This story resonates so much with me in so many ways. It speaks to the campaign of hatred people have waged in the name of “freedom.”
I’m not “mixed” not directly anyway, but my skin has always betrayed an “other” quality that kept me on the fringes and gave me a glimpse of the privilege my Caucasian brothers and sisters share.
Because I was interesting and exotic I got glimpses of what people say and how they behave when there aren’t any Niggers around. White friends, and I had a lot of white friends, would reach a level of comfort with me that transcended being a “cool Black kid” and often would speak to me or around me in a way that, ironically, showed that for an instant they didn’t see my “race.”
No, not every experience Shaun and I had lined up in a row, but some of the things I read him recall hearing make me cringe and take me back to a time when my identity was the most important, and confusing aspect of who I was. Unfortunately, in Trump’s America, I feel that way again. About being Black, about being Liberal, about being me. No one should ever feel that way but it is nice to know that I am not alone.
In the foreground this is Emmet Till, the young man, who in 1955 was brutally lynched and his body desecrated for what basically amounts to an alleged cat call.
A cat call that was just recently obliterated by the target.
This is Till’s destroyed body, which his brave mother and father insisted be on display. This is the human cost of believing that the dignity of a 14 year old boy was erased by his “race”.
This was 63 years ago. Within the lifetimes of at least half of congress and a good number of Americans.
And we expect no consequences from events like this. No memory of the butchering of a 14 year old boy because someone alleged that he spoke in less a way than our current sitting president has spoken about several women ON TAPE.
The killers were never brought to justice because of the same system that we have in place today.
If you think that this kind of butchery should be forgotten and it has no relevance to the gunning down of kids that same age by that same system, I have no kind words for you, none at all.
“Based on recent behavior and previous statements, the North Carolina Republican Party is unable and unwilling to support the Republican nominated candidate for North Carolina House District 48″ – GOP chairman Robin Hayes .
The Republican party has been putting up with the precursor to this for YEARS therefore encouraging and supporting it. Chickens….meet roost.
Edited on 4/25/2018 for clarity and a few careless grammar and spelling errors.
Radicalization has come to be synonymous with Islam and Islam signals folks who are non white although there have been a few notable Caucasian converts. It’s generally reserved for people who fall of the liberal western wagon and fall into the muddy ditch of identitarian authoritarianism. In other words radicalized = converted to radical Islam.
We use the term which should serve as a general description of anyone who has committed beyond reason to an ideology, usually a violent and destructive one, as a shortcut for signaling Islam. It’s a mistake that both reflects and colors our values, one that on some level is not a mistake at all but instead a value judgement based on so many assumptions.
We do operate in the sphere of cultural supremacy, the combination of assuming that so-called western values are the most “right” and that those values have all their roots in white western culture and those roots are purely derived from Europe and the cultural superiority of being American. Both are pretty ignorant, they assume that the blanks of history are all colored in White. They assume that, given all the interaction between the subjugated and the subjigators both here and abroad, now and in the past, that there is only one way to rub off.
They assume that missionaries and explorers, slavers and guests, never had any contact with people who produced any kind of two-way exchange. They assume that the spices and foods, culinary habits being one of the first and best introductions to a culture, were never traded. They assume that hunting and gathering and farming in different climates did not have some impact on those who observed them. They assume things that we in our daily lives know to be patently untrue. In the US, our art, culture culinary traditions and language borrow so much from outside influences that we’ve sometimes assumed they started here.
We operate, despite evidence to the contrary, in a blanket of assumptions that color our culture and language. We assume that only the Islamists are radicalized, we reserve that word for non-whites and race traitorous converted whites. When an instance of violence occurs perpetuated by a person of white European descent we make every excuse for their actions even when the targets and methods would suggest otherwise. We assume there is any other motive than what would be obvious if they were Muslim.
Until we can call a terrorist a terrorist, regardless of the color of their skin, until we can equate acts of violence based on ideology, regardless of what that ideology is, we are hopelessly lost in our delusion that White western culture is the only source from which civilization springs. We are also ignorant of our own cultural infancy as Americans, our civilization is not half as old as those we pull influence from and we can’t seem to integrate that into our collective consciousness.
We keep arguing around these issues, talking about SJWs instead of just being courteous enough to each other to simply listen, consider and then react, we keep using language that diminishes the concerns of people to tropes, on all sides. We color “flyover states” and BLM with broad brushes, not recognizing the breadth of opinion in the pigeonholed groups we create. We talk about western culture like it came about in a vacuum and ignore all the surrounding pieces assuming that the history we know, despite so many obvious modern parallels, is history with nothing left out.
We make a lot of assumptions, we kind of have to, but with the expanse of information we have at our fingertips we ignore even the slightest tweaks to our own worldview.
Even when it is as obvious as the growing number of violent acts perpetrated by those steeped in “western values.”
On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King I’d like to say a few things.
We are, despite our division, in a much better place then we were in 1968.
Despite that we still have a long way to go.
