Terror on the Streets 

I had a dream last night about the urgency  of now and importance of addressing police officers terrorizing young men. In my dream, there was an image of my nephews walking in a world where police officers and young men are at war. Then I woke up.  It wasn’t a dream, that nightmare is real.  It is happening every day. Young men are killing each other faster than the officers are.  Why aren’t we talking about it.

I saw my 15 year old nephew’s Instagram page with the photo of a young up and coming rapper DC named Swipey who was killed a couple of days ago.  I didn’t know who he was.  But I was intrigued that my 13 year old niece and another fifteen year old nephew commented on the post.  Their comments read RIP with sad emoticons.

I felt instant sadness.  I held them not too long ago in my arms as babies and now as teenager their innocence has already been stripped away.  This young 18 year old was killed by possibly four or five young men who ambushed him with guns. Why? A robbery? An argument? Whatever it was, amounts to nothing important.   What is important, Swipey is gone. Where is the outrage about his death?  Had he been killed by the police, there would be outrage, marches and such.

A sense of urgency to call out the injustice and insensitivity of law enforcement is necessary.  Did you watch the video above of a ten year old chased by police who thought he was a twenty year old?

On my company, Party Politics US chalkboards, people have written that criminal justice, black lives matter, protecting all lives, race relations and racial stereotypes are things they want the next President to work on. I agree with them, do you?

If so, this means all of us no matter who wins the election have to work with the next President to address policemen who are terrorizing our young men.  It means, taking responsibility and having intolerance for the people on the streets carrying guns.  Killing one another on the street and even in church over a seat.

And it means calling this what it is, an American issue.  Power, entitlement and selfishness all a part of America, have brought about this epidemic. America has cultivated this since our inception. It’s not a game, it’s real life. But for some who have no feelings of remorse, whose hearts are so hardened and desensitized, this is like a video game.

A week after the Newtown shooting I said that Wayne LaPierre of the NRA made valid points in his press statement.  Many criticized me.  Looking back, the timing of my thoughts may have been hasty.  The wounds were too fresh.   You were right then. But I still stand by what I said then. We have to listen, doesn’t mean agree, with what he said.

The gun culture alone is not the problem. We are! In his remarks he said “there exists in this country a callous, corrupt shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people.” Before you disagree consider this.

Have you ever innocently bought your child a toy gun, water pistol or super soaker that looks like a gun?  If you are like my parents, you never did.  But somehow, my siblings and I figured out how to shape our hands into a gun and pretend to shoot at each other.

How about this?  Ever purchased video games like Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat, Splatterhouse, or any war games?  Even played them yourself?  You may not have, but a neighbor or family member may have.  Somehow, no matter how hard you tried, your child learned about guns and the power to kill. Unless, you completely shield them from television, movies and school American culture has a way of putting guns in the minds of our children.  It has for a long time.

Even our politicians engage but there role is far greater.  Yet, it still sends a signal that guns and power permeate our society.  Consider that most members of Congress have never fought or served in the military.  Yet they have been empowered to send our young men and women off to war in places we have no business being in.  Then we see the names of loved ones, or those we have never known listed on the news and in newspapers.  In some cases, on the walls of memorials.  We create a police culture abroad with our military and here with our police. This isn’t something just created, it’s been developing a loooong time.

Here’s something else to consider.  Name a country that has had not one, but four Presidents that were killed by shooters since 1865?

Malcolm X said after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination that his assassination was a byproduct of hate, and “the chickens are coming home to roost.”  We have a precipitous environment of hate in America.  The wars abroad have taken out attention off the war at home between the hate between our police forces and the young men killing each other on the street.

Do you want to address this issue? Or do you want your child, nephew, grandson, to be traumatized like this 10 year old who was chased by police who were looking for a twenty year old? I want to address it. To achieve anything, means having some hard long conversations.  That means talking not yelling.

Hot heads don’t solve problem. Now is the time to open our hearts so that we can hear one another. Now is the time to sit down and let cooler heads prevail. If we don’t sit down and talk, nothing get accomplished.

In the video, did you see the young man’s mother talking to her son.  I am certain her heart was racing.  Anger boiling.  And yet she asks him, what are you feeling.  That is a mother’s love and relief that her son lived to tell the tale of what happened. But what about the next time?

We all know, the officers were wrong!  But yelling at them accomplishes what? That is no different than what we accuse our politicians on both sides of the aisle for doing.  The urgency of the moment calls on us to sit down to talk before more young men like this ten year old are traumatized.

Some of you may want to make it about race. I see it.  I see modern day slave catchers kidnapping free black men and selling them into slavery. Instead, today they see no value for their life so they are killing them.  These young men are expendable to them.  They use the excuse, I thought he had a gun.  Knowing that if it goes to court, like the white man that killed Emmitt Till, Medgar Evers and many others will walk out of court a free man.

