Many who’ve been following me for a while know how often I used to post about politics, but for the most part I’ve ceased doing so for about the past year, or around the time the presidential primaries began to heat up. I stopped because I simply got tired of listening to myself, and everyone else, rant on and I refused to add to all the noise. I know that’s not the right mentality to have, but I started to become mentally exhausted when it came to politics. One would think social media would be the ideal medium for the exchange of ideas, but lately all I see are people insulating themselves and having screaming matches. At best, we talk past one another and dismiss entire groups as stupid; at worst, we threaten each other and use social media to coordinate real life riots and attacks. But none of this is news.
Right now, I want to talk about a particular person in my life, my father—Grady Thompkins—and some things a lot of my fans and followers don’t know about him. Years ago, my father was a police officer, but not just any police officer. My father was one of the best police officers the Vivian Police Department ever had. He was and continues to be a respected leader in the community. Vivian, Louisiana, is a very small town, but my father’s accomplishments were anything but small.
And as you can see, my father is black. What my father was known for as a police officer was being able to bridge the gap between the black community of Vivian, LA, and its law enforcement. In fact, he had such a talent and charisma for it that during his time on the force, he was sent to receive special training and was commissioned as Vivian Police Department’s first Juvenile Division officer, meaning he served as somewhat of a liaison between Vivian’s youth, particularly black youth, and the town’s police force. His most impactful role in this billet was serving as a counselor and role model for many young people in Vivian and helping them to avoid unfortunate encounters with the law.
As I mentioned, my father is exceptionally charismatic, but what he also greatly contributed to the Vivian Police Department and the community was his empathy, love, and patience. He understood the plight of the black community because he, like much of my family, experienced firsthand the racism and challenges of growing up black. But being a police officer, he also understood the dangers and uncertainty the women and men who protect and serve our communities face. I remember my mother and I spending many long nights listening to the CB radio whenever a city emergency occurred and worrying whether my father would be coming home that night. Indeed, I can recall several terrifying nights when something really bad would happen, especially if it involved violence or gunfire.
My point in writing this blog article is first and foremost to honor my father who is a great man and continues to be charismatic, empathetic, patient, and loving. Secondly, in telling a little bit about my father, I hope to inspire people to care a whole lot more about understanding each other.
Also, Black Lives Matter. Does that mean I hate the women and men in blue who serve our communities and constantly put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect and serve? For the love of God, it absolutely does not. This doesn’t have to be an either/or, all-or-nothing debate. I speak as someone who has experienced “both sides,” if you will. I’m very disheartened in the way we as a society are handling this. It’s nonsensical. We seem like we absolutely refuse to try and understand one another. When you look at how we talk about it in the news and the things people post on social media, it almost seems hopeless. At least I can find solace in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who as we all know once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”