I was going to preface this with a note about being “off-topic”, but race and class are not single-issues for black people. To be black, woman, and vegan is to be marginalized triple fold. We don’t have that luxury (see here), and since this is our blog, we get to post whatever we want to.
Now that Skip Gates is resting comfortably in Martha’s Vineyard (Picture that shit: Where can an urban black man go to recover from such a trauma?), charges having been dropped, I’m going to express my outrage at his presumption that he knows what it is to be a “black man in America”, based on this one experience. Professor Gates has not been THAT “black man in America” for over 20 years. Sure, he’s been documenting race and class in America, but his education has bestowed upon him a level of privilege that he has wholeheartedly embraced, effectively removing him from this particular category of “black man”.
So, while I am a product of a semi-bourgie upbringing – blurring the lines between uppity Negro/Oreo and “down sista”, enjoying the privilege of middle class and quality education alongside the duality and complexity of blackness, (see here, and here) and apologizing for none of it, I have no sympathy for Professor Gates’ ordeal at having been reminded of his blackness in this country and abroad. (Or Oprah Winfrey, for that matter: see here).
I find it amusing that black people should take this kind of injustice seriously.
What I would like to know is:
Why isn’t he outraged at the NEIGHBOR who called po-po on him in the first place?
Git dat bitch!
Ahem, um…You’ve been living there for TEN years and your neighbors don’t know you? This “neighbor” could see that “two black men with backpacks” were attempting to break in to a home, but she couldn’t see that one of them was indeed the owner in residence? She didn’t notice the car that belonged to the car service? She didn’t notice the uniform the cab driver was wearing? And when the cops showed up, and Professor Gates answered the door, where was she to say, “Oh, that’s my neighbor. He lives there.”?
(Interesting how no one was present at the event which caused his door to jam.)
If I called the police on suspicious activity going on at a neighbor’s house, you’d best believe I’d be outside when they arrived to make sure my neighbors and their house was OK. I wouldn’t put it on blast that I was the one who made the call, but I’d be outside looking like Nosy Nellie trying to get info.
Why is no one mad at that chick?
The problem I am having with this is not the police officer’s response – I don’t agree with his behavior, but I understand and will get to that later – but with the reaction of Professor Gates and the community at-large.
‘Cuz bourgie Negroes like to think that higher education, white-collar jobs, and suburban living is akin to a spiritual experience that allows them to transcend race. They seem to think that racial profiling doesn’t – and should not – happen to well-dressed, well-spoken (cringe) and poised black people.
What does a white man call a black person with a PhD.?
(Ask Bill Cosby.)
And if Professor Gates is so clear on what it means to be a black man in America, and knew to keep his ass in his house as he went for his wallet, why did he then follow the cop outside to continue to question him? Why didn’t he close his door and immediately find the number to the precinct and lodge a complaint?
Why did he – educated privileged black man and all, feel the need to “jump bad” with po-po?
Every time I hear of someone exclaiming, chest all puffed out no doubt, “Do you know who I am?” or “I will have your job”, my imagination swells with the hope of a little Divine Intervention to straighten out that kind of audacity.
I imagine the police officer, upon hearing those words, feeling condescended to, and thinking, OK, Mr. Harvard Professor, you want to tell me who you are? No problem. I got a trick for dat ass.
Ahem…Excuse me. This is as much about class as it is about race. Police Officer – working class. Harvard Professor – upper class.
I do not condone the officer’s behavior.
But, who are we mad at?
Did we think having a black-identified President would change things?
Did anyone think that they would wake up on January 21st to find that all forms of racism magically disappeared?
What I would like to know is:
Why do black people continue to expect all white people to accept black progress?
Why do we support businesses who do not make investments in our communities?
Why do we continue to support misogynistic, self-hating music?
Why do we support businesses who have historically denied us full access and publicly announce their dislike of us?
Why do we insist on moving to predominately white suburbs, instead of holding each other accountable to create communities that support a positive, life-affirming experience for black people?
I’m not saying that black people do not have the right to move where they want to and work towards a quality of life of their design, BUT, if you’re going to put yourself in that kind of environment, you’d better be willing to handle the consequences.
No one owes black people anything.
Black people have been here long enough that they should own everything they need, instead of waiting for white folks to apologize and hand out reparations.
Black people keep asking, and white folks keep showing us the door.
The back door.
There are black people in this country with enough money to pool their resources and buy their own zip codes.
Be outraged that predominately black schools are graduating students that can barely read.
Be outraged that predominately black neighborhoods, even affluent ones, do not have access to fresh, quality produce.
Be outraged at BET.
Be outraged that black people continue to perpetuate a slave mentality around their sexual health.
Be outraged that black people are more likely to die at the hands of another black person than by a police officer.
Be outraged at the loss of black-owned farms.
Be outraged that the money black people make does not stay in their communities.
Be outraged that Koreans dominate ownership in the black haircare market.
Be outraged that black men do not think they should wear their pants at the waist.
Be outraged at the housing scams causing elderly black people to lose their homes.
Be outraged at all black people losing their homes to mortgage scams.
Be outraged that it is easier for a non-resident immigrant to open a business in a predominately black neighborhood before a black person who lives there can.
Be outraged that black people are dying every day from diseases that can be prevented through adequate nutrition and exercise.
Be outraged that black people collectively do-nothing, but complain when someone from the “outside” comes in and sets up.
Be outraged that black people do not share information that can help other black people before they “get theirs”.
Be outraged, and do something about it.
As long as middle and upper class black folk continue to defer race and class injustice to their undereducated and “classless” cousins, I will have no sympathy for the “injustices” inflicted upon them.