Category: Post

How Important Is A Brand?

How Important Is A Brand?

The Bible says that names are important. That is the best reference I have for wisdom that is older and more respected than I. Have you noticed how some people in the Bible had their names changed? You name a person Mal for example, and you can expect bad things to happen. A brand is similar. You are a brand. I am a brand. My brand has changed as I aged. I’ve been online since 1999 but didn’t understand the power of a brand, or a social media presence. I used mine as an alias to help me keep my good government job. That is not a good way or suggested way to use a brand or a name by the way. I became famous for being known internationally as the Black Man With A Gun (TM) but not rich. That is what I really wanted. I wanted to have money like Scrooge McDuck but it didn’t happen. My brand today is to inspire people and help them live their best life.

I just started this new page in my life. It’s a good time for it. We just got through the worse year for many with COVID-19 and the Coronavirus pandemic. I restarted the Urban Shooter Podcast aka the Black Man With A Gun Show earlier this year by popular demand and I am having fun with it. There are a lot of new firearms owners and activist out here. They are the target audience I was aiming for twenty five years ago. Along my journey though I saw just as much grief and trouble that was not firearms related. It moved me to serve as a pastor. That brand didn’t jibe with some people.

Guns and Religious people – OMG! Like Daniel Boone and other Mountain Men, I blazed a trail for many. I took a few hits.

I learned that I loved working in recording studios and radio stations. I learned I loved podcasting and never stopped. I’ve voiced commercials that I didn’t get paid for. I learned and still learning to market myself kennblanchard.com as a voice talent. I’m learning about flow, and pacing, inflection and the business of voice acting. Podcasting since 2007 has helped my diction, focus and the art of editing. If you want a voice over artist, check me out. That and a new love I have for guitar are my things. I found joy in reconnecting to my past during this shut down. I want to help other do the same.

I have this new brand that reminds me of the Looney Tunes logo of my childhood. It is my new mantra.

It is not too late to be what you might have been.

It doesn’t matter that I am a former US Marine. I was a federal police officer. I was a pretty good CIA Intel analyst. And have been known internationally as the Black Man With A Gun. I’ve been involved in almost every pro-rights event that involved a person of color. I have lobbied the US Congress. I have testified in the state legislatures of Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, and Wisconsin. I have done commercials for TV against racist gun laws and been featured in four documentaries. He is the author of several books and has a successful podcast with over a million downloads. I have pastored a small Baptist church in Washington, DC. I have managed by the grace of God to stay married for almost thirty years. My brand is to encourage others to live their best life. This new brand is to help and inspire others through my podcast and online activities to try new things. Try old things. That it is never too late to be happy.

https://teespring.com/stores/rev-kenn-blanchard-show

Let me know how I can motivate, inspire or encourage you to not give up or give in till you win. This is my brand. And though it may not have anything to do directly with the gun argument or the foolishness that people like to promote to today as their brand, let’s see which one does the most good.

My podcast(s) are extensions of my brand. If you would like to hear my faith based show, an online church, listen to the podcast from http://speaklifechurch.net  If you want to hear me free-flowing and just cutting up with my motorcycle buddies, check out my motorcycle podcast which is good for any brand you ride although I am partial to the Indian Motorcycle.  Which I don’t even own yet.  And the podcast that is leading in downloads and has been since 2007 from Blackmanwithagun.com .  And finally, the Rev. Kenn Blanchard Show is a summation of them all tied together with the bow of positivity.  

 

Be careful of who and what you let into your head.  Please remember it ain’t too late to change.

 

kennblanchard.com 

Check out these podcast:  Black Man With A Gun Show ,  Speak Life church , and  Indian Motorcycle radio  The Books, Kenn has written.
Black Man With a Gun for Silencerco

Black Man With a Gun for Silencerco

The  year 2020 has been difficult for many of us.  I am glad to get some good news and share with you.  The ranges have been packed with new gun owners.  Most look like me.  It is unbelievable. 

Fear is still behind the sales but it aint the first time.  

What is the good news?

I am happy to announce that I will be a brand ambassador for the world’s largest firearm silencer manufacturer, SilencerCo. The company based in West Valley, UT is the nation’s leading designer and manufacturer of suppressors. SilencerCo is dedicated to creating products that will improve sound reduction levels, durability and longevity, form and function, ease of use and maintenance in ways never thought of or achieved.

I’m excited because I get to share my journey with you through social media.

