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Black Lives Matter should mean so much more

Random Spotter was going to stay away from the Black Lives Matter topic because I believe a lot of good can come from the movement. However, I think it’s broken in its current form.

A so-called analysis by Vox’s Dara Lind that included 2012 FBI data, in which she stated that “Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012, even though they made up just 13 percent of the US population” is just the kind of manipulative, crap data that makes people believe in racial conspiracies and leaves the Black Lives Matter movement in a single issue universe. Let me review some truth, and then I’ll tell you what I believe Black Lives Matter can do for humanity.

The primary reason that a disproportionate percentage of arrests and deaths occur in the black community is that crime is rampant in the community. Compare Ms. Lind’s “13% of the population is black” statement with FBI arrest statistics for the same year. 28% of all arrests were of African-Americans, and it’s much higher for violent crimes. In fact, of those under 18 charged with murder, 52% were black. I know all arrests are not just, and all convictions are not fair. But, it’s difficult for me to imagine a huge conspiracy that invalidates a majority of arrests and conviction for any segment of the population.

And, if we review 2012 murders – we see that 2,412 of the 2,648 black deaths were caused by a black assailant. That’s 91% of the murder deaths in the black community. Most estimates of black deaths at the hands of police in 2012 list the figure at about 260. Of those, we would need to exclude the justified killings of offenders who threatened the lives of police and others. I have no legitimate estimate, but let’s guess that 30% of these were improper police killings. This is a pure guess, and I think it’s high, but I don’t want to minimize the unknown figures at all. So then, 78 police killings would have been unjustified, and of course, the entire judicial system should slam the killers down.

The sadder figure is the revelation that we could eliminate ALL improper police deaths, and we’d still see over 30 times as many deaths of blacks at the hands of other blacks. Unfortunately, those numbers are higher in 2016. That’s my beef with Black Lives Matter: it focuses exclusively on police killings, and that’s not the bigger problem.

I can actually see this movement evolving, as have the NAACP and National Urban League, to promote the importance of a multitude of community issues. It could, as have other organizations before it, promote parental issues and economic and career opportunities for black Americans so that the apparent dynamic of despair will change. We can’t solve this with affirmative action or more programs; we need to build a social message of hope for every man, woman and child. Black Lives Matter can and should continue to champion causes of racial justice, but not from a perch of accusation that targets emotional responses to a symptom of the disease. Eliminating every police killing will not cure black crime and violence. Only a hard, honest look can bring healing. If Black Lives Matter focuses on improving visibility of the problems in the black community and champions a mission that solves what ails communities and drives children to crime, more black Americans will be rightly envision a good and safe life for themselves and their families. And the vision will become a reality.

I’m with the Black Lives Matter I see down the road, but I’m very opposed to the movement that fixates on a partly-fabricated police brutality agenda. The facts just don’t support it. Let’s expand the dialogue and invite all Americans to participate in the solutions that a thoughtful and positive Black Lives Matter can bring.

Caring for Aging Parents: It’s hard alright

There’s no doubt that caring for aging parents is a burden. Most of us understand that, as their minds and bodies decline, they will require more of our time and financial resources, even if their retirement savings are adequate. I suppose that most of us ignore the eventuality of this until we are faced with the reality that our parents can no longer maintain real independence. Once the fear wears off, we must begin the task of discerning how to be good to our parents while still meeting our own family and professional obligations.

Random Spotter has been reflecting on these challenges as my own parents have come to need this level of support. Although it’s a painful experience, there are positives. For one, it is good to know that my parents are not neglected. For another, I am happy to report that I am mostly the person I thought myself to be. More on that in a minute.

I think the more difficult lessons of this experience have to do with siblings and relatives. I’ve read that it’s not unusual for one person to assume a greater responsibility for aging parents. This seems reasonable since one sibling may live far away, another may have limited financial resources, or there may be other restrictions that impede a person’s ability to help. Understanding this encourages the necessary flexibility that allows everyone to participate in this delicate partnership. But, this passage exposes a lot about us, and we can learn things about one another that we wished never to discover.

What has this revealed to the Random Spotter? Mostly, two things.

