I Commend the Baltimore Gangs, So What If…


I commend members of the Black Guerrilla Family (aka Black Vanguard), Crips, and Bloods who live in and love their home city of Baltimore, and chose to come together in a truce (helped formed by the Nation of Islam) to calm the tensions that have been boiling over since the mysterious death (deemed murder) of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, at the “hands” of Baltimore police officers. 

I commend this gang truce because these young gang members are coming together in solidarity over the death and alleged murder of a man whose only “crime” (as of April 12, 2014) was running away when he made eye contact with a police officer who then pursued him. 

I commend these Baltimore gang members who chose to see beyond their gang colors and symbols, to unite, to protect their neighbors and community from looters, rioters and potentially heightened acts of violence. I commend them for stepping up and watching over storefronts to make sure that no one vandalized or burglarized these businesses, that provide valuable resources to the community. 

Although these gang members could not speak on behalf of other sets or factions, only those members present, I commend them for stepping up and calling this truce in honor of Freddie Gray and the countless other victims of police-related violence. 

I commend these men, women, boys and girls. I also have some questions…

If you can call a temporary truce for Freddie, why can’t you call a permanent truce for Freddie and others who have been brutalized or killed by law enforcement? 

If you can call a temporary truce for Freddie because his death was at the hands of local law enforcement, why can’t you call a permanent truce for all of the lives that gangs have disrupted, destroyed, and ended?

If you can call a temporary truce amongst yourselves, why can’t the leaders of your faction speak and bring about a truce with other leaders? Why can’t there be a truce in every major city across the country?

I know. I know. It was like moving a mountain to make this specific truce happen. 

Not all gang members can see the need for a temporary, or worse, a permanent truce, when they have so much more at risk– like the billions of dollars that can be lost if they aren’t running a tight ship tied to drug smuggling and sales, arms and human trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, and so much more. It’s just not logical to try and convince roughly 30,000 gangs across the U.S. to call and honor a truce. I get it. It’s bad for business, and this is indeed a multinational business, not just Black America business. Besides, until Asians, Latinos, and Chicanos can get some recognition beyond the immigration debate, no one’s paying close attention to their police brutality rates, so their gangs don’t feel the need for solidarity with Black gangs at this time. Oh and we know that poor white people aren’t ever considered in the police-brutality numbers, so you won’t be seeing empathy (and definitely not a truce) from the Aryan Brotherhood anytime in the next few decades. So this is a Black gang thing, which also means that they are left vulnerable to other gangs. Which ultimately and unfortunately means, this truce will not last for long. 

But here’s the crazy thing– when gang-affiliated people walk around with signs that boldly state, “BLACK LIVES MATTER” don’t forget their own hypocrisy in the fact that their gang (and affiliates) alone, has victimized and killed more Black people than all U.S. law enforcement agencies combined. 

You can look at it this way, abuse and death at their (police) hands are reinforced by the fact that if a Black life doesn’t matter to you (the Black person), why should it matter to them. At least they aren’t doing drive-bys, killing multiple innocent people at one time, blowing up cars, homes, and buildings. Can you see the argument?

So don’t get me wrong, I commend the truce, it is long overdue. I’m glad they manned-up and womaned-up to do this. I just wish that it could be broader reaching and longer lasting. 

I fear that like other gang truces (around the country) in the past, in a few weeks as things return to “normal” that things will return to normal, and mass media won’t cover the hundreds of victims that will surface at the hands of people that have the same skin complexion (as the victims). I fear that our outcry against police brutality will not be overshadowed or even matched by our desperate plea to significantly reduce Black-on-Black crimes of all kinds and all magnitudes. 

Black lives matter. All Black lives, not just the ones beat down, or gunned down by police or by random white (and half-white) guys claiming “self-defense”. The Black victim of a car-jacking, robbery, rape, drive-by, and mugging, their life also matters. A drug deal gone wrong shouldn’t cost the lives of innocent bystanders. A child sleep in bed or watching TV in the living room shouldn’t lose their life to a stray bullet aimed at someone more than 50 yards away. If Black lives matter, then let’s prove it, and stop the senseless killing. 