Brand Ambassador

I used to think that silencers were only for the rich.  Some people think silencers are only for bad guys in the movies. And although the government has made it tough to get a suppressor you can own one legally.  In the upcoming videos and blog post,  I am going to be sharing the 5W’s  (Why, who, where, when, and What) of suppressors from my friends at SilencerCo.  The one in the video is an Osprey model that is on my Gen 3 Glock 17.  My review and demos are not going to be from a tech guy perspective.  We will talk tech but I am not geeking out on it and pretending to be an engineer or tinkerer.  This will be from a regular guy, gun enthusiast, law abiding suburban gun owner like you.  

There are some cool things about its design.  I hope to share who made the thing.  Why you should get one or two.  How it can help you.  How to get one.  When they were created.  And stuff that you won’t hear anywhere else.  You’ll see my flubs and mistakes.  I plan to share the journey with you so you can start off smarter.   

Unfortunately, if you live in the District of Columbia, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and the Rhode Island you can’t own one.  You can get one is you are a legally eligible to purchase a firearm in your state of residence, able to pass a BATFE background check and are at least 21 years of age you can  purchase from a dealer. 

They are called cans, mufflers, silencers and suppressors. 

How they work is simple. 

  1. Instead of exiting directly from the muzzle, propellant gases first enter the silencer’s expansion chamber, losing some of their energy.
  2. Pressure continues to divert and slow within the baffles while heat dissipates, allowing the projectile to exit before the majority of the gas.
  3. As a result, the report of the shot is suppressed to a hearing-safe level and the de-corking effect, or BANG!, is mitigated.

 

As I learn, I’ll share the details with you here or on Silencerco.com so you can get the truth about silencers.  

Subscribe to the podcast, blackmanwithagun.com  and the YouTube channel.  

 

Kenn

 

Check out these podcast:  Black Man With A Gun Show ,  Speak Life church , and  Indian Motorcycle radio  The Books, Kenn has written.
The Good Old Days

The Good Old Days

With the election less than a week away, I think it is time for a final reminder of the importance of this decision regarding gun freedom. No matter how you personally feel about Donald Trump, there is no other choice if preserving the 2nd Amendment is important to you. There is no third way.

If you vote third party, or simply stay home (kind of the same thing), you are saying that there are other things more important to you than the 2nd Amendment. That’s OK, if that’s how you really feel. But don’t try to convince the rest of us that you’re making the best choice for preserving gun rights…don’t kid yourself, either. And if your grudge against President Trump is because he banned bump stocks and made a couple of comments about gun control (which he never acted on), then explain to me how voting him out of office does anything to improve the position of gun rights in this country. I actually saw a comment on Facebook where someone said they wanted to vote Trump out of office because he “wants his bump stock back.” I hate to tell you, bud…but if you vote Trump out of office, you’ll be looking back at the time he banned bump stocks as “the good old days.”

“Things were so much better when all we had to worry about was bump stocks and rude Tweets.”

That’s because if Trump loses, it will be because Joe Biden won (no, Libertarians…Jo Jorgensen isn’t going to win). And under a Biden (and eventually Harris) presidency, you ain’t getting your bump stock back. In fact, if Biden wins, you quite literally stand to lose everything. If the Democrats keep the House, flip the Senate, and manage to put Biden/Harris in the White House, you’ll wish all they were doing was banning bump stocks. Their gun control agenda…which is documented in detail on their website…is so draconian and so comprehensive that if they successfully implemented even half of it, then it is effectively game over for the 2nd Amendment.

“There’s an old picture of me shooting my AR-15…back before President Biden banned them. I sure do miss that rifle.”

Now, some of you are probably thinking, “No, it isn’t game over. I’ll fight to keep my guns.” How brave of you. How serious you are. So serious that you would consider spilling blood over your gun rights, rather than making the strategic choice and voting for the best hope of avoiding that fight. So serious that you would consider lining up sights on your fellow Americans and pulling the trigger before you would consider voting for Trump. All because of bump stocks and a few ill-considered words.

“Yes, I voted for Biden. Trump was so rude! No, I still haven’t gotten my bump stock back. Why do you ask?”

Again, if Biden wins every single gun control measure imaginable is on the table. A Biden administration is guaranteed to make life worse for gun owners than a Trump administration. Then, if the battle for the 2nd Amendment becomes a literal one instead of a figurative one, things become still worse for gun owners…as well as everybody else. In either of these futures, we’ll be looking back at the Trump presidency as the good old days.

“Remember when we thought Trump was the worst for banning bump stocks? Before we voted for Biden and he banned everything? Those were the good old days.”

