I Am Not Broken

This painting is reflective of Middlemen’s message.

‘I AM Not Broken’ centers in on the idea that throughout history Black men and women have been resilient despite slavery, white supremacy, Jim Crow, and the continued oppression of 2018 committed in harmony with the criminal justice system.

In Middlemen, surviving loved ones of those killed by law enforcement carry their loved one’s legacy to the public. They rise against stereotypes, criticisms, and the media to pursue what seems sensible given the nature of the act, an indictment against the police officer who is responsible for their loved one’s death.  99 bullets and counting. 99 rounds are an accumulation of shots fired at 4 of the five interviewees of this film. 1 banned choke hold.  A result of a minor ‘Broken Windows’ offense for selling loose cigarettes in front of a store. Despite the tragic circumstances around each case, the survivors unite for victories in legislation, foundations in their children’s names, rallies, and supportive survivor groups.

‘I Am Not Broken’ is reflective of those who are targeted, treated differently, or discriminated on because of the color of how they look.

‘I Am’ is a statement of reflection, projection, and of the Creator.

‘I Am’ is a reflection of self-speaking through the eyes of self. The true voice.

‘I Am’ is a projection is how someone else projects their labels, judgments, and categories.

We could see ‘I Am’ from the creator as the way God sees us or how the unknown unconscious self-sees the conscious self.

You are welcome to take a moment to look at this picture from each perspective noted above. 1st as you see the man in the painting, then put yourself in his place. Notice any feelings that come up, accept them and decide to learn from them.

Perception is important. Because of attitude, a mass number of people are labeled because of their appearance and are subject to civil and human rights abuses daily. Racial targeting, quota-driven policing, mass incarceration, and biased laws amass enough energy to harness a growing prison industrial complex. The mass incarceration that ensues because of prisons creates a chain of events that adversely affect urban communities. The nature of activities connected directly to slavery and America’s addiction to cheap or free labor.  Recidivism proves that this method of dealing with crime is not inherently in the best interest of any one’s community.  ‘I AM’ can be a projection but there is far more power as a state of reflection.

The painting’s broken background, though similar to the idea of a broken window, is essential. Not Broken is the resilience displayed by communities of color every day to rise above discrimination with grace. Not Broken Windows, Not The War on Drugs, Not Gentrification, Not Police Killings, Not any form of oppression can stop an indomitable spirit so ‘I AM’ is about an opportunity of choice when defining the self. Also, it is unavoidable for people not to project our feelings and idea’s onto others but understanding how we look at others is check your own biases.  ‘I Am’ concerning the Creator is a way of being faithful that there is more to us than we can even see. Great teachers note that we are all works in progress, it is not who we are today but where we are going that makes all the difference.

In the context of police officers. Those who we interviewed on camera were courageous enough to speak about life behind the blue wall. They too experience the harsh reality of making hundreds of moral decision’s each day. With pressures to produce arrest and summons, they are beginning to rely more heavily on projection despite their reservations.  Many did not sign up to become officers to stop people for low-level offenses. Many signed up because they wanted to help their communities. They see their reflections as protectors, people risking their lives to help others.  Despite consideration, the brewing data system call Compstat pushes them in the expectation of numbers. If it was merely a matter of racism on an individual level, then the problem of racism could be solved.  Racism is systematic is written into policies and laws.  Additionally, media has influenced a great deal of what attitudes and behaviors projected onto Black Men.

How crime is defined determines how criminal activity managed in any given neighborhood is dealt with and this is why certain crimes like selling drugs outweigh tell bankers fraud or why East New York will be treated differently than say Park Slope in Brooklyn. Each arrest affects the psyche. Each unwarranted stop has a consequence lead to further mistrust because of it is a misuse of power. It is critical for these interactions to stop altogether.

It is proven time and time again that police officers get the best results when they work with the community. It has also shown that reducing poverty and investing in communities to support business development, jobs, and youth programs have a fantastic effect on reducing crime. In a case of investment, ‘I AM’ can mean so much but we must listen to people when they tell us who THEY are.  It can provide a wealth of esteem, trust, and progress to our society.