To Thee I Will Sing: No Justice, No Peace.

Dear Friends and Readers,

I want to thank you for reading my blog over the past year. I started it in late Oct/November 2013 and I am quickly approaching 1,000 readers. I didn’t really know how many people would follow me so I am startled by the number of “my followers” and  every time I get a new one it raises a warm feeling inside.

As you might imagine trying to find a balance across all of my identities has its plusses and minuses.  One night my art calls me and I paint and draw, other night my writings call me, and I juggle all of this working a full time job. I always wanted to just be one thing, inspired by one true passion but I have had to let that dream ago so many years ago.  I know there are many people like me but we tend to hide in the closet because we get lots of flack from people around us with our multiple interests and passions.

I am what I am so I might as well love it and let it grow.

Like many of you, I have tried to make sense of what is happening in our country.  I awake on some mornings with tears, go to bed sometimes in sadness, and have fits of unexpected rage.  I am also full of gratitude for my partner and friends who stay with me and have stayed with me through ups and downs. Thank you for being there too, otherwise my words would be floating into silent spaces.

This is a four part series, “TO THEE I SING” where I explore much of what I have learned about racism, justice, and white privilege.  Please let me know how you are doing with all of this. Are you hopeful for change or skeptical? How do we make change within these systems?  I will respond to respectful and even intense dialog but will not respond to racist troll like comments. Once again, thank you. Please share my work with your friends and family.  Sincerely, Brian

As I wait for the #Ferguson grand jury indictment on November 18, 2014, the toll of waiting for the verdict, along with managing the cumulative effects of being a witness to how African Americans continue to face extreme levels of interpersonal, personal, and community violence, my identity of what it means to be an American has shifted.   Whatever the indictment, guilty or innocent, I realize in a deep and meaningful way that I will never be the same.   Whatever hope I had in the ability of many Whites to change, to reach across and the socially constructed but real “racial” divide, feels like it is melting away.

I too know the numbness, rage, detachment, and coping strategies, like those experienced by Ferguson Black residents and other oppressed people who live in urban and rural spaces.   The heart of the issue is police brutality, and excessive use of force.   Their voices, although registering on some level of my work may have become like muted horns in the symphonic backdrop of my middle class ascension.  While people of color dealt with physical threats I was engaged with disentangling my psyche from white supremacy, intolerance, and sometimes fatigue from earnest cooperative efforts with whites, while earning my masters and doctorate.   My work and interest is broad, I am interested in how white privilege functions, trauma, culture, and other social justice topics.

Governmental and local authority responses to African American collective trauma were not helpful and healing, and in some instances, in the Ferguson unfolding, incendiary.   Missouri and government officials sent into Ferguson militarized police, national guards, and tear gassed peaceful protestors.  Reports allege they gassed an African American woman who was distributing water to people who had gotten tear gas sprayed into their eyes.   The images were heartbreaking, and this one seemed to describe it all; an unarmed African American man with his hands up while a row of white police officers dressed in full riot gear aimed their higher powered rifles directly at him.  That was round one.

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