Thursday, July 2, 2020

Denying the Brutal History of Asians in Our America is the Height of Ignorance and Stupidity

Outraged after reading an anti-Asian article today in the national press, printed under the guise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Anyone reading my past articles knows I absolutely support Black Lives Matter, and have since 2015. If you’ve read my articles you also know that a common theme in my social justice posts is that we as a society need to stop building fences, to stop letting things divide us unnecessarily. We will never end the destructive cycles in which we find ourselves if we do not hear and listen to those around us. Nothing will change if we keep pointing fingers and blaming others.

Asian pain does not lessen black pain, nor does Latino pain or Native American pain. When you publish an article in the national press claiming Asians stood on the necks and backs of blacks, climbed the ladder of success while stepping on the hands of blacks, you are showing not only your ignorance but your lack of humanity and compassion. It does not matter the race, creed or ideology of the author—racism is racism. Worse is when the racism is wrapped up and given to us by a Race & Gender columnist in an article entitled “Dear Brown People: I’m About to Wash Some Dirty Linen in Public. Consider This An Overdue Act of Tough Love” by the Toronto Star. The author of the article may be brown, from India, but she has no clue whatsoever what Asians have endured in the USA and Canada—and it shows in the endless parade of stupidity and ignorance throughout the article.

The history of Asians in Canada is similar to Asians in the USA. In the USA, Asians first came to America in the late 1830s, as cheap laborers in the fields of Hawaii, then increasingly as cheap laborers for gold mines, factories and railroads. According to the 1880 census, in California alone there were over 100,000 Chinese.

From the beginning, anti-Asian hostility was widespread and rampant throughout the USA and Canada. Asians were treated like animals. Lynchings were common, as were large-scale attacks and outright massacres, such as the Rock Springs massacre of 1885 where white miners killed nearly 30 Chinese immigrants, having accused them of stealing their jobs, and the Snake River Oregon massacre of 1887 where whites massacred 34 Chinese gold miners.

Anti-Asian hostility grew and grew until the USA and Canada boiled over in explosive riots, including the Pacific Coast riots of 1907 which spread from San Francisco California to Bellingham Washington to Vancouver Canada. The list of injustices and brutalities against Asians in the USA and Canada goes on and on and on from there, and includes the involuntarily internment in "camps" of Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1946. The first internment camp operated in southern California. Nine others were established between 1942 and 1945, holding approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans in California, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas and Arizona.

The fight for civil rights for Asians and other non-white immigrants began in the late 1800s due to countless laws that were passed to bar and ban the immigration of Asians to the USA and Canada. In the USA, these laws include the Page Act of 1875, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Geary Act of 1892, the Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917, the Immigration Act of 1924, and the Tydings-McDuffle Act of 1934.

The fight for civil rights for Asians and other non-white immigrants continued through the early and mid 1900s. In the USA, it was not until 1943 that limited success for civil rights for non-white immigrants was achieved, with the Magnuson Act which ended total Chinese exclusion, with an allowance of 105 persons to immigrate a year, but still did not allow Chinese to own property. In 1946, the Luce-Cellar act allowed Filipino and Indian nationals to become naturalized citizens and own property. It was not until 1952 that this success was expanded, with the McCarran-Waller Act where Asians and other non-white immigrants were allowed to become naturalized citizens, but still maintained the quota system which extremely limited Asian immigration. These successes occurred decades before the broader civil rights movements of the 1960s.

To say Asians and other non-white immigrants owe everything to the civil rights movement of the 1960s is to show your stupidity and ignorance of the history of the USA and Canada. Yes, the enactment of the 1965 Immigration Act ended many of the exclusions of the 1924 Immigration Act and earlier acts. However, the 1965 Immigration Act would not have been possible without the landmark acts that proceeded it over the course of several decades and due to the tireless fight for equality and civil rights by Asians and other non-white immigrants. These were not separate paths. One could not and would not have occurred without the other.

Anti-Asian racism, discrimination and hatred continues to this day. Denying the brutal 190-year history of Asian Americans, and the equally brutal 170-year history of Asian Canadians, in our America is the height of stupidity and ignorance. Shame on the Toronto Star and its journalist, Shree Paradkar.

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. Be the positive change you want to see. Speak up, make sure you are heard. Everything is possible.

For the record, I am, of course, married to an Asian American and my children are Asian American. My Asian family extends through generations.

