It’s pretty much a collective mantra by now, recited by black folks whenever a horrible crime is announced anywhere in America, but before the identity of the perpetrator is known.
“Dear God, don’t let him be black.”
Indeed, it has become something of a punchline to a joke, albeit one that is only humorous in the most tragic of ways.
Knowing how readily crimes committed by those with surplus melanin come to be seen as connected to said melanin, black folk have learned to pray for whiteness as a modifier of any crime about which they hear on TV, in the hopes that they may gain respite from the disparaging gaze of white America, so often cast towards them for anything one of theirs might do.
And now, as the nation’s demographic browning proceeds apace — the source of so much angst from the likes of Laura Ingraham — a second stanza can perhaps be added to the race-based prayers of the non-white in times of tragedy: namely, Dear God, don’t let him be undocumented.
Even before the revelation that missing University of Iowa student, Mollie Tibbetts was apparently murdered by Cristhian Rivera — a Mexican national in the country illegally — anti-immigrant hysteria had already been disturbingly normalized by the perpetually overheated rhetoric of the president.
But whatever the political benefit of Trump’s previous harangues against “rapists and drug dealers” ostensibly pouring across the border (or the unintentional killing of Kate Steinle at the hands of an undocumented migrant who fired a gun on a San Francisco Pier) it’s hard to top the latest case for its exploitability in the service of opportunistic xenophobia.
With the vicious murder of Tibbetts, we have a conventionally attractive white woman chased down, killed, and disposed of like garbage in a small Midwestern town by the kind of guy who stars nightly in the fever dreams of those who chant “build that wall” at Trump rallies.
The politicization of the tragedy was almost immediate of course, no doubt in part to distract from the ongoing revelations of illegality and corruption at the heart of Trump’s inner circle, but also because the right is increasingly tethered to an unvarnished racial nationalism fueled by white fear.
To wit, Senator Tom Cotton who tweeted, “Mollie would be alive if our government had taken immigration enforcement seriously years ago.”
Well sure, perhaps. And by the same token, if Terry Melcher had thought more fondly of Charles Manson’s songwriting, Sharon Tate might still be with us too. But even if true, neither observation offers much in the way of comfort or relevance.
Ultimately all the “what ifs” about what might have been prevented if we’d just built the wall or gotten tougher on immigration does nothing for anyone except pundits and politicians. The uselessness of this kind of speculation is probably among the reasons why the Tibbetts family has blasted those who would use her death to excuse their bigotry. Even in their grief they have the class and foresight to realize that sometimes horrible things just happen, and all the retrospective thought experiments in the world aren’t worth the time it takes to formulate them.
After all, such mental gymnastics eventually devolve into an infinite regression of absurdist guesswork, and it’s a game anyone can play. So here’s my version:
If we’d had a policy to euthanize every other male child born in the U.S. over the last forty years, the crime rate would have plummeted, and tens of thousands of murder victims’ lives would have been spared given the disproportionate rate at which men kill. Oh, and given that for every white woman like Tibbetts who’s killed by a man of color there are between 4 and 5 others killed by white guys, just think how many such women we could have saved with this preventative policy, even if applied only to white men alone.
Yeah, somehow I’m guessing Tom Cotton wouldn’t much like that one.
But again, none of this really helps things now. We can’t replay the past. As for the future, clamoring for the wall because that would stop killings like that of Tibbetts is shortsighted on multiple levels.
Anyone who really thinks a wall on the southern border is feasible has never been to the border. Even if it could be built there would be multiple places along the length of it that would remain unsecured, and it’s not as if there would be armed guards posted every few feet to stop those attempting to scale it.
Oh, and tunnels.
Additionally, there are already about 11 million people in the country who are undocumented. Although only a small percentage are likely to commit a violent crime, the wall obviously can’t do much to stop them now that they’re here. And since you typically won’t know who the violent ones are until after their crime is committed, the notion that you can prevent them from victimizing folks ahead of time presumes you can find them, round them up, and send them all out of the country. So pretty much cattle cars and night-raids and other totalitarian tactics that would render America undesirable as a place not only for immigrants but anyone else enamored of liberty.
