Monday, October 9, 2017

Being Black in White People's Imagination

Today is the one-year anniversary of those fateful presidential debates. Looking back, it's amazing how black people are seen as a political and socio-economic problem. To both candidate and white conservatives as well as liberals, "Black issues" are crime, death, and poverty. On the national stage, when blackness is brought up it is if someone is shot, someone is dying, someone is committing a crime, someone needs something. Hell is black, and heaven is a gentrified suburb with high walls. If you have anything critical to say about the dehumanization of 20 million Americans, the knee-jerk alt-right response is simple: "why aren't you saying anything about Chicago? Aren't black people dying in Chicago? Fix Chicago!" They don't really care about Chicago any more than they care about 'blue lives' or 'all lives matter.' They know that Chicago can never be "fixed" (whatever that means) by just the black residents, because the crime is being committed out of a sense of disempowerment, anger, and hopelessness. The people demonized are the ones who have no control over their economic system, police force, or education. And no one on the left ever screams back 'well Fix Flint," or "Reparations for Black Wall Street" or "remember when we created 90% of American music, poetry, culture, civil rights movements, modern medicine and surgery, and the struggle for justice and fulfilling the promise of the nation's founding documents," or "remember that we fought in every single war for freedom, even though we were denied our own, and that most of the country as well as the nation's capital was not only built by black hands, but designed by black architects and engineers, and you're welcome."

Some times I look at myself through their eyes. I see a black man who lives in the rough and tough inner city of West Hollywood and Williamsburg. I have worked on the violent streets of the Paramount Studio and CBS TV. I have 4 imaginary kids by 3 non-existent baby mamas. I have cop-killing superpowers every time I walk through white people's imagination.

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