Dr Khilanani at Yale University

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Dr Aruna Khilanani, a psychoanalyst, was criticized by Yale University for expressing violent thoughts in a lecture she gave as part of grand rounds on April 6th. During the virtual lecture, she spoke of how hard it was to talk about racism to white people.

The doctor has a practice in New York that specializes on the subject.

I have not seen the videotape which viewing has now been restricted by Yale to their own community, after a writer had posted an audio version on Substack this last Friday.

My opinions are based on the article ‘A Psychiatrist Invited to Yale Spoke of Fantasies of Shooting White People,’ which appeared in the New York Times dated 6/6/2021.

Both the views of Yale University and of Dr Khilanani are presented in the article.

It is clear that Dr Khilanani is very angry about her experience with racism and she is very vocal about it. 

The problem I see is that during her presentation, the line between therapist and sufferer was blurred.

In the lecture, as described in the article, we got to hear aspects of the sufferer’s pain and her fantasies of retaliation. 

The doctor has never overstepped her boundaries in real life, which is why she felt the freedom to speak of her fantasies with great candor.

But such candor proved too unsettling for the audience. The attendees knew what the subject would be in advance. But the raw quality of the content proved most unpleasant.

I think the audience expected to hear how the profound pain of racism gets dealt with and neutralized. They expected to hear how such pain is defanged. They expected to hear how the analyst got to transform and soften it.

Instead they got a version of someone in the thick of her struggle. 

Dr Khilanani gives the impression of having made a strong commitment to the study of racism and to finding ways to resolve it but she’s still working her way through.  

Her path to resolution of such burden may not be yours or mine, for all of us have unique capabilities and may come up with different solutions, but I see her honesty as an important statement and as such must be heard and respected.

Yale University has their viewpoint, too, and it largely reflects the desire most people have that this problem we all face will find answers that are peaceful. We all want that.

But acknowledging the fullness of the pain is essential to get to such answers.

As the doctor says at one point, ‘My work is important. I stand by it. We need to heal in this country.’

At the end of the article a Yale professor is quoted as saying that, as a guest of the university, the doctor was free to speak on campus but that her views ‘must be soundly rejected.’

I disagree.

Dr Khilanani put it best, ‘my speaking metaphorically about my own anger… was a method for people to reflect on negative feelings… if you don’t, it will turn into a violent action.’

She has a point.

Oscar Valdes    oscarvaldes.net

Also available on apple and google podcasts, anchor.fm, Spotify, buzzsprout.com and others.

Please see the videos Letters to A Shooter in YouTube.com

Is America Racist? A Guide

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There is a strong desire to absolve ourselves of that judgment. 

A strong tendency to want to spare ourselves. 

There is no other group that has suffered like African Americans have throughout the years. Except for American Indians who were decimated.

Emancipation came in 1863 but it would take another 100 years – 1964 – before Lyndon Johnson pushed through, against great resistance, the Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination. Not surprisingly, discrimination against blacks persisted in both overt and covert ways.

Is America racist?

We have been. And we still are in some ways.

What to do about it?

Put it on the table so we can examine such belief each and every day. 

Not to do so retards both our personal and national growth.

Not to do so diminishes us.

Each one of us has to keep looking squarely at who we are, day in and day out and ask, Do I think myself better than African Americans? Do I think they are inferior? Do I think they don’t try hard enough?
Do I think they are more violent? Do I think they are less intelligent?’

Am I racist?

If I share any of the above, even as a passing thought, then I have to work on it.

Because African Americans are neither inferior, nor lazy, nor more violent nor less intelligent.

But they have been marginalized for a long time.

Impoverished for a long time.

Undereducated for a long time.

All of which warps the essence of a person.

It is okay to say to ourselves, ‘I am racist… and I am committing to overcome it.’

It is not an unforgivable flaw to have racist thoughts. 

And we don’t have to tell anyone.

We don’t have to confess.

So long as we keep working on it.

But we all have to do it. 

Is America racist?

Yes, we are. 

