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I am not black.
I did not grow up with centuries of slavery, segregation, racism, and discrimination shaping my life.
This story is based on current events and conversations with friends.

Thiago - 1. Black Lives Matter

June 2020

 

“Look, buddy.” Fabricio’s eyes followed my arm, as I pointed a finger at the banner atop the flagpole. “It says Black Lives Matter. They’re showing their support for us.”

That was not surprising. More than once, my best friend’s family had displayed their disdain towards racism. The fact they had replaced the American and Marine Corps flags usually flown at the house with the dark standard was a reflection of who they were and what they believed in. Holding my son closer, I hitched the diaper bag a little higher on my shoulder and knocked on the front door. Since it had been left ajar, I stepped inside. “Hellooo!”

CJ’s grandmother, standing in the kitchen with Liebe in her arms, looked at us and smiled.

Hola, Aba.” Although her name was Olga, everyone called her by the nickname my best friend had given her while too young to pronounce abuela. “Come estan usted y Liebe?” My knowledge of Portuguese allowed me to squeeze a few Spanish phrases out; asking her how she and her great granddaughter were doing was easy.

Bien, bien.” She turned so the six-week-old infant could see us over her shoulder. “Mira, Liebe, Thiago y Fabricio vinieron a visitarnos.”

 

I chuckled aware the baby had no idea she had been told my fifteen-month-old son and I were visiting. “Thanks for agreeing to look after him tonight, Aba.” Until CJ and Owen’s house was ready for occupancy, the woman resided at CJ’s fathers’ place. She consented to become Liebe’s caretaker and all four would be moving to the Capitol Hill house later in the summer. She would babysit my son while we went out.

CJ Abelló and I met in high school and had been friends since. Owen Liston had come from Australia to study law in the states the following year. Starting as friends at that point, they had married in 2018. Their daughter, Elizabeth Liston Abelló, and my son, Fabricio Cesar Baravento, were destined to grow up as friends. Either that or frenemies due to overexposure. Our group spent a lot of time together.

“They’re all in the basement. Go join them, and I’ll be down in a few minutes.” Aba returned her attention to the formula bottle she was readying, so I headed for the stairs.

“Stop grumbling already. We already settled the matter, and you know it’s not happening.” Owen did not sound happy. When I reached the bottom, he was waving a dismissive hand at CJ.

“What’s not happening?” I certainly hoped they had not changed their mind.

“Thiago! About time you got here. Maybe you can get these knuckleheads to stop fighting.” Taisha Abelló stood from the couch and walked towards us. “He gets cuter every time I see him. Let me hold him.” Before I could make a move, she was dislodging Fabricio from my grasp.

There were half-a-dozen people in the room. CJ and Owen, their cousin, Rod Abelló and his wife, Taisha, CJ’s brother, Ritch Peterson, and Devon Jefferson, an African-American social worker who was friends with CJ’s dads.

“Who’s fighting and what about?” Considering the first thing I heard was Owen telling his husband to stop grumbling, I had an idea of who the antagonists were. The reason behind their disagreement intrigued me. Those two rarely argued.

“CJ wants Liebe at the rally. Owen prohibited it.” Leave it to the youngest one in the group to spit it out without flowery language. Ritch had recently graduated from high school and was heading to the Air Force Academy in Colorado in a week or so.

“Tell ’em, homie.” CJ came towards me and gave me a bro hug. “Tell them this is historic and Fabricio and Liebe should be part of it.”

I had to laugh. My best friend was always big on being part of momentous events. It did not surprise me he wanted his infant daughter to be a participant too. “You’re nuts, CJ. No effing way am I putting my kid in the middle of a crowd that could turn violent.”

“You tell him, Chemist.” Owen had been calling me that a lot more frequently as my graduation with a doctorate in pharmacology from Howard University got closer. Pharmacists were known as chemists in his native Australia.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. The final eight minutes and forty-six seconds of his life he spent on the ground, face down, handcuffed, with white policeman Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck. His cries of “I can’t breathe” were ignored by Chauvin and three other officers.

Public reaction condemning his death and police brutality against African Americans in general was swift. Protest rallies became a daily occurrence across the United States and other countries. Some degenerated into riots. A peaceful protest on Lafayette Square across from the White House was planned on this day.

CJ was not gracious when he admitted defeat. “Fine! Y’all win this one. But mark my words, you’ll wish the kids had been there with us. Pussies.”

