Under Which Circumstances Can Nonwhites Talk About Race?

Question: How many of the people who are upset with Black people’s responses to the Martin-Zimmerman case were raised by parents [or grandparents] who were upset with Black people’s responses to the murder of Emmett Till?

Image

Despite some obvious contextual differences, the public sentiment, anguish, and disappointment is the same.

The question then becomes, were Black people “race-baiting” or “playing the race card” when they protested Till’s murderers being found not guilty?

What about after JFK, Malcolm X, and Dr. King were assassinated?

How about when factories, plants, and businesses began to close down en masse in innercity neighborhoods (e.g., Detroit, South Los Angeles, D.C., Chicago) during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, thus changing the economic prospects of the people who’d depended on those jobs for generations, and pushing them toward despair, crime, and dysfunction? When this is mentioned by Black talking heads, whether they be President Obama or Al Sharpton for that matter, is this playing the race card?

Is it race-baiting when Blacks mention longstanding inequalities in wealth, income, employment opportunities, educational opportunities, housing opportunities, and health outcomes, to name a few?

When Blacks lament the numerous killings of Blacks by Whites, from the times of slavery, to the Jim Crow lynchings, to police brutality, to unequal death penalty sentencing, to rogue Americans like George Zimmerman, is this playing the race card?

And, if none of this is racism, or at least deserving of a serious discussion of race, then, please tell me, what is?

It seems to me that the people who are upset with the fact that Black people are upset, feel as if they are in some sort of “war” against Blacks. To them, there is only one correct way to feel and think about this case, and that is to believe that George Zimmerman was at best a hero and at worst an unfortunate fellow that had to use deadly force to protect himself from “one of those” raging Black criminals. To them, no other perspective is legitimate, and any mention of race, or history is just “playing the race card.”  (Unless, of course, it is the history that presents Blacks as criminals who are “always” robbing, stealing, and killing–that’s legitimate, not just a stereotype, and certainly not something to be placed within the context of slavery, Jim Crow, lack of opportunity, inequality, etc.)

Again, when is it OK for nonwhites to talk about race?

My Thoughts on the Zimmerman Trial Thus Far

I watched the Zimmerman trial most of the day yesterday.  Here are my preliminary thoughts on the matter.

For those of you who believe that this is not about race, my very serious question to you is this:

What would convince you that this was a racially motivated incident?

I ask that because I find that when disagreeing with some people about race, often there is no reason to have a conversation because one side is convinced of their truth and though the facts change, they refuse to change their minds.  There is no use in talking with folk like that.  Assuming that you’re prepared to accept that this was racially motivated or at least entertain the idea, let me give you this scenario:

Let’s say that Trayvon Martin was a young White woman, and George Zimmerman was a middle-aged Black man who saw some “suspicious” woman walking in the rain in his neighborhood.  Let’s say he followed her, and when he called the police, dispatch told him twice not to follow her.  Let’s say he ignored that directive twice.  Black George Zimmerman follows White Tracy Martin who appears to be running and hiding from him, as she ducks and hides between buildings.  At some point she confronts Black George who does not identify himself as the neighborhood watch person.  Nor does he alert White Tracy Martin that the police are on the way.  Instead, an argument ensues, and shoots her.

Would anyone be willing to argue that Black George was afraid of the suspicious White Tracy?  Even if Tracy was a White male, would anyone be willing to argue that Black George was afraid of Tracy?  One way to ferret out your true feelings on this matter is to leave the facts the same and change the gender and race of Trayvon and Zimmerman.  See if you feel the same way about things.

ON THE ISSUE OF FEAR…

When you listen to the tapes and language that Zimmerman used–note his very calm demeanor as he spoke with the 911 operator and disobeyed directions to not follow Trayvon.  According to Zimmerman, it was raining.  Trayvon was holding something unidentifiable in his hands and reaching for his waistband.  It was dark.  Trayvon appeared to be on drugs or behaving strangely.  At no point did Zimmerman sound afraid or even nervous.

After Trayvon looked into Zimmerman’s car, he took off running, and Zimmerman took off after him into the night.  Remember, Zimmerman’s complaint was, “These fuckin’ punks always get away.”  Zimmerman was judge and jury.  Trayvon was guilty–of what I don’t know, but according to Zimmerman, Trayvon had no business walking in the rain at night with Skittles and some tea.

