When I Was A Boy, I Saw The Burning Crosses

Our website (jerrywdavis.com) was down for a few days and during that time, I had 1/2 dozen really great post ideas for you that I could not write.  Fortunately, our site is back up.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember any of those great story ideas.  But this might stimulate some thought:Remember the police killing in Atlanta Friday?  Two days ago.  Cops yanked a black man out of his car in the drive-through of a Wendys burger joint because he was asleep.  He was in the way but the cars behind him could go around him.

Cops pull him out of his car, give him a field sobriety test and he flunks it.  The cops attempt to cuff him, and he gets the best of both of them, grabs a taser off the belt or out of the hand of one of those cops and runs away.

The cops can’t catch him, so one of the cops shoots the guy in the back three times, killing him.

The police, sworn to protect and defend, shot a man in the back three times for running away.

Granted, he resisted arrest.  When I arrested people in a past life, they sometimes resisted arrest.  They never succeeded, and I never even had to hurt anyone.  Except one time, and he ran a lot.  But I caught him just as he got into a group of his buddies, so I took him down really hard onto the pavement so his cavalry buddies could have that “oh damn, I hope that MP never has to arrest me” moment.

It was a sales presentation, really.  I was selling them on what a great idea it is to simply “turn around, put your hands behind your back and be nice while I cuff you” so I don’t have to drive you face first into the pavement at full sprint because you attempted to escape.

MP’s are a special breed of law enforcement.  We sometimes have to literally wade into a big wad of drunk and angry soldiers just to put down some fight or even arrest one or two really obnoxious trouble-makers.  And we loved doing it.  One night the 82nd Airborne did a drop in the desert and a squad or platoon of them attacked our MP station and the fight was on.  MP’s in their underwear (desert base, we slept there and worked out of the same building), wearing helmets and swinging clubs.

We never had to shoot anyone, and no one I worked with ever had to even unholster their handgun.  I personally arrested guys for murder/homicide/vehicle theft/drugs/drunk and although a guy selling me a stolen motorcycle did attempt to escape by jumping on the motorcycle and trying to ride away, all I had to do was lift the rear wheel off the ground (I was behind the bike) and he couldn’t move.  No gun needed.

So shooting a guy running away who at most is resisting arrest is impossible for me to wrap my brain around.  The shooter acted with extreme malice.  It was one of those “I’ll get you, you X#$&*@” – BANG BANG BANG.  One dead misdemeanor, which the police will call a felony because the dead man “resisted”.

This is precisely what BLM is talking about, and I recognized cop killings years ago and often wrote about it.  The police are out of control.  They cannot think straight.  They have been killing innocent people for years, and of every color.

I grew up in Lufkin, TX.  Segregation was the way of life there, and the blacks literally lived across the railroad tracks.  They almost universally lived in exceptional poverty.  When the schools were integrated, I had my first experience with blacks. That experience was great, and some of my happiest school memories are simply the conversations I had with some of my black-skinned friends.  I never saw one single fight, and I never heard any white guy call any black guy any epithet.

But the blacks were poor.  Many or most did not have a father at home, and that was because dad left, usually because he couldn’t get good work.  There wasn’t much good work to be had as a blue-collar worker, and when the Grand Wizard of the KKK lives in the same town, well…

When I was a little boy my dad had some 45 RPM records that were songs about how bad black people were.  I don’t remember any of the titles, artists or lyrics, but I do remember the closing words of one of those songs.  The words were spoken with a sneer and disgust right at the very end of the song.

“A n….. ain’t nuthin’ but a n…..”.

And that’s the way things were then.

The theater had a back door and special upstairs seating for blacks.  The department store across the street had “Whites Only” drinking fountains.  A friend of mine named Stan had a dad who was the local KKK leader, and who also owned the largest furniture store in town.

How many blacks worked there in any substantial capacity?  How many blacks got good jobs anywhere in East Texas?

Some got lynched.

Mob lynching and silent witnesses.

Granted, there are wicked blacks, as there are wicked people all over the earth.  But it seems to me that in America, blacks have truly faced the very “systemic” racism that the BLM people are talking about.  I struggle a little bit about that because BLM seems to me to be a racist operation.  But maybe that is my own personal bias.  Maybe not, too.  And certainly personal initiative “matters”, too.  But how much personal initiative will anyone have if the message they have received most of their lives is that they should just shut up and take what they can get?

I keep thinking about what a better operation the USA would be if our fathers had ditched the hate in those 45 RPM records and just accepted blacks as fellow human beings.  If jobs had been offered to black men and black fathers so they could feed their kids and buy cars and homes and clothes and food.  Men leave when they cannot provide for their families.

The responsibility for the destruction of those families does lay in part on the blatant, endemic and subsequently systemic racism from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.  It was bad.  Blacks were more or less just shoved into the dirt, but if they had been treated with the same love we show to ourselves, we could have transformed America into something truly beautiful.

Instead, our fathers and grandfathers hated, harrassed and hung black men.  They maliciously intimidated black children who subsequently grew up already whipped.  I know that this happened because I grew up in that world.  I saw the burning crosses, and I saw how those black families lived.

Although I was just a little boy, I learned early that blacks were just an inconvenience and a firm hand had to be applied to them to keep them in line.

Let me ask you this: when is the last time you had a black family or couple or individual sit down at your dinner table and eat a great meal, or any meal at all?

I can tell you that at my house – never.

I’m going to change that.

Love.  Love.  Let’s help them.