Since last week, Los Angeles has been on lockdown as ex-cop Christopher Dorner got pretty angry about not being a cop anymore. His story became national news as he wrote a manifesto and began to exact revenge on the people who he claims did him dirty. It has been reported that Dorner launched a series of shooting attacks on police officers from February 3 to February 12 that left four people dead, including two police officers, and four police officers wounded. He became the subject of one of the largest manhunts in LAPD history, that spanned two states and Mexico. I don’t know if any of this is true because according to Dorner’s manifesto and what I know as a Black man living in America is that the police department lies to cover its own ass. My issue with Christopher Dorner is what it has meant to my week. Christopher Dorner put the heat on me because I’m a bald headed Black man living in Los Angeles at a time when the entire Los Angeles Police Department was looking for bald headed Black man!!!
In becoming a LAPD target, Christopher Dorner turned every Negro who even somewhat fit his description into a target too. Now I’m no fool, before I ever knew Christopher Dorner existed I was fully aware of being a target by police. Black men historically have “fit the description” even when they didn’t. Dorner’s reign of terror over LAPD has resulted in myself and many brothers who resemble him to wear disguises or just stay inside until Dorner was found. I love wearing my Yankee hat low but not so low that it covers my eyes when I go out in the street. I love my low brim swag but vision is important. I also love driving my family around but this past week have opted to ride “shotgun” to ward off being actually hit by a police shotgun while driving. I’m not the only one who’s felt the “Dorner Effect” many of my Black bald headed brethren have felt the shared experience. We’ve joked about buying wigs and Groucho Marx mustaches. I’ve even taken to growing my beard back.
The irony of Christopher Dorner is he’s an ex cop who became a suspect and in doing so turned the people he swore to protect and serve into targets. Yesterday in a hail of gunfire that lead to an actual fire in a Big Bear cabin, Dorner has reportedly died. The facts of how he died will be debated for days, months, and years, Whether the LAPD likes it or not, to some, Dorner died a martyr. He raged against the machine and went out in a literal blaze. Many will denounce his killing spree while at the same time support the actions he took by striking fear into a police department who often strike fear into innocent citizens. Christopher Dorner was truly ready to die and knew his fate as he wrote in his manifesto. I’ve seen this happen once before in my life when as a youth in New York City I saw a story on the news one night about a man named, Larry Davis.
Larry Davis was a New Yorker who shot six New York City police officers on November 19, 1986, when they raided his sister’s Bronx apartment. The police said that the raid was executed to question Davis about the killing of four suspected drug dealers. At trial, Davis’s defense attorneys claimed that the raid was staged to murder him because of his knowledge of the involvement of corrupt police in the drug business. With the help of family contacts and street friends, he eluded capture for the next 17 days despite a massive manhunt. He orchestrated his own capture and was later acquitted of attempted murder charges in the police shootout case and was acquitted of murder charges in the case involving the slain drug dealers. He was however found guilty of weapons possession in the shootout case and was found guilty in a later murder case and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Larry Davis was a folk hero and now Christopher Dorner is too. Both for their ability to elude capture and become a “symbol of resistance” and the embodiment of a community’s frustration with the police. Now we’re left to pick up the pieces and continue. Bald head Black men are free again! Wait. Are we? As the cabin with Dorner’s body in it was burning I began to feel a little less caged in as I had been the past week. I went outside without a hat and walked with my head high. I sought eye contact with people when I picked up my son at school instead of looking down to avoid being spotted and wrongly accused of being who I’m not. I felt free. Although as we walked home from school and my seven year old is babbling about his day I realized something. Christopher Dorner or not we’re all in some kind of cage. Why were some of us happy about Dorner or Davis before him eluding the machine if we didn’t fear the machine ourselves? He didn’t bring any extra heat down on me or any other bald head Black man. Maybe being a Black man in America is having an appearance of freedom without truly having it. Maybe Dorner just brought back into focus that we’re all in daily life walking with a Groucho Marx mustache seeking to avoid capture.
Follow Mitchell Marchand on Twitter @MitchMarchand
BY MITCHELL MARCHAND
We’re all in the midst of the day after haze of Super Bowl Sunday. Our stomachs hurt from eating a combo of things that make owning Rolaids a necessity. Today, Raven fans are elated while Niner fans are crying over a holding call late in the game although they did get a roughing the kicker call that they never should’ve gotten. Great game even though I had no dog in the fight. The beautiful thing about this Super Bowl is that the “show time” production value of the game was equal to the game itself. The pre game was incredible with Jennifer Hudson and her incredible Weight Watchers hips backed by the Sandy Hook elementary choir. Alicia Keys sang the National Anthem with a Quiet Storm slow jam feel while rocking the short Prince Under The Cherry Moon haircut. Of course the much anticipated half time show delivered with Mrs. Shawn Carter reclaiming her thrown as the baddest chick in the game sans a Roc-a-fella chain. Super Bowl Sunday was really a super day! Oh and excuse me while I sound like a ratchet but may I say Twitter was popping! Twitter is always great when everybody is watching the same show and from the start of the day the Twitter-verse seemed to be on their A game. Marlon Wayans went in on everything from Kelly Rowland’s hips to Colin Kaepernick’s nose. Joy Reid did some a hash tag jokes! While on Instagram every female was flexing trying to win the title of I’m At The Hottest Super Bowl Party While Wearing Club Outfit.
We even had a power outage that stopped the game. This gave us a chance to watch Shannon Sharpe destroy the English language while improvising on live television. A totally incredible viewing experience that was enhanced by Twitter’s immediate comment society. The tweets were flying! Some people claimed that their feeds were running slow and complained about not being able to keep up. Just absolute bedlam in Twitter land! Unfortunately, as is often the case on Twitter the negative hater types were out in force too. From the start of the day, the Beyonce stans were on the ready to strike down any tweeter who had the audacity to speak ill of King Bey. The Beyonce haters were out to deny the Queen of her place. For women I have no issue with this practice but dudes who appeared to be thugs in their avatars were doing their best Perez Hilton talking about lip synching and fake births. The thing really went downhill when Keyshia Cole made a comment about Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child. The truth is both Kelly and Michelle’s microphones were low even Beyonce’s could’ve used a little volume. Keyshia made a comment that about Michelle messing up the groove or something like that and that’s when shit got different.
The phrase “It’s my Twitter” is used ad nauseam on Twitter because often people take issue with an opinion if they don’t agree with it. Many use it as a device to spew hate and from what I could gather Keyshia’s opinion was not very welcomed by many who were happy to see Destiny’s Child back together again. Even with less than stellar mic volume. Because Twitter allows the difference of opinions and chooses not to police people we may need to come to a place where we police ourselves. There’s a side of me that respects the real opinion of Keyshia Cole rather than her making some fake show of “girl power” support. She wasn’t dissing Beyonce she went at Michelle. Maybe Keyshia was never taught the phrase “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.” What makes this difficult is if Keyshia Cole used her twitter account to have an opinion then doesn’t she have the right to say whatever she wants to say? When we sign up don’t we all have that right? Why can we spew our opinion while Keyshia Cole has to sit in a politically correct penalty box? I believe she’s within her right to speak but as in life when we speak out we must be prepared for the backlash.
Keyshia Cole, like many people on social networks said something mean spirited about Destiny’s Child much maligned third member. The truth? Michelle Williams jokes are really nothing but the new millennium Tito Jackson joke. They’re not even funny and nothing new was said yesterday that hasn’t already be said. It was just remixed and repackaged for low brow yucks. I don’t have an issue with Keyshia Cole or what she said but the culture that birthed this “keep it real” while putting up a middle finger to “classy” world we currently reside in. What happened to classy? Being dignified is almost extinct and we all seem to gravitate to the lawlessness. Sad that a Super Sunday that featured three incredible Black women displaying their talents on a world stage was brought into the Twitter school yard of “I don’t like that bitch.” I’d love to say “we can do better” but only if I knew we truly could.
I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m extremely comfortable in my own skin. I’m unapologetic about who I am and it’s because the process of getting here wasn’t always so smooth. I was an awkward teen. I can easily see who I was now but back then I thought I was cool as hell. I was known in my high school and I got a fair amount of attention but I wasn’t “the man” in school by any means. My two best friends weren’t “the man” either and they were a year ahead of me. Together we provided our school with a lot of comic relief. We enjoyed a good joke. Now many would be happy with that moderate status and we were. Maybe because we all knew there was another level of status that was owned by another group of dudes.
The dudes who enjoyed “the man” status were the Gods of my high school life. They had the love of a famous singing group, in fact they WERE a singing group. The group was named Vizion and after high school they would go on to have success and be signed to Michael Jackson’s label. These guys were it! They had perfect Teddy Riley style S-Curls and five octave range. Their clothes were the very best Oaktree could provide and I’m by no means clowning because Oaktree was the shit during our high school days. These dudes even had dope R&B names like Dez, Corley, and B-zo! The girls loved them in a way that modern day teens scream for Justin Beiber. Vizion had chicks screaming for them as they went from class to class throughout the day. These Vizion dudes were getting it. If a girl was feeling you but found out a Vizion dude was feeling her then you my friend had to kiss that chick goodbye. Not only were these dudes great singers but their speaking voices had an R&B feeling to it. When you attended school with these guys you knew you were number two.