Monday, June 22, 2020

It's Not About White vs Black, Cop vs Non-Cop, It's About Inhumanity vs Humanity. It's About Justice in America

When Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said on Good Morning America June 3, 2020, "Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter," she stunned Robin Roberts. But Dr. King knows something that we all should. We give words power by raging against them. We take back the power by embracing them, by not letting them divide us, by not allowing them to make us lose our focus. This fight of our lifetime is not about white vs black, cop vs non-cop. It's about inhumanity vs humanity. It's about justice in America. Do we want less death for all? Do we want to achieve justice for all? Do we want an end to the cycles of crime, poverty, violence, addiction, discrimination and racism that afflict our America?

Your view may not be my view, but that does not make it a wrong view. Brutality. Force. Injustice. Discrimination. Inequality. Poverty. Racism. Inhumanity. These are our enemies. Our reasons for wanting these things to end do not have to be 100% one way or another. Our reasons for wanting these things to end do not have to be unless and until it is your way or my way.

Why do we let these things divide us? Why do we waste energy railing one against the other? Embrace the words. Take back the power. Focus on what matters. Focus on the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity in our America.

We have learned nothing, done nothing, far too long in this country. We’ve put up fences. We’ve closed ourselves off. We’ve made rules, divisions, but we’ve created no solutions. We’ve solved and resolved nothing. If we want to end destructive cycles, we must not only hear those around us when they speak but we must listen.

Communities, and especially black communities, across America say we want less violence, less brutality, less force, less injustice, less discrimination, less poverty, more support, more understanding, more equality, more humanity. Someone saying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ only lessens cries of ‘Black Lives Matter’ if we let it, if we give these words the power. Someone saying ‘All Lives Matter’ only lessens cries of ‘Black Lives Matter’ if we let it, if we give these words the power.  Take back the power by embracing the words, not letting them divide us, not allowing them to make us lose our focus.

‘Black Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. ‘Blue Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. ‘All Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. Let’s listen and hear, let’s reach across and embrace. Let’s not give these words power over us. Let's find common ground. Conventional ideas and conventional solutions have failed us. It’s time for radical ideas and radical solutions.

We cannot solve the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity with one great sweep of the brush. We cannot solve the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity without inclusivity.

Are there answers to be found by turning the problems around, by viewing the problems in different ways? By viewing them through each other’s eyes? What drives brutality? What drives use of force? Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it hatred? Is it the unremitting cycles of crime, inhumanity and violence? Why are we afraid? Why are police officers afraid? Why are we angry? Why are police officers angry? Why do some hate police? Why do some police hate? Why do the cycles of brutality, inhumanity and violence never end? Why cannot these cycles be broken?

There are many intractable conflicts in this world. These bloody conflicts that drag on and on. The world has grown weary of them and yet they remain. Nothing seems to ever be solved because there have been no successful strategies to resolve them, nor even success in ameliorating them.

Disputes between communities and police involve many issues. Communities around our nation, and especially black communities, see their own dying at the hands of the police. The police see their own dying at the hands of those they are trying to serve and protect. Yet this is not a zero-sum struggle, something that one side must win and the other must lose.

Communities around our nation, and especially black communities, see themselves as victims, surrounded by threats. They are vulnerable, haunted by all the injustice, inhumanity and brutality they have witnessed. They fight for their very existence and may do unacceptable things in the name of fighting for their very existence. Rioting, looting, as examples. There is mistrust. All sides have resorted to other means when diplomacy has failed.

Rare is the time when there is progress, for rare are the ones who are willing to take a first step, let alone a second or third step. There are skeptics who don’t believe resolution is possible. There are blockers who try to ensure negotiation does not lead to unfavorable resolution. There are extremists who seek resolution at the other’s expense. There is hardening of our position to the point we no longer hear. There is transference of our grievances and fears from generation to generation.

We’ve partitioned our society. White America, Black America, Latino America, Asian America, and on and on. We’ve created enemies outside of these partitions. These partitions multiply inequality, injustice and inhumanity; they do not end them. We’ve created different value systems for our versions of America. These different value systems only serve to prolong and entrench poverty, racism and discrimination.

Our government has worked to contain and prevent upheaval. Our government has turned a blind eye, not committed itself to resolution. The path toward resolution requires top-down strategic leadership and a progressive opening up of America so that our communities become intertwined, and the path toward resolution requires bottom-up people-to-people diplomacy that persuades our leaders to achieve our goals. Discussion, reciprocal negotiation, resolution require trust. Trust of all sides. Hearing from and listening to all sides. Hardening the position of one side or another will not resolve anything.

To move forward, we must overcome the passions of the moment and the memories of the past. We must embrace the shared threat to our America that should we fail yet again, our republic will fail. We do not want our America to succumb to extremism. Our common ground and shared interest in remaking our America in the image of one and all will ensure our American dream forever. Together we can achieve an inclusive our America.

Thank you Ella for teaching me about community-centered leadership through your words. Black lives matter.

Our America Together. Our Participatory Democracy. Our America Forever.