I hope that gang members consider this every time they touch a weapon. The impact ripples throughout the nation and world. ALL HUMAN LIFE MATTERS!

Copyright 2015. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved. 

The Rich and Poor: Guilty as Charged

Today I shared the message below as a reflection for my Breaking Bread With Natasha post. It touched me so deeply that I was moved to share this beyond my spirituality blog, because the words are not religious, they are based in an energy that crosses all faiths, religions, and beliefs. 

Even if you don’t believe in God, omitting the name and reference in my message still doesn’t change the message—we need to all do our part to help ourselves and help our human brothers and sisters (no matter what their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or other demographic marker that separates us). 
We all live on Earth, and 99.99% of us will most likely die a human death on this planet, so we need to make the most of our circumstances and do our best to protect our home and each other. Below, read my message shared earlier today, and if you want, thoughtfully respond. Thank you. 
Some people negatively fixate on the super wealthy as the creators of our worldly pains and issues. But the “crabs in a barrel” and the “move out of the hood” mind sets have also plagued our families and communities. How are any of these groups truly different?

We would rather hold on to our full dollar when we only need 75 cents, than spare a quarter to someone who needs 50 cents. 

Our self-absorption, even at the bottom of the barrel, means that we will stand on the backs and heads of others to elevate ourselves, rather than creating a human ladder or pulley system that lifts all of us out of the barrel. We’re always fearful of being left behind by the first crab who exits, and we’re terrified to be the last crab at the bottom. So we viciously attack, climb over, and do whatever it takes to get out and never look back. We end up acting like the first crab we feared. 

Socioeconomic and racial tensions (primarily caused by socioeconomic conditions) are boiling as we enter the summer season. The heat clouds our thinking as we exist in what feels and looks like stagnation. We want someone to blame, so we childishly point the finger at others. We need to accept the fact, the truth, God’s Truth–that we’re all to blame for what’s happening in the world today. The only innocents are the babies and children, and those individuals born with mental challenges that restrict their active involvement in their or our destruction. 

The rich person in their greediness is no more guilty than the poor person in their greediness. Neither are sharing God’s gifts. The careless spending by the wealthy is equally appalling as the careless spending by the impoverished. Both are arrogantly wasting God’s blessings. 

The wealthy person passing by not willing to help the homeless person asking for food, water, or shelter, is equally at fault with the poor person who doesn’t tell (or take) the homeless person to a source (that they have also used or heard of) that provides food, water, or shelter—or worse, they don’t stop to share a portion of their own. 

The poor person blames the wealthy person for being far-removed, yet the poor person ignorantly feels content in not opening up and giving what God touches their heart to give–because the poor person hasn’t yet learned how to properly sow. Our unwillingness to give freely is equally sinful, no matter what your financial status declares. 

Why complain that all you have is bread and water, but then choose to watch your bread go stale rather than sharing some of it with someone else in your same situation or worse off than you? 

Why complain about one source of violence in your community, but not stand outraged by all types of violence in your community? If your neighbor is murdered by another neighbor, your outrage should be heard as much or even louder than your screams over the murder of a neighbor by an outsider (or the murder of and by outsiders). 

Is the raping, beating, and theft of your neighbors not reason to stand for justice? Are people who look just like each other, hurting and killing each other, not a reason to stand up and say, “no more” and mean it? Why are we only outraged when the perpetrator doesn’t look like their victim?

We are all God’s children and we waste more of our precious time finding ways to remain divided (and creating a broader space), than we embrace ways to come together to reflect His Truth. When will we stop frolicking in wickedness and instead turn to the Light?

Copyright 2015. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved. 

Triggers!! Triggers!! Raising Up a Fear

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

This is for the many who have been abused and suffer from the triggers of PTSD. No one can understand these triggers and our sudden, uncontrolled responses that occur, unless you have been there. I pray that more will understand and many will be set free from these triggers by a touch from God.

Triggers!! Triggers!!
raising up a fear…
whenever I see him…
or even sense he’s near.
Why does he stand…
behind a glass wall to stare…
when the building is huge…
and I shouldn’t know he’s there.

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