Black and White

Becoming vegan was surprisingly easy. It was definitely low-risk.
Not like protesting in the streets.
It’s not going to get me fired, arrested, or shot
(Although as a 41 year old white man, that last one is pretty unlikely)

And I don’t know what to do about that.
I’m not willing to get fired, arrested, or shot.
(However unlikely that last one is)
I have a daughter to protect and provide for.
I have a wife I don’t want to leave.
And honestly, I don’t want to suffer.

So what can I do? What will I do?

We don’t live in a just world. Let’s put aside the shades of gray for just a minute and try to see the world in black and white:

Black people are far more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for selling drugs, even though white people are more likely to actually sell drugs

Black people are incarcerated at six times the rate of white people

Black college students have the same rate of getting jobs as white high-school dropouts.

Black men with no criminal records have the same rate of getting hired as white men fresh out of prison. It seems people expect black men to have criminal backgrounds.

Black people have been killed by police at over twice the rate of white people in 2015 and 2016 so far.
12% of the US Population, but 27% of the dead
306 out of 1146 killed in 2015
136 out of 561 killed in 2016
That’s almost a hundred people of all races, and 25 black people a month.
That’s almost three people a day, with a black person being killed almost every day.

If you’re wondering why your Facebook feed won’t stop blowing up with videos and reports of black men being shot down, it’s because it’s happening almost every day.

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were just two more in a long list of black lives cut down violently.

…Now, back to the shades of gray …

I’m still not willing to get fired, arrested, or shot.
But I’m willing to put my voice out there.
I’m willing to keep talking and writing about it
I’m willing to sign petitions
I’m willing to write to my various elected officials
I’m willing to consider this the most pressing issue our country is facing, and vote accordingly (even if I’m voting for someone I otherwise don’t like)

I’m willing to LISTEN to people who have LIVED this experience
I’m willing to admit that I’ll only ever know ABOUT these things, that I won’t ever KNOW them.

I’m willing to admit that I DON’T and CAN’T have the answers to these ongoing atrocities, and to LISTEN to black voices as they speak up:

  • Campaign Zero has outlined extensive, comprehensive solutions that address the problems of police militarization, community distrust, and disproportionate impact on the black community from a number of angles.
  • The black police union in St. Louis have started something powerful. They’ve released a 112 page report of what’s wrong with their department, and they’re calling on their chief to quit. This is a radical and almost unprecedented action, breaking the “blue wall” that shelters violent police officers and penalizes police who speak out. If other police groups join in, this could be the start of real and lasting change.
  • Also, be sure to pray for Officer Nakia Jones, who just called out the police responsible for Alton Sterling’s shooting. Pray that she isn’t harassed, doxxed, fired, assaulted, or worse.

I’m willing to admit how privileged I am to be in a position where I can choose to play it safe, and admit that it’s because I’m white.

I’m willing to say “Black Lives Matter.”

Because black people aren’t safe. And too many people treat them like they don’t matter.

And I’m willing to say their names, or at least a few of their names:
Alton Sterling
Philando Castile
Eric Garner
Sandra Bland
Tamir Rice
John Crawford III
Freddie Gray

And hundreds more.

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Twelve-Word Tuesday: Viridian Design

On Twelve-Word Tuesdays, I introduce a concept, piece of media, or other thing I want to comment on, then sum it up or review it in Twelve Words (hence the name). I’ll link to the original source material, if applicable/possible, and to some more detailed analysis of it, again, if available.

This is something I can do quickly, yet still add some value of my own, beyond just being an aggregator.

I got the idea for Twelve Word Reviews after watching the first two episodes of Game of Thrones, a show that both Katherine and I found too dark and brutal for our tastes (though the production was well-done). I summed up my reaction in twelve words, “Horrible people doing horrible things to each other. With cussing. And nudity.” And while I know that’s a bit of an oversimplification of a well-loved and award-winning series, the concept stuck.

So, back to Viridian Design

“Choose high-quality versions of the things you use most. Minimize the rest.”

Bruce Sterling details his philosophy of Viridian Design in “The Last Note.” Unfortunately, Sterling took the “viridian” part a little too far in his web design, and the article is terribly hard to read (black text on a green background? Really?).

But have no fear. Open the page in Firefox, choose “View,” then “Page Style,” then “No Style.” All that green background mess will go away, leaving a nice, clean, legible page.

Viridian design involves (and attempts to integrate) minimalism, sustainability, and quality of life. You can read more commentary at Lifehacker, “Rethink Your Stuff: What to Splurge On, What to Toss,” and GreenBiz, “Viridian Design and Rethinking Our Relationship with ‘Stuff.’

This video, “The Story of Stuff,” covers some of the same general ground as Sterling. Minimalism as a concept fascinates me, because it is the very opposite of my own tendencies.

Although I’ll probably never actually undertake minimalism per se, I do like the Viridian ideal of getting quality versions of the things you actually use frequently and getting rid of the things you just sort of have but never seem to use.