Charlottesville: A call out to our leaders

Processing Charlottesville has been a challenge for me on many levels.  Every day I hold a moment of silence for Heather Heyer and her family, the other Charlottesville victims and well as victims before that.  I especially want to send my condolence to Heather’s parents and send them a virtual hug. Direct and indirect, I know as a parent it’s tough to see one’s kid go before one does.  Know that you are loved.

I have been struggling to find the words to speak to our leaders, parents, and elected officials.  I am asking you to listen.  I am looking up to all of you and us.

Please, do the right thing by all of us.  Stand up now.  Stand up and say something to put an end to this growing evil in the name of the victims.  Stand up and say something in the name of everyone who fought and died and lived for this nation.

Whatever ideology or impulse might be holding you back put them aside and take care of those you swore to be an example for.  An example means looking to the history of leaders who fought for all of us to get this far.  An example means you know being a leader isn’t about appealing to hate, but to love, to our better selves, and bringing human beings together.

You see a true leader is about standing in the front in times like these and saying home truths.  Truths that speak to the pernicious culture and ideology that led to killing an innocent woman.  Truths that emphasize the destructive power of evil and hate on the human race.

The human race is depending on you because your leadership role comes with responsibility.  That is why you are called a leader.  Leading means when something is wrong, you call it out.  Call out hate groups.

Groups come in all forms.  There will be those that follow you as a leader and those that disagree.  The best leaders according to leadership research are the best partly because they learn from the awesome power of disagreements and forge unity among their followers.

The promotion of divergent views among us is one of the core values of this country.  Past leaders have encouraged divergent views because it enriches our democracy. Please, step up; take the lead to work together to harness the fruits of these views.

Right now, democracy is at that crossroads where we are challenged with disagreements about everything democracy stands for.  Now is the time that our leaders step up to the plate and help us redefine democracy if necessary and set a new course for this great experiment.  An experiment fraught with pain and which is currently causing more pain.

But pain can be a good thing because it tells us that something is wrong and we need to address it.  That is why we have doctors to heal us. In the role of a doctor is where our leaders are must be if they have to heal this country and the world so that the victims’ names can be remembered with grace.

What I see in the news and social media is that most of us are starving for someone to take the lead to bring about sanity, normalcy, and some sense of stability. I see the good in all of us.  It is a sign that we care about each other and want to live in harmony.  To do that, our leaders must do what is right.

This is not to dismiss anyone’s pain. This is not to put one group over another.  This is not to say that we should not recognize our roots.  It is to ask that our leaders call out others who seem to thrive on divisive tactics.

In history, a division has never won anything.  Divisions have led to all sorts of societal ills. Divisions have caused more pain. In my view, it is time for our leaders to stand up and unite us.

Of course, unity is not without struggles.  I’d be naive to think otherwise.  But I have lived long enough in my short life to see the awesome power of unity.

My dad used metaphors to show me the meaning of persistence in the face of struggles.  He said, “Kojo when you look at a stream of water flowing, notice a leaf or a stick (objects). Pay attention to the flowing water and how the objects flow with it. The objects continue to flow until they get stuck somewhere.  But the water continues to flow.  The water persists. Eventually, the water will break the objects free.

We cannot get stuck on hatred because like the water, the planet is still spinning and the sun is still shining and setting.  We cannot continue to ignore the pain, the rotten part of the foundation of this nation that continues to keep us stuck on hatred.  We cannot ignore that we have evolved so much even in the face of being “stuck.”

Like the flowing water, we must persist to do the right thing.  We must persist to call on our leaders.  We must persist until we break free of that leaf or stick of hatred.

I am asking our leaders to please, in the name of love, stand up and do the right thing to bring everyone together to begin a dialogue.  Talking about difficult things hasn’t hurt anyone before and I am sure it won’t hurt anyone now.  Talking like I am writing to appeal to you is probably the best medicine each leader can use to unite us.

Our children are watching.

They are future leaders and we must set good examples for them to follow.  Each leader needs to step up and I see that happening slowly.  But I think there are many who can help.

