I write most of my blog posts in the month preceding when they get posted, so when I started thinking about this post my idea was to write a fantasy story about shooting guns with my father at the old College Airport off of Waller Mill Road. I had an idea that there would be some kind of demons and we blew them away with our government issued .38s and legally registered .22 pistols. This summer of violence has taken that bit of fiction away from me.

The land at the airport was used as storage for William and Mary and as a place for police officers to practice their marksmanship. Rows of pine trees surrounded the grounds. The exact layout of their placement suggested that they must have been planted after the area ceased being an airport. The bare ground varied between dry, cracking clay and loose, sandy soil. There was a building there that had the smell of an antique store and was filled with tons of furniture stored in mothballs beneath a curtain of cob webs. The airport was far enough away from Richmond and Mooretown roads so that the clacking of the trees and the booming of the guns was about all that could be heard. There was a smell of spent gun powder, the same smell that came from popping strings of paper in cap guns.

Romantic, huh?

Those were great times. I was a boy with, as I saw them, important men (I don’t remember any women being there) who taught me the importance of being safe with guns. I was allowed to shoot the weapons and they instilled in me a respect for the power guns discharge. At that early age, I understood the responsibility of having a gun and as such, I think I had a respectful fear of them. Through high school I would have three guns of my own, but by college, I was out of the gun club.

So back to this summer… I can’t believe what is going on with gun violence. I can’t believe what is going on with policing. I can’t believe what is going on with the killing of police. As I try to make sense of the absolute horror of what is going on, I keep coming back to guns. Before some whacko from a guns rights advocacy group comes at me saying something about the Constitution, I’ll say I get it. The question I have for them is do they get it?

They argue, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” True. Perhaps they should be recognizing that, “People use guns to kill people.” The problem, as my independently registered voting mind sees things, is that the access to guns and the lack of respect for gun ownership has led to a culture that fails to recognize the responsibility of owning a gun. I could go on about the lack of responsibility for life in general, but then I might be labeled too liberal or too conservative by whichever side was more pissed off by my finger pointing. But back to guns… Are we where we were when the Constitution was written? Could the framers of that wonderful document have foreseen the kind of guns and the ease with which they can be gotten? Would they have supported the irresponsible use of guns by some police and some in the citizenry to the magnitude of which we are experiencing this year? Probably not. Yet here we are in 2016 thinking the same way as in 1788. What of the last 288-years? (I hear you, Ali…)

There are big problems facing our country. The election being the first. Not really, although that’s pretty bad. For me, race relations is the true number one. Unfortunately, guns are so completely tied to the reactionary nature of dealing with race and the complex issues of getting people to come together, the tool of death seems like a better place to start. Where guns, the tools of death (I know, hyperbole…Do deer call it hyperbole?…I’m not anti-hunting…) are concerned, there has got to be a common sense way to control guns without infringing upon the rights of people to own them. Maybe, if gone violence could be slowed, there could be less impassioned, but more productive conversations about how to improve race relations. At the time I am writing this, there seems to be some sort of shooting involving police and citizens (the bullets are being initiated in both directions) every day.

How do we even begin to bridge the divide without resorting to more gun violence? I would suggest that we bring jobs back to America. Hopefully, the jobs could go to areas that really need them and the corporations and unions could figure out a way both sides could make a living so people would not find it necessary to turn to careers so reliant on guns. Dreamy, I know.

Ultimately, all the BS this summer must stop. The police need figure it out. We need you and we need you to be responsible in your use of force. We understand the stress that you are under, but bad cops need to be ratted out by good ones. Law enforcement cannot ask us to “snitch” and not do the same when the “boys in blue” prove not to be worthy of a badge. The people committing crimes against police need to stop it. Go watch The Purge, Escape From New York, or the evening news to see what lawlessness looks like. Is that how you really want to live? I bet not. I realize this is a rant that does little to offer solutions to the problems of guns, gun violence, or the issues of race relations that are so connected to guns.

Something has to change.

A voodoo murder in Cuba,
Sensationalism at its best
Giving way to its worst.

Evidently the mystical charms
Brought physical harm
To a young lad of six.

The details filled in by the report
Included a full palette of discussion
On the victim’s pale skin.

The details also focused
On the dark nature
Of the machete wielding blood seeker.

Reading the story
Stirred a bit of sickness
Where everything is broken to black and white.

The blood was red.
The fear this murderous ritual inspired was blinding.
The sadness for the whole affair was black or blue, whichever.

This story, salacious as it was,
Still gets written today
On media benefitting from race baiting.

Be it one culture downing others
Be it another clowning back,
I’m drowning in all this separation.

How does this happen,
Shooting in Ferguson again?
How does it go down,
Where does the blame begin?

Jobs.
Hope.
Responsibility.
Gun control.

