You know, I think it’s the social death that bothers me more. Every time a Black kid is degraded, maimed or killed by a cop, it’s not the act itself that I’m most disgusted by. I guess knowing it was always a thing, and now the frequency with which such events are recorded or written about has forced me into a state of perpetual shitty television show watching malaise, like I’m waiting for Tyrell and five other men on Jerry Springer or Steve Wilkos or whoever to find out if they all might be da father of Keisha baby and shit. It’s always on, everywhere. At work, at the barbershop, people talking about it, it’s unavoidable and the outcome, though obvious, doesn’t even fucking matter, because collectively we’re already in it from the start. Damn near every reproduction of Blackness continues to either dehumanize, or–conversely, yet similarly–to elevate those of us who are ideologically closer to whiteness, think tame, or as Damon might say, sunken place negroes like Steve Harvey, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, et al (who is currently fondling the idea of affordable housing as long as it’s not too comfortable).
Every interaction with a Black person in this country, is predicated on a history and present that American innocence will never acknowledge; but it still hurts to see, not one paragraph into the article, that J
If you don’t get the fuck out of my face with that. Like we have a choice. Being superior in a long ass game where every piece is culturally biased against us is the only defense, and it doesn’t even work. And it’s exhausting. And you’re still gonna just be some dumb nigga, subconsciously at minimum, even to some white folks you might be close to. And they’re going to use anything as evidence to further the idea of your inferiority, especially, if even for your own mental health, you simply choose not to engage from time to time.
I love the scene in “Dear White People,” where Reggie is at this party, bustin that ass at this Ivy League trivia game and just lays it on the table: “Damn,” he says. This game is culturally biased against me, and I’m still whoopin that ass. I know your shit, and my shit!” I was happy for him. It feels good, I know, so damn good. But what happens next? He doesn’t want one of the guys there to rap “nigga” in his ear during one of the songs and, after the third time he says, “hey man, we cool, but could you just not say that?” And then the White kid–who deems his right to rap about niggas superior to the polite request from a friend to not do so–begins to break down Barney style to Reggie, why he should be allowed to say it anyway. Mind you, Reggie, the much more intelligent person than he, who was asked to join and win said bourgeoisie Ivy league trivia game on politics/culture/philosophy/history etc, who is miles above his peers, academically at their Ivy League school, is immediately being talked down to (happens all the time), in spite of any and everything.
Reggie, who knows their shit (white people) and his own shit–because let’s face it, we don’t have a choice–is brought right down to monkey status because this kid who was supposed to be his friend believes he has a groundbreaking idea, that will rock the foundations of social relations as Reggie knows them. He doesn’t, of course. He assumes that Reggie could not have imagined the implications of the ultra simple, mediocre, unthought, un-critical shit that he’s about to say about the etymology and cultural representation of the word nigga because Reggie is Black Reggie. Some shit about nigga being in the song so what does Reggie want him to do, hum instead? Plus, Black people say it. Groundbreaking. More true, is that Reggie may not have ever discussed this with his friend simply because:
- He would just immediately re-center Whiteness/himself.
- He would say something about Africa, or Jewish slaves or whatever.
- He would in some way, divert the importance of what it means to live in this country in a body that bares the common-sense perception of Blackness to either dating or fucking Black people or having familial ties to them.
Or, Reggie probably acknowledges how basic the arguments are around whether it should be socially acceptable for White people to say nigga (amongst other things), regardless of whether they’re repeating a rapper or say, a patient in a North Philly emergency department. Either way, the fact that Reggie is then being taught something that he’s probably had worked out since he was five, as if it’s new and exciting information, escalates the situation. Now, all the anger that we are never permitted to express is the only thing Reggie has left, so he gets up in the middle of a graduate class at Saint Joseph’s University, and chokes the shit–no no, wait. Reggie, at the Ivy League party, raises his voice, a little, and the Whites shiver and people are like “calm down bro” and then the cops show up and see Reggie. That’s it, they see Reggie and not much else and demand that he furnish his I.D. even though he’s been a fucking graduate student at this University for two years and is about to get an achievement award at graduation and sees the same fucking security guys every–no, wait. Reggie, at the Ivy League party is disinterest, to say the least, his ears are on fire and he can’t possibly imagine placating even a second longer to the bullshit so he’s like fuck this, fuck you, fuck them, fuck this school, fuck this society, and then the cop pulls a gun on him.
In order to gauge his humanity the next day, while the cop is on administrative leave, CNN will start with, “he was a straight-A-student, well liked…” But it won’t fucking matter.