Remember, being a leader can be a lonely journey. At the same time, being a leader can be rewarding.  The reward comes when the people we lead can look to us to do the right thing even in the midst of disagreements.

We currently seem to have a leadership vacuum.  This vacuum is not new and it preceded Charlottesville.  Most of us know that there have been several other ongoing divisive situations that called for our leaders to unite us.

But if that hasn’t happened, I think now is the time to see *all* our leaders stepping up in front of us to lead us in the right direction.  I am calling for your help, leaders. I am asking you to please, come forward, take a stand against hate and show us how the awesome power of love can move us forward.

Please, stand up, say something and do something to bring us together.

Be a leader.

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Thank you, President Obama and the first family.

The election is over. I did my civic duty and voted. The candidate I voted for won the popular vote. That to me means that my vote counted for something. It is done.

I am not sure how to feel about the aftermath all of that is going on. That’s not to dismiss anyone’s feelings. It is to let you know that I am a Black man in America and I feel something. That something has everything to do with the sitting POTUS.

The man who looks like me, my skin, a man. A brilliant man. An amazing human being and leader.

Thank you, Mr. Barrack Hussein Obama, for giving me hope. For showing me that even as we face this new challenge and result, we shall overcome. That hard work pays.

Thank you and your family for being the example I can look to on how to persist with my dreams, aspirations, and hopes. As a Black Deaf man, I know that giving up and caving to fear and petty criticisms about who I am is not the way to go.

The way to go is to hold my head up like you did amidst the visible obstruction, hatred because you are Black, but not because you are a genius. I miss you already and it’s hard to think clearly while I am writing this to you, President Obama.

Maybe you will read it, maybe not. Maybe I will get to meet you before you leave office and maybe not. But whatever has happened, I know this in my heart, I am a man, like you, and I can be anything that I want to be.

It was amazing to me that during your tenure, you showed so much restraint, something that has been stigmatized against Black men to not be able to do.  I admire how when someone publicly provoked you, you would find ways to make it look like you loved them. Don’t misunderstand, I was pissed but watching you left me forgetting that.

I have read countless times about how you have received racist letters from the people you represented.  I have read countless of oppositions on Facebook and other social media outlets.  I  mean, wow!

I often ask myself, is President Obama one of those aliens from the conspiracy theories?  Seriously, this man can’t be human. Yet, you proved me wrong at each turn – you are the true epitome of a BLACK MAN.

I read so many articles about how our people, Black people, some who simply hate you for “not being Black enough.”  Their opinions are theirs.  Just like you stated when that President-elect’s fan was protesting at your speech – you showed the true meaning of what it means to be an American – to agree to disagree and to exercise all the rights afforded us as Americans.

I am so impressed with you.  You went further and hired a Deaf woman, a SCOTUS.  By doing so, you elevated the true meaning of following our dreams in America, not only for people with disAbilities but for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

Not only that, your way with children, our future leaders, wow.  I am seriously wondering if you mess up at all *smile*.  I know you probably have but publicly, I have not seen it and it doesn’t matter.

The Affordable Care Act, to me, is a symbol of healing.  A true meaning of the human spirit.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion about it and I respect them too.  But for me, my opinion, it is the true meaning of democracy, the ability to give people healthcare should be a basic need.

To add icing on the cake, you passed several laws, one that united the LGBTQ community.  I could go on and on. But I believe in addition to this little thank you note, history will be kind to you, your family and leadership.  KUDOS to you, your family and team.

I wanted to thank you now because it seems like most people want to remain the “negatives” of things happening.  It looks like most of us would rather wait until you vacate office to thank you. I want to thank you now while you are still our President.

Thank you for 8 years of unwavering service. Thank you for not giving up no matter how “impossible.” You made it look almost easy, cool, collected, and steadfast. With those characteristics, I am reminded daily, to NEVER GIVE UP.

Thank you, Mr. President Barack Hussein Obama, and your family, the first Black family, for being the examples of true human beings.

Hi.

Hi, my name is Kojo Amissah.  How are you?  Nice to meet you.  I am a Black Deaf man.  I would like to share a part of me with you.

