The bottom line…
I am starting this week’s post off a little different. I am starting the way I usually end each column, with The bottom line… and the reason is simple… I did not write the majority of this week’s post. My friend, and neighbor, William did. That would be my black friend William. He and his family (his wife Latonya, and young son, Liam) have been my neighbors for 3 years, and they are about to move, and I will miss them so very, very much.
William and I often talk race and politics, and we have been doing so more these past few months. Of late, the conversations have revolved around the Republicans, The Trump, the numerous shootings, and the sad state of race relations in this country. I’m not really sure how to solve these problems, but I would begin by talking. Now some will always say that talk is cheap, but I think that depends on leadership, participation, and who’s doing the talking. In our everyday lives, William refers to it as “LEGITIMATE conversation…” He is right and it must be carried forward.
As for leadership- Some sort of non-governmental forum, organization or commission needs to be formed and headed up by someone with impeccable credentials, like Colin Powell, or Julian Bond (had he not recently passed away), or someone like either one of them. Why Colin Powell? Because he was a leader of men and women, of varying races, creeds and persuasions. He was liked if not loved, and certainly respected. His experiences, personal, military and government are vast and he is never about “Showtime…”
Others whom I would trust to be involved in some sort of leadership roll if this program were to ever become real, would be Dallas Police Chief David Brown, Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman and Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth, former DNC Chairwoman Donna Devrille, Former RNC Chairman Michael Steel, CNN Newsman Don Lemon, CNN Newsman Chris Cuomo, or MSNBC Newsman Laurence O’Donnell. And certainly my friend and neighbor William would make a more than worthy and trusted participant. And there are others for sure. But to be clear about those I would not want… Jessee Jackson, Al Sharpton, and anyone else, regardless of color, who often come across as if they are larger than the issue at hand.
The purpose of this forum is to openly and honestly discuss the problems of race in this country, regardless of where the problem exists, and to come up with real and workable answers. Immediacy relates to the most serious problems, regardless of what, when and where they might exist.
The most current and troublesome events have caught our attention like no other. But for the most part, these issues have existed for years, decades and in some instances even centuries. Today’s technology has pushed these issues to the forefront and into our faces. They cannot, and should not be ignored one day longer. So let’s talk, I mean really talk, and ﬁnd real answers to the real problems, and do the right thing as a country, to make everyone’s life better. Regardless of color, religion or sexual preference.
Peace. I am Bob Danon, and integrity does matter.
Please read on and hear what my friend William has to say…
Bob- You know it’s getting bad when United States Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will admit he was racially proﬁled in DC… I could share stories about encounters with the police with you, some of them so tense I wrote a journal for my son before he was born, worrying the next encounter I’d have with the cops wouldn’t end well. I’m not calling all police ofﬁcers bad by any means, I don’t think that’s productive talk or a means to solve the problem. I don’t even think the problem is with the training or lack thereof. The problem is plain and simple, but ultimately hard for the average American to accept… America is still largely segregated.
Take a guy (We’ll call him Jim) in an average American neighborhood. Typically, in America, even post segregation, the demographics of a city block remain pretty one-sided. Jim is white, and he grows up on a predominately white block. Sure his parents don’t express any racist sentiments toward people of color, but Jim doesn’t get to interact with them too often, either. Jim goes to predominately white schools, and generally gets his exposure to other races the way ANY of us get exposure to things we don’t run into on a daily basis… either mass media (movies, tv, magazines), or by word of mouth.
Think about all of the different types of characters you might have seen white characters portray over the years… Business men, super heroes, gangsters, spies, Professors, etc. When it comes to black characters you’ll notice that up until recently, the list is signiﬁcantly smaller. Up until recently, black characters would be the most repugnant individual you’d ever meet.
Jim has lived a lifetime in a generic town in America with little exposure to people of color, he watches movies, watches the news, and has never had a true friend of color in his life. What do we think will happen to the psyche of a person in this situation? He’ll perceive the REAL people to be like what they see in the movies. What if Jim decides to be a cop one day? There are many Jims out there, Darren Wilson in his testimony admitted that he didn’t know many black people, and also said when he looked at Michael Brown he started thinking of Internet videos he’d seen where a black guy knocked someone out.
