Kenn Blanchard at Black Man With a Gun writes an open letter – Dear White Man.
Dear White Man,
I’m writing to you today because of all that’s going on in the nation. I thought you might need to hear a few words of encouragement from your friend and your brother from another mother. You and I have been pretty close since 2007, when I started my podcast in the basement of my house. You’ve invited me to your home. We’ve broken bread together. We’ve laughed, hugged, even. We’ve smoked cigars. We’ve shared in this Second Amendment fight. We’ve been to speeches. I’ve been a speaker at different events with you. You’ve heard my sermons in church. You’ve introduced me to your family, to your kids. We’ve come through a lot of stuff in these last twenty years or so. Some of us have been together even longer than that. We met, maybe, at the Second Amendment Foundation’s annual meeting, or the National Rifle Association’s meeting across the country, or occasionally you caught me at SHOT Show. We laughed and had some good times.
Well, my white brother, the time’s they are a’changin’. I see your frustration. I hear your anger. I read what you write in your posts. I see the memes you make. Or, I’ve noticed your absence online or in comments. Well, you know me. I haven’t changed. I never run from a fight. I’m talking more about love. Like the song that says nobody’s interested in learning it, but the teacher, it seems.
We got segregation, determination, demonstrations, integration, aggravation, humiliation, and no obligation to our nation. It’s a ball of confusion right now. That’s what the world is today. Yeah.
You got young folks walking around with their heads in the sky and cities aflame in the summertime. And though, the beat goes on. I think yesterday was the eve of destruction. We’re still looking for tax deductions and city inspectors, and Bill the collector, evolution, revolution, gun control, and the sound of soul. They’re still shooting rockets to the moon, but kids are still growing up too soon. It’s a Ball of Confusion, baby.
And I feel you. I understand where you’re coming from.
So, my white brother, I’m just here to tell you that I understand. I’m just giving you a shoutout that I don’t blame you for squat. I don’t. I know who you are. You’ve been the same with me since the beginning. Back when I was the lone brother out here. I was never totally alone, but I was pretty much the singleton. I remember how you treated me and my family, and then my friends, and then my club, and then as I grew my own advocacy and activism, and I grew, and you kept asking me, “How can I get more people of color into my group? How can I get more folks like you in my range?” And we just continued to push on. I know your heart. I know you’re not a racist. I know where you’re coming from, and I ain’t afraid to tell it, truth be told. I’ll still stand with you, even though right now some of you got your war face on. Yeah, you do. Let me tell you about anger.
There are three types of anger that the psychologists can recognize pretty easily. The first is the hasty and sudden anger, and it’s all connected to self-preservation. You think everybody’s after you, so you’re striking out at everybody else. I’m just here to tell you that it’s not me. Remember, we’ve been together a long time. I know who you are, really. The second type is the settled and deliberate anger — a reactionary thing. It’s the deliberate harm or unfair treatment of others. It’s an episodic type of anger. I know that’s not you. And, the third is a dispositional anger. It’s related more to a character trait. It means something’s wrong with you. You’re irritable, sullen. There’s some stuff wrong. Anger can potential mobilize psychological resources and boost the determination toward correction of wrong behaviors, like the promotion of social justice and the communication of negative sentiment and redress of grievances. It can also facilitate patience. In contrast, anger can be destructive when it does not find its appropriate outlet in expression.
Some of you guys are angry white men. And, you’re having a hard time navigating the situation. What happens? The angry person loses their objectivity, your empathy — which you had so much of before — your prudence or your thoughtfulness that you had, that you showed me. And sometimes you can get so pissed off you harm yourself. To all my angry white brothers out there, step back, and take a breath. One of the things I know about anger is that it can get you out of sorts. It can trigger some other stuff. It can make you rely more on stereotypes, and pay less attention to details and more attention to the superficial. That’s what I’m seeing in the memes. Anger is like any other negative emotion, like sadness or fear. Anger can mess up your analytical thinking. One of the things I liked about you before was you’re smart. Now, you’re sayin’ stupid stuff. If it’s not you, it’s the guy next to you. I know it’s tight, but it’s right. Why are you angry?
