“Being”…while Black or Brown or Native or Immigrant.
The Danger for People of Color just “Being”
Before social media, assaults against Black bodies was shared through the “grapevine”. Accurate history tells us about people being arrested, assaulted and killed based upon just being Black. Patently false accusations can lead to civilian convictions and public executions. The vigilantees who brutally murdered Emmett Till based their “justice” on a lie cooked up by Carolyn Donham. Even if Emmett had whistled at her, did that justify a death sentence?
Joseph Spell’s story wasn’t widely known, until the movie, Marshall, was released. It is another compelling story of the battle of (Black) he said (White) she said. What’s old becomes new again, in that the movie paid subtle, but meaningful homage to the racism 2.0 we all face, by having a cameo appearance of Trayvon Martin’s parents and their attorney at the end.
The headlines are exhausting. The historic flag, “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday”, has given way to real-time reports of accusations, attacks & arrests of people who are just being in this country. We, Black people, breathe and walk and eat and work and study and vacation like everybody else (enhanced by our own swag). That melanated swag triggers some folks to try to stop us on all fronts.
#LivingWhileBlack is dangerous. That should be criminal; but, it is in these times.
#CouponingWhileBlack from a Log Cabin Republican CVS Employee
#GraduatingWhileBlack at #UniversityofFlorida 2018
#AirBNB-ingWhileBlack in #RialtoCA
#BuyingMentosWhileBrown in #OrangeCountyCA
#VisitingCollegesWhileNative in #FtCollinsCO
#ShoppingWhileBlack in #StLouisMO
#WaitingWhileBlack in Starbucks #PhiladelphiaPA #ExercisingWhileBlack in #LAFitness in #SecaucusNJ
#GolfingWhileBlack in #GrandviewGolfCourse in #YorkCountyPA
#NappingWhileBlack at #YaleUniversity
#HighSchoolWhileBlack at #OlentangyLibertyHighSchool in Ohio
#ChildhoodLearningWhileBlack in #WashingtonDC
And, we have to add:
And as much as society has painted an inaccurate narrative about Black fathers being present in their children’s lives (Yes, fake news believer, Black fathers are actually MORE present), we have a Black father being stopped for #BeingAGoodParentWhileBlack
But, to be scrutinized for community service is just another low added to the list of lows:
#CommunityServiceWhileBlack to the list from #Pennsylvania.
While I was compiling this list — mainly out of frustration — I heard the report about folks #PicnicingWhileBlack in #Oakland and I see I’m not the only one keeping track.
Just Being is exhausting.
Then we learn that even #EatingWhileBlack at #WaffleHouse after prom is another no-no?
And the absurdity of #CornerstoreCaroline, who falsely accuses a chils of sexual assault.
#GoingHomeWhileBlack is bad?
And being at home can be deadly. Remembering the murder of Botham Shem Jean, by a police officer in Dallas.
Thank God for evidence, but the damage is done — and, too often, the evidence won’t even be enough to get a conviction. When a jury, elected officials and authorities are committed to bias rather than truth, how do Black people fight. A society that rather believe inaccurate narratives about Black people, than hard evidence, is a tough adversary. Where will this end? A society that ignores truth & facts is a failing society.
…Because the land of the free and home of the brave continues to allow racism to turn lives upside down. We have become a sunken place for non-white people.
Too many people have been brainwashed to believe that Black = bad.
The Price of Bigotry
I wonder how those reprimanded for their racist coffee shop managing or graduation celebration patrolling feel after being punished for their blatant bigotry. Do they get on the #TrumpTrain? Were they already converts, who stand by bigoted beliefs? Are they high-fived by family and friends for lifting up their tiki-torch illuminated racism?
When racists lose their job, get fined or reprimanded, is there a support group for them? Do they create their own community: #FiredWhileRacist?
Racial profiling against Muslim (and those “appearing” to be) trumped profiling Black people (briefly), following 9/11. It became the American way, then, like profiling “potential immigrants”, today. America desire to label and demonize populations increases.
From the assault agains the Taino to the assisination of Trayvon, yes, this IS America. And it WAS America, when Native populations were slaughtered. And, it WAS America when slaves we’re brutalized. And, it WAS America when unknown numbers of Black people were lynched without much (if any) condemnation by the masses or recompence by the nation. and it IS America, which seems to be increasingly comfortable with ostracizing people of color.
Lest We Forget
The book and touring exhibit, Without Sanctuary, captured the heinous images of Black people lynched, burned, bludgeoned, dismembered in communities across the country — by Americans. Modern day media told and showed the horrible foreign terrorists, who committed vile acts against various people (including Americans) in recent years. But, those terrorists were as criminal as those who committed similar — and WORSE — acts against Black, Brown and Native people on these shores — in America’s past and present.
The National Memorial for Peace & Justice memorializes the long over-due, under-told and nearly (conveniently) forgotten history of lynchings of Black:
It was vile. It WAS America.
Lynchings were used to strike fear in Black people. People who make you feel terrorized and unwelcome in your own skin are also terrorizing us. From 1936–66, NYC mailman Victor Hugo Green created the Negro Motorist Green Book, to inform Black people about places they would feel welcomed while traveling — we didnt need to spend our money where we weren’t wanted or where we felt unsafe. A list of “approved” places for one race sounds like a story of the past, best archived in the National Museum of African American History & Culture, right? Just like in the era, of Sundown Towns, it is beginning to feel unsafe to just Be when you are a person of color. It’s often said, when you don’t know your history, you may be doomed to repeat it — we are being doomed. Is America becoming an Apartheid or Nazi Nation? Do you want to live in a homogenized nation, where othering & ostracizing those who don’t fit the preferred profile becomes the norm?
🛑 Labeling Us
It is horrible for anyone to be labeled, profiled, stereotyped based upon the perceptions about others who are like “them”. But, it happens all too often. We compartmentalize biases and labels too easily. Presuming a woman welcomes unprovoked advances, because “she’s a woman”, is as wrong as adopting a blanket racial/ethnic perception for someone because they are ___________ or look______(fill in the blanks).
It certainly doesn’t help when people of “authority” validate, in words, and legislate, through policies, those same biases — whether overtly or covertly. And, face it, racists don’t need hoods any more.
You cannot erase, bleach, disown or marry racism away (Kanye). And if you could, why not fight harder to erase racism instead of switching teams? Ta’Nehesi Coates weighs in on the new racial category called Kanye. Sooner or later, though, he’ll find that his skin tone places the race of Kanye into the category that draws cop calls — the one that is unwelcomed in a number of places around the world. There’s not enough skin whitening or re-classification verbiage that can change racism. As Childish Gambino puts it, this is America — and, unfortunately, too much of the world.
Ban Racism — and Racists
Even if racism lived in one place, it’s impact spreads like a pandemic or tainted lettuce. It must be attacked at its source — find oit where its growing and stop it. Get to the roots of racism, wherever it may be planted and nurtured. (Re)Commit to getting rid of it and those who endorse/condone/promote it. More people, of all backgrounds, need to understand the societal impact of structural racism — its real and systemic in 2018. And you (or a loved one) could be the next category vilified, when isms are allowed to go unchecked.
Racism should never feel welcome in our society. Do your part to kick racism out — everywhere — if you really want to #BeBest. Choose your side.