Racism: We Have to be Vigilant During These Times

This was written before the horrific Baton Rouge shootings of policemen.

The latest aberrations violence has taken on are the familiar spirits of racism, police brutality and revenge. It is dividing us along those fault lines. For the sake of honesty and brevity, let’s just admit that America has history and knows each of these negative reactions very well. In fact, we were one of the world’s leading experts in its practices. These relics of a time we should have apologized for and resolved are the ugly underbelly that initiates and justifies violence. By not formally apologizing and fully repairing the wrongs these caused we continue to give them life.

But, don’t get it twisted; these are only symptoms that fuel the hate that is violence and death. I mean, you may have the flu, but the symptoms are a runny nose, body aches and fever. You don’t only treat the symptoms, you treat the whole disease. And the disease, the addiction is violence. When you only treat the symptom, it may subside for a while but, sooner or later, the disease (flu) will come back with a vengeance, turn into pneumonia and probably kill you. So let’s stay focused on the disease, the addiction of violence in our recovery plan while we treat the symptoms.

The symptom of racism in America has its natural cousins: poverty, economic inequality, a superiority complex and paternalism. The thoughts that “they” are less worthy or it’s “their” fault preside to make some feel better. And, worst of all, the thoughts that if “they” “progress” then they are taking something from me. So we create this game of cause and effect. This attitude is purveyed constantly over the airwaves making people believe we are inherently different and as long as I and mine are okay, then life is good. Watch out for this message over and over this election cycle.

The problem with this thought process is that the world is interconnected now and events what happen 5000 miles away affect us immediately. And, we haven’t adjusted well. That’s why we see spikes in elicit, dangerous and negative activities in communities all across this county. Like the spike in opiate and methamphetamine use by Middle America. But, we still want to differentiate by saying this drug is different or worse than another drug. This forever keeps the superiority model alive and is costing lives.

Instead of realizing that the ties that bind us together are stronger than the forces that pull us apart we take our frustrations out on what’s different and what we fear for some reason. We arrest and jail black men disproportionately. We take away and limit needed resources. We participate in gerrymandering to dilute the power of entire voting blocks in order to remain in power. We gentrify entire communities in the name of progress.

These actions unfortunately cause those who continue to endure these powerful forces to turn on each other, and in some cases, just quit. You have the rise in high school dropout rates. You have the increase in gang membership which promotes havoc in communities by increasing drug wars, petty crimes and again, violence. On top of this is the extreme economic disparity that continues to persist. Is it any wonder that these communities don’t explode and erupt when there is a perceived unjustified police shooting? The feeling is, with all these other pressures, one should be able to depend upon the government, who they pay for, to show some kind of concern for their well-being.

It’s an ugly, unrelenting, powerfully negative cycle that we have to admit to and change before any progress can be made with race relations.

When I learned computers one of the first lessons was the function of the shift key. If the computer timed out, touching the shift key woke it up. It didn’t do anything to what you had been working on; it just put you back in the same place.

Now, we need a key that does something. We not only need to be awakened, we need to do something. What we really need is the space key. The space key moves us forward. We need to move forward. We need to bring understanding. We need to bring change.

So before we have a full-fledged eruption, I’m calling for calm. It’s time for leadership. Let’s stop the marching. All it’s going to do is lead to violence – the addiction. Someone or some organization that doesn’t really want change is going to provoke it. Let’s be smarter than that this time. This fight is not in the physical realm. We are going to talk this through and this country is going to change. It has no other choice. And, it knows it and wants to change. It just doesn’t know how and where to start. But, inciting violence now could postpone change another 10-20 years. Let’s not be manipulated!

When I was commissioned in the Army I pledged to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic. Violence and racism are domestic enemies and I’m going defend against them both. But, again that doesn’t mean we have to raise arms. We raise minds, we raise spirits, we raise peace, we raise love, we raise togetherness and we will win.

One of my favorite songs is America, The Beautiful by Ray Charles. Man, did he sing that song. My favorite verse is:

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

All this time I was thinking the meaning of shed his grace on thee was for God to bless America above all others.

That’s not what I think it means now.  I looked up the definition of grace and as a verb it means: to do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence.