People need jobs to survive.
Not just menial work,
Jobs that let them earn
Enough to give them a chance.

The masses, all of US,
Need to think about OUR duty
To live together,
Forsaking the inane anger build on differences.

Perhaps the time has come
To mandate gun ownership,
Make everyone a pistol packing citizen,
Nah, we already know what people do with guns.

Jobs. Hope. Responsibility. Gun Control.

The premise is simple,
But one year after Michael Brown
And something happens there again?
Easier said than done, I suppose.

Who walked these halls before me?

What math were they taught?
When did they know they were getting “hosed?”
Where did the hatred come from?
Why were we taught only the glory of the South?
How do schools live with their failure to teach the whole history?
[Even today, across the vastness 
Of human experience…]
In some ways
My three years here
Must have seeped 
Into my soul.
I have questioned,
Myself and history.
I have regret,
Of myself and of our history.
This building seems more important
To me today than when I was a kid,
But I struggle to understand
So much about that past.
I know, though,
I am thankful for protest,
Enlightenment, and my time in Williamsburg
For it was there that I learned, “people are people.”
I learned it 
Right here in this building
That for too long was a false symbol
Of just the opposite.

Thank goodness for my education
So I could fill in the gaps
Of what I wasn’t taught
Back in the Old Dominion.

Like the extent my people went
To deny everyone else
A life constitutionally guaranteed
To them.

I’m saddened to think,
Barely sixty years ago,
Separate but equal
Was the rule.

I’m saddened to know,
Barely sixty years ago,
People professing morality
Were denying basic human rights.

And to think.
“Virginia is for Lovers.”
Really?
Lovers of what?

Now that I’m “educated”
The real learning is taking place.
My questions are answered completely.
My attitudes able to grow.

The way it should have always been.

The way it should have always been for everyone.

Frustration mounts.
Disappointment, too.
Research seems to be historically white, but
My book’s characters are not.

Township web pages
Ignore their lengthy pasts
By not including lessons
Of their cultural diversity.

Historical societies play celebrity segregation
When pandering to the laziness
Of only publishing their big name history and ignoring
All who came from their little community’s past.

Who were these laborers in the census
Listed as black under race?
Where did these housekeepers live
In these historic areas?

Why are they missing
From these academic records?
When will they be included
In the official story?

Come on hysterical societies of learning,
Publish our full histories,
For We deserve greater understanding
Of time’s colorful palette.

I’m proud to say
I went to an historic elementary school.
I’m disappointed in my education
Delivered in a town so steeped in history
And a state, oops, I mean commonwealth,
That so glosses over the past
With a disturbing social silence.

The southern history of fighting for freedom
Only seems pertinent
For the separation from England
Or the defense against the northern invaders,
But it’s so white washed
It’s barely even palatable, less so patriotic.

How am I just learning today
Of school district’s being closed
Just so private schools could exclude
Kids of color from an equal chance to learn?

Farmville.

Why wasn’t I told this in 1975?
My favorite place of learning
Was just a few years removed from
Being converted from a segregated high school
To a beautiful example of what could be
When we work together.

I wish I had known then
So I could understand now.

Still, today, the dialogue fails to speak.
Injustice, mistrust, and the hush
In schools continue to pretend
The past never happened
Or that the present
Needs to be talked about.

The same pressures to be quiet exist today,
Pride, fear, control, avoidance of controversy…
The same consequences abound, too,
Anger, violence, hate…

Shouldn’t we open up???

The news from MO is troubling
The sorrow following the grand jury’s opinion
Seeps from so many crevices
It’s hard to know where is
The best place to put pressure
So that the bleeding might stop

My standing on this issue
Is not with any credibility
In these troubled times
But my distrust of institutions of power is real
My fear of running afoul of them real too
My want for sanity from law enforcement
Exactly like my prayers for people to do right

Negate the need,
Live within the law

But how about those
White collar crooks breaking laws of morality
Thinking not of their brothers
Only their wallets
Their greed leaving little for us
Their exporting of jobs
Leaving less for us
Other than anger, frustration,
Want

Bring some jobs back
Watch people change

Idealistic
Too simplistic

Too bad
That’s how I feel

And I’d prefer
If relations were better

One game with one set of rules
Played so many different ways
Win by two
Take it back
Touch fouls called
Hard fouls taken as part of the rigor

I prefer the hard games
With fellas right up in my face
Telling me I’m no good
Because of the fairness of my skin
So I can drop twine tickling jumpers
Then sneak by for a reverse lay up

I prefer hard games
Where the flow is expected
And the screens are away
Because the freedom it brings my dark skin
To lay in a silky finger roll
Or thunder down the lane
Unleashing a rim rocking dunk

Whether
Games with grit
Or
Games with finesse
We
Need not bother with skin color
As this is OUR game
With one set of rules

And what a beautiful game it is…

Next.