In short, complete protection from tragedies like this, even were it possible, would require the forfeiture of anything approximating a free society. It would no doubt result in the profiling of millions of people who merely speak Spanish, have brown skin, or “appear” foreign to the self-appointed monitors of Americanism. If the Trump cultists think this is a price worth paying (as they likely would) it can only owe to a hatred of national principles even greater than their contempt for brown folks.
The irony being, not only would such an approach sacrifice American values but also the very safety for which so many clamor. For as it turns out, communities with higher percentages of so-called “illegals” actually have lower violent crime rates than communities with fewer of them. Not that pesky things like facts matter much to the Trumpkins, for whom the presence of signs in Spanish is proof that the apocalypse draws nigh.
Nor, for that matter, consistency, as we wouldn’t see comparable group-blaming rants from politicians or White Twitter if the racial dynamics in the instant case were less useful for the right. If Mollie Tibbetts’s killer had been an Iowa farm boy, fresh off an 8-day meth binge or strung out on Fentanyl, no one would be talking about it, the president wouldn’t care, and none would be arguing for a race-specific crackdown on corn-fed Lutherans from Cedar Falls.
Indeed if the racial dynamics had been different — like a white man killing a black woman, as happened to Nia Wilson on a transit platform in Oakland — Trumplandia wouldn’t be saying anything about it at all. So too with a white guy that kills his whole family in Colorado. Every bit as tragic, but nowhere near as politically serviceable, and so…crickets.
With the perfidious politicization of Mollie Tibbetts’s death, Trump and his zombified minions insult the memory of the dead — who, according to those who knew her would be horrified by the misuse of her death to serve a racist agenda — and cast a pall over the nation’s future. They seek to ensure a safety that can never be wholly vouchsafed, but the pursuit of which will trample what remains of the decency that we’ve long insisted made our nation special, even when we didn’t follow through, and even when we violated our precepts time and again.
But now we have millions who would sacrifice all of that — due process, equal protection and the compassion that recognizes the value of human beings no matter their place of origin — all in the name of a safety they will never enjoy, no matter how many they harm, detain, deport, imprison or kill.
What they desire is an American version of Lebensraum no less contemptibly inhumane than the original. And like its predecessor, it is equally deserving of being denied to all those who seek it.
The British guitar legend Eric Clapton has told of the self-disgust he felt at seeing old footage of himself chanting racist slogans at a 1976 concert in the British city of Birmingham.
Clapton was speaking at a Q&A in London following the screening of the highly anticipated biographical documentary Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars.
He said last night that watching the unedited footage, which is included in Lili Zanuck’s new film out next month, left him newly “disgusted” with himself for his “chauvinistic” and “fascistic” comments on stage.
According to the Daily Mail he added: “I sabotaged everything I got involved with.”
The legendary 18-time Grammy winner said he felt shame about the notorious incident, wherein he praised the racist Tory MP Enoch Powell, declared that Britain must stop itself from becoming a “black colony” and said “England is for white people, man.”
“I don’t want you here, in the room or in my country,” Clapton declared. “Listen to me, man! I think we should vote for Enoch Powell. Enoch’s our man. I think Enoch’s right, I think we should send them all back. Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out. Get the w-gs out. Get the c–ns out. Keep Britain white. I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. —-king w-gs, man. —-ing Saudis taking over London. B-stard w-gs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black w-gs and c–ns and Arabs and —-ing Jamaicans and —-ing…don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black w-gs and c–ns living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country …”
Clapton’s bizarre outburst, which helped spur the Rock Against Racism movement, saw him labeled a racist for many years, and he has subsequently apologized many times, blaming his addiction to drink and drugs for the outburst.
The musician reveals in the film that he would drink a bottle of cognac by midday, before snorting cocaine from a knife at lunch.
He said: “I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman and I championed black music.”
