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?


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?

Tim Tebow and the Joys of White Privilege

I’d like to proffer a little perspective on the run of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.

The NFL has a long history of redirecting would-be Black quarterbacks to other positions because these Black athletes were considered to be too athletic (whatever that means) or not intelligent enough to make the decisions that quarterbacks make.  (Ask Tony Dungy and Kordell Stewart).




The three gentlemen above are Steve McNair, Randall Cunningham, and Michael Vick.  All of these quarterbacks, and we could say the same of Vince Young and Cam Newton, were and have been a threat to run and a threat to throw.  Their games were and continue to be highly scrutinized, as fans and NFL pundits search for proof that these running Black quarterbacks are simply not NFL quarterback material.  When their teams lose, they shoulder the brunt of the responsibility–irrespective of their offensive output or quarterback rating.  People say, “He just didn’t get it done.” Continue reading

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black–by Tim Wise

(This post was authored by Tim Wise and was originally posted on http://ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com)

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.
So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Continue reading

Robert Downey Jr. is Supercallafragallisticcareerrecoveryfromdrugoverdoses!

I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  I consider Robert Downey Jr. to be an excellent actor.  He delivered a good performance in Iron Man, and in Tropic Thunder his character made the movie.  Gearing up to see Downey’s latest movie got me to thinking…this dude has been in a lot of movies recently–not just any movie, but good ones.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this dude arrested several times on drug charges?  Wasn’t he arrested for burglary? Continue reading

Kidnappers Set Free!

Not so long ago, me and others who are similarly positioned in society, were understandably upset about Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. being arrested in his own home after showing proof that he was, in fact, at home.  In that case, a White member of one of the least governed, state-sponsored terrorist organizations arrested an esteemed Black Harvard University professor, reminding us all that some citizens’ rights are curtailed even in their own homes.

I can recall reading plenty of backlashes from the White community, coming to the aid of the police officer.  Folk were claiming everything from the arrest wasn’t at all racially motivated, to Gates should’ve known better than to talk back to the police or to raise his voice or become annoyed or to feel indignant about the arrest.  Jim Crow is alive.

Well, let’s try this story on the race aversive out there…

Two White women decided that a school’s s Continue reading

Extreme Prejudice v. Racism: What’s the Difference?


In a recent discussion with an elder, I was reminded of the difference between racism and prejudice–no matter how extreme the prejudice may be.  Considering we have a biracial (yeah I said it) president and so much vitriol is being hurled against this man and his supporters, now is a good time to distinguish between racism and prejudice.

Beginning with prejudice, as I alluded to earlier, I was recently confronted with an extreme version of it.  The gentleman was a retired older Black man (elder) running a small business.  I asked him how he got into the business he was in, and he spoke briefly of his investment, and then he began to express the sincerest disdain for Latinos, or Mexicans, in particular.  He complained that they were stealing from him regularly despite several different locks having been installed.  I suggested that larceny was probably a top-down phenomenon, which included the White manager.  He nodded in agreement, but his focus was on the “dirty,” “filthy,” sneaky,” “willing to fuck  [read: “steal from”] their mother, their grandmother…” Mexicans whom he regarded as the mud in his eye.  With a fiery boldness that slowly backed me against a wall, this 5’8″ elder made me nervous while listening to him recount a threat he gave to a Mexican man.  He talked about how easy it is to kill Mexicans in Southern California, especially those with tattoos because the police would “take one look at all his tattoos and say, ‘Oh well.  One less one'” (Actually, that summation is eerily true, but I’ll come back to that).  This rather demure looking fellow dropped enough MF bombs to cause Bernie Mack to roll over in his grave!  He talked about how he’d decided to stop killing back in 1965, but apparently, Mexicans were trying his patience. Continue reading