Before I do that, I often put disclaimers.  One of my friends, a White man, asked me why.  I told him it is because of some people, both Black and White need to be assured that I am not here to say something that could cause someone to feel guilty, upset, or ignorant of others who might have it “worse.”

Please, don’t feel guilty.  Don’t feel bad.  If anything, try to reflect on your own experiences and your story.  I believe we all have our stories and it isn’t about comparing stories.

I think stories is healthy.  It is human nature.  Each and his or her own.

My story is related to the recent shooting that took place in Tulsa.  That is one of many shootings that I draw my experience from.  Those shootings of Black men.

I am a Black man, Deaf, son, brother, uncle, and father.  I am afraid for my life.  My mind is busy – yes, I am psychologically stressed.

I am not sure how to share some of my daily thoughts without offending someone White.  In fact, I am afraid this story will have another adverse impact on my life and career.  I am afraid of a million other things aside from the fact that I could be shot for no reason.

I get up in the morning daily and the first thing I do is check outside to make sure no one is shooting or getting shot.  When I am ready to leave for work, I look outside the window to make sure the streets are “clear” before I come out.  When I am out, I am always looking over my shoulder to make sure my surroundings are safe – remember, I can’t hear.

One thing about me is that I can’t hear, but I can talk and that causes some of my hearing friends and acquaintances to wonder about me.  It is actually funny and can be fun when I get questions – most of them funny because of the simplistic nature of them.  It doesn’t bother me when someone asks me a question about my hearing loss.

But now I am more afraid than ever.  The man who was shot was hearing.  He had his hands up from what the videos are showing.

I put myself in his shoes and at that moment, I was dead.  I tried to imagine how that would play out for me.  I have tried every possible image (I pride myself on being creative) and each one of them led to the same thing – dead.

I played out each scenario.  Each one of them ended up worse. Worse as in possibly multiple shots in the back – dead.

I started to think about my family, especially my sister and daughter.  I tried to imagine how that would make them feel.  I tried to imagine how I would be remembered.

Then I realized, I could be implicated as anything.  A gang member,  drug dealer, a drug abuser, and every stereotype assigned to Black men after they are shot dead.  With this, I looked my life now.

My life is not any of those descriptions.  Another psychological stress I carry with me is about those descriptions.  I work hard, and please when I say I work hard, I mean extra hard to earn everything I have.

As a Black Deaf man, in general, the stereotype for Black men has been that we are lazy, sleep around and have a million babies, are irresponsible, and up to no good.  So this sits on my mind and reminds me daily to give 1000% to everything that I do.  I know that one mistake could cost me my life, lead me to jail, and now, GET SHOT FOR NO REASON.

This is my daily reminder.  These thoughts along with the others I have mentioned is the psychological stress I live with daily.  I know that even while I am writing this blog, I have to write in “perfect” English.

Otherwise, some of my readers, grammar police, could also SHOOT me down.  Not only that.  I tend to send this to some of my White friends to “White proofread” it for me out of fear that I may offend some White people for sharing my story.  I have written other blogs, which you can read.

My goal is NOT to offend but to share with you, my daily psychological stresses as a Black Deaf man who is afraid for his life in light of what has been happening.  I have become aware that while I can share my story in a form of freedom of speech, I am not afforded the same freedom of speech and expression that is afforded Whites (please don’t feel guilty or offended because we have enough historical and research evidence to attest to this and Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines are available to help you find them).

I wanted to end by saying hi.  How are you?  Nice to meet you.

I don’t hate White people.  I don’t hate America.  I don’t have hate for anything.

I am just psychologically stressed from living in fear for my life.  I don’t think any HUMAN BEING (if I am considered one) deserves to live like this.  But unfortunately, some of us, Blacks, Native Americans, and DARK SKINNED people live this way.  I don’t believe that Americans want anyone to live this way.

Imagine if I am living this way and this is my story.  I can’t speak for others.  But just sit back and imagine what it must feel like to get up in the morning daily with this type of living condition – psychological stress.

