‘The best way to defeat a warrior is to provide for them, their family, their neighbors, and everyone they know. Then they will have no reason to fight.’ – Jasper H.B. (myself)
Disclaimer: I’ve often used a variant of the above phrase, using masculine pronouns, and attributed the source to some text of Eastern philosophy. After searching and not being able to find the source, I’ve decided to attribute it to myself and I figure that someone on the internet will correct me eventually. With that said…
I want to yell and scream and get in the faces of each of my representitives and ask what they are going to do to help me. What actions they will take which will benefit me. And if they will do nothing, I want to find someone that will. The frustration in my life is that I do not feel what I want is agregious. The whole reason I support the protests is because I have no element of control when it comes to the police.
As I feel I have repeated et nauseum, I have been stopped by police many times when doing nothing but walking. It doesn’t matter if I am going to work, going home after a date, or leaving a business after an interview, my presence is somehow suspect. Maybe someone made a call because I made them nervous while walking through park. Or because someone on foot after midnight is odd and they’re concerned. Or it’s odd for someone well dressed to leave a high-end open air shopping center at 10 AM respectively. At the end of all those potential causes is the end result that the police, armed and wary, stopped me to ask about me. And no matter how late, tired, or just plain baffled I was I had to keep my calm. People with guns and the backing of the law stopped me. And expressing my frustration in any way could have been disasterous.
I call myself a martial (arts) enthusiest. I have no formal training, but martial conflict is at the heart of most of the media I ingest. I have a high respect for hand to hand combat and those that perfect it. I marvel at the ingenuity of people as they craft weapons or simply adapt tools for a variety of uses. Swords can be crafted for fencing and parrying or excell in use from horseback. And a simple staff can be used to counter the comperably short length of most swords in a variety of ways.
But I hate guns. It makes killing too easy. Too… removed. I find life to be sacred. And if you feel compelled to end the life of someone, it should be messy and visceral. Nuclear bombs, drone strikes, and military grade assault rifles just make mass killing far too easy. I can respect snipers there is a lot of skill and… intimacy involved. You may have to learn your targets’ movements and once on site wait for days before you can take your shot. You have to consider distance, how the wind will affect the bullet, and all manner of things. Or maybe I’m romantisizing snipers from to many video games. The escalation of arms makes this next to impossible to ramp back, especially in America. I remember hearing a report of a neighborhood handyman pulled into the local mafia to make silencers for firearms out of lawnmower mufflers. The technology is out there, and even if a situation happens in which all modern crafts are rendered useless, there will be an arms race for guns again.
Part of the reason I don’t like guns is because I grew up in an area in which people had guns. All the time. Legally and illegally. I was a studious child and I knew how little it would take to maim and murder someone. But all the civilians I knew with guns? They learned about me, even if they just spent a few minutes doing so. Gang members deemed me as not being a threat. Not only did they leave me alone, but they warded their compatriots away from me. Forgive the artistic license, but the sentiment was that ‘Little Brother Book isn’t going to hurt anyone’ as even at the height of summer or the middle of the night I always had a book or was writing one.
This is juxtaposed with my experience of the police. Full interactions beginning to end and their hands remaining on their weapons. Stops becoming a bi-monthly occurrance on average. And the whole time I’m going to and from work. Invited to someone’s house and then having the police come up and question me while myself, the home owner, and another guest are on the porch talking. All the times I was watched and buzzed and made to feel that I specifically was being watched because my wrongdoing was inevitable.
Ordinarily I do not name names, but for this I will, simply to highlight how limited interactions have to be in order to have long lasting ramifications on a single person. I am from Kansas City. When I left home at eighteen I moved into Prairie Village, KS. Most of my stories about being stopped by police while walking have happened in and around the area of Johnson County, KS. Overall, these tend to be “nice” areas, and I have learned to be wary in such places. WHen I am in the “bad parts of town” I have no issues personally. Suburbs make me intensely uncomfortable because the frequency with which police have chosen or been called on to intervene in my life gives me the distinct impression that I’m not welcome in those places. And it isn’t just me. I was speaking with my sister about my experiences at one point and mentioned Prairie Village by name. My father uttered, perhaps to not be heard, that my experiences are why he avoids the area. Prior to my visiting my mother while she stayed in Prairie Village, I didn’t even know that part of the city existed. I was seventeen at that point. I had beaten around the bush, as it were, but have never known of an entire city in the area. I realized, to some degree, that it was not an accident that I hadn’t. That whatever my father knows and experienced more than a generation now removed is enough that he doesn’t go there as a matter of policy. My father is meticulous and ordered and I can count on one hand with plenty of digits to spare the times I know of that he has acted without Reason. If such is his choice, it has been proven to him that it is viable. And on this I agree with him.