This track was produced by Ran Reed, honoring Kalief Browder. These are his words…
First and Foremost if you haven’t yet had the chance to see this Powerful and Brutally Honest Documentary titled “TIME” The story of Kalief Browder on The Spike Channel. I strongly encourage you find the time to watch this film… I must warn you this Documentary pulls back the layers of the Injustices that has plagued this Country for Centuries. The fact that you are getting an up and close view of Horrific Conditions that no Human Being should have to endure can make you feel uncomfortable. After seeing this film i felt compelled to do my part in bringing awareness about Kalief Browder’s Story so i put together some powerful “Still Clips” that briefly tell the story of this tragedy. I also produced the track titled Misty Rain… No matter how small my contribution may seem on larger scale of people that are on the front line… I will continue to do my part in Speaking Up for what is right. My deepest condolences to the Entire Browder Family and I would like to Thank Jay Z and The Weinstein Company and especially Spike Tv for giving this story a Platform….S.I.P. Young Brother…#kaliefbrowder
The cast of the B’way play ‘Hamilton’ had a message for VP-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience last night…
A man arrested for walking down the street. According to the video description, there was construction work blocking the sidewalk so the man had no choice but to walk the white line of the shoulder…
DJ Blendz note: Trump, come get your man…
A candidate for New York State Senate has sparked a firestorm in Harlem after telling NBC 4 New York’s I-Team he was planning to hand out “Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons” at a campaign event in the primarily black community.
Jon Girodes, the Republican candidate for New York’s 30th District in the November election, used the racially stereotypical food reference in an email to the I-Team during an exchange about a disputed real estate deal.
“Ps I’m hosting an event in Harlem which will be in front of the state building in a few weeks. We will [donate] Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons to the public on 125th street in Harlem. Please join us to help the community,” he wrote.
Girodes, who is making his second run for the 30th District senate seat and headlined his campaign website with an image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said there was nothing offensive about his planned event.
“What I think is anyone who gives free food to people is doing them a favor,” Girodes told the I-Team. “Get a bunch of people who say it’s offensive and let me go into their neighborhood and give it out for free and see if they take it.”
While Girodes offered no further details of his planned event, it was met with outrage in Harlem.
“It’s racist. Whoever he is, I think he should go back in whatever hole he crawled in and have a great life,” Tyrone Nero said in an interview on 125th Street.
“It’s more than an insult and anybody with any sense would see that’s pathetically racist and insulting,” added community member Scott Randolph.
Near Girodes’ headquarters on 153rd Street, there was more disbelief.
“That is so stereotypical,” said passerby Jose Paulimo. “It is very offensive.”
Democratic New York State Sen. Bill Perkins, Girodes’ opponent in the November election, was also stunned by the email.
“I think it’s important to out [Girodes’ remarks] not just to denounce him but to set a tone in this neighborhood and in this city that this type of offense does not go unchallenged,” said Perkins.
Amid the investigation into Girodes’ comments, the I-Team received a second complaint about a real estate deal involving Girodes.
Nancy Bandiera said she recently gave the politician a refundable $750 deposit to rent his luxury apartment on 42nd Street. But when she backed out of the deal, he kept her money.
“I’ve lost the money, and there is no way to contact him anymore,” Bandiera said, showing the I-Team a long text-message conversation with Girodes in which she tried to get her money back. “He is a liar. He’s so disgusting.”
Girodes denied he has taken money from Bandiera or anyone else in apartment rental deals and called himself a victim.
“I was not involved in any scam. I am involved in it as of the people that are trying to scam me,” he said. “I’m the biggest victim ever.”
Girodes, who ran unopposed in the recent primary and only garnered 4 percent of the vote in the 2014 race, is a Republican outsider. He’s not backed by the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee or the party establishment in New York City.
“We are not supporting him. He’s not a real candidate,” one senior GOP official told the I-Team.
Girodes’ campaign website and social media pages were taken down after the I-Team started its investigation.
Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was invited to a financial services trade group’s award dinner last week to speak about leadership—but instead delivered a political speech that strayed so far from that topic the group felt it necessary to apologize to its guests.
