*Disclaimer: This post may sound like a rant. It is. This is my blog...and I can do that.*
I'll be the first to admit that we've been exposed to and often subjected to some pretty messed up stuff lately. These killings and shootings aren't new, but since we live in the digital age, network news outlets aren't our only sources of reporting anymore. For years I've made a conscious effort to avoid watching the news. Not only am I frequently irritated by some of the stories mass media professionals deem "newsworthy", I also found myself frustrated with the portrayal of black men, women, families, and communities. There were times when I would wonder if both white and black reporters alike intentionally sought out the most ridiculous character they could find to offer up their opinion for a fifteen second interview. Remember this guy?
While many of us laughed (hysterically) at Dodson's instructions to hide our kids and wives, I began to ask myself some really tough questions. If these are the only images of our people that other races are exposed to, does this become the expectation? An articulate and well-dressed individual of color speaking out becomes a rarity and is subsequently and consequently deemed in the minds of others "one of the good ones". Of course these reporters could seek out others to interview, but why bother when entertaining interviews like Dodson's is what society has come to expect, know, and even love enough to warrant millions of views on YouTube?
Despite my news boycott, in the past years, months, and weeks even I couldn't escape finding out about the injustices that are taking place seemingly daily. From my Twitter feed to my Instagram page, not only did I learn about black men who lost their lives at the hands of officers of the law, this time, I could see it for myself. Each new hashtag broke my heart all over again. This could be my brother, I thought. This could be my cousins, I thought. This could be me!
In the wake of the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and literally on the eve of the Dallas shooting, mobile gaming company Niantic released Pokémon Go, a new game that allows players to catch and train virtual Pokémon in random locations. Trust me, I didn't expect everyone to be on board with what is now the most downloaded gaming app in the world. Heck, even I said I wouldn't do it. But after a few days, my brother tantalized me just enough for me to hop on board.
I'm in no way saying that some of the outcomes that have occurred since the game's release (accidents, robberies, graveyard disturbances, etc.) aren't flawed, but my personal gains from it have been that it is not only something my brother and I bond over, it also serves as a welcomed distraction from the woes of the world. As a result, I find it rather irritating when I come across posts suggesting playing Pokémon Go negates being aware of or involved in what's going on in the world or brings one's spirituality into question.
Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, I find it disturbing that one's magnitude of #wokeness or #blackness can be diminished if they make a choice to embrace something that temporarily takes their mind off of violence, hate, ignorance, and grief. We all pick our poisons, right? Maybe your distraction in the past couple of weeks has been something equally frivolous like say, perhaps watching VH1's Hip Hop Honors. I bet you know who messed up Biggie's lyrics! Or maybe it was watching the ESPYs. Or maybe you spent a few hours this week crushing candy. Or maybe you made your face look like a dog, or a bumble bee, or adorned your head with a crown of flowers on Snapchat. Or maybe it was mindlessly scrolling along the timelines of your social media accounts...after all, you did find an ounce of time in your busy life of protesting, witnessing, winning the world for Christ, and making a difference to post something.
I want it to be very clear that while I can name many Pokémon and may have even caught a few this week, I can still proudly and loudly proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter and quote scripture with the best of them.
Lesson: Make it a habit not to demean or belittle others because of what they do to find joy. Let me find Pikachu, read a James Baldwin novel, and pray in peace.