The inhabitants and police force of one metropolitan city were enough to make me wary of anyplace similar in America. This erosion took less than four years, with only half that time my actually living in Prairie Village. At the time, I was estranged from my family. I had no elders to speak with. I went literal weeks without seeing another “obvious minority”. There was no one to contextualize my experiences in a timely fashion. Thus, like much, I buried the experiences. Occasionally I would speak on it with co-workers. Most would lament terrible or unfair it was. Some would even be able to relay stories of their own. Their stories resound with detractors that I speak with in the present day in that, in many cases, there are less than a handful of instances in their life to cite if there is more than one to begin with. And sometimes it is only a relatives’ story or they were in the same vicinity of an event and were in the net.
This is where I return to my opening line.
I have problems with the police. I don’t feel safe. I have places that I don’t go. Not because I’m doing anything illegal or suspicious, but just because my mere presence seems to warrant intervention. My parents have the same problems. I pull my head away from my grindstone and check in with my friends and they have the same problems. I ask my neighbors as I find them and, if I’m not in the suburbs, I’ll hear more stories similar to mine. I open social media and look in on my friends’ individual experiences and enough of them have the same problems too. This is enough that I turn volitile. But I write instead. Novella-length essays that could be mirrored by those aforementioned in this paragraph.
I have spoken on how my life is a form of protest. Raised with as many advantages as could be mustered and heaped on me. Even if I didn’t take to them they all shaped me. Many black families in communities far and wide have done the same, an affront to decades and centuries prior in which even our personhood was a fair point of debate due solely to the color our skin holds. But even being law abiding, well spoken, and highly educated doesn’t stop us from ‘just being Black’. From matching descriptions. From being stopped in our own cars as we drive to houses we own in the suburbs and questioned by police because ‘something just doesn’t fit’.
There are problems in our systems. There is a problem in our culture. You may want to point to Morgan Freeman’s oft cited 60 Minutes soundbite, in part of which he answers that the solution to racism is to stop talking about it. Before living in Prairie Village I did not talk about Race and Racism. When my longest held friends were asked about me they replied “Jasper is Jasper”. By those I spent every day with and, in many cases, continue to do so I am seen for who I am. In my homes, at their abodes, when we are out together in public I am Jasper plain and simple.
But when I walk the streets alone, I am reduced to a description. When I enter a mall by myself security guards prioritize trangulating my location at all times. When police are called to a bar I’ve never been to, they take a keen interest in my movements even though I have nothing to do with why they were called.
Four years ago, I believed that there was no ill that Trump could bring to bear that would decimate our country in the long term. I believed in the goodness of people. And while I can claim technical correctness I must accept that I was fundamentally wrong. There is a Tolerance Paradox. When everything is permitted, those that would stamp out dissent will gain a foothold and eliminate those they deem unworthy one way or another. These people seek power. And “Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses.” They tout nationalism. They will swathe themselves in accourtmants of the law. They cannot kill outright so they terrorize and sow suffering. If society deems that those they blame and hate must live, then they will live miserably until they can change society. And their foothold is Trump since he tolerates them more unabashedly than any government figure I’ve seen in the modern age.
My belief was that people are going to do whatever they wish and the government can do nothing to really stop them. But I also believed in the goodness of people so that even if The Wrong Thing was legal it wouldn’t be a worry since it was, empyrically, The Wrong Thing. But now I am seeing how many people are truly restrained only by the law. They really, really, REALLY never wanted to do The Right Thing. The fact that the law constrains their hateful rhetoric from fully blooming and their endgame from being realized in the present is their proof that the law has gone too far. The hypocrisy that the law now frees people from their constraints is not considered.
I do not want much from the police but I will ask for it along with a choir of protestors if I must. Very basically, I do not want the police to be able to stop me on flimsy excuses anymore. I want to be able to walk down the street and if I have done nothing illegal, have no plans toward illegality, nor am inside a window of responsibility for infringing upon the sovernty of another sentient being I want to be left alone. And if I’m not? I want a robust reason why. And if I lack that I want to be able to walk away without fearing being shot in the back or my face busted open on the pavement.
There are bad actors and opportunits all around. Some are those that violently riot and loot while nearby protests are happening. It is easy, especially in this age, to hear about a gathering and plan something concurrently. Recently I read about a Proud Boys meeting. The locals, not wanting any part of the group massing in the area, gathered on the site and had a somewhat impromptu ‘block party’. As Proud Boys and their affiliates trickled in they swiftly left in confusion as they did not see their own set up. I’ve no feelings on the group nor any desire to research them, I am simply relaying the tale. Anyhow, conversely yet similarly, if a group puts protest details online and someone wants to chip away at the validity of the movement a group of ten people is enough to sow chaos enough for nationwide descent. But those people are opportunists. Glorified scavengers really. Take away the umbrella of the protests and they won’t have grounds to burn and loot.
Provide justice and peace for every American, their families, their neighbors, and everyone they know. And then they will have no reason to protest.