Original post at deltabravocharlie.com

Making New Shooters in Motown

Making New Shooters in Motown

Originally published by Rick Ector at Ammoland.com

 

Firearm Instructors united August 15th and 16th in Taylor – a Detroit suburb – to provide free firearm training to 1,938 metro-Detroit women. They answered a call for assistance by Rick Ector, a Detroit Firearm Instructor, who conducts an annual program to give women a free range safety briefing and a free shooting lesson. Last year, 814 local women were trained by the program. At that point in time, it was the program’s highest-ever attendance total.

The program was created by Ector nine years ago after watching a local story on the news about a woman’s lifeless and naked body being found in a deserted field. He was inspired to ask four fellow firearm instructors he knew to donate their time to help him give women a free shooting lesson. That year fifty women were trained. All expenses were donated by the gun range and Ector.

The free program, now in its ninth year of operation, has grown steadily over the years. Accordingly, Ector set a goal of training a total of 1,500 women this year by conducting his program at two local ranges – “Recoil Gun Range” and “Top Gun Shooting Sports.” Both ranges are located in Taylor, Michigan.

On Saturday, August 15th, a single day training record of 1,200 women being trained how to safely operate a pistol was established at the “Recoil Gun Range.” Further, another 738 women were trained on the following day at “Top Gun Shooting Sports.” Thus, a total of 1,938 women were trained over a two day period.

Students were registered for the program over the Internet to arrive for scheduled range safety briefings and a shooting lesson. Lessons were delivered via one-on-one pairings with a vetted volunteer instructor. The responsibility for classroom instruction and overall supervision of the range belonged to an all-woman team of Chief Training Officers (CTO): Tanisha Moner, Margie Walden, Audree Danielson, and Jamie Gabriel.

Moner, an NRA Chief Range Safety Officer (CRSO) and Certified Firearm Instructor (CFI), served as a CTO for the event. One of her main duties was to prepare the women attendees for their shooting lesson by delivering a presentation on safety rules. She also described what to expect during the live-fire exercise.

When asked to explain why she donates her time to the event, Moner said the following, “Helping to empower these ladies – usually at the beginning of their journey into firearms – is surreal. I can’t NOT participate in this event; it is the highlight of my year.”

Walden, Danielson, and Gabriel are all also NRA CFIs, who served the event as CTOs. Their jobs were to supervise first-line firearm instructors who taught the women attendees how to safely load, handle, and discharge 9mm semi-automatic pistols at approved targets.

Walden explained why she donates her time to the program as the following, “This is the fifth year in a row that I participated because I think it’s very important to empower other women. As a firearm instructor I want to do my part to ensure shooters are trained properly and safely.”

Danielson explained her participation as the following, “I really enjoy working with instructors and volunteers on the range for the ‘Legally Armed In Detroit’ (LAID) event. I love Rick’s event because every person involved – whether they are a participant, volunteer, an instructor – help to make a positive impact on our community.”

Gabriel explained the merit of the training program as the following, “The ‘LAID Annual Free Women Shoot Event’ is important to me because of the safe gun handling training and women empowerment. Every year is an opportunity to build, encourage, and edify women in their pursuit of firearm knowledge.”

Ector’s program relied upon the donated labor and travel expenses of some of the participating Firearm Instructors and other volunteers. The following people who visited Michigan to donate their time are listed as the following: Craig Deluz (CA), Kerry Sloan (WA), Aquil Bey (MD), Candy Petticord (OH), Michael Petticord (OH), Abby Petticord (OH), Jim Irvine (OH), Patrick Collins (GA), Mike Piowowarski (FL), and Kevin Sona (FL).

This year’s program also relied upon donations from a variety of generous sponsors to cover operational expenses:

  • “Recoil Gun Range” donated the use of its meeting space and gun range on Saturday, August 15th.
  • “Top Gun Shooting Sports” donated the use of its meeting space and gun range and sponsored lunch for volunteers on Sunday, August 16th.
  • “Gun Owners of America” (GOA) donated 1,500 pairs of safety glasses and gave away 1,500 baseball GOA imprinted baseball caps.
  • “Firearms Legal Protection” (FLP) donated 1,500 target silhouettes and sponsored lunch for volunteers on Saturday, August 15th.
  • ATEi donated the use of its 9mm semi-automatic pistols.
  • Black Bottom Gun Club donated 900 gun locks.
  • Fenix Ammunition donated 10,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ ammo cartridges.
  • Michigan Gun Owners (MGO) donated 10,000 rounds of 9mm FMJ ammo cartridges and 1,000 pairs of ear plugs.

