There is an organization the is very close to my heart and of extreme importance to my girlfriend (who works there) and her family called The Brotherhood Sister Sol. They are a non-profit in Harlem, NY that works to support children from the age of 8 to 22 with after school programs, college advising, and other programs that people who can afford such things often take for granted. They also make a huge difference in the lives of the kids they work with. With NYC's high school graduation rate somewhere around 60%, Bro/Sis has an 88% high school graduation rate with their alumni and 94% either graduated from high school or earned their Graduate Equivalency Degree. 95% are working full time or enrolled in college after they "graduate" from the Bro/Sis program. This is all from help received at no cost.
They recently posted this video. Give it a watch. It's only 45 seconds long.
The length of this video and the importance of its message are not proportional, and this is something that, I believe, needs to be talked about. With recent cases catching a huge amount of attention and with police conduct being... questionable, I've had a number of conversations with friends about their experiences with law enforcement.
Now, I am a white dude from the richest part of Connecticut. My non-white friends are from the same area, and some live in much nicer neighborhoods than I do and are in a considerably higher tax bracket. All of them have had "the talk". No, not the birds-and-the-bees talk (though I'm sure they've had that too). The how-not-to-get-shot-by-the-police talk. Let's all be honest, how many of us white folk have had that talk? I'm sure we've all been told to be respectful and to call them sir or what have you, but it's not quite the same thing. Police treat non-white people differently. That's just the truth. If you don't believe me... well, I know we're all entitled to our opinions but yours is wrong. I have two black family members, one of whom is a teacher at a private school that costs more to attend than most colleges. He wears nicer, more fashionable clothes than most people I know and it the nicest man on this earth. He has been stopped twice by police who have asked him if his car was stolen. He has been stopped while on a field trip with his 4th graders and asked if he was actually their teacher (true story, though I can't wrap my head around that).
I realize anecdotal evidence is not always accurate, but I'll give you a quick example anyways. I was in South Norwalk, an area that has relatively "high" crime compared to the surrounding towns, with a few friends. Of our 4 person group one of my friends was black. We were all meeting to get dinner, fuck around, and go see a movie. We also did what most teenagers do on the weekend and brought along some weed. Now, the guy who bought, carried, and distributed the weed was white and it was on his person the entire night. At one point after smoking we walked past two observant police officers who stopped us and asked where we were going. I assume they could smell it on us or maybe we were just acting stoned, because they knew we were high. It quickly turned from "where are you going?" to "sir, are you under the influence of something?"
I got a stern talking to. I mean, I have never experienced such finger-wagging in my entire life. The officer threatened to call my parents, etc., etc. but I was acting respectfully as my parents taught me. My black friend, on the other hand, was pulling out all the stops. He was calling the officer "sir" and talking in what I can only call his best white accent and following every order. My friend who had the weed was acting equally respectful, but of course he was. He could have been arrested. The fourth member of this group had apparently never been taught how to act around police. He had his hands in his pockets, was calling the officers "dude", and made a number of other faux pas that most people would not make. Want to know who got searched?
Go ahead. Guess.
No, seriously just take a wild guess.
It was the black kid.
I got a stern talking to, the kid with weed wasn't even payed attention to, the idiot who was acting up got legitimately yelled at, and the black kid got searched. See something wrong here? This was even after he acted more courteously than most people would even consider. He was certainly more courteous than half of the people he was with.
Now, this kid had gotten "the talk". He had gotten a talk that I had never gotten because I don't need to get it. I am not automatically suspicious in a predominantly white neighborhood because it looks like I belong there. I can get out of a ticket because I "seem like a responsible kid". I don't have to worry about the police mistreating me because of my race. This talk that I have never gotten shows a disconnect in this country that most people are not willing to talk about and that a number of people seemingly think is non-existant. Well, I disagree with those people, and I am seriously concerned that once the case of Michael Brown and Eric Garner blow over, this issue will once again only be discussed by those it negatively effects. Even the SJW will move on to some hot-button issue that will earn them the most Karma on Reddit. This issue may not always be the most popular hot-button topic, but it will remain one of the most important until we finally have some legitimate racial equality in this country (gender equality too!). Until then, we have to try to make a difference and not blame the dead unarmed black man for his own death because he was selling loosies or because he was fed up with being harassed by police that disproportionately patrol black neighborhoods. The police are "protecting and serving" some people differently than others and that is not okay.
It's time to talk about "the talk".