HERE’S WHAT I THINK HAPPENED…

Police BrutalityWanna be cop, George Zimmerman, was feeling particularly excited about his glorified position in the neighborhood, and he was all too ready to go too far with it.  Remember, the job of a neighborhood watch team, generally, is to observe and report suspicious activities to the real police who might still shoot Black people indiscriminately, but at least they have a storied history of doing so (I couldn’t resist y’all).

When he saw Trayvon Martin walking in his neighborhood, he was excited to spring into action–gat in tow.  He saw a young Black man walking in the rain and decided that he must be guilty of something.  Had he seen a young White woman walking in the rain, he would’ve pulled alongside her and offered her a ride to get out of the rain, or he might have waited to see what the wetness would reveal in a perverted manner.  Had it been a young White male, Zimmerman might have identified himself as neighborhood watch, and felt good about that, but because he saw a young Black male with a hood (it was raining after all), he decided that he was on a real police case and that he had an opportunity to be a neighborhood hero–to have a story!

From Trayvon’s POV, some strange dude in a car was following him for no reason, and he wasn’t about to lead him to his father’s house, and he wasn’t about to let the dude get the drop on him either.

The cat and mouse went on as Zimmerman stalked (yes STALKED) Trayvon, and when he found Trayvon, Zimmerman pushed the action.  He accosted Trayvon, who promptly defended himself and in doing so, beat the dog shit outta Zimmerman until Zimmerman shot this teenager dead.

The end.

This is certainly an issue of self-defense, but nothing that Zimmerman did suggests that he was defending anything other than his pathetic need to be somebody in a neighborhood in which apparently he didn’t couldn’t even remember the name of the streets on which he lived and defended.

Zimmerman InjuriesAs an interesting note, Zimmerman claims that Trayvon was bashing his head into the concrete.  I once pushed a dude down in a bar, and when he fell and bumped his head, he had a huge knot on his head.  Zimmerman, who had his head bashed into the concrete, had two scratches that had band-aids on them the next day.  No bruising.  No knots.  No lumps.  No stitches.  No truth.  Just bullshit.

David Banner On Trayvon Martin

I’ve been avoiding saying something about the Trayvon Martin slaying, in part, because I’ve been so damned angry about it.  I didn’t think I could write anything intelligent with so much negative passion in my heart.  Also, I kept envisioning a post entitled, “Trayvon Martin: I Fucking Told You So!”  Then in the body of the blog there would be this: (see the title).

I might still weigh in on this, but for now, I think hip hop artists David Banner actually said what needs to be said better than I can say it.  So, take four and half minutes out of your day to listen to him speak.

By the way, to Geraldo Rivera, I’ve decided to pray for your downfall in the ways of David in the old testament.  I pray that god turns you into a pillar of salt.

A Black Girl’s Burden

Today my daughter recounted her day at school.  She is one of two Black kids in her entire school.  Parenthetically, it is a tough trade-off to send your child to a school with few if any Black students so that s/he can get a better education at the expense of hearing your daughter say that she wishes she had long hair like the White girls.  Standards of beauty are important, and a Black child attending a predominately White school faces some serious challenges.  See Beverly Tatum’s Assimilation Blues for an interesting and scholarly account of some of the challenges Black parents and their children face.

One of the little White kids proclaimed,

Why don’t you cover your arms up cuz no one wants to see your black skin?

As a parent, I spend a good amount of my time just correcting the misinformation that Continue reading

Three Areas Where the Black Church Must Improve

So I went to church recently–and in the interest of full disclosure let me first explain that I am not a Christian. Haven’t been for some time. However, I do believe in “spirituality,” which I’d conceptually define as an emotional force or energy that can be perceived and experienced, but not fully explained with the rational senses.  Further, I think Black people are highly spiritual.  This is why when you watch videos of West African Muslims, or Brazilian Candomble/Yoruba initiates, there is far more animation, emotion, and physical expression than is typical of Arab Muslims or European Catholics.  Plus, I love Gospel music, and where else can you get free live Gospel?

Anyhow, I was not pleased with the church I attended today.  Upon entering, the Continue reading

The Marriage Vow: Praising Chattel Slavery

From time to time an exceptionally blatant specimen of racism and unfounded anxiety escapes from the bowels of the tightly pursed asses of White people.  I’ve heard precious little reporting on “The Marriage Vow,” and that fact is even more disturbing than the pseudo-scientific based hate that is hardly disguised in that terrible document.