He jumped when Taisha slapped his ass hard. “Stop using that word. You’re implying anyone with a vagina is less of a person. I don’t care if you’re my husband’s cousin; you do it again, I’ll kick you in the nuts.”

We all tried to disguise our chuckles. Knowing Taisha was a no-nonsense woman, we did not for a second take her threat lightly.

CJ looked a bit sheepish when he raised his hands in surrender. “Rod, Ozzie, protect me, guys.”

“You’re on your own, cuz. I ain’t crossing my wife.”

“I’m not doing it either. Stop picking on her, or Liebe may end up as an only child.”

“Geez, what a bunch of pendejos.”

Taisha twirled to stare at Ritch. “What’s that mean?”

The teen had trouble speaking while chuckling. “Pubic hairs. He just called us a bunch of pubes.”

“Well, that ain’t too far from the mark.” Taisha grinned like a mad woman. “You bunch are as useful as pubic hairs most of the time.”

“Hey, watch it, sis.”

“I think you need a divorce attorney, Rod.”

“So glad I’m gay. Not sure I could deal with that crap on a daily basis.”

 

Rhythmic, stentorian chants of “No justice, No peace” and “Hands up, Don’t shoot” assailed our ears the closer we got to Lafayette Square. The public green space sat on the north side of the street across from the White House, but the famed boulevard between the park and the presidential home had been closed to vehicular traffic for a few years as a security measure against possible terrorist attacks. I remembered as a child my parents always pointing out the famed house whenever we drove past 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Stay close together, guys. Even if we have to hold hands to do so.” Devon Jefferson was the oldest member of our group, and I guessed he felt some sort of responsibility for those of us he had known since we were teens. Dragon, as all of us called him because of the distinctive tattoo over his left shoulder and pec, was, like me, a native Washingtonian. He was a graduate of Howard University and had often provided me advice on how to navigate school and the snide remarks I often encountered due to my white friends. Reverse discrimination was something he had dealt with too. He was part of the Elite, a group of gay men CJ’s fathers were a part of.

“Aren’t you scared some hottie will think you’re attached and ignore you?” CJ took two quick steps away in case Dragon’s response was physical instead of verbal.

“God, your fathers are right. You are an asshole.”

We had called a couple of Ubers for the ride from the Georgetown townhouse to the Rosslyn Metro Station across the Potomac River in Virginia. From there, we rode the Orange Line to the McPherson Station and walked the rest of the way. As the train disgorged passengers, we realized the five-minute stroll would take significantly longer. Hundreds of people were headed in the same direction.

My heartbeat increased with every step we took. Initially in Minneapolis, then in other cities, protest marches had exploded with violence. In D.C, the previous day, multiple fires broke out, including one at the historic St. John’s Church we had just walked by. I nudged CJ. “Did you bring Lola?” One of my friend’s idiosyncrasies was naming inanimate objects; his vehicles and house had all been slapped with a moniker. Lola was his Sig Sauer p226 handgun. He had a concealed weapon permit and carried the firearm almost everywhere.

“Nope. Ozzie wouldn’t let me do that either.”

I tried to disguise my smirk, Owen was putting his foot down in more ways than I would have expected.

“Bloody right I wouldn’t let you. Considering what’s been going on, I’d rather rely on numbers instead of ammunition to keep us safe.”

He had a point. The last thing we needed was an errant bullet hurting an innocent bystander. There was no doubt in my mind a solitary shot would be met with a barrage of return fire from police officers. At the moment, crowds were not friendly towards law enforcement personnel, and they had brought it upon themselves because of how they treated minorities.

Fifteen minutes after arriving, we had not made much progress towards the front of the rally. I very much doubted we would reach the edge. Moving backwards would have also been difficult; each new train spewed out more people. I had a feeling that would continue until right before the evening’s curfew went into effect.

“Steady, man.” Standing behind me, Rod kept me from stumbling with a hand on my shoulder. Shouting protesters kept jostling us and one had bumped me hard from the right. There was no way to maintain personal space with so many around us. The day’s heat and close proximity, combined with a multitude of colognes and perfumes, created an interesting brew of aromas; some of those nearby could have used a shower.

But the discomforts were not enough to dissuade any of us. We were firm in our resolve to show our disgust with how the judicial system treated people of color. Enough was enough. In 2014, while Ferguson, Missouri was rocked by riots, I watched news coverage but did nothing. Michael Brown’s murder by a white policeman was not something that affected my life.

It felt different this time around. I had Fabricio. I was ready to battle the world for him. If my life was enhanced because of a continuum of events designed to improve the lives of black men and women, I was determined to ensure my son’s experience as an American of color would be even better. Unsure of what made me think of them, the words of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. came to mind. He once stated he was not fighting for the black race but for the human race. Fabricio may have been the primary reason for my involvement, but Liebe was part of it, as well as the other children in our group of friends. Black, white, orange, or blue, the next generation deserved to live in a more equal and just country.

“Something’s happening. Stay close and pay attention.” Dragon stood next to me with a hand on my shoulder. We both rose on our toes trying to see what was happening near the front. The crowd’s energy had changed. Chants were replaced by complaints about shoving with a few screams thrown into the mix.

“Stay still one minute.” With a hand on Dragon and another one on Rod, I leveraged my height and rose above the crowd for a moment. What I saw sent a chill down my spine. “Oh, shit! We gotta get the fuck out of here. There’s soldiers out there.”

Wearing camouflage and riot helmets with shields, a phalanx of baton wielding soldiers was too close to the protest’s leading edge. It was a solid show of force, and I did not trust them. I was terrified.

I was appalled when they shoved a man toting a large television camera out of the way. It was hard to believe journalists were being treated like that. Suddenly, without warning, the line of soldiers charged forward at a sprinting pace, knocking protesters to the ground. The crowd in front of us parted, and we could finally see what we had to deal with. Behind the camouflaged troops followed blue-clad men on horseback. I recognized the uniforms as Park Police.

Amidst the screaming, we heard pops I thought were gunfire. They were shooting at us. The acrid smoke rising from the ground meant tear gas canisters had been deployed. As a unit, we raised our t-shirts to cover our faces but our eyes remained exposed. We had to see where we were going. The irritating fog made it hard to find our way; we were all trying to breathe, deal with burning eyes, and steer clear from the indiscriminately swung batons.

“Watch out!” Owen held me back as I was about to stumble over a woman on her knees I had not seen. “Help her up. We’ll carry her with us.”

Somehow, we managed to convince her we were friendly; the petrified woman looked disoriented, and tears streamed down her face. She had obviously been hit with more of the irritating smoke than we had. “Ritch!” I called out to CJ’s brother a few steps ahead. He wore a drawstring bag on his back with our water supply. “Gimmie one of those bottles.”

Knowing the crystalline powder that became tear gas would collapse to the ground, we had to get her to safety. Every minute she spent on her knees would worsen the effect. But I wanted to have something ready for her to drink once we were away from the melee. Stumbling as we tried to run for safety, it was a miracle none of us ended flat on our behinds. It took a while, but we eventually made it to a side street and kept moving until well away from the attacking forces.

Anger and sadness coursed through my body. This was the United States of America. The rights to free speech and assembly were enshrined in our constitution. How dare our leaders attack a peaceful protest? This was not something I would soon forget.

 

The Lafayette Seven—as CJ’s fathers jokingly called us after we were attacked—reconvened a couple of weeks later in a much more relaxed atmosphere. Actually, there were six of us at Rod and Taisha’s home in the Takoma section of D.C. Ritch had left for Colorado Springs where he would be a cadet at the Air Force Academy in the fall.

“We should take a picture of the six of us and send it to Ritchie. It’s a shame he’s not here.” Dragon had already mentioned our experience would be something we would all share and talk about for the rest of our lives.

“It’s Ritch.” Rod had always been extremely fond of his cousins and had driven to Colorado with the second youngest member of the family. Liebe, the newest Abelló, attracted most of everyone’s attention these days, but Ritch held a special spot with all of us. He was our group’s unofficial mascot. “And he wouldn’t get to see it for a long time anyway.”

I was surprised. Even more than the rest of us, Ritch was always on his phone. “How come?”

“The Academy won’t allow them to use phones until after his summer training.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. Pretty sure he has withdrawal shakes by now.”

The reason for our get together was a Juneteenth barbecue. Although not an official holiday in The District, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States had received renewed attention in the past couple of weeks. When it was revealed the protest earlier in the month had been broken so Trump could take a picture for campaign purposes, all of us were outraged. It felt more important than ever to remind bigots like the president that oppression always came to an end.

CJ’s fathers, in a solidarity display with the African-American community, gave all their employees the day off with pay. Since the office was closed, Rod and Taisha had invited family and friends to their home.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln, signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed more than 3,000 slaves in the District of Columbia. April 16 was a legal holiday in D.C. Later that year, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It was made official on January 1, 1863. It declared all enslaved persons in the rebelling confederate states not in Union hands freed.

While the conflict raged, no one bothered to inform slaves in the confederacy they were no longer bound to their masters. In Texas, the enslaved population had ballooned as white owners fled the ravages of war in other states. It was not until Monday, June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to lead the occupying northern troops, that those subjugated black men, women, and children discovered they had been granted their freedom.

“He looks a lot like you.” Lincoln squatted, trying to convince Fabricio to let go of my leg.

“And I look a lot like my mom, so if you ever meet her, remember to mention Fabricio and I got her good looks.”

Even squatting, the man towered over my son. He looked up and gave me a big grin. “Conceited much?”

Lincoln Erickson befriended CJ and Owen when the FBI assigned him to run a sting operation involving a building inspector trying to shake them down. The size of a small mountain, he had been invited to CJ’s graduation, and I had met him then. My homies had introduced him to our group of friends, and I liked the man. If I had met him on the street, I might have been intimidated; he was a dozen shades darker than me and his bulging muscles were in sharp contrast to my slender physique.

Since Juneteenth was not an official holiday for most people, the gathering was small. A couple of friends from work and a handful of friends. “Did the FBI give you guys today off or are you playing hooky?” I was happy to see Fabricio at last react and allow Lincoln to pick him up. The kid smiled when he realized he was now taller than me.

“Neither. Vacation day. I’m flying to Detroit tomorrow and spending next week with family.”

“Is that were you’re from?” The woman I had been introduced to when I arrived, an old friend of Taisha’s who was a dead ringer for Lizzo, had been eyeing Lincoln as if he was dessert from the moment the man arrived.

“Born and raised.” Lincoln adjusted my son in his arm and offered the woman a hand. “Lincoln Erickson.”

“Oh, it’s a pleasure. Aja Goodwin. And if I say so myself, I am good.” Shamelessly, she batted her eyelashes at him. “How do you know Rod and Taisha?

Lincoln looked around the room for a moment and pointed at CJ and Owen talking to our hosts. “Them. I met CJ and Owen through work a few months ago. They’ve invited me to a couple of family events and turns out I live nearer to Rod and Taisha than anyone else.”

“Well, that’s good to know you’re in the hood.” The eyelashes went into overdrive. “I’m only three Metro stops away. Hey! Were you out with the cray crays at the protest?”

Lincoln chuckled right along with me. He shook his head. “I was not. It could have made for an interesting situation in my office, so I gave it a pass.”

“I didn’t neither. Not because of work.” Aja looked at her high heels—which looked a little incongruous considering everyone else wore sneakers, flips, or slides—and appeared embarrassed. “I had my nails done that afternoon and didn’t wanna ruin my manicure.”

When Lincoln and I once again laughed, she gave us an indignant stare while fisting her hands against her hips. “What? You have any idea how much ten good acrylics cost?” Her right hand flew open and upwards; in front of her gigantic boobs, she waved it to show off the aforementioned nails. “Oh, I love this song.”

The outrage over our merriment forgotten, she actually twirled in place, tossing what I assumed were extensions around like small whips. The length and blood-red color made me take a step back in fear. John Legend’s “Bigger Love” was obviously more important than the rally and manicure. I had to admit it was a catchy tune and would probably be a big summer hit.

Watching Aja shimmy around Lincoln, I decided I liked the woman. Hell, she was sexy in her own way. Although larger than my usual type, I might be tempted. The doorbell interrupted my thinking. Since I was closest to it, I took two steps and yanked it open.

“Hi, I’m Thiago. Come on in.”

The smiling black man, a tad shorter than me but nearly twice as wide, offered his hand to shake. “Dennis White. I work with Rod and Taisha.”

“Ah, another one of Cap and Mr. A’s minions. Come on in.”

“Cap? Mr. A?

“Yeah… Brett and César. I’m friends with their sons, and that’s what our group calls them.”

“Are they here?”

“The dads? No, not yet.” I looked at the purple bag in his hands and smiled. “There’s somebody here who’s gonna love seeing what you brought.” Turning around, I scanned the crowd for Dragon and saw him coming towards me; he had probably seen it already. “Dragon, get over here and meet Dennis White.”

“Hey, man. Good to see you again.” Dragon clasped the new arrival’s shoulder and turned his eyes on me. “I’ve met Dennis. I stopped by Cesar and Brett’s office a little while ago and it happened to be his first day on the job.”

“I recently reentered the work force, Thiago,” Dennis explained. “After my wife died, I found myself bored. I decided to get a part-time job, and I landed a position handling the company’s rental properties.”

Dragon used the hand he had on Dennis to steer him away from me. “Come on, let’s go find our hosts. I’m gonna have to explain the significance of the purple bag to that white boy.”

Although I was certain most black men in my age bracket did not carry one, I did. Dragon had given me a bottle of Crown Royal as a twenty-first birthday present. The affinity of African-American older men to the brown liquor and the bag the bottle came in was puzzling. The origin of and reasons for the tradition were countless but did not matter in the end. Receiving one and subsequently using it was a rite of passage in the black community. Mine held electronics accessories and permanently resided in the front pocket of my backpack. I smiled thinking of lily-white Rod taking one more step towards brotherhood. The bottle of Cîroc vodka I had brought might also help in that regard.

A while later, I sat on the deck’s edge with Fabricio between my legs, while CJ fed his daughter next to me. My son was fascinated with the infant and constantly reached for her feet. The girl would wiggle and smile whenever my kid managed to grab one.

“Bro, is your son trying to make time with my daughter?” CJ’s serious, concerned expression made me chuckle.

Owen’s loud comment interrupted us and made us turn to look at him. “You’re gonna have to talk to my husband about that. He’s the family’s activist.”

Aja did not need a second invitation; trailed by Owen and Lincoln, she purposely marched in our direction. “It’s CJ, right?”

The amusement was evident in his expression and response. “Yes, ma’am, it is.” He actually tried to look serious.

“So, the tall white boy with the cute accent tells me you’re the one I need to talk to about joining a protest.”

CJ looked confused. “I’m not sure about that. What type of protest do you want to join? I’m not organizing anything.”

Aja synchronized her head and eye rolls perfectly. Her exhale was dramatic, and it conveyed her frustration. “Okay, I know I’m talking white, so there’s no reason for you not to understand.” Reactions from those around her ranged from shock, to disbelief. CJ groaned; I laughed.

“What? I can talk hood too, but it takes too much work. Irregardless, I don’t want to join a protest. I’m organizing one, and I want you to join. Lincoln’s being a pu”—She must have realized Fabricio was staring at her and paying attention—“a pure coward. He says he doesn’t agree.”

Behind her, Lincoln winked at us when we glanced in his direction. “I didn’t disagree with everything you said. I’m just not the type to march in a rally.”

Aja whirled around and snapped her hand at him. “Chile, you had your chance. Don’t go trying to butter me up now.” Damn! She sounded ghetto as hell this time. And what was that about trying to butter her up? Had she not yet figured out Lincoln was gay?

Obviously satisfied Lincoln would not interrupt her again, she returned her attention to CJ. “What do you think about the Confederate flag?” Sweet Jesus! The woman had no idea what she was doing. You start CJ on a conversation about any civil right issue, and we could end up talking for hours.

“Artistically, it’s interesting. As a symbol, it’s abhorrent. It was created by traitors to the United States and has no place except in museums and history books.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s what I was telling Lincoln: We need laws to make it a crime to use it.”

“Okay, now you lost me.” CJ vigorously shook his head. “That I disagree with. It’s unconstitutional.”

“That’s fiiine. That’s why we need the congress to pass a law so it’s legal to stop anyone from flying it.”

“I don’t think it works that way, Aja.” I had to get my two cents in. The lack of comprehension so many Americans have about how we were governed scared me. I still remembered by high school classes.

“Oh, yeah? And how does it work?” With Lincoln and Owen once again following her lead, Aja grabbed one of the folding chairs and sat behind CJ and me.

We both turned enough so we could watch the others. “This is yours, homie. You’re the government.” I knew CJ could explain it better than I would.

“Think of the constitution as a road map, Aja. It gives directions on what can and can’t be done. Simple laws can’t change it. It requires an amendment, and those are much more complicated to pass.”

Aja dismissed the explanation with a hand wave. “Whatever. What about getting rid of Confederate monuments? How do you feel about them?”

That one was a question I was willing to answer. “They should all come down. It’s like CJ said, those Southern heroes were all traitors.”

“Now we’re talking!” Aja slapped her jeans-clad thigh and smiled. “That’s actually what I want you guys to help with. There’s a group getting together to bring down the Jackson statue at Lafayette Park. We could use a couple more strong men.”

“Not happening, Aja. I’m pretty sure CJ’s with me on this one. I agree monuments to Lee, Davis, and others like them should come down but not those of President Jackson.” CJ’s grin and encouraging nods prompted me to keep going. “Look, Andrew Jackson was a slave owner and a racist bastard, but he was president. If we start down that road, where do we stop? Do we tear down the Washington Monument? Our first president owned slaves. So did our third one. Do we bulldoze the Jefferson Memorial?”

“I’ll bring my gun and stand with the cops if anyone tried that. No way is the Jefferson Memorial coming down.” CJ had regaled us in the past with the reasons he admired the author of the Declaration of Independence, and he and Owen had been married on the grounds of the memorial. There was zero chance he would ever consider its removal.

“Baby Jesus, help me.” The woman was definitely sounding frustrated. “The two of you might as well be Republicans. And what’s this crap about having a gun and standing with the cops? Those pigs need to be fired. We need to defund the police.”

There was an air of amusement enveloping CJ. He could be ruthless when disputing arguments he found faulty, but he was being gentle with our new acquaintance. “What do you mean by defunding, Aja?”

“I mean we need to shut down the entire police department and start from scratch. We should have more brothers and sisters instead of all those white people.” She gave CJ and Owen an apologetic shrug. “No offense.”

“None taken.” CJ was being unusually calm.

I did not share the sentiment. “I’m offended.” That drew a look of surprise. “You’re being racist, Aja. The color of a cop’s skin doesn’t predict how they’ll act.”

“You can’t be serious. White cops killing black folk’s all we ever see on TV.”

“You’re right. But how many incidents don’t we see?” CJ saved me from defending the indefensible. “Look, Aja, we see that on TV because black people have become adept at sharing phone videos. And I’m glad it’s happening. But dismantling an entire police force, particularly in a large city, isn’t practical.”

“And why not?”

“Money for one. Throwing away our investment in law enforcement to weed out bad apples doesn’t make sense. Think of how much taxes would have to go up.”

“Who cares? It’s rich white people who’ll pay them.”

She was obviously unaware CJ and Owen were wealthy, or she might not have been so flippant. My friends remained quiet, but I had to respond. “That’s crap. You’re assuming black people don’t pay taxes. Sorry, sister, but that won’t fly. I graduate from school next year. I plan on making a crapful of money when I start working, and I’ll have to pay taxes too.”

I pressed further. “Not sure where you grew up, Aja, but I was born and lived in a less desirable area of The District when I was young. My parents moved into a better neighborhood after my brother died. They wanted to protect me from the dealers and gangbangers in the hood. Back then, they would have loved to have more of a police presence in the area. As bad as relationships are between law enforcement and the black community, they do protect us.

“There’s definitely institutional racism in many departments, but we can’t destroy what we have. Now, I do agree some funds could get diverted to other public programs, but only if we also transfer some current police responsibilities to those areas.”

All through my explanation, CJ grinned and nodded. We had known each other for about seven years, more than a friend he was my brother, and his approval was satisfying.

“One other thing: I do think we need to modify immunity.” Qualified immunity, a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials from individual liability while acting in an official capacity, protected cops from being personally sued for money damages. Under federal law, they were protected so long as they did not violate clearly established law. “Cops like the murderer of George Floyd should be subject not only to criminal prosecution but also be liable in civil court.”

“That could make some of those rotten apples think twice before using excessive force.” Lincoln’s remark was gratifying. An FBI agent even acknowledging there were bad actors in law enforcement was refreshing.

“See, even a cop admits there are a few of his fellow lawmen who deserve to be punished.” Except for Lincoln’s interjection, the others allowed me to speak. This was a bit out of character for me. Although I had strong beliefs about many things, I was usually not this forward. But the murder in Minneapolis and all the recent killings of black people had awakened something in me.

It was time for me to take a stand and be vocal about it. It was no longer my life threatened, but that of my son. I would do everything in my power for Fabricio to grow up in a more just society. A nation where, as happened in my own microcosm with my friends, the color of someone’s skin did not matter. Where we were all Americans and the promise of justice under the law was evenly applied.

“We can’t just react, Aja. We need to think about what needs to be done and work towards it. Protests and signs are fine, but we need to vote. We need to ensure the orange blob’s not reelected to begin with. We need to elect people, of any race, who will help stem the tide of white nationalism sweeping our country since Obama was elected. We need to volunteer, we need to speak out, and we need to drag everyone we know to the ballot box.

“We need to do it for ourselves and for the next generation. I was just thinking about Fabricio and Liebe here. We need to ensure the world they inherit is a more equitable one.”

Copyright © 2020 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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My thanks to @Mann Ramblings and @Defiance19 for their assistance with the story.
All errors remain the responsibility of the author.

Thank you for reading. Your reactions and comments, on the chapter and the story as a whole, are welcome and encouraged.

Story Discussion Topic

Welcome to the discussion thread for CJ’s series. All things CJ are fair game, I simply ask you be respectful of others. I will actively participate in the discussion. Ask questions, speculate about what’s coming, or bitch about what happened. We’re now open for business!    

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2 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Great chapter. A powerful chapter that perfectly reflects the events.

Thanks, Chris!

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1 hour ago, gmc said:

Great start, I look forward to the next chapter, I love this iteration!

Thanks!

Take a look at my response to the previous comment.

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37 minutes ago, Tonyr said:

Nice Story. I think that this pandemic and almost five months sicial distancing must have left me a little emotionaly unstabe, cause i fInished reading this one with a knot on my throat. 

Did you have a special reason for the pandeminc not to be on the story, Mr Hazday?

This story will be part of the CJverse where the pandemic does not exist. I've written too much into the future and I don't feel the need to revise what's already been posted.

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14 minutes ago, Wesley8890 said:

Glad to see thiago! I think i may have to abstain from commenting on some chapters other than my overall impression of the chapter, dont feel like getting warnings 😉. I will say i agree with alot in this chapter. 

Thanks, Wes!

Political issues are often part of my stories. As long as we stick to discussing what I wrote, I don't think a warning would be issued. At least I'm not aware of anyone getting in trouble for doing so.

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39 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

LOL Thank you.

I often draw inspiration from real life events when writing stories. A couple of times I've produced stand alone shorts which have proved popular/controversial but in this instance I felt making this the start of Thiago's story was the right way to go.

HOWEVER, except for a shaky outline, I have no idea how this story will turn out. I do know the next chapter will take place a year after this one and focus on Thiago graduating from school and moving. I do not foresee that one, or the rest of the story, being published until late in 2021. I'm going to slap a Temporary Hold on the story after this weekend. Hopefully, other stuff I have in the works will satisfy readers until I'm ready to complete Thiago's story. BTW, the title will change when I return to it.

WHAT ???

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13 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

My, how quickly they turn.

Maybe instead of being honest, I should have marked the story as complete, and made people believe it was a one chapter short. I could have then surprised readers when I returned to it.

Because of the timeliness and the fact that the next posted story is too feature a different straight boy, I was actually expecting it to be complete at one chapter. An additional follow up story is a bonus.

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2 minutes ago, Carlos Hazday said:

We have to be the catalysts for change. In a democracy, voting is the way to do it. We should al take Thiago's final comment to heart.

Voting is not a privilege, it is a civic responsibility. Just received notice that my application for an absentee ballot has been processed by the county election bureau.

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I too come from white privilege although I will claim being a minority as I am a gay man. I always appreciate your writing, but more so when you respond as you did here to current events in our country. It is imperative that everyone 18 years of age and older be registered to vote and then votes this coming November we need to reclaim some civility in our land. Thanks again for a great chapter. 

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2 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

HOWEVER, except for a shaky outline, I have no idea how this story will turn out. I do know the next chapter will take place a year after this one and...I do not foresee that one, or the rest of the story, being published until late in 2021

Tease  😉

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2 hours ago, dughlas said:

Because of the timeliness and the fact that the next posted story is too feature a different straight boy, I was actually expecting it to be complete at one chapter. An additional follow up story is a bonus.

SO many straight boys, so little time. Almost done with the third chapter of that other one.

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57 minutes ago, Bill Christiansen said:

I too come from white privilege although I will claim being a minority as I am a gay man. I always appreciate your writing, but more so when you respond as you did here to current events in our country. It is imperative that everyone 18 years of age and older be registered to vote and then votes this coming November we need to reclaim some civility in our land. Thanks again for a great chapter. 

Thank you, Bill.

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