“Why Ferguson Is Not My Reality” :My American Experience Part 3

When I started writing this 3 part piece it was right after the Ferguson Missouri shooting. I had been watching the news while away on vacation. I don’t often watch the news or check emails nor my cell when I’m on vacation with my family. But it had been about 2 weeks since the story broke.
I was flipping through channels, it was cable TV, we don’t have cable at home and I am glad for that.

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I watched scene after scene of police in riot gear and protesters yelling, screaming and throwing things at the cops. Then there were the people being interviewed.

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One guy had the audacity, to have his hands full of stolen loot, to say he doing it because of police brutality. As the camera turned I saw young and old black men with handkerchiefs over their faces shouting about there being no peace.

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There was another group of people with arms locked slowly walking forward, asking people to move back behind the lines. They were also asking people to go home. They meant the non-residents who came and agitated things…
I didn’t understand it then or during my parents young days neither do I understand it now! Why is it, that when things go wrong in mostly poor and predominantly black areas of a city, do people rob stores, damage property not owned by them and expect the outside viewing public will be sympathetic?
People destroy the very business creating an opportunity to work,  they destroy the people, family…businesses that service their underserved neighborhoods. Personally, I would close my business and take the financial hit. Because if you’re mad at someone, then you should take the fight to them. Not to the guy standing next to you ordering dinner for his family. But that’s not what happens….People destroy their own homes! “Stupid is as stupid does”- Forest Gump
Then folks like

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Sharpton roll into town chanting that ol’ negro spiritual “No Justice,  No Peace”. Poor guy, he’s shuck with Jackson (and others like them) In a Star Trek like “time bubble”…1960. Their “dead language” tactics cause more harm than good,

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Yet family after family are suckered in by their foolishness.

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You see, I grew up, as well as many in my generation; in a less exposed and much more free time in America. Now, isn’t ironic that, that generation is in charge of squeezing out most of our freedoms. The very kids that grew up riding bikes without helmets create laws and such, that today’s kids not only ride on the sidewalks! But they dress like NFL players to do so.
We were less exposed to the rape of “little Ann” a block away. Our parents were responsible for relaying the message to us and were in complete control of our safety/well-being. We kids & teens may not have known about it for a week. But by then someone had the actual facts and the parents knew who the rapist on the block and in the area was. Leaving us to be free to play, fight, laugh or go see a movie (in groups).
Today, however, everything both good and bad is sent instantly to everyone…kids, teens, adults and seniors unfiltered.  It’s interesting how the World Wide Web was supposed to bring the world closer. Too many times dangerous, damaging and negative information is regurgitated. Causing the massive American populous to be discontent, angry, rude, un-American,  unsympathetic, so on and so on. Not too long ago people read reputable newspapers and asked the people “in charge” to get their facts. Now, far too many have a Restless Leg Syndrome reaction to the beep and vibration on their phones, tablets etc.
I had no reaction to the events in Missouri around my children, save to point out the foolishness of the looters and so-called leaders.  Even though shootings and such happen in this country. It is not the whole of the American experience. It is not like that in “Every” state,  county, city or town. Not every cop is sadistic, though too many give the great ones a bad name. Just like saying “All” blacks listen to and like Rap. It’s just not so. But movie after movie, tv show after tv show and YouTube clip after clip show it… so it must be true!
This is the same process that fuels the unfiltered passion and rage of our youth. I am in constant battle with the pop culture to instill a “critical thinking” mind in my children.  As well as a sense of a larger world. All but one has a passport (we have 6), 2 have traveled to foreign countries to help others, 4 have traveled to different parts of America to help others. My youngest son (now 16) at 13, spent his summer vacation on a Native American Reservation in Arizona building porches. Next year, he’ll go with his school to New Orleans to help there.
I told them to keep their passports current just in case a job opened up in another country. We also save and taught them, those with children, to save through out the year for a vacation outside of where we live…why? To experience other people, cultures and different parts of our country. The same way my mother did; pre-internet 60’s and 70’s.
It paid off, I have a broader view of the world. It started with a library card…I’d ride my bike (no pads or helmet) about 8 blocks away, obeying traffic rules and using my hand signals daddy taught me; I didn’t read much then but I rented “Big Band” records to hear my daddy’s music.
When you only see one representation of yourself, of your community, of your country and if it happens to be a constant flow of negative images, messages and information you’re bound to hate yourself…
That’s why Ferguson is not my reality, not my American experience…

My American Experience: My Reality Part 2

Television:   As a kid we had 3 major TV networks, ABC, NBC and CBS…then there were WOR 9 and WPIX 11 (in NYC).  Most of what I saw was channel after channel of white people having white peoples’s problems (In hindsight). What my sister, mother and I saw, was good quality television. There wasn’t cursing, kissing, sex, half naked teenagers or  parents. There was always a mother and father and if one of the parents weren’t around, an extended family member was around to help.  Even the Sitcoms (Situation comedy)were wholesome there was no laughing at Sin or things considered distasteful for a family to sit down together and watch.
In terms of “white people’s” problems, there was an episode of The Brady Bunch where the kid didn’t want to eat his dinner. He was allowed to waste the food and leave the table! This was unheard of in my house! You ate what was in front of you and you didn’t leave until you were done. Again, in hindsight, it had nothing to do with being white and everything to do with being wealthy.
Mike Brady was an architect who built his own house and lived in the suburbs. He also remarried after the death of his wife. He could afford a housekeeper, so he had plenty of help.
In contrast, James Evans of Good Times, was a blue collar worker who loses his job and struggles to find and keep employment. He’d work low paying, often minimum wage jobs. The family battled with poverty and lived in the city. Unlike the Brady’s, they didn’t always have enough food to eat. What was obvious though, was that both sitcom families had a lot of love. Whether they lived in the Suburbs or in the poorest section of the City.
The Waltons, were another family where the value of love and working together was a message that rang though every episode. John and Olivia Walton were raising 7 children on a farm and lumber land during the Depression years. The family mostly ate what they grew and owned a lumber business. The kids were often barefoot and rose early to do house work/chores before going to school. This was not a sitcom, the family dealt with homelessness, crime, death, being a good neighbor, separation, loneliness etc. But there was always plenty of laughing, singing and playing. Each night the show would end with everyone saying goodnight to one another…

Many of the television shows in the 70’s were still crafted using the formula of the 1950’s as well as the 1930’s and 1940’s radio theater. It was about creating and maintaining a wholesome family environment. Some didn’t come close to reality, others did. The result was a generation that valued helping others, playing outside, family, friendship, knowing right from wrong and learning life’s lessons from home. If you lied or stole something, you apologized and replaced what was stolen, you confessed to the wrong doing even in the face of a “spanking/beating”, because it was the right thing to do. Then…
The Networks multiplied and opened Pandora’s proverbial box….

Now….