Archive for Michael Brown

Forgiving Ferguson

Posted in African Americans, Black Men, Trayvon Martin with tags , , , , on December 8, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ferguson Looters2

By Ulysses “Butch” Slaughter

I know Michael Brown lived in Ferguson. I know Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson. I know Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. I recommend forgiving in Ferguson.

I see the frustration in Ferguson. I hear the cries in Ferguson. I sense the fear in Ferguson. And I still recommend forgiving in Ferguson.

But what does Forgiving Ferguson mean?

Maybe we should start by asking and answering the question: What is forgiving? Yes, let’s start there.

What is forgiving?
No. We shouldn’t start there. That is too broad. You and I need to be more specific.

I think it makes more sense to start this discussion with me: the writer, the author, the channel of this idea called Forgiving Ferguson.

Yes. Let’s start with me.

Why start with me? Because that’s how all of us start to understand anything: we start with our individual selves. We start with our individual understanding based on our individual experiences. We start from within. We don’t start with FOX, CNN, OWN or CNBC. I start with Channel ME. You start with Channel YOU.

Michael Brown

So – yes – let’s start with me and then we will talk about the idea of forgiving and then we will go to Ferguson and revive Michael Brown. We will go to New York and resuscitate Eric Garner. We will go to Sanford and reawaken Trayvon Martin. We will even go to Money and resurrect Emmett Till.

But before we talk about anything else, I have to start with me and you have to start with you. As I share with you what I know about forgiving, I want you to think about what forgiving means in your life. More often than not, it is through your personal lens of forgiving that you see the possibilities of forgiving for others.

If you have already decided you don’t want to take this journey of forgiveness then it is best that you stop here and stay here. It’s your channel. It’s your choice. You can ignore this call to forgiving Ferguson.
But remember: time will reconcile all of your problems with or without your permission. You can stop but the world will keep spinning. Forgiving offers you an opportunity to enhance your channel and experience a miracle. Want to experience a miracle? Forgive.

So I’m starting with me. I know something about forgiving. I’ve had to consider this idea and its implementation. I’ve had to consider the theory and how I apply it. I know a little about forgiving. That’s all any of us can ever know: our little part. And we know it intimately. Our experience with forgiving is like the blood running through our veins and arteries. We feel it. It feeds us. We can talk about our relationship to forgiving. We can tell others what we know but they won’t ever really know what we’re talking about. They have to do the forgiving work to know the forgiving work.

I was a 12-year-old boy when I heard my father shoot my mother in her head and kill her. I was a 12-year-old boy when I found my mother’s body fallen outside my bedroom door bleeding from a hideous hole in her right temple. I was a 12-year-old boy when the State of Illinois called on me as a chief witness against my father.

I was 45 years-old boy when I went to my father’s house to kill him. For 33 years, I deteriorated inside memories of my father’s cruel domestic violence. For 33 years I was steeped in rage, anger and hatred. So I went to kill my father. I went to his doorstep and put my frustrated face in front of his fragile face. I thought murder was the answer. I thought revenge held the key. I was wrong.

I forgave my father. I took him to my mother’s gravesite. I took him to meet my children. He died two months later.

Before I reunited with my father, I often said “I hate him.” People would say “you should forgive him.”

When I reunited with my father, I often said “I love him.” People would say “how can you love him?”

I stopped tuning in to other people’s advice on the matter. I tuned into Channel Me.

I didn’t want the “weight” of hate and I despised the burden of revenge. I forgave my father, liberated myself and established a new family legacy.

I know something about forgiving. But the word forgiving means something different for everyone who says the word. We’ve all got different experiences. We all have different translations. We all have different truths.

Generally speaking to forgive is to surpass limitations. Forgiving is an expansion not a concession. Forgiving is forward. Forgiving is not failure. To forgive is to free your mind from the deceptive demons that whisper in your ears and say “you were defeated.” Forgiving brings on an instant and deep inner justice that no verdict can reverse. To forgive is to journey forward completely unshackled by chains of the past.

People will say: “I will forgive, but I will not forget.”

That popular, but questionable, saying is a discussion for another article. But to be sure here, I am not suggesting that you forget. I am suggesting you embrace liberating memories. Liberating memories are the channel through which you create a liberated future. Pain-filled memories can create a pain-filled future.

Change your channel and let the dead bury the dead.

