The Soul of Shoes

I remember working at Footlocker as I have frequently over the years – I applaud the company for always welcoming me back with open arms – I was the only stripes in the store this particular morning. Alex was in the back and Freddy was making drops when a customer walked in. The older man smiled from ear to ear like he had won Powerball. His shoes were worn to the soles and his white t-shirt appeared to have been white at one point but now was homelessly dingy. And he wore dad jeans! Regardless, I reciprocated his smile and strategized mentally on how much commission I could make off the cheap shoes I just knew he was going to buy. As he sat at a bench by the men’s Nike wall I approached him cautiously. I noticed instantly his aura was palpable. He was oozing happiness through his unshakable smile. Then he began:

“Morning”

“Hello Sir. Welcome to Foot Locker can I help you?” I inquired.

“Maybe.”

“Maybe?”

“Yes maybe… We all have to help each other sometime.”

“Well how are you today? Do you need help?”

“I’m doing just fine. How are you?”

“I’m not bad.”

He wasn’t satisfied with this answer. “Not bad? What would make you better?”

I shrugged “I don’t know.” There was a long silence as he stared at me waiting for a follow up, “Do you?”

“Yes. As a matter of fact I do know. Sit down.”

As I sat next to him breaking store policy, he held my hand “Listen. You can become better if you sit and think about the people you love, respect, and admire. Then think about all the things that make the people you love, respect, and admire who they are. Now ball all those things up and make them a part of who you are. Take them with you everyday, everywhere you go. Then you will be able to be someone’s rainbow. You’ll find you’re closer than you’ve ever been and that you’re well on your way to being all you ever dreamed of becoming. You’ll be well, you’ll never be ‘not bad’ again. Remember this and have a life as beautiful as you are.”

He let my hand go and smiled at me some more. As he walked out of the store I knew I would never be the same.

Moral Ammunition

I represent change.

Recent events have encouraged me to explore the fine line between truth and proof. When it comes to encouraging change yes proof and evidence are necessary for action. The fact of the matter is,  proof and evidence shouldn’t become a crutch or excuse for inaction;  or even worse,  a filter for dishonesty.

It’s evident that injustice towards minorities is prevalent in our society. It’s a sad reality, it’s our unfortunate truth. Authorities  attempt to make excuses by isolating the  instances where the truth rings loud and clear. This has been an effective way of deferring change  for years.

It’s time for change.

The arguments for inaction are redundant. I often hear ‘these are isolated situations  – it was an unfortunate incident.’ I also hear ‘we don’t know of the exchanges prior to the incident in question’ of course we don’t, because a lot of the situations end in fatalities. Often only one side of the story is left to be told, and all the stories sound the same. The last and most prevalent excuse for inaction is,  ‘it’s a minority issue’ wrong! Anyone could be a victim of injustice! You’ll wish you had a leg to stand on should a situation ever come down to truth versus proof for you. It is not effective to shut down your conscience when it’s convenient. That’s when you’re most vulnerable. The fact is this is a concern for all. No man should have to fear interacting with authorities that are suppose to serve and protect all.

All the more reason for reform.

It’s time for new rules, new policies, and a graduated perception of worth. No one is better than anyone else – we all deserve justice and protection. The excuses for inaction are just as evident as the realities of the injustice. Justice is expensive, training new officers, trying guilty officers, restructuring departments, changing policies, and the overall inconveniences,  difficulties and costliness. It is easier to deny the truth and brush it under the proverbial rug, but that will only breed more confrontations and demonstrations. Denying the issue and hiding behind ‘proof’ will encourage hate, uprisings and discourage progress. It’s the lack of progress that frustrates the masses. As a starting point the powers should collectively look into the breakdown in society that continues to leave this fraction of our population vulnerable to violence by those that are meant to protect.

It’s time to challenge our leaders to stop hiding behind mythical versions of the truth. It’s evident that the lack of action creates suffering for all. It’s time to load our moral ammunition and start shooting until justice is served and our version of the events are heard and valued.

It’s 2014 and we’re still seen as 3/5. I don’t know what to do.

 

“If America does not respond creatively to the challenge to banish racism some future historian will have to say, a great civilization died because it lacked the soul and commitment to make justice a reality for all men”

-Martin Luther King Jr.