We are because we have gone along with policies that segregated African Americans. Because we have not objected loudly enough to their having poor educational and work opportunities. Because we have colluded, consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively, to keeping them down.

And what about our guilt? 

If we have personally injured an African American acting from a racist belief – call it harm in the concrete – then we must apologize. And it will be up to them to forgive us or not. 

If we have injured African Americans by not favoring measures that would assist their development – call it harm in the abstract – then we can work to reduce our guilt on our own, by questioning ourselves daily about our attitudes toward them and aiming to resolve them. 

Forgiveness will be up to us and our consciences. 

Advancement for African Americans has been happening gradually, over the years, thanks to the commitment of many of our more enlightened fellow citizens. 

But opportunities need to grow faster. 

As they do, we will see African Americans rise in every field of human endeavor, showing that they are just as capable as any other group on earth. Their numbers in the higher ranks of science and academia and industry and technology and business and all professions will swell. And their numbers in jails and prisons will decrease.

And we will feel proud of our civic and emotional growth.  

Gradually, we will cease to be racist as a nation.

And we will be at peace,

And we will be one,

For we will have conquered ourselves. 

But we have to keep working on it. Day in and day out.

Is America racist? 

Yes, it is.

Am I racist?

Answer the above questions and make your judgment. 

You may not be.

You may be one of our more evolved and mature citizens.

Each person has to square with their truth.

And so long as each one of us does, each one of us will be ceasing to be racist every single day.

As for me,

I will not confess,

But I will keep doing the work every day,

Day in and day out,

And feel damn good about the progress I’m making.

Oscar Valdes.   Oscarvaldes.net

Also available in apple and google podcasts, Anchor.fm, Spotify, Buzzsprout.com and others.

We All Have to Own Our Pain. Nations Do Too

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All of us have to own the pain that comes from living. 

The pain that comes from not having what we want, even though we have worked hard for it.

The pain of living that comes from realizing that nature gave us so much and that is it. 

The pain of living that comes from recognizing others have more than we do. 

The pain that comes from not having behaved as we would have liked to.

The pain of living that will not go away and yet we must learn to manage.

To manage it we have to look at it. Squarely. In detail.

And if we at first flinch or turn away, we then must take a deep breath and look again.

Look again till we understand it. 

And then accept it.

Accepting it does not mean the pain will go away. 

We accept so we can learn from it.

Every single one of us has to look at their own pain. No one can spare us from it. 

If they offer to, say ‘thank you but no, thanks’.

Facing our pain is at the core of the journey for existence each of us embarks in when we come to this world.

Yes, it has moment of beauty. Even happiness. Moments.

And like individuals, so with nations.

Nations are more than a collection of individuals, just like the liver is more than a collection of liver cells. To make up the liver they have organized themselves according to various functions for the sake of a purpose.

And that sum total of individuals that come together to form a nation bring their individual pain with them, which adds up to the total pain of the nation.

And the pain has to be looked at. Squarely. In detail.

The pain has to be looked at again and again until we get it. We as in the people and We as in the nation.

Sharing our individual pain with another human being offers comfort, soothing and perspective. But it is our individual pain. 

No one can suffer for you. 

We need our pain so we can improve ourselves. Push harder. Try and be the best we can be. 

Our pain is a catalyst for action. It spurs us to growth. To take chances. And when accomplishment comes then we realize what great soother it is. 

But it won’t erase the pain. 

It helps manage it.

Nations that don’t look at their pain cannot reach their potential. 

Leaders who don’t help us look at our pain are not leaders.

They are in it for personal gain or for the gain of a special group.

There is no forward movement without owning our pain, which if allowed to grow becomes rage. 

We cannot own our rage unless we understand it.

When pain or rage owns us we cannot direct it properly, and so pain not owned may lead us to blame others for our distress. And so pile additional pain upon their pain. 

A nation that does not dialogue with itself is a nation that has preferred to blame others instead.

In America, the dialogue about race has been forever postponed, and it is only now moving up to the top of the list where it belongs because of circumstances.

