.

Of course CVS is insured and will build again.  But will they rebuild in the area where they suffered the loss?  Blacks have lived in some of the most disenfranchised areas in this country.  I get it- we are the “throw-away” people.  Brought here and abandoned after we no longer served our original purpose. Our neighborhoods are full of entire blocks of abandoned or burned out structures, pot-holed streets, liquor stores, and low-valued housing.  We step outdoors and see emptiness and despair.  So in our minds how will a few more fires take away from what is already a bad situation?  I challenge you to ask yourself “how will continuing to destroy it help rebuild it?”

What did burning down a neighborhood CVS pharmacy do to help the community?  It removed a convenient location that your 70-year-old neighbor walked to for her medication.  That’s what it did.  You see, not everyone has a car.   The bus stop is not always within walking distance for an elderly or otherwise physical restricted person.  Sure, something will eventually take its place but how will that help those who need it now?  Will the masked young men who are out there rioting and protesting knock on her door and offer a ride to the next closest pharmacy?

As the mother of a black man who has seen more than his share of unjust interaction with police, I am angry.  I want to break something and scream at the top of my voice “enough!!”  But that won’t make a difference.  What makes a difference is putting pressure where it needs to be:

  •  Protests – non-violent shows of solidarity
  • Vote responsibly- show them that if they don’t do what they promised, they’re fired
  • Businesses – support black-owned businesses. Stop supporting Nike and the like
  • Finances – teach our children to stop “flossing” and become financially responsible
  • Petitions – Pressure officials to enforce policies and create ones that protect everyone. Force them to create “enforceable” standards, become tougher on hiring, disciplining, and FIRING of officers
  • Education – Refocus our goals in educating our children in business, politics, and finances early on
  • Community – BRING THE VILLAGE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Yes, I’m angry but how can we be “heard” or taken seriously when we’re burning and looting our own communities? Why does every protest have to be violent and distracting?  Sure, it gets attention but who really hears us? It’s easy for us to debate this on Facebook and other social media from the safety of our keyboards.  We need to come together and effect REAL CHANGE.  The stark reality is that this will die down eventually–just as it did with Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, and the countless others before and since them.

Another young man is dead—dying a painful and brutal death.  Let’s find a way to use that to get him justice.  Burning down the city is not the answer.  Huey Newton had no room for God while he was running the Panthers but even he finally had to say: “As far as I am concerned, when all of the questions are not answered, when the extraordinary is not explained, when the unknown is not known, then there is room for God because the unexplained and the unknown is God.”  Violence is not the answer- Martin Luther King taught us that and he influenced change.

When the dust settles from this riot all that will be left are more abandoned structures and lost businesses – in black neighborhoods—and NO solutions.  Angry people fight.  Angry thinkers find ways to change it.  Let’s find a way to change the tide and stop throwing gasoline on everything.

CVS

(c)2015 Kim Woods All rights reserved

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“Just”- Use it Sparingly

Justify Until we Stop Thinking

I guess that’s why it’s called ‘controversy’-  not everyone agrees.  The controversy I’m referring to is Willow Smith’s nipple shirt.  This isn’t about the “Free the Nipple” movement. I don’t think it’s appropriate attire for a 14-year-old child. Others believe I’m going overboard because it’s just a shirt.   I feel, however, that It removes boundaries and sets them up to be victimized.  I disagree and the word “just” makes it sound innocent enough.  It “just” doesn’t work for kids as well as it does for adults. I’m not saying this leads to bad behavior or that Willow is a bad kid. Willow is a rich, sheltered child who can afford to be expressive.  That doesn’t hold true for the average American kid. We live in a society that complains about out-of-control kids and yet we’re afraid to set boundaries. In fact, we continue to remove them in the name of  “freedom of expression”.  “Just”… There’s just something about that word:

  • Just a joint, until you get hooked on crack or meth- between ages 16-25 I’ve had guys tell me “do just one line of coke for me”. Just one. Just…
  • Just sex, until you get pregnant
  • They’re “just” boys – until the behavior escalates
  • It’s “just” a conversation (or kiss, or hug) with that married person, until they have that affair
  • Just one more drink, until you wreck the car
  • Why not add: Just 4 killed/18 wounded over the weekend in Chicago. As opposed to 82 shot, 14 killed last July
  • He’s just a child and it’s just a dollar he took. Give him a break, mom/dad. It could be worse.

My son wanted “just” a tattoo, a cell phone, a pager, a TV/VCR in his room, and pierced ears when he was 13.  I told him when he turned 18 he could have as many tats as he wanted.  He’s 32 and doesn’t have any tattoos (though he did get his ears pierced :-)!  His priorities shifted as an adult and he didn’t think about tattoos anymore.  I have nothing against those things.  I didn’t feel that a black male teen in Chicago had a reason to have tattoos, pagers, and cell phones in the early 90s.  And, I was right.

