Racism really only goes one direction mostly

Remember when white people thought that Obama’s election meant we got rid of racism? Remember how cute that was? Well, I hope you’re getting ready for some more cuteness! Whenever 45 leaves office you won’t even be able to count the number of talking heads and think pieces talking all about how we got rid of racism again! But you can bet your post-racial ass that that’s not how any of this works.

All things are not even. Racially motivated attacks went up when Obama was elected. Then 45 got elected and what do you think happened?

They went down.

Just kidding. They went up the next fucking day because it only ever goes in one direction.


Last week, while at work, a young, Black woman was attacked by a white man. The woman, Yasmine James, was employed by McDonald’s and the white man was a customer, demanding a plastic straw. Here’s CNN’s article about it.

The first line is, “A new plastic straw law had unexpected consequences when a man lashed out at a worker at a fast food chain.”

Now, first of all, you know goddamn well that his lashing out was a very expected consequence of a misogynist and racist culture of violence, but CNN doesn’t see that. Even looking right at it, the most open minds seem to only say, “Good for her! She got her shots!” But that’s a problem, too.

In that statement is the idea that Black women are tougher than the rest. We accept that idea on falsely natural terms, without any type of context. We never ask why that could possibly be. We don’t consider that a system’s neglect and persecution would force some to either die or defend themselves against the terror and abuses unseen by those with systemic protections. No, instead we look on with idiotic admiration as though that’s just the beauty of Mother Nature’s obvious intentions. We don’t protect Black women. We arrogantly and condescendingly applaud from a soothing distance while they, alone are compelled to protect themselves.

By accepting the idea that Black women are naturally (or genetically) tougher, we accept the idea that they do not need the rights and protection guaranteed to them as people. In so doing, we also remove their humanity, implying that they don’t even experience natural human emotions, like fear.

So, sure, she whooped his ass. And, yes, it’s because she’s a badass, but that is beside the point. The point is that it is unacceptable to require that of her or any other Black woman.


Imagine a small, belligerent man. Imagine him yelling in the face of a much bigger man. Imagine the much bigger man being very patient with the small, belligerent man. The much bigger man tells the small, belligerent man to walk away, but he refuses and continues being belligerent. You’ve probably seen something like this before. You know how it turns out. Usually the much bigger, formally patient man takes the small, belligerent man, puts him out like a cigarette and you wonder why the small, belligerent man ever thought it could’ve gone any other way.

Now imagine the same scenario from the beginning, except the much bigger man is a police officer. Now imagine the much bigger police officer is telling the small, belligerent man to walk away because he’s obstructing an investigation. But the small, belligerent man refuses, saying something like, “I’m gonna stand right here and talk however I want because this is fucking America!” Or something like, “Back up offa me, bitch!”?

This one’s a little harder to visualize. Not only could this much bigger cop put the small, belligerent man out like a cigarette, but, you know, the police kill about a thousand people a year because they’re pretty much allowed to. It’s kind of a silly situation to imagine, but that’s me. I’m a Black man. Every run-in I have with the police I do my level best to get through as easily as possible. Even if I was white, though, I still don’t think I could believe that the state-sanctioned power of my skin color would out match the cop’s state-sanctioned license to kill.

But what if I was white and the cop was Black? Could my skin tone allow me to then behave as though I had authority over any Black man despite his station in life? I mean, yeah. Absolutely. I could totally see that. And so can you, right here.

Yup. That happened. A small, belligerent, white man was told by a much bigger, Black cop at least five times to “keep walking” because he was obstructing an investigation. And the small, belligerent, white man refused.

What if the possession of the badge been reversed? How many times do you think that command would’ve been given before the gun came out?

The small, belligerent, probably drunk, white man resisted arrest. A lot. Again, reverse possession of the badge and how much resistance happens before the gun comes out? We don’t need to reverse it. We’ve seen it. A disproportionate amount of times. This situation is the reversal.

Whiteness allowed that small, belligerent—probably drunk—white man to obstruct a police investigation, defy police commands, curse out a police officer to his face, resist arrest and survive just the same as it allowed that motherfucker in McDonalds to assault Yasmine James.

