Orlando Jones may be a funnyman, but the “Bullet Bucket Challenge” he created is no laughing matter. The “Sleepy Hollow” actor launched a campaign reminiscent to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in hopes of effecting change in our world.
The tragic killing of unarmed teen, Michael Brown, at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri has rocked our country and Jones could no longer stand idle and watch the hate boil over into riots, militarized police and clouds of tear gas. So he did something about it.
Jones told #TeamBeautiful exclusively, “What I’m doing is pointing a finger at myself, saying that I am no longer willing to stand on the sidelines and be silent about this sort of thing.” He adds, “I want to do what I can to try to make a difference. I’m saying join me in that and that alone.”
Weary of seeing our people being brutalized, Jones is urging us to ban together in the same way many of us have for the freezing cold ice bucket challenge and think differently. “Try and not be angry for a moment and just listen to what’s being said and instead of responding to hate with hate. It’s not like it’s impossible. It’s the start of a conversation,” Jones urges.
The actor also gave us insight on why he won’t blame the police (nor white people), what action items people can take to join in his Bullet Bucket Challenge and what he believes it will take to change our world.
HelloBeautiful: Can you tell us some of your major thoughts on what’s happening in Ferguson as well as what’s happening with this new shooting?
Orlando Jones: The idea of us versus them is really what it is to me. But, it’s not Black people against White people and it’s not the police versus citizens. I’m not sure where that mentality ultimately gets us. It’s the people who want to see change and leave this world for our children better than we inherited and people who are totally fine with the status quo and living in a world of hate and fear. That’s a fight we can win.
The more we focus the issue on just Ferguson, we lose sight of what’s actually happening and what we can all do to affect change. I feel like the US needs to unite against THEM to affect the change we want, which is to see a better world. That struggle is global. And so I think like the ALS bucket challenge, my challenge is also about a disease. That disease is apathy and it festers and grows every time we see oppression in the world and do nothing. An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. In my humble opinion, apathy is a curable disease. Killing unarmed black men is a curable disease. Denying any human being their human rights for any reason, again, a curable disease.
I think as long as we make sure to look at these things globally, you can truly affect a conversation that is meaningful. The civil right movement was a human rights movement. We’re still in that fight and people of color live all over the globe. Disenfranchised people live all over the globe. We’re all human. It’s human rights.
HB: What would you suggest be the action items behind creating unity?
OJ: I can really only speak for myself and the decision I made. I’m simply saying: I’m doing something about it by speaking out. I can use my voice to say, let’s try to have a conversation. Pointing fingers at what everyone else is doing wrong doesn’t seem like it’s going to get us where we need to end up. I’m not interested in pointing a finger at the police. I’m not interested in pointing a finger at White people. The complicated mess that is the issues of guns in this country and around the world is not something I want to point a finger at either without understanding how individual people relate to this issue. And the only way I know how to do that is by having a conversation, even with people who might not want to talk to me.
HB: You said in your video that you wanted to listen without prejudice, love without limits and reverse the hate. How are you going to do that?
OJ: Rather than attack on the point that I don’t agree with, let’s go with the point I agree with to establish a common ground. Ok, I got it, people probably shouldn’t be looting or destroying people’s property because they feel like an injustice has happened. We’re in agreement. I can get with that. Let’s not do that. Can you agree that more people shouldn’t die for no reason? Great, now we can have a conversation if we can agree on those two things.
To love without limits is a really difficult thing because these are people we’re talking about in theory and places around the world. We can point to different spots around the world where horrible things are going on. I don’t know the people who are doing it to them. To reach out beyond myself from the world I know and actually take in information about other experiences by which to better educate myself about what they did right and what they did wrong.
Reversing the hate is simply saying…yelling at an organization from the outside is not the way to effect change in that organization. Jackie Robinson proved that when he broke the color barrier and became a member of Major League Baseball. That’s the very organization that despised and did not want him. He changed that organization by joining them. People of color who are in law enforcement joined that organization because they were being profiled just like we are today. They joined that organization to do a public service and effect change.
But let’s not hate them because of their role in a system that they cannot fully control. Let’s not perpetuate that hate which has been visited upon us. When we’re at our angriest, let’s reverse that by having a conversation, which requires us to listen and then find the common ground. I’m sure that person doesn’t want anything to happen to their loved ones and you don’t want anything happening to yours. So you love yours, and they love theirs and let’s find a way to keep all of them alive.
HB: Are the protestors in Ferguson trying to have a conversation?
OJ: Most of them are but for a minute we allowed outsiders to co-opt our efforts at conversation by inciting violence in our names. People feel like a horrible injustice has happened, so they’re upset, understandably and they should be. So am I. Show up with a bullhorn, you’re looking to have a conversation. And in that conversation, we’re voicing outrage about someone’s life being snatched away from them for no good reason. But when they show up with a tank, they’re looking for a fight. And our instinct is to fight back. Even as we ask ourselves “how did we arrive at tanks when y’all can’t even afford tasers” we need to channel those feelings into how we expand our civic power, not how we fight them on a battle field where their military hardware vastly outguns us.
HB: Any final thoughts?
OJ: People don’t ask me what’s going on in Syria. They’re asking me about this because of the color of my skin. That’s a tough one for me to deal with because when something happens that isn’t about people of color, you don’t think my point of view is relevant and I think it is. You’re asking me as if I speak for all Black people and I don’t speak for all Black people. I speak for me.
Why would you think we’re all monolithic? Because I don’t think when White people are saying something that they’re speaking for all White people. That would never cross my mind. So I come back to the point of my challenge — we have to challenge our own behaviors to affect change in others. And we can’t just accept that we’re powerless anymore. Because we’re not. And however you do it, by dropping voter registration cards on your head, or bullets, or anything, you gain everything by taking a stand. To listen without prejudice. To love without limits. And to reserve the hate.
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