Think it’s not about race? Thaddeus Howze explains what life is like for a Black man in the USA.
Found a wonderful collection of hate-filled racist tweets from Saturday ranging from cheering Zimmerman and the awesomeness of the American Justice system to being glad someone was standing up for White people and putting niggers back in their place. (Bear with me. If you know my work, I never use that word lightly.) Part of this is the internet promoting anonymous ass-hattery, most of these were fake accounts created for inciting and promoting anger and frustration. I know this because I have used Twitter long enough to know how to recognize fake accounts when I see them.
But the sentiments they voice are still quite real. The hands on those keys in anonymous places are connected to real honest-to-God (I know) racists, bigots and culturally-deprived idiots. More than half, probably have never left their state, and a good percentage of them, the county in which they were born. Most have never broken bread with the object of their hatred, let alone known one unless they were beating him over the head with a tire iron or raping her before dumping her body in a bayou.
Now why did I go there? Because ultimately this is the end result of such hate-filled rhetoric promoted by the powers that be. Hatred is an infection, it is a disease and like any good disease it needs multiple vectors, multiple ways of being transmitted. When hatred reaches the perfect point of transmission, it can be transferred anonymously through the internet itself, no longer a need for human contact. Its virulence refined, it can take shape in the very words used to spew it across the screen.
You might think you are immune. Many of you may believe you are free of hatred, but you are probably still a carrier even if you don’t actively display any of the hate-filled symptoms.
White privilege, the ability to participate in society without fear of being stopped by the police, without fear of having a legally mandated officer of the law, kick down your door, and arrest everyone in your home, find out they are incorrect and release you 48 hours later without an apology and without fixing your door. White privilege means you won’t find yourself shot to death (with 40 rounds no less) while reaching for your wallet, while across town a white vigilante marksman who is shooting up a city council meeting manages to be taken alive without firing a shot.
Is there an incongruency? Discontinuity? I can name dozens of these events almost without effort; a veritable litany of undermining, disenfranchisement, devastation and death. Watch this all of your life, embed this into the fiber of your being, find a way to cope around the cancer that is your nothingness in a land of plenty.
Don’t tell me you feel my pain. No, you do not know how the other half lives. Not even close.
Now for you people of color, your lesson is this: Hopefully, none of you are under the illusion that this is just a phase. This is a sampling of a greater problem in these United States. If you are a Black person who believes you are free, equal, or operate at the same level as the poorest white person in the land, YOU ARE MISTAKEN.
I know this is not what people want to hear. What they want is to experience is a cultural solidarity promised by the Statue of Liberty. We want to believe we are the poor and huddled masses yearning to be free. Well, we are partially right.
They keep us poor, deny us access to good and useful education, make us pay more for less education and use the education system to funnel us into the prison pipeline recreating the only legal form of slavery left. We are huddling, in our shacks, on the streets, in our cars, bereft of our homes, blackballed from work that is meaningful, that supports families, that builds legacies. So we have the poor and huddled parts just right.
Are you still yearning to be free? Damn right you are. Freedom from being shot in the street at will by any person who has a gun and the balls to use it. (Which today is just about everyone. There are states wanting to teach 5 year old children how to shoot a gun. WHY? have the playgrounds become a battlefield? Not yet.)
If you are black and male, chances are you are more likely to be killed by a registered member of a police department than by any other means in the United States. So the most dangerous thing to a young black man is… the police? What happened to protect and serve? Oh yes. That is a part of White privilege and we don’t have that.
Still yearning to be free? Yes, you are. Free to be able to name your children whatever you want and have them be able to get a job that does not screen them on the basis of whether they have good Christian names. How about getting a job based on their skills, not on whether they are potentially frightening because they happen to be a shade of brown darker than a paper bag? Can’t happen you say? There are states where the level of unemployment for Blacks is higher than 50%. This seems counter to the value placed on the unemployment level for white men at 6%.
Seems balanced, eh? Spare me the rhetoric of there being white unemployment at levels of 8-15% in various parts of the nation, because I know this already. In those same parts of the nation, Black unemployment is at 28-40% so I don’t feel your pain in the same way.
How many more young black men will the nation kill before you begin to realize this particular truth? The irony is I can say this and be considered angry and dangerous because I am Black but those racists, those self-styled defenders of American virtue right there will end up in positions of power through no particular merit other than their White skin and have the power to affect the lives of people of color, every day of their lives.
They won’t be as rude when they are older or in public, but it will not matter. They will still have the power to choose where people of color live, how they vote, the effectiveness of the employment, the quality of their juries, the state of schools in economically depressed areas, the quality of healthcare, the existence of government support programs.
And though the people they will harm when they manipulate those programs will mostly be poor whites, they are aiming their blow at Blacks. Their intent will be to harm Black and Brown people they have been conditioned to fear (and by proxy hate) their entire lives.
Is there an answer to counter this? Is there a solution? Honestly, I don’t know. I have spent fifty years trying to figure out why it is even this way in the first place, but I am done pretending THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IN AMERICA, BECAUSE IT IS APPARENT TO ANYONE WITH EYES, THERE IS.