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

No ‘Johnny Come Lately’ – These Systemic Problems are Ours to Solve & Resolve

I’m the author of over 250 books, 150+ professionally published and 100+ small press/indie published. Not only has my nonfiction been published and/or distributed by every major US publisher, it has sold over $200M at retail and been read by millions. Was asked recently if you’re so passionate about #diversity, #equality, #fairness, #justice and all the other things you’re railing against in your essays why have you been silent? Where was your social commentary 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Or is this something you decided to speak up about just now? ‘Just now’, my head nearly exploded, ‘Just now?’ My reply: Have you actually read any of my books? Have you actually listened to anything my books have to say? Have you actually listened to anything I’ve been saying?

I’m not speaking out ‘just now’ or because it’s convenient, I’ve been speaking out my whole life. This is a fight of a lifetime that I hope is resolved in my lifetime. The best way to end inequality, racism, discrimination, injustice and all the other things that sicken our world worse than any pandemic is to shine a light on them, to keep shining a light on them even where there seems to be no hope. And so, I have shined a light, I have continued to shine a light even though I knew I may never be heard.

One of my earliest stories, written in the 1980s, is about the demise of native, indigenous and other peoples and the compounded tragedy that their languages are lost with them. The heroine of the story rages against the white majority (referred to as Majority-1), sacrifices her life, her husband, even her children to preserve what little she can of a nearly lost language—and the people the language represents. That story speaks to the futility of this lifetime fight that I recognized even as a young man, and yet the heroine fights. She fights because she cannot rightly do otherwise.

That story has been published in several collections, including Absolutes and Other Stories. The original version of that story ended with the scientific facts about the demise of native, indigenous and other peoples and their languages. The title of the story speaks to yet another factor that compounds the tragedy: Silence. Silence is death. Silence is complicity. That title being: “Silence is Golden.”

Was asked, well told, recently, how come none of my books feature People of Color. My response: Have you actually read any of my books? FACT: Over 120 of my books feature People of Color. Of these, one of my favorites is the Magic Lands series, which includes Journey Beyond the Beyond (Intl as Into the Beyond) and Into the Stone Land (Magic Lands #2), and has been collected in several editions and omnibuses.

Magic Lands is an allegory for our modern world. The main character, Ray, is a POC, who must battle with stigma, racism and the perceptions of those around him as much as the wild elements and incredible dangers of his homeland.

FACT: The critters in over 100 Bugville Critters, Bugville Learning, Bugville Jr books represent the diverse peoples of our world. I wrote the books as bedtime stories for my own children because they weren’t represented in picture books. I wrote the books to show everything I wanted to see in the world and everything I wanted them to see in the world. My wife and children are POC.

Yes, I really was asked by white publishing to remove #Diversity and #POC from my Bugville Critters Buster Bee books. Thus focusing only on the Bee family. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

Yes, I really was asked by white publishing to remove #Diversity and #POC from my Bugville Critters Lass Ladybug books. Thus focusing only on the Ladybug family. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

Yes, I really was told that Lass Ladybug's mother should be married to another ladybug. Thus, not having the perception of interracial marriage. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

I also told white publishing it was not perception at all, it was a point of actual fact. White Mrs. Ladybug was married to a black man, that black man was also Mayor of Bugville. This IR couple had one white child and one IR child. And no, I won’t be changing any of it.








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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. In closing, I hope it's clear to you dear reader that this essay isn’t about being black or white in America, or even about being a POC in America. It’s about making the right choices, for the right reasons, and sticking with your convictions.

Years ago I could’ve easily removed POC from my books as white publishing wanted me to, and I could’ve easily cashed the six- and seven-figure checks for the rest of my life because that’s what was offered, but I chose not to. Not only because it was morally wrong and reprehensible to me, but because what would I be saying to my children, to the world, if I did so. I’d rather the few read my work, than my work to represent something I do not believe in.

I understand that I’ll never understand what it is to be black in America. I also know that as a white person in America it’s not only my responsibility to speak out against discrimination, inequality, injustice, intolerance and racism, it is my moral obligation. It is the moral obligation of every white person in America. The system is failing people of color. It’s not their job to fix the system. They can’t. It’s a white system, it’s a white problem, and if us white people don’t fix it, it’ll never get fixed.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Peace Officers, Community Counselors & Police Defunding Needed Now, Right Now

I shared the essay that follows with my congressman before his recent town hall meeting with State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, both of whom I consider as friends, and especially as friends of the vulnerable and voiceless, and asked to better address these issues across all government agencies from TSA to ICE and especially police departments.  I encourage you to share this essay, or one of your own, with your congressman and state leaders. Let me preface the essay with the following so you dear reader know why these issues hit so close to home for me:

I understand that I will never understand what it is like to be black in America. The issues of force and brutality are personal to me, and painful, however. In 2019, an Asian American member of my family was assaulted by a uniformed officer while four other officers looked on. Passersby walked past, no one said or did anything. There were no cameras. Later, it was our word against the word of five officers who swore everything was done according to procedure. Our pleas through official channels went unanswered, including those to members of local state legislature until a local congressman took up our case.

