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Let's Hear From Black Voices...

· Black Lives Matter,George Floyd,racism,economic inequality,slavery

I'd like to use my blog to present to you a few different perspectives during this very pivotal moment in history. Yes, I'm a financial coach, and you may ask why I'm talking about race and racism. Well, in order to empower everyone to be more financially free, we have to look at institutions and behaviors that have kept certain people from achieving wealth. Racial injustice stems from economic injustice. We all know it's much easier to get ahead when we have help from the generations ahead of us, like if parents paid for their child's college education. When black history in America started with slavery, and slavery is working without pay, it's like starting a race with both hands tied up and giving the other racers a 200 yard head start. I can go on, but I'm not going to right now. Instead, it's time for Black Voices to be heard...

Here's what Editor and Director Sef Morris wrote on his Facebook page. Please note, I got permission to share and this is the complete and unedited version of what he has to say. I did bold some of it, just in case you are someone who likes to skim. Although, just to be clear, I think it's really important to read it all.

This is the most important message I’ll ever write. It makes me vulnerable and exposes me to backlash. I don’t take that lightly.

For most of you I’m likely one of only a few black friends you have. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, I grew up where you did and live where you live so I also have only a few handfuls.

But that is why I feel it paramount I say something before I see anymore hurtful posts, comments, and memes coming from anyone who claims to be my friend. I suspect the things I’m going to say will end the connection I have with many of you. That doesn’t rest well with me at all.

For whatever reason I feel like before you validate whether or not I’m entitled to voice my perspective on the current state of affairs, I need to qualify myself. I know I don’t, but I also know that very few people actually know me. So if you struggle to keep your attention held for more than a few paragraphs I understand you tuning this out, but I have quite a bit to say.

Here is MY perspective.

I’m a 40 year old biracial black man, black and white. I’ve always identified as black with a white upbringing. I was raised by my white mother in a predominantly white city in a predominantly white county, and went to predominantly white schools and worked with predominantly white colleagues. My Mexican stepfather raised me from the age of 2 where I graduated from “mama’s boy” to “faggot” and “your nigger son” by the time I was 8. I witnessed him knock out her two front teeth when I was 5, and I was awoken to blood curdling screams 100s of times in the middle of night. Sometimes the cops would come, other times my mom, sister, and I would leave the house in our pajamas and I’d miss a couple days of school. Sometimes we’d walk a mile or 2, hitchhike, call a friend or family member to pick us up and give us a place to stay. I slept on a lot of floors. I spent a lot of school nights sleeping at some of my friends' houses. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for a month. These families helped feed, shelter, and keep me in school. Most of them were white families.

When I was 10, my Black father died face down in an alley after suffering a heart attack from a cocaine overdose, he was 33. That broke my heart in ways I’ve never recovered from. A couple years after that my sister fell in with the wrong crowd and would spend the next 4 years at the California Youth Authority (jail) in Ventura. Just like that my protector was gone. During those years my relationship with my mom eroded away due to the depth of her alcoholism. If you can’t imagine what it’s like to have your own mother call you a nigger and laugh in your face as you cry, then you wouldn’t understand why a 13 year old would try to kill themself, twice. That woman tried to destroy me. She died 5 years ago from cirrhosis in a room inside that twisted house I grew up in. I loved her dearly, but she never apologized for anything, nothing, ever.

It was in my own neighborhood I experienced the most impactful encounter I’ve had with a racist. At age 11, a friend and I had been building a tree fort and were lugging a wagon full of our building supplies back to my house when a car pulled up next to us and a white woman rolled down her window and yelled, “You guys aren’t allowed to be in those hills behind my house!” I don’t remember saying anything back or smiling, but she said, “What are smiling about nigger?” It was dark and hateful like I’d never felt. She rolled up her window and drove off. This account is ridiculously mild, I recognize that, I hope you do too while acknowledging just how horrific the accounts of others are. Of course that wouldn’t be the last time I encountered racism, it’s just important to note my age, location, the perpetrator, and imagine what that felt like for a boy going through everything I was.

I’ve left out more trauma than I care to openly give, the worst stuff, and it should be obvious that this is just the cliffnotes of some of the struggles I endured while becoming the man I am today. This isn’t my autobiography and I certainly don’t want pity, sympathy, or condolences, I just wanted to paint a picture for you of what MY world looked like growing up so you can recognize MY humanity.

So if you’d like to dismiss my right to speak as a black man based on the city I grew up in, my strong literacy, my economic status, or my biracial dna, then you fail to see that the pain I’ve endured makes me worthy of your gentleness, respect, and compassion. Which is sad, because all of it has made me incredibly sympathetic to the trials we all face on our own. How can I possibly feel okay treating another human like shit knowing they’ve endured so much too. Maybe more than myself, maybe less, we don’t need to compare scars for our humanity to be recognized.