Worries that what I say and how I say it will NEVER be acceptable because of the color of your skin.  Worrying that your boss could read your blog, something you are advocating for and punish you for it.  Worrying that you are a target to be assassinated for no reason and then after that, your name will be smeared and your family embarrassed.

Hi.  How are you?  I am afraid for my life and right now, there is nothing I can do.

If you happen to see me passing you, please wave at me and show that you acknowledge that I am okay and that the last thing you can remember about me, is that I smiled my contagious smile back at you.  I think I can feel okay when you do that because tomorrow, I could be shot DEAD.

Thank you for reading.

#BlackLivesMatter: Are you kidding? Sit yo Black a$$ down!

First, my heart goes out to the officers, their families, and children for losing their lives in the line of duty.  It is my sincere hope that our leaders will step up, address these pressing issues and prevent more lives from being lost.

I have been following the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  I noticed how some Black people have issues understanding why #AllLivesMatter.  So I did some homework and read a lot before I wrote this.

Let me be very frank here.  #BlackLivesDontMatter.  I will share what I learned to help the rest of those delusional Black folks who seem to not get that #AllLivesMatter is what this is about.

First, Black Americans need to understand that someone years ago did us a favor.  The favor was to capture Blacks from the dangerous African jungle for our own safety.  Notice that there are different stories about how we were captured and if you tell anyone that we were captured, they will tell you no.

We are instead told that the African tribes were at war with each other and the winners sold losers.  Do you see how that becomes that focus of the conversation each time we try to discuss slavery?  There is some truth in that.

Here is the logical fallacy.  Back in the day, if Whites in Europe fought in a war with other Europeans and prisoners were captured, the prisoners of war became slaves.  I think this is okay.

What is not okay is that if Africans traveled to Europe, brought those prisoners of wars, and secretly captured others to bring back to Africa to enslaved then to do their dirty biddings, other wars, then it could lead to RACISM later when Whites feel oppressed.  If you are a Black person and you think this makes sense, I think you have gone and lost your mind.

Trying to make this argument sensible is an indication that you might have some serious mental health issues.  Trying to make that argument is why #BlackLivesDontMatter but instead, #AllLivesMatter.  Let’s continue with what I learned.

I also learned that #BlackLivesDontMatter from reading this article.  If we look at the images in this article, we see spectators.  Their lives matter is #ALLLivesMatter.  The only way to say #BlackLivesMatter is when the spectators are Black.

I mean, think about it. There are countless accounts of lynching and burning of Blacks for all sort of reasons.  Many of those reasons are the same reasons why many are rioting for justice.

Nevermind that.  Let me share something else I read.  This one is not to suggest that police lives don’t matter.  It is to share what I read that I found fascinating and to make sure that those that are ranting #BlackLiveMatter understanding that they have it all backward.

This article among others clearly indicates that what is happening, the way African Americans are treated by the police today and #BlackLivesMatter makes no sense.  If you read the article carefully, there is a lot of love towards Black slaves back in the day.  Do you notice how most of the articles talked about the police was established to protect #BlackLivesMatter folks?

So #BlackLivesMatter folks, you see where you got it all wrong?  There is a need for a divine intervention to help you #BlackLivesMatter folks.  The law is on your side and the police are here to make sure that you are heard, taken care of, and are safe.

You see, there have been others before you who behaved the same way, asked for justice and fairness, and guess what?  The police were there to make sure they were safe.  I was amazed to read those articles because they helped me get the true meaning of #AllLivesMatter.

The people in those images and articles are NOT the reasons why #BlackLivesMatter today.  That is in the past.  We cannot hold today’s individuals and groups accountable and responsible for those things that happened in the past.  Do you see why #AllLivesMatter?

A review of these historic images clearly shows that #AllLivesMatter because those being lynched and burned so not look like #BlackLivesMatter.  The images show that #AllLivesMatter and you protesters should be ashamed of yourselves.

Trying to get those that have benefited from all of those images to see what you see is like trying to turn a dog into a cat!  How could you even do that when you were not allowed to read and write?  Perhaps the lack of access to education is why #BlackLiveMatter folks don’t get it.

