It’s a bad idea. Trust me, I’ve been there. For anything you don’t know now and haven’t experienced personally, ‘so what’ is the appropriate attitude. That simply assumes that you are a decent human being. The overwhelming majority of people are decent human beings. If somebody gets punched in the nose, you feel bad for them. Normal. If somebody experiences pain, you sympathize. Normal.
Now I’m going to give you a name. Michael Zinzun. Go read his profile . Understand this. He lost an eye fighting with cops. He was a dedicated enemy of the LAPD. His strategy was to spend all of his time and money to get more stories of things like that which happened to him, and to encourage lawsuits so that the City of LA would go broke defending the kind of cops who would blind a man in a scuffle.
You can’t make this up. You can’t just volunteer to live a life so dedicated unless you are willing to put yourself in the position to lose an eye.
Let me help you understand. Zinzun was an objectionable dude. You didn’t want to be around him. He carried, righteously, the kind of grudge you take to your grave. He wanted to be, in every way, the living breathing martyr and bane of the LAPD’s existence. And of course he surrounded himself with similar people.
Now I had to go looking for this person. He wasn’t famous. He wasn’t Rodney King. But if you started to look for such things and people, you would find them. Now there are a lot of complications that you cannot address unless you are qualified. Are you good enough to be the doctor and expert witness at the trial to say “Yes this person is legally blind”? Are you good enough to be the financial manager to deal with a 3.2 million dollar legal clawback? Are you good enough to be the manager of the ‘Fight LAPD Fund’ paid for by voluntary donations of winners of civil lawsuits against the LAPD? If you are, and you want this to be your life’s work, then you certainly don’t need any advice from Quora.
I didn’t want it to be my life’s work, and I was there. I met Zinzun and many of the political people who worked against City Hall. When my pals were having pool parties, I was attending rallies. That’s what I wanted to do back in 1990.
Are you catching my drift? If you want to find shit, don’t just look in the toilet, look at the place where all the toilet water goes. Soon enough you will be up to your neck in shit. The question is, are you serious enough to make finding shit and cleaning up shit, your life’s work? Because if you’re not, you may as well just retweet and call it a day. Everybody knows that shit stinks. It’s not a great revelation in human history. Everybody knows to clean their own toilet. It’s not a revolution in sanitation. You can make yourself more aware and sensitive to it, and you can write a 1500 word essay every week for the next 10 years. Is that what you want your life to be?
You are NOT going to save one more victim of police brutality from the cheap seats in the courtroom. You are NOT going to convince the leader of a 1 million dollar self-funded community activist organization that his leadership skills are crap. You are NOT going to raise awareness. You are just going to improve you own experience in finding shit.
I’m a writer. And I’ve spent a lot of time writing about race because that’s what I wanted to be back when I was in my late 20s and early 30s. And I put years into it. So I know about Michael Zinzun. But I left LA to go to New York for my real career and real life. About zero of what I learned about LA applied to NYC. So I got out of the part-time activist business and into the full time daddy business. Because my priorities changed.
What you will find, once you become an expert, is that you spend all of your time and effort trying to communicate the passion you feel for sniffing out shit to people like me who are in the full time daddy business and want to keep their noses clean. I don’t doubt your passion, OK here’s five bucks, have a nice day. No of course racism is bad. Everybody knows that. What do you expect me to do, give you $100? Oh you’re going to tell me a story? No let me tell you a story. Oh if I don’t listen, one day the LAPD is going to beat me down and blind me? Is that what happened to you?
This is what I want you to understand. If fighting sin is your life’s calling, then become a priest. If fighting racism is your life’s calling, then become a civil rights attorney. The law and the sentiment of tens of millions of Americans is already on your side. Just don’t become another half-assed ‘social justice warrior’ or self-congratulatory media activist. If you can’t do it for 35 years and risk your eyes, don’t do it.
Do real work. Everybody is already moral.
PS. You're not Dave Chappelle.