Many cops see black men as a caricature of a black man, not because they’re dumb necessarily, but because they grew up like Jim. If you’ve grown up seeing a certain type of person, then one day on a trafﬁc stop you pull over a guy who looks like “Dough Boy” from “Boys in the Hood”, you’re likely to treat Dough Boy the way you think he should’ve been treated in the movie! In reality the guy who looks like Dough Boy has far more in common with the cop than differences, he just wants to go home, and go to sleep.
The resolution to this issue is simple, at least in my eyes… We need to speak to each other. And when I say speak to each other, I mean LEGITIMATE conversation, about everything, not just weather and sports. The stuff that makes normal people uncomfortable. It’s amazing how an honest conversation can normalize someone.
I’m going to aim this one at white people directly… people have to stop moving away as soon as they fear the racial demographic is changing. Once again, everybody essentially wants the same things out of life, and we have more to teach each other than we do to run from.
The killing of Alton Sterling
Photo credit: Like Scallywagvagabond on Facebook
But ﬁrst… Breaking News?
Nice, France- The ﬁrst time for sure, and even the fourth or ﬁfth time, okay. But do we really need to see and hear, the large white truck, driving through, and over, dozens of screaming people, young and old, over and over again, hour after hour after hour? I think not!
Yes the recent tragedy in Nice, France was Breaking News. Yes it what horriﬁc, and yes it is important to inform the world. But come on CNN, 15-20 times an hour, and probably more? And not to be picking on just CNN, other networks were doing the same thing.
Now to the credit of CNN, at one point they showed multiple bodies laying about, in black and white (no color, no red), so as not to sicken, disgust, and or frighten viewers, many of whom might be young. That was a smart and conscientious move. But most of the action was there to be seen, in color, with the screams. And THAT’$ ENTERTAINMENT… Da, da, da, da, da!
On to part 2. The “race is on…”
In last week’s column I referenced the killing of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. I feel that his own actions put him in harm’s way, resulting in his body laying dead in the street, shot multiple times by the policeman he had attacked only seconds earlier, while going for the ofﬁcers gun, whom he was seemingly going to attack again. My opinion for sure, and unlikely to change. And there are surely many who will agree, or disagree. But it was what it was.
So let’s look now, at a number of other shootings, some fairly recent, from a different perspective. And I will call them as I see them, and you will do the same. In some instances we will agree, and others we will not. But these male individuals are dead, and they should not be… These killings never should have happened!
Trayvon Martin, age 17, Feb. 26, 2012, Sanford, Florida, murdered by George Zimmerman. A would be vigilante and a wanna-be cop, and thank God that ain’t gonna happen. Hard to believe, but Zimmerman got off scott-free. Or should I say Trayvon-free? Totally avoidable, and it never should have happened!
Eric Garner, age 43, July 07, 2014, New York City. No guns involved in this death- While Mr. Garner was resisting arrest, a NY police ofﬁcer got a strangle hold around Garner’s neck and took him to the ground. Although unintentional, Garner was basically choked to death by the NYPD ofﬁcer, still using a strangle hold while Garner was being held on the ground. Little, if any, help was given by other police ofﬁcers at the scene as Garner keep saying “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe…” Possibly a little less aggression should have been used by the police… But like the man says, you cannot resist arrest… Avoidable, and it never should have happened! Click her to view the Eric Garner video.
Tamir Rice, age 12, November 22, 2014, Cleveland, Ohio, shot dead by a police ofﬁcer, while wielding a pellet gun. A 911 caller reported a “Black male sitting on a swing, in a park, pointing a gun at people.” He also told the 911 dispatcher it was “probably a toy gun,” and that the person with the gun was probably not an adult. When the dispatcher alerted police in the area, it was not mentioned that the gun might not be real. Nor was it mentioned that the person with the gun was probably a juvenile.
Now what really bothers me most about this case is the way the police approached young Tamir Rice. They drove their vehicle into the park, and right up to him… Right up to the person, reportedly with a gun! They didn’t stop 10′ away, or 20′, or even 30′ or 40′ away. They drove right up to him. And as they pulled up, Tamir Rice did reach for the pellet gun in his waistband. The two police officers immediately got out of their squad car and within literally seconds shot him twice. And then offered no assistance as he lay on the ground bleeding.
