I struggled so much with THIS post… 😑 I confided in my 6th grader that, “There’s so much I NEED to write, blog, broadcast but there’s so little I WANT to write, blog, broadcast.” Of course, she was confused. Yeah homie, she was LITERALLY like, “Wait. 🤷🏽♀️🤦🏽♀️. WTF-at-my-Daddy-to-his-face-kinda-confused.” It even took me a little while to pull my thoughts together but what I meant was: It is my duty as a storyteller, teacher and Passioneer to speak about the protest, human rights, racism, etc. but I just don’t have the energy. I SHOULD be using my blog, podium, broadcast, everything to scream from the mountaintops but I don’t think it would help. How could my little ol’ experiences possibly further explain this movement to anyone that doesn’t OVERstand?
A Brief Overview of MY Interactions with Law Enforcement
6th Grade – My family went to Chicago to see the biiiiig city and finally kick with my cool AF cousins. The very first night, police swung up on us with guns and jacked us up for “Mob Action”. Even as a kid, I KNEW that was racist, unfair junk and immediately equated it with the Civil Rights Movement and all the history books of segragation, unjust policing and illegal, unspoken practices. I had NEVER felt it but I knew IMMEDIATELY I was living a scene from Rosewood, Tulsa or the movie, Posse.
In high school, I attended a party for teenagers. While walking our dates home, we were jacked up by cops and guns again. This time, we weren’t given any explanation at all. There were no Aunts, Uncles or parents to save us or demand our release. In the end, we were all set free and given excessively stern warnings about staying out of trouble.
In college, on my way to a funeral, my brother and I were jacked up by cops and guns because, “We fit the description of a recent bank robber.” The officer only spoke to us with his hand on the gun and told me, “You sure look nervous boy. Why is that?” To which I responded, “Sir, your hand is on your gun. I am very nervous indeed.” That time ended with us receiving warnings for switching lanes without using the signal light.
As a young father of three kids (Now, I have 4. *winks*), the police pulled me over for “giving a woman a menacing look while driving.” *straight freaking face* Who was the woman? It was my wife and kids. We literally saw each other at a light and started yapping about dinner plans. The police used two cars and got me in full dramatic fashion while my kids cried thinking I was going to jail.
As a damn teacher, I was “interviewed” IN my classroom, in front of students, by a detective, over stolen car rims. *sighs* The detective even made me leave the school, followed me to the dealership and “interviewed” the salesman!
Dawg, I can’t make this shit up! In high school, I saw students regularly get popped by officers outside of school. Since I was a Pre-AP/GT kid, I also saw colonizers get verbal and written warning for drug possession, suspicion of rape and other serious crimes. The black kids were locked up almost instantly with a suspension to follow. I saw my own brother popped for possession while the colonizer he rode with went home without an arrest record. I wan’t shocked because the EXACT same thing happened to me the year before! All of these experiences with police, racist school teachers (Maaaaan, a teacher actually told me in 9th grade that black boys can’t take Algebra. *middle finger*) led to my decision to teach and just be honest and authentic with students.
I’ve did that for years. I taught middle school and actually entered *dramatic pause WITH tears* the freaking teaching profession promising to make black and brown kids feel appreciated and OVERstood. I wrote a long poem for my Master’s thesis, barely was accepted, that illustrated my promise to teach as a Black man, not a man who was Black. I sorted through that curriculum of high density crap, cleaned up the lessons minority kids would need and presented them under the guise of games, activities, plays and freestyle raps. The Bill of Rights, Civil Rights Movement, minority leaders, primary accounts of the downtrodden and oppressed, I got in trouble with school administration because I took time to ensure kids OVERstood what I KNEW they needed. I told my students ALL the time, “Y’all gotta know this for colonizers, police, STAAR tests but THIS you’ll need in a few weeks because data shows almost 50% minority kids have a negative police encounter before high school graduation.”
As the protests grow in size, attendance, intensity and direction, I’m constantly asking myself, “How can I help? What can I do from this wheelchair?” I talk to my kids about it, ALL the kids, even the 7-year old. I have an obligation to enlighten my children with knowledge, thoughts and stories that illuminate the news and shed light on the awful perspectives and reporting. I talk to my kids about the looting and why it’s just a silly distraction that the news pulls on people. We review and say the names of those lost to police violence and racism, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, George Floyd, etc….
Of course, discussions with my own family and friends is NOT enough. Next, I spent time, energy, resources and found online links that detailed to help the movement.
Protest Options: A List of Links to Petitions, Donations, Resources and Education https://t.co/GKKqhIBTrg via @goodblacknews
What did I do? I emailed my Texas Senators and my Texas Representative. What did I email? You would but… Don’t worry, this is exactly what I emailed so you can copy, edit, share, whatever as well. *straight face*
I take NO credit for this ITALICIZED, RED WRITING!! A teacher colleague shared his own writings and offered me the opportunity to blog it out for anyone else.
“I am writing to you as a concerned citizen. We have endured countless incidents of Police Injustice over the years with few consequences to cops that are killing unarmed people.
I was wondering if I could get you to sponsor legislation that will create a National Citizen’s Bill of Rights when dealing with cops. We need a bill that will help break down the culture of the BLUE WALL OF SILENCE, TOLERANCE, and ACCEPTANCE. We need a bill that ensures GOOD COPS can REPORT bad cops WITHOUT fear of RETRIBUTION, DETRIMENT to their CAREERS, or HARM to their personal well being. Until the BLUE WALL of silence is broken down, there can be no progress, healing, or unity against Police Brutality and Racial injustice. Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Sitting by year after year without doing anything is a silent and complicit agreement that the status quo is okay. Unarmed people are dying at the hands of those who are sworn to Protect and Serve.
I appreciate your attention. I also appreciate any effort that you can to do to encourage other colleagues and fellow representatives to join in to help sponsor legislation that can deter any future Police Brutality or Racial incidents at the hand of cops. We need federal level legislation that can help to de-escalate incidents when dealing with cops and every day citizens.”
*Signed/With HOPE/Sincerely, _____________, Kendrick L. Avant*