“This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”
These are the words of one of the officers while a Black man’s life slipped away, as he was being choked by the knee of one of those officers. A man’s life was slipping away and the officer killing him in broad daylight blamed the death in progress on drugs.
“I’m going to tell them an African American man is threatening my life.”
These are the words of a white woman who was asked to put her dog on a leash; a rule breaker who decided the rules didn’t apply to her. And being confronted by a Black man about not following the rules made her threaten his very life.
A cop kills a Black man in broad daylight, with witnesses. A white woman threatens a Black man with the same in broad daylight.
Earlier this year, a Black man was hunted down by three white men, confronted and killed in broad daylight. One of the men recorded the “hunt and kill.” In yet another incident, a woman was killed while sleeping in her bed when cops stormed the wrong home. They even charged the woman’s boyfriend with a crime for defending his home although charges have since been dropped.
These cases and far too many like it have used the same narrative: “The Black man made me do it.” White people who are racist will use that narrative to justify and excuse their own behavior. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
But this is white supremacy in action. You can look at each individual incident and call them isolated or the acts of lone racist people, but you’d miss the white supremacy of the collective acts. We, as Black people, can talk about white supremacy, its existence, its effects and anything else having to do with it, but for white people, white supremacy is just some concept used by Black people to blame ALL white people.
But white supremacy is white people. Whether they believe it or not, whether they speak about it or not. White supremacy is ALL white people. White supremacy will turn its back on the so-called traitor. John Brown is the most famous white equivalent to the Black Uncle Tom.
And there are many who will challenge this. Black and white people alike will challenge this. And it is within the challenge that we find white supremacy calling the shots.
Since the founding of this country, white supremacy has been its foundation. White supremacy is grounded in the Declaration of Independence, the true but untrue statement that “all men are created equal.” When Benjamin Banneker finished writing his Almanac, he sent it, along with a long letter to Thomas Jefferson. Banneker asked why the Declaration didn’t also apply to Black men. Jefferson responded saying “No body wishes more than I do, to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men…”
Did you catch the contradiction here? “such proofs as you exhibit” but that nature has not “given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men…” He has proof exhibited, but no belief that nature endowed the Black man with equal talent. And this is the crux of white supremacy. For white supremacy to exist, there must be an “other.” There must be an “inferior.” White supremacy cannot exist without it. But white supremacy is its own contradiction. White supremacy is its own lie. White supremacy, while it cannot exist without an “inferior,” it can ONLY exist in its denial by those who benefit from it.
The incidents described herein happened because of white supremacy denial. Many a white folk will say the individuals who did those things are the racists. They are the bad ones. It’s “not all white people.” The problem with that argument is because none of these incidents could have occurred without the structure of white supremacy.
In 1881, Frederick Douglass wrote an article called The Color Line where he said
If an unarmed colored man is shot down and dies in his tracks, a jury, under the influence of [prejudice], does not hesitate to find the murdered man the real criminal, and the murderer innocent.
Douglass’ ‘prejudice’ is the same structure of white supremacy that has existed since the founding of this country and what has allowed these incidents of violent death and false accusations to continue through today unabated.
The structure of white supremacy lies in its contradiction and its denial. White supremacy will lie and will perpetuate that lie with more lies. The officer who blamed drug use while a man’s life slipped away under his knee will claim no responsibility while claiming not to be racist. The woman who threatened to tell the police that she was being threatened by a Black man will claim not to be racist. The problem with these claims of non-racism lies in the fact that a white man killed a Black man in broad daylight. A white woman falsely accused a Black man in broad daylight. Three white men filmed, hunted and killed a Black man. Officers stormed the wrong house and killed a Black woman. None of this could have happened in this way without the structure and lies of white supremacy.
It’s the same white supremacy of Thomas Jefferson who saw “proofs…exhibited” and still denied the humanity of the Black man. That white cop knew he was taking a life, but that life had no humanity according to white supremacy. That white woman knew she was threatening a man’s life, but that life had no humanity according to white supremacy. The white men who killed Ahmad Arbury knew he did nothing wrong, but his life had no humanity according to white supremacy. The cops knew they shot up the wrong house and killed a Black woman, but her life had no humanity according to white supremacy.
But the narrative we get is “This is why you shouldn’t do drugs, kids.”
White supremacy will deny its own existence while wreaking havoc on Black lives and blame those same Black lives for existing.
Frederick Douglass, The Color Line, The North American Review, Vol. 132, No. 295 (Jun., 1881), pp. 567-577
Thomas Jefferson, 1791 (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h72t.html).
A Nasty Revelation
Inspired by a Facebook conversation…debate…OK an argument, I had a nasty revelation. The argument was that Black men are being degraded by Black women who have succumbed to the lies of white supremacy and that Black men are the least likely to commit rape or domestic violence against Black women. Having been a victim of both, my counter argument is that Black men do, in fact, commit rape and domestic violence and they are the ones in the throes of white supremacy. But alas, I may be biased…nah, gotta be real. I am biased.
While contemplating the argument, the thought occurred to me that after 100 years of white women lying about being raped by a Black man and 100+ years of white men using the so-called Black man’s insatiable lust for white women, we are now in the era of using those lies as evidence that rape didn’t occur. I’m sure there are some scholarly articles that articulate the lies of the 100 years of lynchings due to false claims of rape. We’re all familiar with the murder of Emmet Till and many of us are now aware that the white woman recanted her story. She may even have apologized.
But it’s the paradox of white supremacy that I want to talk about. It’s the projection of the worst of white supremacy that bothers me. It is the adoption of the worst of white supremacy by Black folk that bothers me even more.