On Monday, the Commercial Finance Association sent out an e-mail apologizing for the “unscripted personal opinions” that Giuliani, a prominent supporter and close adviser to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, shared with the crowd at their 40 Under 40 dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
“At CFA’s 40 Under 40 Awards last Thursday night, keynote speaker Rudolph Giuliani veered sharply off course from the leadership message he agreed to deliver and presented unscripted personal opinions which were independent of CFA’s political position or core values,” Bob Trojan, the group’s CEO, wrote in an e-mail sent to attendees and forwarded to the Observer. “While we, the event organizers, made every attempt to direct Mr. Giuliani’s remarks ahead of time to focus on leadership, for which he is renowned and has authored a book, there is always the possibility of such a surprise at a live event.”
The note continued: “For those of you who were offended by Mr. Giuliani’s remarks, please accept my sincere apology.”
The apology for Giuliani’s speech was sent Monday, just a day before the Commercial Observer reported that Giuliani had been axed as the keynote speaker for a conference held by the International Council of Shopping Centers—following letters from real estate professionals who deemed him divisive for his outspoken support of Trump.
The remarks Giuliani made to the Commercial Finance Association Thursday have not been publicly reported. But an attendee told the Observer the crowd was “shocked” by Giuliani’s comments, and that some people began complaining about his speech almost immediately after it was over.
“Rudy talked about immigration, and made a really, really inappropriate comment about the quote-unquote Mexicans in the kitchen at the Waldorf,” the attendee said. “It was bad. You could hear a pin drop. I think he was looking for applause.”
A second person in attendance also recalled a remark about Mexicans coming to the country to work illegally in kitchens.
In his apology email, Trojan does not make any specific references to what Giuliani said—but he included an entire paragraph decrying discrimination in an effort to “underscore and clarify CFA’s beliefs and political approach.”
“CFA abhors discrimination of any kind whether it is focused on race, age or gender. We are a non-partisan organization with relationships spanning both sides of the aisle, which is vital to ensure that our positions are understood no matter which party is in office. These beliefs and approaches will never change,” the e-mail reads. “You participated in our 40 Under 40 Awards because you support CFA’s effort to attract and retain the next generation of talent by illuminating and celebrating their achievements. You want to encourage young people, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender or religious belief to embrace our industry.”
The attendee who related the kitchen remark said Giuliani seemed to be a poor choice to speak at the event for young financial professionals—the speech was not at all tailored to the audience, and focused on issues like immigration and terrorism rather than Giuliani’s leadership of New York City.
“We got old school Rudy,” the attendee said, “and Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Giuliani has courted controversy recently in his role as Trump’s attack dog. After Monday night’s debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Giuliani said that if he were the candidate, he wouldn’t agree to the next two debates unless the moderator backed off. The former mayor, who ended a marriage amid an affair and informed his then-wife of the split via a press conference, also said if he were debating, he would have brought up former President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. He went on to call Clinton “too stupid” to be president.
And over the summer he was met with harsh criticism for his comments about Black Lives Matter protesters, calling the group “inherently racist.” Earlier, he took heat for saying President Barack Obama “doesn’t love America“—and that the president (who Trump for years insisted was not born in the United States) “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up.”
New documentary takes a look at the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States”, and it’s progression to America’s prison industrial complex…
For Rolling Stone, gonzo investigative reporter Greg Palast uncovers the GOP plan to steal the votes of a million voters. From the investigations for the feature documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, a tale of billionaires & ballot bandits, out in September. For info on the film, and the book and comic book, go to GregPalast.com.
1981 interview in which Republican consultant ‘lays out how Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves’…
DJ Blendz note: According to authorities, Dallas sniper was lone gunman. Kinda like Oswald back in ’63. Wonder what happened to the 3 other suspects (Micah’s handlers?) who were detained but “not cooperating”?
..For six years starting in 2009, Johnson served in the Army Reserve as a private first class with a specialty in carpentry and masonry, the military said.
In May 2014, six months into his Afghanistan tour, he was accused of sexual harassment by a female soldier. The Army sent him stateside, recommending an “other than honorable discharge,” said Bradford Glendening, the military lawyer who represented him.
That recommendation was “highly unusual,” Bradford said, since counseling is usually ordered before more drastic steps are taken.