Because, hey, there’s fear in the air. There’s tension everywhere. Unemployment’s rising fast, and the band played on. Population’s out of hand, suicide, too many bills, hippies movin’ to the hills, people all over the world are shouting, “End the war!” And, the band played on.
Don’t you hear me talking to you? Do you know what one of the greatest motivators in the world is? Loss. Nobody likes to lose anything. So, what’s wrong with America right now? Folks have lost what they used to have — lack of leadership, the polarization of our nation, irresponsibility, the adoption of extremist philosophies, domestic terrorism, erosions of the right to be politically correct. Convenient truths, the rewriting of history for personal gain, the sense of entitlement, the fact that we kicked God out of almost everything we do. The end of “live and let live.” That whole tolerance thing, that politicians are just in it for the money, plain old complacency — what Martin Luther King called “indifference.” Nihilism. That’s a big word. Lack of good jobs. Fidelity….where did she go? Worship of the state, and a plain old loss of respect for other people?
I know you know this, I’m just here to remind you that I feel your pain, that I understand what you’re mad about. I’m just here to tell you that I know who you are. I still like you. Back in 1999, I created a website called Black Man with a Gun . I thought I’d be ostracized and kicked out by the whole world except for a few other radically black people like me. Yeah. I was woke before folks was born. But, you who was awoke before I was? You were. Some of you actually told me about the Deacons of Defense and Justice. Some of you told me about Ossian Sweet. Some of you told me about my own history. I had to go learn about it, and research it and find out about all my relatives, and how I was connected to it. My whole life, I’d been around it, but I missed it. You helped me realize that nobody knows everything, and all of us make mistakes. So, I took my militant butt to the wood shed, and learned some history. And, when I learned, I was on fire for this thing, and decided I was going to teach my world what I learned. I was going to share my knowledge with as many people as I could. And, you still supported me. You didn’t even see me. You didn’t see me get jumped in the church. You didn’t see me get beat down on the street corner. You didn’t hear about what happened after we testified in court in Baltimore or Annapolis — how the Mothers Against Guns ganged up on me, and how, through the grace of God, I was able to let them see the truth, the real truth. You supported me during evangelism for the right to keep and bear arms for almost twenty years. I was doing this crap before we had Google and Instagram and Facebook, but I’m actually kind of tired right now — tired of defending, tired of arguing the same old argument, but luckily, there’s quite a few younger people, younger brothers and sisters that are doing it! And I got nothing but praise for them, except for when they think they’ve created something that’s new and original. Then, they forget where they’ve come from.
So, my angry white brother, failure isn’t final. You know it’s interesting that failing and falling both begin with the same letter. Now, if you’ve gotten mad when you fell, you probably wouldn’t try to stand up anymore. But, if you looked at the fall and the sequence as just something that is — is it what it is — it becomes what you make of it. And, you looked at it as opportunity to learn, which, you did, as a baby, ok? Every baby does. And, what do we do? We get right back up, regardless of failing, and try it again, and you keep doing it until that one day, when you’re walking. Well, right now, we’re falling a lot. We got folks who thing they know stuff they don’t. We got people who are in charge who shouldn’t be, but the brain does not learn from success. The brain learns from the intense scrutiny after the failure to chunk whatever you’re trying to do into it with four or five different parts, and try to figure out the sequence that does work right. And, then it’s going to fire all those circles again. We learn very little from success. So, right now, we’re failing a lot. It looks like Hell warmed over, but be patient. We’ve been here before. The only bad part is people don’t remember the late 60’s, the early 70’s which would soon come — leaders and carpetbaggers, and all of that. We’ve gone through this before.
