Supporting the Ferguson Protesters Does Not Mean You Are Against Police.

There’s a ridiculous notion that because you support protesters and stand up for justice that somehow you can’t also support police and law enforcement.

I’m referring, of course, to the ridiculous controversy over the St. Louis Rams showing solidarity with the Ferguson community.

tumblr_nfy4h8xcyu1s9kglto1_1280Personally, I think an apology from the Rams is unnecessary. The fact that their act is so controversial shows there is still a race problem in the United States. I find it absurd. The team’s “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest didn’t take anything away from anyone. It caused no harm. If anything, it shows awareness of, and support for, fans.

Just because I believe police officers must be held accountable for misdeeds doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that most cops are basically good. Law enforcement is a difficult and thankless job. We demand a lot from cops. We expect them to arrive the minute we call, but then jump on the entire force when one goes rogue. It doesn’t help that the bad cops get all the press. I’ve encountered good and bad cops on both sides of the law. Yes. I was arrested once, during an ACT-UP protest against Bush Sr. One of my arresting officers was unnecessarily violent. — but I digress. I can support law enforcement’s efforts to keep crime at bay and still stand in solidarity with Ferguson protesters. It’s not an either/or scenario. Which brings me to another issue.

There is a difference between protesters and looters. I fully support the Ferguson protesters. Though I completely understand the anger that led to vandalizing and looting, I don’t condone it. Neither do the residents and protesters of Ferguson. So let’s not lump protesters and vandals together.

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#WAD2014 – #Reagan, #AIDS, and ACT-UP

For those of you who don’t understand why I dislike Reagan so much, here’s a poster from 1987 protesting our president’s silence on the deadliest virus that America had seen.

AIDSGATE, 1987, posterThink about that for a minute. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were sick and dying, and the American president was silent!

Ronald Reagan’s silence led to the organizing of LGBT protest/action group, The AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, or “ACT-UP”. Their slogan, “Silence = Death” is based on Reagan’s silence.

AIDSIntroPicSilenceDeathSo the next time a conservative talks about how great a president Reagan was, ask them if they think it’s okay for an American president to ignore the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Ask them if they ever wonder how much closer we might be to finding a cure for HIV had Reagan actually done something.

If it sounds like I’m angry it’s because I AM angry. A whole generation of gay men from artists, writers, athletes, and teachers to doctors, lawyers, friends, lovers, and family, an entire generation was lost because of the callous attitude of Ronald Reagan and his successor, George HW Bush. Those of us who survived watched the ones we loved die all around us.

Gran Fury, The Government Has Blood On Its Hands, 1988, posterBoth Ronnie and Georgie Sr have blood on their hands.

I am dedicating World Aids Day 2014 to the fighters, the people who stand up for justice. From ACT-UP to protesters in Ferguson, we are all fighting for our lives. Never stop fighting. Sometimes shouting is the only way we’re heard.

What’s Going On?

Four decades and Marvin Gaye’s classic is as relevant today, if not more so, as it was on it’s release in 1971.

What happened to the Hippies, the “Peace and Love” generation that was supposed to save the world? Oh, right. Hippies became Yuppies.

I’ll never forget that night. The air was electric with excitement! We had done it. We had achieved something that I never, in my lifetime, thought was achievable. The one image that sticks in my mind is the close up of Jesse Jackson with tears in his eyes. It was what Oprah would have called my “Aha Moment”. It was an instant when suddenly everything clicked into place and I got it. I understood the idea of representation. Here were people who had worked all their lives just to have a seat at the table. Their moment had come. There was a feeling that things were about to change, that everything was possible. We were dancing in the streets!

How could I have been so naive?

If anything, things got worse. I might have guessed that the first black president of the United States would face some difficulty but never in my life did I expect such a deluge of hateful, un-American, bullshit! From Donald Trump’s “Show me your birth certificate” to Mitch McConnell’s famous, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” to Eric Cantor’s government shutdown, no president in the history of these United States has had to put up with the level of disrespect and outright condemnation as this one has.

But this post isn’t about politics. …well, maybe not.

You don’t know how many times I’ve sat down to write something about race in America. It’s been on my mind for a very long time. But what can I, a middle aged white male, add to the conversation that hasn’t already be said by people more intelligent and better qualified than me?

When Michael Brown was shot and killed I couldn’t believe it. Another one!? It seems every time I turn on the news I see a story of a black male being killed at the hands of a police officer or, as in Trayvon Martin’s case, a representative of a neighborhood watch organization. — Seriously, why is George Zimmerman still walking the streets? Every town watch I have ever been part of forbade us from carrying guns. AND… He was told not to follow Trayvon! What the hell, man?  When the shoplifting video came out I thought, so what? Even if Michael Brown was the shoplifter in the leaked surveillance video, he did not deserve to be shot and killed. At worse, Michael made the mistake of struggling with the officer, but that is NOT reason to shoot him to death!

Of course people are angry. I’m angry! But at least I have the luxury, the privilege if you will, to turn off the news and go about my boring life.

And don’t you dare whine to me about “Well… not ALL white people“! I hate that sentence. It’s a lie! Each and every one of us is to blame. We’ve so surrounded ourselves with like minded people that we’ve forgotten that this racist bullshit still runs rampant throughout our community.

So how do we prevent this from continuing?

First,  shut up and listen. And while you’re listening, try not to take everything personally. Us white folks need to remember that it’s not always about us. Just because someone is telling you their truth doesn’t mean they are tearing you down. Unless someone is addressing you directly, they aren’t necessarily blaming you. So brush the chip off your shoulder.

Next, When talking with family and friends, don’t be afraid to stand up for what’s right. When someone says or does something offensive, tell them. Otherwise, how else are they gonna know what they’re doing is wrong?

If you still feel helpless, check out 12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson by Janee Woods

Personally, I don’t understand why people find it so difficult to treat others the way they wish to be treated. It’s such a simple concept. :\