A Black & Blue America

Before I move deeply into today’s post I first want to ask, can anyone who has read my blog, or has known me personally for any amount of time, in any way, shape or form, say that I am racially bias? I have featured prominent black people on these pages. I have commented on not only the sinfulness of slavery, but the utter disgust I have with racism and the old Jim Crow south. I saw a very small sampling of that while traveling with my parents as a child, and have never forgot a sign above two washrooms that said, white above one, and colored above the other. Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders of the 60s are among my heroes. I saw and still see (many will part with me here) Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” welfare system as a means to once again hold captive blacks and other minorities by putting them into a position, where they had to depend on social welfare, to get along. That added up to life long Democrat voters, and a subservient population. Nobody who has ever known me, whether that be yesterday, or when I was 10 years old, has ever heard a racial slur come from my lips. I have left many a room when people were judging whole races by one event. I can go on and on. I stand by how I’ve led my life as proof.

In every profession, and I mean in every profession, doctor, lawyer (by the thousands), pharmacist, teacher/coach, firefighter, soldier and police officer, there are incompetent as well as evil individuals. Everybody, regardless of their job, is human and flawed by nature. Some are worse than others. Police officers that actually commit intentional violations, or without cause commit a violent act on anyone, regardless of race, need to be prosecuted. With that said, shooting a man who is charging you and refuses to stop when ordered, or a man who has taken your night stick and is beating you with it, is doing what an officer of any color should do. Police are not paid or educated to be your analyst or psychiatrist. If you are trying to assault an officer because you are on drugs, that officer does not have time to delve out therapy. If you don’t want to be hurt because of behavior related to drug use, don’t use drugs.  Today’s police force in America, while not perfect, is the best trained, most idealistic and least racially biased in history.

Do you understand, that some of the numbers you are seeing quoted today that are of police shootings of suspects, include criminals that were shot who were black, white and Hispanic, by officers who were black, white, Hispanic and Asian?  Don’t be misled.

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I’ve told this story before, and please don’t tell me that because I am not black, I cannot perfectly relate to what it means to be black in America.  Of course I can’t, just like a black man cannot relate perfectly to me. That doesn’t mean we cannot relate at all, or learn.

Somewhere in the late 1990s or early 2,000s I was headed out to Utah by car, to spend a week making nature photographs. My trunk was filled with camera equipment from stem to stern.

I had been driving all night and finally stopped at a Kansas rest stop and got myself about 30 minutes (more or less) of sleep. I would have slept better but I saw a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (bird) flying in the rest area just before I laid down in the front seat of my rental car. All I could think about was that bird. So after about 30 minutes I gave up and headed down the Kansas highway. I was moving along at about 70 mph (the speed limit) when I spotted a Kansas State Patrol car headed the other way. I’m going 70, he’s going 70, in my book it means I passed him at about 140 mph. A short ways down the road I moved out to pass a tractor-trailer and spotted what appeared to be that same patrolman now quickly approaching my rear bumper. As he moved up in back of me (the truck was now cleared) I put on my turn signal and began to move into the right lane. On came the red/blue lights. Why me, I asked. I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

I sat in the car watching the officer as (I am sure) he ran my license plate and then made a slow, and very cautious walk to my car. He was very stern and no-nonsense as he asked for my driver’s license. I provided it and he then asked for the car’s registration. I said this is a rental car and it was in the glove box and he said go ahead and get it as he placed his right hand on his still holstered service revolver. He checked the registration and rental agreement and asked very sternly, just why do you have a Wisconsin driver’s license, but a Illinois rental car? I explained that I rented the car in Wisconsin but it originated at O’Hare Field (airport) in Illinois. He asked, also in a very stern and intimidating fashion, if I minded if he checked my trunk. He also asked if I had any unusually large sums of money, or any drugs or unregistered weapons back there. I said no drugs, no weapons, but a couple of thousand dollars as I will be on the road for almost two weeks and yes, he was welcome to check my trunk. I was able to say that because I am not a criminal. I had nothing to hide. Just before he took my keys and proceeded to the back, he ordered me to keep my hands on the very top of the steering wheel. He watched me through the crack between the open trunk and the body of the car, and searched. Finally he said, “you were not lying“, I have never seen so much camera equipment. As he walked up to the window of my car, his entire demeanor had changed. he was now friendly and he explained the entire event.

In recent months some simple traffic stops by the police had provided to them suspects in a major drug running operation. Cars, traveling in either direction, with illegal drugs or large (such as $100,000) sums of money. The all had eastern license plates, including Illinois and many other states. They were all white males between the age of 25 and 50, they were traveling alone and had late-model cars. He had profiled me.

I suppose I could have copped (no pun intended) an attitude, and asked why he hadn’t stopped the little old black female driving the 30-year-old car with Kansas plates right ahead of me, but that seemed kind of stupid considering the sort of people that they had found to be participating in the drug ring, were much like me. I could have argued with him and made him tell me to get out of the car, and then wrestled with and caused him to fear that I was after his revolver, but that seemed kind of stupid, as I would have been shot.  Not only wasn’t I doing anything wrong and had nothing to hide, but he’s paid by taxpayers to do exactly what he did. If I had been one of those criminals, for all he knows, his children might wind up being raised without a daddy. He takes that risk every time he approaches a car, or a pedestrian.

We all have decisions to make, and I decided to thank him for his service and I left him with a wish that he would find these guys and get them off the streets, and return home safely to do it again. I was raised by my parents to respect authority, and not go through life with a victim mentality. I realize that my upbringing, made it easy to make good decisions. I know that many are not as fortunate as me.

I’ve only had one moving violation in my life, while driving a car, although I should have had more.

I was driving through Milwaukee County and was doing 77 mph in a 65 mph zone. I was stopped by a county Sheriff who gruffly asked for my driver’s license and asked me if I knew how fast I was going. I suppose it would be understandable if I said no, but I said I did. That was the truth. I then got a lecture on safety and was asked if I wanted to cause an accident and possibly hurt somebody. I said I didn’t. That was also the truth. He came back with my ticket and recited the be on your way and be safe, line that those deputies left everybody with at that period in time. The deputy was black. It didn’t occur to me to claim this was racially motivated but even if it had, I would not have done it anyway. I would have taken my ticket and moved on. I mean, I was traveling 77 in a 65, and it is his job to stop people like me from doing that. Should I have shown an attitude towards the cop, for doing what we pay him for, when I am breaking the law? He was the one charged with authority to do that. I chose to accept my due punishment, and show him respect for that authority.

We can’t pick and choose the cop that might stop us, but we can choose our attitude and what we’re doing when he/she does stop us. It’s amazing just how much of life is under our control

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We are becoming a dangerously divided America, and I am not just talking race. There are those who promote anarchy as it is the only way for “small people” to feel big.  Many people are becoming willing dupes to those selfish plans. Those same people who allow themselves to become pawns in other people’s fantasies, will also be the ones who suffer the worst when they are through with you.

God Bless,                                                                                                                                      Wayne

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