It is only by living life that we truly understand the phenomenal influence that our loved ones who have gone onto glory have had upon us; an influence that undoubtedly continues until our transition into another life. The influence that I am referring to in this piece is undoubtedly my beloved mother, Kathryn V. Jones. I am continually amazed at how she has influenced me in every aspect of my life from my worldview to my commitment of ‘paying forward’ countless opportunities and acts of kindness. Oftentimes, my mother’s influence appears in some of the most unexpected ways; such as my shopping for Christmas gifts throughout the year for those that I consider worthy of a gift; and believe me, that list changes on a moment-by-moment basis. One misstep and your name will be removed from the list.
Experience has taught me that finding the perfect gift is an arduous task as everyone has different wants, needs, desires, etc. I have also learned that when an idea for the ‘perfect gift’ appears I should act swiftly and decisively. Strangely the inspiration for the ‘perfect gift’ often comes from unexpected places. For example, this year I have been inspired for the first time ever to purchase all of my loved ones the exact same gift; and if you are so lucky to be on that list this is your notification that I will be mailing these gifts out ASAP. Not because I am seeking to break any longstanding traditions, rather, I have very real concerns that this gift could very well prove to be lifesaving.
Now I hope that your interest is piqued regarding what the gift is. However, I would first like to reveal the inspiration for this ‘perfect gift’. The inspiration for the gift is none other than the roguish law enforcement agencies and officers that patrol America’s streets in a manner that is eerily similar to an out of control street gang. So with that in mind, this year’s ‘perfect gift’ for all of the men, women, teenagers, children, and infants that I love, will be a bullet proof vest and two body cameras, one for the front and one for the rear.
Although I was on the fence regarding what this year’s ‘perfect gift’ would be, the murder of Walter Scott Jr., a 50-year-old South Carolinian, as he tried to escape what he appropriately deemed certain death at the hands of officer Michael Slager. Slager alleges that he stopped Scott because of a broken brake light. By the time this minor traffic stop concluded, Slager was seen discharging his weapon at the fleeing Scott. Slager alleges that he feared that the fleeing Scott, who had taken his stun gun away from him, would somehow manage to kill him. However, one of the two videos that have surfaced of the incident show Scott fleeing for his life, Slager aiming and firing his weapon eight times, than handcuffing the fallen victim before returning to retrieve what appears to be a stun gun and throwing it next to the murder victim. Had it not been for the video tape, Slager’s account, the only account as Scott was killed during the incident, would have undoubtedly led to his being cleared by Internal Affairs.
I hope that all of those who will soon receive their ‘perfect gift’ of bullet proof vests and two body cameras in the mail from me as early Christmas gifts will understand my thinking. Put simply, I am sending this early Christmas gift immediately because if you are Black in America you need these things with you at all times. Otherwise, you may not be around to celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other religious/cultural celebration. And I would hate to have that occur, because I do love you.
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race & Culture, 2015