Let Voices Be Heard

Let Voices Be Heard

Have a conversation rather than a judgmental argument; you'd be surprised what you get out of it.

Although it seems to be one of the "quieter" periods in the media's coverage of events regarding racism, BLM, and protests for equality, there are still people out there discussing and spreading their knowledge of the situations. Every now and again we see a video shared on social media, posed to cause an argument or catch the eye of someone who will undoubtedly be offended. I will not deny falling into these traps here and there, but recently this led me to a conversation with a man I at one time attended school with. This conversation was not an argument, nor was it on social media for everyone to read and insert themselves into. It was respectful and led me to believe that if anyone's voice should be heard, he should be one of them. He very graciously allowed me an interview, and I sincerely hope you can take a moment to see what he has to say.

Give a little insight of who you are what you do:

"My name is DeCarlo Jackson. I’m a freelance multi-instrumentalist and session musician, I play trumpet with Hippo Campus, Nazeem X Spencer Joles, and Improvestra. I also play bass with Ayvah, Rajitheone, and Doks. I also offer my talents through freelancing with a full roster of other jazz, rap groups, and recording projects. I’m a co-founder of a group called ROQA that organizes Art galleries, and concerts for social awareness around the Twin Cities. I also work at Walker West Music Academy as an Administrator/Teacher."

In your personal experience, what is life like today as a black man?

"As it is for most, I experience my fair share of ups and downs. I have a stark distrust in policy makers, law enforcers and lots of traditional aspects of the government. I’ve had a couple of experiences being pulled over, or harassed by police officers for fitting the description of someone they were looking for. However; I’m fortunate enough to live a very fun lifestyle, full of music, and diverse smiling audiences. But sometimes I just have to act like a lot of the negative energy in the world doesn't affect me. This is an incredibly taxing effort."

What is Black Lives Matter?

"It’s proclamation. Born out of the fact that black people have been systematically dehumanized, degraded, and abused for the entirety of American history. To me “Black Lives Matter” means, we are here too. We should matter as much as you, but we don’t. We never have, and we’re sick of it."

Have you attended any protests? How many?

"Yeah, I went to the 4th precinct after the murder of Jamar Clarke twice. And I went to the governor's mansion after the death of Philando Castille thrice."

What is the purpose of the protests?

"At the precinct it was about releasing the footage, and crucial details of Jamar Clarke’s death. While the governor's mansion was about speaking our voice, and letting a VERY wealthy, essentially all white neighborhood know that there’s a huge problem with the way that minorities are being policed in their communities."

What is the atmosphere at these protests?

"They were very chill. 'Alright' by Kendrick played at least three times at both of them. For the most part people were just kind of hanging out, greeting each other, and talking about what was going on. There were usually some people who seemed to be appointed as “in charge” of things like food, and water, and gathering people when someone decided to speak on the megaphone."

What role does the media play?

"The media should serve as a realistic insight into situations that everyone faces day to day. While it mostly does that, it also largely reflects the ideals of its specific customer base. Which in turn leads to great amounts of misrepresentation, and the perpetuation of toxic ideals through very specific language, and video editing."

How do you respond if someone tells you that "all lives matter"?

"I usually don’t have conversations with people who feel that way. Most people I associate myself just aren’t in that lane. But usually on the internet I just don’t respond. Because it’s only meant to verbally slap down some who says “black lives matter”. Because all lives are supposed to matter...that’s the point of saying “black lives matter”. We matter too. Same with people who say “blue lives matter”. It’s like “lol yeah duh”."

Besides protests, what actions do you, or anyone that is a part of BLM, think should be taken to make a change?

"As a nice, considerate person, I take it upon myself to try and teach people who wanna argue with me, which has about a 60:40 success ratio. As an event curator, I put together events that raise awareness to societal injustices, and give a platform of expression to those who are often talked over, and ignored. I think we as a society need to bring awareness to the fact that our laws and institutions are rooted in classist, sexist, and racist ideals, because they were made to serve and protect the wants and needs of the people who founded this country. White guys...with tons of money."

So, there you have it folks. This is not about a "battle of race". This is about equality among all, whether black, white, teacher, cop, etc., we all matter. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding these topics, and I think it should now be very clear that we ALL need to open our hearts and our minds to what our world entails. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should use it respectfully. Agree or disagree, there is no hiding that there are still many things that need working on in our society.

DeCarlo, I thank you very much for the opportunity of communicating with you, and for your willingness to answer questions among your busy activities!

Cover Image Credit: JenMan

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.


Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.


An Animal Lover & Ally

Related Content

Facebook Comments