Like a lot of people – like too many people – I watched the news on some television channel waiting for a verdict. FOX, CNN, CNBC. Doesn’t matter which channel, doesn’t matter the talking head. I was running their “objective” information through Channel Me. I looked at scenes from a place called Ferguson. I’d seen images like these before. I’d seen Black people respond like this before. Is this our best response? Is this our only response? Have we lost our imaginations?

How do we disrupt what we say is a vicious cycle perpetrated against Black Men? Is the answer to set fires? Loot for material shit? Turn cars over? Fight police? Throw bottles? Are these actions part of a spontaneous ritual in honor of people we claim to love?

We can and should do better. We can and should forgive Ferguson.

What would forgiving look like in Ferguson? It could start with a massive silence. It could continue with people quietly returning to their own homes, looking at their family members, expressing gratitude for life and recommitting to deep love. It could start with people forgiving and seeking forgiveness from those closest to them. It’s easy and maybe even convenient to go running out into the big crowds, getting lost in the group mentality and forgetting you have rifts right in your own home. Forgiving in Ferguson could start with each individual and in each individual household. I bet Michael would be cool with that.

There was a time when I would look at my children and wish my mother was alive and could see them. It took some time, but eventually it became very clear to me that my mother lives inside of my children. Her blood runs through their veins. Her blood supplies their heartbeats. She sees through their eyes. She is alive and very well.

My father did not and could kill my mother. Darren Wilson did not and could not kill Michael Brown. But is our inability to forgive killing Michael? Is our lack of imagination setting us up for more of the same shit on a different day?

When I was a little boy, I used to ask my mother when I would be old enough to fight my father. She always said the same thing: “I don’t want you to fight your father. I want you to be better.” She didn’t say I was better. She said “be better.”

Imagine a large, poised group of Black Men in Ferguson holding a press conference – a forgiveness press conference and asking Darren Wilson to join them. He agrees. They look him in the eyes and they forgive him. They embrace him. Together with Wilson, these Black Men establish an annual ritual for Michael. They get together to “be better” and remember together. This could actually happen. There are all kinds of possibilities when you journey into forgiving.

Can you imagine breaking bread with someone who killed your loved one? Can you imagine getting to know someone who killed your loved one? I can.

You can’t? Maybe it’s time for you to tune out the social static and change your channel. Maybe you should reflect on what you can do where you live to Forgive Ferguson and bring honor to this moment.

Michael is watching us. Eric is watching us. Trayvon is watching us. Emmett is watching us. Like my mother Clarice, they are alive and very well. What do they see? What would they want? Fighting or forgiving? Bitter or better?

Forgiving changes everything and everywhere.

Even in Ferguson.

Butch SlaughterUlysses “Butch” Slaughter is author of the forthcoming book “Forgive: the new mantra for Black Men.” Mr. Slaughter has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Network, The Dr. Phil Show and The CNN Headline News Network with Suzanne Roberts. Visit www.butchslaughter.biz for more information about his work.

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Benjamin Watson’s Reflection On Ferguson Goes Viral

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Racism with tags , , on November 30, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Ferguson Rioters

By Gary A. Johnson

I tend to cringe whenever I hear about a professional athlete discussing current events.  In my experience, the athlete “doesn’t know, what he doesn’t know,” and usually has no idea how ignorant sounds.  New Orleans Saints, Tight End Benjamin Watson is the exception and a GREAT one I might add.

Watson came home last Monday night and turned on the television and saw the looting and rioting that was going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the grand jury decision not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed civilian.  He stared at the TV trying to deal with his emotions.

The next day while sitting in a Target parking lot while his wife was shopping, Watson reportedly compiled an essay based on notes that he had been jotting down via his iPhone throughout the day.

If you have not heard about or read this eloquent essay, I think it is well worth your time to read.

Benjamin Watson

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

Thank you Benjamin Watson.

Johnathan Gentry’s Rant Against Al Sharpton and the Ferguson, Missouri Rioters and Looters

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Johnathan.Gentry

Shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Johnathan Gentry became an Internet sensation when he went on a rant against the black community and civil rights leaders following the riots in Ferguson.  Gentry was also on the FOX News Network calling out everyone from President Obama to the NAACP and Al Sharpton.  If you have not seen or heard of Mr. Gentry, you can check him out here.

Here is Mr. Gentry’s appearance on FOX:

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