Posts Tagged ‘police’


An incident between the police and kids at a pool party in Texas recently is going to spark another debate about authorities and the Black community.  As part of the ongoing Best Interest Initiative of this blog, I write this post with the freedom and law section in mind.

At first glance, it appears that kids were having a pool party and likely over-invited too many friends.  The police might have been called after a fight.  To me, the neighbors called the police when so many dark faces showed up in their enclave.  Those who grew up Black in the American South were constantly mindful of risk from being us down here.  Kids today seem to think racism and bigotry are over in part because we reach the point of having a Black president.  But, if you asked President Obama if racism was over, he would smile that smile that really says “Negro, please…if you knew half of the ugliness I face for having a brown face.”

So, there might have been too many kids in the area at the pool party and the police decided to take control of the situation.  Of course, I think they would have been smoother if all the kids were White and to be fair I think kids (Black and White) in groups can have smart mouths around their friends….we were the same way at times back in the day.

If I had a son at that party and the police said go home, he needs to start home and call me if he feels his rights were being violated.  I have respect for parents who would say their child doesn’t need to follow a police command that seems unfair or unlawful.  I wanted my Black child to come home every night.  I don’t want him or her in the morgue, the jail or the hospital.   If that requires flexing your rights on some level, we will take that up with our attorney.  The ensuing lawsuit might pay for your college education.

As a side note, I am watching a long interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan in which he said that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani wasn’t wrong in stating that 93% of Blacks are killing by other Blacks and that 75% of crime in New York City takes place in Black areas.  Of course, the minister and mayor disagree on the root causes of those problems but there are Black people who wonder why there is such uproar when the police kill someone while we kill each other in the same area all the time for silly reasons.  Yea, but the police still should know better.

At the Texas pool party, a policeman was using really inappropriate language when the confused kids didn’t move fast enough for him.  He later put a girl in a swimsuit on the ground in such a violent manner that most fathers would have pulled up swinging on him.  The police ended up pulling this firearm on the upset crowd.

Both sides of the incident will come out this week but kids need to know when to dial down or defuse situation when dealing with authority.  When I was in junior high school, our band director was Mr. Jesse Walker, a brilliant man of music.  At the time I didn’t know that Mr. Walker was teaching life lessons as well as music.  He was a Black man preparing the Black kids for life in a White world and preparing White students to acknowledge a cool relationship with someone from a different part of time.

Well, I got too much of that life stuff at home and I was simply there to play trumpet.  But, Mr. Walker, a military veteran, knew it wasn’t about the destination as much as the journey.   We were taking yearbook photos in uniform after school one day and all the Black guys changed gear in one classroom.  At band practice the next day, Eric informed Mr. Walker that his watch was misplaced and asked that the band keep an eye out for it—he never said anything about stealing.  Mr. Walker said something about stealing being wrong and said he wanted everyone who was in that room to stand up.  I will never forget that he then said “Band, you are looking at thieves.”  Say, what?  He was talking about future advance degree holders, military leaders and a couple millionaires (I wish I was one of those.)

At the second he said thieves, I sat down because I was certainly wasn’t a thief and knew those other fellows weren’t.  Eric had a look of disbelief because he never wanted to put us in that situation.  The real issue here was authority and Mr. Walker needed us to respect authority but I wasn’t hearing that.   Today, I know that authority needs to be respect at the point of conflict and the incident can be taken up with a higher authority later—when cooler heads prevail.

Of course, my school teacher daddy was doing the same kinds of things in the agriculture building than Mr. Walker was doing at the band building.  To me, both of them were wrong.  Mr. Walker told me to stand up and I said I wasn’t standing up if those standing were thieves.  He took me into a back room and paddled but I refused to stand.  I got my stuff and walked out of that place crying but my dignity was intact.

I had to hear at home that Mr. Walker knew what he was doing and that countless kids had learned so much from being in his band but what he was teaching I didn’t want to know.  There is a fine line between tough love and humiliation.  Machiavelli and Malcolm X would say that the end justifies the means but no.  Eric discovered a hole in his band blazer a few days later; the watch was in the lining of the jacket the whole time.  I would return to the band if Mr. Walker apologized to me and the fellows in front of the whole band but that wasn’t happening.