Whiteness allowed that same motherfucker in McDonald’s to later call the cops and falsely claim he had been robbed by a group of Black people just the same as it allowed that small, belligerent, probably drunk, white man to talk on the radio like he’s giving his own arrest a goddamn Yelp review.

And whiteness makes me wonder if Yasmine and the cop will get to keep their jobs because, like I said before: This really only ever goes in one direction.

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When white male supremacy ruins toughness itself

Toughness. It’s about standing back up more times than you’ve been knocked down. It’s about facing down the odds stacked against you. It’s about withstanding pain and suffering for a greater good. It’s a theme at the core of these United States. In our myths toughness is John Wayne and Rocky and Ford trucks. We love it in our myths, but in reality, toughness is Fred Hampton, Fanny Lou Hamer and the Poor People’s Campaign. America hates toughness in reality.

We used to all agree on the basic idea that toughness itself was a particular mix of strength and resilience. Even if you hated the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.at the time, his continuous risings up from brutal public beatings displayed a toughness that you couldn’t deny. Say whatever you want, do whatever you want; he would never be made to cower. If you hated him, you hated him for the obvious reasons, but you were outraged by his toughness.

Having a common understanding of toughness is important because it means we also have a common understanding of pain and suffering. This is especially important now as white liberals are beginning to understand how consistently conservatives refuse to go along with reality. Like, at least twice a day I see a post about how aggravating it is that “they don’t even believe in science!” As if that kind of thinking is new.

But a common understanding of pain and suffering has always been there. The same pain and suffering was intended with the words said against both MLK and Colin Kaepernick for their protests, though they were decades apart. Chants of “white power!” soon followed chants of “Black power!” just the same as chants of “all lives matter!” soon followed chants of “Black lives matter!” all for the sake of continuing the pain and suffering. But like I said, we used to all agree.

It’s perfectly reasonable to put a quick-draw, steel-jaw, damsel-saving cowboy with a slow-win, steel-chin, redemption-seeking boxer under the umbrella of toughness. But what if I told you that under that umbrella I was also going to put a silver-spooned, lying whiner? All things being equal, you’d probably tell me that I didn’t quite understand the purpose of umbrellas.

But all things aren’t equal. From the first moment he toyed with running for president in 2011 until right now, republicans’ favorite thing about the Commandorange in Chief has always been his toughness. Or should I say, “toughness” as in “hair?”

Now, look. Before I get too far here, no, this isn’t about what a liar the president is. If you haven’t figured out who he is by now, then you need to find Jesus. Also, this isn’t about what hypocrites the republicans are. If evangelical support of the president hasn’t shown you that by now, you ought to take them with you on your search.

And no, it’s not about how divided our nation has become—not how we currently frame that idea, anyway. When it comes down to it, there’s really only one truly divided group: white men. Black people aren’t divided over whether or not#BlackLivesMatter. Women aren’t divided over #MeToo. People without equal rights aren’t divided over whether or not they want equal rights. It’s only the people they want to be equal to who aren’t quite so sure. And right now, those people don’t even agree on the definition of toughness. This means they also don’t agree on the meanings of pain or suffering, either.

They probably never did, but like the rest of these divisions, it’s only become clear recently. Some white men define toughness the same across all social lines, but some define it as cruelty toward others. We’ve been seeing this for a while here in Maine under our soon-to-be ex-governor Paul LePage.

LePage’s exploitations are widely known. His actions have also hurt women and children while simultaneously helping along the opioid epidemic, and that’s just with one set of vetoes on a Wednesday in April. The arguments LePage gives to support his decisions probably sound very tough to his supporters, but man oh man are they just objectively the straight up whinings of a shitty kid. If you’ve ever heard his voice, then you know the tone I’m talking about. If you haven’t, please don’t.

