In Case You’re Wondering, This Republican Is With…

http://www.independent.co.uk

My friends, this election is going to be great! Believe me awesome, the greatest we’ve ever seen!

We will see the highest turnout in the modern day era.  Believe me, it’s going to be great seeing so many people, of all walks of life, rural and urban come vote!   It reminds me of the images of South Africans once disenfranchised, standing in line for hours to vote for Nelson Mandela in 1994.  We and the world may we see that this year in America. A lot of people who usually stay home, will come out to vote!  That doesn’t mean we will all agree on who to vote for.  Our nation is split right down the middle.  Nevertheless, we all need to vote!

http://www.faculty.newpaltz.edu

No one can stand on the sidelines for this one.  No one should.  Why, because this election is going to be great and all votes will matter.  I promise you, they will really matter. Remember the 2000 voter debacle in Florida?  If you think there were issues then, wait til you get a load out of November 2016.  There will be voter issues, so know your rights!

On one side we have Donald Trump who has energized his base.  A reality television celebrity, he’s got a solid base. On the other, we have Hillary Clinton.  A woman in the public eye over forty years running an historic campaign as the first woman of a major political party to win her Party’s nomination.

Trump has fired a wall of division into the air.  That’s made some friends on the Republican side nervous and they haven’t embraced him.  They also find it hard to back Clinton.   Then there are my friends who despite his wall of division are embracing Trump. These are not just White, uneducated voters as some on the other side seem to think.  These friends are of all races and very educated.  And they’ve taught me a lot.  One is to accept their choice. Know what, they’re right!  I’m okay with it. I love them even if I disagree with them.  That’s what makes America great!  We can agree to disagree.

That’s why, my friends who don’t like politics, I’m not asking you to change and like politics.  I am asking you to be engaged.  If you don’t stay engaged, if you don’t vote, a narcissistic, pompous bigot is going to occupy the White House and destroy years of progress.  After years of gridlock in politics, maybe that’s what America deserves! I don’t believe that, but if people don’t vote, that is what we are going to get.

Believe me, I promise you, it’s going to get nastier when the debates begin.  My fear is Hillary will not do well in those debates.  Not against Trump.  This man believes any lie he makes up.  How do you combat that? One person can’t, but many can.

This election is about American values. How do we ensure everyone has equal access to education, healthcare and jobs. I’ve been on this soapbox for years. When we don’t vote, we get politicians who take us into an economic recession, fiscal cliff and government shutdowns!

Heard the saying, We get the politicians we deserve. That’s why Congress is mired in gridlock and state legislatures battle over ObamaCare and education funding. We get what we deserve when we don’t vote.

We get them when the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo and sports programming takes our attention away from the real reality television show – politics, where politicians decision impact each and every one of us.

Do we deserve Trump? If we don’t vote and stay informed, unfortunately, yes we do. We’ve seen what happens when we can’t  vote.  Isn’t that what we saw in slavery when Blacks and women were not allowed to vote?  And through segregation, when Blacks died for the right to vote?

I know, its not easy, but I promise you, believe me, the alternative, not staying engaged and voting  is a lot worse. If we all vote, those for and against Trump, it will be great for America.  A Clash of Titans!

Who will win? I don’t know. I believe, the diversity of our nation, the merging of our cultures, the fabric of our values are intact.  For that, I have hope that Hillary Clinton will win.

As a descendant of slaves and slave masters, I am inextricably linked to the origins of our nation once mired in slavery.  That origin evolved into segregation and from there other issues emerged like immigration, women’s right to choose, sexual orientation and identity.   More of us are on the side that recognizes #BlackLivesMatter.  And we know that #BlueLivesMatter because by extension we all believe #AllLivesMatter.  But right now, we need a leader that understands why this is important today.

I’m with her because, for whatever mistakes she made or decisions she made in the past, she’s consistently chosen to be on the side of the majority in good and bad times. There are more of us together on these issues than ever before.  And we need a leader who has the courage to address and change when the times call for it, because she listens to the people.

For that, I believe if we stick together on both sides, what will emerge is a referendum on our past, and a signal to all of us that CHANGE happened in 2008. And when it’s all said and done, she’s the best leader for all.  Despite the gridlock in Congress and our state legislatures, as a nation we are moving FORWARD in the right direction. That’s why it’s up to all of us to VOTE!

And it’s why I’m with Her!  Whether you are with her or not, will you please, Vote?

