Opinion: I Cannot Disarm My Blackness

The moment you mention racial discrimination in this country, some recoil in horror. First, come the denials—because the people accused are not carrying a noose or wearing a hood. Next, the attempt to shut down the discussion with the two-word phrase ‘race card’ which has been replaced with the word ‘woke.’ Lastly, when all else fails, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “(Judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character)” is the final escape hatch. The conversation never advances because it is not confronted honestly. I remember when a white man or woman using the N-word was the breaking point, but that has been dispelled most recently with the revelation of Joe Rogan’s frequent use. A false debate rages in court as lawyers try and justify their clients’ blatant bigotry on social media and emails in the federal civil rights violation trial for the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery, Travis, and Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan.

Who among us does not believe that George Floyd’s murder would have been another unruly black suspect dead from his actions and resistance had there not been a video. A week ago, another white father and son shot at a young black man[D’Monterrio Gibson] delivering for FedEx because he would not stop and submit to their questioning. Shame on you if you think he should have just stopped and answered their questions. If you are white and two black men confronted your vehicle with guns, would you stop to be questioned? If this were an isolated incident, maybe you would have a case. A simple Google search of the number of times this has happened to black delivery drivers and workers is all too frequent. Generally, the excuse is; being Black had nothing to do with it; had they been white, the same reaction may have occurred.

Black people have used the phrase ‘had he been white…’ for various offenses. For black men like myself who have been followed in stores, refused cab rides, and watched women clutch their purses in elevators, the thought that all things are equal is insulting. A bold example of this occurred just this past week. In the Bridgewater Commons Mall in New Jersey, two teens, one white one Black, got into a fight. Two police officers [male and female] arrived. The officers pulled away the white teen and pushed him to a couch located on the concourse. The male officer then tackled the black teen to the ground, and together the two officers put knees in his back and handcuffed him. They had no idea if either teen were armed but felt safe leaving the white teen to his own devices. The common denominator in all four cases is that the men are black.

Part of the conversation that needs to be had is admitting that being black in some quarters makes you suspect. We all have the same fears. If I walk down a dark street with five black teens coming the other way, I cringe slightly. Not because they are black teens but because I am outnumbered. I am no more relaxed in the same scenario with white teens approaching because I still have to assess the possibilities. The difference is once those black teens are out of the shadows, they remain suspect because they cannot disarm themselves of their blackness.

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  • February 18, 2022