Good morning America, and thank you for reading this edition of The Triple Double.
As I am writing this, it is currently 7:40 a.m. on a gloomy Friday morning here in California, miles away from what is happening in Minnesota. Normally, I would use this platform to talk about sports but today isn’t that day. So, as a warning, if you came here to read about my take on what’s going on with the NBA’s play-in scenario or the bickering within the MLB, this isn’t the place and you may want to click away.
However, if you are willing to take a few moments out of your day to read what I need to get off my chest, then I welcome you with open arms.
I’m going to start by just introducing myself and give you some context about me and why I am who I am.
My name is Christopher Wayne Bullock. I was born in Chula Vista, California and raised there on and off for a good part of my childhood. I am a black man who is married to a Latina and together, we are raising two beautiful mixed girls, 3 and 4 years of age.
I have lived all across this country of ours, if I am allowed to call it “ours” (I promise you’ll get the context of this later in the column). I’ve lived in Oklahoma, Washington, North Carolina and Utah all within a span of three years in my middle school years. Funny enough, in all those places, I had never felt so out of place as I did in Greensboro. When you think of the phrase “two Americas”, that city is a perfect example.
I lived in what you would call the “white” part of town and attended Guilford Middle School. In that school, there was literally only three black people: myself, my brother and a gentlemen named Reggie Jefferson. I kid you not, there were more Hispanics that attended the school, which in itself is no big deal except when even they are looking at you like you don’t belong.
Keep in mind, I was born in raised in California and I didn’t understand why it was certain people treated others different based on skin tone. It was unprecedented for me. However, once I took a trip to what is the “black” side of town…it clicked. I’m going to borrow a phrase from comedian Chris Rock to give you an understanding of why this matters.
My mother used to score her drugs off of Martin Luther King Drive in an area of Greensboro known as Clinton Heights, not too far from the Southside/College Hill area where the Greyhound and UNC Greensboro campus reside. Once you get to the College Hill area, it is literally a sea of black. You can also tell this by the level of care that is given to the streets in the area: potholes, no real clean-up and lights so dim you can’t even see your own shadow. It’s almost like the area was deserted…and this was in 1999.
It was then that I began to see what being black in America was like. Sure, there have been signs of progress: we are the epitome of sports and entertainment (with the exception of the NFL but we’ll save that for another day), we had a black President in Barack Obama (even if it took 232 years for it to happen and it will certainly not happen again) and our music is borrowed heavily in every single genre there is. An example: in 2004 I took part in my high school’s talent show and my friend and I covered “Tribute” by the band Tenacious D. We took second place to the school’s step dancing team. After the show, the all-black group came to me and one person said, “I didn’t know black people listened to rock and stuff.” My response to him was as follows: “Brother, we made rock. Little Richard, BB King and Chuck Berry set the tone for the rock and metal we hear today.”
But even though we have made signs of growth, there always seems to be a pushback from those who aren’t black or colored.
We are currently seeing it now in Minnesota, which is just the latest example of a colored person being discriminated against without the benefit of a doubt. By now, you know his name: George Floyd. You’ve seen the video of his death and you’ve seen the protests and violence in the city since. I don’t need to recap it for you. What I do need to show you, though, is why I am writing this column in the first damn place.
Watch it. Then watch it again. Then go back and study the death of Stephon Clark in Sacramento back in March of 2018. The district attorney in charge, Anne Marie Schubert, gave almost the same speech that the above DA is saying now as to why the officers were not charged with homicide. Both the officers involved directly in Clark’s death, Terrence Merdecal and Jared Robinet, were cleared of wrongdoing and are still serving on active duty with the Sacramento Police Department.
You can make an argument that the four Minneapolis Police officers who were involved got fired and that should be sufficient enough of a punishment. But to make that argument would go against every moral fiber a human being is capable of possessing. The world watched as an innocent man was handcuffed and led out of a restaurant on a false suspicion of forgery, pinned to the ground while handcuffed, then had someone place their knee on his neck, cutting off air circulation. If you can comfortably make the argument that those officers should not be tried on murder charges (in the case of the three officers around it would be accessory to murder), you’re not the kind of person I would feel comfortable being around.
That we are in the time and place we are as a country and we have essentially reverted back to the world we were in before the Civil Rights era, it is truly sickening and terrifying to its core. My biggest fear of being a parent was that I didn’t want to raise my kids in this world where our values seem to be backwards; I am currently living my biggest fear. Every day I go out with my children, I have to warn them to watch their behavior even more so because as a mixed child, they are looked at more suspiciously. It shouldn’t have to be this way and it shouldn’t have had to be the way before.
That we as people of color cannot walk out of our house without thinking today might be the day we die is a disgrace. In a country that claims to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, I see a particular set of people who aren’t allowed to live free and cowardice from those who are allowed to. I’m not saying that all non-colored people are cowards or terrible people because that’s not true; I have many white friends whom I consider family and even mentors of mine. I’m also not saying that all people of color are innocent because that isn’t true either. What I am saying is that there happen to be two sets of rules when it comes to non-colored and colored people.
If America is truly a country that is going to pride itself on freedom, then that standard needs to apply to EVERYONE. Until then, keep your mouth shut.