So who’s succumbing to the effects of white supremacy? Truth be told, we all are. Even those of us who can see white supremacy in all of its glorious fallacy are affected by it. We cannot help but to be. But does this mean that we can’t be objective? In the European, white supremist way of thinking, no non-white person has the ability to be objective when it comes to white supremacy. See, white supremacy is the “superior.” All subjects and thoughts relating to it that come from anywhere other than white supremacy can and will be questioned, which brings me back to the projection. According to white supremacy, Black men and women have an animalistic sexual nature or drive they cannot control. This projection allows that Black men will rape white women and Black women can’t be raped.
Here we find meeting at an intersection white supremacy, projection, and stereotypes, the crossroad which tends to reveal what many of us already know—that white men commit more violence against women than do Black men, but the intersection is also the avenue of escape for white men. And this is the thinking that shapes rape culture. It plays out before us in real time as the Brock Turners get a slap on the wrist and the Bill Cosbys get the max.
But is it true that Black men are less likely to commit rape and domestic violence than their white counterparts? Let’s take a look at some stats. (I know, you thought this was just an opinion piece…gotcha!).
In a police crime database with data from 2005 through 2014 and created by Philip Stinson, there were 462 police officers charged with forcible rape. Of those, 217 were non-Black and non-Hispanic. Stinson does not use the designation white. I do. So 217 of the officers are white, while only 100 are Black. 47% white. 22% Black. Except for the fact that these are officers of the law committing rape, these stats are not shocking. They actually fall right in line with the racial make-up of America to an extent. But what role does white supremacy play in this?
Scientifically, these stats cannot be generalized to the population at large. These are police officers and they are a different breed of course. But we’re gonna stretch here to make a point. I am a freelance Criminologist and I make connections. My connections are not scientifically motivated. But a little sense goes a long way. Mine is not common, but it makes sense.
These numbers here, 47% white and 22% Black, tend towards the opinion that Black men are less likely to commit rape. But the 22% Black tends toward the truth that Black men do, in fact commit rape. Of the police officers charged with forcible rape, 111 were charged with domestic violence or incest, which I also classify as domestic violence. Of those, only 20% were Black, but more than half, 52% were white. Again, these statistics lean towards the opinion that Black men are less likely to commit domestic violence, but also tend toward the truth that Black men do, in fact commit domestic violence.
If this were the actual argument, it would seem that mine is a losing one, because clearly the statistics show that Black men are less likely to commit rape and domestic violence which, for this argument, would mean that Black women who call out the Black men for their violence really are succumbing to the lies of white supremacy. However, things ain’t always what they seem. The argument that white supremacy is the cause for Black women to call out the “less likely” rape or domestic violence of Black men is a lie of white supremacy itself. The statistics clearly show that Black men do commit rape and domestic violence. The fact that the statistics are police officers give rise to the idea of power. In all things America, we are only successful when we can successfully integrate into the mainstream white culture. A Black police officer is the climax of power. These Black men believe that reaching the pinnacle of “police officer” grants them status, the same status as white. They’ve successfully integrated into the culture that never wanted them. They beat the odds. Yet, it doesn’t take a whole lot of stretching or imagination to see that this paradigm plays out across professions. When Black men reach that integrated status, they consider they have made it. They have succumbed to the lies of white supremacy that says they made it despite their Blackness. Almost 80% of those Black men do not let that power lead them to rape or domestic violence. But for 22%, that power is the power of white supremacy.
The Black women who are victims of that 22% and call them out? If they have ‘succumbed’ to the lies of white supremacy, it is because they are victims of the 22% of Black men who believe in their own superiority over the Black woman.
Don’t get much nastier than that.
Only in America
In Birmingham they loved the Gov’nor.
Now we all did what people (we could) do.
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscious bother you?
Tell the truth.
Lynyrd Skynyrd first sang these lyrics in 1974 in the song Sweet Home Alabama in response to Neil Young’s song about Alabama. They were “singing songs about the southland,” but this song resonated across America, hitting #8 and staying on the charts for 17 weeks. Decades later, the song inspired Kid Rock to sing about it. Hailing from Michigan, he was “singin’ Sweet Home Alabama all summer long.”
In today’s climate, and with the current administration, the verse quoted above comes to mind regularly. The Gov’nor of Birmingham was a hardcore, unapologetic racist and a staunch segregationist; but the people loved him. He was their man. They voted for him, cheered for him and supported his racist agenda. In no uncertain terms.
Birmingham’s Gov’nor is a microcosm of what we’re witnessing today. 45 is the Gov’nor and his supporters are the Birmingham population on steroids.
The lyricist, like so many, was not bothered by Watergate, just like 45’s supporters are not bothered by his lies or his blatant disregard for the law. Their conscience does not bother them.
We are watching this lack of conscience play out in real time. And while Nixon resigned, 45 ain’t backing down.
It’s interesting that the lyricist chose to include Birmingham’s Gov’nor and Watergate in the same stanza. The Gov’nor was truly a racist and he is remembered for it. Nixon is remembered for lying and cheating. Racist. Lying. Cheating. Together in a song. Together in society. The common thread being white supremacy.
Lynyrd Skynyrd knew this. The people who made the song popular knew it. Kid Rock knows it. 45 knows it. 45’s supporters know it. White supremacy is racist. It lies and cheats. And now we have it all wrapped up in one administration. In one era. In the one America where it can happen.
O beautiful for spacious skies…
Let my lies be their demise.
Liberty is mine and mine alone
The others are merely as the stone
Silent they should be
As they labor in this “De-mock-racy”
Propping me up in my hypocrisy.
They speak of rights
Marching, protesting in my sight.
Thinking to make me believe
They’re worthy of equality.
But oh, how we shall deceive!
A losing fight
For never shall we grant that right.
See the history
Remember Booker T.
Now there’s a man
Knew his place
Equality twan’t for his race
For we still love the Gov’nor
And now we got a president in his place.