It seems that, in the past few years, the narrative I’ve been hearing in certain circles that we no longer need Black History Month, because we’ve finally “made it.” Thus, being anti-racism means being anti-white. This past year in particular has been the greatest negation of that message, unfortunately.
There’s stop and frisk. Great video on this from The Daily Show laying out the issue. A pair of different comedy routines that I saw suggest that if those folks on Wall Street with their [shudder] briefcases were stopped and frisked to see if they were planning some economic crime, especially in the demeaning way it takes place – think the airport TSA, on steroids, only more rude – the policy would be off the books next week.
Reading the Floyd decision, “it seems clear that it was the stories of how Stop and Frisk and TAP operated on the ground to keep Black and Latino people under siege in their own homes, not the battle of the experts via statistics, that ultimately persuaded Judge Scheindlin about the complete irrationality of Stop and Frisk as implemented, and about the utter inability of the psyche of the NYPD to voluntarily accept its own racism, such that Stop and Frisk could be operated in a truly race-neutral fashion.”
Of course, it’s not just the state acting badly: The New York state attorney general is investigating Macy’s Inc. and Barneys New York Inc. after complaints from black customers who were stopped by police after making luxury purchases. As Larry Wilmore, the senior black correspondent for The Daily Show, noted, if we want young black men to keep their pants up, we can’t then have them arrested for purchasing a belt.
And one of my favorite examples, a restaurant asks 25 black people to leave because one white person felt “threatened“.
Sometimes, it’s not the big stuff, it’s the little irritants that get under one’s skin. Gee, you don’t sound black on the radio by Ken Screven, former local news reporter. I’ve not been on the radio, but I have spent time on the phone a lot at FantaCo and now at the SBDC and I have seen that response when meeting people in person for the first time.
I picked that vintage cover to illustrate a greater point: it can’t just be black people concerned about black people’s issues. We all need to be conscious of discrimination where we find it, whether it be discrimination by race, gender or sexual orientation. And it’s even more effective when white people speak out against racism when they see it – like here, men confront sexism, and straights openly reject homophobia. It can’t just be THEIR problem, it must be OUR problem.
Great reads for the month from Departing the Text.
2 thoughts on “What now for the Negro?”
Roger, wonderful,wonderfl piece. Indeed, it must be OUR problem. White citizens have to accept that and for many it’s too uncomfortable.
I vaguely remember that 1967 Newsweek cover, I would have been ten years old. I also remember my reaction to it… What, are they going somewhere?