If a young man had not videotaped the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, we would not have known the fullness of our anger and the officer who pinned him down until he died would have been back on the beat, searching for someone else to pin down.

Even with that, if it had not been for the coronavirus, we would have reelected the previous president.

Think about it.

If we would have reelected our previous president we would have continued to be distracted by tweets and temper tantrums, and we would have postponed, again, talking to ourselves and to others about our pain. 

Pain that is not looked at and understood becomes rage.

Think about it.

Oscar Valdes

Oscarvaldes.net

Thoughts on Reparations for African Americans

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Is there a need for it?

What purpose would it serve?

Can such actions exonerate our guilt, or that of our ancestors?

Big questions.

What price can you put on the life of a person, the damage done to forebears, the pass-on negative effects, generation after generation?

Say that a given amount we’ll call X is awarded to an African American. Does that really undo the damage? Can we then say the problem is solved, the damage has been undone?

No, we cannot say that.

The danger is that if amount X is awarded, core beliefs would not change and neither would the behaviors. Compensation without thoughtful reflection will be for naught.

On the recipients’ side, there’s the very real possibility that if monetary compensation is given, they will not use the funds properly, thus negating the intended benefits.

Should benefits then be managed by the government, as in the form of grants to educate, to house, to provide medical services, childcare?

This general direction I find more appealing.

For instance, all African American would be given subsidized access to whatever high school, vocational center, college or university they applied, provided they met certain requirements which themselves would be adjusted in consideration of hardships the applicant may have struggled with. The amount of the subsidies to depend on the preexisting financial wellbeing of each family.

This would make more sense to me.

And what of those who have no desire to attend a learning center? Shouldn’t they too have access to reparations of another form?

Say a person wanted to start a business. Grants could then be issued, provided the person goes through some training to enhance their chances of success, and which would be part of the package.

Will the rest of us feel that we are doing something special for African Americans by engaging in such an approach or a variant of?

I think we would. We would still have to be very clear that the entire program is only a gesture, a step, not intended to undo but to soften the vast multigenerational damage that has been done.

But here’s the guiding principle. The attainment of a sense of accomplishment by African Americans would be the marker of success.

When a person is able to affirm themselves in life, their field of compassion is enlarged and we become more forgiving.

Now, what about White Americans who have fared poorly in life? Who have not had educational opportunities and thus have always lagged behind?

Would they, seeing how African Americans were being assisted, not complain loudly, in word and deed, that the forces that kept African Americans oppressed have affected them also, and that if given a chance to affirm themselves in life, they too would be more compassionate and forgiving?

That would also be a valid point.

It highlights the powerful role that economic forces have played in the genesis and preservation of racism.

To have reconciliation we must have justice and economic justice is key.

Is it possible, then, to confront the root causes of racism and forge ahead?

Yes. Nation building demands it.

Providing our citizens with the tools to better educate themselves and become full participants in the economy will be central as we move forward.

Racial tensions must be addressed and we start by acknowledging that collective denial keeps us from accepting that there is a problem.

As we do so we must keep in mind that in racial matters there is no purity.

Anyone who believes they have had no racist thoughts in their life, please step forward for all to take a good look because you are a rare find.

Restraint is another important condition. While all of us ought to be vocal in discussing racial issues, all must also be willing to check uncontrollable rage because to have a fruitful dialogue we cannot insult each other.

When I picture Martin Luther King, a giant in the struggle against racism, what first comes to mind is his equanimity, his calm courage, paired with the unyielding belief that hope lies in accepting our humanity. That is where it starts.

And it is in all of us. Sometimes hidden from sight, but often shining brightly.

Consider this. At this very moment, on Mars, lies an immensely complex device able to travel from one point to another on the surface of the planet. A rover they call it, and they named it Perseverance. They called it that to acknowledge that such astounding feat of engineering is the result of cooperation, imagination, love and dedication, the ability to dialogue and trust and experiment and take chances.

So think about it.

If we can do that, surely we can address the problem of racism.

