We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.~ Martin Luther King Jr.
"I think the world has changed a great deal in my lifetime. Even more so than in your lifetime (early 40's). I think in my lifetime the world's gone through some very, very drastic and dramatic changes in the way of race relations. I can remember the world of the 1960's. I can remember what blacks and whites perceived themselves as in the 60's. There was a different feel in the 60's and even in the 70's. I think it was a period of time in America where young Americans of my generation, fooled themselves into believing that they were gonna make a drastic change in the world. In a lot of ways they did and in a lot of ways they didn't. And I think a lot of it's for the better and some of it is for the worse. There are forces working in this nation to constantly drive a wedge between whites, blacks, brown, Asians. etc. There's definitely a movement within this country that involves the media and the government, which actually works against race relations. And I think this President is a fine example of what you DON'T wanna do. I really thought that when Obama came in, he would be more of a calming force in American society. But I actually think he's a diversionary force. I think he's put more division between blacks and whites than any other president in office in the last 100 years."
WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL THAT WAY?
"Well, I feel a lot of times he's very biased, he makes a lot of biased statements. Sometimes he acts stupid, especially in regards to some of the things that went on this year in Ferguson and New York. I don't just lay it at his feet though. It isn't just him. It's bigger than him. A lot of what has to do with race relations in this country is being driven by the political parties in this country. Neither party is without sin. I don't like it. I think when you take political office, you should put your bias aside. Nobody can be totally bias free, but when you take office, you should try to put as much of your biased thinking to the side. Try to be as much middle of the road as possible, but without giving up your principles. If you believe in something strongly enough then please believe it, don't be wishy-washy, but at the same time, don't be so pig-headed that you can't come to a middle ground. That's what bothers me.
On a personal level, I don't have a problem with race. I don't like all white people and I don't like all black people. At the same time, I like a lot of black people and I like a lot of white people. I have some really good friends that are white and some really good friends that are black. And I have some really good friends that are Hispanic and one or two friends that are Asian."
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT IN THE 60's, SOME CHANGES WERE GOOD AND SOME WEREN'T. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT A BIT MORE?
"Here's some of the things that I don't think are good: in America, at the turn of the twentieth century, blacks were coming out of slavery. But, blacks were a group, just like every other minority group, every minority group that came into this country, through the American process. That includes a person like me. I'm an Italian that came to America. I CHOSE to be an American. Maybe I was young, but I had opportunities in my life and I didn't have to stay in America. When I was 18, I could've gone back to Italy. I was invited back to Italy by the Italian government (to join the Italian army). I was drafted into the Italian army. And (by not doing that) I had to give up returning to Italy or visiting Italy. But I decided to give up my Italian citizenship and stay here in the states. I was always had full American citizenship though, because of my mother. At the turn of the century, all minority groups had gone through a phase where they kind of assimilated into society and blacks were also assimilating into society. Somewhere in the late sixties, with the death of Martin Luther King Jr., with the formation of the Black Panthers, with the radicalization of racism, not on the part of whites (there's always been part of whites that have been radicalized too. You know who I'm talking about... the guys who are burning crosses, wearing hoods and have little swastikas on their sleeves and shit. They're radical whites). But there's also radical blacks. There's Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton. In my opinion, they justify racism on the black part of America. They're not doing anything for the betterment of society. They are driving wedges between groups of people. Another thing is, it's very difficult, whether you're black, white, purple, green, Martian, Venetian, Romulen or whatever, (I don't give a shit what the fuck you are), it's very hard to try try to stay positive- to try not to resent another group. Especially when groups become radicalized. Prime example is radical Islam. It's really hard for any human to try to be understanding of everybody's differences. This is the thing that I think happened in the sixties. Blacks were fed a line of crap by their own leaders to make them think that they would never be assimilated into America. Unfortunately I have bad news, they ARE going to be assimilated into America. The future of America is a homogenized group of people. They don't call this country a melting pot for no reason. I see it in the future. Unless there's an enormous effort made by individuals in this country that wanna keep us separated, America is gonna homogenize."
We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
"Absolutely. There's nothing wrong with having some cultural differences. You celebrate Christmas a certain way, holidays a certain way, you have your own religious beliefs. But you really don't need behavior like what went on in Ferguson and New York over the sensationalism that's created by the media over an incident that you could calmly sit down and talk about. You know darn well that there's no policeman on this earth, and this is speaking from my experience in life, unless he's some kind of individual that has a mental problem, I've never met a policeman that's gotten ready for work, putting his equipment together to go out on patrol and said to himself "Hey, ya know what? I think I'm gonna go out and shoot some guy. I'm gonna go out and shoot some kid. I'm gonna shoot a black kid. I'm gonna shoot somebody just because I just feel like shooting them. Because I want my life to be totally discombobulated because of that act." Put yourself in the shoes of that officer that killed that kid (Michael) Brown. His life is done. His career is done. Right or wrong his (professional) life is done. He might as well go to Australia and become a sheep farmer. So do you think that guy consciously said to himself "I think I'm gonna shoot this kid"?"
