This week, I didn’t know what to write about. With all the tragic losses we’ve been dealt in the nation, all the contrasting narratives and conversations around age-old issues, I’ve found it hard to hear myself think.
Mostly because July is a month where I mourn the loss of someone who wasn’t killed by police. Instead, what took his life, was a disease that’s taken the lives of more Americans than police brutality will ever amount to, and that’s heart disease.
My father’s name was Anthony Bunn, he grew up in Pasadena California, was a scholar, athlete, and minister for most of his life. Today would have been his 59th birthday, and every year I try to honor him by either making a piece of art, celebrating his life with family, and/or simply lighting some incense, playing some of his favorite music, and a couple games of monopoly for old times sake.
As a scholar, he’d evaluate the times we were in, and growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, he would compare the changes we made in the nation, as he was one of the first groups of students to be bussed to school when Pasadena Unified first integrated. He’d dealt with racism in a way I’ll never know, and never desire to know honestly.
He lived in a very different America. Who Jesse Williams, David Banner, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Killer Mike, are to Millennials today, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Pastor Bro. Bryant, Muhammad Ali, and Jim Brown were to him.
We’d sit up for hours and talk about what it was going to take to turn this country around for minorities. As a political science minor in college, my newfound “radicalism” would tickle him, as we began to have the conversations that would shape my artistic and political worldview. Just how do you bring about the change you desire? Are all revolutions bloody? He’d say yes, I’d say, no. Then he’d conclude, “Go study your history.”
I’m sure if he were with us today, he’d be disappointed as most Americans are, with the tragic losses of American life, in particular, Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. He’d be pleased that the social and cultural movement of this epoch, Black Lives Matter, has crystallized a cohesive 10-point program that illustrates what its intentions are, and what needs to be done to bring forth the transformative justice Dr. King and the aforementioned leaders originally envisioned.
He’d also admit that even when policies change, it can’t stop there. Ensuring that atrocities as such become a thing of the past requires a cultural and political revolution altogether. Which means the narrative of police vs. civilian has to also fade into the pages of what was.
Our outlook and engagement in civic activities beyond national elections has to become part our lifestyles. Our participation in local economies from the school board, to supported local businesses have to become part of what makes our community ours.
Even though, I believe these are the things he’d say, I’d give anything to have that conversation in person, over a nice meal, and get it bar for bar, directly from the horse’s mouth.
In that, I feel for the families who’ve also lost loved one’s and will never experience the luxury of a casual conversation with those special people in their lives again. That pain is everlasting.
What motivates me is remembering what my Pops stood for, family, integrity, commitment, hard work, and the celebration of life. The simple things that are easily taken for granted, in one’s attempt to conquer the obstacles life bestows before us.
The humble things we covet most, are also the things that prove without a shadow of a doubt that race, class and financial status are merely social constructs, because at the core of it all, the spirit that emanates from the love of family, and the celebration of life, is the very fabric that ties humanity together.
Pop, I love you, I miss you, and I hope I’ve made you proud, and I assure you that I will uphold my responsibility to my family, and to my community.