“You Are My Enemy.”

Is anger righteous? Is it ok to shout with rage at an injustice? Is it morally correct to cancel or shame someone to changing their mind when it comes from anger? When there is an enemy in our midst, sure, it might seem natural to get angry and to show that to our perpetrator. And in some cases, I could agree, but truthfully, it might be better to be calm and listen then to get into a blind rage, because that enemy might not be our enemy.

I was out with a friend the other day having breakfast and shopping around. He had to go over to a health and wellness store that specialized in massage therapy, he has some issues with his back and needed something to help him rest easy. When we walked in with our masks, the owner was sitting back in his chair without a mask, and not making any motion to put one on, which I didn’t care much about. We were looking at some foam rollers while simultaneously asking if he had what my friend was looking for. He walked over to us and said it was all backed up because of “Corona virus,” and he seemed visibly upset that this virus was impacting his shop. He couldn’t help but make mention of the manufacturing of masks and how it was taking priority over anything he needed and was pretty upset by that. I asked him how long has he been backed up for, and he said, “Back since this whole lock-down started,” and he continued to show his frustration.

I was having a dialogue with an old friend on Facebook messenger a while back. It started with me objecting to his method of protesting on another person’s Facebook page. The protest was in how the message of the post made the author seem virtuous, and made my friend’s friend appear racist and hate filled. He remarked by telling the author to cut it out and to take the post down or else, and said that “I’m not joking.” I felt he could of came at it differently, and that he shouldn’t have let anger get the better of him. However, he felt his anger was justified as he was righteous and would be the same anger used, if he had been there, to stop the police that were witnessing George Floyd die under the knee of Derek Chauvin. Suffice to say, his anger (according to him) was correct, and he was right to say what he said on this post. Lately, he has been glowering and showing much disdain towards the lockdown, towards masks and masked individuals, and the federal government for everything that is going on. He is a business owner, and he hasn’t been able to reopen or get his shop going.

My point in these stories is that anger can over take us when things don’t go our way. And this is true of racial injustice, lockdown measures, mask wearing, loss of finances, and noticing people that aren’t working. It is all based on having an expectation of things. Some of these are justified I think, like asking for reform and prudent spending with the police, and asking for equality and equal opportunity, but other times it is straight up “I didn’t get what I want, and I should have it!” like a child stomping their feet and screaming in the aisle at a toy store. But how can we make sense of that? An angry person can either be your friend or your enemy. Well, maybe it is time we start listening.

There is a group that is trying to spread the message that is “Black lives matter” to rural areas in Alberta, and they have not been received well. For starters, the news of this group going into these areas got the attention of a hunting group on Facebook, which largely opposed them from coming into any of their towns. They started making jokes about shooting any rioters that enter their property, jokes about target practice, and using hunting terms like “bagging” a certain number of rioters or making sure they have the right “ticket” to start shooting rioters. The imagery that is “Black Lives Matter” to some people (such as this hunting group) is painted in such negativity that stems from the property damage that has been enacted on behalf of BLM, the assaults and some deaths that have been linked as well. This has caused many people to have fear and loathing towards BLM (a conversation for another day), and so will willfully miss the point of BLM or are unable to see what the point of BLM is – except to terrorize civilians, namely white people. That fear and anger is where this humour comes from, which I don’t hold as humour since they have hunting licenses and guns at their disposal. Guns and hunting are a responsibility, not a sport, so I can see where this advocacy group feels threatened by the hunting group.

However, the advocacy group are looking at it as an attack on black people, and not on the organization or rioting. To this BLM group, the hunting group are all racist pigs that were speaking about shooting black people, and they must be eliminated and stopped. In other words, they are the enemy. The jokes are pretty deplorable no doubt, and once the group leader got hold of those jokes, she started spreading them online like wildfire, and managed to get the hunting group to delete their page, effectively “cancelling” them.

The thing is that the hunting group wasn’t talking about black people, but about rioters and those that terrorize communities. But with what happened with that young boy Cannon Hinnant, now I am not so sure.

Cannon Hinnant was outside playing in his neighbour’s yard, when his neighbour, Darrius Sessoms, came outside and shot him in the head with a handgun. Darius Sessoms, 25, was detained and is now being held in custody for 1st degree murder and will more then likely have justice served to him. You would think that would be the end of that, a vigil and memorial amongst the townspeople for the short life lost and waiting to see if the murderer gets his just desserts. But you would be oh, so wrong.

Cannon Hinnant (Left) was shot by Darius Sessoms (Right).

This murder is being thrust on high because he is a child, but more importantly then that, a white child, while Sessoms is a black man. There have been allegations that Sessoms said the boy had “white privilege,” which led him to shooting Cannon while on drugs. People from that hunting group have been asking for justice, media coverage, and protests to support Cannon Hinnant, but there is a problem: What is there to protest? I find it ironic that those with the mind and anger from the hunter’s group would say BLM are racists for perpetuating racism in America, all while doing the same with Cannon Hinnant and his death, showing his death as the real proof of racism in America, and that white people are the ones being hunted.

Cannon has become a point of contention and anger towards BLM because there is a belief that there is hatred for white people right now. However, Sessoms has been arrested, and it isn’t like black people are killing white people in epic proportions all of a sudden, or that black people are child killers at that. BLM is about police brutality and police killings, along with mistreatment of black people at the hands of the criminal justice system, not white people killing black people, but that seems to be what a number of people think it is about. Even Cannon’s father said that the murder wasn’t racially motivated.

I don’t understand the need for protests, alarms bells, and justice when the police did their job of arresting Sessoms. Darius Sessoms did not have some scheme or role in a greater game like some of the white serial killers that have been featured at length on Netflix, whom we glorify for whatever reason. He wasn’t a cop, or someone in a position of authority – except being an adult that did not show compassion and safety to this child. He should be punished for his crime no doubt, but the complaints and anger towards the media on not reporting on Cannon Hinnant and his death is misplaced since EVERY media outlet covered the story and reported it. The feelings associated with the death are pretty awful, and the death is horrific no doubt, I just find the anger people have is largely a “Woe is me” kind, similar to the anger people have over masks and COVID-19.

It turns out that Darrius might spend life in prison, but now the parents are asking and advocating for the death penalty. Sometimes it really is difficult to separate racist rhetoric and actual justice, though if anyone has learned anything from literally any revenge story ever crafted, it is that justice served usually never makes you happy. You want more and more done, till everything remains in embers. So, are they and those that use the hashtag “Say his name” truly after justice?

Anger is such a powerful emotion, and no matter where you stand, it can really consume you and make you lose sight of what you actually believe and stand for. The BLM group declaring that racists are real in Alberta, Pink Flamingo and them highlighting a few racists as the entirety of Calgary, and the hunters believing that BLM equals terrorism and hatred of white people; it is all bred from the same mindset: you are my enemy.

I wonder if the advocacy group had reached out and talked with the hunters group (along with noting that there have been zero riots in Alberta with regards to BLM), would it have been enough to dissuade the humour and contention they had. And the hunters or those of the rural communities, if they had talked and spoke with the leader of the BLM group to discuss concerns, so they could be reassured, would it have escalated like it did. But now, they are most likely at a big impasse, and will now refuse to understand each other, with the hunters having found new anger in being cancelled by this group, and the BLM group believing them as racists undeserving of a voice.

To listen to other people is such a gift in my eyes, and it is how we grow to love, respect, and understand one another. However, we live in a society with an “absolute” right and wrong, and it makes it difficult to want to listen to those we think are evil, or are wrong, or are being disrespectful for not wearing, say, a mask. But treating those people as evil (even if they are being evil) isn’t helpful at all, and could actually be emboldening them to stay in their ways. Better to help them see that maybe there is another way.

Daryl Davis is one such man that does this. If you aren’t familiar with him, he is the man that has successfully had members leave the Ku Klux Klan, and he has been doing this since the 1980’s.

Can you imagine giving a member of the KKK a voice to speak and be open with you, knowing that they have a history of murdering and killing black people, along with terrorizing black neighborhoods? Well, he found a way, and he gave them a voice. Roger Kelly was a grand wizard of the KKK before befriending Daryl Davis. Kelly asked Davis to be his granddaughter’s godfather, and they are still friends to this day. And Davis has befriended twenty members of the KKK and is indirectly responsible for 200 people leaving the Klan. And I think it is important to note that Daryl Davis is actually a black man.

Roger Kelly (Left) and Daryl Davis (Right).

If there is anything to gain from all this, it is to remember that we are all human, and we all have something to offer, no matter how large or small that contribution is to the world. Sometimes it is truly a matter of listening and being open, and maybe showing those that hate that they have no reason to hate or be angry. And if you find you are angry and wanting something, like justice, maybe look inside and see what you genuinely want. Maybe you need to ask for a helping hand, or someone to talk to. It could be all manner of things, but anger doesn’t get you very far, and just like in a boxing ring, anger can get the engine going, but patience and mindset always gets you through the fight.

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