“In his case, it was apparently so egregious, it was not just the act itself,” Glendening told The Associated Press. “I’m sure that this guy was the black sheep of his unit.”
According to a court filing Glendening read over the phone Friday, the victim said she wanted Johnson to “receive mental help,” while also seeking a protective order to keep him away from her and her family, wherever they went. Johnson was ordered to avoid all contact with her.
Glendening said Johnson was set to be removed from the Army in September 2014 because of the incident, but instead got an honorable discharge months later — for reasons he can’t understand.
“Someone really screwed up,” he said. “But to my client’s benefit.”
…Johnson had no criminal history, according to authorities. Local court records show his parents were divorced in 1996.
He was believed to have shared a two-story tan brick home in Mesquite with family members. He graduated from John Horn High School in Mesquite, where he was a ROTC member, school district officials said.
Sharon Carter, who works in the district’s registrar’s office and lives near Johnson’s home, said she saw him occasionally wearing military fatigues as he left for Army reservist training, but never saw him armed.
“They say he was standoffish in high school,” Carter said. “I never really spoke to him. He kept to himself.”
A relative had praised Johnson on his birthday in 2014 as “definitely Army strong” on his Facebook page, calling him an “entertaining, loving, understanding, not to mention handsome friend, brother (and) son.”
After Johnson was killed, a relative posted on her Facebook page, “I keep saying its not true…my eyes hurt from crying. Y him??? And why was he downtown.” She did not respond to Facebook messages.
Friend Israel Cooper said Johnson went by “Xavier,’ his middle name, had a “cool vibe,” wasn’t really political and seemed educated.
Cooper said he and Johnson played basketball at a park near his home. “He would be out there for eight hours. Like it was his job. Just hoopin’,” he said.
Cooper said that when he heard the suspect was Johnson, he “was in disbelief because he’s just not like a violent or rough dude.”
“So I was, ‘Nah, it’s probably another Xavier somewhere, you know,'” Cooper said. “But then, with pictures on the internet and stuff, I’m like ‘OK.’ ”
Cooper added: “It’s the quiet ones that just do the most devastating stuff. You never see it coming. But then it’s more expected, like ‘I should have known.’
At what point does America realizes it has a problem? Reminds me of an alcoholic whose forever trying to justify his actions and forever in denial…
SNL skit from last night…
In 2011, the Governor of Michigan took over the city of Flint, a majority-African American city where almost half the population lives below the poverty line. He installed an un-elected “financial manager” to run the city for him.
In 2014, the Governor decided to switch Flint’s drinking water system from the Great Lakes to the toxic Flint River.
This is for the 102,000 men, women and children of Flint who are still being poisoned and lied to…
Speaking on the opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic in Maine, Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, made an unbelievably racist remark at a town hall on Wednesday:
These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we got to deal with down the road.
The comment, surfaced by Get Right Maine, plays on clear racial overtones by using names typically attributed to black culture and rap, and suggests that black people are outsiders, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists that take advantage of young, white women. (This racial trope in the war on drugs goes back to at least the late 19th century and early 20th century, when local, state, and federal lawmakers pushed drug laws by suggesting that minority people would lure and harm young white women with drugs.)
Studies show white and black Americans use and sell drugs at similar rates, although African Americans are much more likely to be arrested for drug possession. So there are simply no statistics to back the governor’s implications.
The Justice Department cast the St. Louis County, Mo., law enforcement system in a harrowing light in March when it documented entrenched racism and unconstitutional policing in the town of Ferguson, which erupted in riots last year after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
Now comes another Justice Department report, issued last week, documenting equally deplorable violations in the county’s juvenile court system, where children, often without basic legal representation, are routinely railroaded and mistreated.
The department opened the investigation in 2013 to protect the constitutional rights of children in the justice system and to discourage unnecessary incarceration. The department has undertaken similar investigations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
In St. Louis County, officials examined 33,000 juvenile court cases over a three-year period and found that the system regularly treats black children more harshly than white children and routinely denies indigent children — no matter their race — basic constitutional rights.