Here’s the reality.  One stark difference from then and now.  Today, we can vote for people who can change policy.  Unfortunately, we don’t vote or we vote straight party without looking at the positions of all the candidates!  We all can be smarter in our approach and find that while we have differences, there may be some significant things we can work on together.

We can work together in ways we couldn’t just sixty years ago. We can’t do that if we remain trapped in an abyss of hole of despair. As a legislator told me, if you want to get out of the hole, stop digging!

Young men killing each other is digging us all into a deeper hole.  They don’t appear to put much value on their own lives.  How do we expect the police to value them.

I don’t know why those young men killed young Swipey. But my heart aches for him, his friends, girlfriend and my niece and nephews.

I don’t for the life of me understand why those police officers chased this ten year old.  My heart aches for him and his mother.  My heart is open.  But I can’t blame him if his heart hardens after this experience.  This is part of the narrative we aren’t talking about. The cause and effect.  That’s why many of these young men are killing each other.  Who has valued these children’s lives.  If you don’t see it in the video, trust me, that hurt will manifest itself soon into another hardened heart.  His innocence was just ripped from him, no differently than the young slave boy or girl who was pulled away at a young age to work in the fields instead of playing like little kids should.

If you’re still reading this now and you’re white, or Republican and conservative, close your eyes and imagine, what if this ten year old was your child.

To my young friends, disenchanted with the voting process. Don’t give up. To those who say #BernieOrBust let your voice be heard at the ballot box. There’s another election in two years and another presidential one in four.

If you think not voting is an option, don’t complain about the injustices that are happening. But if it is important to see change occur, remember that we have a checks and balance system in our federal, states and cities. President is not the end all. We need you to vote not just for president.

We need you to vote for congressional, state and local elected candidates who believe like you and me that policy must change. This election is about more than Clinton and Trump. It is about the people. It is about ensuring that we don’t have another fiscal cliff crisis. Or another threat of a government shutdown. It is about creating policy that protects us all from another housing, auto or banking collapse.

My dream last night was about the urgency of now. And the need for all of us, no matter what race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, to recognize that this election is a referendum on human values. Guns add nothing to that value. This election is about human dignity. It is about how we live with each other. How we treat one another. How we love one another. How we value one another.

Surely we can do better than what these officers did to this young man?  If you agree, please share it with your friends and family and talk about it. Join me and others on our Facebook group Chalkboard Conversations where we are having daily discussion.  Together we can make a change.

What do you think?

 

To read Wayne LaPierre full text statement after Newtown http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/full-text-nra-remarks-gun-control-debate-newtown-article-1.1225043

Video of Wayne LaPierre statement http://youtu.be/iusoultZYSs

Learn more about Party Politics US at http://www.partypoliticsus.com and/or join our daily conversations on Facebook in the group Chalkboard Conversations.

headshot Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR), founder of Party Politics US and Associate Producer on The Framing of OJ Simpson.  Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Atiba Madyun on Facebook.

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

Selma & Ferguson Are Now!

selma

By Atiba Madyun

I applaud the DOJ for its findings released this week on Michael Brown’s senseless, tragic killing in Ferguson!

The findings bring to light what we’ve known a long time, Black men and Hispanic men are too often targeted by police.

But there are other systemic issues, like the revenue states and local jurisdictions rely on by issuing fines. Or the length of time for the same type arrests that Blacks are held or detained.

Ferguson shed light on its department, but this has gone on, too long in the US.

What are the next steps to be taken?

President Obama last week in an Immigration Town Hall in Florida said that only 1/3 of registered voters voted in last year’s midterms.  And that much of the gridlock in Washington could be avoided if more people voted.

In light of the historic anniversary tomorrow of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, it is important that everyone regardless of political affiliation recognize, acknowledge and do their part in elections simply by casting their VOTE!

Let us remember that many men, women and children died so that we have the right to vote.  Rev. Jesse Jackson said shortly after Ferguson, that if 5,000 more people were registered to vote in Ferguson, they could effect the outcome of their mayoral election.  Guess who picks the Chief of Police?  The Mayor!!!

We speak often of the gridlock in Congress.  Well those who marched in Selma did so 5o years ago so that we could all Vote.  In Ferguson and other reaches of the country, we can continue to complain or we can exercise the right to Vote and elect representatives who best serve the interests of the many not the few.  Selma and Ferguson are now!

We the People can change the gridlock and complexion (pun intended) of the Congress and other elected offices around the nation, if we all VOTE!

Atiba Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP). Follow @atibamadyun or like on Facebook Atiba Madyun