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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