Being heard, really and truly heard, helped with the healing, but it did not bring justice. Nor did another Asian American member of my family get justice the night he was pulled over for speeding on a motorcycle some years earlier. There were two patrol cars and three officers on that night. He told the officers that yes he had been speeding, then he said something they didn’t like. He doesn’t remember exactly what it was. They asked him to get off his motorcycle, which he complied with. Afterward one officer knocked him to the ground with a baton, then the officers took turns kicking, beating and stomping on him. The police reports said he resisted arrest. Arrest for what? Speeding? It was his word against the word of three officers. He lost. Again, there were no cameras, no passersby that stopped or cared. No charges against the officers. This also is not justice.

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The police forces in our country have tried to do too much, have grown too big and consume too much public funds. Police try to be mental health counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, marriage counselors, victim’s advocates. They try to police schools, enforce traffic laws, ensure public safety and on and on.

Our leaders in government have given the police military weapons and told them to use them or lose them. When using military weapons results in excessive force, our leaders in government ask them why they allowed this to happen—when we, the public, know why this happened. The police cannot and should not be the Swiss-army-knife answer in America. When the police in America are such a sprawling, enormous apparatus, is it any wonder that there isn’t sufficient oversight and accountability?

And yet oversight and accountability by themselves are not enough. Just ask the Minneapolis Police Department. In 2012, the new police chief vowed to overhaul the force and make it more representative of the community it served. In 2015, a report by the Justice Department on policing in Minneapolis stated that even as city officials changed practices law enforcement agencies either lacked the authority or the will to discipline and remove bad officers from patrol.

Minneapolis city officials failed to set clear criteria on the use of force and de-escalation. In 2016, the Minneapolis Police Department rewrote its use of force policy to focus on the sanctity of life and require officers to intervene when a fellow cop became abusive. None of this did anything because the Minneapolis Police Department failed to fully adopt changes, failed to be accountable, failed to serve its community while upholding the sanctity of life.

In 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. In 2017, a yoga teacher from Australia was shot and killed by police after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home. In 2020, George Floyd was murdered in the street by police simply because he might have given a counterfeit bill to a store clerk. This, but some the misdeeds of but one police force, is a reflection of police forces across America. And if Minneapolis Police Department hasn’t solved a known problem under five years of federal scrutiny, what makes anyone believe any other police department is going to do any better? They aren’t.

According to Journalist's Resource and in-depth research into Deaths in police custody in the United States (https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/deaths-police-custody-united-states/), 4,813 persons "died during or shortly after law enforcement personnel attempted to arrest or restrain them" for the most recent period where the statistics used in the report were available (2003 - 2009). With "homicides by state and local law enforcement officers being the leading cause of such deaths," accounting for 2,931 (60.9%) of such deaths and 704 (24.7%) of these deaths were for non-violent offenses. 7.9 percent of all homicides by police took place in the context of a public-order offense, 9.2 percent of all homicides by police had no specific context reported, and 2.7 percent involved a drug offense.

** NOTE: The original Journalist's Resource research article I quoted in May 2020 for several of my articles, including this one, was updated and revised shortly after I published my articles. The date of the revised article is June 7, 2020, and this is the article you now see when you click the link. The statistics for the period 2003-2009 remain the same, the revised article focuses on recent statistics. I don't doubt a congressional inquiry is the reason for these sudden changes, as I gave this article to my congressman in May 2020. **

People of color are disproportionately affected by these killings. Black men are 2 1/2 times more likely than white men to be killed by police. Point of fact, a black man has an estimated 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by police during his lifetime.

This plague upon America is growing and the number of people killed by police is steadily increasing. 1,750 people were killed during interactions with police in 2017 alone. There are so many police killings that for all racial and ethnic groups, police use of force is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. for men age 25 to 29. (Read more here… https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/killed-police-black-men-likely-white-men/)

For the black community, this plague is an epidemic worse than any global pandemic. Dozens of police killings of black men have received national attention. You can read more about these controversial killings here... https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/05/us/controversial-police-encounters-fast-facts/index.html. The black community rightly refers to the public killing by police of George Floyd as a public lynching.  For those who think America’s legacy of lynching is history, it absolutely is not. Because it’s happening now: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/us/lynching-america-george-floyd-ahmaud-arbery-breonna-taylor/index.html.

