Mural of George Floyd in downtown Asheville.

Mural of George Floyd in downtown Asheville. Photo: Renato Rotolo

A Better Way? Three Generations of Pain

Mural of George Floyd in downtown Asheville.
Mural of George Floyd in downtown Asheville. Photo: Renato Rotolo
by T.J. Moore –

In my monthly column, Songs, Movies & Moments, I focus on songs, movies, and moments as they pertain to the latest news in entertainment.

However, for this month, I want to focus on a moment—a moment that encompasses not only this men’s issue of The Urban News, but also the climate of this country right now at this moment.

On Twitter recently, I saw a tweet fly up my timeline that was a gut punch I have never experienced before. What I saw made my heart sink to the floor, and I haven’t been able to shake it since.

The tweet I’m referring to was a video clip that featured three black men. They were in the midst of the riots. One man was 45, another was 31, and the youngest was only 16 years old. In this clip, the oldest man looked considerably older than his 45 years. He looked beaten if not broken. It looked as if he carried the burden of his ancestors and past generations on his face.

The man was ranting and raving about what he’s been seeing and experiencing during the fallout of the killing of George Floyd. The 31-year-old repeatedly said “I understand” and let him emote about the lack of change. The video really got emotional for me when the 31-year-old brought the 16-year-old into his huddle.

He warned the young man that he’ll end up angry and rioting just like himself and the older man—unless he comes up with a better way. The 31-year-old pleaded with the young man to do better and to break the cycle.

After repeatedly watching that clip, I wondered, and I still wonder, what a “better way” looks like. I may not know what it looks like, but I have an idea of what it doesn’t look like.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Rioting is the language of the unheard.” But the thing is, the rioting is being heard, but it’s also being dismissed. The language of rioting was heard in 1965. It was heard in 1967 and 1968. It was heard in 1992. It was heard in Ferguson and in Baltimore.

There is no question that the majority has heard this language. However, it isn’t enough to move the needle of their hearts. To put it more bluntly, they don’t care. They never did care. When the smoke clears and the rubble is hauled away from cities all across America, the majority still won’t care. It will be status quo per usual unless we find a way to interrupt the pattern.

Another thing that stood out to me about that clip was the fact that the 31-year-old man talked as if he and 45-year-old couldn’t find a better way. He talked as if it’s too late for them and it’s up to the 16-year-old to make a better way.

However, I didn’t see it like that. The older men could help that young man form a better way. It’s not too late for them to sit down, plan, and strategize.

Again, I’m not going to sit here and act like I have all the answers. I don’t. All I have is a hypothesis—an educated guess. I believe that the better way is through the polls and the bank. It starts with political knowledge and awareness and economic mobilization. It starts with not taking the vote for granted. It starts with making an agenda and holding public officials accountable. Making them earn your vote.

Economically, it begins by buying resources. Take away our consumer dollars from the established system, and invest them in ourselves—our businesses, our entrepreneurs, our people. It might not be much but it’s a start.

What do you think?


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