Folks were taking drugs back in the 60’s trying to take the pain out of living. Now, they just go ahead and kill themselves outright. We need to take more care of our neighbors. We need to take more care of ourselves. We need to watch what we put into our heads — junk in, junk out. We need to realize that all of this stuff is temporary. No storm lasts forever. And, it’s okay to be angry. You can be an angry, white man. Just don’t be angry at me. I didn’t cause none of this trouble! Some of it is good trouble. Some of it’s B.S. Right now that Serenity Prayer is pretty tight, but its right. Where it says,
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
That’s how we’re going to get out of this funk, white man! white woman! And for those who are not white who listen to your friend and brother from another mother, I just gave you somebody’s else side for you to think about before you judge them. We all live in a pluralistic society. I really didn’t even know what that was until recently, but I want you to look that up.
We all are born and we grow with different natures which, in return, leads us to have different likes and dislikes, inclinations and disinclinations, temptations and abilities to perform and act. I’m asking you today — white or black, brown, yellow, pink, or multi-colored, to try to understand somebody else. Avoid blaming people. You must understand that people don’t care about you. This isn’t because people are mean or hurtful, it’s just because they’re always focused on themselves. You don’t figure in as their priority. In their process, most of their thoughts are self-directed.
Everybody’s thinking, “My goals. My problems. My feelings.” Yeah. All of us are like that. Mostly, we are all self-centered, but you have to be morally accountable for your actions in this day-to-day life. Keep on understanding that people who appear to be mean or hurtful do not usually do it intentionally, unless they’re sociopathic. It should not deviate you from your appropriate conduct. To say everyone is completely selfish is a gross exaggeration that ignores all the kinds of acts of kindness, sacrifice and love that make this damn world work. Believe it or not, everyone is emotional, and that’s not an exaggeration. We look for reliability in the process of sharing where their strong feelings or points of view are paid due attention, but it’s important to find common ground when you try to interact with people. Understanding is everything. Communication is the secret sauce of the world. Believe it or not, people have short memories. You think they remember your birthday or event? Nah. Most people don’t recollect instances that don’t have anything to do with them. It’s just how we are. They do remember, most likely, similarities or approaches to things that are like theirs. Thats’ how I can say what I’m saying right now, because I’ve been around like fifty-eight years.
Almost forty of those years have been involved in this Second Amendment thing, in some way or another. Almost. Learn to have passion to listen to others. When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen, but when you’re a good listener, you can develop a better rapport with other people. Now, why am I telling you this? I know you’re grown. You’re old enough to do what the Hell you want, I know. But, who else is going to tell you that you might have a chance to listen? I know you know it — I’m just here to remind you. Develop that animal instinct. You know, it’s really interesting to learn from animals sometimes. They create new life with a purpose, and learn to survive. We have to keep on understanding at each level of a relationship to survive and procreate. You don’t have to read too much into the process of dealing with others to survive and procreate. Sometimes, we think too much. Just do the right thing. Spike Lee was right on that one. Understanding people who don’t look like you is a process of growing. It involves traveling down a path of your lives and making decisions. There will be mistakes, which everyone makes. The importance lies in learning from them to grow stronger. It also guides you to be true to you.
I’m not apologizing for anything except my own behavior. I wrote this letter because we have a problem. We’re more divided than ever, and some folks like it. You know, there’s power in segregation, hate, bigotry, and fear. Those who spread it, share it, joke about it, help it. Everybody who’s gone through something, it has changed them in a way they should never go back to the person they once were. Everybody.
So, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, and see what they see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. Then, maybe you’ll understand — me, too! — why I do what I do. You know my name, but not my story. You’ve heard what I’ve done, but not what I’ve been through. The most difficult thing in this life is to know yourself. We’re all going through something right now. It’s an opportunity to do better, to mend a fence, build a bridge, start over if you messed up. Having good morals is still a good thing. Having some core values is still a good thing. Having some wisdom is still a good thing. Thinking before you speak is still a good thing. Check your anger. Check your resources. Check how you’re rollin’. Are you acting like someone else? Or are you acting like you? We can all get this thing back on track if we first take care of our own selves. And, that’s it for this. I’m going to call it quits right there.
You know, at the end of every show, I always say, “just in case nobody has told you this today: I love you.” Well, if you’re wondering how I can love you, and I don’t even know you, check this: Some people hate me, and they don’t know me either. I choose to love.