As America scaled up its police forces to meet ever-growing scope, our core, social programs suffered, such as those for mental health, alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence. All of which have either been scaled down or inappropriately funded to meet actual community needs. And in retort to city mayors and others who say their programs are funded? Then why are police on the street trying to meet these needs? Why are they trying and failing? It’s past time to fund social and community programs, so police can do police work and community counselors can do social work.

Black rights groups want ‘Peace Officers’ to patrol black communities to help ensure safety, accountability and oversight in their communities. And why not? And why isn’t this already publicly funded with black community leaders setting the rules and guidance for their own communities? And why aren’t there emergency meetings in the House of Representatives and in the Senate right now? And why aren’t our elected officials right now drafting emergency legislation to address the greatest crisis our nation has ever faced?

Our leaders in government have allocated trillions of dollars to fight the pandemic and provide economic relief. They will likely allocate trillions more before the pandemic is over. Where is the economic relief and financial aid to fight the epidemic that’s been afflicting black and minority communities for decades? How many more have to die at the hands of police over how many more decades before our leaders in government act? We're really asking. Give us a number. We want to hear it. You’ve been silent for far too long, turned a blind eye for far too long and helped to prolong suffering that has gone on for far too long.

It’s our obligation as a nation, as Americans, to solve this problem now.

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. In closing, I hope it's clear to you dear reader that this essay is about police brutality and injustice in America. I know that I don’t know more than anyone else, but I do know that I can’t be silent. Silence is death, silence is complicity. And so, I do what I can, I write. As stated previously, I shared this essay with my congressman before his recent town hall meeting with State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and asked him to better address these issues across all government agencies and police departments. I encourage you to share this essay, or one of your own, with your congressman and state leaders.

A final note, the idea of defunding the police terrifies people, especially those who don't understand it. The idea of defunding exists on a spectrum which on one end means reallocating some, but not all, funds away from police departments to social services and on the other end means stripping all police funding and dissolving departments. Here's more information on defunding that's well thought out... https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/06/us/what-is-defund-police-trnd/index.html.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Hearing and Really Listening. Ending injustice means listening to all people.

Yesterday was Black Out Tuesday, a day to listen to the voices of the Black Lives Matter protest, to hear and share what they were saying. Voices on twitter said this isn’t the day to push your brand. We don’t want to hear anything about what you have to sell today. Voices on twitter said all you’ll white people this isn’t your day to talk. We don’t want to hear from you. You should be sharing black voices today.

I watched as the Black Lives Matter twitter feed filled with empty black tiles. Voices on twitter said all you’ll Black Out Tuesday people are killing the movement, especially all you’ll white people. We don’t want to hear anything from you today. Use the hash tag #BlackOutTuesday, not #BlackLivesMatter.

One of the most powerful black voices I heard, listened to and shared about on Blackout Tuesday was that of Ben O’Keefe, former senior aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. His twitter feed when I looked at it had a post about a book pinned to it, so I guess he didn't get the memo about not promoting products, but his words in Emily Stewart's article in Vox on "How to be a good white ally, according to activists" really resonated with me and probably with a lot of people.

I didn’t agree with everything Ben said. I’ve done nothing but watch and try to be a part of the movement. The looters and rioters making a mess of things weren’t all white people. They were all people. Countless times it was all people, not just white people, and of course who it was depended largely on geography, where people were, and which city we were talking about.

The thing Ben said that resonated the most is this: “[Take a deep breath and get] past the shame and the guilt that you’re carrying, because white people who are alive today did not create racism. They didn’t choose to live in a white supremacist country, and they didn’t choose to exist in the world that we do today. But what they can do is choose to admit that they benefit from racism and acknowledge that they have the power to change the conditions, and that’s crucial, because this isn’t a blame game.”

Odd though, this blame game. I watched on instagram as Seth Rogen had a meltdown, telling All Lives Matter people to get the f*ck out of his feed and stop following him. I watched All Lives Matter people tell Seth Rogen to f*ck off. Maybe Seth had read Billie Eilish’s rant a few days before in Rolling Stone about All Lives Matter. I don’t know.

A few days before Seth had said in a tweet on twitter, “Always be more critical of the people upholding the racist system than the ones who are fighting against it.” Over 500,000 liked the tweet while over 100,000 were talking about it. I guess Seth didn’t take to heart his own memo.

Mashable’s article praising Seth Rogen says All Lives Matter is meant to belittle discussion of racial injustice and provides a link to an article that explains nine different ways why people should stop saying it. But in talking to All Lives Matter people they say that isn’t what their movement is about at all. They say some people just aren’t listening. Funny, those who support Black Lives Matter say the same thing.

