This piece was originally written August 19th. In the midst of protests, police action and the swirl of political commentary and social media debate the video below went viral. Jonathan Gentry, a self-proclaimed minister, was kind enough to explain that much of what was happening in Missouri was the fault of black people often referring to his catchphrase “Change ain’t gonna come till we change it.” Below is my response to Mr. Gentry’s diatribe.
While I am generally loathe to give space and visibility to a point of view like the one you spouted on Facebook, the number of views and the commentary that followed sadly proves that the sentiments you expressed are as common as they are wrong. Your take on the condition of African Americans and the reasons thereof are atrocious at best. For the sake of thoroughness I will time stamp what it is I’m referring to.
00:00-00:30- A few things here: Ferguson residents assembled peacefully and were met with escalating force. The looters were but a small yet highly publicized portion of gatherers. Your tagline “Change won’t come until we change it” is classic victim blaming. You are ascribing a level of power and control that the people of Ferguson, and I dare say people of color in general, simply do not have while simultaneously admonishing them for protesting and calling attention to their plight. I’m not sure in what world this is either a fair or legitimate thought process.
00:46-02:05- While I applaud your Martin Lawrence impersonation, I again criticize your stance. In a scenario where a police officer shoots an unarmed 18 year old in the middle of the street in broad daylight to whom should we ascribe blame? Let’s change as black people? When is this going to stop? Believe me, sir, if black people could avoid being shot in the street by those who are charged with their protection they would have done so a long time ago. As far as going around in circles for 50 years, the progress we have made as a people is one of the main reasons you can spout your vitriol to thousands of people today. You have been afforded so many rights on the backs of our parents and grandparents that you have ascended to the heights of ungratefulness toward those who paved the way for your self-loathing.
02:08-03:01- Again your Martin Lawrence is incredible. However I would argue that what you see isn’t black organizations not working to address “black on black” issues (a term that I absolutely hate btw), but the amount of coverage the media affords that issue versus a much more lucrative black vs. white narrative. This should be obvious since either you saw no need to make a scathing video about the problem of black on black crime or nobody cared enough to make it go viral. In fact, sir, wouldn’t it be fair to say that YOU were nowhere to be found until now? (Side note: Your introduction of slavery as a supposed argument for Ferguson protests is a classic strawman argument which is my educated way of saying , stop it, sir.)
03:02- 03:40- Pardon my language, sir, but there is so much f***ery here I don’t know where to begin. Firstly, resisting arrest does not trigger a default of shooting unarmed men. I have a number of friends in law enforcement and there is a protocol with regard to escalation of aggression. That aside, Michael Brown did not resist arrest because he was not placed under arrest. I challenge you to show me a training scenario that justifies the events leading to his death.
Next, you don’t see an issue with being “Young, black, driving a brand-new Beamer and living in the Valley” being in direct correlation with being stopped by the police “many” times? You, sir, have been racially profiled and subject to what amounts to a stop and frisk. As far as how many times it has gotten out of hand, I’m curious as to whether you received the same speech that I and thousands of other black men receive when they are children about how to survive a police encounter. I would venture to guess that you remaining unscathed has more to do with learning to appear nonthreatening than anything the officer did to maintain the situation. As to you becoming good friends with them all I can say is …
04:09-04:50- I am purposefully not engaging in your bible references as they are a matter of interpretation and as we have all seen can be used to the advantage of angels and demons.
04:51-05:02- Again the looters are but a small and overhyped faction of the protesters in Ferguson, some of whom locals have reported were not even from the town. There will always be opportunists, but let us remember that the vast majority of those protesting have been nothing but civil. As far as cleaning up our own neighborhoods, at best you are commingling two issues that have no connection.
05:10-05:26- Did you actually make a Planet of the Apes analogy? F*** you f*** you and f*** you for that one.
05:35-05:40- Curious George on Redbull? He really just said that. Oh sweet baby Jesus. I just can’t.
06:00-06:08- Sir. Given your color, your car and that sweet white neighborhood you live in I would venture to say that you have overlooked a large part of what we have overcome. Not so sure that out of all of us you may owe a larger debt of gratitude to those who have been confronted with German shepherds, tanks, tear gas, assault rifles … wait a minute … why does that sound so familiar?