And contrary to popular belief it has less to do with me as a person of color than with the institutions which have made the marginalization of People of Color a national pastime with roots as old as the nation itself. You want to complain Black people are what wrong with this nation? I disagree. What’s wrong with this nation is the pathological hatred of everyone not white and its pernicious effects on laws, policies and behaviors that steal from EVERYONE in this nation by keeping other HUMAN BEINGS from having the same rights, education, opportunities as the most elite and powerful whites in this nation.
Yes, I said it. Deal with it.
Every individual who is starving on a street corner somewhere due to a policy that says we should have more guns and less healthcare is a blow against human dignity. It is a form of racism and classism and good old-fashion fear based hatred. Every time you vote for a politician who says we should put people back to work while he gets paid for shipping a job to another country is another form of hatred of individuals he does not respect. Because if he did, he would be trying to find ways to improve the nation and the opportunities of everyone, not just his pocketbook.
We can find money for war without batting an eye. We can find money to create destruction, we can find money to attack and kill Brown people all over the planet. No industry moves with the speed and alacrity of the US military machine. No decisions get made in Congress with the clarity of going to war (except maybe during the sequester and they wanted to ensure they could get flight home).
Should we: Feed people? No. Build a bridge? No. Put a banker behind bars for engaging in what is clearly a fraudulent act? No. Investigate a series of banks accused of defrauding entire economies and bankrupting tens of millions? Okay. (And the punishment is to fine them the equivalent of an hour’s pay. They’re banks! THEY’RE MADE OF MONEY!)
Meanwhile people, not statistics, wander without work, without homes, without food, without money, without hope. When unemployment was at 25% during the Depression it was a national tragedy and they moved heaven and Earth to fix the problem. When unemployment for Blacks was at 35%, did anyone even notice? (Answer is no…in case you were wondering.)
This is not about me as a person of color. Every person who IS a person, who believes we all have the right to be happy, working, comfortable, engaged in our society and free from huddling and being hungry should be standing up and marching in the streets today. This is not just about Trayvon Martin (though partially, it is) it is about all of us.
The hatred that killed Trayvon Martin is killing you too. You are just too numbed by Snookie, American Idol, Pacific Rim, ESPN, whiskey, sex, or just too fucking stupid to realize it yet. There shouldn’t be a street in this nation that isn’t overflowing with people protesting ALEC, the NRA and the state of Florida and it’s criminal police department for allowing this travesty to take place under the guise of law.
There shouldn’t ever be a point in history where an armed man follows another unarmed man, confronts and harasses that unarmed man, suddenly finds himself in duress and being prepared to claim self defense, gets to kill the man being followed. Without consequence. Without conscience. Except there was. Again. Once upon a time they had dogs and followed Black men to return them to plantations, or to kill them for ogling a white women, or because they were bored and didn’t have anything to do that afternoon. In other words business as usual in America.
Adding insult to injury Zimmerman and clan are found saying some of the most hateful and terrible things I can imagine, with a straight face, without apology, with his family co-signing his spite. A vitriol so bitter it’s like rubbing salt into a flesh-eating bacteria wound. Which part of a fallen empire are you people not seeing? Is it the bread or the circuses part? Not so much bread anymore but thanks to Faux News, circuses, aplenty.
I am a Black man. I am used to walking out of my house with the idea I may not make it home tonight, though I have done everything right, been a legal citizen, paid my taxes, loved my family, respected my fellow man, even if he didn’t deserve it. I bite my tongue and mince my words to keep my job even when someone disrespects me and calls me nigger to my face in a private office when it’s just he and I and no one will believe he could say such a thing because he is an upstanding citizen of his community.
I am reconciled to the fact my family may have no recourse if a policeman decides he doesn’t like the cut of my jib, or if a random white man decides for whatever reason he is willing to risk the justice system (such as it is) and kills me. THIS HAS BEEN MY REALITY ALL OF MY LIFE.
I have no such illusions about fairness or parity of American Life. I have no illusions that I am equal when I apply for work, because I see it in their eyes when I show up at the door for the interview. (Oh, shit. He’s Black.) I can feel it in the limp handshake (disrespectful). I can see it in the glazed look and the lackluster interest.
I can see it in the eyeballing of watches or clocks in the room, eager for the event to be over so they can get on with the next better, whiter candidate who is going to be better qualified because he is white and will fit in better with the social and cultural schema established by her office manager who has been told by her director, indirectly that we are seeking a better fit of our employees with the corporate culture who has been told by his VP that we are not looking for people who haven’t been to an ivy league school who has been told by the CEO we only want the “best people”.
Euphemisms, every one of them. I understand that I can never be the best people in your eyes.
But, I am still better than THAT.
I guess there aren’t enough White people having been made hungry by bad policy yet. Not enough on them on the street, not enough children being shot, not enough food stamps being cut, not enough children being imprisoned, or dying, or committing suicide. I guess when you’re feeling more like second-class citizens, you may decide to stand up for what’s right and not just for what’s white.
I’ll be over here huddling, yearning to be free while you make up your minds…
© Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved
Originally appeared at Ebonstorm
Don’t take my word for a damn thing, read it for yourself.
Man convicted of shooting teenager, New York Times
Howard Morgan, Black Off-Duty Cop Shot 28 Times By White Chicago Officers – Black Cop, charged and sentenced to 40 years, Huffington Post
Watch Martin Bashir Sum Up The Trayvon Martin Travesty In Under 4 Minutes: