OP-ED: “To Stop The Violence, Make People In The Community Feel Valued”

TN Congressional Candidate Nathaniel Doss on How to Help Stop the Violence in Tennessee

Recently the community was challenged to tell our elected officials what assistance we would like from them. This is an intricate question that requires us to also pull back the layers to a historically uncomfortable position. None of the violence we are seeing is new. None of the outrage from the community is new. Most recently we saw a heinous crime committed against seven women at a celebration for our community. This act of violence left me shaken to my core not only because of the personal attachment to one of the victims but because, as a man, I was taught my main responsibility was to protect the matriarch of the family.

I felt that I had personally failed those women; like WE failed them.

Changing a culture is never easy, especially one living with generational PTSD. We have suffered from eras of trauma. Due to the constant trauma that we have begun associating with the “Black experience” we have become desensitized to the social negative reinforcements that control society. These constructs are the checks put in place to discourage crime. When an individual feels as if they have nothing to lose, there are really no limits to their depravity.

When a group of people recognizes that imprisonment is routine and commonplace, it becomes an expected outcome. When, as a people, we have seen horrors firsthand and not just heard about them in stories, those horrors are as easily dealt as they are received.

We must make our people understand that they have value to our community.

We must get our young people to understand that not only is their life important but who they will be in our community in the future is important as well.

We must cultivate and grow empathy again despite the horrors we have seen.

That lack of empathy was what made shooting into a crowd of women and children at a peaceful event, a reasonable action for a traumatized mind. Empathy and love must be taught as early and with as much emphasis as potty training, colors, and shapes.

Conversely, we speak of culture change, and it is admittedly a dire need; however how can we begin to change a culture of a group of people with unmet basic needs? How shall you preach to a man that is hungry? How can you hope to correct a child who does not have a safe place to rest?

Until those basic needs are met, we cannot hope to make any change. We MUST address the needs first.

We have to tap those resources that are available to meet those needs and we must start early. Exposure to a different possible outcome is key. What if instead of watching numerous relatives and friends be incarcerated, it was more common to see numerous friends and family graduate? We must normalize success and growth. We must celebrate and incentivize it, if necessary.

Actions that will begin the change are true community policing, access to nutrition, and home ownership for people employed in our community. We have community policing some may say, and we do to an extent. Let’s intensify our efforts at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College so we can recruit members of the community. In Chattanooga we had an era that was successful with this, no matter the reason it ceased. It needs to be reinstated with a deliberate and focused effort.

As someone stated at the meeting Dr. Mackey organized, we also need social workers to work directly with our Chattanooga Police department. That means increasing their budget to employ said social workers that would work shoulder to shoulder with our police department protecting our city 24 hours a day. Allowing our police to focus their efforts more on the ilk that plagues our community.

I read today, “Teach a man to fish after you give him a fish. Learning anything on a hungry stomach is less likely to be retained.” I couldn’t agree more, we have children going to school hungry and coming home to hunger. In many areas of Chattanooga where minorities reside there is a lack of suitable access to nutrition. A hungry child will not concentrate in school or behave in the community. Their main concern is rectifying that hunger if only for today. I believe we must partner with businesses, and social development departments at all three municipalities: City, County, and State, in order to ensure that we do not have a health crisis and that grocery stores are accessible in every community.

As I have been walking around this summer introducing myself and listening to the community, I listened as many were fearful of their community losing its identity. Many spoke of not wanting the perceived crime that comes with “affordable housing’’ i.e. apartment complexes. I sympathize with their fears and understand because I live within their community and have seen violence on my own street. We need to partner with developers, the city, the county, and community associations so we can best add homeownership to our underserved communities without changing the dynamics of that community.

We must educate our neighbors; affordable housing no longer looks like their homes. It will not have the same spacing in between homes and may not remotely resemble their homes in appearance. What it will do is bring hard working people that want to break generational cycles; people that want to add value to a community because they have a direct interest in doing so.

We must make home ownership accessible and a reality for those that may not have seen this as a possibility. This may mean creative lending and alternative credit scoring. There may be fear of perceived risk, but the payout is more than worth it. What better way to ensure a thriving community and thus a swift investment return? Ownership in any form creates pride and stewardship.

You take care of what is yours; that goes for houses, communities, and people no matter your socio-economic class.

We must challenge ourselves to partner with unions, business partners, our educational institutions to provide and help prepare workers for more careers and not just dead-end employment. Meaningful employment, safety, ready access to nutrition, flourishing schools, and homeownership will be impactful when adding Pride, thus changing the culture. Our community has worked hard to improve the starting pay with City employment and attract employers such as Volkswagen, Amazon, and many others.

Productivity is directly affected by stable homes and the provision of basic needs. It’s all a cycle of growth. We all have an impact to make, some know right away and others as they grow into their calling. The Black community has managed to struggle through all these years, but it is like a doctor concentrating on the symptoms and not the cause. It is past time to cure the disease that is eating away at our community. 

Nate Doss is running for congress as a Democrat in Tennessee’s 3rd District. LEARN MORE.

?REV. LAWSON CALLS OUT GOV. LEE

?Rev. Lawson: “GOVERNOR LEE, YOU HAVE A HOLE DOWN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SOUL.”

Rev. Lawson, who led the lunch counter sit-ins, called out Governor Lee at the John Lewis Way celebration for his immoral decision-making — challenging Lee to lead with heart & humanity instead.

 

A Trip to Montgomery

Sandy summarizes her trip to the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and “lynching memorial” and searches for signs of its mission in our state.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts here, and wherever else you like to listen here.

The Battle Against the Byhalia Pipeline

Hale and Cassie are joined by Justin Pearson, one of the co-founders of the grassroots movement Memphis Community Against The Pipeline (MCAP). They dig into the movement’s fight against the Byhalia Connection Pipeline and the ongoing environmental injustices happening right now in Memphis, Tennessee.

Check out Memphis Community Against the Pipeline

Sign the petition to tell city council members to vote to protect Memphis’ drinking water on Tuesday

Volunteer with MCAP

Sunrise Tennessee Interest Form

Find out what Native Land you are living on

Follow Sunrise Tennessee on Twitter and Facebook.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts and wherever else you like to listen.

 

OPINION: The Death of Anthony Thompson Jr. Was Avoidable

Opinion by Ali Pensky of Knoxville, TN

I am not a detective or a lawyer, but as a human being, I watched the video of seventeen-year-old Anthony Thompson Junior being shot and killed in his high school’s bathroom, and I have questions. As the officers approached Anthony, he begged, “WAIT” six times. By the time he could muster up another “WAIT” the officer had already shot him to the ground, and then, proceeded to handcuff him.  

As I watched the comment section of WBIR’s Facebook Live, many people wrote something like, “What did you expect? He brought a gun to school.” And then I thought of sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant who was killed by the police, and how people claim the shooting was justified because she had a knife and was in a fight.  

Too many police have proven to America that they will not do anything to deescalate a tough situation besides shooting their guns at children, so why are we still funding them at the rate we do? 

 It seems obvious that more money should be given to social services that will help with issues such as addiction, homelessness, and mental health. It seems obvious that police across the country need sufficient bias training. So why is the idea of defunding the police so threatening to so many white people? It is because this country only actually polices some people, and those who are not controlled, and in fact benefit from the current system of policing, want the system to stay the way it is. I am a white girl from an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Knoxville who went to a private high school. If a kid I knew was accused of hitting his girlfriend, he would probably get his friends’ dad who is a lawyer to make it go away. He would not get shot in the bathroom of his school, like Anthony Thompson junior. That is white privilege. That is why the killing of Anthony Thompson junior is absolutely not justifiable. 

The question of why the DA spent an hour going over tapes of Anthony’s girlfriend accusing him of abuse, is part of a larger issue. While an accusation of domestic abuse is serious, it has nothing to do with Anthony being shot to death by a police officer in his own school’s bathroom. The question of why Anthony was portrayed as a school shooter and portrayed as having shot the officer when both accusations are false is part of a larger issueThe picture that was painted of Anthony before the bodycam footage of the shooting was even released is disturbing and manipulative. It puts systemic racism on display. 

I have no doubt that the officers in that bathroom felt they were in danger, but in what universe does the officer deserve more sympathy than the dead seventeen-year-old? We need to dismantle that universe because it appears to have become our reality.  

I will never fully understand what it means to be a part of the Austin East community. But I stand with them and I believe the death of Anthony Thompson Junior was avoidable. I do not have answers on how to dismantle this broken system or make Knoxville safe for everyone, but if you are privileged enough to do so like myself, donate to the Austin East Foundation, which aims to help AE receive the same educational opportunities as other Knox County students. Purchase something on the AE’s staff wish list on Amazon. Support one of the local restaurants that are donating their proceeds to AE, such as Hard Knox Pizza or Likewise Coffee. Go to a protest led by Constance Every. Take a stance.

These GOP Senators Don’t Seem to Understand the Right to Protest

“Are you worried BLACK PLAYERS won’t come to Tennessee? Why didn’t you go talk to the players about WHY they were kneeling?”

We asked Senators Rusty Crowe & Jon Lundberg about Coach Shay being forced out of ETSU (by boosters & TNGOP) for standing with his players.

 

The Subtle Racism of Media Framing after the Atlanta Anti-Asian Hate Crime

“A lot of The New York Times and Washington Post articles are using language like ‘The authorities are still determining if this was racially motivated.’ To me, that’s just as hurtful” as Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s racist tweets.

Dr. Stephanie Kang of API Middle Tennessee on the subtle racism of how the media has framed the Atlanta hate crime against Asian-Americans.

Full podcast interview with Dr. Stephanie Kang, Joseph Gutierrez, and Kit Canlas of API Middle TN available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

Support API Middle Tennessee here

If you identify as API, join their processing space on Monday here.

 

 

Full livestream available here:

The Struggle Against the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust with Justin Jones

Organizer Justin Jones joins to talk with Representative Johnson about his years-long struggle in leading the charge to remove the bust of former KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol. Jones puts it best in his reason for focusing so heavily on the bust: if we can’t remove such a blatant symbol of racism from our Capitol, how will we ever be able to find the strength to build a true, multi-racial democracy?

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.

Sen Kelsey Shamed for Voting Against Black History Month Education

YESTERDAY: Senator Brian Kelsey voted against Senator Katrina Robinson’s bill to add more substance & positivity to the black history curriculum in Tennessee schools.

TODAY: We asked him about it — while he was on an elevator full of black women.

 

Elect Black Women

“Good leadership tends to be people who have lived the hurt and the pain of terrible legislation.” Ruby Powell-Dennis of Elect Black Women PAC on #ACaseOfTheMundays talking about why it’s crucial to elect Black women for competent leadership.

Support Elect Black Women PAC

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts, and wherever else you like to listen.