Perseverance travelled 293 million miles over 7 months to get to Mars. And it takes 12 minutes for a message sent from Earth to reach it. What a feat.

And on top of that, on April 11 (approximately), a tiny – 4 pound – helicopter that made the journey tied to Perseverance, will do a flight of its own. The first ever in Mars. It is to last only 90 seconds. And they named it Ingenuity.

What an apt name.

Sometimes it takes picturing up in space – far, far away – all of what mankind can do, to discover that with Perseverance and Ingenuity, we can solve our problems here on Earth.

Oscarvaldes.net

Georgetown Law Makes the Wrong Call

In an article published yesterday in the New York Times, Sandra A. Sellers, a law professor of almost 20 years with the school made the following statement to another professor at the end of a virtual class. The professors were unaware that the recording had continued.

“You know what? I hate to say this,” Ms. Sellers said on the video. “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks — happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ You know? You get some really good ones. But there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”

The remarks were deemed racist by the Black Law Students Association which called for the professor to be terminated. She resigned. Here’s the link to the article. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/11/us/georgetown-university-sandra-sellers.html?smid=em-share

I read the professor’s statement and my impression is that the university overreacted.

Ms Sellers is an experienced professor. She’s making an assessment of her students’ capabilities. In her class, there have been some Black students who have not performed to her expectations. But some have. ‘You get some really good ones.’

When professor Sellers says, ‘It drives me crazy,’ I hear despair rather than a racist sentiment.  Unfortunately, she didn’t act on it.

Since she’s had this impression for a while, she should have brought it up to the administration and asked for additional assistance for the students. That would have been more fruitful than sitting on her frustration.

I do not think her statement constitutes ground for her dismissal.

The sentiment she expressed may be present in other teachers. The lack of students’ performance may be present in other classes.

Because of systemic racism, some students may not be well prepared and will need help.

Georgetown Law can provide that help and should.

Ms Sellers statements are reason for Georgetown Law to do some serious reflecting.

Are they giving a pass to some Black students because they are Black?

If so, that doesn’t help anybody. It doesn’t help Black students because if not properly prepared they will have problems in the fiercely competitive workplace.

The task of the university is not to react unthinkingly to an accusation of this type, but to examine it in detail, and make sure that any Black student who shows problems with their studies gets all the help they need to be the best they can be. At the university’s expense.

That’s how we overcome systemic racism.

Professor Sellers should be brought back and put in charge of groups for professors to air their views. In private. Without a video playing.

Oscarvaldes.net

The President’s Regrets

Alone in the Oval Office, the TV off because the count in Georgia and Pennsylvania now has Biden in the lead, while both Arizona and Nevada continue to lean democratic, the President sits and lowers his head. The long dreaded defeat has finally arrived.

‘I tweeted too much. Which meant I didn’t take time to reflect. Presidents shouldn’t tweet so much. Joe doesn’t tweet like I do but I’ll pass it along anyway, just before the transfer of power.’

‘I should have let the scientists lead the effort on the coronavirus from the very beginning. This is a big one. If I had done that, then if the virus would have spread, I could’ve blamed them. But no, I chose to be the man in charge, even though I didn’t know a thing about the virus.’

‘I identified too much with the Right, as if this country was not a huge place filled with people who have lots of different points of view.’

‘I should have worked more with my supporters, to tell them that to make America Great Again it will take the work of all Americans. I cringe when I hear Joe Biden talk about how he’s going to be a president for everyone, and that during his term there will be no red and blue states. Damn. That should’ve been my line.’

‘I should’ve danced more with Melania, sang her a song, just be with her. Relax with her. And spent more time with my son Barron, too, see what he had to say. The young can always teach us something if we care to listen. I didn’t.’

‘That’s a problem I have, listening. A huge problem. If I had listened, I wouldn’t have fired good generals like Mattis and Kelly.’

‘If I had listened, I would’ve kept some of my early economic advisers who told me to go easy on the tariffs on China. Sure, there is an issue with their theft of intellectual property and their push to world dominance, but I ought to have been more gradual.’

‘I should have brought more women into the cabinet, lots of them. My cabinet should’ve been at least half women. And I could’ve even appointed a woman to be secretary of state. Hell, I would’ve been reelected if I had done that. But I didn’t.’

‘And why did I go bananas on overturning environmental regulations? The climate issue is real. Everybody thinks that. How come I was so blind and deaf about it?’

‘And the George Floyd incident, that was a missed opportunity. I could’ve jumped in and said, “This is horrible. Ghastly. There are great cops in our nation, but this is not permissible. This is murder, and I will make sure that justice is done” But I didn’t do it.’

‘I pissed off a lot of European allies. There was no need for that. There were other ways I could’ve got them to pay more for the costs of defense.’

‘I am feeling depressed. And have no one to blame but me.’

Good luck, Mr President.

Oscar Valdes wrote extensively in an effort to get the President to reflect. And sent him his books.

Oscarvaldes.net   oscarvaldes@widehumr

Try For A Graceful Exit, Mr Trump

I hope that it is becoming clearer to you that the end is near. And it isn’t Joe and Kamala that are defeating you. It is you, defeating yourself.

You took a hammer to yourself and beat up your presidency. With the whole world watching.

On the surface you were gloating in the adoration of your followers at your rallies, but you knew you were hammering down that chisel to deepen the divisions between us.

And you couldn’t stop yourself. Or chose not to.

You could have said, ‘there are so many talented people in this country, all of whom could make an important contribution to my own view, why am I thinking that it is only the side I’m comfortable with that I should be seeking counsel from?’

It was such a basic question.

Simply to ask it would have been an act of moral and intellectual courage.

Did you ever ask it? Ever?

The problems we’ve been facing have been thorny ones. Dealing with them has been deferred by earlier Presidents, but when your turn came and the going got tough, you decided to file for bankruptcy. Which is what you’re familiar with. Debits going up faster that credits?

File for bankruptcy.

You’re not comfortable dealing with people who have dissenting views.

They upset you too easily. And rather than process that dissent in the effort to find common ground, you get angry.

Processing dissent with others calls for a willingness to consider that it is you who may be wrong. That maybe it is you not having the balanced take on the given matter. Which is okay because none of us are perfect. And simply posing the question will move us along on the road to reaching the greater truth.

You can’t file for bankruptcy when dealing with national matters. There is no such option.

People who voted for you thought, ‘well, he’s been a businessman – made and lost millions – he will know how to lead us.’ As if it was all about debits and credits. All about accounting ledgers. In their despair to find solutions, your supporters settled for the easy choice.

And you became President.

But leadership in its enlightened view is not about debits and credits but about guiding human beings, stirring up their energies and directing them to work with their brothers and sisters toward common goals.

Leadership, in its enlightened view, is not about ‘I am better than you’. Rather, it is about finding the best in each other.

To do that you have to know who you are. To do that you have to have struggled to find the best in you.

You started on that road a long time ago but then stopped. But a leader for a complex nation as ours cannot stop the process of self discovery. Stopping is filing for bankruptcy.

The leading of this nation does not allow for bankruptcy filing when facing difficult problems.

Take the matter of race. You could have said to your followers, ‘folks… there’s all of us in here, White, Black, Native Americans, Indian, Asian, Hispanics and shadings in between, and like the great variety of races there’s a great variety of opinions, and during my administration there will be an open debate on everything… and I will be listening, so I can grow wiser and my judgment becomes more balanced. I ask you, please join me in this journey of self discovery.’

But you couldn’t do it. Or you refused to.

Now time has passed and history has been written.

All of us will be learning from your mistakes as we learn from ours. We have to if we want to be the better nation we’ve always wanted to be.

As you come to the end of your term, please try to find in yourself to be graceful in defeat.

Look at it this way. Being graceful in defeat is a way of being kind to yourself. As if you were saying, ‘I tried my best, now let others try their best.’

We know you like to fight. That has been clear. But you have yet to fight the greater fight, the one that will let the better you, shine through.

Good luck, Mr Trump.

Oscar Valdes    

oscarvaldes.net    oscar valdes@widehumr

American Women. Moral Reconstruction in America. The Dawn of A New Era.

White American Women had been waiting a long time for the chance to be president and, suddenly, they’re having to queue up behind Harris. What happened?

The riots did.

Of course, they can look back on Hillary Clinton’s effort and find consolation there, saying that in the very first try by a white woman as presidential candidate for a major party, she won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

That will have to do for now, though, since if all goes well, it will be Harris going up as party favorite once Biden chooses to step down (Yes, Biden will win the election, unless we’re insane)

To the credit of White American women, there has been widespread support for the Harris choice. That should give us men inspiration in the struggle against racism.

Come 2024, Kamala may end up being challenged for the presidential nomination by other women, as they are entitled to, but if she does a good job supporting Biden it will be a Democratic woman versus a Republican one in that presidential contest.

A man running on the Republican side would have a harder time beating Harris.

The problem of racism in our land is viewed by most of us as a critical matter. Addressing it fully cannot be postponed without additional damage to our moral fabric.

Obama projected an image of conciliation that has gone a long way to start the process of healing in our land but it now seems clear that it will be up to an African/Asian American woman to carry the task further.

Men are more conflicted than women on matters of dominance. They are more easily wounded by it and less forgiving.

This opens the way for women, of any color, to lead us for the next few decades until we resolve our racial differences.

Overall, the feminine psyche appears more likely to evoke forgiveness and understanding in the rest of us.

The fact that women had to struggle so hard to get out from under the oppression of men has much to do with it. It has helped them develop empathy.

So what do we have to lose?

Since inception we have been governed by men and we have not settled the racial issue. Imagine a Senate, supreme court or cabinet composed mainly of women?

It is time.

Are there qualified women today, in every field of endeavor, in politics, banking, science, medicine, etc.?

Yes. Resoundingly.

Well, we need to open the doors widely for them to enter politics and let them govern. And when it happens, it will be a gigantic step toward uniting the country.

We have great women leaders in the world now. Germany and Europe have benefitted enormously from the unique leadership Angela Merkel has provided. Her courage, wisdom and even handedness have set a standard to emulate. What other world leader has governed for as long as she has with such aplomb?

Sex alone won’t make for gifted leadership, but a combination of ability and sex may work wonders in challenging long held misconceptions about race that have stood in the way of our full evolution as a nation.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

The Portland Protests

Violence. Intimidation. Destruction of Property.

How’s that helping the process of combatting and eventually overcoming racial prejudice in our land?

I read that groups of masked people (mostly white), supporters of Black Lives Matter, have gone into white neighborhoods demanding to know whether residents agree with them or not. Or they go to the outside seating area of restaurants doing the same. Or they take and destroy property wantonly.

How’s that helping?

It is not.

You want quick results on the issue of race? Then you will have none.

But you will be sure to get backlash.

Racism cannot be resolved by violence.

Racism is the ugly offspring of intimidation, of disregard for the other, of people in power closing themselves to discovering what is human in those who are different from them.

It is rooted in fear of the other.

You cannot eradicate it through provoking fear.

Racism is a solvable problem but it will take commitment.

Our reluctance to not confront it has diminished us as a people. And still does. But you can’t scare people out of it.

We have to persuade. Induce people to embark in the quest for personal knowledge that will expand their minds and make room to accept those who are different from them.

No one jumps from being racist to not being racist.

It is a process and will take time.

Racism is not a matter of intelligence. People can be very smart and even make important contributions to humanity and yet be hampered by racist beliefs. Eminent people, even Nobel Prizes have been racists.

Intelligence will help a person work through their racism, but that quality alone does not preclude it.

Our nation can and should, organize a better effort to continue to reduce racism simply out of self interest, for steadily reducing racism will make us stronger, smarter, wiser and yes, more beautiful too.

Every African American in this country is entitled to affirm themselves each and every time they believe they are being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. That needs to be supported, both at the individual and community level. Be firm, not violent.

