Tag Archives: leadership

Good Cops: Come out…Wherever you are!

copsLet’s get one thing straight!

This piece is not about bashing police officers. It is about looking for solutions to problems that continues to plague Black and Brown communities of the United States.  It’s about raising the expectation of protection and to service.  It’s about commitment to ensuring the words spoken by every police officer are true, alive, and made real in all interactions

Law Enforcement Oath

On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.

This piece is a call to the good, faithful, responsible, and committed police officers who are dutifully referenced after deaths of unarmed victims such as Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and others whose names and stories haven’t risen to prominence.  This piece is for the officers who fall into the group, “This does not represent all police officers”, those who are not part of the “few bad apples”, and the fraternity of “the good cops out there”.

We need you!  Good police officers and administrators, we need you! WE NEED YOU!

The change that protesters, parents, friends, family, and community members are calling for has to start with you.  It is more than the extensive training you receive on firearms, tactics, and self-defense. It is going to take more than an overcrowded justice system, arrest quotas, and neighborhood sweeps.  It is going to take more than empty legislation, and oppressive laws designed to maintain the status quo.

The change begins with good police officers stepping forward, calling out, holding accountable, and removing from their ranks the officers whose behaviors, ideologies, and actions are counter to betraying the badge and the eroding the public trust. The good officers create the change so desperately needed by all communities is by raising the ethics bar for new recruits.  The Law Enforcement Oath will be best exemplified when good officers don’t go straight home after their shift. They take the time to evaluate and “check” the ones who run counter to the tenants of to protect and serve.

Unless good officers take a stand, a strong stance on protecting the dignity of the badge, I have nothing less than to expect another unarmed corpse, a crying family member, a protest, dropped charges, and then…nothing.

You know who you are!  Come out!  We need you!

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  

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Riot or Revolution? by Guy A. Sims

Bmore

A friend of mine posed this question as he watched the events of today in Baltimore, Md. Is there a difference between revolution and rioting?  Today is the day of the funeral of Mr. Freddie Gray, the 25 year old man who died in police custody after being arrested on weapons charges.  He succumbed to spinal cord injuries which ignited outrage toward the Baltimore Police Department; An all-too-familiar ending to and all-too familiar tale of high profile deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

On this, supposed to be a Day of Mourning, civil unrest, for a better use of wording, has taken to the streets of West Baltimore; A CVS looted and burned, a liquor store looted, cars damaged and/burned—all this with no end in sight as the sun goes down and the weather accommodating enough for people to continue to be outside.  On this Day of Mourning, a day asked by Fredrika Gray, to be peaceful, to be free of violence, in her brother’s name, stated clearly and emphatically, “Freddie would not want this”.  This sentiment is echoed by Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, two women from different stations in life–with the same message.

women

So the question, revolution or riot—what is the line?  Is it looking for justice or for a case of liquor?  Is it to converge on the City Hall or to purge the local mall?  Is it to turn the injustices of the pathos in policing or simply to turn and burn police vehicles?  Is it to raise awareness of social injustices or is it to raze the local business?  Is it to ignite the call to stand up and demand more or to ignite a church into another destroyed institution?

The challenge is that our young do not know the difference between revolution and rioting.  Both can be borne out of anger.  Both can come from seeds of frustration and discontent but there is still a fundamental difference.  Rioting has no direction.  It moves like fanned flames, destroying everything in its path. Revolution knows what it wants; change, power shift, and justice.  Rioting seeks to satisfy the immediate without regard for anyone.  Revolution seeks to make the greatest difference for the greater society.  When the fires of rioting burn down, only embers of waste and destruction remain.  For revolution, it seeks a new day, new thinking, and new ways to engage.

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In the morning in West Baltimore, what will people see?  Burnt out cars, storefronts, and buildings.  The smell of misguided folly will still linger in the air.  Worst of all, the conversations around the revolutionary ideas justice, of better policing, building neighborhoods, and working for a brighter future will be overshadowed in the media and minds by actions that served to move nothing.

Rioting or Revolution?  Which will be your answer?

Guy A. Sims is the author of the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. He is also the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.     Contact or comment at guysims.com or @guysims6 

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The Case for White History Month by Guy A. Sims

WHM

Note: This has been updated as things haven’t changed.