Volunteer firearm instructors for this event are often the unsung heroes who enable the training to take place. There were scores of instructors who conducted the training of the women but there are too many to list individually. However, one such instructor – Charles LeBron Simmons – is being singled out because other than Ector, he is the only person who has donated his time every year.

Simmons explains his participation in the program as the following, “I look forward to ‘THE EVENT’ every year. I really enjoy showing women of all ages and skill levels how to shoot. I know that it only takes training one to make a difference.”

As a result of the program’s run-away success this past weekend, many observers are wondering what is next for the program. Ector is currently planning for the program to not only grow in the state of Michigan at additional locations, but he also wants to conduct this program in other states across the United States. He is currently quiet about next year’s training goal but he has hinted that he wants to take the program to the next level.

Ector wants feedback from the public, as to where he should conduct his program in the future. Additionally, he is currently seeking additional donors who can make those plans financially feasible.

 

About Rick Ector

Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW/CPL Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school – Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit.

Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety, a gun rights keynote speaker, and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, Fox News, USA Today, NRAnews, Gun Digest, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, Lock-N-Load Radio, WGPR and the UrbanShooterPodcast.

Life is Easier When You Can Laugh

Life is Easier When You Can Laugh

John Hickok is doing standup and is pretty good.   He is a talented, tall brother.  This was recorded at Laffs Comedy Cafe in Tucson Arizona on 1/24/2020. John Hickok is the co-creator and co-host of world famous award winning YouTube channel hickok45 and I just found out is a nationally touring stand up comedian. He was also featured on an episode of NRA All Access previously airing on the Outdoor Channel. His comedy influences are The Simpsons , Bill Hicks , Dave Chappelle , George Carlin , and Mitch Hedberg.

Listen to the real reason he carries a gun. NSFW. (its comedy)


To stay up to date on future shows as well as business contact follow on Instagram @john_hickok45 as well as @johnhickokpresentsstandup.

 

WAY TO GO John!

Check out these podcast:  Black Man With A Gun Show ,  Speak Life church , and  Indian Motorcycle radio  The Books, Kenn has written.
Dream On

Dream On

An awful lot of gun people seem to be having a little crush lately, and the object of their affection is Libertarian Party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen. I have to say that while she gives great soundbites, I don’t think there is a whole lot of substance underneath the surface. Kind of reminds me of this 90’s tune from obscure Canadian band, The Northern Pikes…

Now we can consider all the ins and outs of the Electoral College, and how Dr. Jorgensen doesn’t stand a snowballs chance of scoring even a single electoral vote. But if you’re politically engaged enough to even know who she is, then you already know her odds of winning. If…after considering all that…you are still considering throwing your vote away by checking the box for her “on principle” come November, then this is the post for you.

It is admittedly easy for a pro-2A voter to swoon when she speaks on her plans for the right to keep and bear arms. Just listen to what she had to say to Tom Gresham on Gun Talk a couple of weeks ago:

Except her plans aren’t really much of a plan. Taken at face value, she is a gun- rights advocate’s dream. Abolish all gun laws passed in the last 100 years? Yes! Abolish the ATF? Count me in! It all sounds good on paper, until you notice that she offers nothing in the way of a strategy to actually accomplish any of this. She even says “if it were up to me I would get rid of every gun law passed in the last 100 years”? The thing is, it isn’t up to her, or any president. If she’s unaware of that, she might not have a solid grasp of what the office actually entails. If she is aware of that, then she’s straight up pandering to the gun vote.

It was the lack of detail in the Gun Talk interview that led me to Jorgensen’s website to see if there was any more information on her plans to restore the Second Amendment. Imagine my surprise when I found…absolutely nothing. There is nothing at all on her website which addresses gun rights, even in passing. It is not listed under her “Issues,” or anywhere else on the site that I could find. No mention. At all.

What does this say about her sincerity or seriousness when it comes to the Second Amendment? It tells me that if you’re looking to Jo Jorgensen to restore gun freedoms in this country, you can dream on. She stands no chance, and has no plan to achieve what she claims she aspires to even of she did somehow win. And if you somehow cling to the idea that a third-party vote does anything other than help elect Joe Biden, you need to wake up. The addled Democrat’s gun policy embraces every radical anti-gun policy you can imagine; he is no moderate on the issue of the Second Amendment (and neither are any of his potential running mates, who will likely end up as president early in Biden’s first term).

