#BeREALationships – THE MEASURE OF A LIFE

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Humor me for a brief moment. Close your eyes (well, not literally, considering I need you to continue reading). Imagine you are minding your business, grocery shopping and you notice an over-zealous store clerk shadowing your every move, ensuring you have not “slipped something in your pocket.”

Perhaps, that was too specific. Let’s try again.

Imagine politely opening the door for a middle-aged (or elderly) Caucasian woman only to be met with visible fear or a firm clutch of their purse.

Still too specific. Third time is a charm.

Imagine being pressed to find positive images (e.g. film, music, news coverage, etc.) that represents the people, the culture, or the world you came from, being told that there is a difference between NIGGERS and BLACK PEOPLE, or being told you are WHITE or NON-THREATENING because of your college education, articulate manner of speaking, or your appreciation for Country/Rock music.

Still can’t relate? Consider it a privilege.

My name is Laron Chapman, and this is my reality.

There is common misconception that PRIVILEGE takes the form of something that you GAIN (like a lifetime supply of Haagan Daas. Yes, please!) On the contrary, privilege takes the form of a LACK of injustices you ENDURE.

If you have turned on the news in last month, chances are you have witnessed some pretty horrific images, inflammatory rhetoric, and some pretty divisive opinions. If you were one of the millions to witness the viral videos capturing the deaths in Louisiana (Alton Sterling) or Minnesota (Philando Castile) at the hands of law enforcement officers earlier this month and you slept comfortably without pondering to yourself, “that could have been me,” you just experienced the stealthy power of privilege in its most glowing form.

Now, to be fair, I cannot reasonably expect everyone to understand the daily nuances, prejudices, hate speech, racial profiling , and preconceived notions I experience (present tense).   I’m simply asking for people “to try.” Try and imagine the damaging affect a lifetime of internalizing the aforementioned experiences can have on an individual’s self-esteem, self-worth, and value.

Hence, the initiation of the newly-minted, controversial activist movement BLACK LIVES MATTER (BLM). A movement that did not emerge out of a need or desire for a community to matter MORE than any other, but rather a need or desire for a community to matter, PERIOD.

Now, before you misquote, misunderstand, or mischaracterize me, understand that I believe the rioting, vandalism, anti-white, anti-cop rhetoric is despicable and abhorrent. The five law enforcement officers slain in Dallas during a BLM protest is as much a tragedy as the ones that inspired its existence. However, I also know how dangerous and morally irresponsible it is to judge and condemn an ENTIRE group by the acts of a FEW (with their own exclusive, insidious agendas).

Saying you are against police brutality does not mean you don’t value, respect, or need police officers (trust me, I can barely discard of a spider in my kitchen without assistance). By comparison, declaring that you support black lives does not mean that all other lives can kick rocks. It takes wisdom, experience, compassion, and an eagerness to learn to know (and see) the difference.

Following the events in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, I attended a BLM rally in my hometown of Oklahoma. I participated with a healthy amount of anxiety, apprehension, and uneasiness about what could transpire. However, I was fueled by a desire to create and be a part of change (beyond the comfort and anonymity of a message board). What proceeded was one of the most powerful, moving, inspiring, and enlightening experiences of my life.

protest

There was no in-citation of violence, no rioting, no hate speech, and no discernible dis-accord. Instead, I witnessed police officers shaking hands and exchanging hugs with minorities. I witnessed representatives of every race and gender holding hands and marching in solidarity. I witnessed activists, poets, and musicians voice their concerns with dignity, poise, grace, and respect for everyone involved. I witnessed a community put aside their differences and unify through a common humanity and hunger for peace and justice.

It was the kind of trans-formative experience that simply has no presence or air time in the media because they are too preoccupied (whether intentional or not) finding ways to divide us.

When an injustice happens to someone (black, white, LGBT, women, Muslim, Hispanic, disabled, police officer, etc.) it is ALL of our responsibility to band together and stand up for what is right.

This is not simply a race issue.

This a human issue.