It’s almost February 2016 and I didn’t have to wait long.  Every year inevitably there is a post or a tweet or blog asking the question, “So when is White History Month?”  Grant me the leeway to be naive and receive this inquiry at face value. I will even go as far as to set aside the response that Every month is White History Month for the sake of argument.  I strongly believe that each and every one of us have the inalienable right to have our interests, culture, and perspectives heard and recognized. That is what makes this country, the United States of America, great.  In addition, to Black History Month there are Women’s History Month, Hispanic-Latino Awareness Month, Asian-Pacific Month, and other cultural recognitions.  We also have Irish-American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and Italian-American Heritage and Cultural Month.  To add more dates to recognize on the calendar there is a veritable cornucopia of days highlighting everything from popcorn to dentists to grandparents to encouraging smoking cessation.  If we have room on the calendar to celebrate all of these, why not a White History Month?

 A White History Month could be a wonderful compliment to the diverse ingredients that make up the Great American Melting Pot.  Of course, it goes without saying, White History Month has to be more than a collection of trivial facts and happenings but a comprehensive look at the history and the impact on history through the Caucasian/white lens.  The time should be set aside to recognize trailblazers, those who sacrificed in the face of adversity as they worked to move the culture forward, as well as events serving as milestones of pride and motivation.

 My recommendation for the formulation of a White History Month is to draw from the Black History Month blueprint.  In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Negro History Week as a reaction to the lack of recognition of Negro history and accomplishments in most of the textbooks at that time.  Dr. Woodson promoted the idea of Negro History Week which quickly caught on and was soon celebrated around the United States.  Fast forward, the year 1976 was central to the advancement of this body of cultural knowledge.  The country was celebrating its bicentennial and it was the 50th anniversary of Negro History Week.  It was decided that Negro History Week was to be expanded to Black History Month.  I don’t propose to begin with a White History Week although it might be a good place to start–as a way for it to catch on.  A new cultural recognition often takes time to gain popularity–consider Kwanzaa as an example.  It’s still a hard sell for some African Americans.

 The month of February was selected by Dr. Woodson because two important men in Negro history were born during that month: Frederick Douglas (Feb. 14) and President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). It would be important to identify the month with individuals who best represent the lives, culture, and philosophies of White Americans.  My recommendation would be the month of October.  October is the birth month of President John Adams (Oct. 3) and Bill Gates (Oct. 28).  President Adams was a statesman, diplomat, and a leading advocate advancing independence from Great Britain.  Adams was also opposed to slavery and never owned any (he gets a vote from me).  Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, not only changed the world technologically, he also represents the philosophy of Corporate Social Responsibility with his Millennial Scholarship (another vote from me) and his world-wide philanthropies.  These two individual could serve as the anchors for this period of recognition.

One of the most challenging but equally important aspects of White History Month will be the programs and activities highlighting the month. These programs should be designed to uncover and highlight the trials, the accomplishments, the trailblazers, and unsung heroes and heroines of the struggle.  This is an opportune time to bolster pride in children who feel they have not been recognized, negatively portrayed, or simply absent in history, literature, the sciences, the arts, politics, or merely as citizens.  It is a time to invite dynamic speakers to articulate the connection between the hardships of the past with contemporary issues and the hope for the future.  Moreover, while there may not be a White National Anthem it would be appropriate to conclude your activities with a song while crossing arms (right over left) and holding hands with your neighbor to visually exemplify the struggle, perseverance, and the cultural connection.  As you select the song please remember that the National Anthem belongs to everyone and (for the few who might suggest) Dixie was written by black men from Ohio.  One additional programming note: dismiss the feeling that your programs are not successful if people from outside your culture do not attend or it feels like you’re preaching to the choir.  Remember, others may feel uncomfortable, may not have a white friend to go with, or may not feel the program has anything to do with them.  It’s okay.  Have the program and know there’s more food on the reception table to go around.  You can even wrap some up and take it home (just an insider’s tip).

 Need more of a reason for an attempt at a legitimate White History Month?  A recent tweet gave President George Washington credit for significant work with peanuts, not George Washington Carver.  This is such a slight for all that George Washington has done for the United States.  A White History Month would serve well to provide opportunities to learn so that historical faux pas such as this can be avoided.

I look forward to participating in White History Month activities with my friends who get it and learn an interesting thing or two by the month’s end.