Now we jump twenty plus years later and I am the father of a high school student. My son is a freshman in high school now. He’s six feet and a starter on the JV basketball team. My son is handsome kid with style which means he’s the exact opposite of me in high school. See my son IS Vizion. He’s a part of a group in his own way. They don’t sing in five part harmony but they play a sport which is to me, someone who did neither in high school, the same thing. I’m challenged as a parent now because I have no point of reference on how to be “the man” in high school. I’ve got awkward on lock. I can explain how to avoid getting your assed whooped by the thug and how to deal with your chick getting took by a flyer dude but I have no idea how to explain or help him be a “top dog.” That’s the strange thing about life and how it works itself out. Your children while being a product of you are not you. They are their own unique individual. I walked into high school green and not knowing anybody in the building. My son had the benefit of playing the entire summer with his high school team so he walked in with friends and a support system. If I didn’t love this kid with all my heart I’d hate his fucking guts!!
But all jokes aside, I think my high school years were incredible and the goal of a parent is to see to it that their kids have it better than they did. If that is the case then I’m doing the right thing. I wouldn’t want my son to go through some of the harder things I went through and I know that any life by looking on the outside always appears easy. I’m sure Vizion had some tough times back in the day. Tough times like figuring out which club shoes to wear to school or how to handle it when their gel was low and how to keep their curl moist. They probably also had to deal with how to juggle five different chicks who all wanted to kick it with them on a Friday night. Whatever challenges my son will face whether I have experience or not I will try to deal with it in a way that will steer him in the right direction. That will take Vizion and luckily, I have that.
I am not a Unicorn. I am not the Lochness Monster. I am not Big Foot. I am a Black Married man in America. I would like to thank you for welcoming me to your great land and please do not worry if I will eat the heads of your children based on my status as a Black Married Man in America. I am not an Alien from a faraway distant planet. See, I’m human. I don’t eat children’s heads, I like lemon pepper wings just like you. I bleed red blood just like your boyfriend and baby daddy. I’m just like them not much different. All I did was take the “y” off of wifey and the two kids we have together share not only my looks but the same address and last name. We are a family.
No, I didn’t marry her because her Dad is rich and she certainly didn’t marry me for money. See, I married her because I love her. Both of our kids were not only conceived in love but are raised in an environment of it. I’m no celebrity yet many women I come across treat me as such based on my status as a Black Married Man in America. While the intro to this piece may seem a bit over the top it’s not too far from the answers I have to give to some questions I receive from women when they realize I’m a Black Married Man In America.
I’m put on a pedestal by women I come across who notice my ring finger shimmering in the sunlight. My wife is viewed by them as some Tinker Bell type fairy who has sprinkled pixie dust on me to get me to say I do. To single men, I’m viewed as some type of sellout. A guy who gave up the “life” of drinking on a nightly basis without the responsibilities of helping your second grader do his homework. The truth is we are neither. We have our similarities and we have our differences. She likes to go to church on Sunday, I like the NFL on Sunday so obviously we have some scheduling issues. In the end, we make it work.
Marriage is tough and requires communication almost constantly. There is a checks and balances system my wife and I both have to adhere to in order for this thing to run smoothly. By smoothly, I mean the most up and down bumpy roller-coaster of life that is absolutely draining but at the end of the day when we’re both on the couch we can look at one another and say “I like that person watching television with me.” We’re friends and enjoy each others company and that’s important because being Black and Married in America doesn’t come without some backlash.
I started this piece proclaiming I’m not Big Foot but sometimes I might as well be. See, if Big Foot walked around in the streets some people wouldn’t want to hang with him. He’d be so different that he would have to find some solace in being by himself. I mean for Gods sake, who wants to kick it with a hairy guy with no clothes on. Sometimes being a Black Married Man In America feels that way. My wife and I have both felt some mild shunning from those outside as a result of our union. It’s like when my team loses I’m in no rush to watch Sportscenter. Well, Team Single sometimes has no interest in being around Team Married. It’s a part of the deal.
I guess part of the deal is to be looked at as some artifact in a museum and to be asked questions like a creature who was long presumed to be a myth that was suddenly discovered to be alive and real. I don’t wish to be considered this way but I guess it’s what I have to deal with it. I’m no different and I wish sometimes people didn’t act different around me. I’m not your church Pastor. Don’t hide your drink when I walk in the room, offer me one. I know many Black men who are married and we exist on this planet. We’re not an army seeking to recruit others but when you decide to walk through the door we’ll be glad to welcome you. Until then, unmarried women know I was slow to join the married man side, maybe like the guy you’re seeing right now. I ducked and dodged when pressured about the day I was buying a ring when asked by her friends, maybe like the guy you’re seeing right now. So even though I’m a Black Married Man In America the guy you gush over for my decision to be legit, I was once the guy you’re seeing right now. My wife had the patience and the vision to see during those days I had it in me to be the man she has now. She had vision and patience. Vision and patience. Vision and patience….
A writer for the new york times interviewed a series of people who had survived jumping off the golden gate bridge. Every person she interviewed admitted that about two thirds of the way down, they realized that every seemingly meaningless problem that caused them to jump was fixable.
Every single one.