Through my life I’ve come to believe that racism is just another manifestation of our worst human qualities. In general, we are not nice people through and through to our core. We are selectively compassionate and unapologetically apathetic. And some of us are full of poison. To sell my mother short for the damage she did to me would be a great disservice to the good she did. She wasn’t a racist, she just knew she could weaponize my race to hurt me. It doesn’t make it right, but I saw her humanity. She had a lifetime of trauma and it poisoned her. She was the saddest, angriest, meanest, most loving person I’ve ever known. I wish she had apologized, but I forgive her and pray her soul is finally at peace.

When YOU feel overwhelming pride for this country and in being an American it is because your citizenship is integral to your identity. The status of the country’s global standing, economic prowess, military might, and every other powerful and positive characteristic “America” conjures in your mind is integral to your identity. I feel it too. I’m proud of who I am, and this country is my home too, it is part of my identity. Do I need to wave a flag around and wear a USA t-shirt to validate my love for this country and my patriotism? I love this country, but for me, America is a lot like the relationship I had with my mother. She loved me more than anyone else, yet tried to destroy me, never apologized, and left me ambivalent and conflicted about the way I truly feel about her. There’s a good chance you don’t relate to any of that. Again, this is my perspective.

I don’t want to give you an African American history lesson, but in order to see my perspective it’d help for us to explore some painful truths. Consider that for most black Americans our history starts here, in America. We don’t have stories about how our great-grandfather came from Italy, or our great-great-grandparents came from Germany. Our ancestry was uprooted, ripped away from families and poorly documented. Any generational history that took place in Africa was eradicated. So building this country and being oppressed in this country is our only history. It is our identity as a people, whether we’ve personally experienced it or not. It is incredibly depressing... and inspiring. How the fuck did we survive?!

During the Atlantic Slave Trade, hundreds of African men and women were chained up like animals in the hull of a ship where they ate and soiled the same space they slept. They were dehumanized, tortured, and only a fraction survived the trip across the Atlantic. Ship after ship, millions and millions of Africans dying or being enslaved.

It’s impossible to fathom really, but these are the roots for almost every black man, woman, and child in this country. If you’re not black you can’t possibly understand what it feels like to know THAT is how your ancestors came to this country. And if you’re white, I imagine this history is very painful as well, how you choose to accept this part of your ancestry becomes a part of your identity.

When they arrived in America they were further separated from their families and sold into slavery. Keep in mind, they didn’t speak English or any of the European languages. The whip spoke and they understood that. During the next two centuries formal education for slaves was illegal in most of the colonies/territories. From the cradle to the grave, life for most slaves was brutal and inhumane.

Again, this knowledge affects both of our identities. But have you ever imagined how intelligent your children would be if they weren’t allowed to go to school and you had no education to teach them yourself? Can you imagine how being uneducated would affect the future generations of your bloodline? How do you teach a man to “pull himself up by his bootstraps” when he’s been denied boots?

It took a civil war and the ratification of the 13th Amendment to our constitution to end slavery, and the 14th Amendment in 1868 to give citizenship to blacks, prior to that they were property. It’s true, 100s of thousands of Americans died to keep the southern states from secession, but it is also true that 100s of thousands of Americans died trying to keep blacks in slavery. After emancipation Blacks were free, but shut out of the economy. Jim Crow, segregation, and the KKK filled the void and the 13th amendment opened a loophole for slavery to be justified punishment for criminal behavior. For the next 100 years, thousands, maybe millions, were prosecuted by all white juries and judges and sent to prison for minor infractions, and crimes they were falsely accused of. Under the veil of white supremacy, thousands of black men, women and children were lynched, in many cases the white communities watched with pleasure and cheered.

Again, this knowledge affects both of our identities. But can you imagine what it’s like as Black person, born at any point in time in American history, to learn that killing, terrorizing, and discriminating black people went unpunished? Can you imagine witnessing 1000s of killings mirroring George Floyd’s and no justice ever being served? Can you imagine what it feels like to be hated this much?

Abraham Lincoln had originally argued in favor of colonization, that freed slaves should be shipped out of the US to other countries. For some white people, this is the ethnostate wet dream that they still long for.

In 1900, 90% of Blacks lived in the south, by 1910 40% moved to northern states due to the economic conditions and treatment from whites they faced. They also moved in large numbers to the big cities across the south. It’s known as the Great Migration. When they moved into these cities they were only permitted housing in the worst buildings previously occupied by discriminated immigrants. The immigrant tenants were finally permitted to move to more desirable areas while blacks were “redlined” out of any opportunities to own property or live outside of the designated housing zones. Work was scarce.