Guy A. Sims is the author of the romantically romance novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novellas, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

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Predator in the Kitchen

witch

If you are familiar with the old Friday night chiller theater or the Saturday afternoon movies, we were told that a vampire couldn’t enter your house unless you invited him or her in.  Pretty good defense—just don’t let that bloodsucker in.  As we got older and began adventuring through our neighborhoods, walked to and from school, or had the freedom to walk through the mall while parents shopped, we were warned not to talk to strangers.  The message reinforced in our little minds back then was that there were dangers “out there” that would do us substantial harm if we weren’t careful.

Monsters!  Both fictional and real were entities we became trained to avoid. At the movies we knew to shout to the victim on the screen not to go into the basement or up into the attic.  At the playground, we warned our friends about the strange man offering candy or needing your help to find a “lost puppy”.  Today it seems, is different.  Like the terrified babysitter discovered in the film, When a Stranger Calls, the trouble is coming from inside the house.

Those with sensibilities are inundated with images of our children displaying behaviors which would be deemed adding to the delinquency of a minor back in the day.  Unfortunately the cell phone, Instagram, Youtube, and other tools of social media are used, not to raise light to problems but to highlight this behavior with the hollow hopes of viral stardom.  What’s worse, it is not strangers capturing these images and posting them, it is (used loosely) mothers, fathers, and other so-called responsible adults.  The lives of our children are being preyed upon and not by creepy creeps in trench coats.  The predators are right there in the kitchen.

What are adults thinking when they allow their underage daughters in a Christmas parade twerking to a song–with the lyrics blasting–“make that ass go”?  What about the parade organizers?  Or how about the organized music video featuring a grown man “coaching” girls of all ages shaking and twerking it down to his commands.  This Hut-Hut video has the stench of disturbance with the thought that their parents had to have the taste of oh we gettin’ up out the ghetto fame dripping from their mouths.  No stranger sneaking behind bushes enticing our most vulnerable to do something they know they shouldn’t.  The invitation comes right at the front door with parents driving them to the shoot and cheering them on.

It’s not just our youngsters twerking and grinding on each other, we have a generation of young speaking and engaging with each other like wayward homies on the corner.  With adults filming, cajoling, and laughing in the background, toddlers, just learning to talk swear and ignorantly using racial slurs.  The ignorance of this is affixed on both fronts; the baby doesn’t know what he is saying and the adults do not know the impact their sick and immature frivolity will have on this child.

Not to be outdone, parents film and encourage their children to cuss out and fight other children with the hopes of making it to the big time–Worldstar.  Dreams of 1 Million Youtube hits is waged upon by each and every hit, kick and punch.  Even the gladiators of Rome were treated as gods before they battled each other.  These children are treated as Niggers when they are forced to fight and become less than when over.

How can you stomach it?  How can your heart not ache and break when these videos and stories come across your screens?  Are there not tears being shed on their behalf?  The late Whitney Houston sang, “I believe that children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.”  Is anybody listening?  What is being taught and where is it leading?  This ultra-violent, ultra-sexualized, and apparent obliviousness to common civility is fast becoming the norm.  It is the way of the culture.

As a child, when things weren’t right in the neighborhood, there was Neighborhood Watch.  When someone saw something dangerous they alerted the appropriate people.  It was called out. This is what we need now more than ever.  In this cyber-hood we live in we need a cyber-neighborhood watch.  We need to call out those who push and promote the images that stymie our cultural future.  We need to stand on our cyber-porches and say, “not on this block G!”

There is hope though.  There are videos and posts of beautiful children doing phenomenal things; science, math, sports, the arts, public speaking and more.  Yes, our children can repeat all the words to Drunk in Love but they can also recite from memory all of the elements from the Periodic Chart…if we expect them to.  They can tell you what was happening all around the world in 1789…if we expect them to.  They can play instruments. They can do all forms of dance (beyond twerking).  They can aspire to lead a nation.  They can do it all if we have that as the expectation.

In conclusion, bear witness to the possibilities.  If your heart is to ache, let it because you are witnessing something powerful from your children.  If you must shed a tear, shed it because that is the only way for joy to leave your body.  Again, from the mouth of Whitney, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  Just remember, the children cannot learn if we do not teach them.

Amen Brother!

Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novella, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim.  He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation.  BCEPressworks.com

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