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Attitudes Change

We put another podcast in orbit and the rotation was steady as we circled more of the world’s current events.  We covered a lot on our podcast, but there was a theme that crept in and dominated my thoughts.  We had a returning guest who is one of our frequent listeners, a friend of the show, and a police officer, Dub C, offering his input on the current situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  His insight, brought up a lot of ways on how we can view Kenosha, as well as how we approach our daily work behaviors.

On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake became yet another victim of police brutality at the hand of a white Kenosha police officer.  The list of unarmed black men being killed by police in this country has grown exponentially over the last decade and this summer has brought this nation to its knees due to the less fortunate and unrepresented voices finally being heard.

The optics of the shooting of Jacob Blake does not look good however you want to paint that picture.  Whatever lead up to him being shot does not speak to training, it speaks to mechanisms we as people put in place to help us cope in certain situations.  Dub C asked a simple question, ‘Is your attitude the same for the job as the day you started?’  For me, that answer is a resounding NO.  

As a police officer, you probably joined to force to help people, protect the community you live in, and get criminals off the streets.  After years on the job, an officer has probably seen humanity at its lowest form too many times he or she can account for.  To combat these encounters, mental mechanisms are formed that become second nature almost.  Being a police officer is a thankless job and every encounter with the public has its risk.  Criminals do not have a specific uniform, but police officers sometimes have to go off of unjust specific trends that would indicate suspicion.

For that officer who shot Jacob Blake, maybe he had an encounter in the past where a suspect went back to his car and actually retrieved a weapon and Jacob Blake was the unfortunate victim to this mechanism where this officer wasn’t going to risk letting this happening to himself again.  I understand the dangers of law enforcement, but too many times black people in this country fall victim to the coping mechanisms.  Change is needed and if the year 2020 can do anything for us, it is my hope that it can be a launchpad for this nation to correct its systemic racism.

What has surprised me the most is the change of attitude towards police brutality and social injustice by some prominent sports figures such as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and particular, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.  Since becoming the Commissioner, Goodell has been the mouthpiece for NFL owners, only spreading the narrative that the owners want in order to paint them in a positive light.  Most of the owners, whether they said it publicly or not, did not like Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players kneeling down for the National Anthem to protest police brutality and social injustice.

The majority of these sports fanbases are white, and are unaffected and lack the empathy for minorities going through this issue.  For his vocal yet peaceful protest, Kaepernick was blackballed from the League.  He sued the NFL and settled a hefty undisclosed amount, and they sent him on his way.  An attempt of an olive branch was sent out to him in the middle of the 2019 NFL season to no avail.  Once again, Kaepernick was ridiculed for not bending to the League’s will and claimed he was not serious about playing football again.  Some members of the media, like Stephen A. Smith, claimed that he was only interested in being a martyr.

So on May 25, 2020, George Floyd is murdered by police for the whole world to see.  He didn’t resist arrest, he complied with officers, and yet he was held down by officers while handcuffed, with a police officer’s knee on his neck preventing him from breathing.  For those who were alive during the Civil Rights Era, I’m told that our nation is reacting the same way when Bloody Sunday of 1965 was broadcast for the world to see.

The dark light of police brutality was shining bright on our nation and there was no shade to get under from it.  While many politicians, celebrities, and sports figures came out and condemned this treacherous act, Roger Goodell and NFL owners still remained quiet.  It wasn’t until several NFL players made a video demanded that their League join the cause.  That is when Goodell, on his own, came out to support the players.

Change of attitude by certain sports figures such as Goodell has been met with ridicule.  Why does it take a random or horrific act for change to happen?  NWA rapped about police brutality and White America was outraged by their rhetoric.  Then the video of the Rodney King beating made it to the air waves and it was no longer delusions of police brutality.  It was in our face and America couldn’t deny it.

Is the criticism justified?  When those who didn’t believe that the systemic racism in this country has permeated itself in every aspect of our American way life, suddenly change their view, I liken it to adversaries finally finding a common enemy. Social injustice, on the surface, is now the common enemy.  It’s bad for business, and those in power and with clout, want to be on the right side of history.  Roger Goodell is now being contrite, wishing he heard Kaepernick when he first explained his protest.  Stephen A. Smith supports the players demands for social justice.  Even Drew Brees understands it now.

Within the Ebbtide Crew, I hope some attitudes can change.  Maybe Batman can join the Exodus and abandon his Knicks allegiance.  Perhaps Raheem Goodell can empathize with a low credit score.  More importantly, can the Tideking succumb to the notion that the Beatles were great and can actually sing?  Like the rest of this nation, and with this crew, we have a lot of work to do.

Tony Love

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