A Letter From a Pain-Filled Heart to White People of America

Suppose you were told that later on in the day, you would be stopped by a white police officer for an alleged traffic violation. But before you got into your car you would have to decide to either remain white or suddenly look every bit as African-American as can be [dark skin, full lips and kinky hair]. Which of the two [and you must choose one or the other] would you choose to be? In your heart of hearts, what would be your choice? Why? Why not? But before you answer, please note that the Washington Post, in June 2016, found that blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than whites.[see also: The Guardian – Black Americans Killed by Police Twice as Likely to be Unarmed as White People]

Other data indicate that blacks are more likely to be stopped and frisked by police than whites even though they are less likely to have contraband than their white counterparts [this according to data coming out of the city of New York and other municipalities]. Each encounter with the police creates the possibility of a deadly outcome — especially for black people. Thus, I suspect, that most whites would rather be white when they encounter white police officers.

Since the advent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, many whites [or their colorfied servile surrogates — the type Harriet Tubman would have left face down dead in the mud because they would have warned “masssa” about her plot to help other slaves run away] have responded by saying “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”. Such a response reflects an inane line of thinking. After all, if “All Lives” really did “Matter” then the likes of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philander Castille, Walter Scott and too many more, would not have been victims of lethally immoral police actions. A cursory review of available government data clearly reveals that there are some lives that do not matter as much as others. To illustrate:

What if those unarmed black victims were white and the officers who killed them were black? And what if the officers were almost never indicted or if indicted, almost never convicted? How would white America react? Here is what history tells us: From 1882 to the 1960s almost 5000 blacks were lynched for crimes or alleged crimes. Many of them were either innocent of a crime or were lynched before they enjoyed due process that would have been afforded whites. The cases are well documented. [From 1882 to 1901 there were an average of 150 lynching per year; from 1924 to 1955 no more than 30 per year] The reasons for lynching ranged from sending an “indecent” note to a white girl or owning land that might have oil on it or talking back to a white man to alleged rape or murder.

That is not to say those hypothetical black police officers would be summarily taken outside, bound, mutilated, hanged and burned as were blacks for almost a hundred years but they surely would be indicted, convicted and sentenced to the maximum. KKK membership would soar and FOX news would be at the forefront of a sustained campaign to do something about “the blacks”. White America would not tolerate a string of killings of whites by black police officers. White lives matter more than any other lives in America. There is no need to form an organization called, “White Lives Matter” because everybody already knows it.

A typical response by many white people about “Black Lives Matter” is, “What about black-on-black crime?” That response lacks the weight of a cogent argument. For one, it serves to deflect from the point under discussion. The issue is the killing of black people by white people who have taken an oath to protect and to serve. The black guy who robs me has not taken such an oath. This argument is also weak in that “black on black” crime is predominantly a function of poverty and poverty among blacks has long been established to be an inextricable function of white racism which has historically and currently denied many of us access to jobs, education, healthcare, affordable housing. To deny or dismiss this connection and reality is to prefer ignorance and or the comfort of a racist’s view.

Which is why whenever I am stopped by the police, I wish I were white. If I resist arrest, or flee, or curse at them, I am very likely to not be shot or choked. Or, if I cooperate and be nice, I still will not be shot. At the very worst, the encounter may be brutal but far less likely to be lethal. Being white would have its privileges one of which would be that police would protect and serve me. If I were white my life would absolutely matter without question.

To conclude: It is easy to blame the victim and exonerate the perpetrator in the name of “they put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve.” Though not publicized as much by the media, blacks do protest and bemoan crime in their neighborhoods more often than police criticize their batch of bad cops. Too many police officers simply refuse to break ranks and stand against their “brothers in blue” who go rogue. To be sure, there are criminals in the black community and there are criminals among law enforcement. We in the black community do not try to defend those criminals, so why, all too often, do police try to defend their criminals?

In the past, whenever law enforcement investigated lynchings, if they did at all, the investigation would conclude that death was caused by “persons unknown” or “suicide.” Today, investigations often make determinations that exonerate white police officers by asserting that the officer “feared for his life.” Feared because the victim was running away, or the victim was handcuffed and on his stomach, or the victim struggled trying to breathe, or the victim tried to run him down while the car was in park, or to cite the one reason that is not spoken but applies more than any other reason, the victim was black. And how dare we be black!