Is it possible that “just” opens the door to something “more”?  Is it just a scratch that’ll heal, or one that will fester and require antibiotics?  Is it just a scratch in the paint that’ll buff out, or is it one that will cost five hundred dollars to remove?  Yes, I’m an “over thinker”.  I’m the person who studies heavy traffic ½ mile down the road to determine my next lane change or whether or not I should exit.  What seems “innocent” to some can actually be of potential harm to others.

I didn’t raise a girl but I’m 100% sure if I did she wouldn’t possess that particular shirt.  There are so many ways to raise a girl and teach her to love her body and to empower her sexuality.  At 14, this is not the way to encourage it because let’s face it, it invites the wrong kind of attention. In her mind she’s expressing liberation and freedom (I guess). But that is not what a pedophile will see when they see a child walking down the street wearing that shirt.  Grown women are being followed, harassed, and attacked for deflecting unwanted attention.  It’s not just a shirt–it’s a slippery slope.

So as far as “just” goes, there are reasonable ones and questionable ones.  I feel that Willow’s nipple shirt falls into the latter.  Just… In retrospect, maybe I should’ve tried just one line of coke to find out why everyone else was so fascinated. Just one.

I’m “just” saying, this is just my opinion…

POEM: Battle Road

Battle Road

Remember many years ago when you were just a young boy

And your only concern was candy, games, and toys?

You did not have a single care in this world,

For at your mother’s breast you were cared for and nurtured.

But as you became older and grew into your teens,

You began to realize that life was not all that it seemed.

As you careened your way into manhood, your path was not quite paved,

You lived by your own terms and there were prices that you paid.

It was then that you began to see the outcome of your heavy loads,

Childhood was suddenly gone, and you found yourself on the Battle Road.

It is a road on which all boys must travel as a young man,

With time on your side and your future in your hands.

It is where you take your hard knocks and learn the value of your life,

To your credit you endured all the pitfalls and stayed in the fight.

Perseverance, love and faith are the marks of the manhood code,

For without them you would not have survived on the Battle Road.

Now older and wiser you have paid your dues,

And you can now live your life as you so choose.

Because your trials did not kill you… they only made you stronger,

There is an awareness of your existence you did not have when you were younger.

You have reached a milestone that continues to pave your way,

Your feet have become steadier… you no longer bend and sway.

Your convictions are more steadfast, your integrity more secured,

Life now tells the story of all the personal wars you have endured.

So cross over into this milestone with triumph and expectancy,

For within you are the visions that will soon become your legacy.

And be proud that you crossed over it… you will now reap the mother lode,

Because only a man can say that he overcame the Battle Road.

 

 

 

 

©July 2005 Kim Woods
All rights preserved

Not Popular, But Sincere…

Silenced

I believe that there exists a misguided assumption that I think myself to be without struggle or blemish.  That can’t be further from the truth. My life is a painting of heartache, physical and emotional pain/abuse, financial struggle, and much MUCH more.  My past is a labyrinth of bad choices, wrong turns, half-truths, and regrets.  It is also filled with beating impossible odds, last minute triumphs, learning of self, loving of self, and speaking truth. I’ve learned from all of it and I’m still learning.  This is why I do what I do…

We each have a calling on our lives to do something meaning, fulfilling, and spectacular.  We achieve this in a variety of ways: giving service- volunteering time, money, resources, writing, speaking, arts, etc.  Some of these avenues require personal transparency and some do not.  I chose the route of transparency because this is the uncomfortable path that I feel can help someone.

It’s important to understand that I don’t write for the understanding of ‘scholars’, politicians, or other types of pundits.  I write for people who are searching for answers or who are searching for people who can somehow relate to their situation.  I write for people who don’t have time, patience, or even the ability to sift through extravagant prose to find understanding of a simple concept.  That is not assuming that anyone is ‘ignorant’.  There are many levels of education and understanding- that is a fact.  What I simply mean is that “less is more” for the particular impact I seek to make at this moment in time.

Amazingly, we have so much technology available to us that we are forgetting how to think in a most basic way.  Just go out for a drive and witness how much worse drivers are now than just 10 years ago. Cell phones and computers think for us, process requests quickly, and require nothing more than for us to tap a few keys.  We’re chained to technology and so are our children.  There’s a huge disconnect. There needs to be a return to the basics of thinking coherently.   Our children are dying, being neglected or otherwise abused and so much of it is avoidable.  Those are the conversations we really should be having. We have to figure out how to bring the “village” back to our neighborhoods.

My voice is not going to always be popular but it will be sincere.  My words are not going to be judgmental but they won’t always be “politically correct” either.  How can anyone grow when they have to measure what they say for fear of offending?  Our lives have impact on others and if we can just understand that, then maybe, just maybe we can somehow enjoy a better existence in this world. Maybe we can learn to respect and help one another.  I can choose to stay silent, pretend that life is great, and puppies are cute. Or, I can be courageous and press forward and hope that someone even braver than I will share these nuggets with whomever they know it will help.   If that means it helps or impacts one person, then that is a good day.  If you feel that what is shared on my blog or The Bolder Sister will help someone, please share.  If you would like offer sincere feedback or suggestions for content or topics, by all means please send an email to krr.2000@yahoo.com.