There is no third way. There is no realistic strategy for preserving gun freedom other than a vote for Donald Trump. Keep dreaming that dream, and wake up to a nightmare.

Original post at deltabravocharlie.com

How Calibers Get Popular and How to Pick the Best

How Calibers Get Popular and How to Pick the Best

There are hundreds of calibers to choose from when deciding on your next firearm, so how to choose? Like it or not, the most common, household names like 9mm are not the best performing rounds out there. Many factors determine how popular and widely available a caliber will be, including,

  • military use
  • good marketing
  • adoption by many firearm and ammo manufacturers
  • rave reviews from respected figures in the firearms community
  • performance

I put performance at the end of the list for a reason, it’s just not the main deciding factor.

 

The big three: when in doubt, use what the Army uses

Three of the most widely available rifle calibers have been US military standard issue, .30-06, .308, and .223. Yeah, they have some fancy metric names but these are actually the original designations. The first two are outstanding performers. The US military introduced the .30-06 in 1906 to make sure that it had the firepower to outgun rifles like the Mauser 1983 used by the Spanish in the Spanish-American War. The .308 was a failed attempt to adapt the .30-06 for select fire after WWII. It turned out to be an outstanding performer in long-range marksmanship and is still used in NATO sniper rifles. Both the .30-06 and the .308 are legendary rounds, two of the most popular in America and around the world. The next standard issue US military rifle round is more contentious, the .223. The UK wanted to bring NATO into the assault rifle age with the FN FAL chambered in the superior .280 British, but the US military doesn’t like being told what to do, so AR-15 in .223 it was. The rifle is a runaway success, but the round, designed to be light, fast, and easy to pack in bulk definitely has its detractors. It doesn’t really excel in anything.

 

It’s a similar story with the military’s move from the 45 ACP thumper to the 9mm. Both the .223 and the 9mm are considered by many to be pea-shooters and major missteps in military procurement. Nevertheless, thanks to Uncle Sam’s seal of approval, these are two of the most ubiquitous rounds on the civilian market today. One of the best handgun calibers is 10mm, which was developed to outgun both 45 ACP and 9mm in a semi-auto handgun. The FBI trialed it after the tragic 1986 Miami shootout, but weaker trainees found it hard to manage. Instead of giving them more training, the FBI developed the .40 S&W, which is still better than the 9mm.

 

Does standard issue mean best of the best?

As a civilian shooter, your priorities are probably not to have something that will outgun the Spanish, provide .30-06 performance in full-auto, be easy to pack in bulk into battle, or be easy on the weak. If you’ve ever built an AR-15, you know that mil-spec components are solid options, but for a bit more cash, you can get something much better. The same is true with calibers. There are of course rounds that have been designed from the ground up to meet civilian needs, but even in that category, the most popular options are not the best performers. Legendary options like .270 and .243 come to mind to out-perform the .308, depending on the specific scenario. If ‘go big or go home’ is your motto, to outgun .30-06, anything with a ‘Weatherby’ and ‘Magnum’ in the name will do the trick, especially if there’s also a ‘.300’ in it. The .300 Winchester Magnum is also hard to beat. 

 

It’s not hard to do better than .223

It’s disconcerting that the calibers for taking out fools are the same as those for taking out varmints. It’s not hard to find something that performs better than .223, check out .204 Ruger or 6.5 Creedmoor. For whatever reason, 6.5 appears to be a ballistic sweet spot. Rounds in this range usually offer long, thin bullets, giving you a great ‘ballistic coefficient,’ meaning they cut through the air efficiently, shooting straight and flat without getting bucked by the wind. Many argue that they hit well above their weight. Think 6.5x55mm Swedish, .260 Remington, 6.5 Grendel, or even its daughter case, .224 Valkyrie. Unlike the military rounds mentioned above, you’re not going to find these in every single little sporting goods shop. I know of no round with better ballistics than the .260. Remington failed to market it well when it was introduced and other manufacturers didn’t take it up, so it faded away everywhere but in long-range competition results. Legendary civilian rounds like .270 Winchester enjoyed solid marketing, brought adoption by manufacturers, and rave reviews by leading figures in the firearms community. It is a great performer, but, like .308, it’s not the best.

 

Availability is a major issue in picking the best caliber

As performance and popularity are not in perfect alignment, if you insist on going for the ultimate cartridge in a given category, you’re probably going to face availability issues. Sure, every so often there is a general, nationwide ammo shortage anyway. One way around this is to reload. Get a reloading press and other equipment, stock up on brass, invest in an annealer, and you’ll be pretty self-sufficient. If you cast your own bullets from old tire weights, all you need to worry about is powder and primers.