Published in: on July 9, 2016 at 10:38 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Gweneth Paltrow, Jay Z and the “N word”

[The following is an excerpt from an essay in my book, “Why They Think I’m Crazy – Except When They Really Think About It” in response to a recent tweet by Gweneth Paltrow about her experience with Jay Z during a concert in Paris, France.]

If denying the holocaust can be deemed a serious crime, why can’t we as Black people “outlaw” the use of the word that was designed to paint us as less than a piece of used toilet tissue that White bigots used to wipe their asses? Our use of the word, even within a different intent or context, does not in any manner render it acceptable, no more than a Jew wearing a swastika to a Halloween party changes what it stands for. The “N-word” is forever contaminated and heinous; it is offensive to all the senses as well as to the moral sensibilities of anyone with even a half a sense of self-respect – its context notwithstanding. 

From time to time, there has been much debate and controversy about the use of the word, “N_ _ _ _ _” (written hereafter as the  “N-word”), especially in the Black community in the US. By “N-word,” I specifically refer to the word that rhymes with “bigger” and is most often pronounced by Black people as rhyming with the word, “bigga.” Either pronunciation carries the same weight1 and either pronunciation is used to refer to African American Blacks. The use of the word within the African American Black community has generated tremendous heat between the camp that believes the word to be colloquial and acceptable or demeaning depending on the context versus the camp that believes the word to be inflammatory, degrading and revolting no matter the context. Hence the question: Should Blacks embrace the word as having various shades of meaning or should we eschew it with disdain at all times?


That word conjures up an image of what many White people judged to be foul, scornful, contemptible, revolting, despicable, loathsome and evil – or stated otherwise – what those White people thought of Black people. Not Jews, not people of the First Nations, not Latinos, or other non-Whites. This term was designed to reflect many White people’s view of Blacks – all Blacks – not just unscrupulous, low-life Blacks – all Blacks no matter if they were fathers, mothers, children, lawyers, business owners, physicians, teachers, President of the United States. As long as they were Black, they were considered an “N-word.”

Yes, I understand words and their definitions can change because language is vibrant and dynamic, but that particular word has not (because it cannot) morphed into a word so different in meaning that its original meaning is lost or its definition appropriately expanded. In short, no amount of using it in a different context can rid it of it foul-smelling, feculent stain despite the fact most Whites today do not view Black people in the same way those of previous generations did.

In other words, no matter how much we as Black people use the word in a different more benign or affectionate context, its original meaning looms large in ways that cannot be ignored or obfuscated. The word cannot be sanitized because its original meaning is stamped into stone. Not even “God” – so to speak can change the meaning of that word.

Black people who use the word – whether referring to other Blacks or not – demean their own humanity and continue to give life to the original and only meaning of the word – one of contempt and scorn for all Black people. Not even the worst of the worst of Black people deserve to be called by such a word because in its origins it meant that all Blacks were less than their White counterparts or any other humans – including most animals. The word meant Blacks were less than the slimy droppings of a pigeon. It was irrelevant to the racists that Black people are no worse than White people and that White people are no better than Black people.

Consider this: History tells us that, for some Jews, the name of their “God” was considered too sacred for any one to even utter. On the opposite end of the continuum, I believe the “N-word” is too despicable for any one, especially Black people, to utter or write.

Continuing with a similar path of reasoning, it is currently a crime punishable by imprisonment, in more than a dozen European nations, to deny the holocaust. The holocaust was one of humanity’s darkest displays of raw evil. Drawing a parallel (at least in my mind): To use the “N-word” constitutes not only a flagrant minimizing of the history of slavery in White America and the subsequent Jim Crow laws, but also an overt approval of all forms of White racism against Blacks. A Black person using the word is tantamount to a Black person joining the Ku Klux Klan at best or eagerly helping them to find the rope to lynch you with, at worst.

1 For those who think the pronunciation makes a difference, I present the words “floor” versus “flo,”  “more” versus “mo” or “it came loose” versus “it came a loose.” In short, the second pronunciation is simply the “ghetto” or “ebonic” way of pronouncing the word. The meaning remains the same.

Published in: on June 13, 2012 at 5:13 AM  Leave a Comment  
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