The Marriage Vow was hatched by The Family Leader, which you can read about on your own here.  The vow, in its original wording, can be found here.  Apparently, the goal was to focus on what The Family Leader deems to be a crisis of divorce.  There are five bullet points listed as proof that the “family” (however they define that concept) is in crisis.  Conspicuously, the first two bullet points are exclusively directed toward Black people.  The first, reads:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

This is a gross misinterpretation of the experience of chattel slavery in the United States and flatly false.  I suppose that if we include the rapist slaveowners, some of whom, allowed their unwanted offspring to work in their mansions while they prayed with their White families over the dinner that was, no doubt, made with Christian love by their White wives, we can say that slaves were raised in two-parent households during slavery.  Perhaps if slave shacks can be included in the meaning of “household”–if “two-parent” only means that two people made a single child–perhaps then the first sentence in the above paragraph could be true.  Even more egregious is the passive voice of the paragraph–“Slavery had a disastrous impact…”  The guilt is removed.  The guilty party is unnamed, and one is left with the hazy feeling that slavery somehow happened to Black to people deservedly.  I suppose the Middle Passage, during which a conservatively estimated 15 million Africans perished, just happened to Black people as well.  Jim Crow–also just happened.  To invoke chattel slavery in such a flippant manner is unforgivable.  The bullet points continue:

LBJ’s 1965 War on Poverty was triggered in part by the famous “Moynihan Report” finding that the black out-of-wedlock birthrate had hit 26%; today, the white rate exceeds that, the overall rate is 41%, and over 70% of African-American babies are born to single parents–a prime sociological indicator for poverty, pathology and prison regardless of race or ethnicity.

I am startled by overall lack of surprise that a White, conservative, Christian organization would invoke a “report” that supports culture of poverty beliefs while turning a blind eye toward the structural factors that created the poverty in the first place.  Like the passive voice in the first paragraph that removes culpability from White people and European culture, the Moynihan report focused on the symptoms that Black people faced while living in a society that hates them.  The disease was not addressed at all.

There are three other bullet points that all but say, “Poor people are ruining marriage, families, and this country.”  Interestingly, because the first two bullet points are unambiguously directed toward the problem of Black people in the United States, when the remaining three bullet points speak of “celebrities, sports figures, and politicians,” our minds write in “Black” automatically.  This is a truly White magic.  When we read “men,” our minds envision a White man; when we read “poor,” our minds envision a Black person; and when we read “immigrant,” our minds envision Mexicans.  The prestige of the act is the disappearance of the magician so that we may all be saturated with the sense that the word associations we made were all very natural and normal.  Bravo!  Bravo!

If “The Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence upon MARRIAGE and FAMILY” is truly a document meant to refocus our values so that families and legal monogamy might thrive in the United States, why the focus on Black people?  Let us be clear that Black people comprise only 13% of the United States, and the entire 13% isn’t in prison, involved in the criminal justice system, gay, or poor.  The Family Leader tacitly supports the impossible notion that 13% (assuming all Black people are ruining the country) of the United States is ruining the remaining 87%.  Apparently, Black people are the most influential, prolific, and powerful beings in the United States–a race of gods amongst peons and ignoramuses.  How else could so few ruin so many?

(Sigh)

I’m growing very tired of reading stuff like The Marriage Vow, which was signed by two republicans who are running for president.  One of them is Kevin Santorum, who is typical in every way a politician normally is.  The other is Michele Bachmann whose husband I recently wrote about here.  For those of you who want so badly to be living in a colorblind society, here is yet another reminder that such a thing is impossible.  The absence of racists rhetoric–rhetoric as American as apple pie and lynchings–does not mean that racism or racist beliefs are gone.  We have all been instructed to be political correct.  I hate PC.  Political correctness is not the absence of hate or animosity or racism.  It is a set of mental shackles, socially applied in a benign fashion that impedes and restricts but ultimately cannot deny our true thoughts, emotions, and feelings.  Forgive me, but I miss the honesty of chattel slavery and Jim Crow.  The hate in the eyes and hearts of White people was genuine, unmasked, and visceral.  I grow tired of proving that those same emotions are in the hearts of many White people though scantily hidden by smiles and kind language.  I grow tired of the entire charade.