So I ask you- Have you ever seen a situation, in anyway similar, where the police didn’t stop their vehicle a safe distance from the suspected perpetrator, get out, stand behind their car door, remove their guns, point them, and direct the person to (whatever the case), drop their weapon and lay on the ground? And I’m not talking TV show cops or movie cops. I’m talking real-life cops, in real life-and-death situations. And the police ofﬁcer who ﬁred the two shots, had already been dismissed from a similar position, in another city, for being “deemed an emotionally unstable recruit and unﬁt for duty.” Tamir Rice died the next day.
Something is clearly wrong with the local police department, with regard to vetting who they hire and whatever training follows. Absolutely, totally avoidable, and it never should have happened! All of these stories bother me, but maybe this one more than the others: Click here to view raw footage.
Walter Scott, age 50, April 04, 2015, North Charleston, South Carolina. Eight shots ﬁred at an unarmed man running away from a police ofﬁcer. Avoidable? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! It never should have happened. Click here to see for yourself.
Philando Castile, age 32, July 06, 2016, St. Paul, Minnesota. Pulled over for a broken taillight. When asked for his license and registration, Castile, as required by law, informed the ofﬁcer that he was licensed to carry a gun and that he had one with him. The ofﬁcer then told him not to move. And as Castile was putting his hands back up, the ofﬁcer shot him four times, at close range. Again, an avoidable shooting of another black man, which never should have happened! The video can be seen on Facebook- Click here to view.
Alton Sterling, age 37, Baton Rogue, Louisiana, July 07, 2016. Shot multiple times at near, point blank range, as he lay on the ground, being held down by two police ofﬁcers. . Totally avoidable. Really hard to believe it happened, and it clearly should not have. Click here to watch, and judge for yourself.
Laquan McDonald, age 18, October 20, 2014, Chicago, Illinois… I saved this story for last, because it took place in my home town, a city under siege by gun carrying gang members, where shootings and killings take place on a weekly, if not an almost daily basis. This is such a sad story… From the day this boy was born, up to and including the evening he was murdered, it would seem he never had a chance. It’s almost unbelievable.
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times in less than 18 seconds by one police ofﬁcer. And for most of those seconds, he was laying on the ground. When ﬁred upon, he was walking away from the police ofﬁcers. This never should have happened, and was totally avoidable. As reported by the Chicago Tribune – Click here for the original article.
The bottom line…
So now I’m sitting here trying to ﬁgure out what to write to close this column out. And the only thing I can come up with is this: Many of the “stops”, and the way they were handled, which led to the deaths like the ones mentioned above, are due to racial proﬁling. And whatever the case, in today’s “viral world”, they hit the TV screen or FaceBook within minutes. And it does give one pause to ask- What’s been going on out there? One can only imagine the injustices that were not documented prior to the camera phone… Or one could go back and dig up the untruths and the falsified records.
So please, consider how long these types of crimes against the black community have been going on… All the way back to when it was common to hear words like- “hang him from a tree”, or “burn him alive, who’s gonna care” or maybe just something as direct as “shoot the black son-of-a-bitch… “Racial profiling must stop!
I say enough already… It should never happen again!
Nest weeks column- So let’s talk! The “race” continues… Part 3. Soon to be followed by- Of course Blue lives matter..
Peace. I am Bob Danon, and integrity does matter.
Where Black Lives Matter Began: For the original article click here
Victims of Hurricane Katrina argue with National Guard Troops as they try to get on buses headed to Houston on Sept. 1, 2005.
Photo by Willie Allen Jr./St. Petersburg Times via ZUMA Wire
The answer is simple: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. The actual way to go about that? Not so easy. Yes of course Black lives matter. As do White lives, Brown lives, Police lives, etc., etc. All lives matter. But all that isn’t so black & white; lots of grey areas.
