Who can we trust when justice is necessary?

November 6, 2017

Written by Gregory Meriweather

The Aaron Bailey killing took place 5 months ago, and the leadership of Indianapolis, are still trying to figure out how to resolve what seems obvious.

Yesterday, Mayor Joe Hogsett took to the streets, and visited some local churches in the Indianapolis area. The Mayor visited New Direction Church, Eastern Star Baptist Church-Cooper Rd, Eastern Star Church Northeast Campus, Eastern Star Church, Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, and New Life Worship Center.

While there, the Mayor spoke on the next steps in the case, now that Special Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter has moved not to prosecute the officers involved.

The Mayor stated, “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the death of Mr. Bailey, including his family and those who called him a friend. At the outset of this process, I made a commitment to the community that immediately upon conclusion of the criminal investigation, IMPD would launch a full administrative review into the actions that led to this police action shooting. I intend to follow through with that commitment.

Effective immediately, I have asked Chief Bryan Roach to gather all evidence from the Special Prosecutor’s investigation along with any other available materials to begin that process. I have also asked that the review be expedited so that an administrative decision can be rendered as quickly as is responsible.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to faith and community leaders for their patience and leadership over the last four months, and I urge those who have been moved to action by these events to continue to challenge our city to do more to earn and sustain trust between Indianapolis neighborhoods and our police department.”

This sounds all fine, and dandy, but we must remember that in order for these officers to be terminated, there is a PROCESS. This process was in play well before the Mayor made these illustrious speeches to the churches. The Mayor knows that the Firearms Committee of IMPD must do their investigation, and then it must go to the Merit Board. The Merit Board can then issue the disciplinary action which may include termination. The Chief of Police cannot make these decisions alone, and neither can the Mayor.

It takes me back to a time in history on April 4, 1968, when Robert Kennedy made the announcement that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Indianapolis leaders had found a way to give Kennedy the credit for stopping riots from taking place in the city, but for those of you who know the real story, understand how far from the truth that really is.

It seems that the Mayor is doing whatever is necessary to keep the people at peace. It has been said by some that the Mayor really cares about the people, but when you go back and look at the case, you will find that it took the Mayor almost a month to truly speak about the shooting, His first real speech about Aaron Bailey was at the Mayor’s breakfast for IBE Summer Celebration. Before then, he was as quiet as a church mouse. I recall asking on numerous occasions, “Where is the Mayor?”

Furthermore, I want to know what made the Mayor choose these churches? He did not come inside the neighborhood where Aaron Bailey was killed to give his speech. He did not find a community center. He did not come to the “hood.” He went inside the churches that hold some of the most prominent Black citizens of Indianapolis in them. He went to the places that have large congregations, yet soft voices. Let’s just say he went to the megachurches. He went to the places with the “names.” I keep asking, what makes the politicians think we trust the churches? We have been getting robbed by these people for a long time. They have found the code that the slave masters used that said, “I should receive my blessings now, and you will get yours in Heaven.” If I may speak for the community, let me say, “WE DO NOT TRUST THE CHURCH.” I am not saying that all churches or Pastors are bad, but when you see them living well, while most of their congregations are poor, then it is time for some serious questions to be asked, and answered.

This isn’t the first time Indianapolis has had a police action shooting of this magnitude. Many remember the Michael Taylor killing, and how things turned out with that case. Aaron Bailey is another casualty, of a long list of citizens, who have wrongfully died by the hands of carelessness, and in some cases hatred. IMPD knows, that WE DO NOT TRUST them.

The legal system has failed Black people in more ways than I can name. If we just take a look at Mass Incarceration, we already know that the legal system was not built for us. Justice is blind when it comes to Black people. When I say blind, I mean blind to the facts. Facts have never mattered when it has come to keeping us out of the system. WE DO NOT TRUST THE LEGAL SYSTEM.

Mayor Hogsett has done a phenomenal job showing up to make Black people feel good. He has danced with us, smiled with us, sympathized with us, clapped to good ol’ gospel hymns with us, prayed with us. He has also done something that most politicians do. He has showed up in the church for his political party. He has showed up when a vote matters. He has assured us that they are going to do all the right things to help us. He has also done one other thing that most politicians do, and that is leave us hanging. The Mayor is a classic politician. He knows how to keep us in the grey. He knows how to help us remain uncertain on where he stands. I won’t single him out, because I feel that most of our politicians mistreat us. They tell us to call, they don’t answer. They tell us to ask, they don’t respond. They tell us to stand, yet want us to sit down. When we want to sit, they want us to stand. Let me just say, WE DO NOT TRUST POLITICIANS.

Finally, there is the Black elite. There is a group of Black leaders who sit in the seats that hold Black people back. Their positions say that they are about Black people, but their actions don’t. Indianapolis has a way of bragging on certain Black leaders, but when we look around we will find that Black people in Indianapolis are in the same position that we’ve always been in. I find it hilarious when the news shows the politicians going to speak with certain people. They speak to you all because they know that message doesn’t go anywhere after it’s given to you. You get to sit amongst us, because you look like us. You know how to code switch, and talk like us, but when it comes to loyalty, you are more loyal to the dollars than you are your people. You are so loyal to the dollars that you will turn your back on us before the ink on the check dries. Let me say this, WE DO NOT TRUST THE BLACK ELITE.

