Witness…

Photo credit: Assassin's Creed.

Photo credit: Assassin’s Creed.

A couple of months ago I was the witness of a crime. It happened so fast, yet things seemed to go in slow motion, all at the same time. It was early evening. The street lights barely flickering in the glow of the sunset. The breeze was calm, with a tinge of humidity woven in. It was a calm and beautiful evening. I was running errands when two perpetrators caught my eye. I felt guilty for pegging them as such – one was the same skin tone as mine, and the other was a shade darker. They were young, they were Black, and they were males. In my head and my heart was a tug of war, and a telepathic conversation that I hoped they were receiving via my glances. “Whatever you are thinking of doing, please, please don’t do it.” They didn’t heed my message. In the blink of an eye, they took a person’s personal belongings. He gave chase, but they were too fast. I called the police – who was to say that weapons wouldn’t have been drawn? Or someone could have gotten hurt or killed? I couldn’t just let this event happen without helping. What if I were the victim?

Approximately 10 minutes later, the police arrived. Several witnesses stepped forward, including me. Call me a snitch – so what. If the same thing happened to you, wouldn’t you want someone to speak on your behalf? Yet, I still felt a sense of sadness and frustration. Why didn’t those guys just walk away? As I was giving my statement to the officer, he mentioned to me how this was his beat, and that he had only been gone for 20 minutes to serve as back up on a shooting call across town. “I was just here,” he said, “if only I had had been here, this wouldn’t have happened.” In that moment I wondered, what if the officer had been there? What would have transpired? Would his presence have made these guys take a second guess about their potential actions, or would they still have carried out their mission? If the officer were there, would he have felt threatened and needed to use force or let off some warning shots to make them stop? If the officer had been there, would the place that these young men last stood become their memorial? A curb covered with candle wax, liquor, and flowers? Or would their names be hash tagged along with #HandsUpDontShoot? What if? Given the outcomes that the poor combination of itchy trigger fingers and dark-skinned males continue to have, in addition to past and present transgressions, as well as my own lived experience – it’s hard for me to say that anything positive would have resulted from his presence. And that’s sad. It’s sad because it doesn’t have to be. It’s sad for the children that may not make it to adulthood. It’s sad for those that will be fortunate to survive, only to ravaged by the insidious nature of racism. It’s sad for the children I hope to have some day. It’s sad for the generation to follow.

However, in spite of how sad such outcomes could be – they are not destined to happen. We do not have to let such attitudes and actions continue to be the social norm. We gotta let go of this bystander mentality in order for a sprout of positivity to grow. My hope is that someday, God willing, my future son can walk down the street on a cold day with his hoodie up. And make it home alive, or without being covered in the stench of temptation, negativity, and harassment.

Grand Performance.

As a child, seeing this mural in Oakland meant my family and I were going somewhere special and fun. The Festival at the Lake. The Oakland Museum. The public library. The park to play and feed the birds. The Grand Lake Theater. I miss those days. I wonder if there are plans to restore such a beautiful and historic piece – such a true reflection of The Town.

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The little things.

As I was walking the hound this morning, one of my elderly neighbors asked me for some help. She said her kids and grand kids have shown her over and over again how to turn on her radio, but she can’t remember. She asked me if I would come in and help her. She had planned on going to church, but decided to stay home and listen to some tapes. When I came inside and saw this radio – I could see how anyone could be confused. It looked like a spaceship – buttons and lights all over the place. But we figured it out – a sermon from Allen Temple began to fill the room. I then went round up my little hound, which she allowed to roam freely – and before I left, she gave me what you see pictured here. “Get your little puppy a snack,” she says. I tell her it’s not necessary, but she insists. It’s these random acts that put things into perspective – on the surface, it only looks like $2 – but moments like these are invaluable. #oakland #love

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