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 ones legacy to the public. They rise up against stereotypes, criticisms, and the media in order to pursue what seems sensible given the nature of the act, an indictment against the police officer who is responsible for their loved ones death.  99 bullets and counting. This is the accumulation of bullets fired at 4 of the 5 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 because of the color of their skin. I Am is a statement of reflection, projection, and of the Creator.

I Am as a reflection of self speaking through the eyes of self. The true voice.

I Am as a projection is how someone else projects their labels, judgments, and categories, while I Am is a name for the creator in biblical texts.

We could see I Am from the creator as the way God sees us or how the unconscious unknown 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 picture, 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 perception, 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 thriving prison industrial complex. The mass incarceration that ensues because of prisons creates a chain of events that affect urban communities in an adverse way. The nature of events connected directly to slavery and America’s addiction for cheap or free labor.  Recidivism proves that this method of dealing with crime is not inherently in the best interest of any ones community.  I AM can be a projection but there is far more power as a state of reflection.

This is why the painting’s broken background, though similar to the idea of a broken window, is important. Not Broken is the resilience displayed by communities of color everyday 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 becomes more about an opportunity or a choice when defining self. Also it is unavoidable for people to not project their own feelings and idea’s onto other but understanding how we look at others is check your own biases.  I Am in terms of the Creator is a way of being faithful that there is more to us than we can even see. It was been noted by great teachers that we are all works of progress, it is not who we are today but were 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 own reservations.  Many did not sign up to become officers in order 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.  Yet, despite there reflection, 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, it is written into policies and laws.  Additionally, media has influenced a great deal of what attitudes and behaviors are projected onto Black Men.

How a person defines crime says a lot about how criminal activity is dealt with based on each police department and why certain crimes like selling drugs out weigh say bankers fraud or why East New York will be treated differently than say Park Slope in Brooklyn. Each arrest has an effect. Each unwarranted stop has a consequence that ends in mis-trust. It is critical for these interactions to completely stop.

It has been proven that police officers get the best results when they work with the community. It is also proven that reducing poverty and investing into communities to support business development, jobs, and youth programs has an amazing 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.