“Fences” . . .

fences

 

Yes indeedy … it is Hump Day!!!

So much drama still going on in the aftermath of the election, comments going back and forth between the two parties as well as legal developments for the President Elect, too!  Fences …  It is a metaphor for building protection between oneself … and the society one lives in …  Do we need “fences” between us and “others”?  Who are these “others”?  Where did the division occur??

I sat watching the news clips of the violence led by law enforcement against African American men, mostly, though there were a few women of color who lost their lives as a result of conflicts between them and law enforcement.  One “black” woman supposedly hung herself once jailed as a result of the inhumane treatment she had received from a Texas State Trooper …. peace be still!  It reminds me of the lack of communications between people in general.  Why is that?  Why is it when we speak the same language that we oftentimes still don’t understand each other?!?  Do the words change meaning depending on what side of “the fence” you were raised on?!?  Has our society’s fabric been reduced to “self interest” ONLY?  As I watched the news clips from 2016 of the many African American men killed by police, my heart broke a little bit more … Yes, I also saw the stories where a few men of color were so “confused” as to how they should respond to the apparent disparities experienced by people of color and their interactions with “law enforcement” that they tried to lash back at them with weapons and attacks.  Do you think these “discrepancies” don’t drive some people “crazy”?  Well it does … That’s why so many “black” fathers have to have that conversation with their sons (and daughters, too …) about how they should respond when they “bump up against” law enforcement … or any authority in our society’s organizations, be it jobs or schools or other institutions in our society.

Last weekend, I decided to go see “Fences” – the movie, directed by Denzel Washington.  He also starred in the movie with Viola Davis as they sought to bring the play to a wider audience via the movies and still capture the goals of the author of the play, August Wilson.  The backdrop was Pittsburgh, PA and it was staged in what could be considered the 1950’s more or less when race was an issue on everyone’s lips once they were on “their side of the fence”.  In many instances, persons in positions of power want the “other” to be completely subservient, voiceless, intimidated even!!!  In essence, those in positions of power want “the other” to be afraid of them or of losing something … like a job, money … or even their lives!!!  In situations with law enforcement, many men of color have had to lose their lives in order to make a statement … or in just trying to follow directions … like taking their driver’s license out and ending up shot and killed because the officer thought they had a gun and were reaching for it!!  Believe it or not, some fathers get confused as to what message to deliver to their sons during this “conversation” or “talk” aimed at saving the young black man’s life.  That’s what came out in the movie “Fences”.  While Denzel, the father, told his son that “people don’t have to like you … they just have to do right by you”, he also thwarted his son’s efforts to pursue getting a scholarship to college playing football!  Times were changing, as Viola Davis – the boy’s mother – tried to tell Denzel who had his own set of issues, including alcoholism and a “pregnant woman on the side”.  The plot thickened … and Denzel and his son ended up in physical conflict themselves!!

Sometimes, I have that conversation with my daughter as well as any other young folks that I come into contact with.  Here of late, I find myself faced with that same scenario where someone may be treating me or questioning me in a fashion where they are already assuming that I am “wrong”.  It’s tough sometimes, for any of us … at any age!!!  Folks like those “fences” …. “built to keep some people or things out … and to keep some people or things in”.  I don’t know if I got my point across in this, but if I didn’t, go see “Fences” – the movie anyway.  You’ll understand what I am talking about!

This is the last “Hump Day” of 2016, so, go forth and enjoy yourselves!

Peace,

John I. Cook, Director
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