The same Emily Stewart article in Vox that I discussed earlier had rules for white people. If you white people want to participate in Black Lives Matter do this, don’t do that. “A white person’s job at a protest isn’t to spray paint 'Black Lives Matter' on a building. It’s not to destroy stuff. It’s not to loot stores.” Back to the blame game. We humans are good at the blame game. It’s one of the reasons nothing can ever be solved or resolved.

Sunni hates Shiite and vice versa in large part because their ideologies don’t align 100%, and even though they believe in the same God they’ve been killing each other since there were Sunni and Shiite. With Muslims and Christians, it’s more of the same, though their Gods are different. Shouldn’t it be enough that Sunni, Shiite, Muslim and Christian all believe in a God? Doesn’t the Bible say to turn the other cheek and what not? Doesn’t the Quran say much the same?

We’ve learned nothing in thousands of years. Divisions. Rules. Putting up fences around things. One thing cannot be another, unless and until it is my thing. The issues though are police brutality, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty and racism. Why exactly does our reasons for wanting these things to end have to be 100% one way or another? Unless and until?

The most powerful black voice I heard, listened to and shared about on Blackout Tuesday was that of Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On ABC’s Good Morning America, she said, “Black lives matter. All lives matter.”

Another powerful black voice I heard, listened to and shared about on Blackout Tuesday was that of a black, activist protester that I heard on NBC Nightly News. He said, “Listen up America. This isn’t about black or white any more. This is about justice in America.”

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Racism in America. Poverty in America. Working-Class America.

Many who read my posts may judge me as a privileged, white male. You don’t know me. I was born and raised in the metro area between Milwaukee and Chicago. One of only two white families in a black neighborhood, my four sisters and I were raised by my single mother. I got nothing free.

NOTE: For context, I wrote this post weeks ago. Hoping much of the corona virus would be behind us all, I scheduled it to publish June 1, 2020. At the time the date seemed so far away in the future. I had been talking with several friends about racism for a long time and this essay is the result. The words are my own, the experiences are my own. The essay is meant as commentary on working class America, poverty and racism.

At a very early age, I knew what death was. It’d already happened. My step father died when trying to light a defective gas water heater. My sister, Bridget, followed soon after, dying a day before Christmas in 1971. I knew what it was to be beaten, robbed, and assaulted. It’d already happened. I was jumped by three for groceries I was carrying home. Beaten for my shoes. Knocked down with a baseball bat for my bike.

Before the age of ten, my two other, older sisters were long gone and I was the one taking care of my younger sister. I worked odd jobs. I bought bread, milk and flour with the nickels, dimes and quarters I earned. Food that fed us so we didn’t go hungry many times. By the age of fifteen, I was working 30 hours a week. By the age of seventeen, I was homeless but managed to finish high school on my own.

Thanks to the charity of a neighborhood friend, I had a place to live the summer before I joined the military. The military took me out into the world, to fields of battle and conflicts I never imagined. I left the military broken but resolved to not let everything that had gone before define me. I became an international bestselling author, having written over 100 professionally-published books for the top publishing companies in the world and then went on to write over 100 others released by small press and self-publishing. My books have sold millions and millions of copies. I earned this success by fighting to achieve it.

You may think my early life a hard one, perhaps even a terrible one. I don’t remember it that way. To me, it was simply my childhood. Across the street were the Hoople brothers. They, like my sisters and I, had little parental guidance. They were crazy dare-devils, always doing wild stunts, like riding their bikes out of their second-story bedroom windows, off rooftops into snow piles in winter. Visiting the Hoople brothers was always an adventure. Their house never knew a broom and dustpan or a vacuum, but they were kind and generous. If they had food or snacks, they shared. We shared, if we could, but mostly we had nothing to share.

Down the street was Mr. Orville, a widower. Neighborhood fix it man by day, neighborhood drunk by night. My mom had a kind heart. If she saw him lying out of the street, she’d help him home. Mr. Orville was an electrician by trade, mostly retired, when we knew him. He was always out in his garage tinkering, fixing small kitchen appliances and the like. Mr. Orville gave me my first bike, training wheels and all. I earned it really, or at least I thought I did by working for him after school, helping him fix things. It was well-used, second-hand, but to me it was the world—and Mr. Orville taught me to ride it.

Across and down to the end of the street was the house of my friend, Charles. Charlie really. Charlie’s house seemed so far away when I was little. Charlie and I met when my older sister walked me to the first day of kindergarten. He was walking to school with his older brother. I didn’t know it at the time, but his brother was sweet on my sister, and I think, my sister was sweet on him. That old school house at Janes School was over six blocks away. Red Apple School hadn’t been built yet or at least, I don’t think it had. That being 1971, and I starting kindergarten well before I should have on account of my mom mixing up my birthdate.

