Blackfish-ish

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In my pursuit of financial independence (and after acknowledging that I’m much too impatient to wade through channels to determine what to watch) I made the decision to give my traditional cable package the boot.  It’s been approximately two years since I made that decision, and I haven’t looked back.  Thanks to streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, I have not regretted my decision in the least.  These services, and Netflix specifically, have exposed me to shows and movies that I probably would not otherwise have watched.  The documentaries section on Netflix especially has provided me with an array of interesting items to view – the most recent of which has been the film ‘Blackfish‘.  Considering that the film came out in 2013 I’m slightly late to the party, but still glad that I managed to make it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the film, ‘Blackfish‘ details the story of Tilikum, a killer whale taken into captivity within the sea-park industry and the dire consequences that resulted.  Without giving too much away, a consistent theme that emerged throughout the movie was this feeling of regret.  Regret about the decision to subject killer whales to captivity, of not fully understanding the ramifications of the sea-park industry on these creatures, and the choice to support psychological and emotional trauma under the guise of entertainment.  There was one quote in particular from the film that really stood out to me.

“I think that in 50 years, we’ll look back and go ‘My God, what a barbaric time.’”

It was interesting to observe the transformation that some who were involved in the sea-park industry underwent as they realized the true consequences of their actions and the harm that had been done.  As I watched their remorseful and tear-strewn faces, I couldn’t help but wonder when the same degree of revelation about the adverse treatment of killer whales and the respect/humanity they deserve would become applied to Blacks in the United States whose lives have been cut short by law enforcement.

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The response of protestors to the Ferguson verdict highlights a growing state of unrest.  The legacy of slavery in the United States is something that many try to ignore or treat as if it were antiquated.  In reality, it is our lack of reconciling the nearly 250 years of slavery followed by an additional almost 100 years of Jim Crow laws designed to enforce segregation and that supported racist practices and terrorism towards Blacks that has contributed to the current state of race relations in this country.  To put things into perspective, there are still people alive today who experienced segregation and Jim Crow.  Martin Luther King Jr. would have only been in his 80’s were he still alive.  Unfortunately, it is not until America acknowledges the atrocities that were imposed on Blacks and work towards true reconciliation, which includes addressing privilege and dismantling institutionalized racism, that we can work towards true healing and justice.  And unlike the above quote from Blackfish, I truly hope that it doesn’t take 50 years before this country has a Laurence Fishburne ‘School Daze‘ moment and truly wakes up.

 

 

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Be the change

bethechange

My intentions were to write a well thought out and researched piece about the current situation in Ferguson, MO that resulted from the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Jr.  I have been following the story closely since the very beginning and have related to the passion felt by those seeking justice.

But as I sat down to write, the coherency that I envisioned seemed to be hindered by the the combination of sadness and anger that I feel, and have felt every time a story like this one is put into the forefront.  For a young man who was soon to attend college, and who had dreams of starting his own business.  A young man who I’m sure wasn’t perfect, but did not deserve to die on August 9th.

This incident and ones similar to it continue to highlight the racial divide in this county.  As much as we would like to believe that America is this utopian melting pot, we still have a long way to go before true equality is established.

I don’t know what the solution should be, which is extremely frustrating for my solution-oriented brain.  But if nothing else I hope that the media attention that this case is receiving causes each of us to examine ourselves and how best we can support the change we wish to see.

What racially-motivated ideas/perceptions do I hold and how do those ideas/ perceptions manifest?

What might I be doing better to promote equality for all individuals, independent of race/ethnicity?

How can I help to create a society where individuals aren’t judged based on the color of their skin?

In what individual way can I contribute to the passing of legislature that supports a just and equitable society?

The eternal optimist in me continues to believe that change is possible, so long as I make it my personal responsibility to support change through my thoughts, words and actions.

Despite its release in 1971, the words of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On?” still hold true today.  One line from that song really stood out to me: “For only love can conquer hate.”  Not only do I want to support change through my thoughts, words and actions, but I desire that unconditional love be the foundation upon which change occurs.