There comes a time when we must realize that Willie Frank Middlebrook wasn’t wrong when he said, “The Calvary ain’t coming,” and “Something in this milk ain’t white.” There are a lot of layers in Indianapolis, Indiana, and America designed to hold Black people back. We need to develop a segregated mentality in the midst of integration. We are integrated in person only. EQUALITY has yet to be integrated, and we keep waiting on someone to give it to us. They have told us the same lies for over 400 years, and we believe them. I urge us to stop hitting the snooze button, and wake up!

I will not trust this system unless there is visible change. I urge for my people to stand with me on this. Aaron Bailey’s killing is a major problem, but does not scratch the surface of all the injustices we face on an every day basis as Black people in America. We need to love each other more, stop fighting amongst ourselves, and build our nation in the midst of the one that does not want us here. As for the Blacks who do not want to work with us or help, I say we speak candidly with them, and let them know our position. If they can not comply, then they need to be removed from their posts. This does include electing people who are for the people. They have done a lot of things that they claim are for our benefit, yet their hearts are far from us.

This is their system. We have yet to be included in this system as people, and in my opinion we never will. Trust is earned, and they have yet to earn the right to be trusted by us.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black LLC., and the Talk show host of the Gregory Meriweather Show, and the Expo Show.

Where Have the Rows Taken Us?

In the midst of all the murder, hatred, and crime going on in the African-American community, my mind began to wonder what has led our people to such a dark place? Of course, I immediately began to think about slavery, but that wasn’t enough. There is something that is so imbedded in our culture, that we are having a hard time seeing what it is, and since we are struggling to see it, it is even more difficult to fix it.

What could it be that has us lacking concern for our fellow men and women? Why are we killing each other at a rate of extinction? Historians will say that we were taught to hate ourselves through slavery. I agree, but is that it? Some would say that the Willie Lynch letter played a role then, and is still significantly important now.

That could very well be true, but what causes me to not care enough about what is going on with the person who lives right next to me?

What causes us not to care about the less fortunate African-Americans in our communities? Mamie Till said it best when she said, “Two months ago I had a nice apartment in Chicago. I had a good job. I had a son. When something happened to the Negroes in the South I said, `That’s their business, not mine.’ Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of us all.” Even though many of us remember the story of Emmett Till, it has not been impactful enough to make us change. But why?

We have seen numerous murders of our people by the hands of white supremacists, and law enforcement alike. We now have white supremacy rearing its ugly head again, and yet we cannot seem to come together. Where did this stronghold come from?

I began to think deeper, and now I can say that I may have the answer. It was the rows. Yes, the rows of cotton picked by our ancestors during slavery. We were living together. We were in bondage together. Other than being separated by way of being sold, the rows became the way of developing village people into individuals.

When our people were working the cotton fields of the South, we did not realize the lasting impact that slavery would have on us. We did not know the fear that was bestowed upon our people. We did not understand what cultural behaviors would be lost, nor did we understand the new culture that was being birthed.

Imagine yourself at the start of a row of cotton. What is the goal?

The goal is to pick as much cotton as possible to make rate. You, and every other slave has a responsibility to your own row. You are also individually responsible for the punishment of not making rate. So by the end of the day, the master is now taking tally of your daily picks. One by one he is counting the weight of your bags. Whomever had the lowest amount, and whomever did not make rate, were then punished by way of the master’s whip. When this was all taking place, I am sure their minds were transforming as well. For every lash across the back, that person was becoming more and more of an individually focused person. Competing against their own people as a means of survival was birthed, and still lives today. Some may ask, “Why didn’t they work together to cover whatever the overall final weight needed to be?”

This was all a part of the plan. Could they have worked together to get the necessary end result? Yes, they could have, but this would have been building people who worked together, as opposed to working as individuals. Learning to work together for the common good of all would have been dangerous to the powers that be. If we could work together, then freedom would become inevitable.

Fast forward to 2017, and you will see where the rows of the cotton fields have taken African-Americans. We have become self-serving people. We are people who focus on what it is that we want, need, and desire as individuals. Even when it comes down to matters that challenge our moral responsibilities, we fail. When someone kills our children, we go down our row, and say, “That has nothing to do with me.” Some of our rows look like higher education, better neighborhoods, higher salaries, better social groups, etc. Yet while we are going down our rows as fast as we can, we don’t dare to look up, and see who is struggling. We won’t take a little bit out of our “bags” to help someone make “rate,” even if we are well above the standard. We stopped being family. We stopped being tribal. We stopped being village people who cared for one another. We are no longer inseparable. We have accepted the role, and our row, while hoping to never feel the lash of the master’s whip on our backs. We have become immune to our own collective demise. We don’t mind watching our brothers and sisters fall, or fail. When we do, we somehow look at our own people and do not see ourselves. We must change this behavior if we ever plan on being impactful as a race.

Is your row important? Yes, but not more important than your brother or sister. We can make rate by working together. One thing is certain, they could not have whipped all of us. That would have made for bad business then, and it makes for bad business now. So why not come together, and collectively win? There will be individuals who disagree with this, but we can’t worry about them. As you go down your row, raise your head, look around, and see who is not making rate, then help them. This can look like advice, a phone call, a connection to a job, constructive criticism, or even just telling them the truth. If you want to see something great take place in the African-American community, learn to work together for the good of the whole, and not just for the good of yourself.

Gregory Meriweather is the CEO of Black on Black Network, talk show host, writer, and public speaker. email: gmeriweather1@gmail.com booking: info@blackonblack.network