A little background: I’m an older white guy who was raised in Hyde Park, on Chicago’s (not too far) south side, back in the 50’s and 60’s. That’s where my liberal roots were sown, and I have always been proud of that fact. I went to the Hyde Park Y.M.C.A. for 10 years beginning around the time I was 7. It was a great place to grow, and learn, and experience other people, who didn’t always look like me. That of course works both ways- and it did work.
I went to Hyde Park High School which, during my time there, grew to be 60% black. There was inter-racial dating, racially-mixed parties, both at the “Y”, and at Hyde Park HS. Other schools and community clubs seemed to reflect the same, including the Lab School, U-High, The St. Thomas School(s), and most certainly The U of C. (and if I left a few out it wan’t intentional). The point being, everyone really did get along pretty well.
Now waaaaay back then, things were different. There were very few gangs, they were made up differently, and there were no war-zones to speak of. I also don’t remember hearing of issues involving guns and drugs on the street. Most importantly, throughout the area, there was a shared sense of respect, and a desire and a willingness, to get to know your neighbor, your classmate, the other gym rats. Looking back, most of us really felt we were all in it together. That was Hyde Park.
One specific lesson remembered…
I remember going to an assembly one day. It was January 1961, and the guest speaker was TV-newsman, Alex Dreier (1916-2000). He was well known in Chicago for his work on radio and television. And most of us thought it was a pretty BIG deal that Alex Dreier was at our high school, to speak to us. All these years later, every time I have thought back, there isn’t much I can remember or tell you about his speech, except for this… Mr. Dreier told us that when he took piano lessons, his parents reinforced in him the importance of playing the black keys as well as the white keys. And that’s the way my friends and I grew up, understanding the importance, of the black keys, and the white keys.
Regarding Black Lives Matter…
They will always matter to me, always, because that’s the way I was brought up. But I do have several issues with the so-called movement. Many people, of all colors, everywhere in this country do not remember or realize that BLM, initially grew out of Hurricane Katrina. It took on another dimension after the killing of one Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, to really bring it back into the forefront of Breaking News, on every television, news broadcast.
I have to admit, the entire Michael Brown thing has always bothered me because mixed testimony came out that didn’t make it clear as to exactly what happened. And when all did come out, the way I read it was: 1. Michael Brown, along with a friend stole cigars from a convenience store in Ferguson, and on the way out, Michael Brown grabbed and shoved the store clerk, a man about 1/2 his size; 2. Michael Brown was not stopped as a robbery suspect but because he was walking in the middle of the street; 3. Brown did assault the police officer who was in his vehicle, and he did try to grab the officer’s gun. And the gun did fire during the struggle, but no one was shot; 4. Michael Brown then left and was running away from the police officer, when the police officer was able to exit his vehicle, and go after him, ordering Brown to stop. When he did stop, Brown turned and started walking towards the police officer. When ordered to stop, he kept advancing on the officer and was shot multiple times, dying in the street.
Testimonies didn’t always match, and there were reversals, but in the end, the police officer was not indicted by a grand jury. End of story… Well not exactly.
I feel for Michael Brown’s parents and friends. And I wish he had not been killed, or even wounded. I wish he hadn’t had the confrontation with the police officer that involved trying to grab the officer’s gun. And I wish he had not roughed up the store clerk, and I wished he had not stolen the cigars. And I believe Michael Brown to be a bully and a thug. And for the record, if you were to look up the definition of the word “thug”, you will find no mention of color, in that definition. In my mind, Michael Brown put himself in harm’s way. The events and the outcome were all due to the decision making of Michael Brown.
Again for the record, the looting and demonstrations in Ferguson, following the death of Michael Brown’s death brought out more thugs, breaking into stores, looting, setting fires to buildings and cars. As well as committing other acts of violence. And these actions are not to practiced or praised.
Looting, Vandalism After Vigil for Missouri Man Killed by Cop ABC News August 11, 2014: For the original article click here
Photo by David Carson. St. Louis Post Dispatch/AP Photo
The bottom line…
So my liberal roots get stressed from time-to-time… Too often, I get the feeling, that Black lives, don’t matter to other black lives. Why is there so much crime in the black community? Why isn’t there more conversation going on within the Black community to help put and end to the gangs, the guns, the drugs, and the killings. Why aren’t more Black and White people talking to each other, openly and for all to hear, discussing the issues in a public forum.? And finally, why aren’t we all playing both the black and the white keys? Wouldn’t the music just sound better?
