Another New Year and people are setting their own personal goals to make next year a better year than the one before. So here we go with the same old pledges to lose weight, read more, and go back to school; you know, the typical resolutions. The year 2015 has been a tough year and it has left me with no motivation to even attempt at making a half-ass commitment. Instead, I want to see America commit to some New Year’s resolutions that is long overdue. Therefore, I came up with 3 resolutions that I think all Americans should strive to have resolved in 2016.
- R & R Pay African Americans Reparations and Raise the minimum wage. Can we get paid?
When it comes to Reparations, I will repeat the words of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.” At that time, Dr. King was fighting for equality and the basic rights that African Americans were always entitled to have.
This country’s engrained hatred for black people did not just disappear with the assassination of Dr. King, it just evolved into multiple systems that is used to carryout racism. From segregated communities, inadequate public education, to overcrowded prisons that mirror slave ships, racism continues to place people of color at a disadvantage.
America owes black people reparations. Reparations doesn’t have to be monetary it can be free college to any university, or an income tax break for every year of slavery. As long as we keep accepting their insufficient excuses, and quit demanding what is owed to us we will let the enslavement, rape, and slaughter of millions of our ancestors go in vain. I will not.
America hasn’t just been cruel to black people but also to poor people, which falls in all spectrums. This country’s greed has left a middle class crippled and the working poor class on a continuous gerbil wheel to just stay afloat. These career politician-fat cats that live off the tax payer’s dime have the audacity to stand in the way of a minimum wage increase for millions of Americans. A pay increase that is long overdue.
The cost of living has sky rocketed, and individuals’ income are not meeting their basic needs. The economy will not suffer by paying people more, if anything, research has shown that when people have more money in their pockets, they buy more goods and services, which creates a greater demand and grows our economy. Giving enormous tax breaks to the wealthy, with good faith that the money they save will just trickle down like manna from Heaven, was a pipe dream that never worked. Instead, that money went to give 300% raises to executive staff who probably bought another house, and a ridiculous half a million luxury car, all while the lower level staff employee struggles to feed their family. Enough is enough. The inadequate distribution of wealth in this country is criminal and it shouldn’t take an episode of “Undercover Boss” for employers and everyone to see the hardship of Americans who are underpaid and overworked.
- Enforce real gun control that will eliminate the continuous loss of innocent lives
According to newsmax.com, as of December 2, 2015, there has been “353 mass shootings that have killed 462 people in 220 cities.” There is only 365 days in a year and we have had enough mass shootings to cover almost every day in the 2015 calendar. The answer to a bad guy with a gun is NOT a good guy with a gun. The answer to stop a bad guy with a gun is to take away the bullet. If there is no piercing metal projectile traveling at 1700 mph to dismantle one’s vital organs than people live to see another day.
Before you start rattling off about your second amendment right to bear arms, be clear that you have a right to own this weapon but you don’t necessarily have a right to kill. In a nation full of religious fanatics, its funny how many forget God’s law “thou shall not kill.” No background checks, registration, gun buying loopholes, will truly eliminate gun violence; it may only prolong it.
The real answer is by outlawing bullets and using technology to make a new type of projectile that subdues its target rather than kills it. I know that would take all the fun out of snuffing the life out of people, but we’re better than this wild-wild west mentality. Remember we have a right to protect and defend ourselves, but it’s not our God given right to kill.
- 1. Stop allowing police a get out of jail free pass who negligently use deadly force against unarmed and innocent African Americans
One of the greatest shames of America is the senseless killings of African American citizen by law enforcement. The lives of citizens should not be optional to people who are government employees and paid by taxpayers. The news of someone being suspiciously shot and killed by a cop has become more prevalent in the last few years but it’s not that it’s a new phenomenon, its only because technology has provided a tool to capture the corruption that has been going on for decades.
America must vow to fix this grave injustice. There has been many proposals from independent investigators, and special prosecutors to body cameras and diversity training, but as state government and congress move at a snail’s pace; too many have already died. TheGuardian.com is a website that has kept a database of all the police shootings in every race. I do not have the greatest faith in prosecutors even if it is a “special prosecutor” from a different area, because they work hand and hand with the police department. There are not many prosecutors looking to be the one who actually convicts a cop; for some, it would be considered political suicide.
I also, do not have that much faith in training because I don’t think we’re dealing with an entire force of irrational rebels, just a few isolated individuals that don’t deserve the honor of wearing a badge. These individuals who respond differently to poor and minority communities have what I call the “hero complex.” In our communities, they are constantly playing cops and robbers. They have a mentality that everyone is a criminal, everyone is guilty and the so-called “good guy cop” gets to play judge, jury and executor without consequence. The problem I have is with America’s love affair with police is its unwillingness to weed out the bad ones for the sake of all citizens that police are sworn to protect.
It’s unacceptable when 12-year-old Tamir Rice can be playing with a toy gun in a park and a cop car can rush in next to him like an episode of Dukes and Hazards and immediately open fire without any attempt to survey their surroundings or de-escalate the situation. After a year of trying to get charges against the cop who killed young Tamir Rice a grand jury came back on December 28th, 2015 with a non-indictment. In the end, all the officers had to say was that they “feared for their lives” and that’s the get out of jail free pass. It’s the common denominator that also brought NO indictments to the cops that murdered Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Sandra Bland and others.
Therefore, in 2016 America needs to move toward common sense legislation when it comes to the use of deadly force and remove the ambiguous term of “reasonable”, which can be left in the hands of “bias” interpretation. Instead of police being able to use deadly force if there is “reasonable belief of an imminent threat” it should be that deadly force is used if there is an “absolute threat of imminent danger.” This way when cops use deadly force irresponsibly they won’t have the law excusing their deadly mistake. The police who actually faced a real threat and used deadly force will be exonerated and the ones who shoot without doing their due diligence will go to jail.
I will never forget the South Carolina Public Safety Director, Leroy Smith, who made a profound statement after a state trooper wrongfully shot at an African American citizen during a routine traffic stop. Smith said, “The force administered was unwarranted…He reacted to a perceived threat where there was none.” The cop was immediately charged and fired. It was the right call and more importantly, it brought forth the accountability that has been absent in all the other cases of unarmed police shootings. Achieving this is not hard. States need to revisit the “stand your ground law” and either eliminate it altogether or amend it with the “absolute threat requirement” otherwise we will continue to get so far to only receive no justice.
So there you have it America; 3 resolutions that can make a hell of a difference in 2016.
Nicole is the author of “I Want My Daddy…Psychology of Abandonment” available on Amazon