August (movie) STILLLaron Chapman is a passionate film and music enthusiast with a background in film and television production, journalism, and screenwriting. He graduated from The University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Media Studies. He works as a freelance Film/TV production assistant and screenwriter in Oklahoma City and has worked on projects ranging from the Oscar-nominated film “August: Osage County,” American Idol, Food Network, and Discovery Channel, among others.   laron.m.chapman@gmail.com

 

 

20 thoughts on “#BeREALationships – THE MEASURE OF A LIFE

  1. Indeed this is a human issue. I love the sign in the pic that says “Fuck this racist bullshit.” For real though. I was thinking recently how I got through my childhood, without being too scarred by always being followed in shopping centers. Somehow it was just part of life then, though if it happened now I’d probably explode… at least I would leave and shop somewhere else. As a kid I used to just stare back at them or walk them in circles. The things that really effected me as a child was when, because I’m mixed, I’d have white friends say you’re not really black. I just never knew how to respond to that and I just couldn’t understand how they couldn’t understand how hurtful it was. Now a days, I live in India where the race dynamic is completely different and my American up bringing in no way prepared me for it. But really for me, whether in India or America, it’s become about what people see when they look at you, and that is something completely in them that has nothing to do with me. And a place like America, where guns are everywhere, what somebody thinks when they look at you, without having any knowledge of you, can be life threatening… ok enough of my rambles. Thank you for the article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really great. I wish there could be more experiences like the rally you attended. I also feel sad about the way the media spends so much more time looking for conflict and division than unity. I guess that’s another human problem: that so many will tune in to hear fighting and see violence, but not to hear about peace.

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  3. I’m horrified and so sad that people treat you in those specific, awful ways. I’m all in for #BlackLivesMatter and I’ll do what I can for the cause, as well as combatting any ‘ism’s I come across. I hate how minorities get so trampled. It’s ridiculous, and WORSE, that people in this day and age of supposed enlightenment are more bothered by kitten videos and computer games than real lives and real hurts. BRAVO for this.

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    • Thanks, Lizzi. So happy you appreciated it and support this important cause. This movement has really inspired so much of my creative work as it is an extension of my life experience(s). I hope you are well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am, thank you, and I hope you are, too.🙂

        Anything that shares your life experiences in a way which makes them accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise understand why it matters and how it impacts, is HUGE, and I’m so glad you’re doing it to good effect🙂

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  4. I’ve only just come across your Blog, Laron, and your post has really made me question myself.
    I grew up in London, where I never noticed the colour of my friends’ skin, then moved later to an area of the UK that was mostly white – and it was only then that I saw the intolerance, racism, and bigotry, that has flared up so badly in the UK.
    I’ve never understood how people are so willing to judge a person by the colour of their skin, as we are all part of the human family – we are cousins, so-to-speak – and there are so many more problems we could be sorting out, if this was something we could all really take in, and believe in.
    I guess I really am privileged, firstly, to have grown up not having to live in fear because of the colour of my skin and, secondly, that I live here in the UK, instead of America, where this issue can literally be one of life or death for everyone of colour.
    The only way I have experienced anything like this, is in the fact that I am disabled, and am having to deal with the way people are now thinking about the disabled here in the UK, due to a succession of neoliberal governments who think only of what they can take for themselves, rather than helping those who can’t help themselves (I know the same is going on in the US, too).
    But I know that, what I endure with that, is nothing to the lives being lost all over the world because of the fate of being born with the ‘wrong’ skin colour 😦
    My heart truly goes out to anyone who has to fight such bigotry.
    I’m just glad that the groundswell of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, is taking this issue into the public arena – and I hope, and pray, that it brings out the best in people for a change, instead of the worst.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It was great reading your insights and it proves that discrimination, bigotry, and social injustices aren’t exclude to ethnic minorities. This is something that affects us all and we all must stand up for each other when another group is being silenced or abandoned.

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  5. I have been trying to explain white privilege to some people and it requires a mind blowing amount of patience. Some people seem to be stuck in their preconceived notion of what privilege is….they associate it with status, money and power…..I liked your description……”privilege takes the form of a LACK of injustices you ENDURE.” That’s the money shot right there. I also read one post where the author described going on a first date with a black man who claimed he didn’t have kids. She saw baby wipes in the car and gave him a look – he explained – it’s to tidy up. Then she saw a stuffed animal in the rear window…and she got suspicious. He told her the stuffie was there because a cop friend told him a black man driving a nice sedan is less likely to get pulled over if it looks like a family car. That is some bullshit I never would have dreamed…things I don’t have to think about because I happen to be white. It breaks my heart that we aren’t further along than this but we aren’t and denying that fact isn’t going to fix it. Thank you for your post.

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    • Thank you for your response (and your understanding). I always try to find a diplomatic, non-aggressive writing approach to serious subjects of this nature. Most people reject or shy away from angry rants. It’s inspired a feature film I wrote that is scheduled to shoot later this fall, titled “You People.” I hope I can continue to bring about positive change through my work (in all its various incarnations).

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