|Hint: black people frequently cope with trauma through humor|
When Donald Trump became president, it was a dark day for everyone who wasn’t white, cisgendered and male.
Our collective social conscious holds memory of times when emboldened by similar racist leadership, white America felt no need to pretend to like black people. As individuals this may not be true but, collectively speaking, it seems pretty obvious the white social consciousness must be constantly reminded that black people are in fact … people and that #blacklivesmatter.
As we get into the meat of the second year of this racist free for all we call a presidency, we begin to notice a trend of white (usually women) doing what they do best; weaponizing their privilege against black people
|hint: it wasn’t. But it was still dangerous for the black people when the police showed up|
Last year 22% of the 987 people fatally dispatched by the American police were African American. This year, which we are only four months into, sees a number 387 people, dead at police hands. As of a week ago the count of those killed by police is up by 31 as compared to last year.
This begs the question: “what are the odds of dying while black during a police encounter?” 60/40? 80/20? A coin flip?
Police brutality, especially due to the efforts of black America, has been publicized in the greater American social conscious. As such it has filtered into the realm of common knowledge that black and white people have different perceptions of the police. When faced with police, people of color are disproportionately murdered with no proper cause.
At the same time this information becomes more widely known, we begin to see an uptick in white calls to the police. Contrary to popular belief this is not because white people do not understand what happens to people of color when the police are called. It is because they understand what happens to people of color when the police are called that more police are being called on people of color. It is not an accident it is a direct response to black people trying to claim larger safe spaces in the greater American social consciousness. Traditionally, as black people try to create more black spaces for themselves, white people push-back with their favorite tool since the civil war days; a good old fashioned southern lynching.
Lynching is defined as a pre-meditated extrajudicial killing by a group, most often used to characterize informal public executions to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a set of people. -Wikipedia
To call the police on innocent black people, doing nothing wrong, is to hope for a modern day American lynching. Shaun King speaks about it here.
Let’s mine 2018 for examples of this weaponized privilege.
Lolade Siyonbola, a Yale graduate student, took a nap in her dorms common room. She woke up to a 15-minute interrogation from Sarah, a white classmate, and the law enforcement officers Sarah felt the need to call because Ms. Siyonbola “looked out of place” in the building. Apparently sleeping while black warrants you a coin flip with death. Thanks, Sarah.
|Remember Becky with the good hair? Say hello to Sarah with the cell phone. Maybe they’re cousins.|
In April Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson was arrested for trespassing in Starbucks. Really, they were just early for a business meeting they were having and had the gall to wait for their third partner before ordering coffee. It seems taking your fellow network contacts out for coffee while black warrants you a coin-flip with death. Thanks, Starbucks.
A golf club owner called the police on the group of black women patronizing his establishment because they wouldn’t leave quickly enough. So, paying to golf while black can net you at risk of death.
Ms. Prendergast recently called the police, who came bearing seven backup vehicles and a helicopter. Why the heavy artillery? Four black filmmakers dared to stay at an Airbnb and didn’t wave to her during their stay. So not talking to creepy strangers watching you out of house windows puts you at risk for death, or an encounter with SEAL team 6. Thanks, Ms. P.
|… are the guns microphones??|
These incidents have a common theme; white people viewing black people as having transgressed their physical or mental space and responding by calling the police. A more commonly known to result in the arrest or lethal takedown of people of color in punishment.
Remember our definition of lynching? When an individual is publicly extrajudicially killed to intimidate a set of people based on an alleged transgression? It’s not extrajudicial killing if you call in the justice system to do your dirty work for you, is it? This smokescreen transforms the attack into the dirty, racially powered grey area white people love to feign ignorance from. It is the reason we aren’t calling Ms. Prendergast’s 911 call what it is: an attempted lynching for daring to be black in a white space.
Like all lynchings, these 911 calls sink into the black consciousness, a poison designed to intimidate and weaken our development. They serve, as past lynchings did, to reinforce white control and keep black people in areas where whites think they belong. Much like in 2015 when Texas residents called police on black teenagers enjoying a swimming pool. They were reported as saying to the children “Go back to section 8! [housing]” The residents, after watching at least one child sustain an injury after being violently pinned to the ground, later posted signs around the pool thanking officers for ‘keeping them safe’.
Put together, these stories paint a very obvious picture of the continued systemic abuse of white power and the privileges therein. It’s not even new. Periodically, like a parasite defending itself from the separation of its host body, white society changes the sound of the conversation around racism. They do this while purposefully failing to identify themselves as its root cause.
So, within the white social consciousness, the killing of black people is fine but, as soon as we point out that the killers en-masse are white, obfuscation techniques are used to shift the conversation.
An example of one such conversation shifting smoke-screen is the #alllivesmatter movement that rose, not to champion the lives of everyone but, as a counter to the #blacklivesmatter movement. This oversaturated the American social conscious with an endless barrage of things that were currently mattering. #blacklivesmatter cannot matter if #animallivesmatter, #plantlivesmatter, #poorlivesmatter, #mylifematters. If all lives matter, your black life does not. The gentlest way to say that nothing is special is to say everything is special in its own way and we see that used here to dampen the effect of the original movement.
|funny, but hurts the point.|
The same can be seen of the phrase “white privilege” which is seen countered with thought pieces on “pretty privilege”, “skinny privilege”, “straight privilege” et cetera. These additional movements, while valid, serve to undermine the original point by inundating the conversation about white privilege with different types of privileges. This shifts the conversation around whiteness itself by pointing out other valuable problems, that when examined, add up to white privilege anyway.
At the height of pretty privilege is the pretty white ideal. At the height of straight privilege is the white nuclear family. At the height of skinny privilege, a sub-set of pretty privilege is the slender white ideal. Although other individual people in other ethnic groups can find themselves on the privileged side of some areas, the ideal is always whiteness.
The white ideal is white privilege.
White people systemically use this ideal as a reason to devalue black lives in America. It is so bad the black social consciousness felt the need to remind everyone that it is comprised of individual lives that matter, and shouldn’t be abused, profiled against or lynched.
The phrase “lynching” fell out of public favor for the same reason the phrase “white privilege” and #blacklivesmatter is being forced out of public opinion. They specifically point to white violence against black people.
We as a black society need to see through and obliterate these politically correct smokescreens. The Trumpian administration champions telling it like it is and black society needs to wake up and call a spade a spade. These 911 calls from white society on innocent black people are murder attempts and hopes for modern lynchings. They use the police department to murder black people because they have a sick desire to see these lynchings. They are using the same obfuscation techniques they have always used, to disguise this fact in plain sight. We should address that.
By Alisha Smith, Alisha is a 24-year-old recent graduate, writer, blogger, gamer, and corporate drone by day and rampant blabbermouth by night. She currently writes for Ms. Vixen and on Medium and spends her free time shamelessly pursuing her interests and avoiding other humans