After controlling for relevant factors, including the severity of the offenses involved, a Justice Department analysis found that “black children are subjected to harsher treatment because of their race.” For example, black children were two-and-a-half times as likely as white children to be held in custody before their trials.
Black children were also more likely to be placed in the custody of the juvenile system than white children were and less likely to be diverted into community-based programs. White children were significantly more likely to get less restrictive sentences, like probation with services provided to them at home. This disparate treatment may not be intentional, but it is clearly racist in its effect.
The Supreme Court has ruled that states must provide lawyers to defendants who can’t afford them and that juveniles have the same rights as adults. But the very structure of St. Louis County’s family court system seems designed to deny due process and representation.
The children who go before the court do not get a truly independent advocate who looks after their interests. Investigators found that low-income children, who are legally entitled to court-appointed representation, are shortchanged at every turn.
For starters, there is only one public defender for juveniles in the entire county. A result is a staggering caseload for that one lawyer, who cannot possibly meet the needs of hundreds of children. For some who are not eligible for the public defender’s services, a family court judge will appoint a lawyer and order the parents to pay a “retainer”; often, cash-strapped parents persuade a child that no lawyer is necessary. Moreover, more than half of the lawyers who represented detained children entered the cases many days or weeks after the child’s detention hearing — too late to be of much help.
This appalling situation means that many juveniles are essentially representing themselves in complex legal proceedings that typically require them to plead guilty. Some of these children face the possibility of being transferred to adult courts, where a guilty verdict could have lifelong consequences. This is inconsistent with the Constitution and with basic principles of human decency.
The report offers dozens of recommendations for remaking this egregious system, starting with developing a strategic plan that sets clear goals to end discriminatory treatment at all points. As part of that process, the court has to train its employees to understand “the subtle ways that racial bias, conscious or unconscious,” affects policy and practice, the report says.
One absolutely essential step is for the county to create a defense system for poor juveniles that passes constitutional muster and affords them access to competent representation. The Justice Department should haul the county into court if it fails to make these changes.
Homeboy Sandman gives his take on the ‘Douchebag Sterling ‘ controversy over @ Gawker:
In light of the recent decision by a professional basketball team, comprised of mostly black players, to respond to their boss basically saying “I hate niggers” by turning their shirts inside out the next day at work, I have come to the decision that I agree wholeheartedly with the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and I too do not want black people invited to my events.
It’s not for the same reasons that the Clippers’ owner doesn’t want black people invited to his events. To be honest I don’t really know what his reasons are. Perhaps he recently tuned in to an FM “hip hop” station and after hearing song after drug, sex, and violence-laden song decided that it might be a good idea to keep some distance. Perhaps his media conditioning spans beyond music, encompassing the gamut of stereotype-enforcing media, (media championed and praised by blacks, where the most rich and famous coons are praised and idolized as examples of black “success”). Maybe he’s been hanging out with George Zimmerman, and they’ve been watching Love & Hip Hop, and Basketball Wives, and the Tyler Perry collection, and Katt Williams and Kevin Hart performances (anybody catch that Kevin Hart movie with the ex-rapper who used to have a song standing up against police brutality playing a police officer? Where Hart delivers the line that Zimmerman had no doubt heard a thousand different times in a thousand different ways, shifting his psyche to the point where he could be authentically terrified of someone just because they were black . . . “you’re white. You don’t fight.”)
No, I’m lucky enough to spend enough time with black people to recognize that we’re not the base form of human life that we continue to support ourselves being portrayed as (though admittedly, it definitely rubs off on us. A lot. So much so that it’s very puzzling to comprehend how we could blame anyone who doesn’t get to spend much time with us for fostering a wildly skewed perception. What can people know but what they see?). No, I don’t want black people to stay away from my events because I believe them to be uncivilized, or ignorant, or anything like that.
I don’t want black people at my events anymore, because black people are cowards.
In all the history I’ve ever studied, in all the fiction I’ve ever read, I am hard pressed to find an example of cowardice to rival the modern day black American, and nobody wants to be surrounded by cowards right?
