Here We Go, Again!

“No, I don’t take any responsibility at all.” 

Know who spoke these words. Remember them. They were uttered by America’s president in the face of a pandemic, in the face of social injustice, in the face of economic collapse, in the face of racial unrest, and in the face of death. Know who spoke these words, and let them reverberate to the core of your being as you try to make sense of the America we are and have become. The world was a better place three and a half years ago. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better, because we had a real human being in charge.

The issues we are dealing with have always been, and for generations, our Black and Brown peoples have challenged the status quo, gaining ephemeral victories here and there, only to watch the gains fade away, and the ugliness that has always been once again rear its racist head. People like to fall back on the voting option as our easy fix. “We have to vote!” they cry. Well, we did vote! Our current president had three million less votes than his rival, and he still won. When you are ready to seriously think about this–when you let this fact sink in–you begin to see the roots of all our problems. The system is not designed for us. It does not take us into account. It is grossly flawed. It is rotten.

Yes, I have the time and the privilege to be able to sit here and write this, but this wasn’t always so. I had to work for mine, and if it wasn’t for my striving to earn an education, I don’t know what my life would’ve become. But I am here now because I didn’t give up, and when I see the images of young people fighting for their rights, fighting for a change, fighting for better lives, and not giving up, my chest fills with pride! We need to be there for them. We need to guide them. They are our children.

The inevitable is happening. It was never a question of “if,” and always a question of “when?” Now, the historical lid has once again blown off the the pot, and although I do not condone violence or looting in any form, the massive crowds, the people protesting and marching with positive intent and for the all the right reasons, is a sight to behold. I only hope that the spirited marches and the peaceful protests, along with the love and support from our community leaders, continues, not only for days, but for weeks and months, all the way to November, and even past November, into generations upon generations, louder and larger, until the system as we know it, is a thing of the far behind past. I know it will be difficult. History has proven this, and what makes it even more difficult is our own complicity in most of it, including my own. It’s not on purpose, but the system is designed to camouflage our involvement. We need to wake up! It is happening.

Black and Brown culture has been taken advantage of for far too long.  America’s appetite for it is insatiable. The music. The sports. The walk. The talk. But it stops at these thresholds. You like using the “N” word with your homies? Back it up, now. Go walk a mile in a Black man’s shoes. Go break your back in the fields. Feel what they do. You won’t want any of it.

“No, I don’t take any responsibility at all.” 

My heart goes out to my Black and Brown brothers and sisters, and I can’t pretend to know their suffering. I, myself, have been a victim of police brutality, and I have had a family member shot down and killed by cops, so I know a little bit about it, but the suffering in the Black and Brown communities is on another level. It is never ending. It doesn’t abate! 

Unfortunately, cops bear the brunt of our ire. Sometimes it’s deserved. Sometimes it’s not. Nevertheless, there are bad cops out there, just as there are bad teachers and bad leaders, and we know there are great cops out there, too, just as there are great teachers and great leaders. The greatness will always outweigh the bad, and so we need all of our great leaders, young and old, and all of our great teachers, young and old, to unite so that we can bring a halt to the pain and suffering that continues to plague our Black and Brown communities. The young people in these communities deserve a fair chance at becoming something. They deserve the opportunities to shine. 

“No, I don’t take any responsibility at all.” 

I am a teacher, and I have been for over twenty-years. I have been a firsthand witness to the potential and greatness that our youth can reach when presented with opportunities. I also know that our youth sometimes cannot recognize opportunities because they’re not familiar with them. Thus, we must teach them to recognize these potentially life changing moments so that when they do come along, they can reach out and grab them. When they can recognize the presence of opportunity more clearly, we then have to teach them to fight for these opportunities because we, who have been there, know the rewards are not easy to attain. Nothing of genuine value rarely is, so we must continue to encourage our youth to push forward, to work hard, to deal with adversity, to never give up, and to plow through and destroy the barriers designed to hold them back, because the good stuff is on the other side. And finally we must teach them to give back, to pass down their knowledge to the generations that come after them. This is the ultimate revolution. This is the ultimate protest. This is our molotov cocktail.

“No, I don’t take any responsibility at all.” 

Support the movement and ignore the voices and opinions that want to suppress it. We don’t have time for that shit. To the ones out there on the front lines, keep it rocking until the world sees and accepts that fact that Colin Kaepernick’s knee carries much more weight and power than the knee of a crooked cop.  

This is why kneel.

Happy birthday to my brother, Juan D. Cisneros, Jr.

Dedicated to all the people fighting the good fight.