BBIA…BEING BLACK IN AMERICA

(Editor’s note: As with the most recent entry of 5/20 here on the Welcome Aboard The R U Kidding blog, the following was a letter posted on the Facebook page of Cap’n John Krissongs on 5/25 and once again the content, style and “voice” displayed in the piece was deemed worthy of inclusion by our editors. It should be further noted here that the opinions and viewpoints expressed in this letter and in the subsequent commentary absolutely represent the opinions of the editors.)

The Facebook Letter

“I was driving home from work earlier today, down my usual street, when I saw walking along the sidewalk coming towards me a young black man, jeans and a tee, maybe 22-23, headphones in place and living his life, minding his business.

And it hit me right then, as I drove past him…I have no idea, nor ever had, what it must be like to be an African American male in this country.

No fucking clue, but tell you what, it sure as hell can’t be much fun these days, if the events of the past few weeks are any indicator. Shit, past few weeks? Try in the history of America.

Now I’m not going to waste my breath and your time with the usual, “Oh dear, what is this country coming to?” bleeding-heart bullshit…we already know where this country is at, and it ain’t a good place. We are a racist society, simple as that. Black lives apparently don’t matter.

A cop in Minnesota knelt on some poor man’s neck for FIVE FUCKING MINUTES to subdue him, which eventually killed the man? Because he allegedly was trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill? I’d hate like hell to know what those jerks in Minneapolis do to someone who jaywalks. Jesus wept in his hot chocolate, are you kidding me?

Or that poor guy there in Georgia, black kid (sorry, I’m 69, he was 25…he’s a kid to me, I don’t care what color his skin was), out jogging, when three redneck, racist assholes start chasing him in a pick-up truck, armed to the teeth, supposedly because they thought he had been involved in some neighborhood burglaries; at one point two of them, while buddy Jim Bob was filming the whole thing, confronted this young man with loaded weapons, and then, because he didn’t drop to his knees and immediately beg their pardon for being black and alive, executed him. And it took the local district attorney EIGHT WEEKS to charge them? Really? Really?

Or how about the other bajillion instances here in this country where an African American male has been rousted, roughed up and busted (and worse) by police or vigilantes for nothing more than existing?

And here’s where it all grinds together for me in an ugly mesh of cosmic noise…I have no conclusion for this piece.

What’s the message, don’t hate/murder black people? Well, d’uh, no shit. Hey, don’t crap your pants either or you’ll stink the place up.

Love thy neighbor, a little Christian preaching maybe? Bet you 10 bucks all three of those yoyos in Georgia were god-fearing churchgoers…any takers?

No matter what I say next, it sounds pithy to me, a cliché or a “nugget of wisdom”. (Given the treatment of African Americans in this country over the centuries, if I were black and had to listen to one more liberal goof spew forth another misguided, patronizing remark about how he/she can “feel your pain” or “we’re with you, bro”, I’d consider moving off-planet.)

But there’s one thing I can say, maybe to that young man I saw walking down the street this afternoon, certainly to the black community in general…I am truly, truly sorry.”

                                                               #######

The Commentary…

Now let’s take a little stroll down this primrose path and consider something as we walk from one point to another…follow me please.

A man is walking/jogging/sitting on a bench/playing with his dog in the park/riding the bus/shopping in a store/whatever in a public place, breaking no laws and minding his own business.

He is not “suspicious looking” nor is he doing anything in a “threatening manner” to anyone; he isn’t being “loud and abusive” nor is he engaging other people in an “aggressive fashion”…he merely is, alive in his place in the world and living his life, exercising his constitutionally guaranteed rights to do as he damn pleases, when he pleases, where he pleases, well within the framework of the laws of this country.

And then, for whatever reason, he is suddenly confronted by the authorities or by parties who feel they have the right and responsibility to question him, and subjected to an interrogation as to his recent activities and whereabouts; he is told that this is being done based on a) his suspicious actions, even if there were none or b) a report (legitimate or fabricated) from some other concerned citizen about him or c) just general fuckery on the part of his confronters.

At some point the confrontation becomes physical…angry words are exchanged, accusations fly, resistance follows and the man is now involved in a situation that in his mind, if it continues to escalate, could have serious, disastrous results. Literally, he fears for his life and/or well-being.

His confronters, being several of them, manage to subdue him and place him in a position that in theory precludes him from further struggle…usually handcuffed or restrained in some fashion or threatened with a weapon; however, in his fear, he continues to fight to regain his freedom.

He has, in that fear and in his efforts to extricate himself from this nightmare situation, threatened his confronters with his response; they now feel compelled to further restrain the man, with the intent to “arrest” him and incarcerate him or to otherwise put an end to this ugly and totally unnecessary confrontation. And in their efforts to stop and/or punish this man for whatever illicit activity of which they suspected him, they become overzealous or indifferent to his struggles and, maybe inadvertently, maybe not, manage to harm or, horrifically, kill the man.

This fictional citizen was accused, tried, sentenced and executed by nothing remotely resembling “a jury of his peers”. This is, in my way of thinking, the textbook definition of “injustice”; any proper-thinking, morally upright person should agree with me.

So for the final stop on our stroll…

Up until now, as you’ve read what I’ve written above, you were probably thinking that I was using the incidents involving Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd or Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin or Walter Scott, black men all, or any of a number of similar historic assaults as my template.

African American men killed senselessly for nothing more than “BBIA”…Being Black In America.

Now consider this…and read slowly here please: suppose the “confronters” in the above scenarios were black and the victim white?

Take a moment to think that over…

If with that revelation you are now outraged where you were not before, then with all due respect, you need to deeply reexamine your moral code. (If you feel no outrage at all, then you’re probably a hopeless oxygen-thief.)

And I absolutely promise you that, if this unhappy event ever actually occurred, the hue and cry for “bringing these animals/thugs to justice” from certain segments of the populace would be deafening.

Remember what I said at the closing of my Facebook letter (above), about any ending I came up with being “pithy” or a “cliché” or a “nugget of wisdom”? Sorry guys, I’m still there; I have no great, earth-shaking ideas on how to convince people that killing/harming/hating someone just because that person is of a different color or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation then you is morally bankrupt…if you think that way, you’re an asshole.

How do we, as a society, fix this problem? Sadly, I’m convinced that no matter how much people like myself and others speak out against injustice and hatred, racism is here to stay…there will always be some insecure, down-trodden, hate-filled jerk out there who thinks that the only way he can boost his self-esteem is by belittling/harming/hating others that are “different”. Beats the shit outta’ me how to fix it, but I know this…the first step to rectifying a problem is acknowledging its existence.

And calling out the assholes that perpetrate the problem in the first place.

I hope, with everything I am as a person, that my grandchildren grow up to live in a better world.

Love and tears,

Cap’n John

5/28/20