I’m mentioning this history on urbanization because some people don’t understand why impoverished Black communities are the way they are. To be safer in numbers was a choice, but the impoverished areas were not by choice or coincidence. They were ostensibly forced to live in the poorest areas, can you see how educational funding based on property taxes specifically discriminates against the Black and low income communities to this day?

The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s took many years to end government sanctioned racism and overt discrimination. It took the assassination of Democratic President JFK to push through the Civil Rights Act legislation. When Democratic President Johnson signed the legislation with MLK by his side, Blacks solidified their new political home with the Democratic party and the former party of the klan became the party of social justice and reform. Disgruntled Dixiecrats and white conservative Democrats found a new home in the Republican party.

Some of you may dispute this and this is where you’ll likely start feeling uncomfortable, but If you can’t explain to yourself why the South, home of the Democrats, Dixiecrats, Confederates, and Klan, went from “blue states” to “red states” look at the “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, they are in the Republican party now. You should question why.

Did you know that before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr.’s public perception was polled (Gallup) at 32% positive and 63% negative? That means the majority of those polled did not like or support him or his methods. In fact, he was hated. If you post his quotes every January, or have as these riots burn across the countryside, do you think you would post those quotes if he were alive today and a Democrat?

Are you aware that in the 80s the CIA shipped in metric tons of cocaine from Nicaragua into black neighborhoods creating the crack epidemic that was used to justify Republican President Reagan’s “War on Drugs” policies? Do you know what happened to communities decimated by crack addicts, and street gangs fighting over territory to control the drug trade? I’ll rephrase that, why would the government, under President Reagan, sell crack to black communities then imprison the addicts and dealers? Where did all of the guns and automatic weapons come from? Do you remember what I just said about the 13th Amendment?

I realize it’s starting to look very political, but again, this is MY perspective I’m sharing with you. And this is just some of the education I’ve obtained to inform my political views. My beliefs weren’t passed down to me or impressed upon me by anyone. Ultimately my objective as a voter is focused on the treatment of others in our society. Minorities, LGBT, Women, the disabled, the broken, the incapacitated. I’m willing to adjust my lifestyle to create a just world. I absolutely accept that what I’m saying may create backlash, but if you want to know why 90% of Black folk vote Democratic I’m explaining to you. A rising tide lifts all boats? No boat has ever been lower in this country than the Black man’s. As we rise we’re bringing all boats up with us.

This racial tension has been a cancer spreading through this country since the moment ships docked in Jamestown. From MY perspective, outside of the Civil Rights Act, there’s never been a time when it looked like white politicians and voters wanted to do right by us, help us, or right the wrong for the injustices perpetrated against us. “Well, I didn’t do any of those things” has been the proverbial can kicked down from one generation to the next while you continue to vote to oppress any group you don’t like.

I can’t be gaslit into believing that the white supremacy agenda that has controlled this continent since 1492 suddenly vanished when MLK’s life was taken 50 years ago. I can’t be convinced that the justice system stopped being unjust for Blacks when the Central Park Five were exonerated. I can’t be deceived into believing my spidey senses don’t recognize another man’s contempt for me or another man based on our race/ethnicity.

The black community has always had strong leaders pushing for reform and progress in human rights for all people in this country, but rarely have they been received with open arms from the right. Unfortunately it’s gonna be very hard for you to justify supporting MLK, but calling Colin Kaepernick “a piece of shit, son of a bitch, bastard” or whatever else you’ve openly said. Calling President Obama every name imaginable including “stupid nigger.” (That’s how a family member of mine referred to him. Crazy, right?) You had a chance to galvanize and support a good black man dedicated to getting this country through one of the worst times in current history. You didn’t, and we all felt that. You continue to denigrate the man over policies you don’t agree with, and we still feel that. Maybe you’ve failed to recognize that he is one of our Black heroes.

You don’t get to retroactively support us. You don’t get to say you support our protest to make this country a more just and better place for people who are still denied being treated as your equal, while you actively vote against us. When you vote to deny our humanity.

Over the past 12 years the GOP’s biggest success has been convincing voters that Democrats are to blame for all their problems and the “liberal agenda” is going to destroy the country.

What is the agenda…

Women’s rights and protection.
LGBT rights and protection.
Minority rights and protection.
Consumer rights and protection.
Human rights and protection.
Environmental safety and protection.
Affordable healthcare.
Living wages.
Criminal Justice reform.
Education reform.
Fair housing...

