Let me try this one more time.
I do not believe in defunding the police in any way or any how. I will take my chances with the needless police murders of black males as opposed to how lawless our world would be if our objective were to weaken police or to take funding away.
I don’t want to defund the police. I simply wish some of them would stop treating us like animals.
When people talk about defunding the police I always think of my late grandmother Fannie Mae and our 94 year old former neighbor Mrs. Wilson who were both crime victims and were later looked on by the Detroit Police to make sure everything was OK with them.
Without police these women would have lived their lives in terror.
You cannot lack a police presence — especially in the black community — where there are so many people without jobs and without hope in life. If defunding the police meant giving everybody a good paying job that they had easy access to it maybe I would be in favor of it. But nobody can guarantee that. And nobody talks about it.
After the George Floyd protests I was hopeful that the conversation would turn to uplifting black people in a country that has refused to do that. I thought conversation would turn into giving people hope and a pathway to dreams.
Without hope in your life you are more likely to do violent and tragic things. Without hope sometimes jail time is a better alternative than home. Without hope robbing that business you don’t really want to rob has no consequences.
Without hope you sometimes become a person momma told you not to become.
I grew up poor. I grew up in the hood. I grew up in a family that opened Christmas accounts in January so I could have a few presents under the tree the next December. I grew up pissed off because I didn’t like the way black people were treated during the civil rights movement.
I had to keep my mouth shut as white people called me nigger. I became further enraged when an off duty white police officer killed my father and said he was trying to steal a car. My father’s dead body lay outside the driver’s side of his own VW Bug. So we know the car stealing story was a lie. The truth is they got into an argument at a party. They took it outside and I had to hear on the radio the next morning how my father was murdered “for stealing a car.”
So how did I escape this world?
I didn’t do it alone. I always had hope in my life. There was always a destination. It began with the old ladies who raised me. They were loving but tough.
They could not afford it, but they wanted me to see the world outside of Detroit. So they scrounged their pennies together and took me to see the sky scrapers of New York, the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. Even trips to Frankenmuth were special. It was less than two hours away but the Bavarian streets were a sharp contrast to the crumbling houses I grew up around.
The old ladies drove me through the mansions of Grosse Pointe and said I could live in a house like this. Seeing a new world motivated me to become a part of it. I did not want my children to experience ghetto life.
When I was told my goal of being a sports writer was too ambitious and too far fetched they had me sit and talk with former Channel 7 anchor man Bill Bonds and former Detroit Free Press sports editor Ken Clover.
I saw a path to an exciting career. I saw hope. I buried my anger and focused on making my family proud. Even the local drug dealer got in on the action. He demanded that the neighborhood thugs not bother me because he saw potential in me.
It takes a village. I made it because I was surrounded by people who had a vision even when I didn’t. I was lucky because people who loved me said “I can” when people who did not love me filled my head with “you can’t.”
When my father was murdered the old ladies saw a change in me they did not like. They feared that I would succumb to the streets and lose hope and focus. They removed me from public school and enrolled me at Nativity Lutheran for middle school.
That extra $40 a month was rough, but they all pooled their money together to invest in my future.
Telling my story is a way of saying I wish the narrative behind the George Floyd protests had gone in a different direction. Instead of talking about how to give blacks more opportunities, hopes and dreams we began talking about defunding the police, tearing up Targets and knocking down statues.
Allowing people to earn a healthy weekly paycheck that they are proud of is more impactful. Paving a pathway to a great career is more important. But we don’t talk about that.
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