What if lions break out of the zoo and start trying to eat everyone? What if aliens attack? What if the police department decides that they want to grab their batons and blow off some steam? Are cowards really the type of people that you want to be surrounded by?
That’s why I don’t want black people at my events anymore. Athletes that could refuse to perform until a killer is arrested, even until a killer is convicted, who instead opt for taking a picture where they all have their hoods on and then carrying on with business as usual: I don’t want to be surrounded be these clowns. If you’re black, or white, and you go back to work after finding out that your boss is grossed out at the idea of being in the same vicinity with any black person except for the cutie he’s sugar daddy to, I’m pretty sure you’re not who I want in my corner during crunch time. Real crunch time. Life crunch time.
The most common excuse I’ve heard for today’s cowardice is “they need to feed their families,” which of course is a euphemism for “for the money.” You know, the blacks that sold other blacks into slavery, there’s a good chance they used some of that money to feed their families too. So, that makes them cool with all of y’all? Here’s a question, is there anything that we won’t do for money? Is getting paid an excuse for everything? It’s an excuse for looking the other way when innocent people are killed. It’s an excuse for supporting racism by trying to win a championship for an openly racist owner. With regard to hip hop and media it’s an excuse for purposefully, and most often deceitfully, representing yourself and your culture as pretty much scum who can only be validated by money. Thanks in large part to the exceptional (it’s sad just how exceptional) bravery of Michelle Alexander, (author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) we live in a society where each day more and more people realize the obvious truth that the goals of the criminal justice system have way more to do with black enslavement than rehabilitation or keeping people safe. Facing the reality of modern slavery, we continue to allow ourselves to be enslaved day after day. (Granted, fear of death is a far cry from fear of lack of wealth, but they’re both fear, the currency of cowardice.) As KRS-One (whose “Sound of Da Police” was actually the theme song for the trailer of that ridiculous movie I referenced earlier, which all but brought a tear to my eye), pointed out on his classic “Black Cop,” many policemen and policewomen are now earning paychecks for gathering up their own brothers and sisters, on charges that perpetually lead to a slap on the wrist for whites but somehow manage to be the first domino in a lifetime of enslavement for blacks. These cops get to use the “feeding my family” line too. We accept it, and go about our day, meek, bullied, and afraid to assert authority against anyone but each other, and amongst each other asserting authority with a ferocity that could only be explained by the rage of hundreds of years of being bullied by everybody else. In New York City, where infiltration and displacement are referenced using the the thinly veiled insult “gentrification” (look up the root word. “Gent.” If we accept and use a term the very definition of which suggests that communities are becoming more noble and graceful, what does that say about the people being pushed out?) natives know better than to display any aggression towards white newcomers, but are as quick as ever to stare down an unfamiliar black face who isn’t from the neighborhood.
What do you call people who walk quietly to slavery? Who allow themselves to be insulted without standing up for themselves beyond wardrobe adjustments that in reality are nothing but a public show of shame? What do you call people that pretend that these ridiculous gestures actually hold some weight rather than face the fact that we are the laughing stock of the entire planet, and as long there’s the chance that someday maybe we’ll be rich there’s nothing that we’re going to do about it?
I call us cowards.
It’s almost as if people have forgotten that struggle includes struggling. You might have to lose your job. You might have to lose your life. That’s what it takes for change to happen. There’s no easy way to do this. If you’re scared to stand up for yourself, for whatever reason, all I ask is that you stop pretending. Stop with the Facebook posts. Stop with the meaningless conversations. Just stop. Be honest. About how you behave. About your part in all this madness. About what you are. A coward. Just a coward. No need to put on an act for the rest of us. We can all see right through each other.
One last thing . . .
For those of you who have made it this far without stopping for how furious at me your shame has made you, I want you to know something. I don’t really think black people are cowards. I think humans are cowards. Most of us. I think that regardless of where one’s phenotype places them within the imaginary concept of race, that the majority of us are content to live on our knees rather than die on our feet.
