Anti blackness can be a subtle little bitch. Here’s an example…
So I’m in kind of in a funk right now. I ain’t depressed or emotionally scarred for life or no shit like that, recent events in my life have just put me in a temporary fucked up place… I’m a little sad, a little frustrated, a little combative and lost in thought pretty often.
So I’m at Quick Trip early yesterday afternoon, and as I’m walking out an older white man is coming in and, naturally, he holds the door open. Of course I’m in a mood and thus temporarily oblivious to how etiquette in human interaction works and I blow right past and out the door without acknowledging the guy. He says sarcastically, “Hey, you’re welcome pal!!!” (He couldn’t have sounded whiter if he tried… but I digress). Without even turning around, I shot my middle finger up at him and kept walking… not my finest moment, I know. Then he shouts, “ASSHOLE!!!”
Realizing I was the one being rude and I absolutely deserved that, I took a breath, let it go and kept it moving… But then…
This man (who I imagine had to do a quick recon and check the black ratio of his immediate surroundings before fixing his mouth) says something to the effect of…
“Way to set an example for your people!”
….. aaaaannnnnd I naturally turned around real quick ready to snap and he naturally (and quickly) walked is old pasty Mr. Rogers lookin face ass up in that damn QT and left me the fuck alone.
This is how racism – and specifically anti black racism (we got our own brand, y’all!) – can rear it’s ugly head in unexpected ways. What did “my people” and my presumed representation of them have to do with this exchange? Why would that even come up? Are white people never rude? Is anyone of any race or ethnicity not prone to having a bad day… or just a bad “fuck yo couch” moment? Could I have not just as easily been some idiot, mannerless white kid?
Let’s say I was…
If I was some aloof but non threatening white guy, he may have still been rightfully annoyed. He probably still would’ve had a stern word or two to say to me. But race wouldn’t have come up, I wouldn’t have been expected to shoulder the responsibility of representing all things “my folk” and he wouldn’t have left with an increased level of contempt for the black collective (he would still be little bigot mad but not big bigot mad).
Now this one man’s contempt isn’t my problem. A racist douche is going to be a racist douche. Let him go home and watch the Roots remake with an old 80s sitcom style laugh track playing in his head to sooth his butthurt for all I give a shit. But it is this anti black attitude that keeps our black bodies in a persistent position of danger.
This is why black students are suspended far more often than their white classmates and why them misbehaving is viewed more like a threat and less like garden variety teenage/adolescent angst.
This is why simple traffic stops quickly escalate to an arrest or brutality and bullets.
Even the angry black man/woman stereotype is based on nothing more than bias perception. It’s not so much about the frequency of witch we get angry as much as it is our flavor of anger. The fact is, white people have just as much of a chip on their shoulders as we do. Half the internet is white folk having a collective lose-our-shit-athon every time people of color achieve/receive even the most remote bit of social, financial or political gain in this country and certainly whenever the subject of white privilege or systemic racism is discussed in any forum (and especially the ones they aren’t invited to…. cuz that’s racist!).
Seriously, go to some hipster Starbucks or some ivy league college hangout or just any largely white populated area with your fellow black peers and just utter the words “White Privilege”. Shit doesn’t even have to be in context. You could be like “I was lucky enough to attend the last concert by the late Barry WHITE. What a PRIVILEGE!!”…and watch at least a few evesdroppers get all red in the face and start shouting in White Twitter hash tag: #NotAllWhitePeople #AllLivesMatter #IDontSeeColor #AfirmativeActionIsBlackPrivilege #IfIHavePrivilegeWhyDoesMyLifeSuck #INeverOwnedASlave #RacismWouldGoAwayIfYouPeopleWouldJustStopTalkingAboutIt #BlahBlahBlahBOOTSTRAPS
The truth is, white rage is just as American as apple pie, baseball and cultural appropriation. It’s the commodity that Fox News feeds on to hold the number one spot for most viewed news network. It will very likely elect the demagogue of all demagogues as our next president despite his utter lack of political experience and knowledge of… well… any fucking thing. White rage shapes our sociopolitical discourse more than anything else does but I’ll be dammed if it ever becomes a defining characteristic of white people.
So the white teen acting a damn fool in class is a young punk for sure but not necessarily an immediate disciplinary problem…
The white guy who gets out of his car and loses his shit on the cop who wrote him the $200 speeding ticket will always be far more likely to leave with a stern warning and a condescending “have a nice day, sir!” instead of ending up in hand cuffs or a body bag because they were “just having a bad day” whereas we make them “fear for their lives”.
And of course, the aloof but non threatening white guy who blew right past as you held the door then shot a bird at you when you called him on it is just an ass hole… Not a black ass hole… Not an ass hole that has failed his people by not setting a comfortable example… He’s just an ass hole.
It’s not so much that we have an attitude, it’s that we have a BLACK attitude… which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t much different than anyone else’s. They just don’t like our flair… our audacity to have the same kind of less than classy moments anyone and everyone can have.
Humaning while black can be a dangerous thing. Stay safe out there y’all.