For anyone who wonders if the words and actions of the civil rights movement still have relevance, remember that within most living people’s lifetime there were laws that restricted citizen’s rights to marry, travel and raise children.
That… economic strength, passed on through the generations, was not as strong for women and communities of color, if you were a woman of color things were at least twice as hard.
That… the modern middle class was built on the strength of a massive war effort and the financial benefits that came with it, and that African-Americans were largely exempted from those benefits. These foundations were even further distant when considering that discriminatory hiring, firing and salaries were common and when African-Americans tried to band together to demand better conditions violence always ensued.
The current conditions, economic disparities supported by racist assumptions that are now being used to prove those very assumptions, have been with us a very long time. If the country is over 200 years old and Civil Rights have been in place by law for 50 of those years, even assuming everyone instantly got the rights they deserved, which they didn’t, we have been a bigoted country supported by racist institutions for 3/4 of our existence.
Making it personal, If you have made any “mistakes” in your 20’s are 50 and are still paying for them you are, those mistakes put you about where we are as a country now, older and not really all that much wiser.
Post-racialism is a myth concocted by people who hope we get too lazy to do the math or too distracted to not look at the calendar. If we do nothing else lets not forget that we are only a short few steps into this new paradigm and it isn’t too early to lose it all.
RIP MLK 4/4/1968
That word more than most these days is equally vilified and employed.
Sometimes the word is unspoken a la racists and other assorted bigots.
Its spoken as an aside when describing women, assumed when “traditional values” are evoked.
All is a word that is mostly assumed whenever someone accuses someone else based on their membership in some group.
Sometimes “most” will suffice.
In my life as racial ambassador, confident, guy who goes where others dare, member of the family, incognito brother, I’ve experienced a lot of insider access to casual racism. In shops, firehouses and among friends and family, I’ve been the guy who isn’t like the others…assuming most of “us” are a certain way… the guy with which they let their guard down.
As that guy, I’ve heard people say things that they’d never feel comfortable speaking in public, for a second they forget that I’m one of “them” and let the truth fly.
Satirical as the above might be, there is more than a kernel of truth to it. Many whites, when they feel safe or are alone don’t give away newspapers, but they do give away a sense of their reality. Any “woke” white person who has been in a place where working-class white gather knows this as well, painfully.
When I read the story of a Kansas City man who spat on and called a little kid a Nigger, I wasn’t surprised. I also wasn’t surprised by his admission of being a “first responder” as I know for a fact that, in places where those who serve don’t look anything like the served there is plenty of room for harboring racial resentment at the very least, and regularly, racial hostility. And in the places where they do (I’ve been to Overland Park, and it is VERY white) the harboring is more like hosting.
The incident is a tip of the iceberg one for me. It marks a swing in the pendulum back to the 70’s and 80’s when whites felt much more emboldened to make judgments on blacks loudly and publicly. It marks the return to an open hostility that has been stirred up by the racial progress of the last 15 years, where the fact that we had our first President of color was only the tip pinnacle of a cultural sea-change. A change that took place in the culture that started (again) sometime around Disco and continued through Gangsta, driven first by curiosity and rebellion and then by marketing.
It is also a terrifying emergence of a new paradigm.
We never addressed our institutional race problem, we tried to introduce a measure of fairness here and there, but our affirmative actions never went far enough. In our police stations, firehouses, military, and rescue forces there are still deep pockets of racial hostility. We never went far enough to get minorities to take seriously the professions that pillar many white communities, rural and urban. We never propped up black and brown boys and girls who wanted to be cops and firefighters as well as carpenters and mechanics. Though seeing this made that reality unsavory to many of us:
The truth is that vocational education failed to reach many of us. Even if we did break through the stigma, what greeted us when we tried to gain entry into the professions was a cultural gatekeeper that made the process all but impossible.
So this guy, who may or may not be what he claims to be, was able to by his assumed membership in an indeed revered and protected class, avoid arrest and escape prosecution. They used to hang us for looking the wrong way at whites, (night sticks and tasers are now the preferred methods) this guy assaults a black boy, degrades him and in 2018 barely gets a slap on the wrist because he claims to be “hero.”
This whole culture glorifies the warrior myth. I hear people who dodged the draft or avoided service extolling the virtues of the Army, Air Force, Marines and the flow through professions of Fireman, EMT, and Police. Some without the virtue of first-hand experience and others who benefitted from the inherited whiteness of them. The associations are clear, first responder, military = white.
So the question is, does this guy get off on the denigration of his fellow heroes by claiming he is immune from being arrested for assaulting a preschooler or is he evoking the long tradition of racial safe spaces in our firehouses, ambulance companies, and police stations?
It will be interesting what response, if any, comes from the first responder community.
Sometimes its hard to tell what our president is thinking. Sometimes I think he’s not thinking at all but reacting.
Yeah, I know, its been said before.
That’s why I haven’t been commenting much on Trump lately. There are far more people (both more qualified and less than I) making statements about and trying to guess what the president is thinking, probably more than at any other time since he’s been a public figure.