I can’t comprehend how anyone is against these things.

What is it you want your elected officials to do, keep things the way they are, aka conservatism? Look around. If that is what you want, then your vote is absolutely in the right place. The records don’t lie, Republicans vote against that “liberal agenda” virtually every time while drafting bills in hopes of removing the legislation these Democrats fought hard to pass on behalf of their constituents. They are against all of these objectives, and if you vote for them you are too.

What is the GOP agenda? Stacking the courts with right-wing judges? If “justice is blind,” why would it matter what the political bias of a judge is? Maybe justice isn’t blind and controlling the interpretation of the law is the most valuable thing to you. What’s the intention and who benefits? How can we trust them not to weaponize that judicial power against us like they have since the beginning? This is horrifying for all of us who don’t underestimate the evil the courts can sanction against us.

When I look at America I see diversity. Why does the GOP not reflect that?

The Republican congress might look like the demographics of where you live, but that is not what America looks like.

This isn’t about shaming your whiteness, this about you insisting that only white, primarily men, be in positions of power. Hear me out, it’s absolutely okay for you and I to vote for a white man or woman, the issue comes when you want the people on the other side of the aisle to have no voice in our democracy. You might be republican, but that diverse group of democrats is my voice. Work with us. Respect us. Be honorable.

Over the past 10 years I’ve watched you descend into hyper-political, anti-democrat, anti-liberal, anti-justice, anti-decency purveyors of hatred. Look at your timeline... post after post, fake news article after article, misinformed meme after meme, all angry and vile. Trump just cranked it up 100x, and with it the space between you and I has become a chasm because now you feel no hesitation in posting something that insults me personally or indirectly. Afterall, I’m just a libtard. Trust me when I say I consider you when I post something, and that by no measure are democrats on my newsfeed innocent of doing some of the same.

Here’s where you really confuse me.

If you felt the need to galvanize and unite in support of Trump when Hillary Clinton said “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” And then called yourself a deplorable… which one of those are you? If you’re not one, why would you jump into that “basket” and call yourself one?

It’s been 4 years of blatant divisiveness from this President. If you're a Republican you can’t possibly know what it feels like to have the POTUS constantly vilifying the Democratic party by name. Obama, Bush, Clinton… none of them attacked the other party and it’s members like this, it feels very personal. He wants you to hate us, blame us, and be ready to kill us. He wants you to hate the first Black President of the U.S., Black celebrities who call out his behavior, our Black politicians who work to better the communities they represent, and of course the media who expose him for it. And you’re in lock step with him. It’s working. I see it.

How do you think I felt to hear the President refer to Black men protesting injustice as “sons of bitches?” Maybe you should imagine Obama referring to white athletes protesting for Pro-Life or the 2nd Amendment “sons of bitches.” Wouldn’t that be unacceptable? It would be. And I would support you in denouncing him for it. But you joined the chorus.

How great would it have been if instead of calling them “sons of bitches” he said something like, “The most powerful ability you have as a citizen is to use your voice and affect change in this great country. Although I don’t agree with the method, I recognize and respect your right to express your grievances. It is my job as President to offer leadership and find solutions to address them. I would like to meet with some of you and discuss what needs to happen to move forward and end the kneeling protest that is dividing our country.”

Can you imagine? Would our country be burning right now if he said and did that instead of calling them “sons of bitches”?

When 90% of Black voters, 70% of Hispanics, and 75% of Asians vote Democratic… how should we interpret him retweeting “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and using George Wallace quotes while the country is inflamed with racial tension, violence, and fear?

Even when the country is falling apart right before your eyes you’re still making excuses for Trump’s horrendous leadership and searching for the right conspiracies that will put the blame on the “left” and label him the victim.

I understand you’re upset too that you witnessed the video of George Floyd killed like an animal. Unfortunately we can’t just sweep it under the rug this time so you can get back to your cozy and unaffected life where you long to vote for more tax cuts. I too am sad to see the country burning, people getting killed, and lives being ruined. It’s horrible. But I’m also tired of people pretending that they’re not complicit in the injustice that permeates this country. We get to pick who leads us and where they lead us to. Is it too much to ask that you vote for someone that respects my humanity? Someone that inspires you and I to be kinder, more compassionate, and decent humans?

I am sorry to have offended some of you. My anger and grief isn’t an indictment against what I think of you as a person. I do respect your humanity and perspective even if we disagree on certain government policies. In fact, I have so much love for you. I also don’t expect to sway your partisan allegiance or support for that man. I’m just frustrated that you say you care, yet it doesn’t always align.

This is MY perspective. God Bless.