The problem is, we, us, black people, can’t afford to be like everyone else anymore. Not if we want to survive. I don’t know how we got here, but everywhere you look we’re at the bottom of the global totem pole. We need to make history. We can’t be cowards like every one else, not any more. In fact, we need to set a new standard for heroism. For bravery. For courage. Maybe a standard never before seen in the history of humankind. Extreme situations call for extreme measures, and in modern times our inferiority is ingrained in every single aspect of our lives, from our media, to our religion, to our science, to our public education, to our higher education, to Africa appearing to be the same size as Greenland on all of the maps despite the fact that in reality Africa is 14 times larger. It’s harder to see our enemies than it’s ever been. Our enemy isn’t white people. It’s people who value greed more than human life. Racial division is one of their oldest weapons, and media is their latest. We mustn’t forget how young this weapon is. I didn’t grow up using the Internet. The television itself isn’t even 100 years old. The idea of global celebrity, and global transference of ideas and perceptions of culture, has never existed the way it does today. Just as Howard Beale prophesized in Network in 1976, we’re up against “the most awesome God damned propaganda force in the whole Godless world.”
We’re going to have to step it up.
If you’re down to step it up, let’s step it up. Let’s boycott. Boycott was the foundation of the Civil Rights movement. Do you believe that a cable network exists solely to manipulate the perception of black people? Stop watching it. Don’t put up a post one day praising the episode of Boondocks that never aired and then spend the next day tweeting the entire BET awards. That doesn’t make any sense.
Let’s step it up. If every NBA player who wanted to stand up against racism vowed not to play until the Clippers’ owner resigned, it would be announced that he resigned before you were finished reading this. If he didn’t want to, someone would make him. If we boycotted every night spot that spins music about how much we love killing each other and taking and selling drugs, every single one of them would have new DJs by next week (don’t even get me started on these new DJs. The new drug dealers. Admitting that they know what they’re giving people is bad for them but caring more about getting paid). I went to DJ Spinna’s Michael Jackson/Prince party at SRBs last night and there was more dancing and mirth and free love in that place than every hip hop party in NYC in the last 10 years put together. So when people tell you that we need ratchet nonsense to dance, they’re gaming you. Don’t be so gullible. Don’t act like black people only found out how to have fun when we lost our connection to our own human decency.
Let’s step it up and not buy magazines pushing music designed to glamorize a lifestyle certain to land our youth in prison.
Let’s step it up and take off from work and stay home with our kids until these preposterous tenure rules are revoked from public schools and it’s the kids that can’t be fired, not the teachers.
Let’s step it and use social media to rally each other. Everybody knew about that woman who fired a warning shot and got 20 years (I hear she’s been released now. No thanks to us). Everybody knows about that woman who got however many years for leaving her child in the car while she went to a job interview. Every single week all over Facebook there’s a new video of someone catching a beating as bad as the one Rodney King caught, but I never see a post that says, “Share this if you’ll go on strike from work until these police officers are fired.” “Share this if you’ll strike until this woman is released.” “Share this if you won’t spend a single dollar until Troy Davis is released from death row and granted a new trial.” Can you imagine the impact that that would have? Everybody is always trying to act there’s no solutions. There are plenty of solutions. We’re just too cowardly to implement them. Worried about this discomfort or that discomfort, great or small, that might take place as a result. Having to find a new place to party. Or a new show to watch. Isn’t the discomfort of oppression enough? There’s plenty of solutions, just no easy ones, but if we can shift to courage instead of cowardice, there’s more than enough solutions to guarantee our success. Guarantee. Next time you’re complaining about how this country was built on us, take a second to think about the fact that it still is. If we want to, we can shut this whole place down.
So make a decision between cowardice and courage, and if you choose courage, step it up. Step it up in any of the myriad of ways that are available to us. I’ve named a few. Name a few more. Leave a few suggestions in the comments section. Call up your friends. Tweet. Facebook.
Then start doing them. If you can’t convince anyone to do them with you, do them on your own. Start right away because we’re running out of time. I hear some states are fining people for sagging their pants. I’d never sag my pants, but if we begin to allow people to be penalized simply for attributes that we’ve allowed to be associated with being black, we’re going to find the water getting even hotter.
We’ve been cowards for a very long time. We have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s start right now.