Happy Thanksgiving! We have again come to that time when we give thanks to all the good things that took place over the past year.

As the guy whose glass is always 1/2 full, this past year has been very good. That is not to say there have not been problems but I choose to look at these as areas for growth.

This month is also my birth month. I reached the age of 62, so I guess I am now an official member of the senior citizen community. I wasted no time exploiting my new standing in life. On Thanksgiving Eve which was Wednesday I took advantage of the senior citizen discount of 5% at my local supermarket.

To be truthful, it was the cashier at the supermarket that made me aware that I was eligible for the discount. I thought that I had to wait until I was 65 before becoming a part of this elite group. In any event I guess I will be doing the bulk of my shopping, at least at this store, on Wednesday. I think Tuesday is the other day that I can ask my other local establishments to give me my well-earned discount.

I consider November to be my power month. Not only is this the month of my birth, it is also the month that I both got sober and became smoke free. I’ve been sober for 23 years and smoke free for 18 years.

For some this holiday will only bring bad memories. This month the Brown family of Ferguson, Indiana, the Gurley family of Brooklyn, New York and the Rice family of Cleveland, Ohio will remember this November as the one in which their loved ones were not alive to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

The circumstance that unites these families is that their sons were killed by the police. I will not attempt to discuss the details of these events.

What is assumed in Black communities is that there are a disproportionate number of unarmed Black men killed by the police. The actual statistics vary depending on who is reporting it.

According to USA Today these numbers are often flawed and incomplete. The data on such shootings are collected by the FBI and there are many police departments that either under report their findings or don’t report their numbers at all.  In addition since there is no real way to vet these numbers, it is difficult to come to an accurate conclusion. For example, justified and unjustified killings are lumped together.

There must be a way to get accurate numbers and maybe we can if could get someone else to collect that data. Perhaps that group could be a civilian review board. This group could not only collect data but they could also help decide the status of these of these shootings. Right now, most police departments do everything themselves.

It seems for as long as I can remember my dad has given me instructions on how to behave when dealing with the police. He understood based on his own experience that as a Black male I could become a victim of a police shooting.

My dad grew up in the deep south in the 1920’s and he has told me many stories of his experiences in dealing with racism. Some of those stories would make the hair on my neck stand up. In those days there were many that had the devil in their hearts.

Over that time he made sure to give me a balance. He told me that not all whites are racists. He also made sure to tell me that evil thinking goes beyond all color lines.

His instructions were clear and to the point.

He first told me that if stopped, I was not to challenge the police authority. I was to follow their commands completely without making any gestures with my hands. If they asked for identification, I was to give it to them without delay. His last instruction stated that, if arrested, I was not to talk to anyone without him or my mother present.

I was eighteen when I first had to put these instructions into practice. It was 1970 and my restricted driver’s license had just been upgraded. I was now free to drive without the accompaniment of an adult.

Let me paint a picture for you. During this time the country was going through the civil rights movement. In 1968, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assonated. The Black community was a powder keg. There were the riots that destroyed many of these places. The tension could be cut with a knife. The police were out in full force.

I remember the first time very clearly. I was driving my dad’s brand new Chevy Impala up Utica Avenue and as I approached Eastern Parkway (this is in Brooklyn, New York), a uniformed police officer stood in front of the car and told me to pull over. He asked me for my driver’s license and car registration. I gave him the documents and he disappeared. I was not a trouble maker so I was not anticipating any difficulty. I happened to look in my rear mirror as I always do and I was startled. As the one policeman was doing whatever with my documents, there was another man in blue, flash light in hand with his gun out, looking in my rear window.

That whole experience lasted maybe five minutes. I learned much later that they were comparing my documents against a data base checking to see if there were any warrants against me.

That scenario has played itself out many times over the past 44 years. At each time there were no problems and I thank God I got those instructions I from my dad. I’ve always followed what he told me to the letter. I think that my diligence and the grace of God are both the determining factors why I have never experienced any trouble with the police.

There were times during my drinking career when I got stopped and maybe I should have been detained. I’ll save those stories for another post.

Every time one of these police shootings occurs, I don’t hesitate to repeat to my kids this passed down mantra.

I’m not one of those who are anti-police. I feel that without law enforcement there would be total anarchy.

I’m not so naive to think that evil has escaped the various police departments. Evil is all over as there are is every facet of society.

Bad police need to be weeded out. The court system needs to be tweaked so that all of our citizens get a fair deal. The Politian’s need to understand that they should stay on top of these issues long after the television cameras have left.

My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones at the hands of the police. For them I’m sure they would give anything to get them back.

Deshawn is 20 years old and in the same age range as Michael Brown. Jonathan is 10 and is in the same age range as Tamir Rice. Wendell Jr was out at his bachelor party the same night Sean Bell was killed.

As a positive parent I, like my dad, not only pray for my kids, I pray for all kids. No one needs to have their life shortened.

I\’m the guy whose glass is always 1/2 full.