To get to Janes School, we had to cross busy Douglas Avenue, passing the hardware store and the Italian restaurant that marked the end of my world as a young child. The other end of my world was Dr. Martin Luther King Drive. To say Charlie and I became the best of friends is not to know the meaning of the words. Charlie and I became like brothers. We were brothers.

Everything unraveled for my family with the sudden death of my sister, Bridget, on the day before Christmas in 1971. Following so closely to the death of my step father, who died in that summer, it was too much for mother. By the first grade, my two older sisters were gone. One ran away to her father’s, or at least we thought she did. Another got a job working at Hardee’s, worked until she could afford an apartment of her own and then moved out. My sister and I never saw either again until many years later.

From then on, it was just myself and my younger sister, who I helped take care of and who followed me everywhere. Charlie’s older brother was around sometimes, as was his older sister, but not much. Charlie and I walked together to 1st grade and all the grades that followed, my sister in tow eventually to all day kindergarten and then beyond.

A shed in my backyard become our fort, a path between hedges behind Charlie’s house became our secret hang out. My sister, Charlie and I roamed every inch between Douglas Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, up to St. Patrick Street and down to Prospect and West. Root River a few blocks beyond was forbidden, as was North Beach and the Lake Michigan waterfront which was about five blocks past Janes School.

Charlie, my sister and I were fearless. The big kids jumped my sister and me for groceries. We came back with sticks and bricks. The big kids beat me up for my new red sneakers. We came back with Charlie’s older brother. The bike I earned by working for Mr. Orville, the one with training wheels that he taught me to ride, I was eventually robbed of after being knocked down with a baseball bat. Charlie’s older brother solved that one too and I’ll never forget it.

The big kids were much bigger by then and much more likely to get their older siblings involved in our squabbles as well. But Charlie’s older brother came back with the bike all the same. I remember his shirt was torn, his lip was bloodied and his right eye was swollen. He had the biggest of grins on his face though and he said to me, “There you go little man.”

With the exception of Sanford and Son, which Charlie’s older brother let us watch with him sometimes, we didn’t watch much television in those days. My house had a little black and white set that didn’t catch much of anything except WGN Channel 32 out of Chicago. But in March 1973, Charlie, my sister and I became fascinated with The Six Million Dollar Man. We had to sneak into Charlie’s house to watch the show because he had the only television that could catch ABC and because us kids weren’t allowed inside on account of making too much of a racket. Lee Majors became to us a larger-than-life superhero.

By the summer of 2nd grade, Charlie, my sister and I broke past the boundaries of Douglas, King, St. Patrick and Prospect and West. It was mostly the library that drew us as a refuge. The library was a gateway to new worlds, a place where no big kids could chase us down the street. The first books my sister and I discovered weren’t picture books. They were Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books. We were fascinated by them and I’d read them aloud to her. Soon after a librarian amazed at my reading skills and comprehension introduced me to Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson. Then 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, Round the World in Eighty Days, Treasure Island, Kidnapped and more became to us as the most cherished of friends as I read them aloud again and again.

By the summer of 3rd grade, even the library so far away wasn’t far enough. Charlie, my sister and I, all on bikes by then, given to us by Mr. Orville, rode to the Root River where we’d spend the long, sunny afternoons after I finished my work under the Horlick Drive bridge next to Horlick Park catching crabs using raw liver. The liver was three Pepsi or Coke bottles back then, a dime and a nickel, or at least the grocer gave it to us for that. Horlick Park wasn’t razed back then and made into ball fields. It was a wooded island with paths crisscrossing it and Root River encircling it. We didn’t do anything with the crabs we caught really, except watch them crawl around in our buckets and eventually release them when it was time to bike home.

With the sun heading low, we’d race home where I’d try to scrounge up dinner for myself and my sister. Sometimes on days when there was no dinner to find, we’d head over to the Hoople’s instead to see what the crazy brothers were up to. The youngest of the three was almost my age, but we didn’t hang out much on account of him having to stick with his brothers all the time. If the Hoople brothers weren’t around, we’d head to the hide out behind Charlie’s and wait for him to finish dinner. Playing pirates in the hedge hideout with sticks as swords and bricks as cannons was a good way to pass the time. It was only the once really that Charlie accidentally hit my sister in the back of the head with a brick after a particularly volatile sea battle amongst the pirates. It did, of course, require stitches. Six long ones, sown in by my mother while my sister screamed and cried and I tried to sooth her.