 

Check out our guide to reloading.

 

One way to avoid agonizing over which caliber is best is to just go 12 gauge. You sacrifice range for unrivaled versatility. Most deer are shot not far past the effective range of a slug, and a slug will drop anything you place a decent shot on. Buckshot is a great option for home defense, but again, the most popular, old military option, double-aught, isn’t as good as #1 buckshot, which will give your assailant more pellets and more lead to contend with.

 

The bottom line: it’s the shooter not the round

After all that nitpicking, here’s the bottom line. If you go with a well established, proven caliber in one of these categories,

  • Handgun
  • Rifle for varmints/defense
  • Rifle for mid-sized game
  • Rifle for large game

You can save the headache of obsessing over which caliber to choose. Training and practice will make vastly more difference in how effective your shooting is than caliber choice. Availability is an important factor to consider when choosing the ‘best caliber.’ So if a good deal on a gun in a proven caliber comes up, don’t fret, pull the trigger. Get yourself trained and put in some serious hours at the range and you’ll be outgunning the best of them. Have fun and shoot safe!

 

5 Actionable Steps For Reducing Racism In America

5 Actionable Steps For Reducing Racism In America

When tasked with that question, It’s easy to shut down, because the issue is simply too big and multifaceted. There is too much that needs to be done: from education to healthcare to law enforcement and incarceration… the list goes on and on. Plus, many solutions require money, time, or confidence – resources that may be lacking in people who sincerely want to help, but feel like there is nothing significant they can do.

I’ve identified 5 simple actions that every single American can implement today, that collectively will help move the needle forward:

 

  1. Get Vulnerable – it is human nature to hold prejudices. When you see someone approaching you, your brain automatically assesses the person and the situation to determine if you are in danger. We’re programmed to look for danger so we can avoid it, or in some cases prepare to confront it. It’s that concept of “fight-or-flight” we learned about when studying animals – but it applies to us too!

These biases we hold are shaped by our unique lives and experiences – and what I perceive as a threat may be different from what you perceive as a threat. We have to be willing and able to acknowledge that those biases exist inside of us, and then we must challenge why they exist? Is it because there is ACTUALLY a threat? Or is the threat a false perception? If it’s a false perception, then we can work on reframing that prejudice.
A few months ago I was working in a Starbucks. A group of kids walked in with their backpacks, they clearly walked over from a nearby school, and were loud and playful and having a good time while they hopped in line to order and started looking for tables to sit at. I moved my purse from the chair next to me, to the floor between my leg and the wall. Why? Not because I wanted to free-up a chair.
I had to recognize what I had just done, realize why I did it, then think about how I can reprogram the experience instead. I moved my purse to the window ledge – off the floor! And made sure to make eye contact with the kids and smile. I imagined my own kids at that age – and remembered hanging out with my own friends similarly. This is nothing to fear. I will reframe this – and other – prejudices when I recognize them.
Challenge yourself: I’ve found that talking about how I’m identifying and reframing my prejudices out loud with a trusted person face-to-face, or even on social media, is really helpful. It holds me accountable, and others show up to support the process, which is vulnerable and difficult.
  1. Educate Yourself – You can not expect anyone else to do the work for you, you must educate yourself. In this day and age where social media is the place where much of our news and education is consumed it’s important to be thorough in your research and to consider the sources for your information. Much of the information on social media tends to have a political agenda tied to it – and that’s a topic for a whole other conversation. But I do encourage you to consume content on both sides of the spectrum and to seek out peer-reviewed sources for information, as opposed to information that is influenced by opinion.

    The same way we got vulnerable to identify our internal biases, we have to extend that vulnerability to the content we are consuming so that we can be as confident as possible that we’re not spreading false or misleading information – including memes.
There is a lot that I’ve discovered that I didn’t know – I am ashamed to admit that I had never learned about the Tulsa Race Massacre until this year. That’s inexcusable. It further enforces that the education system failed me, but also that there is a lot of work I can do to educate myself, which will allow me to be a stronger advocate and also share that information with others.
Challenge yourself: get a small group together to learn together. Select a book or movie that will challenge what you know and watch it – then come together to discuss it openly and with vulnerability. Keep an open-mind, and be willing to learn and possibly change your opinion.
  1. Listen – If you know me personally, you know that this is an especially difficult point for me – because I love to talk! But, if you’re the only one talking – then you can’t possibly be learning.

