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The video shows an angry barbershop owner, Deone Slater, confronting police and an armed young man, David Kovacevic, shouting angrily and waving his arms around in a threatening manner. The confrontation was apparently caused by a white man legally carrying a firearm in a public place where there are commercial businesses (not strictly a "black neighborhood" as claimed by those who are angry at what he did), strolled down the street and passed a black-owned business. So let me get this straight. A white guy cannot walk peacefully in a black neighborhood with a gun as an obvious means of making a political statement because he might trigger a what? Riot? He might start indiscriminately shooting at black folks?
Hey, I think it's stupid and provacative too, but it says something about the problem. Here the black citizen points out that the white guy is in danger from the black citizens of the hood for being provocative. I half expected him to say the white guy should also be careful not to make eye contact as well. The angry man believes that it is not fair for a white guy with a gun to walk down the street in what he calls a "black neighborhood". He may be disappointed that only two cops show up and they don't administer a beat-down and arrest the 25 year-old on the spot. He believes apparently that a black guy with a gun peacefully walking in a white neighborhood gun would be in danger from the cops. Following his logic, white guys with guns who come near black people should get the same treatment.
So, the white guy is in danger from the people in the 'hood and the black guy would be in danger from the cops? Really? That's what you want to say? What are you saying about the character of people in your neighborhood, man? Are they so explosively violent that a man walking with a gun is going to "cause trouble" just by being looked at. Sounds like a racist statement to me.
And in this video, the cops DID show up to keep things under control. There was only one person who was angry, loud and provocative in this confrontation. The business owner would best have "protected" his business by calling the cops according to Democrats who know about such things. He seems to have done that. They came and nobody had a problem. Yeah the guy was provoking this sort of thing and the black guy obliged him - on camera no less. The black business owner inadvertently validated the point the white guy was trying to make.
What I want to know is how this one man peaceful protest (you notice he never raised his voice) is wrong and people throwing rocks at the cops and looting stores in white neighborhoods is okay. Remember that the Ferguson, Missouri protesters were rioting to defend the actions of a 6'4" 350 pound man who roughed up a clerk and stole stuff from his store a few minutes before, then reached into a cop car, tried to get the officer's gun, managed to fire a shot inside the squad car and then when told to halt, put his head down, turned and charged at an armed police officer half his size. Two very different situations. The white guy with the gun in the video successfully demonstrated his point. I'm not sure the guys breaking windows and carrying off televisions and liquor in Ferguson did as well at making theirs.
Some one will inevitably say that if a black man did the same thing in a white neighborhood (not a public street with stores and public places, but a neighborhood) there would be hundreds of cops called out and that they would shoot him on the spot. Is that white cops only or black cops and Hispanic cops too? So, let me get this straight. Would the dispatcher call all the white cops on the force and tell them they need to go down and shoot some black guy who is in the wrong place and tell the black and Hispanic cops to stay where they are so they couldn't interfere with the cops' KKK tactics? Really? Especially when the dispatcher is just as likely to be black or Hispanic or Asian as she is white?
Hyperbole is a word that means exaggeration or over-stating your case. There's way too much of that and this kind of rhetoric only makes it worse. What needs to happen is we ALL need to work together to solve the problem. If it wasn't so scary for a white person to walk in a black neighborhood, perhaps guys like the one in the video wouldn't need to send some kind of message.
And whether anyone likes it or not, it makes white people nervous to be on foot in a black neighborhood. I broke down in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas once. While I was trying to get my car started a gang of black youths complete with do-rags and tats kept walking back and forth making all kinds of eye contact with me.
Me not wanting to have a confrontation where someone could get hurt, I put down my head, avoided eye contact and did my best to exhibit subservient body language. A couple of the fronted me wanting to know what I was doing there. Even me saying that my car broke down and I was trying to fix it seemed to provoke them. I was twice these boys' age. As their elder and someone who had never harmed them or been disrespectful to them, I should have got some respect. Instead I had to do the old slave shuffle to appease these guys and for no reason. I did the avoiding eye contact and ducking my head thing deliberately and tolerated the affront to my dignity in order not to have to possibly hurt one of them (I'm trained in self-defense and I was "armed" with a pretty well-equipped tool box just in case, but I avoided making any threatening moves. I would not have had to do that in most white neighborhoods except possibly for some deep ghetto areas with Aryan nation gangs or something.