Check this, guys who join the Army Rangers, Navy Seals, attend a service academy like West Point or who pledge a Black frat old school style learn about their personal steel and fortitude.  Anything that comes up after that in life is a piece of cake.  I would have been a better person if I learned to submit and trust the brethren.  I should have gone straight to a black college and join one of the elite Black fraternities as a sophomore.  My attempt to join one as a senior didn’t work because I don’t like people barking in my face.  I never married for the same reason.

1,000 words later, I end this post by referring to the Best Interest Initiative section on Faith.  I wrote there about Romans 13:1 in which Paul wrote about governing authorities.  Kids should develop the ability to determine when to confront and when to go home.  Senator Robert Kennedy said life isn’t worth living if you don’t have something worth dying for and Farrakhan likes to point out that the Boston Tea Party was a criminal act that led to the founding of this great nation.  In the end, pick your battles.  Telling the police that they are wrong might get you ended.  As we said in the 80s, they will put your head out.

Romans 13, 1-5.

1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 


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Samuel L Jackson’s movie Lakeview Terrace blew me away last night.  I watched it on Starz on Demand and wonder if a beer summit among friends, neighbors and associates could include watching this film before a discussion on race, the police and community peace. 

We all talk a good game about p.c. stuff and “love thou neighbor” but sometimes the guy next door is just a complete jerk.  Jackson gave a great performance (like Denzel in Training Day) because it is rare for me to cheer when a Black guy gets shot but I was so glad when his character was lifeless on the pavement (not to say I like seeing other people get shot…calm down.)

Maybe there is a difference between being racist and being race-conscious.  To me, race-conscious involves understanding the racial climate around you.  For example, if I go to the Post Office after hours and the only other person getting mail is a non-sista woman, I find myself pausing until she comes out because I know she might have that “I hope he is not going to rob me” look.  Hey, if you live in Dixie, you know the deal.  On the other hand, if I pulled up to the P.O. and a sister was inside with a non-Black guy, would I think she should have been more cautious?  What if he had that bumper sticker “If I knew in was going to be like this, I would have picked my own dam cotton” on his truck.  Who knows, they might have been together.

If you think about it, Americans have a constitutionally protected right to be racist in their personal thoughts and beliefs.  The problems occur when those thoughts become discrimination in actions.  Did Dr. Henry Louis Gates racially profile the White police officer?

Lakeview Terrace also starred Obama supporter Kerry Washington.  Sorry Angelina Jolie, Washington has the best lips in Hollywood and my community acknowledges her right to be involved on and off camera with whomever she wants—it’s a free country…in theory.  Jackson played a real rogue cop with a chip on his shoulder.  I did respect his effort to control the worldly things exposed to his children but he was wrong for slapping the daylights out of his daughter for shake dancing.  Control freaks should avoid being married and having kids. 

Lakeview Terrace is a real teachable moment for many reasons.  


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What do they call a Black man with a PHD?   You know and it is a shame. What’s worst is that my parents told me that as part of the obligatory “don’t get to comfortable with certain folks” talk.  Dr. Henry Louis Gates did not listen to the warning that President Obama’s election would not change America overnight.  That warning came repeatedly from Obama himself, Rev. Jackson, Rev. Sharpton and everyone who really knows what’s what. 

The whole “I can’t believe this happened on Harvard Square” thing tripped me out because Malcolm X told us that the South is everything south of Canada and he lived in the same Boston.  Bill Russell said he did not play for Boston but for the Celtics after people got so ugly when he moved into a certain neighborhood.  Can you believe that someone broke into his home and defecated in his bed then covered it with the comforter?  That was wrong; as wrong as someone who looks like us robbing Mrs. Rosa Parks in her home.  I wish she would have done like Pope John Paul II when he was shot and pointed the guy out in a spirit of forgiveness at the Million Man March.   While she is a forgiving person, the street in me would have smooth hung my Rockports in his behind.

I love me some PBS with those long projects by Ken Burns but Dr. Gates series about who is related to White people kind of tripped me out—like those Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming family folks.  I don’t want to know so I stop my people when they start that talk or I leave the room because I see those people in the post office everyday.  We are not talking about generations removed from the drama because sharecropping (the last part of slavery) did not end until the mid 70s. In other words, there are big farms in my community that got big because the labor was free then systematically cheap.   