It’s essential that we compassionately listen to the stories of others – without getting defensive or interjecting our own opinions. We must understand that we all see life through different lenses, which are shaped by our life experiences. Two people can be in the same room at the same time, but leave with different feelings and experiences. We have to be willing to believe what other people tell us about how they feel and what they experienced – even if it’s not consistent with our experiences, or the expectations we had for them.
Oftentimes when it comes to divisive issues (political or otherwise), we project an extremist opinion to those who are in opposition to our beliefs. For example, if you support Black Lives Matter, you hate police. Not always the case, right? And the flip side of that coin – if you support All Lives Matter, you are racist. Not always the case either, right?  But, these perceptions prohibit productive conversations.
We have to have tough conversations to get to the real issues. Maybe we’d discover that the BLM advocate fears police brutality and supports police reform and training… and the ALM advocate has family who are police and they fear for their safety. Once we’ve unpacked that a little, we can begin to continue the discussion, and discover areas where beliefs do in fact overlap. Then, we can open ourselves up to learn more, and evaluate biases we’ve been feeling about people who vote/advocate differently than we do.
Challenge yourself: Show up on social media calm and maturely. Before replying to a heated debate on social media take a deep breath (sometimes I even save the post and walk away for a few minutes) so that you can reply calmly and not with anger. Remove any cliches like “you’re part of the problem,” from your vocabulary and any other insults. Consider asking more questions in an attempt to understand why the person holds their beliefs, and be willing to admit when you’re wrong, “woops, I did get that one wrong – sorry about that!  I learned something new today!” This will be much more effective than a war of words – no one really LISTENS to those conversations.
  1. Stop Injustices – Before we can stop injustices from happening, we have to understand what injustices are. The spectrum ranges from overt racism to discrimination and all the way down to microaggressions like racist jokes or slurs that we’ve normalized. Part of the process of educating yourself will be to discover what qualifies as a microaggression and/or an injustice.

Stopping an injustice from happening means that you don’t laugh at the racist joke. You don’t ignore an offensive word/phrase/symbol when you see it. You can start by questioning it, “did you know that’s offensive?” – maybe they didn’t and you can use this as a teachable moment. Maybe they just don’t care – in which case you’ll need to evaluate the situation to determine how you’ll handle that relationship. Is there anyone you can report the incident to? Is this a person you want to remain friends with?
When the injustices are bigger, the ability to stop it from happening can be difficult – we all witnessed that with the murder of George Floyd. If it’s impossible to stop the injustice from happening, calling for help, bearing witness and/or recording the injustice can help to ensure justice is served after the fact. I wish there was a better answer than that. I really do.
Challenge yourself: Think about injustices you’ve witnessed in the past, and practice what you would say to stop that injustice if it happens again. Often what keeps us silent is our initial shock in what we’re witnessing, and the time it takes to process and then react to the situation. No one hates role playing more than I do – but it’s a good way to get yourself prepared to stop an injustice from happening. At the end of the day, if you drop the ball, don’t be too hard on yourself. Report the situation, ensure that the involved parties are okay, and learn from the experience.
  1. Vote with Intention – When it comes to voter turnout – there is always variation between states, years, and other demographics. Most notably, more people vote in years where there is a presidential election, and less in mid-term or local elections. This is where we need to do better.

There is no doubt that the role of the President is important and everyone should certainly cast their vote for a candidate who is anti-racist and aligns with other policies deemed important to the voter. There is not always a great choice presented to us, but we must weigh the options and the possible ramifications of each option and make the decision that we believe will be best for us, and for our country.
Your civic duty does not end there. Local and State elections are far more important. Local/State officials are the ones passing legislation that will directly impact your everyday life in your immediate community. And a lot of Federal legislation starts at the Local/State levels. Plus, since less people vote in State/Local elections, your vote can really push the needle towards your preferred candidate!
We’ve all been there, voting for Federal offices and when we get to State/Local offices we are not so certain and try to remember political campaigns, or just vote down party lines. We need to do better and vote intentionally in ALL elections to ensure that the policies that are important to us and to our community are supported by our elected officials at ALL levels.
Challenge yourself: First, ensure you’re registered to vote. Even if you were registered last year, check again (I’ve been mysteriously unregistered!). Ensure you check ASAP so that if needed, you register before the deadlines in your state.
Next, make a plan! Research when the next election day is in your district, what offices are on the ballot, and who is running. This may be overwhelming, but stick with me. Pull out your calendar and set some weekly goals. If you can dedicate yourself to 1-3 offices per week (or more if you’re planning well in advance, less if you’re a procrastinator), and do the work to research each of those candidates. Challenge yourself further by giving an honest open-minded look at the “other” party and don’t just vote down party lines.  By breaking the work into smaller chunks, it’ll be easier for you to feel confident in voting intentionally in the next Local/State election.
Once you’re comfortable with these five action items, there are certainly additional ways to help. You can make charitable donations to nonprofits who align with your cause, march in a protest, write letters to your elected officials, or even run for office yourself… but don’t get so hung up on taking BIG action, that you fail to take any action at all. Absolutely everyone has the ability to start with these five action items, and as more and more people step up and take these actions, we’ll see more and more change. It took us hundreds of years to get to where we are now, this will not be an overnight success – but if we all work together, we will shorten the timeline.

