Fellow HEMA member Michael Sims posted a link to something by one Arnold Ragas from (the US state of) Georgia according to his post. I made the following comment there and think it worth claiming publicly with the minor caveat that I intend the following in the most positive way I am capable of (however poorly I may have conveyed that in the original):
"Can't say about skin, but we all wear our own stereotypes and see them a lot too. The biggest difference I have with BLM (or AARP or the NRA for that matter) is I don't go around crying about how my life isn't immune to all of that ... and you shouldn't either. Anyone who doesn't know you personally is going to be at least a little bit suspicious of you (and even if they do know you if their like my friends). We pay cops to be suspicious. You may suffer from your own stereotypical burden, but you ain't special that way so get over yourself and get on with making your life as successful as you want it to be."
This is the Arnold Ragas statement I was responding to:
"Sometimes my black life matters.
It mattered the day I was walking to my car at Lenox when I was ordered inside a police car until I sufficiently explained my purpose for being in the deck. My keys in hand provided no clue. It mattered the very next time I was in the deck and again ordered inside a police car until I again sufficiently explained my purpose.
My black life mattered the day I was helping someone move her furniture from her apartment to a moving van when several police officers pointed their guns at me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Carrying a microwave to a moving van provided no clue.
My black life mattered the day I was looking through storefront windows and police detained me and questioned me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. It mattered further when I reached into my pocket for my wallet and they pulled their guns on me. My black life almost became matter on the pavement.
My black life mattered the day I was ordered inside a room at the DeKalb county courthouse and forced to explain my purpose. Being a lawyer wearing a suit in a courthouse provided no clue.
My black life mattered the night I was jogging in my Johns Creek subdivision when a police officer drove 5 mph and followed me for nearly a half mile until I finally and exasperatedly turned around and yelled, “What?!?!” My Nike shorts, shirt and running shoes provided no clue of my lawful presence. After all, I was running.
I never really thought of myself as a thug. I’m clean cut. Clean-shaven. No dreads. No golds. No tats. No sagging pants. Hell, I even own a pair of khakis.
But what do I know. Maybe I AM a thug. I graduated college but it took me 5 years. I graduated law school but I wasn’t top ten. I served 3 terms in the state House of Representatives but I never got more than 60% of the vote. I served 9 years as a judge but does Probate court really count? I’ve appeared on news shows as an expert on political and legal matters but my tie didn’t always quite match.
Or just maybe my skin is the sin and no accomplishment vaccine can inoculate me.
Sometimes I wish I could try on white skin. Not to keep; just to test drive for a few days. But moreso, I wish my white friends who condemn the black lives matter mantra could wear my skin. They’d probably cut the test drive short. They’d know what it feels like to be routinely viewed as a suspect instead of a person. They’d learn that black lives do indeed matter.
But oftentimes, for all the wrong reasons."
I'm a high school dropout. I joined the US Navy during the tag end of the Vietnam War because I didn't want to miss my generation's war. I labor under none of the lack of recognition for the really commendable accomplishments Mr Ragas struggles with, but nobody in or out of my life really gives two shits about any of my "accomplishments" either ... nor should they. We are all to some degree the sum of our accomplishments, but we are even more the product of all the really crappy choices we didn't make instead. The only people who are likely to know very much of any of that are we ourselves. Thankfully (I don't know about you, but some of that shit I didn't actually do but semi-seriously considered is really embarrassing, you know?).