Don’t worry #BlackLiveMatter folks, you have access to education now and this is why #AllLivesMatter.  In addition to education, #BlackLivesMatter folks need to understand  the abundance of your economic wealth.  Please, stop whining about injustice and get to work  and live the life you have been living since the beginning of slavery.

I mean think about it.  Each and every one of you #BlackLivesMatter folks is obviously afforded the luxuries and spoils from slavery.  Why shouldn’t #AllLivesMatter?

It is time to enjoy the benefits.  It is time to stop the madness about injustice.  It is time to sit, yo, ass, down!

#AllLivesMatter because we are all equal.  We bleed red and some of us were unfortunate to be born with Black skin.   It is not the folks chanting #AllLivesMatter fault.

How could it be their fault when they were not there when it all happened?  How is that possible when they #AllLivesMatter folks did not benefit from everything I have been reading about some of the reason why #BlackLivesMatter should be addressed first?

You see, the folks from the #AllLivesMatter camp have no idea how Black women slaves were raped.  So in today’s rape culture, if you say #BlackWomensLivesMatter because of these hideous rape incidents, the #AllLivesMatter camp will cry foul and I can agree with them.  It is your foul mouth to remind the #AllLivesMatter camp that these are possible reasons why you believe we should focus on #BlackLivesMatter first.

Unacceptable of you!  How dare you #BlackLivesMatter folks compare the past with today? You see, rape culture today has nothing to do with the past.  There is no foundation whatsoever and I appreciate you #BlackLiveMatter folks if you join the #AllLivesMatter camp so we can all benefit from police protection and reduce rape culture.

I don’t think it will be okay to continue this way, put each other in harms way because we want to maintain an old status quo – unearned privilege.  I don’t believe that the #BlackLivesMatter camp should be called a terrorist group.  That terrorist label pales comparison to the articles I have shared.

I have no intention of telling anyone that we need to kill each other to do what is right by us.  Clearly, what is happening is affecting everyone.  Everyone is nervous, even some police officer are nervous.  To me, that is not the way to co-exist.

I have no intention of suggesting that we should retaliate against the police.  Being an officer is dangerous and hard work and I respect the men and women in that profession.  I have several  close friends who are officers and I am worried about their lives, their families, and kids.

What I suggest is that we look at the impact of history to understand that #BlackLivesMatter is not some elite exclusive club that excludes #AllLivesMatter or the police.  I have a reason to believe that the #BlackLivesMatter camp is trying to point out that some of these on-going mistreatments, injustice, and blatant display of the past in 2016 is shameful and must change.

I took a lot of time to research and read to try to understand.  I am sure some people will disagree with my point of view.  I think that’s okay.  I hope we can look at this objectively, admit to some of our subtle discriminatory ways, and put an end to profiling Black Americans.

According to the constitution, “all men are created equal.” Even that document is fraught with skepticism and questions about if it included Black Americans and recently the LGBTQA.  Are we all equal in today’s society?

Do we all have access to economic power?  This is one area that #BlackLivesMatter wants to address and change.  Have we been treated the same way within the legal system?  This is another area that #BlackLivesMatter wants to address and change.  Was the police established to treat Blacks in the same way as Whites?  I think this is another area that #BlackLivesMatter wants to address in light of recent shootings.

I am not asking Whites to feel guilty.  I am not asking for anything other than to face a truth about who we are, and how we got here.  The information, historical, don’t lie.  Ignoring our history may only lead us to repeat the same mistakes.

If we individually and collectively allow that to happen, then #AllLivesDontMatter.

It is time to begin healing and it has to start with addressing #BlackLivesMatter first, which doesn’t mean #AllLivesDontMatter.

Because embedded in the #BlackLivesMatter message is have open and honest conversations about rape culture, police brutality culture, White privilege, and a culture of fear of simply being a Black HUMAN BEING.  I have a reason to believe that most of us know this to be a truth and I challenge all of us to step up and be a part of the solution.

Saying nothing is more dangerous as we saw in the images of those bystanders while Blacks were lynched and burned as we are shot on television.

Please, stop the killings.