  • Lesson #1: I’m not that bad, and I do correct past mistakes. When this all first began, I allowed a sibling to carry the load because I live in a different state. But, I felt a discomfort that I interpreted as an important cue: I could do more. So, I made changes. And, I committed to do more to relieve my over-burdened sibling because, when one individual takes on a majority of these duties, it is a wearisome sacrifice. The cost to the primary caregiver is too significant, even if it is accepted willingly. I see that very clearly now, and I’m glad that my conscience invited me to act differently.
  • Lesson #2: We don’t know our family like we think we do. Another revelation from this process has been that, regardless of our shared upbringing, the adults we become can be very different from our shared history. While some of us may see duty and need clearly, and step up to do more, others will not. (To be clear, I am not exclusively referencing financial assistance but things like covering evenings and weekends for one another.) And, even after the most gut-wrenchingly honest discussions about sharing responsibility for the care of those who gave us life and the opportunities of our youth, not everyone has been moved to action. It’s been a very sad insight to Random Spotter that I barely recognize my siblings. I’m sure it’s odd to them, too, that I would expect so much when their desire to act is limited. I was naïve to feel that we were still the same people who lived under the same roof decades ago.

The true sadness now is that I feel very estranged from my siblings, so much so that it feels like the only things we have in common are the aging parents about whose support we don’t agree.

This is a difficult topic for all of us, and it’s nearly devastating when there is a lack of agreement about the sacrifices of time (and money) that must be made for our parents. Random Spotter is coping and solving his way through it, and this post helps. Hopefully, there’s some value for others in these words, too.

Today, the only thing sadder than lingering racism is the damage caused by racial lies.

Random Spotter read today about the University of Albany students whose accusations of white racial bigotry on a university bus have instead spurred misdemeanor assault charges against the accusers. Their original claims are all but overshadowed by charges that the incident was fabricated or not a hate crime at all.

I would never consider myself an expert on racism or equality. But I was concerned about the damage that is done when overly zealous people misrepresent events to give voice to their complaints, no matter how authentic the cause. As an observer of human nature, I see how people feel when the truth is bent is such a manner, and it’s difficult not to turn away from the entire issue, even when examination is truly warranted. My only point here is that this is a factor that I recognize, and I wish African American leaders – who surely must also recognize this – would do a better job of encouraging truthful dialogue, free from inflammation and embellishment. Easy for me to say, I know.

Here’s the Random Spotter’s takeaway: If a cause is to be truly understood, it must be accepted as legitimate by those who don’t yet recognize its significance. Situations like the University of Albany case do the exact opposite and take this issue a step backward, if only for a short while. That’s the real shame of it.

Merry ………………! (insert holiday here)

Another Christmas is here, and in the tradition of the holidays, Random Spotter has enjoyed time with family and friends.  One of the brightest spots of the season is a general attitude of joy and acceptance of others.  If only we could bottle these positive emotions for liberal use during the remainder of the year.  Let’s hope.

In reflection of the season, I’ve recently become more concerned about our increasingly anti-religious perspective, especially as this relates to Christmas.  It is an undeniable fact that there are many non-Christians who celebrate Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or nothing at all.  We share the country with them.  But sharing a homeland with someone of different faiths or beliefs does not necessitate that we remove every source of potential conflict or disagreement.  Why should we deny a heritage of government inspired by the Christian principles of its founders?  Why should holidays be re-branded or watered down in denial of their purpose?  To celebrate holidays, especially one whose message is of peace and joy, is not to alienate all who do not do the same.  Rather, it is an affirmation of an identity and a heritage.

Religious beliefs, while they make us different in some ways, should not be denied.  They are elements that make us unique individuals.  The real problem, though most would deny them to their dying day, is that Christian principles are under attack.  Virtually anything of Christian origin or flavor is deemed oppressive and intolerant by people who will go out of their way to legitimize faiths and beliefs of questionable character.  Why?  I have no answer, other than it is the trend of the times to vilify the predominant culture, faith, and ideology.  This, too, is a unique aspect of current times in the USA.  Too bad.  Everything may not be perfect here, but hating who we are and where we come from is a very unproductive self-loathing that can only lead to more division among us.

There’s an old saying among recovering alcoholics in AA.  They state that when they were in the throes of their illness, they would identify “out” of the community of AA rather than identifying with the groups of addicts.  When they finally accept their disease, they are able to see the commonalities among them that make them a community and needy of each other.   It seems to me that our leaders and our media keep encouraging us to identify out of our history and doctrine.  I don’t understand this mindset in light of the class warfare this message prompts and the malaise prompted by perpetually negative points of view in the press.

In the spirit of Christmas, I wish us all peace in our hearts and minds.  I am not blind to the need for change, but change can be undertaken positively and respectfully.  Believers and unbelievers should be able to agree on that.