When someone tells me they are afraid of black men, of me, it does not compute.
I am not enraged by them. I am dumbstruck by them. Baffled even. Afraid of me? Are you serious? How dare you. The unmitigated gall. The unbridled temerity. The out-sized hubris of such foolishness. In a nation where mere decades separate us from many centuries of some of the most monstrous, fully sanctioned, by social norm and government agencies, atrocities visited upon a group of people in modern history, you are afraid of me? In a nation where I had to be trained how to survive a traffic stop by my father as a rite of passage in to teenager-dome. For an individual with even a tenuous comprehension of this nation’s history to even attempt to hold up that a black man is a threat on sight, with no background information, to be feared on sight is an exercise in absurdity. In a nation where it seems a week or month cannot pass without an unarmed black woman or man being killed, for nothing at all to misdemeanors, by those entrusted to serve and protect while those who shoot up and murder many in movie theaters, political press conferences, military bases, etc. somehow manage to be taken in to custody quite alive and then provided the base right of a trial where their fate is placed in the hands of their peers? I dismiss this as utter nonsense. No. Whatever you see on the evening news or no matter what slight you believe has been visited upon your person I have an unending treasure trove of rebuttals at my disposal.
But… I am not afraid. I am not angry.
Not because I would not be justified in feeling so, but because I refuse to be afraid or angry.
My father taught me to be smarter, not angrier. He taught me that a common tactic is to agitate, obfuscate, irritate, and even attempt to intimidate and wait for an out-sized outburst. Then once enraged I would be upgraded from uppity to angry. I was taught to educate myself traditionally, where my parents made it clear that college was not optional, and to continue learning by being a student of my surroundings and experiences at every given opportunity throughout life. Weakness is found in ignorance.
I was raised by two powerful parents who, despite having grown up in the rural South, were filled with hope, power and promise. Not just for me. Not just for them, but with enough hope, power, and promise to motivate generations to come. Despite the incredible nonsense they had to endure they did not just survive, but thrived. They are not a fluke. They are not an aberration, an anomaly, some sitcom-ish deviation from some preconceived norm. No family is perfect, but I can point you up, down, and across my family where there are hard working mothers and fathers raising their children together, where college is a priority (Please look up the college history for today’s popular TV commentators, especially the most antagonistic ones, by the way. Know who you are listening to.), where there are long standing marriages capped off by the American dream of the golden retirement years. Spare me your stereotypes. There is no one black reality. We are as prone to both success and failure as any group. Not only the women, a hard working educated group as any, but let me tell you that I was surrounded by male role models as well. My father for starters, but I had my uncles, great uncles, and cousin after cousin of men across generations holding it down. All involved and invested in the raising of their children and community. Gainfully employed, many college educated who then put their children through college. None incarcerated. None raising a hand to anyone. Young and old they skew liberal in political affiliation, but conservative in their personal governance. The black experience is not a single experience. It is not just what is put forward on TV and promoted on rap videos. I am a witness. I love hip hop by the way, but have little patience for sensationalized hip pop.
I have learned by observing those who live by fear and anger that fear and anger are the antithesis of reasonable, rational thought and progress. Put plainly fear and anger make one stupid. Too blunt? I will try again. Intellectual sloth? Is that more appeasing… more appealing… easier to digest? Heaven forbid anyone should be offended.
Only one of compromised reasoning capabilities would dare do something so daft as to use the turmoil that erupts in reaction to an egregious violation of justice to justify the preceding act of injustice.
Ignorance is the most caustic of all intellectual poisons. Willful ignorance, often borne of intellectual sloth or irrational fear rather than outright malice, is a most tragic form of cognitive suicide that incurs collateral damage upon all who come in to the sufferer’s path.
Let’s do this. Let’s take a look at judging the many by the actions of the few or to…
a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
“the stereotype of the woman as the carer”
synonyms: standard/conventional image, received idea, cliché, hackneyed idea, formula
“the stereotype of the rancher”
I was able to come to some conclusions early in my childhood. Whether a group, however one decides to define that group (party, color, race, origin, religion, etc.), is historically defined as persecutor or the persecuted, agitator or the agitated, victor, victim or vindicator is heavily swayed by those who control history, or whoever is in power. No individual within a group should be deemed morally, intellectually or otherwise superior solely based on their group affiliation, but it happens every day. What they choose to include or exclude tips the narrative in their favor. Unpleasant truths that conflict with the larger narrative are pushed aside or utterly ignored without a second thought.