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381 Days | (A Message for Our Nation)
From what I can see, we remain strange fruit because of the narrative America has created in order to identify Black People. It drives every perception of us. Our skin color is the weapon, we are always seen as armed and dangerous.
I’ll never forget the day Walt and I were riding down the highway on the way to a speaking engagement. I remember being hype because I had just published my book. Before we left we'd loaded boxes of them into the back of the suburban. Out of nowhere we heard a siren, and realized we were being pulled over. Two white officers approached each side of the truck with hands on their weapons. They made us get out of the car with our hands up as they called for backup. They then separated Walt and me, and put me in the back of the police car. I remember feeling outraged and also helpless as they brought a dog and searched the boxes. Once they figured out that I was the author of the books they found, they told us we were free to go.
Walt and I rode to the engagement the rest of the way in silence. The rage and anger I felt was real. The helplessness I felt was palpable. A year ago I felt the same rage and helplessness when I went for a walk at 3am in my own neighborhood and was confronted by the sight of several garage doors spray-painted with the word “NIGGER” in big black letters. In both of these situations I made it out physically unharmed, but my heart and my mind were left hurting. I’m saying this as a grown man, husband, father, pastor, and Ph.D. in education. I have stability. I have support. I have a community. And I still have an extremely tough time processing this. Stop now and think about how a 17-year-old who doesn't have what I have—whose life up to this point has been full of these interactions and messages—think about how they feel right now. They need us. They need you. That’s why it hurts so bad when the “good” people don’t condemn racism. If we are truly your brothers and sisters, it’s not enough to be Non-Racist you must be Anti-Racist.
Power is consolidated in the law—those who write it and those who enforce it.
Right now, the most important thing we can do is to better ourselves, our communities, our families. Do all we can to protect what we Love and continue to Educate each other in ways that Uplift us and ennoble us.
Stay in the Boat. Remain Committed.
Ya Boy ET
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