The last taboo Charlie, my sister and I shattered was North Beach and the Lake Michigan waterfront, which we did in the spring of 4th grade and throughout the summer before my sister and I moved away from the city. I never really knew why the waterfront was taboo. Maybe it was because I’d fallen into a pond and almost drowned one time when I was with my step brothers on a rare visit to see my absentee dad. I think I was there following the funeral of his then wife. I remember seeing her cold in her casket and crying the biggest of tears as I for some reason couldn’t push thoughts of my sister, Bridget, and the step dad I vaguely recalled out of my mind.

I didn’t mind not having a dad in my life. It was my normal, and besides Charlie’s family was my family too. We were brothers. It didn’t matter to us that I was white and he was black. It never even occurred to us that the color of our skin made us different—and no one around us told us any different either. The big kids around our neighborhood tormented us—not because my sister and I were white—but because they were bullies and that’s what bullies do.

Tragedy affected my childhood. Poverty affected my childhood. The crushing weight of working class America affected my childhood. Race did not—and yet it seems in the 45 years since my childhood the world still has not caught up to the place we were then. A place where the color of our skin did not matter to any of us who lived it. That tragedy is more searing and enduring to me than anything I experienced in my childhood. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where everyone just was?

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. In closing, I hope it's clear to you dear reader that this essay is about the hardships of poverty and working class America. It's not actually about being black or white or experiencing racism. The lack of racism, the fact that the color of our skin didn't matter, is the point. Having a tough life as a white person isn't a comparison to being black in America. Having a tough life isn't what determines blackness. Many black people didn't have a rough life. They may have grown up in a Cosby Show atmosphere. They may have had a nice house in a lovely suburban town. Their parents may have been respected members of the community, business owners. They may have been good students, good citizens, but still experienced racism just because of color.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

End Injustice in America. Injustice Affects All.

Wrote this on Friday, deleted it, rewrote it again and then again. There are no right and proper words.... but I've tried. Injustice affects all.

Outraged this morning as yet again peaceful protests are marred by those conducting violence for the sake of violence. Riots and looting are not the answer. Rebuilding our justice system requires sincere change, accountability and cooperation. Outside pressure can drive change but the depth of reform required can only fully and truly be accomplished from within, with the cooperation of those who are part of the system we rail against.

Police departments, first responders and private businesses are not the enemy. Silence is the enemy. Lack of accountability is the enemy. Lack of oversight is the enemy. To find the answers needed for sincere change we need to look behind the thin blue line and unravel the codes of conduct and behavior that enable silence, lack of accountability and lack of oversight.

According to Journalist's Resource and in-depth research into Deaths in police custody in the United States, 4,813 persons "died during or shortly after law enforcement personnel attempted to arrest or restrain them" for the most recent period where statistics are available (2003 - 2009). With "homicides by state and local law enforcement officers being the leading cause of such deaths," accounting for 2,931 (60.9%) of such deaths. Of reported persons who died during the process of arrest:

95 percent were male.
5 percent were female.

About 42 percent were white.
About 32 percent were black/African American.
About 20 percent were Hispanic or Latino.
About 6 percent were Asian or other.

** NOTE: The original Journalist's Resource research article I quoted in May 2020 for several of my articles, including this one, was updated and revised shortly after I published my articles. The date of the revised article is June 7, 2020, and this is the article you now see when you click the link. The statistics for the period 2003-2009 remain the same, the revised article focuses on recent statistics. I don't doubt a congressional inquiry is the reason for these sudden changes, as I gave this article to my congressman in May 2020. **

Although 2,207 (75.3%) of these deaths by law enforcement were in response to a violent offense and intervention constituting a force-on-force situation, 704 (24.7%) were not. 7.9 percent of all homicides by police took place in the context of a public-order offense, 9.2 percent of all homicides by police had no specific context reported and 2.7 percent involved a drug offense.

Put another way, based on the available statistics, 688 people die each year by homicide by state and local law enforcement officers. That's about 13 people a week, and close to 2 a day. While about 3 in 4 (or 518) of these are violent offenders where force-on-force intervention are required, 1 in 4 (or 170) are not. Who's standing up for these 170 people being killed every year by law enforcement? They are white people, black people, hispanic/latino people, asian and other people.

Regardless of race, we should be standing together and shouting until we are heard.

Only by standing together can we overcome and rise above. We must work together to rebuild what is broken. All voices must be heard. As stated before, Police departments, first responders and private businesses are not the enemy. We must fight for what we believe in. We must fight until we are heard. But we must do so peacefully and within the law, not outside it.

Writing this in the state of health that I am in now has consumed me, yet my words are all I have to give. I hope they are enough to make indifferent ears not only hear but listen.

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Note: Based on the eye-opening report from Journalist's Resource @ the Harvard Kennedy School - Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.