 

Meg Brunson is an advocate for racial equality. Over the past few years, she’s devoted herself to learning more about the Black community and race relations in America, so that she can ensure her family, friends, community, and country are making progress towards becoming actively anti-racist. Meg is NOT an expert on this topic, but she is committed to learning, and refuses to stop working towards becoming a stronger ally.
George Floyd, Police, and Coming Together

George Floyd, Police, and Coming Together

My friends, this has been an incredibly hard few months for our country. From lockdowns to police brutality to rioting in the streets… the outlook can be seen as very dark for our country right now. 

We are being separated by politicians, the mainstream media, and social media sites.

These institutions make their money and generate power by driving fences into the ground between Americans that wouldn’t normally want a fence there. The rhetoric is vehement and vile from “professional” commentators and impromptu social movement leaders. Black Lives indeed matter. They have always mattered. They will always matter.

Support for this movement comes from a good place, they want to address and end the discriminations that still very much exist in this country. But saying that all white people are racist no matter their circumstance or background is just wrong. It alienates and drives further wedges between people. Brother Malcolm X and MLK Jr. accepted the help and assistance from white people to drive their movements forward. They understood that an ally to their cause could come in the form of any skin color.

There is no monopoly on changing things for the better.

Demanding repentance from white people for actions of another will not bring the masses along with us. This is not a white vs. black problem though that can be a problem in individual instances. This is a bad cop vs. citizens’ problem. George Floyd was the victim of police brutality plain and simple. I don’t care what drugs were or weren’t in his system. I don’t care what his attitude towards the cops were. I don’t care about any previous encounters with law enforcement. We saw a murder plain and simple in that video. Breonna Taylor was the victim of police incompetence and a horrible no-knock raid that was poorly planned and executed. I could sit here and discuss the multitudes of police brutality instances targeting black people. But don’t forget about David Dorn, the black former police chief of St. Louis.

He was shot in the back of the head defending a friend’s business during the looting. He was a black man killed by another black man. Black Lives Matter don’t want to talk about him. They only want to talk about non-police black lives… and that is just wrong. You can’t pick and choose which black lives matter. ALL black lives matter. Every single damn one. A cop or a priest. An artist or a truck driver. ALL. BLACK. LIVES. MATTER. 

We can overcome this. Violence is not the answer.

Statistically, it has been proven that non-violent protests result in longer-lasting changes to the system. Defunding the police is not the answer either. That will only hurt poor and minority neighborhoods the most. Of course, there must be police reform and it must happen now. But most police see the problems very clearly. I’ve seen many videos of police officers and captains calling the George Floyd death what it was, murder.

Do you want to defund the good cops as well?

That is the definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and it will only hurt those most vulnerable. We have a long way to go and change won’t happen overnight. In fact, we may not see the fruits of our labor in our lifetimes. It may take decades or generations but small improvements are still improvements. Our ultra-connected world of phone cameras and CCTV is making it harder and harder to get away with the brutality we have seen now and in the past. Officers are charged. Maybe not as quickly as we want but they are charged. They may not get the sentences they deserve but they are sentenced. Good luck getting another job when the entire country saw you murder a man in the street or stood there and watch a man be murdered by a fellow police officer. Their lives are and should be ruined. But instead of violence and looting, paint a mural for Floyd.

Make a sculpture of Dorn. Start a community garden in Breonnas name to feed those who are hungry. Volunteer in the name of Filando Castillo at the food bank. These reminders and actions are our path forward. We are far from perfect but we are improving and we must acknowledge the progress, as well as how far we have to go.

 

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