Tony Kendall

I’ll be honest with you, I’m having trouble trying to put my feelings on paper right now.

It’s an understatement when I say that these last 10 days have been among the most emotional l’ve ever faced as a black man in this country.

Each time I see the video of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of white policemen, my feelings move continuously from hurt to anger to despair.

The same thing happens when I see the reactions to peaceful protestors by police on the streets and the indifference by politicians to the systemic racism that created the atmosphere in which Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery lost their lives.

But in the midst of my emotional roller coaster ride, I look at the diversity of the people participating in those peaceful protests around the country, and think that I see a glimmer of hope.

In our recent past, whenever there have been uprisings as the result of law enforcement killing an unarmed black person, the faces in the crowds protesting were for the most part black and brown, faces that belonged to the people who had borne the brunt of over-policing in their cities and neighborhoods.

But this time, there are just as many non-black-and-brown faces marching, taking a knee and decrying the injustice they have seen. This looks and feels different, but I’ve been wrong before.

Days after Barack Obama was elected U.S. president, I was talking to a longtime white friend, whose opinion I valued and respected, and that person asked me if I was ready for Sharia Law to be introduced into America.

After noticing the look on my face, that person quickly injected that retired Gen. Colin Powell was the kind of black man for whom he could vote.

Eight years later, that same person explained to me how good it would be for the country if Donald Trump were to become president because he would shake things up. And here we are.

Once I get comfortable enough to intermingle with people without wearing a mask, I can’t wait to see this person and ask them if things are shaken up enough.

Question: Will Floyd’s murder and the uprisings that followed finally get white people and apologists for law enforcement to stop saying that the killings of unarmed and nonthreatening black people are isolated incidents by a few “bad apples”?

No, these are not the acts of a few bad apples. These are the acts of people who believe that the badge they wear and the power over life and death that comes with it gives them the right to treat black and brown people anyway they see fit under the guise of doing their job.

 Full disclosure: NBC late-night host Seth Myers expressed similar sentiments on his show Monday before I could get this column in print.

Think about this, if you stopped at a fruit stand that had a barrel of apples with a sign stating, “Free, take as many as you can carry.”

But as you were about to grab a couple, the owner of the stand tells you to be careful, because a few of the apples in the barrel will make you sick or possibly kill you.

Most of us given those options are going to raise our hands, say thanks but no thanks, get back in our vehicles and leave.

The problem is that everywhere you go, there is a fruit stand with a barrel of apples, and some of us, however, have no choice but to reach in take some out and hope that none of the ones we picked have worms, isn’t a little sour or rotten to the core.

The killing of Floyd and others by police is not the just the actions of a few bad apples; they are the fruit that grew from the seeds planted by the systemic racism that has existed in this nation from day one.

Black and brown people have known this all our lives,

Whenever we attempt to share this knowledge or attempt to voice our concerns about the over-policing and mistreatment that we are routinely subjected to at the hands of law enforcement in any way other than silence, some in the white community dismiss our claims as being hyperbole, overblown, or the result of our own criminal or suspect behavior.

Rarely do these people acknowledge that there is a problem with the actions of law enforcement.

Too often, I’ve heard them say, “Well, they must have had a good reason to do what they did the way they did.” Even in the face of video evidence to the contrary, some will never change the racial prism through which they see the world.

In light of his recent haranguing rhetoric to governors in a phone call, combined with his response to the social unrest that is currently happening in this nation following much-publicized deaths of Floyd, Taylor and Arbery, there shouldn’t be any doubt that President Donald Trump is a wanna-be authoritarian dictator.

Using the military to clear a space occupied by peaceful protestors so that you can walk somewhere to have a photo op in front of a house of worship is what two-bit dictators do, not American presidents.

I’m not a deeply religious person, but I’ve known many. Never in my life have I ever seen any of them handle a Bible in the manner that Donald Trump did as he stood in front of St. John’s Church.

I’ve never handled a Bible or any other book in such a way. Then again I read and respect books.

When the list of notable Trump religious moments is compiled, his holding the Bible as if it was a trophy that someone had just presented to him will rank somewhere near his infamous “Two Corinthians” line.

Hey, all you constitutional conservatives who wax poetically about your love of that founding document, I’m looking forward to reading and hearing how appalled you were at the sight of a president ordering the U.S. military to open fire with tear gas and rubber bullets on unarmed American citizens and some foreigners who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.

Although I was feeling down, hearing about and then seeing the story and photograph in The Post-Intelligencer of Stearion Williams, Natevia Hutcherson, Valerie Morgan and Cevelle King during the peaceful protest on the court square in Paris that Hutcherson and Williams organized made me smile.

Then I chuckled a little at the thought that immediately popped into my head. It was of James Hart being across the street with his sandwich board.

Hi, Momma Lois.

 

TONY KENDALL of Hazel is a writer, teacher, actor, playwright and sports fanatic. He can be reached by email at bottomwriter@yahoo.com.

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