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The Unwritten Rules of the Gray Area

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Is it over yet? Our election is STILL going on.  Right now, we are stuck in some kind of limbo while all the votes get counted.  From the looks of things, our nightmare appears to be coming to an end.  While we wait in this limbo, this made me think of a few gray areas that we encounter in life.  What are the rules in how we engage those areas?  How are we supposed to react to certain situations?  Do we do nothing? Or do we do something about the situations at hand?


A few weeks ago, my son was in a situation that he was benefitting from unknowingly, and he inadvertently revealed what happen.  The parties involved got in trouble, and he felt bad for what he’d done.  He did nothing wrong by being honest, but he felt bad that someone got in trouble on his behalf.  My son doesn’t have the upbringing that I had as a black kid growing up.  By the time I was his age, I nearly lost my life a couple times (my parents know of only one of those times), been unconscious, and did some things I should’ve gone to jail for.


I didn’t have a hard life, just an average black middle-class kid who was made aware of the dangers that were just around the corner.  However, I’ve been able to raise my son in an environment where those dangers and those mindsets are unfathomable to him.  That is the dilemma some of us face as parents.  We work so hard to provide a better life for our kids, but there is a slight resentment when they lack the awareness that you had to have growing up.


The young man that I am raising is an honest one.  He will encounter gray areas in his life where he will have to do the right thing and upset everybody, while omitting parts of events where everyone benefits from not knowing the whole truth.  In the meantime, the 12-year-old in me is itching to tell him where he messed up, not realizing I would be more corrupt today than I was some 30 years ago.


*****


One thing that has risen up slightly in this Presidential election is the number of Black Men voting for Trump.  As a black man, I’m disappointed to see that someone of color can look pass Trump’s divisive tone for their own self-interest.  All money isn’t good money.  If Trump has shown us anything, he only shows interest in minorities when their entertaining him.  Rappers like 50 Cent have come out to show their support for Trump, because he doesn’t like Biden’s tax plan.  Ice Cube has expressed interest in the “too little, too late” Platinum Plan for Black America.


The worse endorsement came from Lil’ Wayne, who endorsed him because he supports Trump’s prison reform and thinks he has the country going in the right direction.  Trump’s prison reform was always baffling to me because it always felt like it was nothing more than political theater.  The reform of course had bipartisan support, but contrarians like Senator Tom Cotton (R) from Arkansas made a stink about it saying that nonviolent offenders are sentenced to harder enough.  The First Step Act retroactively reduces the sentences for nonviolent offenders.


According to an article from VOX commenting on the 2019 State of the Union Address.  The article comments on this act reducing the sentences for nonviolent offenders on a Federal level, it does very little for the number of inmates that get released every day.  87 percent of all penitentiaries in the U.S. are state run facilities that release an average of 1700 inmates daily.  On a Federal level, you’re probably seeing a handful of inmates that will be added to that daily total seeing that Federal inmates are required to serve 85 percent of their sentence.  It’s a gray area that Donald Trump has mastered so well.  It saddens me to see these black men be suckers for the hype.


*****


Last week, after a 32-year drought, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series, bringing the 2nd championship to L.A. in as many weeks after the Lakers bested the Miami Heat.  This championship for the Dodgers was a long time in the making seeing that they were in the playoffs making noise for the past 5 seasons.  But I must say, their victory, while well deserved, was a complete let down for me.


The Tampa Bay Rays, like so many other sports franchises, fell victim to their own analytics system.  They had their Cy Young Ace, Blake Snell on the mound for this crucial Game 6 and he was untouchable.  Good pitching beats good hitting in the post season, it’s just a fact.  Snell was a master on the mound with 9 strikeouts through 5 innings.  The Rays were up by 1 run heading into the 6th inning.  Two thirds of the inning, Snell gives up a hit to the 9th batter in the lineup after facing him a second time.


It was at this point, that the Rays’ manager, Kevin Cash, decided to pull Snell from the game after throwing only 73 pitches.  After getting pulled, his relief immediately gave up the lead, and the Dodgers held their lead all the way to a World Series win.  Here is what the analytics told us about Snell:  this season he has never pitched passed the 6th inning of any game.  His ERA goes up once he faces a lineup the third time around and the analytics say Snell is snowball rolling down a hill that will cause an avalanche if you don’t pull him.


For the second year in a row in the World Series, analytics ruined the chances for a good team.  Years ago, when my Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, began to show interest in incorporating analytics into their approach of how to manage the players, he was warned then manager, Joe Torre, to be careful with that approach.  What we have to remember that while analytics are a helpful tool, the game of baseball has a heartbeat.  The numbers can tell you one thing, but you have to trust your eyes and your gut at the end of the day.  Blake Snell was making the Dodgers lineup miss by a lot with his pitching arsenal.  Sports franchises have to learn how to successfully navigate that gray area between analytics and what their seeing being played out in front of them.


*****


In life, we as human beings genuinely ignore the analytics of life.  50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, and yet every hour in Las Vegas, someone is getting married.  Every weekend in your local metropolis, someone is getting married.  I know this because I used to work at a tuxedo rental shop.  A general marriage stat that everyone knows is that most women’s sex drive decreases significantly due to parenthood and other common life instances.  Most men ignore this stat or think this won’t be the case in their own marriage, simply because your marriage has a heartbeat.  It is a live connection that can’t exist in a gray area between love and numbers.


Perhaps these are the times we are living in.  Where we tend to pay attention more to the trends of life and try to apply them to our lives.  Are we on road to where we are in a gray area between circumstance and environment?  Or should we ignore the analytics and go with what is plain as day right in front of our eyes?  This Presidential Election and the one in 2016, taught me to ignore the polls.  While each elections’ polls had the Democratic candidate ahead by a significant amount.  My eyes were telling me that there were more Trump supporters than most folks were letting on.


You can express empathy and the willingness to rid this country of its divisive flame thrower on a poll that doesn’t matter.  At the end of the day for most Americans, Trump’s tactics don’t affect them because he has done a great job of reminding us who he thinks is hurting our country.  He has awakened an underbelly of Americans that will protect their “community” regardless of its systemic racism.  It doesn’t matter that a particular group of Americans are getting terrorized by the police.  Their lives don’t matter.


It is my hope that most of America is like my son.  Most Americans don’t know how they benefit from the systemic racism in this country.  This is a gray area that doesn’t affect them.  But like my son, when you unknowingly benefit from something that is wrong, I hope that people can be honest one day about it and be willing to change the rules and eliminate these gray areas.

Tony Love

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