The USDA/Pigford case is addressing discrimination problems that grew from the county committees deciding who would farm and who would farm for someone else.  The progress in Black America that is chronicled by Dr. Gates and Soledad O’Brien might be reversed by the current generation of softer, less focus, bling-preoccupied youth. 

So the mayor of Cambridge is a sister and the president was a little rough on the police.  Rather than taking Dr. Gates class or attending his lecture, the young Black, White and Brown guys need to catch me on the tennis court after the matches for my class “How to encounter the police and live to talk about it.”  Repeat after me, “Officer, I was wrong” while remembering the event for a possible lawsuit.       

Finally, what up with Soledad’s CNN Black in America; like she discovered Black America last year. “I have found this fascinating group of people living among us called Blacks and it turns out they are different in many ways from other Americans.”  Soledad, Gates and other Harvard Blacks (who outnumber Morehouse, Spelman, Hampton and Howard in the current administration) don’t know our community as well as the Arkansas connection that came with Clinton in the 90s—Black and White.  Don’t start that “who’s blacker: Barrack or Bill” nonsense because that was answered this time last year. 

On a side note, I am really starting to think President Obama made a deal with Hillary that he would push real reform and let her have it in four year unless he was wildly successful.


Thinking about locals vs. the college community turned me to two classic film scenes. And Good Will Hunting was set in Boston. 

 Spike Lee’s School Daze: KFC —-Language Warning


 Good Will Hunting Apples Scene —Language Warning


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Mayor Ron Dellums

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

The situation with NFL running back Ryan Moats and Dallas Police Office Robert Powell puzzles me.  For background, Moats used his flashing lights as he waited for no traffic then went through a red light as he rushed his wife to see her mother before she died at the hospital.  Powell’s and Moats’ decision-making can not be judged by my untrained mind.  To me, Moats displayed logic during an emotional time and Powell followed general police procedures to secure the passengers in the vehicle.  But, I don’t know; I can’t call it.



 You know my fellows on the corner are saying that another rich superstar (Black or White) might not have the restraint of Moats and another officer (Black or White) might have cuffed young Mrs. Moats as she ignored the officer and went to her dying mother.  Ryan Moats, your mother-in-law can rest-in-peace knowing that you cared about her while she was on this earth and knowing that her daughter is in good hands.  If Officer Powell is fired for following procedures, the procedures need to be clearer. 


The situation between the police and the community in Oakland also puzzles me and again I don’t know the answer.  When I was a congressional staffer, I had much respect for then-Congressman Ron Dellums, Oakland’s current mayor.  When congress had comity instead of comedy, fewer member of congress thought he or she knew everything.  In committee and on the floor, members would often say, “I respectfully defer to the better judgment and knowledge of my dear colleague who is an expert on this issue.”     


With the tense police situations in Dallas and Oakland, I respectfully defer to those with better judgment and knowledge on these matters.  I will say that Mayor Dellums will be fair and honest as he works to address the crisis.  Can you believe the comity of former Texas congressman Tom DeLay (yes, that Tom DeLay) when Dellums retired from congress and his position as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee? 


Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay described Dellums as “…one of the most giving, open and stalwart, a real stalwart man when he was Chairman”

We are losing one of its finest Members, a Member that I have great respect for, because he always did his homework, was so articulate and eloquent on this floor. He always got my attention when he stood up and took the microphone. He would stop every Member in their tracks to hear what he had to say, and there are very few Members that have served in this body that can claim the respect that both sides of the aisle had for the gentleman from California. And the incredible reputation that the gentleman from California has brought to this House; he has elevated this House. He has elevated the distinction of this House by serving here, and this House will greatly miss him when he leaves.




Comity: a friendly social atmosphere; a loose widespread community based on common social institutions.

UPDATE:  I just read about a neo soul artist called Wayna being arrested at the airport in Houston for having a collapsible billy club in her carryon bag.  She uses the baton as a stage prop her song “Billy Club.”  The artist is a University of Maryland grad who worked in the Clinton White House as a writer.  The Billy Club song is over Run DMC’s “King of Rock” with rock guitars… nice.  Neo soul makes the old school proud and hopeful about the future of hip hop.

Bottomline: don’t mess with Texas—Florida or Georgia for that matter.  The president and the Attorney General are Black but in the middle of the night when those blue lights are in your rearview mirror think, “I fought the law and the law won;” be cool and collect information and evidence in case you need to sue—litigation and settlements are American way.  





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