First, as a disclaimer…I have no idea where I’m going here as I sit down and start typing. I’ve wanted to write a blog post about Killer Mike, aka Michael Render, for the past 6 or 7 days. He’s one of my favorite performers, and has a message that I think people need to hear. He was an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders, and has been interviewed on many news outlets, specifically in response to questions about race relations, rap music and community policing. Mr. Render’s father was a cop, something that he speaks about regularly in his music. This doesn’t make him an expert on policing by any means, but does give him an insight that not everyone has. In general, I find him to be very intelligent, thoughtful and in-tune with what is really going on, not only in terms of predominantly African-American communities and police relations in those communities, but also the United States as a whole.
One of my favorite songs from Mr. Render is ‘Reagan’, which basically tear’s the United States into little fine bits. It’s not just an indictment of Ronald Reagan and what we’ve come to refer to as the “Reagan Era”. It is also a scathing indictment on popular urban culture, the prison industrial complex, the “war on drugs”, US foreign policy, and policing……oh yeah, and the video is dope as f#ck….
Aside from the more conspiratorial aspects of the song (if you DON’T believe that most politicians are puppets of the countries true masters…), there’s not much else in the song that one can dispute from an empirical, evidence based, factual stand point. We DO live in a culture that glorifies the negatives, especially in the form of the “entertainment” we consume. Simply put, we’re entertained by violence and many of the worst aspects of our society. The prison industrial complex is a BIG business. The number of prisons in this country has increased at a staggering rate since the declaration of the “War on Drugs”. The “War on Drugs” has FAILED miserably and has only resulted in more violence, more prisons, as well as military-style policing and more broken families. Policing in this country OBVIOUSLY needs to be addressed…if you don’t agree with that assertion then you’re just not paying attention.
Let’s be real…A black man was shot in Miami…while lying on his back…with his hands up. Enough said.
Which strangely leads me to Joe Rogan….
I recently re-discovered Joe Rogan while searching for a new podcast to listen to while getting dressed for work, cooking, etc. Mr. Rogan is a comedian and has been on television, he’s a martial-artist, a workout enthusiast and UFC color commentator. He’s not average, and neither is his podcast. I can put it on and leave it alone. It’s funny, juvenile yet intelligent, insightful and provocative. I’ve literally been entertained by Mr. Rogan’s discussions with guests on a wide range of topics including everything from Aliens to politics to kundalini yoga. This morning, I fired up the ole’ YouTube and saw this:
I think this interview speaks for itself and points to two of the larger problems that contribute to the situation we currently find ourselves as it relates to police relations. First, not all police are racists. Though this interview does illustrate elements of the “system” that are institutionally racist, I find it utterly ridiculous to think that all police hate those of us whose skin has more melanin. There are far more “good” cops than “bad”. And, as many of us know, “bad” cops come in all shades. Personally, I think one of the primary problems with policing in this country is that we have a lot of police who shouldn’t be wearing badges. They’re not racist…they’re not “bad” or crooked…..they’re scared and/or way to over zealous. And because of that, they’re either not cut out for the job or they’re not in it for the right reasons. Many are under trained, under educated and might not necessarily be in the profession of policing with the intent of protecting and serving a community.
Second, the “war on drugs” creates criminals and felons, and perpetuates itself more than it helps to end rampant “illegal” drug use in this country. Possession of a dime bag of marijuana should not in effect ruin a man’s life. Mr. Wood lay’s out this scenario in the first of the two videos above. Personally, I’ve known people, people very close to me, whose lives were dramatically altered due to the possession of relatively small amounts of controlled substances. It takes years to come back from drug related arrests and incarcerations, if you come back at all. If I were to be completely honest, my life could’ve taken a dramatic turn on many a dark night. I was fortunate that it did not.
By Mr. Wood’s estimate, 90 percent of arrests are drug related. And, even if that’s an exaggeration and its’ closer to 60 or 70 percent, think about that for a minute in the context of a “War on Drugs”. In essence, especially in urban areas, Police are the fighting force charged with the prosecution of the “War on Drugs”.
There is a certain element of confusion that takes place with our well-trained, funded and armed military in a war zone. I’m sure many of us have heard this referred to as the “Fog of War”. I googled this phrase and found the following…
“…the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations. The term seeks to capture the uncertainty regarding one’s own capability, adversary capability, and adversary intent during an engagement, operation, or campaign…”
I think what we see many times, when tragedies happen at the hands of police, is those officers succumbing to the “Fog of War”. How much confusion and uncertainty must there be for a scared, over zealous, under trained and under educated police officer fighting a “war on Drugs”. He knows his own capability and the training he did, or did not, receive. Other than that, he has no idea what he’s getting into when he gets out of that car, or approaches you or I on the street. In the eyes of the scared, over zealous, under trained and under educated police officer, we are all potential adversaries in a war zone, and he has no idea of our intent or capability.
I don’t say this to defend or make excuses for some of the incidents we’ve seen. Many of the shootings that have taken place over the last 2 – 3 years anger and disgust the shit out of me. There is no excuse for shooting a man who is lying down with his hands up. There is no excuse for shooting a man in his car in front of his child and his woman. There’s no defense for shooting a man who is already face down on the concrete, subdued and secured. Again, I do not offer this in defense of Police, rather I offer this as an attempt to help further the discussion, because we all should be having this discussion. What I offer above are my thoughts and my voice on this subject. I’m not sure if these are the answers or not, but you should listen, we all should be listening to each other. We should be listening to Mr. Render and Mr. Wood. We should really consider some of the things they, and other intelligent and thoughtful voices are saying. They are furthering the dialogue. What we can’t do is pull out the wide brushes and profess that all police are the same. Our leaders, on the other hand, can’t ignore the facts on the ground and the videos we see on a damn near weekly basis.
I have a genuine sense of fear for my friends and loved ones, and the interactions they have with police. I’ve thought about what they might say about me should I be shot and killed by police. How my daughter would feel. It seems ridiculous and absurd that I’ve actually thought that. But, I have.
Obviously there is a much bigger picture in front of us, and there are other factors involved. There’s certainly institutional racism in many of our “systems”, theres the systematic societal glorification of violence, and social engineering and conditioning, just to name a few. But, I’ll leave those for a future “Random Thought”. Instead, I’ll close this post with a quote from the Quran:
“Allah (God) will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves”
Simply stated, if we want to see change we must first facilitate that change in ourselves, on an individual level. We as people need to look inward first, before we look at our brother. And when we do, look at him as a brother through the lenses of love and not fear, with understanding and not hate.
Garbo Music Group