The "neighborhood" in this video was not a deeply ethnic ghetto. It was a public commercial district next to a public university. And if the shop owner had let him pass, nothing would have happened. He could have called the cops and locked his doors till they got here. I'm sure it would have sent the same message that young black men get when white folks lock their car doors and drive away when they approach a white person's car in a parking lot. As it was Kovacevic had apparently walked around for quite a while before he got the reaction he was expecting.
Me? I think the young man's "protest" was kind of pointless and stupid and unnecessarily provocative, but then if he'd been ignored, it would also have been useless. By getting in his face and screaming at him, Mr. Slater only proved his point for him.
The same thing that happened in front of Mr. Slater's shop would have happened if he'd been a black man. If a heavily armed black man walked through a lily white neighborhood, folks would call the cops, just like they would if a heavily armed white guy in a hoodie walked through any neighborhood where there were kids. They'd call the cops if a brown man or a red man or a little green man who was armed with an assault rifle and who was unfamiliar walked down those leafy streets.
We're going to inflame a race war if we're not careful and its your innocent children and mine that are likely to get hurt. I'll refrain from the "all black people are gangsters" kind of rhetoric and I'll do it whether you tone down the "all white people are racist" rhetoric or not. It might be better, though, if we all toned it down a good bit.
The guys carrying big guns would not be doing so if the president and his supporters weren't trying to disarm the entire populace. They make speeches and write books calling for totally disarming America. This worries Americans in a time when lawless criminals are jacking up the violence to higher and higher levels. Understandably, we want to be able to defend our homes if attacked. If those boys in Oak Cliff had decided to take me down, I might have hurt a couple of them, but I'd have lost the fight badly. Had I been carrying, I could more easily have held the whole bunch at bay, perhaps avoided a fight altogether.
That's what people like the open carry protesters are trying to say. Allow us to defend ourselves. We're afraid if you take all our guns, you won't get the ones in criminal hands. You think taking guns and ammo our of stores will stop bad guys from arming themselves? Has banning illegal drugs stopped the drug trade?
Besides, ignoring the precepts of the Constitution is a bad idea. Once they feel like they can ignore the Second Amendment and take away guns from citizens, what's to prevent them from repealing the 14th amendment? Or the First? Or the Nineteenth?
I agree with critics of the violence in our society that something must be done. I just think that what we need to do is to change the message we are sending our children. I think it's going to require all of us to to be very careful what we say in front of cameras and in front of our children. If we keep telling our kids they have no hope because they are black or poor or Latino or redneck for that matter, then we create a world in which there is no hope. And hopelessness is what breeds violence and then breeds more hopelessness.
But there is hope. Black men and women have been successful by dint of hard work and perseverance. We really are a nation in which there is opportunity to make something of yourself. Try coming out of the wreckage of Biafra and becoming a lawyer or a doctor or pro basketball player. Try it for that matter in Nigeria, the Sudan, Malaysia, Syria or Kazakhstan, especially, if you are the "wrong" race or tribe or religion. Here in America, our kids have a chance to make it. We're not perfect here, but it's getting steadily better (or at least it was). We're moving beyond our past and we should acknowledge that. I have no desire of going back to the Old Democrat South of my youth with it's segregated schools, its rigged voting laws and its whites only signs all over the place. I hated it then and I hate it now. Only now, it's illegal to do all that stuff in the United States. That alone is cause for hopefulness.
So how about let's change the rhetoric and start talking hope and telling our kids they CAN do things instead of harping on things we think they can't do simply because they are hard. Teach our kids to be heroes like Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, the Tuskegee Airmen and countless others who challenged the system and changed it. We're with you. I stood by my black brothers and sisters back in the 60s when it wasn't popular for a white guy to do that in my part of the world. You need your brothers and sisters in Christ to keep moving forward; changing the future for our next generation. When my own kids were little, our neighborhood looked like the United Nations. Most of the kids were absolutely color blind and when racism reared its ugly head, the kids shouted it down themselves no matter what color they happened to be. That's how you defeat racism.
A color-blind world is one we all can live in. This guy with the big gun? You should let people like me who support the second amendment, but not stupidity and pointless provocation call him down. It means more coming from his own side. If you get up on your haunches, it only helps him make a point to people too dim-witted to understand anything more than hashtag slogans in a 42 character Tweet.
© 2015 by Tom King