But some do believe him to be tough. They feel the same about the “president” and in that belief, these fools have thrown away the very last bit of their national identities. Because inside toughness is stoicism and sacrifice and nobility and modesty—but now, no more. How can you respect the sacrifice and nobility, the toughness of a Purple Heart recipient if whining and bone spurs are also included in the definition?

The truth is that even toughness, the very core of American Exceptionalism itself, was just another and perhaps the last remaining veil of white supremacy in the American Myth. John Wayne, Rocky and Ford did their best, but it’s all out in the open now and everyone can see their (white) national(ist) identities for what they are.

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Speak truth of the dead and the living

The idea of “Make America Great Again” bothers me. It bothers me for all the obvious reasons, like there is no Again for minorities or women. It also bothers me because I think liberals now have their own version of MAGA and the Again is just prior to 2016.

At the time of this writing, George H.W. Bush has just died and people are eulogizing him like was the most beneficent spirit to ever grace all of God’s holy design, and I get that if you’re a republican. If you’re a republican you’ll eat as much shit as they feed you as long as you think someone else has to eat more, but I’m talking about liberals.

If you are one of those liberals mourning the loss of George H.W. Bush, The Great Man, but you hate our current president, I need you to ask yourself why. Is it because he ran a racist campaign? Is it because he put a justice on the Supreme Court who is an offense to all women? Is it because of the many cover-ups? Maybe it’s the obstruction of justice? Is it the presidential pardons he hands out to his friends? Is it the stupidity he brings into the White House?

I keep hearing this liberal MAGA shit, like Bush was a class act and a reminder that politics used to be more respectable. That worries the fuck out of me. It makes me think that if we ever do get rid of our current president, it won’t be because he’s destroying the country and the world. Instead it will be because we’ve bought into classism (and therefore racism), had our snobbish sensibilities offended by a mannerless scoundrel, so let’s get rid of him, pat ourselves on the back and return to the old ways of destroying the world.

Without even getting into the dynasty problem, George H.W. Bush was objectively awful, but if we write the history books and leave all of that out, I won’t be surprised. We do it all the time.

Here’s an example:

Most of us loathe the fact that the president was born into the elite. We hate his outright, repeated, unapologetic, public racism that he so arrogantly doubles down on. We’re disgusted by his sniveling apologies after he goes too far—even for his own base. We feel helpless as he attempts to make the rich richer, while trying to take the healthcare from millions. We’re horrified by his cozying up to dictators – and confused when he petulantly body-shames them. We’re frustrated that the head of the “family values” party has had such cruel infidelities. We’re furious at his non-stop attempts to take the rights from minorities and gay people and women. But, you know, sometimes he’s on Saturday Night Live, so…

Remember the president’s response to the Pulse nightclub shooting?

“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, Al Qaida went to Syria, became ISIS. And ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures, utter failures, by pulling everybody out of Iraq. So the responsibility for it lies with President Barack Obama and his failed policies.”

Yeah. Somehow that was a real response to the Pulse nightclub shooting.

How about that time—in front of reporters—when his wife teased him about his hair and he replied, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.”

How about that republican Supreme Court unity thing before the 2016 election?

“I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”

Actually, that last quote was from John McCain. Also, so was the quote about the Pulse nightclub shooting. And the quote involving his wife’s makeup. In fact, plot twist, I was talking about John McCain the whole time! McCain was born into the elite. He has arrogantly doubled down on his outright, repeated, unapologetic, public racism. I say unapologetic, but that’s just until his base thought he went too far (or not far enough). Then he’d snivel with the best of them. He definitely helped the rich get a lot richer while taking the healthcare away from millions. And McCain loved him some dictators! Others, oddly, he petulantly body-shamed. And yup, for a “family values” kinda guy, he sure had some cruel infidelities. And naturally, he spent his career attempting to keep rights away from minorities, gay people and women.

These men were not respectable. They were not heroes. They were everything we say we hate, but like the portraits on our money, they were also rich, white and men, which we love. If we want to be better, we need to be honest about that and stop it. We need to admit that harm is harm, no matter how nice the person harming you seems. We need to change and we cannot change if we don’t admit what we were. Or what we are.

If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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