PLAYING DEVILS ADVOCATE, DO YOU THINK IT'S POSSIBLE THAT THERE COULD BE A SITUATION WHERE A POLICE OFFICER DOES ACT WITH MALICE AND FIGURES THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH IT?
"Here's what I think: a lot of people who have never walked the walk, who have never worked in law enforcement, their perception of what law enforcement is, is what they see on TV. And what they see on tv is excitement, excitement, excitement. There's no moment of doldrum on television police drama. Police work can be one of the most boring jobs you've ever had in your life. It can be so dull that it numbs your senses. If you think it's really exciting to be sitting there waiting for somebody to commit a crime, it isn't. There are nights where you're fighting to stay awake. And then, in a moment, a fraction of time, you go from personally nodding off to a point where your life is danger and you have to make a life or death decision in the fraction of a second. You go from absolute boredom to high intensity, reactive time. Most police officers, who I know that are good police officers (I always thought I was a good police officer), they temper themselves and their behavior. They try to be reasonable. Even at the height of an incident. They try to think clearly. But sometimes those decisions have to be made in micro seconds. In the case of Eric Gardner, I can tell you right now, that guy wasn't choked. You can't say "I can't breathe" if you can't breathe. If you're not getting any air, you can't speak. You distinctly hear that man saying "I can't breathe". He was overweight, laying on his chest with his hands behind his back and they had a hold of his neck. But there's an easy way to avoid all that: don't resist arrest. But the media turns it into a bigger deal by showing it over and over and over again. It was like Rodney King all over again. What people don't realize is that an incident like Rodney King cost close to 60 people their lives because the riots in L.A. caused a lot of people their lives. And who caused that? The media caused that. The constant airing of the officers hitting Rodney. But they don't show what happened before Rodney took the ass kicking that he took. They don't show what he did to get that ass kicking. They don't show him dropping his pants and mooning the female officer. You can't hear Rodney telling the officers to go fuck themselves. Rodney was no little boy, God rest his soul. But because of what the media did with his story, close to 60 people and untold billions of dollars were lost in Los Angeles. That's the ugly side of what America has become. All they're interested in is selling soap. And I have a problem with the media over that.
Just like this incident in France. I have a problem with the way the media's portraying France. I hate to say this but, the French didn't lose almost 3,000 people. The United States did. They keep trying to water down the number of people that were killed on 9/11. But the fact of the matter is (almost) 3,000 people died that day. It's a big difference between 3,000 and 15. You didn't see the world come behind America and march down the street, a million and a half strong, did ya? A whole lot more lives were affected by that though. Another thing is that France has the largest population of Islamic people. They brought in those Islamic people for cheap labor. But then they force them to live in ghettos. They are ostracized by the majority of people in France. So that breeds bad feelings amongst these people and it breeds terrorists. Now I'm not justifying their actions, I'm just saying inequality, whether it's perceived or factual, is always gonna breed a negative response from those that feel they're not being treated fairly. The other thing is this: I would like the mayor of Paris to change the name of the street that they decided to name after Mumia Abu-Jamal, our famous police murderer of Philadelphia. He's a convicted police killer. He killed Danny Faulkner. Been convicted of it numerous times. He's exhausted all of his appeals. He's guilty. Yet, the French think of him as a political prisoner. At the same time, they want Americans to say "oh, look at what these Muslims did that killed these police officers." Yes, they killed police officers. The last time I checked Mumia is a Muslim name, yet they made him a political prisoner. But their Muslims are terrorists for killing their police officers. If you're gonna paint the wall with color, make sure there's an even coat all the way around.
I have a friend that is very spiritual and very religious. So much so, aside from already being a deacon, he's completed his studies to where he can be considered a reverend. I stayed with him in September since I had a reunion to attend and I needed a place to stay and keep my bike. All we did was talk. We talk about this stuff all the time. He's a pretty even keeled individual but even he says it's very hard to turn an unbiased eye to the way that you feel. No matter how religious you might think you are. No matter how much you're trying to live the righteous life, on a personal level, it's very very hard to be unbiased. And I admire that cause it takes a lot to have the courage to say "I'm biased about certain things". He isn't blind to the fact that he's looking at things from a black perspective, and I'm looking at it from a white perspective. He's a devout democrat and I'm a devout republican. We are opposites, so there is no reason we should be sitting and breaking bread over a table talking and laughing and having a good time, should there? We see a lot of each other's points. Here's the interesting thing: he does not perceive you as right just because you are black and I don't perceive you as right just because you're white. That's the common view that him and I have: wrong is wrong and right is right. It is not right to deny somebody something just because of their religious beliefs, because of their racial background. What I feel America needs to do is understand that everyone is not going to agree with you. You are not constantly going to be able to preach to the choir. And there's no point in preaching to the choir cause there's no satisfaction in it. But you sure do hope that when you DO have a conversation with someone, that at least they're open minded enough that they don't shut you completely off."