If we sincerely wish to attenuate our racist feelings, when we encounter someone of a different race – no matter what their economic standing – let us quietly ask ourselves, ‘What gifts do they have that I don’t?’

I assure you they have gifts. We just need to look for them.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation and other books. Available in Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net

Dijon Kizzee. Los Angeles. 8/31/2020

Another Black man killed. Ten shots fired, said a neighbor.

Why?

The investigation is still under way but this is what I’ve read in the press.

Mr Kizzee, 29, is riding a bike when a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s patrol car observes that he is in violation of a vehicles code. When they attempt to stop him he runs away.

Stop.

Black man on a bike in apparent violation of a vehicles code = probably can’t afford whatever it is he has to do to be in compliance.

Stop.

He is not bothering anyone.

Stop.

Blacks are very wary of police interventions, a legacy of years and years of injustice.

Stop

The two officers inside the patrol car as they observe Mr Kizzee riding his bike.

Officer 1 – there he is, breaking the law. Have to stop him.

Officer 2 – but should we? He’s not bothering anyone, probably barely scraping a living.

Officer 1 – an infraction is an infraction is an infraction.

Officer 2 –  dude, in this climate, with people on the edge, with so many incidents, I say let it go. It’s nothing.

Officer 1 – what if he’s carrying a weapon?

Officer 2 – What if he is, he could just be transporting it from one place to the other, or he’s just needing it to feel secure, who knows?

Officer 1 – buddy, I don’t know about you but I didn’t sign up for this job to be a social worker, so we’re stopping this guy. Have to protect the community.

We know what happened next.

Mr Kizzee didn’t heed the call to stop, the officers chased him, then confronted him, Mr Kizzee reportedly struck one of them in the face (the officers were not carrying body cameras), ran off again, more chasing, Mr Kizzee drops a bundle of clothes he was carrying and it reveals a gun.

The officers shoot and kill him.

Stop.

Stop.

There’s a gap in there, right?

Yes. There is no mention of Mr Kizzee even reaching for the gun dropped with his clothes.

But shots were fired.

Ten shots. Not two four six or eight but Ten.

Just as a precaution. Right.

Something wrong there.

Yes. Recklessness. Impulsiveness.

Should Mr Kizzee have stopped when asked? Yes Yes Yes. By all means, stop when a policeman orders you to.

But there has to be a place for balanced judgment.

Life can’t be this cheap.

Mr Kizzee was a man. A poor man, likely. A Black man. The bike was probably the only means of transportation he could muster.

He deserved a little break.

How many people are moving around at this very moment in any city with a gun in their vehicles? Probably thousands. But they are not as poor as Mr Kizzee. They have that extra layer of protection that money gives them.

It is heartbreaking.

Yes, we need law and order, but we have to cut a little slack to those who are not making it.

Or to those who are likely to distrust the police. Or to those who may have poor judgment.

Please.

We need police, yes, but we need officers who think.

What happened to police leadership? With all that is happening in our nation today, did they not find it in themselves to take time to anticipate events, to take time to speak to the officers about exercising extra caution?

Ten shots. Ten. 10.

And Mr Kizzee wasn’t even holding a gun.

There’s something so wrong.

An investigation will follow, surely, and the officers will likely be absolved of any wrongdoing.

And Mr Kizzee’s life is lost.

He may not have been making any significant contribution to society but his was a life.

And that should be enough to command respect. Just that alone.

What cheapened his existence?

Let us stop. Think.

And may the name Kizzee forever prompt us to do so.

Which is why protests are justified.

And why looting and destruction of property are not.

Not, because to do so is to demean the loss of Mr Kizzee.

We don’t know at what stage of existence Mr Kizzee was but what is certain is that he didn’t need a bullet. Or ten.

He needed something else.

Can we remind ourselves of that?

To the officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department: we need you but, please, think and feel, for those that you shoot are your brothers and sisters. Sometimes flawed, as we all are, but still your brothers and sisters.

And fellow Americans.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for a Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.

Oscarvaldes.net