Current Events: The Sins of Strangers

Inside:  I need to tune out the news; Unloading some racial angst; I carry the sins of my people; The Hunger Games; To my white friends; It’s human, not racial; Someone talk me down

I really do not like thinking about racial ish.  But its presence in my brain is undeniable.  I wonder how much my race has affected my relationships, especially considering that I’ve spent most of my life being nearly the only African American in a social setting.  At various jobs, in schools, at the gym, in bands, concerts, restaurants, parties, etc.  I wonder how much it has been a factor in my lack of a love life, given that context.  I mean, life is never that simple but still.

Many years ago, a cousin of mine attending a university in VA had a floormate — I’ll make up the name, Jill — who, at some point in her life, had been raped by a black man.  Jill was prejudiced or racist when it came to black men.  She was afraid of black men and didn’t trust them.

It’s heartbreaking and understandable in a way.  I say “in a way” because even though it’s not entirely rational, that’s because fear isn’t rational.  Trauma does not induce rationality.  I wonder how much of her mistrust was directed at black men as opposed to all men.

To My White Friends

Black people kind of get off on racism.  Oh.  That didn’t sound right.  I mean, we feel justified when there’s something evidently racist that we can point at.  Hey, everyone wants to feel validated and affirmed, right.  Especially when there are a lot of people telling you that it’s all in your mind — get over it.

When you have the time, please follow one of the links below.  Either the one in the “The Talk” section or the “The Hunger Games” section.  It’s like going down the rabbit hole.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I think it’s important to talk about these things or to just have the context.  I’ll try to explain later why I think it’s important.

Sins of a Stranger

In Tulsa last week, two white men were arrested for shooting five black men in five separate incidents.  Three of the victims died.  It looks like it was a revenge killing.  One of the alleged shooters, England, two years ago his father was shot by a burglar or robber who was black.  Note, the five black men were strangers to England and had nothing to do with the death of England’s father.

You see that?  In England’s mind, it wasn’t one black criminal murderer who killed his father.  It was black people.  Or substitute (in)appropriate epithets.

In Jill’s mind, she was raped by a black man because black men are rapists.

That’s how it works.

Let me tell you something.  I hate it when there are black people acting ignorant, like idiots, criminals or animals (yeh, I said it) and then expect pity or a free pass because RACISM.  And yes, it bothers me more than when another ethnic or identity group does something whack because that lowlife behavior becomes a projection of society’s pathos that I and all other black people have to bear or, too often, somehow account for.

If you watch and read the news and are sensitive to race and class, you’ll notice that when white people go postal — think of Columbine — after the facts are mostly confirmed and the motive comes to light, the conversation turns to contributing or mitigating factors.  What were the stressors in the perpetrators lives?  Were they on medications?  Was their violent episode caused by anti-depressant or anti-pscyhotic meds?

It’s like Richard Pryor said about drugs:

Y’all remember? Y’all used to drive through our neighborhoods and shit and go, “Oh, look at that. Isn’t that terrible. Then you’d get home, right, and your 14-year-old’d be fucked up, and you’d go, “OH MY GOD! IT’S AN EPIDEMIC!”

The Talk

This is one of the worst things I’ve ever read.  The article Derbyshire wrote and the comments from readers.  This is a link to the HP artricle about it.  You can click through to the actual article from there.

It’s one of the craziest, brazenly angry and racist things I’ve seen in a long time.  In his hypothetical talk to give to white children, he asserts that black people are unintelligent compared to whites and Asians.  You are actually smarter than the black people you see.    Avoid them if you can.

You have to read it to get the effect.  And then there’s the comments.  Holy crap.

The Hunger Games

I’m sure you’ve seen this by now:

The most troubling entries are the ones — well, these two.

  • “Call me racist, but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad.”
  • “Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture.”

Robbed and Stripped

All this racial stuff in the news.

  • Neo Nazi groups patrolling Sanford, FL to look after white interests in the wake of the Trayvon Martin incident.
  • A news program referring to that Neo Nazi group as a civil rights organization.
  • Someone in Michigan hacked a construction sign, changing the message to “TRAYVON A NIGGER”.
  • The serial shootings of five black men in Tulsa.
  • There are about three more cases of unarmed black men (and one woman) being killed by police.  (Each of those cases has to be understood on its own merit, of course, but the narratives are disturbingly similar.)
  • NBC edited the 911 call with Zimmerman, removing crucial context.  The way it was edited made it seem like race was the foremost “suspicious behavior” in Zimmerman’s mind.  In reality, the dispatcher asked specifically about the race of the “suspicious” person in order to get a description.
  • A white man was assaulted, robbed and partially stripped by some black people who happened to be a-holes (or vice versa).  Police are saying it was opportunistic and not a hate crime.  I guess that’s kind of a problem with a law that requires you to prove what someone else was thinking at the time they commit a crime.

Everybody’s so worked up.  Everyone.  I think it’s our sense of entitlement.

It’s not, like some people have professed, that black people are whiny and have an overwhelming sense of entitlement.  It’s that Americans are whiny and have an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

We want to say whatever we want and not face consequences.  We expect things to be handed to us.  We want to fund all of the cool stuff we want with credit cards and then exercise willful denial of the fact that we’re drowning ourselves with debt.  (I definitely did that and it took me yeeeeeeaaaars to dig myself out.)

We want to exercise our right to be angry and indignant when all that gets you is angry, stressed, sick and dead.

We want to live in our bubbles of isolation full of like-minded people.  We’re using technology to build silos of challenge-free comfort zones that reinforce our existing belief structures.  Subsequently, we’re getting ideological about things that should be healthily, openly debatable.

We need to chill.

Why it’s Important

Let’s say you’re one of the Hunger Games racist tweet people.  They seem like they may be relatively young.  Late teens, twenties.  Maybe they didn’t realize those thoughts were racist.  Maybe racial but not racist.  Not to mention the “The Anti-The Talk” editorial commenters and supporters.

These people who can’t relate to an adorable, talented little girl because she’s black or too black for them, despite the fact that she’s biracial.  Heck.  So is Lenny Kravitz.  How much black is too much black?  The ones who felt tricked when they found out Rue was black.  Or the people who feel intellectually (and otherwise) superior to black people.

Here’s the thing.

  • Are these people going to be the ones, say, approving loans for my small business?
  • Are they going to be interviewing me or my nephews for a job in the future?
  • Are they going to be the teachers, vice principals and principals?
  • Are they going to be the college admissions officers some day?
  • Are they going to comprise a jury of my peers??
  • Are they going to be City Council Persons, planners, legislators, lawyers, judges, police officers?

If so, then I foresee a cycle of subtle injustice and mutually assured resentful sense of entitlement.

Say Hello

Life is interesting and complex enough just being a human being.  I hate second guessing myself because of racial or racist bullcrap.

Say hello to someone you normally wouldn’t.

(But watch out for creeps, ladies.  I see it happen every once in a while when I go into the city, but I keep reading and hearing about the constant, ambient harassment you face every time you go out in public.  Stay strong.  Stay frosty.)

And please do feel free to talk me down.  I think I’ll have to do a news fast soon.  It’s harshing my mellow.

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