Looking at it this way, I think about all the different races, ethnicities and religions that make up America. I think he was saying for us to honor our differences. Our ability to honor our differences is what makes and will keep us great.

To make this point even stronger, the next line says; “crown the hood with brotherhood from sea to shining sea”. So we are supposed to honor our differences and live as brothers and sisters from coast to coast. That is what will make us a stronger nation.

So let’s put the “G” back in race.  Then we will have “GRACE”!



VIOLENCE is our Addiction!

The Hurt is the same. The Blood is the same. So, when do we realize we are the same?

This is the first installment of a 3-part series focused on providing solutions to violence and racism in America. It will run every three days this week. Please come back on join me for the entire series.

Part I


The last three weeks were mind numbing. It started with Orlando, next Baton Rouge, and then St Paul, and Dallas. All total, 60 deaths. That is not even counting Chicago over the 4th of July weekend and the countless other victims of violence, be it domestic or gang or simply, insane; that didn’t make national news. I’ve wrestled with this for long time and I’ve come to the hard conclusion that we are “ADDICTED” to violence! In America, we kill! We kill what we don’t like, we kill what is different, we kill what we don’t agree with, we kill for money, we kill for power, we kill for reputation, we kill what we don’t understand and we kill what we fear. We just kill.

We ask the same question after each incident, why? We try to understand, we want to place each in a category: domestic, gang related, hate, police brutality, terrorism, etc. But, the end result of each is loss of life. Something no other human should have the power to take unless in war (which should be the last resort at all times).

Addiction is a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It is a condition that results when a person engages in an activity which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life and health. Those addicted may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

For America, this is not a new addiction. This addiction was always woven into the fabric of America, even if we don’t want to admit it. It masked itself in several other issues like racism or drugs or family issues, even business, workers’ rights and political initiatives. But, the bottom line is, violence was always riding shotgun in America’s journey. It’s just that with modern technology, it is in our faces immediately, unfiltered and without the ability for us to categories it as “them” over there; that group, those people. Technology is finally making us “Really” look at ourselves in the mirror.

And what do we see? We see that violence is our go to move. It is what we entertain ourselves with and it, along with other barriers is how we keep some kind of distorted order. We now see ourselves in living color daily on breaking news and on cell phone video. Who would have thought something made for talking would force us to see ourselves, finally.  A picture “IS” worth a thousand words. Hopefully, it will force us to seek recovery. It is far past the time we did just that.

So what do we do now?

I can tell you this; we are not going to change this with a heavy hand. Our old way of thinking and acting suggests violence can beat violence. Remember the war on drugs? Did it solve our drug problem? We can’t arrest our way out of it. We can’t jail our way out of it. We can’t deport our way out of it. We can’t build a wall our way out of it. There is only one answer: We have to “Change”! We have to “Love”, “Respect”, “Understand” and be “Just” to find our way out of it.

So what is the first step one must take when an addiction arises and you want recovery? The first step is admitting to oneself that you have a problem. No other person or group or nation can do that for us. America has to admit to itself that we have a violence addiction. Can we do that? How do we do that? How can a nation admit that? With Courage! With Leadership!

Start at our churches. Next are our community and civic organizations. Next are our schools; elementary through college and university. Next are our local governments. Next are media outlets, that includes radio, TV, music and the movie industry. Last, is the Big Boss – our National Government, which should be first.  But, as always, politics will get in the way. It may take another 20 years and countless more deaths before it balks and talks and lobbies and finances and filibusters its way to a solution.

So, the people will have to move first. And, we have to move now in order to save lives and our country. We must demand in this election season that both major parties add significant policies that address our violence addiction. If they don’t, throw them out from the local to the national level. This is the most important and immediate “POWER” step we can take over the next four months. We need an “INTERVENTION”!

Let’s implement a non-violence day once a month in each of these organizations. Talk about it openly, if only for one hour. We need this for the next 12 months at a minimum. That’s one sermon or bible study monthly on non-violence. That’s one meeting monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one conference call monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one webinar monthly to talk about non-violence. That’s one radio program monthly to talk about non-violence. Aren’t our lives and our country worth that? That won’t make us weak. It will make us stronger.


Check back next Thursday to hear my thoughts on racism in America. For more solutions to the problems we face in our communities, read Steps to the Promised Land.