Just since November of 2016, the conversation has shifted from trying to do the math as to how he won in the first place to what he’ll do to where he was coming from to is he mentally fit to hold office. So many of these questions have obvious answers. He won by appealing to the baser instincts of a group of Americans who not only feel left behind but even if they voted for him, as many did, were swayed by the constant barrage of dog whistle idiocy that was the media during the Obama administration. They feel left behind by a country that always told them they were golden, chosen people, so when that promise was uncovered as a lie they rebelled. As with most popular rebellions, the scapegoat firewall lay between them and the people who truly fucked them over.
Never before in my lifetime have I seen the Country in such a state of reactionary fervor. If I’ve learned anything it is that you should never think things can’t get any worse, or any weirder. Sometimes being prepared for the worst is the best you can hope for. Not that you should abandon all hope or lose all sense of optimism, but keeping those things in the vacuum of the naive belief that “people are generally good” is downright suicidal.
I often try to look at recent history and try to draw a flowchart in my head to link all the things I’ve seen since the end of the Vietnam era ( I was born the year the conflict reached its Apex of 500,000 US troops) and remember middle-class. I mostly remember the palpable sense of dread that came with slowly admitting defeat in an unwinnable battle. I was born the year of nationwide unrest over the treatment of African-Americans (we were called negro, Colored or just Nigger at the time, in equal measure) and the year before the death of Martin Luther King.
I remember watching as the post-civil rights era played out, how legal segregation turned into redlining and blockbusting and I remember how the wash of irony felt as I sat in a real estate class 40 years later and heard my teacher discuss the practices as if they were ancient history (they weren’t, and aren’t). A few years before that I watched my Mom “steered” into a property in a mostly black part of town and in a double whammy also watched her sold a subprime mortgage with a huge balloon payment that would have kept her in permanent share-cropper status for the rest of her life. I watched as friends who had genius level IQ’s , but had little or no support at home, were shuffled into “alternative education” and taken out of the system of merit they would have all but taken over.
I watched the systematic dismantling of families, the ignorance of the problems faced by people who were just out of reach of the middle-class dream, not quite poverty-stricken, but barely able to make the rent, the car payment, and the heat, and often one or more of the above would suffer. (oh and food, let us not forget food)
I also remember being terror-stricken by television, the resurgence and resurgence, and further resurgences of “hate groups,” militias and various other largely white organizations whose members instinctively knew that their days as the majority were numbered. Who ignored the unequal application of benefits to them and cherry-picked statistics to bolster their own “superiority” (there is nothing funnier and scarier than listening to someone uneducated and unwilling to be, call me a monkey) even when they had an 8th-grade education and hardly a tooth to speak of.
I saw the 50-year slide into identity politics. WHITE identity politics. And now I shake my head when I hear someone like Richard Spenser, Alex Jones or any of their loosely affiliated internet sleeper cell operatives promote the narrative that Blacks, “the Left” and the “the gays” are the ones who started this whore identity politics shit. As a writer, I look out into the world, and it makes no narrative sense, as a truth-teller the story is flawed in a way that disqualifies it even as magical realism. There is nothing real about it.
As I look over all the historical links in my lifetime, I see definite patterns. Some overlap and others diverge, but a few, though taking up different sections of the page, clearly resemble each other.
Taking the experiences of poor White Americans and Poor Black Americans in snapshots of events, drug addiction, poverty, enslavement (Blacks by government mandate through slavery and its aftermath and whites by government mandate through union busting and land grants to wealthy corporations) they trace similar paths. The positive elements also converge, reverence for the elderly, a sense of community, developments in art and culture, resistance to undue authority…
But somehow, some way, the two rarely meet.
They don’t meet because one group, although downtrodden, believed that they were better by virtue of “whiteness”. That belief carried down through the years and was the current on the river to Trumpville.
This is not fake news.
Thinking for a second about some of the self-described leaders of these folks and their motivations there has to be something other than the endgame that gets them off. Even if they could eliminate or disassociate themselves from the rest of us there are still going to be sociopathic tendencies, violent individuals, and disagreements within their midsts.
I often wonder how an ethnostate of any sort would look. Having no skin in the game and no need to wish for such a thing I think I’m a bit freer than most to imagine a more realistic version of this utopia.
It would be like any other society, divided along some imaginary, or real but either way subtly enforced means, messy and stratified and pretty much just as fucked up as the one we have now. Either it would have classlessness imposed by a tyrant, or be capitalistic and leave some people behind. Either way, there is no escape from the same bullshit we face daily, it would just be whiter, or blacker. There is no way, through merely segregating “Europeans” or “Africans” to magically make everything better. The same power struggles, the same marital disagreements, the same arguments about government and what it should and can do will still exist.
Just because y’all look the same, does not make you the same.
Have you ever seen people who agree, are of the same background or the same political beliefs all in the same room together and NOT arguing? In most cases, intra-group disagreements are more violent than those between groups. Without the political or racial “other” to swerve the distraction bus towards, those conflicts would explode.
I guess perfect is the enemy of the good after all.