#Hillary

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Part III: #AutoErase

Belk police

#Auto Erase legislation signed into law by North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory went into effect, December 1, 2015. It was first introduced by state Senator Floyd McKissick who garnered support from his Republican colleagues by including language about identity theft and wrongful identification. The road in North Carolina wasn’t easy. It sailed through the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.

“If anyone believes their voice doesn’t matter, they are wrong! When it stalled,” in North Carolina where Charles went to high school, “I asked my mother to have her bridge club friends call, and my high school friends to send emails. Their calls and emails, I believe, helped move the legislation that had sat for months. I received an email from the co-Chairs of the judicial committee and they called to say they were scheduling my legislation. It was voted on and passed.”

I wondered and asked how he moved forward without making it about race. “They were looking for a tall, bald, black man. I fit that description.”

Even I, someone who often steers from the race debate, can see it plainly like those who champion #BlackLivesMatter, that race did play a part in this.  But, in Charles is a valuable “strategy” lesson, often forgotten in the Civil Rights movement discussion.

Activists in the sixties who marched, were often beaten and killed by police officers. But they didn’t turn back.  Their strategy was to bring attention and increase awareness. Their sacrifice made it possible to  advanced landmark Civil Rights legislation.  Fifty years later their efforts also make it possible for Charles to convince a southern legislature to pass #AutoErase legislation.

Today, can be drawn from the sixties today, of Blacks being killed by police officers.  But now, although Officer Darren Wilson got away with the murder of Michael Brown, the Black Lives Matter movement has propelled a national conversation. And we see, body cameras funded by municipalities and states in South Carolina, because of advocacy and an outcry about the senseless murder of Walter Scott by Officer Michael Slager.

Charles during the interview, said emphatically, “I Survived!” Words Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Oscar Scott and Laquan McDonald and will never say.

Belk FB post
The post, I read before meeting Charles three months later.

“When I talk to high school students, I tell them, if they are in a situation like mine, don’t fight the battle there on the street. In my situation, it didn’t matter. No matter how many degrees I have. Or that I wasn’t involved in a crime. They didn’t want to hear it, they had their guy. Tall, bald and Black. Thankfully, I lived to see another day. That’s what I tell young people, live to see another day, and then fight that battle.”

Charles is fighting that battle by going to conferences like the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL). This year, both passed policy resolutions supporting #AutoErase.  He intends to use them to get support from other national organizations like the American Bar Association.

#AutoErase will also become the law in Illinois January 1, 2016.  Arizona, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and South Carolina introduced #AutoErase legislation this year. It died in committee in Arizona but will be reintroduced in 2016. The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed it but the Senate did not. It too, will be reintroduced in 2016.   It is still alive in Pennsylvania and South Carolina where legislators will take up the legislation in 2016.

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Draft legislation has been crafted in Michigan by Representative Bert Johnson. In Ohio, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New Jersey and the US Virgin Islands, legislators have promised to introduce it during next year’s legislative sessions.

Former professional tennis player, James Blake’s who was mistakenly tackled and handcuffed by police in a Manhattan hotel just like Charles.  This just another example of overzealous police officers misuse of the public trust because to them someone “fit the description.” The police culture of power has existed too long. It has permeated the upper and lower echelons of our society and should be replaced with the idea of responsibility of protecting not destroying the public trust.

Whether it was the overseer policing slaves, to the officer wearing a cloth over his head, hanging and shooting Blacks, during segregation, it is wrong. Today, with no whip or hood, officers have without repercussion, shot unarmed men and women. Charles survived, but his good name was damaged, at least for a little while, by officers, who said he fit the description.

His journey to right this wrong, has him on a crusade to make sure this never happens to anyone again. He can use your help, so that this doesn’t happen to you, or anyone we know. Please follow his journey, and if you can, support his cause to make #AutoErase the law of the land!

Check out some of the interviews Charles has given about his arrest. And share his story with your friends.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqeqKHHceEwwwYDWknKD5sg

Follow him @CharlesBelk on Twitter and Facebook.  His nonprofit is Fitting the Description and use the #AutoErase and #FittingtheDescription or visit www.fittingthedescription.org.

Stay up to date on what’s going on in your state by sharing your info on these sites. And if you want to help Charles, please reach out to him and/or call your state legislator and find out if they know about #AutoErase. Together, we can make a difference!

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Charles Belk is President/Producer at I Will Make You A Star Productions and Adjucnt Professor Pierce College.  He is the founder of the organization and executive director of Fitting The Description.

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.