Part 2. Will deal with issues raised in this column.
Peace. I am Bob Danon, and integrity does matter.
60 percent of people who died in a bike accident in 2014
were not wearing a helmet…
Say NO to Divvy bike rentals unless helmets are required.
On a somewhat personal note: As a business owner in Evanston, Illinois, I was recently approached by a representative from Evanston’s Township Hall. She handed me a Divvy window sticker and asked if I would put it up. I gladly said yes, telling her I’d put it on my door.
She said thank you and left, to move on to another business. The sticker sat on my desk for about 20 min, until I reminded myself of my total opposition to people who ride bicycles and don’t wear a helmet. And I see it all the time…
Weather permitting, in any given month I see literally hundreds of people of all ages, but mostly young people from pre-teens into their 20’s, riding their bikes without wearing a helmet. Many have no helmet, while quite a few of the younger riders have them hanging from their backpacks, while some have them hanging from their handlebars. And that alone can be dangerous.
I would assume that most, if not all, of the younger riders who have a helmet with them but are not wearing them, have them because their parents asked or insisted… But they are not wearing their helmets. Probably ain’t cool… Duh!
There are also many adults who ride their bikes with no helmet in sight. And they are often riding with their children, most who are wearing helmets, while some are not. Besides setting a bad example, I cannot conceive why the so-called breadwinner of a family would endanger his or her life and possibly jeopardize the financial future of the children. I’m sorry, but it just makes no sense.
What about those of all ages who are riding their bicycles while listening to music through ear buds or headphones? And others still are talking on their phones and even texting, sometimes with two hands. It all makes no sense and it is just plain stupid!
Then of course, we have all seen the more serious riders, many of them club or team members, tour riders and racers, riding along the larger and more auto-trafficked streets, and you’d be hard pressed to see even one who isn’t wearing a helmet. What could they possibly know that those whom I have mentioned do not know regarding helmets?
It can hit close to home…
Finally, I will tell you that I have a very close friend who is about to turn 40. At age 17, he was in a devastating automobile accident and suffered an almost life-ending brain injury. During a two month coma, there were those who felt that even if he survived, there would be little or no brain function.
Well, young Tanner fooled them, to some degree. He will turn 40 this October, but he has been in a wheelchair since the accident. He cannot walk unassisted. He has little or no short-term memory, and he has a mild speech impediment. He cannot hold a job, and his parents had to give up on custody so he could become a ward of the state of New York, where he was living at the time, in order to get financial assistance.
Tanner does need a fair amount of daily help, doing some of the things that many of us take for granted. He lives alone in a house his parents bought for him, but daily help, as well as accompanied transportation, allow him more freedom than one would expect. There are many, many out there like Tanner, and many who have far more serious injuries, including paralysis, and little function from their brain.
I have known Tanner since he was four years old. He was my step son, and I assure you it hurts me as much today as the day it happened. I know of his issues and I have seen and heard of his accomplishments. This is a great man, and again, there are many, many handicapped people out there due to head injuries. Yes, you can say Tanner’s injury was due to an automobile accident. But many who have fallen or been knocked off of bicycles suffer worse, if in fact they are still with us.
The bottom line…
A head injury can and often is a serious thing, often life-ending. It can happen from a car accident, a bicycle accident, slipping and falling in the bathtub, on ice or tripping on a broken sidewalk. So why take a chance while riding a bike? Please, whether renting a Divvy bike or riding your own, wear that helmet. It’s not worth the risk of not doing so.
One last mention: Jack McKinney, the former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Basketball team, coached only 19 games into the 1979-80 season, after suffering “a near fatal head injury after falling while bicycling…” Check here for more info on Jack’s story
It happens, and it can happen to you, a friend, a spouse or one of your children. Please, if you do decide to Divvy, at least wear a helmet. And while you’re at it, how about asking Evanston to create and enforce a helmet law.
Click here for Info regarding state Helmet Law:
Peace. I am Bob Danon, and integrity does matter.